Everyone knows that I am good at mobile photography, but in fact, I also know how to use a camera, see...
This is a portrait I took with my camera not long ago. After taking that picture, I was stunned by a question from the model lady:
Is there a camera or a lens that could just let anyone take good pictures for me?
For a long time, I didn't know how to answer. Then I looked down at the equipment I had at the time: the EOS R5 and the Viltrox AF 85mm F1.8 RF. I found that maybe the answer was in my hands.
In fact, my favorite focal length is 50mm, but after shooting a lot of portraits and daily life with the 85mm lens recently, I found that this focal length is really charming and has many possibilities for visual performance.
And, to say something that may hurt some people's feelings, I think the 85mm lens is a good complement to mobile phones.
As for why? Then just go ahead...
Shallow Depth of Field
There will be no lens that can think for you, to ensure that the picture has a good composition, or to capture the wonderful moment. But there is one thing that a large aperture lens like the 85mm F1.8 can do very well for you, and that is shallow depth of field.
Who won't love a hazy wide-aperture bokeh?
What's more, in today's mirrorless era, using a large aperture lens such as 85mm F1.8 on a mirrorless camera with subject and eye recognition technology is completely different from using it on an SLR in the past - the ease of the former. Usability wins.
In my opinion, the charm of the shallow depth of field of the 85mm lens is not only that it can help you blur the background and achieve the effect of highlighting the subject, but also to render the hazy atmosphere and artistic conception of the whole picture through soft out-of-focus.
I mentioned earlier that the 85mm lens is a good complement to mobile phones. One of the reasons is that you will never have edge recognition errors when you use the 85mm F1.8 lens to shoot portraits with stray hairs, leaves, cups, etc.
This kind of bokeh ability, which is based on physical optics rather than algorithms, is less flexible (it cannot be adjusted after shooting, and there is only one bokeh style for a lens), but it is more reliable.
As I mentioned earlier, in the Mirrorless Era, the operating experience of the 85mm F1.8 lens is much better than that of the SLR Era, because people and animals can be automatically focused on the eyes, and objects can always be tracked based on content recognition technology.
Therefore, if the SLR era will worry about the difficulty of focusing and "losing focus" with the large aperture lens, the lens in the mirrorless era has already saved a lot of worry. Like the Viltrox 85mm F1.8 with the RF mount used this time, the focus is very fast and accurate. In addition, I have also used the Sony FE and Fuji X mount versions of Viltrox 85mm in the past, and the focus is quite stable.
The success rate of capturing my moving boy on the street is extremely high.😁
The convenient focusing is not only reflected in the shooting of photos, but also reflected in the smooth focusing in the video. The following video was shot and edited with my R5 and Viltrox 85mm F1.8 on a spring outing afternoon:
Remember to wear headphones to watch~
Of course, compared with the native manufacturers, VILTROX, a third-party lens manufacturer, is slightly inferior to the native lens in the stability of continuous focusing. However, in more than a month of use, I think it is good enough, and there will be no problems in most cases.
In most cases, you can shoot with continuous tracking focus relievedly
For example, this difficult kart challenge of "wearing a mask + fast approach", the basic effect is quite satisfactory:
Play back the entire burst, with all but one in focus.
In fact, throughout the burst, there were very few cases that were not in focus. But in general, about eight or nine out of ten burst shots were all in focus.
I also concluded later that when the character runs towards me and occupies a large proportion of the picture, the focus error is most likely to occur, as shown in the following series of continuous shots:
Worst set of bursts In-focus to Out-of-focus ratio
But I think this is also because there are too many uncontrollable factors when shooting a moving children. Usually, the subject is not so crazy when shooting portraits normally...
And if you are shooting a karting, if the camera focuses on the helmet instead of the eyes at the beginning, then because the depth of field of the 85mm lens is very shallow, the eyes of the characters are easy to be out of focus. On the contrary, if the eyes are recognized at the beginning, then the focus can basically always be on the eyes.
Familiar "Portrait Perspective"
In the past, we often said that 85mm is the golden focal length for portrait photography. In addition to the shallow depth of field blurring ability mentioned above, the more concentrated perspective is also one of the reasons. The narrower viewing angle means less ambient background is captured, which reduces distractions.
Close-up shots like this are exactly what the 85mm lens excels at, both outdoors and indoors.
This is more obvious when shooting full-body portraits outdoors. If the angle of view is wider, then the debris in the background will be captured. At the same time, if there is no large aperture such as F1.8, the background will be more cluttered, and the characters will not stand out from it.
In addition, even for many mobile phone users, the 85mm viewing angle is not so unfamiliar.
The 85mm focal length, you may have used it.
Because of the 77mm equivalent telephoto camera on the iPhone 13 Pro Max, its viewing angle is very close to 85mm (also the iPhone 13 Pro).
Snow scene captured at 77mm equivalent focal length on previous iPhone
Only a medium telephoto lens can make snowflakes stand out.
In addition, I have the impression that some models of Samsung and Huawei will also have a 3× telephoto with an equivalent focal length of 80mm, so in fact, this portrait focal length is much more popular than in the past. On the other hand, the barrier to entry for an 85mm lens is also lower (and cheaper).
Summary - Can Anyone Use it?
Like a lot of people in the past I have classified the 85mm lens as a "portrait lens" and rarely thought about it when not shooting portraits. But recent shoots have made me realize that what I shoot with this Viltrox 85mm F1.8 is much more than portraits.
At night, the 85mm lens can frame the moon with the blooming magnolia:
Walking into a tea house, the 85mm lens can show the carefully-crafted scene well:
In the racecourse, the 85mm lens allows me to take close-ups of the horse's eyes and long eyelashes, and blur the background lights into large spots of light:
When tasting desserts, the 85mm lens can make this dessert beautiful with its good magnification and blurring ability:
It even helped me complete the photo shoot of the magazine product image with its concentrated perspective and excellent resolution:
It is true that the applicable subject matter of the 85mm lens may not be as wide as the 24-70mm lens, but in today's era, its shallow depth of field effect and concentrated perspective may be irreplaceable by other lenses and mobile phones.
Photos I took with an 85mm lens. Its abundance exceeded expectations.
So, let's go back to the first question, is the 85mm F1.8 a lens that anyone can use to take pictures that can produce blockbusters?
I thought: yes and no.
Because for a pure photography novice, it takes a certain amount of learning and practice to be familiar with and use this lens well. But I also think that what hinders his/her production is not entirely from the lens itself, but also needs aesthetic ability and the ability to control the picture.
At indoors with limited space,85mm picture is easy to appear crowded
Before using an 85mm lens, it's best to figure out when you need a close-up image, when it's suitable for blurring the background, and what kind of light can enhance the quality of the image. Otherwise, although the 85mm F1.8 can make the out-of-focus blurry mess, the core content of the picture is not good-looking, and the photo cannot be a qualified photographic work.
After going through this stage, an 85mm F1.8 lens (the price of this one from Viltrox is $399) can allow you to fully experience the fun of camera photography, and slowly feel the atmosphere and mood in the picture.
It can be beautiful to take a close-up shot of the grass 85mm F1.8
(Notes: The photos in this article are all taken with Canon EOS R5 + Viltrox AF 85mm F1.8 RF unless those were stated)