Lens review

Canon EF 85 mm f/1.8 USM

8 March 2011
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

At first glance you would get the impression that the Canon EF 85 mm f/1.8 is a physically light and handy lens. Perhaps it is caused by comparing this device to a bit faster 1.4/85 models which are indeed heavier and bigger than the Canon. If we get interested in the models of this class with f/1.8-f/2.0 aperture, though, the Canon will no longer appear so small and light. You can notice it very clearly in the following chart. Only the armoured Leica is a bit heavier than the Canon. The Nikkor and the Pentax are significantly lighter but you must remember that they don’t have an ultrasonic autofocus motor.

In the photo below the Canon EF 85 mm f/1.8 USM is positioned next to the Sigma 85 mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM and the Voigtlander Apo Lanthar 90 mm f/3.5 SL II.

Canon EF 85 mm f/1.8 USM - Build quality

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The Canon 1.8/85 starts with a metal bayonet mount on which you can find seven contacts. The mount surrounds a rear element with a quite significant diameter of 3.5 cm.

Canon EF 85 mm f/1.8 USM - Build quality

On the barrel we immediately meet a focal length marking of the lens over which there is a clear distance scale expressed in meters and feet behind a window. Below the scale you find depth of field markings but only by f/22. On the left there is also a small focusing mechanism mode switch (AF/MF). On the right we have the “Ultrasonic” inscription which means that an ultrasonic autofocus motor was implemented here.

Behind the distance scale we meet a manual focus ring. It works in the AF and in the MF mode as well, it is ribbed and 18 mm wide. It moves smoothly and is well-damped, reacting to even delicate movements. However, its full working range is only 90 degrees. For example in the case of the Voigtlander Apo Lanthar 90 mm f/3.5 SL II it was as many as 250 degrees.

Further on you see a golden stripe with the „Ultrasonic” sign and a metal part of the casing with the “CANON LENS EF 85mm 1:1.8” inscription on one side and “CANON LENS MADE IN JAPAN” on the other. Right behind that stripe the barrel ends with an immobile front element, almost 5 cm in diameter, surrounded by also immobile filter thread with a diameter of 58 mm.

Canon EF 85 mm f/1.8 USM - Build quality

Inside the lens there are 9 elements positioned in 7 groups. The producer doesn’t boast of any elements made of special kind of glass. You also can find an aperture with eight diaphragm blades which can be closed down to f/22.

In this segment you can’t count on Canon’s largesse. In the accessory kit, added to the lens, you get only both caps. A hood or a case must be bought separately.