One of my absolute favourite lenses for child photography is the Canon 85mm F1.8 Lens. It's definitely my go-to lens for portraits, but what many people don't realise is that the 85mm is useful for so much more than portrait photography! I love to use this lens for capturing candid shots outdoors with my child at the park or garden, for taking detail shots, and even for indoor documentary photographs. In short, this lens can be a great all-rounder.
There are several other reasons why I love this lens, so today I want to go over WHY this lens is so freakin' awesome, and why you might want to consider it for your own camera bag! (Although I am primarily talking about the Canon version here, since it is the lens I own, the same holds true for the Nikon version too!)
#1 - It's incredibly sharp
One of the first things I noticed when I got this lens was how incredibly sharp it was, even when shooting at it's widest aperture, F1.8 (Many lenses are soft when shooting wide open, but not this one!) Since I love to shoot with really wide apertures, this is a dream for me. Of course, there are LOTS of other factors that go into getting a sharp image, but a good lens is one piece of the puzzle, and this lens is a sharp as any Canon L lens for sure.
#2- It's super quick to focus
Another thing that I think makes this lens particularly great for child photography of any kind is that it is super quick to focus. You might notice with some lenses that it takes a little while to lock focus in some situations, but I have always found the 85mm to be particularly quick, which is useful when your subject is barrelling toward you at full speed!
#3 - It gives beautiful bokeh
Next up in the list of reasons I big puffy heart the 85mm is the beautiful bokeh that it produces. (Bokeh is the term for those soft, out of focus areas in your image) If you get the conditions right, this lens will produce a lovely buttery soft background, which is great for making your subject "pop" off the background.
(Not sure how you do that? Then be sure to download my FREE Aperture Priority Mode Cheat Sheet - it has everything you need to use Aperture Priority Mode to get a blurred background. Go here to grab it!)
# 4 - It's easy to carry
This lens is relatively small and lightweight, which makes it easy to carry around with you at the beach or the park, or need to run about to keep up with the kids. I have a couple of other lenses which are great for both portraits and play (the 135mm and the 200mm) and these are much heavier and can be a little bit of a pain to walk around with.
#5 - It's a great focal length for kids
Although I love the 135mm and 200mm, they are a little long for shooting kids when you are out and about (I do like these when I want to be more candid, and when I have someone else with me to make sure the child doesn't get too far away from me!) The 85mm gives you enough length that you are not having to get right up to them, but you can still have the child at a safe distance from you.
One thing to bear in mind that if you are using a crop frame sensor (in other words you don't have a full frame camera) this lens might be a little long when you consider the "crop factor". If you don't know what that means, head on over to this post which talks about what the numbers of the lens mean, and goes into detail about the whole crop factor thing)
#6 - Image Quality
This lens also gives great color and contrast straight out of camera. Images look rich and have depth, even when you are shooting in RAW. Again, the image quality from this lens is on a par with my most expensive L lens (the 200mm) which is saying something considering the big difference in price!
#7 - It's Incredibly Versatile
As I said above, this lens is undoubtedly a fantastic portrait lens, but it is useful for SO much more than that! In addition to using it for portraits, I use it for capturing play outdoors, and for candid indoor pictures, and for capturing detail shots. All in all, it's just a great all rounder and a lens I wouldn't be without!
Can you tell I love this lens?! This is one of the few lenses where I can't really come up with any downsides on it (as much as I would like too!) as it has everything I want from a lens.