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Author Topic: 85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos  (Read 6754 times)

Caps18

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85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« on: December 20, 2011, 11:19:53 AM »
I'm not the best photographer of people, and have never taken pictures of babies before.  But my sister is going to have twins in the next 2 weeks, and I would like to take some good photos with the 5Dm2.  Preferably without my 580 flash...

I won't have very much time to take the pictures, and there will probably be in-laws, cousins, and parents around.  And I know that they will take the 'typical' photos.  I am looking for more of the photo book quality pictures.

I do have a 25mm extension tube that I have used on the 85mm before, but it wasn't easy to get it in focus, and the camera had to be very close.  Or I have the 1.4x that can make the 300mm into a 420mm f/5.6.  I think I have used the extension tube with that setup before to get some macro shots as well.

If you have any tips or advice, I would appreciate it.
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85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« on: December 20, 2011, 11:19:53 AM »

branden

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Re: 85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2011, 11:55:33 AM »
I do have a 25mm extension tube that I have used on the 85mm before, but it wasn't easy to get it in focus, and the camera had to be very close.  Or I have the 1.4x that can make the 300mm into a 420mm f/5.6.  I think I have used the extension tube with that setup before to get some macro shots as well.
I'm honestly a little bit confused by this part of your post... what type of baby photos are you trying to take? Maybe can you post an example of someone else's baby photo that you like?

The 85mm f/1.8 lens on the 5DII is excellent by itself to take baby photos. I honestly don't see any reason to use an extension tube. "Photo book quality" photos of babies are not macro photos.

Using a 300mm lens for baby photos also seems bizarre... and a 420mm lens even more bizarre. One can get pretty close to babies; were you planning on taking the baby photos from far away? Anyway, an f/4 or f/5.6 lens won't be the best for taking the baby photos, since you'll likely need the low-light capabilities of f/2.8 or faster.

In any case, I would use a 50mm or 35mm lens, and set the baby (and mother) near a window during the daytime so that light comes in horizontally to your subjects. That with a fast lens can result in a photo with a calm, serene mood to it, which has been in my experience the best way of showing the mother's relationship with the child.

Another of my favorite shots is the baby's tiny hand wrapped around the finger of the father.

But that's what works for me -- YMMV.

By the way, all those famous photos of babies with their heads on their arms or doing other cute poses: the babies were posed that way by the photographer. Babies by themselves just sit there.

EYEONE

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Re: 85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2011, 12:47:50 PM »
Based on what you said in your post I'm confused by why the 300mm f4 is even an option.

85mm f1.8 is what you need (if a tad tight). But with those two choices I think the 85mm is the clear pick.
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neuroanatomist

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Re: 85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2011, 01:11:45 PM »
By the way, all those famous photos of babies with their heads on their arms or doing other cute poses: the babies were posed that way by the photographer. Babies by themselves just sit there.

Newborns?  If only that were true.  If they're not sleeping, they're crying...   ;)
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Flake

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Re: 85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2011, 01:23:52 PM »
I would suggest a 50mm pref the f/1.4 as you will need to get closer, the issue with longer lenses is that there's the opportunity for the unthinking to get in the way of the shot, if your body is in the way they generally manage to work out that they can't stand in the same place.  A softbox on  the 580 is the best option with either an extension cord or an ST E2, but open the lens wide open if you can to get that dreamy soft look, the lower apertures  can be ruthlessly sharp.

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Re: 85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2011, 01:31:27 PM »
For a newborn and the 5D MK II, a wide aperture lens might be best, 50mm f/1.4(or f/1.8) or 85mm f/1.8.  I'd say get the 50mm f/1.4 or f/1.8 first.

300mm is a long telephoto lens, you can get close with it, but it does not have a wide enough aperture for use in low light without flash.  You can use a wide aperture to get a faster shutter speed in low light.

iTasneem

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Re: 85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2011, 02:20:17 PM »
I suggest 50mm 1.4 or 85mm
« Last Edit: December 31, 2011, 03:27:23 AM by iTasneem »

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Re: 85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2011, 02:20:17 PM »

Caps18

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Re: 85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2011, 02:50:49 PM »
I don't really know how close I will be able to get.  I've never done this before.  And I don't want to be the 'crazy' camera uncle taking every photo 2-6 inches away like I do of leaves, flowers, and bugs.

I'm also not sure how low light this will be.  I'm sure that there will be times when the wide open aperture will be needed.  But, I'm not sure how much they move, if I would have a tripod, live view, or remote shutter (landscape photography is much easier :) )  I also have a 16-35mm f/2.8, but I will have to test that out on some baby toys first.

Quote
Another of my favorite shots is the baby's tiny hand wrapped around the finger of the father.

That is a good example, but I don't know if you would use an extension tube for that picture or not.

I'll look up some sample pictures tonight.
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neuroanatomist

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Re: 85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2011, 03:04:21 PM »
Unless you live in the tropical rainforest, newborns are bigger than leaves and flowers.  :D. The 85/1.8 will be perfect.
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wallybarthman

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Re: 85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2011, 03:17:19 PM »
You definitely do not want the 300 f4 IS USM - the advice you've been given is good.  The 85 1.8 will be especially useful on a full frame - although the 50 f1.4 would give you a little wider angle of view which could come in handy in tight indoor  situations. 

handsomerob

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Re: 85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2011, 03:18:33 PM »
+1 for the 85mm f/1.8, great on the 5DII.

300mm would be an awkward focal length for this and as others said, f/4 might not cut it under low light.

Good luck!

JR

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Re: 85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2011, 03:18:38 PM »
I now have a 21 month old baby girls, and I must say when she was a new born, I shot her almost exclusively with my 85mm lenses.  The 50mm lens was also great to take picture with the mommy!   8)
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unfocused

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Re: 85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2011, 03:27:56 PM »
By the way, all those famous photos of babies with their heads on their arms or doing other cute poses: the babies were posed that way by the photographer. Babies by themselves just sit there.


Newborns?  If only that were true.  If they're not sleeping, they're crying...   ;)


Or pooping. Lots of pooping. :)

Seriously though, as far as lenses go, the 85mm ought to be your best bet. But, like others have asked, what exactly are the conditions you are shooting under and what are you trying to do? You kind of sound like you are freaking out over this.

If your sister wants you to take baby pictures for an album, announcement etc., it's reasonable to expect her to set aside a half hour to an hour minimum for you, her, the dad and the babies – alone without anyone else interfering. If she's not willing to do that, then she must not want the pictures very badly.

Lots and lots of questions...are you in a warm or cold climate? (warm climate means you can take the baby outside and lay it on a blanket in open shade for nice long shots that could use the 300mm. I did something similar for a grandson born in July and a granddaughter that was born in November -- when we had a warm day. Obviously wouldn't have worked in January in the Midwest) You can get good shots with Mom holding baby (Mom looking down adoringly at baby, baby probably asleep, Mom probably standing near a window so light coming in from the side, close crop of Mom's profile and baby's head and upper torso)

Little hands and feet always good. You can see a few examples of my grandkids here. http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php/topic,2427.msg51769.html#msg51769

Since you are dealing with twins, you'll probably want some shots with Mom and Dad both holding one each. 85mm may be a little long for group shots of all four, but perhaps not.

One shot I would definitely do would be to lay them down on the floor, one going one direction and the other going the other, with their heads next to each other and then get on a chair and shoot from above.

Getting down to their level and shooting from above them will help move your pictures out of the standard snapshot category.

I wouldn't rule out the 580EXII. Best if you can use it off camera to simulate natural light, but even bouncing it off a ceiling or wall can be good.

I can't emphasize enough though that if they want good pictures of the babies, mom and dad have to cooperate and give you the time and seclusion to do it right.

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Re: 85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2011, 03:27:56 PM »

dtaylor

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Re: 85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2011, 03:42:45 PM »
I own both of these lenses. Let me add yet another vote for the 85 f/1.8. The 300 f/4, while a great lens, is not suitable for photographing babies, especially indoors.

When I photograph relatives during holidays and other family gatherings, I'm often using my Sigma 50 f/1.4 on crop, which is about the same FoV as the 85mm on FF. I also use the 85 f/1.8 on crop, but I tend to reach for the 50mm. It's about perfect for indoor portraits. You'll love the 85mm on FF.

Also: use your flash if needed, just bounce it off the ceiling.

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Re: 85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2011, 04:46:45 PM »
Unless you live in the tropical rainforest, newborns are bigger than leaves and flowers.  :D. The 85/1.8 will be perfect.

+1 on this. The only thing I don't like about the 85mm 1.8 is the minimum focusing distance, but this is otherwise superb for the price.

Colourful blankets/socks/shoes also work well as "accessories"!
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Re: 85mm f/1.8 or 300mm f/4 for baby photos
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2011, 04:46:45 PM »