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50mm f1.4 or 85mm f1.8 for portrait photography?


Title pretty much explains it! Recently got back into photography and bought a used 6D at a fantastic price. It came with a 40mm f2.8 pancake lens which I’ve found to be okay for landscape/street photography and some close up event shots of groups.

Now I’m in the market for my next lens. I really like portrait photography, but keep in mind at this stage I am only a hobbyist. The most professional that my use for this camera will get is doing free event photography for my mates or for professional headshots at work (I’m the comms guy at my job).

CCCWarehouse sells the 50mm f1.4 USM for AUD $493.50 and the 85mm f1.8 USM for AUD $555.00. Which one in your opinion is better for portrait photography? And to round out my bases considering I already have a lens with a shorter focal length?

Thanks in advance!


Greetings ,

I'd probably buy the 85 since you already have a 40.  I have the EF 85 f1.8.  It's sharp, clear and is great for portraits.


Bay Area - CA

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You typically want to use lenses in the 70mm to 200mm focal length range for portraits.  Shorter focal lengths, especially when doing headshots, will lead to facial distortions.

85mm is a very popular focal length for headshots.


EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L, 600EX-RT (x6), ST-E3-RT
EOS C70, RF 24-70 f/2.8L IS, EF-EOS R 0.71x


Another vote for the EF 85mm f1.8 for portraiture.  It is sharp, fast focusing, and has long been one of Canon's best lens values.


EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video


This is no choice, go with the ef 85mm f1.8. A 50mm prime lens is a nice good lens but they are difficult to use in real world work. They always seem too short for somethings and too long other times.

But remember FL in portrait is a matter of distance to subject more than FL. Given equivalent distance the 50 mil and 85 mil will yield similar results.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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