Berlin on Borrowed lenses: 85mm

"Berlin on Borrowed lenses: 85mm"


1. I had one piece of hand luggage for the trip so I had to get a low number of lenses with a good range. 2. This is not a technical review, I’m not a lens boffin; it’s all anecdotal. 3. I shot on a Canon 5Dmk2 body with Nikon lenses fitted with an adapter. 4. Only these three lenses were used. 

Part 1 (24mm review): Click Here.

Nikon 85mm f/1.8


Build Quality This was my most used lens on the trip and I chose it because I wanted to leave the oft-used 35mm and 50mm at home. It’s a lovely length that offers a lesser-seen perspective, again, going beyond that typical 5D character. Unfortunately the focus ring was a bit too fast for my liking. Lacking a bit of traction, it just slid around way too fast. I like a bit of friction in there for fine control over the focus but this was so loose that pulling your hand away too fast could knock the focus out, which isn’t what you want when you’re shooting f/1.8 at 85mm. The minimum focus wasn’t great either.

Even Niftier Despite the lack of practicality, it did look very nice. There’s no way that it couldn’t. Stick an 85mm on a lovely bit of graffiti in the city or somebody’s face and you’ll be hard pushed to get anything less than a very pretty shot and this is why it was the go-to lens. Luckily, it wasn’t long enough to prevent me going handheld because of the shake and certainly on the tripod, the pans were absolutely fine. I’m tempted to pack in the 50mm altogether and get myself an 85mm because it is far more versatile than I thought and actually, gives a nicer, more interesting image. The nifty fifty is a staple lens but that’s exactly why I want to get rid of it, so I can change up my footage and shoot with a new set of restrictions. Just because everyone shoots 50mm doesn’t mean it is an essential part of your kit. Nicer results can be gained with the 85mm. Shooting at the same portrait distance from your subject on the 85mm as the 50mm will give you a far nicer shot. I had my 50mm with me on the trip, assuming full well that I would use it as a fallback at some point but I didn’t. Not once. I just didn’t need to. Neither for it’s look, nor for its practicality. The 85mm took its place and I had absolutely no remorse.


Next Week

11th November: 135mm f/2.8 


London Camera Exchange website:

Audio Visual Postcard website:

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