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Canon 85 1.8 vs. 100 2.0

Kerry Grim , Nov 05, 2009; 08:25 a.m.

This is somewhat out of curiosity although someday I would like to purchase one of these lenses when not wanting to carry the bulk and weight of my 70-200 2.8 lens. Currently using a crop body.

It seems the 85 is extremely popular and an excellent lens. Yet, I hear little of the 100 2.0 lens. So I am wondering why the preference of the 85 to the 100? I am not criticizing, but curious why the 85 is seemingly more popular.

The price has risen on the 85 so much so that it cost nearly the same amount as the 100. I assume that is due to the demand and popularity of the 85.

I did not compare the physical dimensions, nor the weight or image quality of these lenses.


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Matthijs Claessen , Nov 05, 2009; 08:35 a.m.

According to those in the know those lenses are identical twins. But one of them had spinache and the other not. It grew another 15mm to 100mm while the other stopped at 85mm.

DS Meador , Nov 05, 2009; 08:37 a.m.

You didn't mention if you're shooting crop or FF. I shot my daughter's first gymnastics performance this morning with my XSI and 85 1.8. Have yet to download the pictures, so I can't post one. However, the 100 would have been too long from where I was sitting. I guess I could have moved to another seat were it necessary, but I was front row with no heads in the way. So, the current popularity of the 85 may be due the the focal length on the crop factor. I also tried some indoor portraits of my daughter with the 85 1.8 and barely was able to do that indoors due to the focal length. As I don't have the 100 2 I can't speak to image quality comparisons just to the space needed for taking pictures based on the crop factor of my XSI. I am extremely pleased with the quality of the pictures from my 85 though.
DS Meador

John Tonai , Nov 05, 2009; 08:58 a.m.

Currently using a crop body

Back in the days of the FD system, the 100 was more popular because it had the reputation of being sharper than the 85 and it's slightly longer focal length flattened out perspective a little more for portraits. I would also guess that there were a lot of comparisons to the Nikkor lenses and the 105/2.5 was definitely sharper than the 85/2 or 1.8. There are a few people who liked the even longer 135 as a portrait lens.

But as DS surmised, the beginning with the digital bodies, the portrait focal lengths have shortened. Some like the 50 while it seems that most like the 85. In the same way, the few that liked the 135 might migrate toward the 100.

I wouldn't worry about it since your lens is serving you well. They both are excellent lenses.

Hal B , Nov 05, 2009; 08:58 a.m.

You didn't mention if you're shooting crop or FF.

DS: Kerry DID mention in the first paragraph, "Currently using a crop body."

The 85mm is to a crop body what the 135mm was to a 35mm film body (full frame). This made it the obvious choice for a comparable lens on a digital camera. 100mm is sort of an odd length, usually used only for macro. It's there if you want to use it, but it isn't the classic "135".

Anders Carlsson , Nov 05, 2009; 09:12 a.m.

I asked in a related thread earlier this year why both of them exist side by side at all. The answer -- dating back to FF-only days -- seems to be that some portrait photographers want to have the choice due to slightly different outcomes. The longer, the flatter. I have a hard time seeing that 15mm would make that much of a difference compared to, say, 85mm vs. 135mm. But it seems to be the case.

mat g , Nov 05, 2009; 09:19 a.m.

it depends, do you want 135mm 1.8 or a 160mm f2 on your crop sensor..... look at the pics you shoot and decide which one you use more... personally, i like the 50mm 1.4 on the crop sensor as it is approx 85mm and give you the 1.4 aperture.... either way, you cannot go wrong with any of these lenses as they are all good performers.... might i suggest, you sell the zoom and purchase all three! primes are nice, especially with those apertures!

Jack Nordine , Nov 05, 2009; 09:48 a.m.

I use the 100mm 2.0 for portraits on an XSI. I prefer the extra length and compression that it delivers. Its about the same size as the 85mm, so its very compact. If I had a full frame camera, I think I might sell the 100mm and buy the 135mm 2.0, but for the XSI, the 100mm 2.0 is ideal.

Steve Dunn , Nov 05, 2009; 12:12 p.m.

Tom Berkowski , Nov 05, 2009; 01:41 p.m.

I have owned a 100 f/2 for years since film, and I like it a lot (now I am full frame digital) for portraits and playground.
A couple years ago, there was a rebate cycle than included 85 1.8. I bought it just to see if it would add anything. Whoever said twins has it about right. I felt like I was using my 100, just taking a step or so back. I returned it. While I love the 100 +/- focal length , there's no need for me to have the subtilty of 15mm. Also, for me at least f/1.8 vs. 2.0 does not matter. I only had it for a couple days, but image quality was identical (excellent) in my real world use. I don't test lenses scientifically, so someone else might correct me. Build quality was identical, feel was identical. Size was very similar.
I would personally find it difficult to use a 100 mm on a crop body, but that's because of what & how I shoot. Since you use up to 200 on your zoom, you have different application & needs. If I were you, I'd just look at which is closer to your typical focal length. Someone once made reference to a photoshop tool that gives distribution of focal lengths in a series of pictures, but since I don't use photoshop, I can't give any more information.

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