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35 & 85 or 50 & 100 for photographing kids

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I have a Canon 5DIII and 24-70 II. I take pictures of my 21-month old daughter exclusively at this point. (I used to do more street, fine art, etc. but don't have time anymore and won't for the foreseeable future.)

I want to add a couple of fast primes for lower light work and shallower depth-of-field. I'm trying to decide between a 35 & 85 and a 50 & 100. My decision will be based on focal length preference, of course, but also on the quality/price/value of lenses available at those focal lengths.

I'm somewhat leaning toward 35 & 85, for a few reasons. First, from what I can tell, the Sigma 35/1.4 is probably the most highly regarded of all of the 35 and 50 autofocus lenses. Second, I like environmental portraiture and tend to shoot quite a bit indoors, so the wider perspective of the 35 might be a better fit there. Third, it seems the portrait options are better at 85 than at 100? The 85L II is legendary, and many agree that the Sigma 85 comes close to it at less than half the price.

On the other hand, 50 is a great focal length for general work and casual portraits, and the 50L has beautiful, creamy bokeh and a nice look. (I actually own the 50L now, and enjoy it.) The Canon 100/2, while not as highly regarded as the Canon 85L or Sigma 85, is still a great lens by most accounts.

I guess this also depends somewhat on my future lens plans. Frankly, the only additional lens I can imagine getting in the future (assuming my subject matter doesn't change) is a telephoto. I would probably either choose the 70-200 IS or the 135L.

Curious to hear if you have any thoughts about this choice? Thanks.

35 beats the S___ out of a 50 indoors in my opinion. You can't always get far enough with a 50. Is there even a decent 50 out there? The 50L isn't really sharp at all and the 1.4 is crap too.

85 or 100? I don't really know. I currently use the 100L in that spot, but 2.8 does not really do the trick when you want DOF magic. It's a really good lens anyway though. Very versatile too. The 85L II would be great I guess, but I'd claim it's more a niche lens since it's slow focusing, big & almost a one trick pony. Slow AF does not go too nicely together with kids, but the bokeh definitely is nice.

I have the sigma 35 1.4 with an 85 1.8 and I couldn't be happier when taking pics of my boys. Though I love the 50 focal length, it sits on the self a lot because the IQ just isn't close. The 135 is my telephoto and it is amazing 

You mentioned the 135L in your original post. To me, that is a great compliment to your 50L.

With children of a similar age range, I find the 135L to be the perfect lens to capture their more active moments (soccer, walks in the park, festivals, etc.) when you want to focus primarily on them in action. The colors and detail this combo produces are often fantastic straight out of the camera. (With a young two year old and a young four year old, I have little time for twiddling around in LR, DPP, etc.)

When I can find some free time (ha!) I'll try and post a couple of examples.

Mt Spokane Photography:
You have the zoom lens, buy the focal length that you find yourself using. 

Personally, I'd get a 85mm and 135mm, two focal lengths you do not have now, and the classic portrait  focal lengths for 35mm cameras for the past 60 or 70 years.  Even 50mm is a bit wide for portraits, but will do.


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