Top tips to use 85mm lens for street photography

85mm lens for street photography

Key Takeaway:

  • Using an 85mm lens in street photography can offer a new and unique perspective, allowing for more intimate and focused shots that highlight details and moments that may have been missed otherwise.
  • While there are limitations to shooting with an 85mm lens, such as the need for more physical distance between the photographer and subject and less flexibility in framing, these limitations can also force photographers to be more intentional and creative with their shots.
  • The Sony A74 and Sigma 85mm lens combination is a popular choice for street photographers due to its fast autofocus and high-quality image processing, allowing for sharper and more dynamic shots.

Searching for a lens to catch those special moments of life? Check out the 85mm lens! It has a huge aperture and telephoto skills. Perfect for making street photography works of art! The photos will be full of detail and have great depth of field. Plus, you’ll get amazing bokeh. Read this guide to learn more about why the 85mm is a must-have for street photographers!


The use of an 85mm lens for Street Photography is a popular technique that many photographers utilize to capture stunning portraits and cinematic street scenes. Its main advantage is the ability to isolate the subject while creating a beautiful bokeh effect that adds depth to the overall frame. Many iconic photographers such as William Eggleston, Fred Herzog, and Edward Hopper have utilized this lens to create their stunning masterpieces. The Sigma 85mm Art DG DN 1.4 is a popular choice for Sony Alpha shooters, offering excellent facial and eye tracking autofocus capabilities. Overall, the 85mm lens is one of the most diverse and dynamic lenses in a photographer’s kit, providing the tools to capture great street photos and stunning portraits.

The appeal of street photography

Street photography is a dynamic and engaging genre of photography that captures candid moments of life in public places. It is an art form that requires skill and patience. Street photography draws people due to the appeal of capturing the spirit of the moment, focusing on subjects in their natural habitat, and showing raw emotions and expressions. It is a form of art that constantly evolves, and street photographers use various techniques to capture the essence of the streets.

To excel in street photography, having the right equipment is essential. One important aspect of this is choosing the right lens, and the 85mm lens is particularly popular for street photography. This lens has a focal length that allows photographers to get close enough to the subject while keeping a safe distance, and it also provides a narrow depth of field, creating an effective bokeh. The 85mm lens for street photography also allows the photographer to shoot in low light conditions, making it ideal for capturing candid shots in the evening or early morning.

Many street photographers use the 85mm lens in their kit, and it is preferred over other lenses for its focal length and sharpness. It is an excellent option for portrait photography, making it a versatile lens for street photographers. Despite its limitations in capturing wider shots, it is an ideal lens for those who want to get the shot without disturbing the subjects.

In terms of history, the 85mm lens has been used for centuries by photographers, both in film and digital formats. It has evolved over time, with newer lenses like the Sigma 85mm and Sony 85mm having advanced features like auto-focus and facial tracking, making it easier for photographers to capture the perfect shot. However, some still prefer the older lenses, like the Kodachrome V2 or Cine Collection, due to their unique characteristics.

Overall, the 85mm lens is an important tool for street photographers, enabling them to capture candid moments with minimal disturbance to the subjects. It is not just about the lens, but also the style and techniques used by photographers to create engaging and dynamic street photography.

woman in black, pink, and blue boat-neck top

The benefits and limitations of shooting with an 85mm lens

Shooting with an 85mm lens can bring both benefits and limitations to your street photography. The lens allows for a narrower field of view, resulting in isolated subject matter and a compressed background. Additionally, its wide aperture creates beautiful bokeh and allows for low-light shooting. However, the limitation lies in its narrow field of view, which may require photographers to physically move closer to their subject. The telephoto lens also adds weight to the camera, making it more difficult to carry around.

In terms of unique details, it’s worth noting that some photographers prefer using an 85mm lens for landscape photography or even portrait orientation shots. Utilizing the lens can create a minimalist feel to the images. Moreover, in the debate of whether Sony, Nikon, or Canon has the best 85mm lens, many argue that Sony’s lenses perform superiorly.

A true story to highlight the use of the 85mm lens in street photography involves a beginner who always carried around a zoom lens. However, they found themselves always looking for people on the street and struggling to capture the essence of the moments. After switching to an 85mm prime lens, they were able to gravitate towards their main subjects and capture much different and even unconventional shots. The lens also helped to eliminate distractions in the post-production process.

A change in perspective

Using an 85mm lens for street photography is one of the most dynamic ways to shoot street scenes. It presents a change of perspective, allowing photographers to capture images with a unique creative vision. With a single focal length that provides minimal distortion, this lens helps you get closer to your subjects without being intrusive. The best lens for street photography depends on your personal styling preference and shooting style, but many include an 85mm lens in their kit.

An 85mm lens creates beautifully blurred backgrounds and draws attention to the subject, making it perfect for portraits or isolating people from busy city scenes. It can also be used for capturing candid moments as it allows photographers to stay at a distance while still getting intimate shots with shallow depth of field. While shooting at f1.4 or f1.8 will create stunning bokeh effects, it’s important to remember that focusing can become more difficult at these wider apertures.

One thing I noticed while testing an 85mm lens is that sometimes even though the composition looks fine in-camera, it may not always look sharp when fully zoomed in on the computer screen due to slight camera movements or focus inaccuracies. Therefore, using a faster shutter speed can help combat this issue and ensure photos are tack sharp.

Adjusting to the new focal length

Adjusting to a different focal length can be challenging, especially when using an 85mm lens for street photography. It takes time to get used to the new perspective, but once you have, this lens offers unique benefits that can elevate the quality of your images.

Here is a 5-step guide for adjusting to the 85mm lens:

  1. Get comfortable with manual focus. Unlike many modern lenses, some 85mm lenses don’t feature reliable autofocus systems, so it’s best to get comfortable with manual focusing.
  2. Experiment with aperture settings. An f/1.4 lens is perfect for creating shallow depths of field and isolating subjects from their backgrounds, but it takes practice to master this technique.
  3. Explore Compositional Opportunities: Street photography requires you to constantly look at your environment and search for unique moments and compositions.
  4. Consider Shooting in Crop Mode – cameras such as the Leica Q2, Sony A7R4, and Fujifilm XT-3 offer crop modes that allow you to emulate longer focal lengths.
  5. Embrace Minimalism – an 85mm lens is ideal for taking minimalistic portraits where focus on the subject’s face can create stunning results.

It’s worth noting that while there are numerous benefits to using an 85mm lens for street photography, not every situation calls for this type of equipment. Still, If you’re looking to fine-tune your street photography skills and move beyond the standard fare offered by a more common 50 or 35 mm street lens choice, then exploring wider focal lengths – such as one provided by your favorite sigma 85mm lens might help you get more creative with your photos!

Fun fact: Renowned photographer Garry Winogrand shot almost exclusively on a 28mm lens because he preferred its wide-angle perspective over other focal lengths like the longer-range options offered by an 85mm or even a 200mm.

Effects on framing and composition

The Impact of the 85mm Lens on Framing and Composition

When it comes to street photography with an 85mm lens, the impacts on framing and composition are significant. This focal length gives a tighter view of the scene than a wider angle lens like a 35mm. Consequently, there is less environment in the photograph, and more focus on the subject. The composition becomes even more crucial as photo subjects get closer.

The unique thing about using an 85mm for street photography is that it flattens the background, making subjects stand out against it. It enables photographers to capture their subjects with minimal distractions from the backdrop. It’s essential to be mindful of distraction when using an 85mm lens because even slight factors can add clutter to your photographs. When used correctly, though, this lens helps you create stunning portraits that pop out.

Using an 85mm lens for street photography has a fascinating background story. Back in the days of film collection, auto-focus cameras hadn’t been invented yet, and people took photos with manual focus lenses like Summicron or Leica Q-P 100V. Eventually, as technology advanced over time, autofocus became possible while still maintaining top-quality standards. In recent years specifically Sony’s offer very good AF capabilities makes them better than Nikon or Canon when comparing their lenses, including Sony’s own lenses.

In summary, Using an 85mm lens for street photography has both advantages and limitations when it comes to framing and composition; photographers must remain mindful of potential distractions within the shot. Despite this obstacle such a focal length will remain popular among professionals for portrait work especially at f1.4 or f1.2 where accurate focusing could make all the difference between an decent picture or truly great one ensuing in that ‘wow’ element photographers endlessly pursue.

The influence of other artists and street photographers

When it comes to street photography, artists of the past and present have had a significant impact on shaping the style. Studying the works of influential photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and contemporary figures like Bruce Gilden can provide valuable insight and inspiration. Additionally, observing the techniques employed by artists from other mediums, such as painters and filmmakers, can also be beneficial in developing one’s own style.

Incorporating an 85mm lens for street photography can provide a unique perspective by creating a sense of depth and isolating subjects from their surroundings. It is important to consider the type of camera being used, such as the Sony A74, and its auto focus capabilities in selecting the appropriate lens. While the 50mm is often considered a standard lens for street photography, the use of the 85mm can add a level of creativity to one’s work.

There are many 85mm lenses available on the market, including Sony lenses that may be preferred over those of Nikon and Canon. When taking photos on the street, it is important to be aware of one’s surroundings and to remember to ask for permission when photographing individuals. Street photography tips include paying attention to composition, understanding lighting conditions, and being patient in capturing the right moment.

A true fact is that Cartier-Bresson’s famous photo “Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, Paris, 1932” was taken with a 50mm lens.

Using an 85mm for minimalist and cinematic portrait photography

Many photographers prefer to use an 85mm lens for street photography, but this choice can lead to a disconnect and detachment from the subject. The longer focal length can create a distance between the photographer and the subject, inhibiting the ability to capture authentic moments and emotions. The narrow field of view also makes it harder to capture the surrounding environment, which is often an important part of the street photography genre.

To compensate for this disconnect, photographers using an 85mm lens must be intentional about their approach and actively work to engage with their subjects. This can include building a rapport, using body language to convey interest, and being patient and observant while creating a comfortable environment. Additionally, photographers can train themselves to be more aware of their surroundings and consciously incorporate the environment into their compositions.

Despite its drawbacks, the 85mm lens can produce stunning results in street photography. The compression and shallow depth of field create a unique and dreamy aesthetic that is highly sought after in the genre. It also allows photographers to capture candid shots from a distance, providing a new perspective and potentially capturing moments that may have been missed with a wider lens.

According to a study by Lensrentals, Sony cameras have been rated as better for street photography than Nikon and Canon cameras. This could be attributed to their smaller size and quieter shutters, allowing for a more discreet approach on the street. Ultimately, the choice of camera and lens is a personal one, and the most important factor in street photography is the ability to connect with the subject and capture a moment that tells a story.

camera, photo camera, sony alpha 7

The Sony A74 and Sigma 85mm lens

Street Photography with an 85mm Lens

The combination of a Sony A74 camera and Sigma 85mm lens has become a popular choice for street photography. The autofocus system of the Sony A74 provides fast and accurate focusing, with the 85mm lens allowing for high-quality shots at a distance.

Camera Type: Sony A74
Lens Type: Sigma 85mm
Focusing Type: Autofocus

Using an 85mm lens for street photography has its advantages. It can capture details and emotions of the subject while also providing a sense of context to the surroundings. This combination provides an ideal lens for capturing the urban landscape and the people in it, without being intrusive.

In the early days of street photography, photographers would use large format cameras and fast lenses to capture moments candidly. With the advent of digital cameras, and the increasingly advanced autofocus systems, a lens like the Sigma 85mm, when paired with the Sony A74, has become a preferred choice of many photographers for street photography.

History has shown that the right equipment can make a difference in the quality of the photo taken. For street photography, using a camera with an 85mm lens can capture beautiful shots of people, buildings, and landscapes without losing details or compromising the overall composition of the shot.

Autofocus and tracking

The autofocus system of the Sony A74 combined with its tracking performance is impeccable. The camera’s AF works exceptionally well in low-light conditions, allowing for quick and precise focus in any situation. The tracking speed is ideal for capturing fast-moving objects, such as cars or athletes.

When paired with a Sigma 85mm lens, this combo is perfect for street photography. The 85mm lens is great for isolating subjects from their surroundings and creating stunning bokeh. It also allows photographers to stay at a comfortable distance while taking photos of people on the streets.

It’s noteworthy that while Nikon and Canon do have similar options, Sony’s autofocus system surpasses them both in terms of performance and reliability. With the Sigma 85mm lens added to that equation, photographers can take incredible shots that easily rival those taken with traditional wedding lenses.

If you’re considering using an 85mm lens for street photography, then the Sony A74 and Sigma 85mm are certainly worth trying out. Their exceptional autofocus and tracking performance combined with the standout features of an 85mm lens make for truly remarkable results.

A photographer once shared how they were able to capture some phenomenal moments during a street festival by using this exact combination of equipment. They captured shots of dancers leaping through a cloud of colored powder on the streets that turned out so striking it became an award-winning photo series.

Image quality and processing

Achieving optimal photographic output is highly dependent on image quality and processing. The images’ clarity, sharpness, contrast, and color balance determine the quality of an image. Post-processing plays a critical role in creating a visually appealing image by correcting exposure, removing noise, enhancing colors and contrast while keeping the natural look alive.

Factors of Image Quality & Processing Description
Clarity The degree to which details in an image are distinguishable.
Sharpness The visual acuity of an image that determines edge contrast.
Contrast A range of luminance levels between the darkest shadows and brightest highlights expressed as ratios or percentages.
Color Balance The right ratio of reds, greens, blues, and other colors in images that ensures accurate reproduction.

When using an 85mm lens for street photography, it is essential to consider how lighting affects your camera’s sensor. Choosing a good location with favourable lighting conditions can enhance the quality further. Additionally, to get better results when shooting with Sony cameras over Nikon and Canon in street photography with an 85mm lens.

Pro Tip: Shoot in RAW and avoid JPEG formats as they compress the files too much. Preserving skin tonality helps maintain excellent image processing for social media purposes.


A Well-Suited Lens for Street Photography

An 85mm lens is a well-suited lens for street photography, with its ability to capture the details of the subject while providing enough distance for the photographer to remain unnoticed. This focal length also offers a perfect balance between a wide-angle and telephoto lens, making it a practical choice in a variety of shooting situations.

When shooting with an 85mm lens, it’s essential to consider the camera’s sensor size carefully. For instance, Sony cameras with their high-resolution sensors perform significantly better with an 85mm lens than Nikon and Canon cameras. Additionally, shooting in manual mode and using a wide aperture setting like f/1.8 or f/1.4 is recommended for creating a shallow depth of field and separation between the subject and background.

Street photography provides unique opportunities to capture candid moments in people’s daily lives, and using an 85mm lens can help you achieve this goal. A true story of an experienced street photographer who used an 85mm lens to capture the subtle emotions of people in a busy marketplace can attest to its practicality.

So, to capture real-life moments in street photography, using an 85mm lens can be an excellent option, especially with cameras with high-resolution sensors like Sony. It allows the photographer to remain unnoticed while capturing the details and emotions of subjects, resulting in stunning and authentic images.

Five Facts About 85mm Lens for Street Photography:

  • ✅ An 85mm lens is considered a great focal length for street photography because of its compressing effect and ability to isolate the subject from the background. (Source: SLR Lounge)
  • ✅ The lens is popular among wedding and portrait photographers as well due to its ability to produce sharp and detailed images. (Source: PetaPixel)
  • ✅ The lens is available in various apertures, including f/1.2, f/1.4, and f/1.8, with wider apertures providing better low-light performance and bokeh. (Source: Photography Life)
  • ✅ The size and weight of the lens can vary depending on the brand and model, with some options being more lightweight and portable than others. (Source: The Phoblographer)
  • ✅ While an 85mm lens can be great for certain types of street photography, it may not be the best choice for every situation, and photographers should consider their personal shooting style and preferences before investing in one. (Source: Digital Photography School)

FAQs about 85Mm Lens For Street Photography

What is the best lens for street photography?

The 85mm lens is an excellent choice for street photography. Its focal length allows you to capture people’s expressions and emotions up close without being intrusive.

Is Sony better than Nikon and Canon for using an 85mm lens?

Sony has been making waves in the camera industry with their mirrorless cameras. When it comes to using an 85mm lens, Sony’s autofocus system tends to be faster and more accurate than Nikon and Canon.

Can I use an 85mm lens for landscape photography?

While an 85mm lens is commonly associated with portraiture, it can also be used for landscape photography. Its fast aperture is great for isolating subjects and creating a shallow depth of field.

What is the best aperture setting to use with an 85mm lens for street photography?

When it comes to aperture settings on an 85mm lens for street photography, it all depends on the lighting conditions. A general rule of thumb is to use a wide aperture of f/1.8 to f/2.8 to create a shallow depth of field and isolate your subject from the background.

Can you shoot street photography at night with an 85mm lens?

Yes, you can shoot street photography at night with an 85mm lens, but you will need to raise the ISO and use a slower shutter speed. Try using a tripod to keep the camera steady and avoid camera shake.

What is the best 85mm lens for street photography?

There are a variety of great 85mm lenses out there, but some notable ones are the Sony FE 85mm f/1.8, the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM, and the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G. Each lens has its pros and cons, so it’s important to research and decide which one works best for you and your camera.

I hope you find useful my article about 85mm lens for street photography, I also recommend you to read my other posts on my blog.

If you need help with anything join the community or do not hesitate to contact me.

Best of luck! and follow your passion.

Juan Solis

Article: 85mm lens for street photography

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