Not Just 85mm! 4 Great Portrait Lenses for the Canon RF System

If you’re seriously looking at the Canon RF camera system, you’re likely considering it for portraiture. It’s fantastic for it! And we’ve reviewed nearly every Canon RF lens, so we’ve got a lot to say. The system is brilliant for portraiture. Better yet, there are tons of fantastic portrait lenses for Canon RF cameras. Whether you’re using the Canon EOS R or the Canon EOS R5, there’s something for you. So we dove into the Reviews Index to get just what you need.

The Phoblographer’s product round-up features are done in-house. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t handle the product. We only recommend gear we’ve fully reviewed. If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Pro Tips on Using Portrait Lenses

Here are some tips on how to use portrait lenses that professional photographers follow:

  • Luckily, it’s hard to get a photo that’s so sharp that you truly need to do a lot of retouching with Canon RF cameras. The image quality is beautiful without being overly sharp.

  • Use Canon’s Face and Eye detection when shooting. You’ll see; it will feel almost like cheating. Use Servo focusing, which pairs excellently with Canon portrait lenses.

  • If you really want sharper images, use an off-camera flash like Canon’s EL1 Speedlight, the Elinchrom One, or the Profoto B10.

  • Make sure the face detection priority is set to humans.

  • Stop your portrait lenses down a bit. We know we’re recommending very fast lenses here, but stop it down a tad. Also note that all the lenses here are weather sealed.

Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L USM: Unbeatable?

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Essential Tech Specs

  • High Image Quality and Bright f/1.2 Aperture L Lens for EOS R System Cameras

  • Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics (BR) Reduces Chromatic Aberration.

  • Minimum Focusing Distance of 2.79 ft./0.85m.

  • Control Ring for Direct Setting Changes.

  • One Aspheric Element and One UD Lens.

  • 12 pin Communication System.

  • Dust- and Weather-resistant with Fluorine Coating.

  • Air Sphere Coating (ASC) Minimizes Lens Flare and Ghosting.

  • Fixed Mirrorless FL: Focal Length: 85mm

  • Lens Format: Lens Format: Full-Frame

  • Maximum Aperture: Maximum Aperture: f/1.2

  • Lens Type: Telephoto Lens

  • Special Features: Aspherical, Weather Resistant

In our review, we state:

“The Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L USM is one of the best 85mm lenses I’ve ever used, and between reviewing cameras and lenses for The Phoblographer and photographing headshot clients, I’ve used a hell of a lot of lenses. Sure, it’s bulky and weighs a ton, but boy are the resulting images worth lugging the lens around. Portrait photographers will appreciate the f1.2 aperture–especially if you miss that from the old Canon EF lenses.”

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Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM: One of Our Favorite Portrait Lenses

Canon cameras -EOS R

Canon cameras -EOS R

Essential Tech Specs

  • Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 50mm f/1.2

  • Lens Construction: 15 elements in 9 groups

  • Diagonal Angle of View: 46°00′

  • Focus Adjustment: AF with full-time manual

  • Closest Focusing Distance: 1.31 ft. / 0.40m

  • Filter Size: 77mm

  • Max. Diameter x Length, Weight: Φ3.54 x 4.25 in., approx. 2.09 lbs. / Φ89.8 x 108.0mm, approx. 950g

In our review, we state:

“The likely reason why you’re considering reading this review of the the Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM is either because you’re interested in a purchase/switch over, or you just want to find a reason why your current gear is superior. If I’m going to be very honest, the Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM is the best 50mm lens I’ve tested. I loathe the 50mm focal length. LOATHE IT! But with this lens, I feel like I’m shooting with a medium format 80mm f2 lens in the 645 format. It’s beautiful, and in every single way Canon is leading the charge when it comes to 50mm focal lengths.”

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Canon RF 85mm f2 IS USM Macro: Extra Versatility

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Essential Tech Specs

  • Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 85mm, f2

  • Minimum Focusing Distance: 1.14 ft / 0.35m

  • Maximum Magnification: 0.5x

  • Lens Construction: 12 elements in 11 groups

  • Special Elements: One UD lens

  • Filter Size Diameter: 67mm

  • Aperture Blades: 9

  • Dimensions: Approx. 3.07 in x 3.56 in. / 78mm x 90.5mm

  • Weight: Approx. 1.10 lbs. / 500g

In our review, we state:

“The 85mm delivers exactly the sharpness I was expecting for the price point and RF mount. When perfectly focused, the center is nice and sharp, even at f2. While I had better luck getting a tack sharp shot stepping down a bit, with careful focusing the lens can be shot wide open. Mixed with the macro capabilities, I was able to grab some excellent detail and texture with this lens. Sharpness does fall off a bit towards the edges, however. Shooting wide open, you’ll want to use the Rule of Thirds and keep important details away from the edges.”

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Samyang 85mm f1.4 RF AF: Not All Portrait Lenses Are Pricey!

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Essential Tech Specs

Model name

AF 85 mm F1.4 RF

Aperture range

F1.4 ~ 16

Lens optical

Construction

11 Elements in 8 Groups

Special lens

HR 4, ED 1

Coating

UMC

Minium focusing distance

0.90m (2.95ft)

Maximum maginification ratio

x 0.11

Filter size

Φ 77.0

Maximum diameter

Φ 88.0

Number of blades

9

Mount

Canon RF

Angle of view

Full Frame

28.9˚

APS-C

19.1˚

Length

99.5mm

Weight without lens cap, hood

582g

Weather Sealing

o

AF/MF mode switch

o

AF Motor

LSM

In our review, we state:

“Sometimes what I like about Samyang and Rokinon lenses are their character. When I tested the 50mm f1.4 for Sony, I adored the way images looked. And the Samyang 85mm f1.4 RF is no exception. It retains a unique and distinctive character from Canon’s own lenses. Canon lenses also have character, mind you. This goes against the grain of so many other manufacturers right now who are engineering characters out of lenses so they all look the same and very sterile. But this lens has a look, and I adore it.”

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