Hello! I am brand new to photography and currently own the Nikon D5000. I am still learning the ins and outs of the camera, but I want someone that will give me more of a zoom to be able to photograph my baby girl due in February. I need to take pictures indoors, closeups of her face and i would like them to have a sharp image of her and the background sopmewhat blurred. Any suggestions? I have done some reviews and have come up with these options. The Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Lens, Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens and the Nikon 40mm f/2.8G AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR Lens. I am willing to work with the lens and have no problems with learning how to use it! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Best lens for capturing baby portraits--HELP!(19 posts) (13 voices)
The best portraits I have taken of my baby girl are with the Nikon 105 F2.8 and 300 F4. My 17-55 F2.8 does OK, but if I want any sort of bokeh I need to use a longer lens most of the time. I have the 35 F1.8 and it is OK, but it is hard to get any bokeh out of it...the only way I have found it to get pretty close...ie like a head only shot. A longer lens like the 85 F1.8 might serve you better for portraits. As much as some on here love the 35 F1.8 I don't find it that great of a portrait lens if you want any bokeh...it really makes you work to get any and then if you are at 1.8 then you have to worry about the subject not being all in focus. Where at 85+ mm it is pretty easy.
This is my experience with my daughter who is 7.5 months old now and I can count on one hand the number of photos I have of her with my 35 F1.8.
It sounds like you are looking budget friendly, but I would really recommend at least the 60 F2.8 mirco, then the 85 F3.5 micro, the 85 F1.8 I would rank with the 105 F2.8.
The best bang for the buck is the 85mm f/1.8G. This will be a nice telephoto on a cropped sensor body (D5000) and is about like a 135mm on full frame camera. It has nice bokeh as well. Here is a shot at f/4...
I had a lot of fun fooling around with my 24 mm...
We took "real" pictures with the 85 mm, but everyone likes the Hobbit pictures.
I would recommend the 85mm f1.8D or the new 85mm f1.8G. I found 85mm to be the "right" length for photographing my children. A 50mm f1.8 D or G would be my second choice. My third choice would be an old 60mm f2.8 AF-D Micro which will focus closer than either the 85mm or 50mm but not have quite as good bokeh. All should cost about $500 or less when purchased used.
I'm thinking that an 85 might not be the best for baby pictures with a DX camera. I've gotten a lot of experience shooting a baby non-professionally in the last 4 months, and I would say the best pictures were not taken with telephoto, but down on the floor, up close with a normal or even wide lens. So a 35 in DX wide open would suit.
Here is the same baby with an 85 mm lens. You can see he was not as engaged with the process as he was with the 24 mm.
For a family portrait, I used the 85 and stood back a bit with an FX camera, so you would use a 50 in DX for the same. All in all, the fun part is getting up close to the baby: the closer the better, as at least in my grandson's case, he seems to respond well to me and the camera if I am close. If I stand back with a long lens, I can get candid shots, but those aren't the ones that Grandmama, Mommy, and Daddy like as much.
Professional baby portraiture seems to be a very tough specialty. But in that case the photographer is not a familiar face, so they would use longer lenses and props to get the baby's attention, I suppose.
I'd use the 50mm f/1.8 and shoot at about f/2.2. This would allow you to position yourself closer to the newborn and interact more like face to face as you're shooting while attaining a sharp face but smooth bokeh. I'm speaking from the standpoint of owning the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 and shooting at f/2.2 on a D7000.
Have had lots of fun photographing my 18 month old since day he was born.
Thousands of pics with many lenses but the primes (35mm and 50mm) stand out by a long way (shot on DX). And looking at all the pics id say are stunning - most are shot with the 50mm 1.8, at aperture between 2.2 and 3.5 (much more flattering on the face than the 35mm which distorts the face as you have to get too close to fill frame). Its now always on my camera for indoor shots, with the SB600 flash - ready for all those indoor moments.
when it comes to small children / infants, I like to work with 50mm primes
d800, f1.8 both
Yeah, On DX any 50 F1.4 (Manual, D or G) would be an excellent Baby lense. I did an informal shoot out test once between 4 50mm lenses(1.8, 1.4 manual, D and G) on DX. The old 1.4 manual came out best!! awesome colours and bokeh! something very intimate about the pics that that lens produces! The 1.8D was far behind the other 3. The bokeh is a tiny touch better on the G but the manual lens colours are just awesome.
Still the convenience of AF is nice (esp for wriggling babies!) and the 1.4G would be my choice (though the new 1.8G does look nice too but I didn't have it then to test).
Still I agree with Wataru, there is something really engaging with a Wide-angle down low shot of a baby. My fav shot of my baby(well he is 24 years old now!) is a 28mm (FX) shot of him below his eye level. Its a bit cropped so its more like 35mm but 28mm(equivalent to 18mm DX) gives you that option to crop and has much more acceptable distortion than a wider lense.
Good luck with your choices!
I would suggest the 35mm f1.8. A 50mm would work as well but, in my oppinion, the 35mm is a more useful all-round focal length for a dx camera. Some people are suggesting the 85mm but save that for later instead, when the critter starts running around. 85mm on dx is fairly long so you would have to back up quite a bit. Besides, the 35mm is less than half the price.
The question may be about what is desired in the photos....and the angle of view will determine this.
For the scientific method…if one looks at the horizontal angle of view on DX, the following is a method to determine the desired effect. Make a card with the following angles drawn on it and then one can hold it to one's eye and see exactly what is covered by the various lenses.
85mm lens 16°
Note that Adamz pics (are nice!), but shot with a D800 FX body...so that is really more like the 35 on DX. And I will say the 35 F1.8 can be used as such like his pictures show. You do have to be fairly close and you can get some bokeh...which might be good at first. I used mine a little at first, but I still opted for my 105 F2.8 most of the time, but then again maybe I don't take the best portraits? Maybe I will put one or two up later if I get the chance.
You have the correct basic range of lenses suggested so far: 35mm is "normal" on your camera and will give you an angle of view most like your eye sees but you will have to get very close to the baby to fill the viewfinder with her face; 50mm is "weak telephoto" on your camera and will give you a very slightly enlarged image which means you don't have to be as close to the baby to fill the viewfinder with her face: 85mm is "moderate telephoto" on your camera and would be the focal length generally considered to be the best portrait lens when shooting a head and shoulders portrait of an adult (as msmoto demonstrated). A baby is about the size of an adult's head and shoulders so an 85mm at normal shooting distance will cover the entire body of the baby. I wouldn't use any focal length shorter than 35mm on your camera because it will start to distort the baby's face. 85mm on y our camera is generally considered to provide the most "accurate" and flattering representation of a face since we normally see people from about that distance. We don't normally stand two feet away from people and look at their face.
Here is an idea. You likely have a zoom lens on your camera now or can borrow one from someone else who has Nikon equipment. Get a doll about the size of a baby. Set your zoom to 35mm and move in and out until you have the face framed as you are wanting to do with your baby. Take some photos. Set your zoom to 50mm and do the same. Set your zoom to 85mm and do the same. Now you know something about the "working distance" each lens requires (how close you have to get to the subject to fill the viewfinder with that subject). Now look at your images on a computer monitor and see which "look" you prefer. The one thing you have not been able to produce with this test is the blur we call bokeh. Likely your zoom is in the range of a 4.5 to 5.6 f-stop (how much light the lens lets in). For bokeh you need a lens in the f1.4, f1.8, f2 and f2.8 range. If you can borrow a 35mm f1.8 lens or a 50mm f1.8 lens or a 85mm f1.8 lens put them on your camera, set them to f1.8 and shoot photos of the doll again. Now you will see bokeh but you will also notice a shallow depth of field (very narrow range of sharp focus). Look at the images AdamZ posted above. Look at the eyes of the baby. Notice the eye nearest the camera is in sharp focus but the eye farthest away from the camera is blurred. This is what f1.4 and f1.8 will produce. The more blur you get in the background the shallower the depth of field you also get. So you have to balance the two. Now take your lens and set it to f2 and shoot the doll again. Set it to f2.8 and shoot the doll again. As you increase the f-stop number you will get more in focus but less blur. Write down what you like most. This will tell you the mm length of the lens and the f-stop you like most. Knowing your preference in these two items will tell you which lens you want to buy.
As many have said 35mm 1.8 set at F2 and the 50mm 1.8G set at F2.
There really isn't a "baby" lens but those will get you the bokeh easier.
As a note, with kids and babies, you will have maybe 1 good shot out of 20 when you start. Don't get frustrated and keep shooting!
@beachbabe0785 First and for most, congratulations are in order. Nothing like becoming a parent....wish you and your family the best life has to offer.
Many of the above recommendations are all valid and address your needs to a tee. Hence, the 35 1.8G, 50 1.8G, or the 85 1.8G. I would like to point out that the cost associated with getting all or just a few of these lens are not that damaging to your wallet. Thus, getting two of them in your camera bag will serve you in many ways than you think at the moment; not to mention allowing you far more flexibility as your photography skills develop. So by all mean don't think that "one" is the do it all lens. These focal length primes lenses are a "much" have and one is not enough.
With all that said, I would recommend the following order of lenses for you to consider purchasing: 85 1.8G, 35 1.8G, 50 1.8G.
I would also like to point out two of our NR members feedback to you: donaldejose idea of doing test shots is a great idea..be it on a doll or other live subjects, like a dog or a cat...their movement will help you fine tune your skills in getting that "shot." Hence, TaoTeJared remarks "...with, kids and babies, you will have maybe 1 good shot out of 20 when you start..."
So by all means, get the lens Now and start playing with them you will be glad that you did....and your shots of your baby girl will show it.
Here is sample of the 85 1.8G for your evaluation that I took of my friends baby girl back in June on my D7000.
Happy shopping....cheers :D
D7000 85 1.8G 1/3200 ISO 100 @ f/1.8
^^ She's cute Golf!
One important factor that I really consider whenever making a recommendation (which is rarely) on the boards is what type of lens that the OP has initially mentioned in the opening thread. Because budgetary constraints are so often at play big time with newer photographers I try not to make recommendations that might be unrealistic for the OP. As TTJ reasserted above the 35mm and 50mm are both useful here and basically inexpensive. The 105mm f/2.8 and any f/1.4 recommendation, although very useful, could possibly be a bit intimidating to someone new considering the prices.
Rx4Photo: Right on. The OP has s D5000, not a D4 or D800. Her camera second up from the bottom and two generations old. She doesn't mention a lens but likely she has an 18-55mm kit lens without VR. Spending $1000, for a 105 macro or $1.700 for an 85mm f1.4 G lens is unrealistic. Keeping it under $500 is realistic.
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