If you want the very sharpest images, as well as impressive maximum apertures for background defocusing, a fast prime lens is the best option. Here are four of the best..

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lensCanon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

Street Price: £80

If you’re a Canon user, the EF 50mm f/1.8 II represents excellent value for money.

When it’s connected to an APS-C DSLR it’s equivalent to 80mm, whereas when it’s used with a full frame model it offers a field of view that’s not too dissimilar to what we see through our eyes.

Small and lightweight, the shallow depth of field this lens produces is truly stunning.

Best Prime Lens for: Value for Money

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Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lensOlympus 45mm f/1.8

Street Price: £218

This portrait prime lens is equivalent to 90mm in 35mm terms and delivers an outstanding set of MFT results that are strong enough to encourage use of the maximum aperture.

Having the option to shoot at f/1.8 also means a lower sensitivity setting can be used, resulting in cleaner images that are free of noise in dimly-lit conditions.

Best Prime Lens for: Micro Four Thirds shooters

Read our full review of the Olympus 45mm f/1.8

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Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G lens

Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G

Street Price: £450

With a surprisingly bulky and unexpectedly lightweight design, this 85mm prime suits full frame DSLRs slightly better than APS-C models, where it’s equivalent to 127.5mm.

Autofocus is accurate and remarkably quiet. The only thing missing is a vibration control system, but to be fair, it’s hardly essential on a lens of this type and would raise the price.

Best Prime Lens for: Full frame Portraiture

Read our full review of the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G

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Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM lensSigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM

Street Price: £670

Featuring a clean and elegant design, this lens is available in a range of lens mounts and features Sigma’s Super Multi-Layer coating to reduce flare and ghosting.

Adding to this it features the company’s Hyper Sonic Motor technology that helps it deliver a whisper-quiet and fast AF operation, while it can also focus on subjects as close as 30cm.

Best Prime Lens for: Versatile all round performance