Portrait Lens Tests for Canon APS-C Cameras and Bokeh with Canon Lenses

There are two series of tests on this page. The first is a series of tests of compact normal zoom and prime lenses and telephoto lenses to use in portrait application with Canon APS-C cameras. A series of mannequin photos were taken to compare the lenses in their ability to produce sharp eye images and blurred out of focus background and out of focus aperture diaphragm patterns.
The second series of tests compares an array of Canon lenses at 50mm, 85mm, 135mm and 200mm with f/2.8 apertures and wider with a APS-C camera to assess the quality of background blurring and bokeh. Direct light and specular lights are in the blurred background to help assess the bokeh qualities of each lens.

Lenses Tested Example f/8
EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS @ f/8 50mm
Example f/2.8
EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS @ f/2.8 50mm
Normal zoom lenses and 50mm primes- Click for Full Series
Lenses Tested with a Canon EOS 400D(Digital Rebel) XTi:
  • EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS @ f/2.8
  • EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ f/5.6
  • EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS @ f/5.6
  • EF 50mm f/1.4 @ f/2.8
  • EF 50mm f/1.8 @ f/2.8
  • Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8
  • Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8

50% MTF curves with lenses at 50mm and Canon 20D
Resolution data with lenses at 50mm and Canon 400D XTi
Telephotos zoom lenses and primes - Click for Full Series
(85mm, 135mm, 200mm)
Lenses Tested with a Canon EOS 400D (Digital Rebel) XTi:
  • EF 85mm f/1.8 @ f/2 and f/2.8
  • EF 135mm f/2L @ f/2 and f/2.8
  • EF 200mm f/2.8L@ f/2.8
  • EF 70-200mm f/2.8L @ 200mm f/2.8
  • EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS @ 85mm, f/4.5, 135mm f/5 & f/5.6, 200mm f/5.6
Example f/8
EF 85mm f/1.8 @ f/8
Example f/2.8
EF 85mm f/1.8 @ f/2.8

Tests for Background Blurring and Bokeh with Canon Lenses

  • 50mm lenses
    EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 50mm f/1.4, EF 50mm f/1.8, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L@50mm, EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS @50mm
  • 85mm lenses
    EF 85mm f/1.2L, EF 85mm f/1.8, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L Non-IS @ 85mm, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS @ 85mm
  • 135mm lenses
    EF 135mm f/2L, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L Non-IS @ 135mm, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS @ 135mm
  • 200mm lenses - All at f/2.8
    EF 200mm f/2.8L, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L Non-IS @ 200mm, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS @ 200mm
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Which of the following lenses produces the best out of focus blurring and bokeh among the following:


posted 09 June 2007; updated 19 June 2007

© 2007, William L. Castleman