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04-25-2012, 01:00 AM   #1
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Lens advice for indoors and child shots

Hi all.

Our four month old boy has inspired me to upgrade my equipment. I currently have the 18-55 and 50-200 kit lenses on my K100d, and I mainly photograph people in various settings as well as “hiking shots” of landscapes and nature motives.

The main reason for the upgrade is the wish for better indoor people photos, especially of the kid. I’d like a fast lens which removes distracting backgrounds and motion blur, and if possible, avoid flash. A fast prime is my first thought, probably in the 30’s, as I think ~50 mm will be too tight for general indoor shooting.

In the not too distant future, I expect the boy to be running around, and I wonder whether a 30 mm would be too wide candid portraits. For those experienced in child photography, what have been useful focal lengths for capturing play amongst very young children?

With these two thoughts, lenses such as a 16-50/2.8 for indoor or 28-75/2.8 for outdoor seem versatile, but I’m concerned about the minimum aperture. Are they fast enough for indoor use? This also goes for the DA 35/2 or 35/2.4. On the other hand, is it easy to photograph young kids with apertures below f/2, or does one stop down anyway? The 16 mm wide end of the 16-50 would also come in handy for landscapes, and would probably be my default lens if I were to purchase it.

I’m inclined towards purchasing the Sigma 30/1.4 or equivalent for now, and consider dedicated landscape lens and perhaps a normal to mid telephoto for outdoor people/kid shots later. Of course, I could always use the 50-200 for that, but then I wouldn’t be buying more lenses

So, any recommendations given my current setup and priorities?

Thanks,

Andy


Last edited by andynb; 04-25-2012 at 02:30 AM. Reason: Formatting
04-25-2012, 04:07 AM   #2
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The speed of your lens will be limited by the ability to focus under low light conditions at razor thin DoF - you will be replacing motion blur with softness. The 35mm Primes are good for indoors, but you ought to think about what ISO you shoot at. There is a big difference between 400 and 1600 or even 3200, and acceptable results can be had up to 6400. Having never shot a K100D, I dont know what high ISO performance is like.

I own FA 35mm F2, it serves me well indoors and I have two short men who are faster now at the age of 3&5 then they were at 1-2.

My Niece at Xmas time F2.8 and 1600 ISO with ambient terrible indoor lighting. Not fantastic, but typical "kid snaps" around the house.

Last edited by mattt; 01-07-2016 at 05:34 PM.
04-25-2012, 04:58 AM   #3
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With a K100D, you'll want as fast a lens as possible for indoors. My M-50mm 1.4 is my personal go-to lens for low light stuff.

Before you drop a lot of money on a lens, you might want to think about buying a used K-x or K-r instead. The high ISO performance is dramatically better than that of the K100D & that means you'll get better low light performance with all of your current lenses. The noise level at ISO 3200 on the K-x is about the same as at ISO 800 on the K100D. Plus, the extra MP (not to mention having a second body) comes in very handy.

When I upgraded to the K-x, it enabled me to get a lot of shots I couldn't get with the K100D.

Just something for ya to think about.

Cheers,
Bobbo :-)

Last edited by GibbyTheMole; 04-25-2012 at 05:04 AM.
04-25-2012, 05:06 AM   #4
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Get a flash instead, that would solve the lighting problems.
With P-TTL it's very easy to use, simply aim the flash on the ceiling and you're done.


04-25-2012, 05:38 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
Get a flash instead, that would solve the lighting problems.
+1...
Indoor lightning with flash means you can shoot at f4 without worrying too much about underexposure with enough DOF...
I use FA 31Ltd indoors. At f2.0 on a child with K5 can be a challenge to get the focus at the designated spot ie the eyes. It gets better with practice...
04-27-2012, 01:03 AM   #6
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I have a 3.5 yr daughter and she was the main reason I built up my DSLR kit
For the low light indoor situation I bought Sigma 30 f/1.4, it's worked wonderfully. You can use large apertures (below f/2.8) until your child starts to walk since they can't move fast until then. It gets harder when they can walk and run away

I also purchased a Metz 48 flash with my camera. Even with a fast lens, bounced flash (off the ceiling or the walls) can make your pics just better - good light(ning) is a key. After a little practicing bounced flash pictures look quite natural (you find the balance between ambient and flash light). If you don't have a flash with swivel head already then I recommend to buy one. With bounced flash (or fill flash outdoors) you can get great photos even when using the kit lens.

Later when your child gets very mobile, a good standard zoom becomes handy to chase him/her. Originally I had a Pentax 17-70 f/4, combined with the flash it worked fine. I regret selling that lens. The 16/17-50 f/2.8 zooms from Tamron, Sigma and Pentax are also good. Without flash f/2.8 may not always cut it indoors (especially with older bodies having not that great high ISO), on the other hand you may need f/2.8-f/4 for good DOF (to hide smaller focus errors) when chasing the kid. Of course you can still use even f/1.4 if the child is not moving and busy doing something (which is quite rare with my daughter, she is very active and always runs away at first sight of my camera lol).

So I'd recommend to buy (in this order): a flash with swivel head if you don't have one already (you don't need top-of-the-line expensive one), a fast prime (Sigma 30 f/1.4, Pentax Fa 31 f/1.8 if you have lots of $$$ to spare, etc), later on a good standard f/2.8 zoom.
04-27-2012, 02:10 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by andynb Quote
Hi all.

Our four month old boy has inspired me to upgrade my equipment. I currently have the 18-55 and 50-200 kit lenses on my K100d, and I mainly photograph people in various settings as well as “hiking shots” of landscapes and nature motives.

The main reason for the upgrade is the wish for better indoor people photos, especially of the kid. I’d like a fast lens which removes distracting backgrounds and motion blur, and if possible, avoid flash. A fast prime is my first thought, probably in the 30’s, as I think ~50 mm will be too tight for general indoor shooting.

In the not too distant future, I expect the boy to be running around, and I wonder whether a 30 mm would be too wide candid portraits. For those experienced in child photography, what have been useful focal lengths for capturing play amongst very young children?

With these two thoughts, lenses such as a 16-50/2.8 for indoor or 28-75/2.8 for outdoor seem versatile, but I’m concerned about the minimum aperture. Are they fast enough for indoor use? This also goes for the DA 35/2 or 35/2.4. On the other hand, is it easy to photograph young kids with apertures below f/2, or does one stop down anyway? The 16 mm wide end of the 16-50 would also come in handy for landscapes, and would probably be my default lens if I were to purchase it.

I’m inclined towards purchasing the Sigma 30/1.4 or equivalent for now, and consider dedicated landscape lens and perhaps a normal to mid telephoto for outdoor people/kid shots later. Of course, I could always use the 50-200 for that, but then I wouldn’t be buying more lenses

So, any recommendations given my current setup and priorities?

Thanks,

Andy
Andy,
Personally I'd recommend just what first popped into your mond. Fast prime in 30s is ideal for indoors baby shots. Such as FA31, FA35, DA35, Sigma 28/1.8 or Sigma 30/1.4. As a second lens I'd get 50ish prime, you don't want to be right in your kids face at all times and 50 is better for outdoors as it'll give you that little bit of extra reach, FA50/1.4s are plentiful and will do the job easily, of coursr there are other options too. If you want to kill 2 flies in one go, look at 43ltd, wide enough for kid or single adult indoors and long enough for decent out door shots. As last lens, I'd either get the 100 macro (my preference: FA>F>DFA WR>DFA) or zoom like DA* 50-135 or Sigma 50-150.

My 2p
04-27-2012, 05:57 AM   #8
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I have the 31 Ltd 1.8, but as others have said, for moving kids, it is pretty much impossible to actually use at 1.8. Then a friend sold me his AGF 360 flash and Gary Fong lightsphere flash diffuser. The P-TTL and bounce flash works flawlessly indoors -- this is one time when I am very happy to leave the camera in full auto -- but only if you have white ceilings. The diffuser helps take the ceiling color out of the equation and still creates some pretty natural looking shots.

When the kids are being good little angels, then the shallow DOF works fine. But as soon as he sees the camera, my youngest wants to run over and start playing around with the buttons .... future Pentaxian maybe ....


Last edited by Tanzer; 04-27-2012 at 11:53 AM.
04-27-2012, 08:04 AM   #9
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More Light?

Hi Andy,
Your choices boil down to; Faster lenses, a better (low-light) body, both or....a flash.
Keeping your current equipment, which is fine for all-around shooting, seems like a good idea. You've got the focal range covered perfectly from wide to tele.
The one item you're lacking right now is a flash. Bounced flash, as you can see from several of the previous posts, can look natural, allow you to use slower lenses and/or lower ISO settings.
A used AF360fgz would be great addition to your setup. I prefer a tilt/swivel head, but tilt alone is very useful.
The learning curve isn't too steep, a handful of test shots at different settings will be plenty. Then the kids can cut loose and soon you'll have lots of in-focus, sharp and clean photos.
Another great (old) flash with tilt/swivel that works with Pentax DSLR's is the AF280T, but you'll have to shoot in manual mode. Still, for $50.00 USD (roughly) it's a steal and built like a brick.
JMO,
Ron
P.S. After you get used to the flash and your equipment, LBA will set in. Beware!
04-27-2012, 08:25 AM   #10
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I upgraded from k100d to K-x; it was worth the cost as the two stops gained in ISO effectively made all my lenses two stops faster.

So, if you can afford it, an upgrade to K-r would be nice.

Dave in Iowa
04-27-2012, 08:35 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
Get a flash instead, that would solve the lighting problems.
With P-TTL it's very easy to use, simply aim the flash on the ceiling and you're done.
While flash will provide direct illumination, direct flash is often ugly and boring. Your image typifies the horrid tiny catchlights in the eyes that's a dead giveaway that direct flash was used.

Last edited by creampuff; 04-27-2012 at 08:40 AM.
04-28-2012, 02:36 AM   #12
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Thanks for all the replies.

I hadn't really considered upgrading the camera body; it just didn't occur to me. I have a tendency to shoot at lower ISO (automatic up to 800), and therefore limit the shutter speed in order to avoid noise, which I feel is noticable at higher ISO. While a body upgrade certainly is an option, it won't get me the reduced DOF that I would like in child portraits. The same goes for the flash, and in addition I'm hesitant towards using it when photographing the young one.

The more I think about it, and thanks to the replies, the more certain I am of first going for a fast 30 mm. The sigma 30/1.4 seems like a great lens for my applications. That said, a flash is also on my list for general indoor shooting, so I'll probably go for both, so that the 18-55 can be more useful indoors as well. At present, I don't feel that I've outgrown my camera body except for a few key features (ISO performance, HDR), so I don't want to rush with an upgrade without having a better feel for what I'm lacking in the present, and what I'll gain with a new body. The most likely upgrade would be a step up to a mid-range body. Even if I were to upgrade the body, I'd still want a new lens, so I guess I have my answer there.

It's nice to get input from those of you who have tried getting pictures of kids. As mentioned, and as I feared, below 2.8 may be difficult with toddlers, but for now, my little man is not running around, and I'd like to seize the opportunity to get some nice thin DOF portraits of him. When he gets older, I'll most likely add a faster zoom to the collection. I think I've ended up with: fast prime, flash, then fast standard zoom or body or both.

Thanks again, and any other thoughts are welcome.

Andy
04-28-2012, 03:33 AM   #13
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Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is great for kid's indoors-


then again so is 55 f/1.4


then again, the FA77 is pretty special indoors too-


I guess it depends on how much room your house has, but I'd recomend something fast
04-28-2012, 03:45 AM   #14
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Sigma 30mm f/1.4 hands-down.

I dislike the idea of using flash when little children are looking at the light.
It might get real uncomfortable real quick, and may grow to hate being photographed due to strong flash light.
04-28-2012, 04:11 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by RickyFromVegas Quote
may grow to hate being photographed due to strong flash light.
Exactly
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