We’re back at it again in our quest for street photography only this time we’re using the monster known as the Canon 85mm f/1.2. No, that’s not a typo, this massive lens has an actual f-stop of 1.2! Renowned for being one of the sharpest lenses ever made, in addition to its stunning low-light performance, this lens should prove to be a solid contender for top honors when it comes to street photography. 


I feel like I need to mention that there is no wrong or right lens when shooting photography of any sort – landscape, portrait, product, wedding, street, etc. Using an 85mm lens versus a 35mm, zoom lens, or any other lens, is really just a matter of preference. In this case, we’ve got the 85mm, so that’s what we’re rolling with!

Using an 85mm lens means you’re able to get a much closer look at the world than you would through a 24, or 35mm lens. Even though the lens itself is rather large and imposing, you can use the 85mm focal length to stand back from your subjects and usually remain undetected. 

It also means you can get some pretty cool-looking architectural photos, using the 85mm’s depth of field compression to your advantage. I try to shoot in such a way that the vertical lines of something like a building are as close to straight up and down as possible and then correct any warping due to perspective in Lightroom. Here in a city like Cleveland, this technique works exceedingly well.

When it comes to street photography venerable lenses such as 35mm primes or 24-70mm zoom lenses rule the roost, but a lens like the Canon 85mm f/1.2 can surprise you with its image quality and versatility. It’s an incredible strong lens, especially when shooting at night and I can’t recommend it enough.



Benjamin Lehman is a professional commercial photographer in the Cleveland, Arkon, Canton, and Northeast Ohio areas.