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03-05-2010, 04:51 PM   #1
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Best lens for indoor kids portraits in low light

Hi everyone,
I recently upgraded from P&S to a K-x with 18-55 and 55-300mm. I will be mostly shooting my kids pictures at home in low light conditions. Of the lenses i have which one will be the best at what setting? Should i be using built in flash or turn off and increase ISO?
I am reading a lot about photography and will likely be upgrading. If i were to invest in a prime lens, which one would you recommnd? I will not be spending more than 500$ and would like to keep it under $250 is possible? So which one gives most bang for the buck.?
gaurav

03-05-2010, 04:56 PM   #2
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18-55 use the flash but set it down to "-1/1.5", use Av set at 5.6~8, iso400~800
03-05-2010, 05:45 PM   #3
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You shouldn't look any further than a fast fifty. Investing about $250 means you could possibly find an FA 50 f/1.4 lens, which simply cannot be beaten as a low-light performer for the money. Without it, you'd be compelled to apertures of f/4 to 5.6 as your wide open options on the lenses you have already, and as such needing very high ISO to capture indoor shots without flash.

Use the on-board flash at your discretion - it will not provide very flattering results, but you can use it as a fill-flash with reasonable effect. This may take practice and some reading up on how it all works, so enjoy the journey and hope it goes well for you.

Last edited by Ash; 03-05-2010 at 06:36 PM. Reason: spelling error
03-05-2010, 06:37 PM   #4
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QuoteQuote:
Investing about $250 means you could possibly find an FA 50 f/1.4 lens, which simply cannot be beaten as a low-light performer for the money
If you can find one for $250.00 you better grab it they are selling new on Amazon for $359.00.

03-05-2010, 06:38 PM   #5
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I don't recommend a fixed-focal length lens for taking photos of kids. They move around too much. A zoom lens is more flexible.

I recommend using the kit lenses for now, and get a flash with auto settings (e.g. a Pentax AF280T or one of the Sunpak 4xxDs, about $50) and learn how to bounce the flash.

Later on with more experience, you'll know what lenses you want/need. You can still use the flash.
03-05-2010, 06:38 PM   #6
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Indoors the 55-300 might be a little long, so of the two lenses you'd probably be better off with the 18-55. I'd push the iso to 1600 and use the flash dialed down a bit as Clicker suggested.

If you're looking for fast prime, but want something a little wider than a 50mm, the Sigma 28/1.8 II might be a good choice if you can find one. I recently picked one up and so far it seems like a good low-light indoor lens. They don't come up often, but if you keep your eye out you might be able to pick one up for around $200. If you were willing to spend about twice as much, a used FA35/2 would be an excellent choice as well.

If you'd rather go the zoom route, I personally like the Kx + Tamron 28-75/2.8 combo. I usually use it wide open and set the iso to 1600 or 3200. Below are a couple shots I have posted on the forum already, but they are decent example of the above combo:

Kx + 28-75 @ 63mm, f/2.8, 1/60s, iso 1600


Kx+ 28-75 @ 75mm, f/2.8, 1/30s, iso 3200
03-05-2010, 09:01 PM   #7
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I think that you need a fast prime possibly around 50 mm. Indoor, I use a Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.8. The image quality of the Nokton 58mm is superb and it works very nicely indoor in low light. I have three kids and was able to get some excellent shots with the 58mm. I do not need a zoom and simply move with the camera around the children. The low light capabiity is excellent and I never use anyomore the flash. That is a great advantage as the kids are no longer bothered. Note that I live in a house; in a small apartment, the FA43mm f1.9 might be a better choice.

The Nokton is autofocus; its built quality and image quality are outstanding. The price of a new lens is comparable to the FA50mm f1.4. The 58 mm Nokton lens was tested by Photozone.de {http://www.photozone.de/nikon--nikkor-aps-c-lens-tests/360-voigtlander-nokton-58mm-f14-sl-ii} and found to be quite superior to the FA50mm. A recent thread at DPreview is worthwhile to read {http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1036&message=34707388}.

Hope that the comment will help...
03-05-2010, 11:29 PM   #8
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I've found my DA40 is a bit longer and f/2.8 is not fast enough -so is f/3.2 of my DA21-
so I got a Sigma 30mm f/1.4, just for indoor portraits/objects, and I am very happy with it.

But then, you have K-x, can bump iso to 1600-3200, so maybe f/2.8 would be okay for you.
Nevertheless you may consider the sigma.

03-06-2010, 02:11 AM   #9
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In my mind, even having high ISO capabilities does not compare with having f/1.4 as opposed to f/2.8 - different leagues of lenses and creative abilities. Value for money, the fast fifty option wins hands down. Without it, you'll be struggling to get decent results with the kit lenses.
03-06-2010, 04:23 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
In my mind, even having high ISO capabilities does not compare with having f/1.4 as opposed to f/2.8 - different leagues of lenses and creative abilities. Value for money, the fast fifty option wins hands down. Without it, you'll be struggling to get decent results with the kit lenses.
you've got a point there Ash,
there is also that you can get rid of busy background indoors with f/1.4 which f/2.8 won't suffice for that most of the time.
03-06-2010, 04:42 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by apemen Quote
I've found my DA40 is a bit longer and f/2.8 is not fast enough -so is f/3.2 of my DA21-
so I got a Sigma 30mm f/1.4, just for indoor portraits/objects, and I am very happy with it.

But then, you have K-x, can bump iso to 1600-3200, so maybe f/2.8 would be okay for you.
Nevertheless you may consider the sigma.
I had forgotten about the sigma 30/1.4. I've never owned one, but a friend of mine has it on his Canon and really likes it. Sounds like it might be a great choice for what you need (again, if you feel a 50/1.4 would be too long).
03-06-2010, 06:49 AM   #12
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The advice regarding 50mm or 30mm or .. How do you decide if you have no experience.

Put your 18-55mm on your camera and set it to each of those focal length and take some shots. You might find that 50mm is too long. This is, you can not get the full subject in the photo when both you and the subject are in a confined space. In that case, opt for something wider.

Or take 100 shots or so during a week/weekend with the 18-55 and see which focal length you use most and buy a lense in that range.

@dgaies
If you call 28mm a little wider, what do you call 35mm or 14mm
03-06-2010, 08:12 AM   #13
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I recommend staying away from the flash not just because it isn't flattering until you learn how to properly use it (I don't), but it attracts the kids' attention away from what they were doing.

A fast 50 is the way to go.
03-06-2010, 08:33 AM   #14
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thanks

Thanks everyone. This is great info. It sounds like most of you are suggesting a fast prime lens (30 to 50mm range). As far as the FL goes, ill look and see what suits best. do i have to multiply the FL on FA50 or sigma 30 by 1.5 to get the EFL (to compare with my kit lens) before i use it on a DSLR? do most people ever use flash with the fast primes or the wide aperture is usually enough?
if i were to buy a flash, which one would you recommend? i have heard about pentax 360, sigma and metz 48. i would like it have auto (adjusts intensity based on availaible light) and a swivel function to learn bounce back. are there any cheaper flashes with those functions?
g
03-06-2010, 08:35 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
In my mind, even having high ISO capabilities does not compare with having f/1.4 as opposed to f/2.8 - different leagues of lenses and creative abilities. Value for money, the fast fifty option wins hands down. Without it, you'll be struggling to get decent results with the kit lenses.
Very, very true!
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