I have this lens, EF 85 mm f/1.8, USM Medium Telephoto lens. I love it. I wanted a portrait lens and I had been using my 70-300 zoom on 70 to 85 setting but the aperture was too high for some things. Canon let me borrow the 85 mm f/1.2 when I was at Photoshop World in 2006 and I wanted it. It was from $1,500 to $1,915.00 so I found this lens, new, for around $400 later in 2006. I need to stand back about seven to eight feet for most portraits. It gives me great clarity, beautiful faces and nice upper body shots. I use it for some nonconventional shots as well. I used it first on my EOS-300D Canon, my first D-SLR, then moved it to my Canon 350 and now it is on my Canon EOS 7D and I love it just as much. I don't think you can go wrong getting it and it will suffice well until you, and I, come up with enough $$ to buy the f/1.2, but that's a big personal and professional decision. This photograph, if it loads, was made with the 85 mm f/1.8 lens.
No, very little. I might have cropped in just a bit but it was very little, if I even did that. I had made a few shots inside with flash and I, as I said, had to stand so far back to use that lens that I was not happy with the shots, so I asked him to go outside, which then he could use his cover (hat to civilians) and I got a complete uniform photograph of him. I had given him seven or eight 8 X 10's and his mother missed out so last week, I printed an 8 1/2 by 11, bought an inexpensive frame and gave her the photograph. He is scheduled to leave for Afghanistan in the fall and I wish him, and all of his unit, the best in a safe return at the end of their deployment. Thank you for your comment.
The 85 1.8 is by far the best lens for the money in the Canon lineup. It's tack sharp (even wide open), great color, awesome on crop or full frame, cheap, and has blazing AF speed. Better (or maybe this is a bad thing) yet, it's sharper than a majority of L glass, save for the primes like my 35L.
Buy this lens and you definitely won't regret it. I use it for almost everything, but it's great for indoor sports like basketball. For studio work with lights and the availability to shoot at a low ISO, stop this thing down to f/8 - f/11. Your eyes will explode.