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Best lens for baby photography with a cropped frame camera

Shazia Javed , Dec 08, 2011; 11:03 a.m.

Hi,

I have a Nikon D5000. I want to take some pictures of my baby and later on hopfeully do this professionaly. I want baby's full shots as well as close-ups of his toes, hands etc. I want to avoid using flash and lot of light on the baby.

What kind of lens will be best? Will a 50 mm 1.4 be good for this kind of work? And can I add some sort of ring convertor to make it a macro to take toe /hand close-ups etc?

The room space is small and not too big and that's why I think it rules out use of tele lenses.

Thanks for your help.

Responses

Mark Sirota , Dec 08, 2011; 11:22 a.m.

I like the 60/2.8 micro for baby photography. You can use it for portraits with the family, and for closeups of little hands and feet.

Matt Laur , Dec 08, 2011; 11:34 a.m.

Presumably you already have a kit lens, something like an 18-55, or an 18-105 - something like that?

You can quickly answser your own question about working space, composition, and focal length by trying the existing zoom lens at various specific focal lengths. Try it at 30mm, at 45mm, at 50mm, at 60mm - and you'll know what sort of faster lens (meaning, one with a larger aperture, to gather more light) and/or macro capability might be appropriate to the circumstances in which you'll be shooting.

Do you have a sense of your budget for the lens you have in mind?

Craig Shearman , Dec 08, 2011; 11:45 a.m.

This is basic portait work. For most of it your kit zoom is going to be adequate. Even in a small room, something in the 70-105 range helps keep the background out of focus. But since babies are small, you should still be able to use that focal length and have room to work. Keep in mind that a 1.4 wide open has no depth of field at all, and that unless they are asleep babies move around, so you might find yourself stopping it down to f/4 or more to keep the little one in focus. A macro lens is good for extreme closeups but you have a couple of options. One is extension tubes and the other is accessory closeup lenses that screw in like a filter. There are chepa ones but Nikon makes a high quality, two-element version that is far superior to the cheap three-lens sets that everybody sells. There is a also a Nikon reversing ring that lets a lens be mounted backwards to focus closer.

Mukul Dube , Dec 08, 2011; 12:39 p.m.

Four days ago I used a quite long focal length for this shot. Fellow's only a week old.


equiv. focal length around 200mm

Ariel S , Dec 08, 2011; 02:56 p.m.

A lot of the famous baby photographers use a 50mm f/1.4, and focus more on environmental types of shots. On a DX camera, 35mm would be your go-to choice.

JC Uknz , Dec 08, 2011; 06:48 p.m.

Since to retain camera control of the lens when you add the 'extension tubes' to get close shots they are the more expensive variety and it maybe better to add a 'close-up' lens to the front of the rig.
These also get expensive when you need to cover a large front element but the principle in their use is to overcome the difficulty of longer lens to focus close. The CU lens brings you a bit closer and you use the narrower angle of view of a longer lens to achieve the tight framing one is after. You do not 'have' to get close to achieve a tight framing is the 'message' :-)

My preference for moderately tight framing is to use a CU lens rather than extension tubes which in my case are simply tubes with no control over the lens, which in turn needs to have aperture and focusing controls for manual operation, often missing on lens designed to be used with automatic cameras.

Shazia Javed , Dec 08, 2011; 08:35 p.m.

Thanks Mark, Ariel.
Matt- Thanks for the suggestion. In fact, that is exactly how I had come to decide on a 50 MM, it did give me some close-ups too but lost details of the tiny feet. Wanted to check with other more experienced baby photographers here. I know a 1.4 G is way more expensive but am willing to shell out to be able to shoot without lights.
Craig- Thanks for bringing up this important point. 1.4 might be good for a sleeping 6 week old but it may not be worth the buck for older babies on the go if I will need to step down to f/4 anyways for DOP.
JC- Thanks for sharing the merits of CU lens versus extension tubes.
Mukul- That's a lovely shot. I wish I had enough indoor space for a 200mm :)

You have all helped me make my decision. Thanks a lot!

Joseph Smith , Dec 11, 2011; 10:48 p.m.

On a Nikon DX body, the Nikon 35mm f 1.8 G AFS lens is a wonderful lens to use for baby pictures, and it will not break your bank. I do not know how close you can get and still focus however, as it is not a macro lens. I call it my "granddaughter" lens that I use on my D 300s. It focuses faster than my 50mm f 1.8 AF that I also own.
Joe Smith
.

A. Davis , Dec 13, 2011; 12:07 a.m.

I agree with the 35mm on a crop body. With kids, I like to get in a bit closer, so I tend to use my 50mm on a full frame body quite a bit. The 50mm is also nice on a crop body, but I don't have much luck using it to photograph my daughter, since she likes to run up to me, and then I get photos of just portions of her head.

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