85mm Primes That Have Everything Modern Portrait Photographers Need

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As portrait photographers, we demand a lot from the lenses we use today. They have to be sharp, reliable, and produce great bokeh and beautiful natural skin tones. Another quality they need to have is great build quality. Like many other things in life, not all 85mm primes are created equal when it comes to their builds, though. With clients demanding more and more outrageous shoots so that their images stand out from the rest, having a robust lens is a must. Fortunately, some fantastic 85mm primes on the market aren’t only built tough, they’re weather sealed too. After the break, we’ll share five 85mm primes that offer everything the modern portrait photographer could ever need in a lens.

Nikon Z 85mm f1.8

85mm primes

In our review, we said:

“There isn’t a single bad thing to be said about the Nikon Z 85mm f1.8. It has exceptional image quality, build quality, it’s priced right, and it’s portable. This is everything that mirrorless is supposed to be.”

Chris Gampat – Editor In Chief

Buy now: $796.95

Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L USM

85mm primes

In our review, we said:

“The Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L USM produces truly beautiful bokeh, excellent sharpness, plenty of micro-contrast, and overall exceptional image quality. Its performance is quite snappy as well, and it’s capable of focusing and tracking fast-moving subjects quickly and accurately. True to Canon’s heritage, this lens is built like a tank and features some of the best weather sealing we’ve seen.”

Paul Ip – Former Reviews Editor
85mm primes

Buy now: $2,699

Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG DN Art

85mm primes

In our review, we said:

“The Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG DN Art offers tremendous value for just $1,199. It retains the excellent image quality of its predecessor while addressing many of its shortcomings: It’s smaller, lighter, and features markedly improved autofocus performance. In fact, this lens performs on par with the highly-rated Sony 85mm G Master.”

Paul Ip – Former Reviews Editor

Buy now Sony E: $1,199

These 85mm primes will certainly help you create fantastic images, but having great gear is only half the story. If you truly want to create a gorgeous portrait, you need to know the secrets of posing. Try this: have your subject relax, and ask them to just be themselves. Give them a basic pose to build upon. If you control every aspect of their pose, you’ll end up with an unnatural looking image. Communicate your idea, and have your subject play around with it. You’ll find that you’ll get much more natural, organic captures this way.

Samyang 85mm f1.4

85mm primes

In our review, we said:

“Sometimes what I like about Samyang and Rokinon lenses are their character. When I tested the 50mm f1.4 for Sony, I adored the way images looked. And the Samyang 85mm f1.4 RF is no exception.”

Chris Gampat – Editor In Chief
85mm primes

Buy now Canon EF: $579

Purchase now Canon RF: $699

Buy now Nikon F: $569

Buy now Sony E: $569

Zeiss 85mm f2.4 Loxia

85mm primes

In our review, we said:

“Look at this! It’s much different from what you’d see and expect from almost everything else in the digital world that clean and clinical. While still being sharp and contrasty, the Zeiss 85mm f2.4 Loxia lens enjoys fantastic image quality with wonderful focus falloff, great bokeh, sharpness, etc. Plus it’s got great color. You can’t really beat it if you’re going for a different look with an 85mm equivalent lens.”

Chris Gampat – Editor In Chief

Buy now: $1,399

Brett Day

Brett Day is the Gear Editor at The Phoblographer and has been a photographer for as long as he can remember. Brett has his own photography business that focuses on corporate events and portraiture. In his spare time, Brett loves to practice landscape and wildlife photography. When he's not behind a camera, he's enjoying life with his wife and two kids, or he's playing video games, drinking coffee, and eating Cheetos.