The Best Affordable 85mm Lens for Your Camera System

There arent many lenses that can satiate an itch like an 85mm lens. You can shoot a portrait that will get tons of upvotes and likes on social media one minute, and capture a decisive moment on the streets the next. If you don’t have an 85mm lens yet, we’re here to help. Here’s our guide to the best affordable 85mm lens for your full-frame camera system. And of course, we’ve reviewed each of these.

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How We Chose the Best Affordable 85mm Lens You Can Buy

There are great reasons why we chose these as the best affordabe 85mm lens. Here’s what you should know:

  • The Phoblographer’s staff has tested all these products. There are links to our full reviews in each section. All the images in this roundup were shot by our staff over the years of testing.
  • This list is balanced between quality and a variety of other factors including price.
  • The best affordable 85mm lens for you might also be the one you already have. You should check our reviews index because we’ve compared these back and forth at times.
  • All the options in this roundup have some sort of weather resistance.
  • 85mm lenses aren’t only great for portraits. Photographers also use them for sports like basketball. We use them for cinematic street photography too.

Sony 85mm f1.8 FE

Pros

  • Great image quality
  • Fast-focusing with the Sony a7r II, and in good lighting it will focus quickly with the Sony a7
  • Nice feel, though not as great as the G Master 85mm f1.4 lens
  • Weather resistance built-in
  • Compact size

Cons

  • Honestly, not a darn thing

How’s the Image Quality?

In our review, we state:

“Images from the Sony 85mm f1.8 FE are beautiful in many ways. This lens offers very sharp image quality though arguably more muted than what Sony users are accustomed to. Sony’s 85mm f1.4 G Master is the most saturated, while the Batis follows that, then the Loxia, and then the standard Sony FE.”

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Samyang 85mm f1.4 RF AF

Pros

  • Weather sealed
  • Affordable
  • Sharp
  • Beautiful
  • Anyone in front of this lens looks wonderful.

Cons

  • Malfunctions, especially with autofocus and sometimes with exposure metering
  • Messes with exposure simulation

How’s the Image Quality?

In our review, we state:

“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. It retains a unique and distinctive character from Canon’s own lenses. (Canon lenses also have character, mind you.) This goes against the grain of so many other manufacturers right now who are engineering characters out of lenses, so they all look the same and very sterile. But this lens has a look and I adore it.”

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Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 S

Pros

  • Sharp image quality
  • Weather sealing
  • Smallish size
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • It’s held back by Nikon’s autofocusing abilities (or lack thereof), but they’ve gotten better.

How’s the Image Quality?

In our review, we state:

“The photographers who most likely will be springing for the Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 are portrait photographers. However, we also have to make an exception for those who like to take candids while feeling like they’re a fly on the wall. An 85mm lens does a great job with that. With this in mind, those photographers will surely care about the bokeh. And with nine aperture blades, the bokeh on the Nikon Z 85mm f1.8 is fantastic. It’s creamy and beautiful. In fact I haven’t seen boken I’ve liked this much from a Nikon lens since using the 105mm f1.4 prime. Photographers will also be happy with the sharpness, the color, and the fact that there are no technical problems with this lens.”

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Panasonic 85mm f1.8 Lumix S

Pros

Cons

  • Very clinical image quality

How’s the Image Quality?

In our review, we state:

“In terms of image quality, the Panasonic 85mm f1.8 is fantastic. It’s a very affordable lens with good image quality. It’s very sharp and the bokeh is nice. But, while the colors will depend on the camera you’re using, the lens lacks character. Overall though, it’s the best of many worlds.”

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The Phoblographer’s various product round-up features are done in-house. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product. We only recommend gear that we’ve fully reviewed. If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.