We all agree that as long as it is a lens, you can shoot portrait subjects, but what are the advantages of an 85mm fixed-focus lenses compared to many other lenses?
The author has integrated 5 reasons to use this lens. He needed to add an 85mm fixed focus lens to shoot happy footage of the child. Also, the author wrote down composition notes to record how to complete a happy composition with an 85mm perspective.


By 85mm F1.2LII, F2.2, 1/100s, ISO200 (Canon 5DMarkIII)
Composition Notes: Leave the child’s line of sight blank, in addition to attaching the viewer’s interest, wanting to understand what the child is looking at, leaving room for imagination.


1) Full-frame Became Popular

Before the digital full-frame was not so popular, consumer models were mainly crop machines (APS-C). Because the APS-C format is small, it needs to be multiplied by a focal conversion rate of 1.6×/1.5x when shooting. To achieve the same shooting angle as full-frame, the angle of view of the 50mm standard lens mounted on the crop (eg. EOS 70D body) compared to the shooting angle of the 80mm focal length lens on the more traditional 135 camera, with a 1.6× focal length difference between each other. This is also the main reason why a 50mm standard lens mounted on an APS-C body will become an 80mm medium telephoto lens (close to an 85mm angle of view).
In recent years, full-frame models have been separated from entry-level, advanced and high-end flagship levels, which has greatly reduced the entry threshold and made full-frame cameras popular, which has also increased the demand for 85mm fixed-focus lenses.

85mm F1.2LII, F4.0, 1 / 320s, ISO 400 (Canon 5DMarkIII)
Composition Notes: Recently, the Hong Kong Cultural Museum has an animation exhibition of Gao Xunxun and Hayao Miyazaki, and the children’s favorite Totoro.
Simple composition: The person takes the scene with a black and white background of the charcoal ghosts to set off the foreground of the colored portrait, forming a composition technique with [color contrast].


2) Very suitable Working Distance (Focal Length)

With the use of an 85mm angle of view, the working distance for shooting children is about 1 to 4 meters (the closest focusing distance is 0.95m). Which will maintain a distance with the child, and can reduce the sense of pressure and make the expressions appear natural. My colleagues may have misunderstandings about the 85mm lens. Not every photo is a close-up. When shooting a child 1 meter high, you can enter the whole body with a range of 4 meters, and it is better to shoot outdoors.

85mm F1.2LII,F2.8,1/640s,ISO 400 (Canon 5DMarkIII)


3) Soft Bokeh

Shallow depth of field can be obtained through three elements, namely aperture, focal length, and shooting distance. The entry-level 85mm fixed-focus lens already has a large aperture of F1.8, and even high-end even has a large aperture of F1.2. The 85mm fixed-focus lens has met the 3 essential elements, as long as the subject is away from the background, composition and environmental needs, the beautiful bokeh will be displayed to set off the different dynamics of the child.

85mm F1.4G, 1 / 640s, F2.0, ISO: 100 (Nikon D4s)
Composition Notes: If there are flowers on the scene, using a large area of small flowers as the composition foreground and background, place the child in the middle, it can add a three-dimensional impression.


4) Perspective, Less Variation

Everyone who has read my article knows that I push 35mm and 50mm fixed-focus lenses as good shots for children. Please give me a chance to explain it to everyone. Indeed, 85mm is not a required lens, but when you have 35/55mm, an 85mm lens just fills the need for a small telephoto angle of view, and it’s perspective and characteristics of less variation, whether it is indoor or outdoor portrait subject shooting, it is also more flexible.

85mm F1.2LII, F5.0, 1 / 200s, ISO 100 (Canon 5DMarkIII)
Composition Notes: The background is a train track, and its extension forms a vanishing point. With a narrow viewing angle of 85mm, this is a typical single-point perspective and composition of vanishing points.


5) Close-up

In a series of photos, if each photo is connected with people, it may be too monotonous, and the proportion of people can be too small. There is always a need for a headshot. 85mm is better than 50mm at the same subject distance and close-up shooting. A detailed interpretation of the expression on the character’s face.

85mm F1.4G, F2.8, 1/125s, ISO400 (Nikon D4s)
Composition Notes: If the child is placed in the center of the composition, the effect may become dull. You do not need to put the entire person into the mirror every time, try to cut away some parts when framing, it may bring newer inspiration than you.


Be Careful:

When it comes to the choice of 85mm fixed-focus lens (full-frame), there are still many options for mass production, but the price of F1.4/F1.2 will be higher. If you do not shoot night scenes much, the F1.8 version I believe the weight and optical quality are unquestionable. If you want to pursue fantastic bokeh, Canon’s F1.2 version is your go-to.

13a 13b

  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM (425g)
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM (1025g)
  • Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f / 1.8D (380g)
  • Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G (350g)
  • Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D IF (550g)
  • Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G (595g)
  • Sony SAL85F14Z Carl Zeiss Planar T* 85mm F1.4ZA(640g)
  • Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM (725g)

Thank you for reading!
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