Want the Perfect Portrait? – Canon RF 85mm F2 – My Review

Welcome to my latest Gear Review, this is a review of the Canon RF 85mm F2.

Hire-a-camera does a great deal at Christmas, where they offer gear out to rent for just a couple of days, as they shut down and let you keep it for 12 days, so I took advantage with a cheap hire of this Canon RF 85mm F2 lens.

The full Gallery of images if you want to jump to it is here.

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About the lens

First up this is not an L lens. There is an 85mm f1.2 L lens which is obviously faster but is also over £2,300 more expensive to buy

I did consider hiring this, but knowing I would never want or need to spend over £3,000 on this lens I decided I would only be torturing myself if I hired it!! I would have loved to compare the two side by side though.

There is also a 135mm f1.8 that I think is due to be released soon. 

My Thoughts on Video

Lens Specification

You can find the full specification here, but the main points are as follows:

  • 85mm f2. 
  • 9 Aperture Blades
  • Weight is 526 grams (without caps)
  • Closes Focal Distance 35cm

Handling the Canon RF 85mm F2

Onto the lens itself. It feels solid despite being made of plastic. One thing to consider is that it is dust and moisture-resistant, but not weather-sealed.

It has a control ring on the front which I don’t really use for photography but is super satisfying to turn.

AF/MF switch on the side which is good as I own another lens that doesn’t have this so it is a bit of a pain having to go into the menu settings. Not an issue though for the Canon RF 85mm F2.

There is also the Image Stabiliser switch if you want to turn this on and off.

Finally, it also has a focal length switch. 

  • 0.35 – 0.5 if you are going for those close-up macros. 
  • 0.5 to infinity which is a midway point
  • FULL which seems to search through the entire range. 

Put it on the .35 – .5 if you are doing a macro shot. If you have it on the FULL it will focus but it will also hunt through the entire range which is super annoying so definitely use the shorter range for any macro photography. 

Portraits and out and about I flick it to the FULL mode, and found it quick to focus and easy to carry around. 

It’s not perfect. A couple of Canon issues

Before I talk about the images, a couple of issues. It is important to note one of these issues is not limited to this lens, but an RF issue over all the lenses.

The mount cap. So annoying compared to an EF lens. You have to precisely line part of the cap up with the lens’ red dot. Otherwise, it does not screw on. With the EF lenses, there were three or four options to line it up, so much easier to attach when juggling lenses out in the field.

Also, it doesn’t seem to come with a lens hood. This is a shame, as even a smaller hood to protect the front element would have helped.

That aside, let’s go through some images. 

Images taken on the Canon RF 85mm F2

 I took a number of snapshots over a couple of weeks I had the lens for, but on one occasion, I took the Canon RF 85mm F2 out for a simple portrait shoot with my son.

All the images are here, but these are a few of my favourites, and to demonstrate its features.

A dedicated Portrait Shoot

Here is the first one, snapped as soon as we jumped out of the car, and without giving any thought to the background.

A warm-up shot shall we say.

It does prove how nice the background can be. Blurred, and smooth, so a good start.

Canon RF 85mm F2

This doesn’t really highlight the lovely Bokeh you get with the f2, but it does show how sharp this lens is.

There is obviously some editing, but the colours and contrast are great too.

Canon RF 85mm F2

This is another favourite.

Living near the New Forest, there are plenty of photo opportunities.

This one provides a rare height perspective, overlooking part of the forest. Beautifully blurry, making Max stand out with a crispness I love!

Well done to the Canon RF 85mm F2!

Canon RF 85mm F2

This is my favourite photo of the whole shoot. I got Max to perform a natural action of pulling up his hood.

I fired off 9 or 10 shots, and this is the one I liked the best.

I always think that getting your subject to do something natural is the best way to get natural photographs.

Canon RF 85mm F2

This is one where I knew I wanted to freeze the action. As a result, I had to increase the shutter speed.

This was shot at 1/640s, which was enough to eliminate any motion blur on the leaves.

But, to avoid an underexposed photo (I am already on f2), I had to increase the ISO to 800. Not a problem on the Canon R6.

Out and About Casual Shooting

So moving away from the shoot with Max, we headed to the coast.

Now my priority changed from a shallow depth of field to something wider to get a bit more of the image in focus.

f10, still at 100 ISO. The lens has done a great job of silhouetting the people walking out on one of the sandbanks.

Still at the beach, Max was climbing on a fallen tree, backlit by the winter sun.

The R6 did a great job at picking out his eye, despite the challenging lighting.

The lens came through again, with the f2 doing a great job at picking him out against the background.

I also like the natural lens flare…… I have added a slider to this so you can see the before and after,

And here is the final image for this post. Max trying to be far older and meaner than he really is.

But again, I love the colours and the lens focused fast, and accurately.

Conclusion of the Canon RF 85mm F2

So, how does this lens stand up? My camera bag is packed full of L lenses which I use for work.

While this 85mm f2 lens from Canon is not an L lens, I wouldn’t hesitate to use it on a job should the need arise.

I have not had a chance to use it in a studio environment, with full control over the lighting, but I see no reason why it would not provide great results, with that F2 aperture, and perfect 85mm focal length.

My dilemma is, would I use it enough to warrant the £550 or so outlay? I guess only time will tell.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post, and go out and enjoy your photography.

Take care, Rich.