One of the first things you’ll realize when purchasing a new DSLR to embrace kid’s photography is that the buck doesn’t stop there. A reasonable investment in lenses is usually a requirement if you are looking to be able to delve into different types of photography (such as kid’s portraits) – particularly if you want to do it for a living or be able to capture different types of photos.
So, what should you consider when looking at lenses with a mind towards kid’s photography? Here are a few tips:
What kind of lens should you buy: zoom or prime, telephoto or normal or wide angle, etc.? This is a fairly personal decision, likely if you are reading this post you’ve found that you’ve encountered a few situations where your existing lens didn’t ‘cut the mustard’ and you want one that performs better. So find out what lenses are typically recommended for the type of photography you are interested in. For example, if you really want to take children’s portraits then you may want to look at good lenses for portraiture.
Aperture: Bigger is Better (For Kid’s Portraits)
A wide aperture in any type of lens lets you create interesting shots with blurry backgrounds, perfect for kid’s photos (for the most part). It also lets more light into the lens which is good for low-light or action photography. If it all possible, purchase the largest aperture you can afford so you don’t have the ‘buyer’s remorse’ of finding out that your lens just isn’t fast enough for you.
Bulky vs. Slim
Lenses, even those with the same focal lengths can vary greatly in size and weight. Lenses with larger apertures are typically bigger and heavier (more glass inside). So, take into consideration what you are doing with this lens. If it’s going to be packed around then you may want something a bit more portable so you don’t leave it at home or have sore shoulders at the end of the day.
Stabilization and Other Bonuses
What stabilization does is let you take longer (slower shutter speed) shots than you could not manage with the same lens without it. For example, if you have a Canon 70-200mm and are fully zoomed (200mm) the fastest shutter speed you should be using to avoid camera shake (which causes blur) is 1/200s. If you had the IS version you could go as slow as 1/100s. However, the price difference may not be worth it, particularly since when you are photographing kids you usually want to stick with faster shutter speeds (in my opinion!). All new lenses have automatic focus as well, but that doesn’t mean that you might not want one that has an on/off switch.
New vs. Used
Obviously, if you are buying new you have a reasonable expectation that you’re getting a lens that works well, and will continue to do so for a good length of time. With used lenses you save money but don’t have as much of an assurance as to performance over the long term. If you do buy used, be careful and test out the lens before you buy.
Lenses to Consider
As mentioned, different photographers have different styles, and even kid’s photographers with similar styles might have a different toolkit when it comes to lenses. That being said, here are a few common portraiture lenses to consider:
- 85mm f/1.8 prime lens (or 50mm for a cropped sensor)
- 40mm f2.8 pancake lens (again, full frame so about 20mm for cropped)
- 50mm f1.4 (the f/1.8 is a great budget option)
- 17-40mm f/4L zoom
If you are still stuck, remember that you can always borrow or rent a lens to find one that suits you, rather than making the investment and finding out the lens doesn’t suit your photography style. Better safe than sorry!