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Is The Viltrox RF 85mm f1.8 Worth It?

Hi guys. Today, we’ll have a look at a special lens. This is the Viltrox RF 85mm f1.8 STM, and it’s a competitor to the far more expensive Canon RF 85mm f1.2 L USM. In this review, we’re going to go over what this lens can do, what it can’t do, and who should buy it.

By the way, after this review, I’ll also make a direct comparison review between it, and the actual Canon RF 85mm lens, so if you’re interested, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter, so you don’t miss that. And now, let’s begin by having a look at the aperture and focal length.

Watch This Before Buying the Viltrox RF 85mm f/1.8 Lens! Best Third Party RF Canon Lens?

Aperture & Focal Length

As you can tell from the name, this lens can open up to f/1.8, which is quite wide open, and that will allow a whole lot of light to get in. This will enable you to shoot in low-light conditions, whilst keeping noise levels low in the shadows.

If you’re doing portraits in the evening, this will allow you to extend past golden hour, and get some really nice clean portraits close to sundown.

In terms of focal length, it’s obviously 85mm. For those of you who’ve read my previous reviews, you might know that the advantage of a fixed focal length is that it produces sharper images, compared to a zoom lens.

The 85mm focal length is also ideal for portraits. Whilst any lens will produce some kind of distortion, the 85mm is considered to be the most flattering for people, and thus that is the main intended purpose for this lens.

Female model, screenshot from video filmed with the Canon R5, and the Viltrox RF 85mm f1.8 - 05 - 02
Taken with: Canon EOS R5 + Viltrox RF 85mm f1.8

Size & Build

When holding this lens in your hand, you can tell it’s well built. Now, it doesn’t feel quite as high up there as the build quality on the Canon RF 85mm, but given the difference in price, that’s to be expected.

This lens will take up quite a bit of space in your bag, so when storing it in there, if you want to use the lens hood, it might be a good idea to invert it, in order to save some space.

Viltrox RF 85mm f1.8 lens
Taken with: Canon EOS R5 + Canon RF 15-35mm f2.8 L IS USM

Image Quality

Now, let’s get to one of the most important aspects of the review, the image quality. Given the fact that this lens is significantly cheaper than its competitor, the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM, I was shocked as to how good the images it produces are.

Like most lenses, it is at its sharpest in the centre, and thus the edges of the image can be a bit less sharp as a result. Given that this lens is intended for portraiture, this isn’t a problem, as your subject will almost always be in the centre of the image.

Additionally, it can also produce a bit of vignetting, which again, works well with portraits, as vignetting can sometimes add depth to the subject.

In terms of video, despite not having image stabilisation, when used with a camera that does have built-in stabilisation, such as the Canon R5, the results can be staggering.

The footage is shot in 1080p @ 120fps, but it’s all handheld, and the results are really good. The lens produces nice and stable video, whilst the footage is also rich in bokeh, and overall character.

Also, thanks to the R5’s magical eye detection, the subject is basically always in focus.

Here are some photos taken with with the Canon R5 and the Viltrox RF 85mm f1.8 STM.

Viltrox RF 85mm f1.8 lens
Taken with: Canon EOS R5 + Canon RF 15-35mm f2.8 L IS USM

Control

When it comes to the control options, you have the usual AF/MF button on the side, and you actually only get one ring, which is the focusing one.

It’s actually impossible to miss, as it is absolutely massive, and turning it gives you a satisfying feeling. Turning it produces no clicks by the way, it’s just a smooth mechanical feeling. It turns fast enough that it’s not frustratingly slow, but slow enough that it allows you to zero in when manually focusing.

Longevity

Just like with any other modern mechanical marvel, you’re going to want to be careful with it. When not in use, I just keep it in my padded bag, so I know it won’t get damaged.

As soon as I purchased it, I bought a Sigma 72mm ceramic filter for it, to protect the main glass element from impacts, dust, and humidity. The filter wasn’t too expensive, but I like to always have one on my lenses, thus keeping them safe, especially as I don’t usually like using hoods.

By the way, the lens does provide you with a hood, so if you’re not going to use a protective filter, you might as well keep it on.

Also, bear in mind that this lens has no weather sealing, so I wouldn’t use it in any kind of adverse conditions if I were you.

Female model, photo taken with the Canon R5, and the Viltrox RF 85mm f1.8
Taken with: Canon EOS R5 + Viltrox RF 85mm f1.8

Conclusion

So, should you buy the Viltrox RF 85mm f/1.8 STM?

This lens is designed for portraits, and that it does wonderfully. You’ll get some beautiful images with it, no doubt.

Obviously, you can also use it for any kind of photography really, including street photography, though its size might draw some unwanted attention, so bear that in mind.

If you want to shoot video, you’ll be fine as long as you’re using a tripod. Obviously you can get smooth footage handheld, but you need to have a Canon R5, and also once you play it in real time, the shake will be more apparent.

If you want more options for video, have a look at my review of the Canon 15-35mm f2.8 L IS USM, and you can watch it on my YouTube channel.

Also, if you have some more money to spend, and you’d like a lens that allows in even more light, and takes even better photos, have a look at my review of the Canon 85mm f1.2 L USM.

Thank you for reading my review of the Viltrox RF 85mm f1.8 STM. I invite you to have a look at some of my other articles. We have something for everyone, whether you’re interested in audio, or cameras and lenses. Alternatively, if you prefer video reviews, feel free to have a look at my YouTube channel.

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