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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 25 Feb 2009 (Wednesday) 03:55
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In search of a good lens for photographing children.

 
bbbig
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Feb 25, 2009 15:05 as a reply to  @ post 7405298 |  #16

My recommendation is Canon 28mm 1.8. It looks very natural on a 1.6x crop body like yours (equiv. 44.8mm). I've heard nice things about Sigma 30mm 1.4 (equiv. 48mm), but I've also heard many complaining about its poor quality at times.

I do understand the reasons why people are recommending a flash, however if your lens can't focus fast enough, it won't matter because they'll be OOF. For children running around, there's no real solution, other than get a camera that shoots 10fps, shoot and pray. No Canon flash can recycle fast enough at that framerate!

BTW, I've found my 70-200 2.8 IS to be the best lens for shooting kids outdoors, albeit far more than what you're ready to spend. Unfortunately, there aren't too many options indoors.

Regarding your budget, do think about the real cost of ownership. Even if you get a very expensive lens, some lenses hold their value a lot over the years. Unless you aren't going to be using them much, the real cost of lens isn't as high as you may think. Also, kids only grow up once, and there are intangible values on being able to capture the moments. My children will see how I saw them through my viewfinder. I only hope I can preserve those great memories.

Good luck!


Roy

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keener
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Feb 25, 2009 15:24 |  #17

If the kids will be mostly stationary, i've found my sigma 30mm 1.4 to be best for most of those situations. If they will be moving a lot, indoors or out, I can't do without a zoom, and for that my tamron 17-50 or canon 24-70 does the trick. I will use a flash with all of my lenses (primes and zoomes) indoors when the sun goes down.


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Bill ­ Ng
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Feb 25, 2009 15:43 as a reply to  @ keener's post |  #18

There is no answer to your question. Different focal lengths have different levels of focal compression and focal distortion. Different conditions are served better by different focal lengths (running kids are easier to "track" from a greater distance). Do you like to get candid shots, or do you want your subjects to interact with the lens? There are roughly a dozen other questions that have to be answered as well. The bottom line: You need to pick the lens that is right for the image you are trying to produce.

My 20mm. Kids call it the "goofy" lens or occasionally the "bobble-head" lens based on second image below:

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My 35mm:

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My 50mm:

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My 70-200 2.8. The "candid" lens:

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The bottom line ... you can use anything as a kids portrait lens. But each one will serve a different purpose and be used in a different manner. What are you looking to do?

Billy Ng
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SkipD
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Feb 25, 2009 15:59 |  #19

Bill Ng wrote in post #7405697 (external link)
Different focal lengths have different levels of focal compression and focal distortion. Different conditions are served better by different focal lengths (running kids are easier to "track" from a greater distance).

Bill, the part in bold text is not true. Focal length, in itself, does nothing to "compress" an image.

It's the physical distance between the camera and various elements of the subject that actually affects the perspective (defined as the relationship of apparent sizes of the various elements in a scene) in an image.

There are several threads in the forum where we've had discussions about this subject. If you need proof, I can post links to show that two lenses of radically different focal length used on a camera will provide images with precisely the same perspective if the camera is used at the same position with the different lenses. You have to crop the shot taken with the shorter focal length(s) to match the framing of the one taken with the one with the longest focal length, but when you do the resulting images will have the same perspective.

Again, it's the distance between camera and the subject(s) that changes the perspective, not the focal length used.

The reason this is not well understood is that folks will typically use a longer lens from a greater distance and will typically use a shorter focal length at a shorter distance, and the common belief is that what they see in their images is due to the focal length chosen.


Skip Douglas
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Bill ­ Ng
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Feb 25, 2009 17:26 |  #20

Skip, I don't need proof of anything. I understand the point you're trying to make, but I look at it as splitting hairs here. If I take an upper-body shot of my son with a 20mm prime, and I take a similarly framed upper-body shot of my son with a 300mm prime, the focal compression will change drastically. Yes, the reason for this is my distance-from-subject, but since it is impossible for me to take similarly-framed shots of the same subject, from the same distance, with different focal-length lenses .... then one could argue that distance is interchangeable/synony​mous with focal length.

The OP sounds like a relative noob to me and it's simply easier to explain that focal compression is a byproduct of focal length. I don't think anyone, noob or otherwise, is going to go out - stick an entirely different focal length on their camera, and not adjust their distance-from-subject to get the framing to where they want it to be. In my original post I'm assuming that.

SkipD wrote in post #7405793 (external link)
Bill, the part in bold text is not true. Focal length, in itself, does nothing to "compress" an image.

It's the physical distance between the camera and various elements of the subject that actually affects the perspective (defined as the relationship of apparent sizes of the various elements in a scene) in an image.

There are several threads in the forum where we've had discussions about this subject. If you need proof, I can post links to show that two lenses of radically different focal length used on a camera will provide images with precisely the same perspective if the camera is used at the same position with the different lenses. You have to crop the shot taken with the shorter focal length(s) to match the framing of the one taken with the one with the longest focal length, but when you do the resulting images will have the same perspective.

Again, it's the distance between camera and the subject(s) that changes the perspective, not the focal length used.

The reason this is not well understood is that folks will typically use a longer lens from a greater distance and will typically use a shorter focal length at a shorter distance, and the common belief is that what they see in their images is due to the focal length chosen.


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SkipD
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Feb 25, 2009 18:14 |  #21

Bill Ng wrote in post #7406310 (external link)
Skip, I don't need proof of anything. I understand the point you're trying to make, but I look at it as splitting hairs here. If I take an upper-body shot of my son with a 20mm prime, and I take a similarly framed upper-body shot of my son with a 300mm prime, the focal compression will change drastically. Yes, the reason for this is my distance-from-subject, but since it is impossible for me to take similarly-framed shots of the same subject, from the same distance, with different focal-length lenses .... then one could argue that distance is interchangeable/synony​mous with focal length.

The OP sounds like a relative noob to me and it's simply easier to explain that focal compression is a byproduct of focal length. I don't think anyone, noob or otherwise, is going to go out - stick an entirely different focal length on their camera, and not adjust their distance-from-subject to get the framing to where they want it to be. In my original post I'm assuming that.

The point that several of us have been trying to get across the new photographers, Bill, is that by first choosing the position to make an image from and then selecting the focal length that will allow the photographer to frame the subject to create the envisioned image, there is more control over composition. This process (at least the thinking through of the process) is only understood when the new photographer realizes that perspective is controlled purely by distance between the viewer (or camera) and the subject. It's because of this teaching process that I brought the issue up.

I am fully aware, of course, that the seasoned photographer often thinks in shortcuts because of the experiences that he/she has. However, we need to teach the newbies the very basics of composition and using the camera to achieve desired results.


Skip Douglas
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Bill ­ Ng
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Feb 25, 2009 21:22 |  #22

SkipD wrote in post #7406634 (external link)
The point that several of us have been trying to get across the new photographers, Bill, is that by first choosing the position to make an image from and then selecting the focal length that will allow the photographer to frame the subject to create the envisioned image, there is more control over composition. This process (at least the thinking through of the process) is only understood when the new photographer realizes that perspective is controlled purely by distance between the viewer (or camera) and the subject. It's because of this teaching process that I brought the issue up.

But who do you know actually picks out their spot, then decides what lens to use? Sports pros who are limited by sidelines and fences maybe, but most casual photographers I know pick a lens then frame the photo by moving (primes) or zooming.

That said, I do understand your intentions and I applaud it.


Billy Ng
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nightcat
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Feb 25, 2009 22:14 |  #23

I'll add that I've gotten some stunning shots of kids (and babies) with the 60mm 2.8 macro. As Bill Ng proved, there's a number of lenses that will work well for this application.




  
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gasrocks
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Feb 25, 2009 23:33 |  #24

You can use just about any lens for kids, actually. Lenses do not compress or distort things - working distance does.


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SkipD
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Feb 26, 2009 06:18 |  #25

Bill Ng wrote in post #7407748 (external link)
But who do you know actually picks out their spot, then decides what lens to use? Sports pros who are limited by sidelines and fences maybe, but most casual photographers I know pick a lens then frame the photo by moving (primes) or zooming.

If the "casual photographer" understood the following (something I have posted befoe), they would be able to greatly improve their results:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

This is part of Photography 101, and is all about controlling perspective in your images.

Many inexperienced photographers choose focal lengths merely to be able to frame a subject from whatever camera position they feel is convenient at the moment. They probably don't even realize that there is a huge composition advantage in finding a better vantage point for the shot. The reasons are that distance between the viewer (or camera) and subject is what changes perspective and a different angle, combined with a perspective change can potentially make a huge difference in the quality of composition in a photo.

When I am trying to be completely "in control" of my images, I will - when possible - choose my camera position based on what it does to the perspective. Then, and only then, I will choose a focal length to fill the camera’s frame with the intended image.

Here's a simple example of how perspective control can work for you:

Let's assume that you are taking a photo of some friends in a scene that has mountains in the background. You stand 20 feet from the people and view the scene. A 50mm lens will let you fill the frame with the group of people and some of the background quite nicely, so you take a shot. Then you realize that the mountains are rather small in the background.

Back up to to 40 feet (twice the distance) from the group of people and view the scene, you will see that the mountains are now larger relative to the people - twice the size they were before, in fact. However, the people are smaller in your viewfinder. You now need a 100mm lens to keep the people the same size as in the first image, but the mountains now appear twice the size that they were in the first shot.

Why is this? It's because the additional twenty feet that you put between yourself and the people is insignificant relative to the fifteen miles between your viewing spot and the mountains.

When you are closer to subjects, perspective still comes into play. If you shoot a portrait from a location very close to the subject, the nearest objects (a nose, for example) will be larger relative to more distant objects (such as an ear) than they would appear from a greater distance. That is why experienced portrait photographers like to use a little more distance - and thus a little longer lens – than some beginning photographers would choose when shooting conventional portraits. The subject will usually be happier with the perspective achieved by the greater distance.


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Jman13
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Feb 27, 2009 04:29 |  #26

Bill is right on one point....I don't choose a spot, then the lens. But that's because I know how close I want to be to get the perspective I want, and I choose the lens based on those needs. For instance, when shooting my daughter, my 35L and 85L are the go to lenses...and I pick which one I want to use based on whether I want a more intimate perspective or a more compressed perspective. Which is, essentially, exactly what Skip is talking about.


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noodle_snacks
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Feb 27, 2009 04:30 |  #27

stevienixed wrote in post #7402205 (external link)
What are your experiences with photographing children? I'm in search for a good lens but I'm unsure which one. Everyone tells me to buy a 50 mm but now I discover it's slower to focus?

(As you might have guessed I'm a complete noob to DSLR and photography in general. But I enrolled in a course and hopefully will learn a lot. :) BTWI have a Canon 1000D.)

Are they your children? If not I'd suggest a 400mm F5.6L or similar.




  
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René ­ Damkot
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Feb 27, 2009 14:01 as a reply to  @ noodle_snacks's post |  #28

Bill Ng wrote in post #7406310 (external link)
since it is impossible for me to take similarly-framed shots of the same subject, from the same distance, with different focal-length lenses .... then one could argue that distance is interchangeable/synony​mous with focal length.

Crop tool in PS? ;)

Bill Ng wrote in post #7406310 (external link)
The OP sounds like a relative noob to me and it's simply easier to explain that focal compression is a byproduct of focal length. I don't think anyone, noob or otherwise, is going to go out - stick an entirely different focal length on their camera, and not adjust their distance-from-subject to get the framing to where they want it to be. In my original post I'm assuming that.

While I understand what you are saying here, I agree with Skip that a lot of newbies could be better photographers if they understand that it's distance that alters perspective. Different way of thinking I guess.

Bill Ng wrote in post #7407748 (external link)
But who do you know actually picks out their spot, then decides what lens to use?

I do. At least 90% of the time. The other 10% is Night club photography, when you don't get time to really choose a spot, since it depends on the people, who can be pretty erratic. That's 20mm or 28mm prime mostly on my 1D2. But even then I try to move to a distance to get the perspective I want.


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Feb 27, 2009 14:41 |  #29

Bill Ng wrote in post #7407748 (external link)
But who do you know actually picks out their spot, then decides what lens to use?

Anyone who is trying to figure out what works in a particular room. Taking pictures of the kids in a 12x16-foot living room? The 85 will be too long, unless you want pictures of noses.

The way to describe the effect is by using distance. For example, "If you want images that look goofy with big faces and small bodies, you have to get close. And to get that body in the picture up close, you need a wide angle, in the 16-20 range for a 1000D. But if you want a natural look to the face, you should be a normal distance away from it--about 6-10 feet. For that distance, normal to short telephoto (28-50 on a 1000D) is most appropriate. If you want to get pics of the kids from across the yard, look in the 70-200 range."

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SkipD
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Feb 27, 2009 15:46 |  #30

Bill Ng wrote in post #7407748 (external link)
But who do you know actually picks out their spot, then decides what lens to use?

I do the above almost all the time. I walk around - usually without even looking through my camera - and visualize the image I want to make and then decide how to create the image.

I even do this if I am going to shoot a whole series of shots such as at an automobile race.

There are obviously situations where it's nearly impossible to choose the position of the camera, such as photographing something that is happening rapidly but wasn't planned. That takes a different style of operation for the photographer.

The newbie who cares about composition needs to learn that "foot-zooming" (a term which I hate) is a lousy way to compose a good photograph. That's one reason why I teach about the truths involved in controlling perspective in an image.


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