The right lens for baby photography

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by james_photo, May 17, 2007.

  1. Currently I own a Canon 350D + 17-40L + 70-200L.

    Within a few months a new baby will be joining the family. I was wondering
    what lens should I buy for shooting a baby especially indoors ?

    1) Canon EF 50 f/1.8

    2) Canon EF 50 f/1.4

    3) Canon EF 50 f/2.5

    4) Canon EF-S 60 f/2.8

    Any suggestions or recommendations would be appreciated.

  2. 3 or 4 so you can get close if you want to.
  3. Any or all of the above.

    Personally I think the 50/1.8 is just fine and a lot cheaper than the others.

    You really don't need a macro lens unless you want frame filling shots of your baby's eye.
  4. You might even want to look into the 135 f/2.8 SF.
  5. Or my favorite 35 f/2, but the 50/1.8 is the best bang for the buck

    -- V
  6. 35mm f2 on a crop sensor camera is what I would get.
  7. EF 50mm f/1.4 or the EF-S 60mm f/2.8. Or, not listed, the EF 85mm f/1.8.

    I'd lean towards the EF 85mm f/1.8. For the money, it's Canon's best lens.

    Next, two weeks ago, I took a few photos of my cousin's newborn. This was indoors with a 20D + EF 28mm f/1.8 USM [with flash]

    This is why I'd lean towards the EF 85mm. Newborns [week to a year] eyes are so sensitive to flashes of light. You'll never get expressions from a babies face that you'll be looking for. Why, because the kid will know any second they going to get hit by a big flash of light. Look at a newborns face. Being flashed by a bright light source, 5' to 7' feet from their eyes, hurts.

    With the EF 85 or EF-S 60, you'll be further away and when the flash goes off it won't hurt the babies eyes.

    Now, if you're going to be outside- no flash- EF 50 f/1.4
  8. I will once again profess my preference for the EF 50 f/1.4 over the f/1.8 so that you can manually focus. The f/1.8 is optically just fine, but when you're dealing with the razor thin DOF at f/1.8 or 1.4, you simply must be able to decide if you're focusing on the nose, eye, eyebrow, etc., or you're going to end up with dozens of out of focus pictures.

    Certainly when the child gets older and starts moving faster, that aspect won't be as important- but the f/1.4 also auto focuses faster.

    For this application, if you're comfortable with the 50mm focal length on a crop sensor camera, I would highly recommend the f/1.4 over the f/1.8 -- and this is from personal experience.

    Keep in mind that anything over 50mm is going to be way too long for indoor shots, so you'll probably want to stick with the 35mm-50mm range. Another option is an f/2.8 zoom of some sort. With the low light indoor conditions you'll likely be shooting in often, a faster lens is convenient if you don't find the fixed focal length too limiting.
  9. Another vote for the 85/1.8

    Great sharpness, depth of field, and I like the perspective better, even on a crop body, compared to a 50mm.
  10. If you're going to use flash, bounce a speedlight off of the ceiling.

    If you back off with an 85mm all you're going to be doing is using more flash power to illuminate your subject- keep in mind that if you're farther away, MORE light has to hit the subject in order for the SAME amount of light to hit the sensor.
  11. I'd go with the 85/1.8. It's the lens I use most for portraits.
    Although space may be an issue with the 85, if you're planning to shoot baby "up close," the 50mm may cause some distortion. For an example of what I mean, take a look at this.
    See how the bride's face looks kind of wide and flat? It's because it's too close to the 50mm lens.
    Compare it with this shot taken with the same lens.
    Neither nose nor face look so wide or flat, because the subject is much further from the camera.
    BTW, no offense meant to Phil, here. It's just that these pictures are a good illustration of my issue with using the 50mm.
  12. Practically speaking, I don't know where people live that can use a 135mm on a 1.6 frame camera in their home. My house certainly doesn't have that kind of square footage. Nor does any hospital, delivery room, or nursery I've been in.
    Realistically, many of your shots will be taken while you're (nearly) above the baby. Newborns don't take time to pose and low light is an issue, so go fast.

    I am only in this hobby because of my twins and use the 50mm/1.4 with film 90% of the time. Buy a practical lens.
  13. I'd vote for either of the 50mm lenses. I've found that length to be great when photographing my kids- their faces fill the frame if I get close, but it's not so long that it won't work in somewhat tight quarters. The 85 might be good under some circumstances, but it seems a bit long as an indoor lens on a crop sensor. The 50 has even been a bit long at times with my kids, as there isn't always space to back up enough. But generally it's just perfect.

    I have a 350D and the 50mm f/1.8 and have had great luck shooting indoors without a flash. I just bump the ISO up to 400-1600 depending on light and I can usually get decent photos of my kids. I used to be very reluctant to use the high ISO levels due to the noise, but I've learned that it really doesn't detract from prints, and the better light quality in my photos more than makes up for any extra noise.

    Although I'm generally happy with the f/1.8, I think I'd buy the f/1.4 if I were to do it again- I use this lens so much that I'd appreciate the extra features. I probably won't upgrade unless my lens breaks, though.

    I'd agree with Brian P about the flash- before I got the 50mm, I used flash a lot with my zoom lenses and their tiny apertures. I think my photos are quite a bit better with natural light, but you definitely want to bounce the flash if you're using one. You might also want to consider a diffuser like OmniBounce.
  14. Jennifer, when you say you use the 85mm, are you using it on a full frame camera or a crop sensor? The photos you used as examples were taken with a 5D, which is a full frame camera. On the 350D with its 1.6x sensor, the 50mm would be equivalent to an 80mm, which is a pretty nice portrait length.
  15. ...unless you want frame filling shots of your baby's eye...<p>

    bunk - the normal 50's wont get you close enough for a head shot - you'll need macro.
  16. Mark --
    I don't think it matters what the "equivalent" is. Even though the lens "acts" like an 85mm in terms of cropping the image, the perspective (or whatever it is) is still that of a 50mm.
    Here's another example of some shots I took of my husband. Now, they are AWFUL pictures ... so please, no critiques about lighting, composition, etc. I was playing around with then new camera and lenses. I took them with a 20d, which has the same (I think) 1.6 crop factor.
    Maybe I'm just crazy, but to me, my husband's nose looks much bigger relative to the rest of his face in the shot with the 50mm lens than the 85.
  17. -- "Even though the lens "acts" like an 85mm in terms of cropping the image, the perspective (or whatever it is) is still that of a 50mm."

    perspective is determined by distance to subject, not by focal length.
  18. Let's not get confused by the facts, ladies and gentlemen...

    Jennifer, if you took both of those with your 5D, and did not crop, then yes, your perspective will be different because you were at different distances from the subject. Perspective is controlled by your distance from the subject. Focal length is a function of the lens.

    If you put the 85mm on the 5d, and the 50mm on a 30d, and FRAMED the pictures identically through the viewfinder, you'd be at approximately the same distance, and therefore would have the same perspective. If you took the same picture with the 50mm and 85mm on the 5d, without moving the camera, you'd be at the same distance, and would therefore have the same perspective- it's just that you'd have to crop the 50mm photo to get the same framing as you got with the 85mm (hence "crop factor".)
  19. 350D and 50mm f/1.8 has be perfect for my baby who is now approaching 1 year old. I've started shooting with the 35mm f/2 a bit more with him due to increases in size and mobility. Sometimes I also use a 24mm f/2.8.

    But for a newborn the 50mm f/1.8 is an excellent choice on the XT/350D.
  20. Brian P,

    Your explanation regarding perspective and framing is right on the money. So many people seem to have a hard time grasping the concept.

  21. My 50mm f/1.8 has been great with my two careful of depth of focus...I was convinced I had a bad copy until I read the wisdom of other patrons. For the money, it's incredibly sharp. If money is no object...well, I can't comment.

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