Jan 23, 2024

The Best 85mm Lens for Street Photography

Exploring the Top 85mm Lenses for Street Photography in 2024

Hunter Scott
Hunter Scott
The Best 85mm Lens for Street Photography

Street photography is a popular genre that captures candid moments of everyday life in urban environments. It allows photographers to document the raw and unfiltered essence of city living. To truly excel in street photography, having the right gear is crucial, and one of the most important tools in a street photographer's arsenal is the 85mm lens. In this article, we will delve into the world of 85mm lenses and explore why they are the best choice for street photography.

Understanding the Importance of 85mm Lens in Street Photography

Before diving into the unique features and benefits of an 85mm lens, it's important to understand why this focal length is particularly well-suited for street photography. The 85mm lens provides the perfect balance between reach and portability. Its moderate telephoto focal length allows photographers to capture subjects from a comfortable distance without being intrusive, resulting in more natural and candid photographs.

When it comes to street photography, one of the key challenges is capturing authentic moments without disturbing the scene. The 85mm lens proves to be an ideal choice in this regard. Its focal length allows photographers to maintain a safe distance from their subjects while still being able to capture intimate details. This means that photographers can document the lives of people on the streets without intruding upon their personal space, resulting in candid and genuine photographs.

The Unique Features of an 85mm Lens

One of the standout features of an 85mm lens is its ability to produce a beautiful bokeh effect. The wide aperture and longer focal length combine to create a shallow depth of field, resulting in a pleasing separation between the subject and the background. This helps to draw attention to the main subject and isolate it from any distractions in the surroundings.

Imagine capturing a street performer in action, with the bustling cityscape as the backdrop. With an 85mm lens, you can easily blur out the busy background, allowing the performer to take center stage in your photograph. The bokeh effect adds a touch of artistry to your images, creating a visually appealing and professional look.

Additionally, 85mm lenses are known for their exceptional low-light performance. The wider aperture allows for more light to enter the lens, making it easier to capture sharp and well-exposed images in challenging lighting conditions. This is particularly beneficial for street photographers who often find themselves shooting in dimly lit city streets or during the golden hours.

Imagine walking down a dimly lit alleyway, with only the soft glow of streetlights illuminating your path. With an 85mm lens, you can confidently capture the mood and atmosphere of the scene, without worrying about blurry or underexposed images. The lens's ability to gather more light ensures that you can capture the essence of the moment, even in challenging lighting situations.

Why 85mm Lens is Ideal for Street Photography

Street photography is all about capturing fleeting moments and authentic emotions. The 85mm lens excels in this aspect by allowing photographers to maintain a comfortable distance from their subjects while still capturing intimate details. This enables them to document the lives of people on the streets without intruding upon their personal space, resulting in candid and genuine photographs.

Furthermore, the 85mm lens offers versatility in street photography. It allows photographers to capture a wide range of subjects, from portraits of individuals to candid shots of street scenes. The moderate telephoto focal length provides enough reach to capture distant subjects, while also allowing for close-up shots with shallow depth of field.

Imagine walking through a vibrant street market, with colorful stalls and busy shoppers all around. With an 85mm lens, you can easily switch between capturing the overall atmosphere of the market to focusing on the intricate details of a vendor's face or a shopper's expression. The lens's versatility allows you to tell a story through your photographs, capturing the essence of the street and its people.

In conclusion, the 85mm lens is a valuable tool for street photographers. Its unique features, such as the ability to produce a beautiful bokeh effect and exceptional low-light performance, make it an ideal choice for capturing authentic moments on the streets. Whether you're documenting the hustle and bustle of a city or capturing the quiet moments of everyday life, the 85mm lens allows you to tell a compelling story through your photographs.

Exploring the Top 85mm Lenses for Street Photography

Street photography is a captivating genre that allows photographers to capture the essence of everyday life in urban environments. One of the key tools in a street photographer's arsenal is an 85mm lens. With its versatile focal length, an 85mm lens offers a unique perspective, allowing photographers to capture candid moments and intimate portraits from a comfortable distance.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing an 85mm Lens

When selecting the best 85mm lens for street photography, there are several factors to consider. First and foremost, image quality should be a top priority. Look for lenses that deliver sharpness, clarity, and good color rendition. A lens that can accurately reproduce the vibrant colors and intricate details of a bustling cityscape or a candid street scene can truly elevate your photography.

Another important factor is the lens's autofocus speed and accuracy, as you'll often need to capture quick-moving subjects in street photography. Whether it's a fleeting expression on a stranger's face or a decisive moment unfolding before your eyes, having a lens with fast and precise autofocus can make all the difference in capturing that perfect shot.

The size and weight of the lens are also crucial considerations. Street photography often involves long hours of walking and exploring, so a lightweight and compact lens can make a significant difference in terms of comfort and mobility. Carrying heavy gear can quickly become tiresome, hindering your ability to move freely and capture those spontaneous moments that make street photography so exciting.

Reviewing the Best 85mm Lenses on the Market

Now that we understand the importance of an 85mm lens for street photography and the key factors to consider when choosing one, let's explore some of the top options available on the market.

  1. Nikon NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S: This lens offers exceptional image quality and a fast autofocus system, making it a great choice for street photography. With its wide aperture of f/1.8, it allows for excellent low-light performance, enabling you to capture stunning images even in challenging lighting conditions. The lens's compact and lightweight design further enhances its usability, making it a perfect companion for long street photography sessions.
  2. Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM: With its wide aperture and superb optics, this lens delivers stunning image quality and beautiful bokeh. The f/1.2 aperture allows for incredible depth of field control, enabling you to isolate your subjects from the busy urban backdrop. Its advanced autofocus system ensures quick and accurate focusing, allowing you to capture those fleeting moments with ease. While slightly heavier than some other options, the lens's exceptional performance and build quality make it a favorite among street photographers.
  3. Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM: Known for its outstanding sharpness and low-light capabilities, this lens is a favorite among street photographers. The f/1.4 aperture not only provides excellent low-light performance but also allows for stunning background separation and bokeh. With its fast and reliable autofocus system, you can confidently capture the energy and spontaneity of the streets. Despite its impressive optical performance, the lens remains relatively compact and lightweight, making it a popular choice for photographers on the move.

When it comes to street photography, the choice of an 85mm lens can greatly impact the quality and style of your images. Each lens mentioned above offers unique features and characteristics that cater to different shooting preferences. Whether you prioritize image quality, autofocus speed, or portability, there is an 85mm lens out there that can help you capture the vibrant and dynamic world of street photography.

The Role of Aperture in 85mm Lenses

Understanding Aperture and Its Impact on Photography

Aperture plays a crucial role in photography, and it's particularly important when using an 85mm lens for street photography. The aperture determines the amount of light that enters the lens and controls the depth of field in an image.

When shooting in street photography, a wider aperture such as f/1.8 or f/2 allows for a shallower depth of field, which helps to isolate the subject and create a dreamy bokeh effect. On the other hand, a narrower aperture like f/8 or f/11 increases the depth of field, ensuring that more of the scene is in focus.

How to Choose the Right Aperture for Your 85mm Lens

Choosing the right aperture depends on the specific scene and the effect you want to achieve. If you're photographing a single subject in a busy street, a wider aperture can help separate the subject from the distracting background. However, if you're capturing a wider scene with multiple subjects, a narrower aperture can ensure that everything is in sharp focus.

The Impact of Lens Construction and Design

The Significance of Lens Construction in Image Quality

The construction and design of an 85mm lens play a significant role in determining the overall image quality. High-quality lens elements, such as aspherical or extra-low dispersion glass, help to minimize aberrations, distortions, and chromatic aberrations. This translates to sharper images with better color accuracy and minimal distortion.

How Lens Design Affects Your Street Photography

The design of the lens also influences its handling and performance. Some lenses are weather-sealed, which provides protection against dust and moisture, making them suitable for shooting in challenging environments. Additionally, features like image stabilization can be beneficial for handheld shooting, especially in low-light situations where a slower shutter speed may be required.

Maintaining and Caring for Your 85mm Lens

Essential Tips for Cleaning Your 85mm Lens

Maintaining and cleaning your 85mm lens is crucial to ensure its longevity and optimal performance. Start by using a soft microfiber cloth to gently wipe away any dust or smudges from the lens's surface. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that could damage the lens coating.

If necessary, use a lens cleaning solution and a lens cleaning brush or blower to remove stubborn dirt particles. Ensure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and storing your specific lens model to avoid any damage.

Protecting Your Lens for Long-Term Use

Investing in a lens hood is a wise decision to protect your 85mm lens from accidental bumps and scratches. Additionally, using a UV filter can help safeguard the front element of the lens from potential damage and also reduce the risk of flare or ghosting in certain shooting conditions.

Finally, always store your lens in a clean and dry place, preferably in a padded lens pouch or case, to prevent any potential damage. Regularly inspect your lens for any signs of wear and tear and consider getting it professionally serviced to maintain its performance.

Now armed with the knowledge of why the 85mm lens is the best choice for street photography and how to choose the right lens, you are ready to take to the streets and capture the vibrant and captivating moments that unfold before your lens. Remember to experiment, have fun, and keep honing your skills to further enhance your street photography endeavors.