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Best "bokeh" lens for portrait photography

edited March 2012 Posted in » Canon 60D Forum
Should I spring for the Canon 50mm f/1.4 OR the Canon 85mm f/1.8? I'm ready to make the purchase and can't decide which one to choose. Help! I just stumbled upon this site and I am extremenly happy that I did. Great discussions and timely answers. I feel like I've learned so much already. Thanks!


  • edited March 2012
  • edited March 2012
    I personally would go for the 50mm just because it offers a smaller f-stop (f/1.4 compared to f/1.8).

    But more importantly if you're shooting portraits, you might want the option to take pics at a closer range of 50mm instead of 85mm. I know it might not seem like much, but if you're at a restaurant or in a small space you might not have room to step back and capture your image. On the other hand if you had the 50mm, you'll always have room to walk closer to the subject you're trying to shoot.

    If I had the money, I would invest in the 35mm instead of the 50mm for the same reasons I explained above.

    This is just my two cents when it came to breaking down the lens with my limited knowledge. If I am wrong I would appreciate the feed back so I could learn myself. Thanks! :)
  • @meganwasko - To answer your question, both lenses are more than capable of capturing sharp subjects with buttery smooth bokeh (background/foreground blur). Deciding between the two really comes down to your shooting style and the percentage of your indoor/outdoor shots.

    If most of your people shots are indoors, you're going to have a tough time with the 85mm. When mounted to your 60D, you'll have an effective focal length of 136mm. This can make it nearly impossible to frame subjects in a small room. The 50mm lens will give you an effective focal length of 80mm, freeing you up a bit when shooting in tight spaces.

    If most of your people shots are outdoors, you'll appreciate the added reach of the 85mm...especially for candids. People naturally feel intimidated when you shoot within close proximity. When you can shoot farther away, your subjects will feel more comfortable and you'll end up with more natural looking expressions, which in turn will produce better looking portraits.

    Happy shooting! :)
  • edited March 2012
    Thank you all very much for the suggestions! I bit the bullet and went with the 50mm f/1.4. Ultimately the decision came down to the focal length... I don't want to be fixed at 85mm. My hope is to use the 50mm for a while, fall in love and then maybe someday I can purchase the 85mm f/1.2L! After I hit the lottery, of course! Thanks again so much! Again, I'm so greatful for this's such a help! :)
  • @meganwasko - Thanks for the follow-up! You made a great choice. It's okay to drool over dreamy lenses like the 85mm f/1.2L...I do it all the time. :)
  • edited December 2013
    How would the 135mm f/2 be for bokeh during outdoor shots?
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