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Old Jun 5, 2007, 5:55 AM   #1
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[align=right][align=left]EDIT: Doing additional research, I think I've realized the lenses questioned below aren't even in the same class. For any new readers, my debate is more between 28-70mm f/2.8 and the 24-105mm f/4.0. I'm certain I'll benefit from the 2.8 and add a longer lens later such as the 70-200mm f/2.8.

Learning more with each and every post. Thanks for all the great information.
While this question is very situational, it is just as much of an "Understanding Exposure" question for me as it is a possible purchasing choice. Generally, every post has responses that make me go back and rethink how this whole crazy science works testing as best I can with my own setup and limited knowledge. Some things, of course, you can't test until you plunk down your hard-earned cash.

A culmination of a few questions I've been asking that several of you have already responded to, but...

In indoor, lower light situations, and with 90% of pictures being taken of pre-toddlers... (speed, fast autofocus are other needs!) Usually 3-6 or so feet away from children (arm's reach to a step or two back), never really even 8 feet away... at least til they start walking, gulp!!!

Would one GENERALLY benefit more from
1) a HIGHER APERTURE (low light, faster?) lens such as an EF 28-70mm f/2.8L or

2) a general walkaround lens with the addition of a flash, such as
an EF 28-135mm f/3.5 - 5.6 IS USM (slower focus, less aperture, but better range) and an external flash

3) your suggestions.

I do understand these lenses are in totally different categories. It's the low light challenges. It's the zoom reach I've not yet experienced first hand. Also, I'm not trying to rely on equipment to do the job. I know I need to "learn my camera," "learn the basics" etc. But, as I put in my own efforts to read, study, learn... to "Understand Exposure," to "Master Light," to "See Creatively," etc...

Please understand, as I drag this out, this is just as much of a mental exercise for me. You'll laugh to know, I'd never really thought through which end of my kit lens was 17mm and which was 55mm. (Laugh now... Please laugh... No eye rolling) Common sense says a 300mm equals zoom, so, the 55mm end must have been my zoom, but, I had to double check. It made me look down to realize, "17mm, I don't need that!" I may occasionally take a picture at 17mm to capture the overall setting but then always zoom in on the face or body of my little guys. Further, 55mm really doesn't seem enough there on the other end!

So what??? Well, in researching lenses, it was only then I realized I have no particular need at this point for 17mm and ruled out a possibly HUGE mistake in ordering the 17-55mm f/1.8 for nearly $1,000. That could have hurt.

What it made a busy, brain-dead, lack-of-sleep father of twins do is really think through what I've been doing, what I enjoy shooting and what I'm missing. Duh, I need more zoom to get better access to faces rather than putting camera and flash right up in their little eyes. An external flash has been repeatedly recommended.

So, for fast, low light, adequate zoom range, etc, etc... WHERE IS THE BIGGEST BENEFIT? Oh, and I guess they'll be walking soon. More zoom?

As always, thanks. The curve is long and slow but it is climbing. I just hope to do the best I can and not miss these incredible times due to lack of knowledge or equipment.

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Old Jun 5, 2007, 8:36 AM   #2
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Deja vu... All over right? :idea:

-> You would benefit more from a 70-200 f/2.8 or better still one of those new 50-150 f/2.8
I guess a 28-135mm f/3.5 - 5.6 IS USM would do too (both JohnG and I have it) since it's quite sharp if you don't need f/2.8...
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Old Jun 5, 2007, 10:22 AM   #3
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Wouldn't disagree that there is a "deja vu" moment or two here. That said, I do believe the post mentions "a culmination of a few questions," "several have already responded to," etc and goes into some detail to show that I am in a learning stage. Like most newbies, I have ruled in and ruled out 20 different options since a previous and clearly opened up a budget. (My wife hasn't signed us up for any first year portrait packages so I'm taking those funds and gonna get my own tools to do the job better myself.) Sorry for the "deja vu."

Now, previous lens questions have recommended I look first for external flash. Made a decision there only to find my choice out of stock. Other posts lead me to understand more about lowlight situations (my focus on aperture), others speed, others bokah, others depth of field.

So, yes, this question was posed but I thought this version was much more specific with a little more knowledge under my belt, a little more focus on the "triangle" and my needs. Some questions simply prompt more questions.

I guess if I had asked a question on one of your previous posts, we may not be here again, so, here goes...

How effective would 200mm be from 6 feet away, the max I stated I really find myself at this point?? (Yes, the previous post mentions a future of outdoors, some zoom, but I don't think I mentioned that here.)

I do have a lot to learn and I do have VERY LIMITED experience sighting down some of these barrels mentioned. I think of 200mm as something for viewing a fairly distant object. I'll dig a little deeper for examples in my recommended books, but, that's one I've got to get a grasp on. As JohnG and I have discussed, distances between bases in baseball, shooting sideline sports such as soccer and football, etc require more focal length (200mm, ideally 300mm) I struggled to understand how that would apply for objects arm's length away.

Finally, I do think this focused a lot more on low light, speed and aperture than just "which lens for me, everybody!!!" types of posts. So, apologies if a duplicate. I do go in waves of doing tons of research and other periods of not having time to sit down for days on end. (I think I fed the same kid twice this morning and the other not at all. Dig?!?)

Any example of what these "candid" pics would look like from within an "arm's reach" or "two steps away" distance????

While we're at it, I guess even though extremely weighty, the 28-70mm would be extremely well complimented a year down the road by a 70-200mm f2.8??? I ask before I even look at what that costs? Still need to understand that length in a small bedroom.... but that's on me...
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Old Jun 5, 2007, 1:11 PM   #4
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A 200mm lens (or similar focal length) would not be workable for the type of pics you are wanting - arms length to a step or two back. Stick with your 50mm prime, for available light pics, stop it down to f 2.8 or 4.0 if there is enough light to get better sharpness out of the lens. Excuse me for asking, but how is your technique? You've got to have good technique for hand-holding available light shots. Do your best to minimize camera shake. Above all, buy a flash that can swivel and tilt, like the Canon 430. Your kids are old enough that you should not have any worry about flash (bounced or direct) hurting them. Avoid using direct flash like the plague, always try to bounce it off a wall or ceiling. Your kit lens can take sharp pictures too, especially with a flash to provide enough light. Just stop it down to f 5.6 or smaller aperature and see what you can get.
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Old Jun 5, 2007, 3:29 PM   #5
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leeraff, excuse me for saying it, but I think you overcomplicate things. You already have a 50mm f1.8. It's not an L lens, but it can deliver goods in low light. I may be completely wrong here, but this lens is just about right for what you want (it can be a bit long sometimes though).

These were taken with a 50mm f/1.8 at ISO800, f/2.0, 1/40 sec just before sunset from about 1.5m (6 ft.):

This was taken with 28-105 mm f/3.5-4.5 II USM at ISO800, f/4.0, 1/40 sec, at 55mm setting also from about 1.5m:

As you can see, kids move even in low light :-)and IS can't really help you with subject movement. A flash, as been said before, especially balanced for the ambient light and bounced from a wall or ceiling, can make your life much easier.

Longer lens in close quarters can be a bit more difficult to use, but it depends on what you're after. These were taken in a small bedroom with a 70-200mm lens with a single 75w light bulb and a build-in flash for lighting.

ISO400, f/4.0, 1/60 sec at 70mm from 1.5m distance. No PP, just resized:

The same settings and distance, but at 200mm zoom:

If you want to shoot indoors without flash and have some money to spend, get yourself 30mm f/1.4 Sigma, 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.4 Canon lenses. You can get away buying the same focal lengths, but f/1.8. Later on, when they grow up a little,you can add a 70-200 or 70-300mm zoom for outdoors.

Otherwise, 24-105 f/4, or 28-70, or 28-135 IS, or 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 and a bounced flash like EX430 will do the job - it depends on your budget.

Another thing, kids usually don't mind the flash, but a huge lens like 70-200 from a short distance can scare them.

Last pic, taken with my old 35mm Nikon, 70-200mm lens at about 135mm and a Vivitar 283 flash bounced from the ceiling, less than 2m distance(my son was 3 months old here):

Just my $0.05

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Old Jun 5, 2007, 3:29 PM   #6
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sorry, double post for some reason :shock:
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Old Jun 5, 2007, 9:44 PM   #7
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More great info. Thanks.

edwardr, yes, external flash has been recommended. Got advice, researched, decided, went to pull trigger and found it out of stock. I did pick one up on the way home today though, so... something new to learn this weekend. I'll hope that extra light compliments my existing lenses.

Also, great point about technique. We HAVE found plenty of amazing shots as we review on the computer and used many to crop down to face level. But, again, with low light, get-on-the-floor shots, who knows how steady the hands are! I think I'm steady but, who knows?!? I don't know that my average shot matches those below from algold. I'll admit that. Three out of ten very nice. Equal amount fair and equal amount frustratingly off.

also, nhl's recommendation for 70-200 may have come just as much from some "deja vu" post where I was researching more about "walkaround" (I think) and a future of toddlers outdoors, etc as one consideration. I would have NEVER thought of a lens that long for indoors, but...

now, seeing that GREAT post by algold, wow, that helps a ton. great info. thanks. NOW, I have some visuals to go with the "text" advice. Focal length in pure numbers means little to me but the pictures are worth 1000 words. Man, the 70-200 certainly seems like it could work indoors. I've just personally never been able to actually see those focal lengths in my particular environment.

So, thanks to all. Am I overcomplicating? Wouldn't be the first time. Realize veterans can get tired of same posts but hope there is some tolerance as research leads to more research leads to new information and new ideas. Opening up the budget alone made my previous post obsolete, at least I thought. Again, the low light, questions on aperture, etc. Thanks all.

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Old Jun 15, 2007, 10:42 AM   #8
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the canon 50mm 1.8 or the 1.4 prime lenses would be great in those situations...as mentioned above. realize as you get down to 1.8 or 1.4 you will lose some depth of field though that can make focus a little tricky with the little ones. So flash would be handy.
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Old Jun 15, 2007, 1:34 PM   #9
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Another suggestion: the Sigma EX30mm F 1.4 lens. Because you are dealing with rather short distances, it appears to be around 4 to 10 feet, the 30mm focal length would probably work a lot better for you.The Sigma 30mm lenswould also allow you take a photo even without the flash when you desired to do so.

I posted to you once before about using the "a better bounce card" technique which is very effective, but you had no comments about it. Any thoughts?

You mentioned that you picked up a flash, but did not tell us what kind/brand flash it was, and if is designed for your camera. You might also consider using a slave flash and allowing your camera's built-in flash to trigger it.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jun 16, 2007, 5:32 PM   #10
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algold, btw, you show "low light" shots but most were outdoor light, not the single lamp nursery environment I think I've continually discussed with some here. The shots of the boy are still much different than mine in that our guys are usually on the floor and don't exactly cooperate with "look into the light." That said, great post and vERY helpful to me.

Further, outdoors, I'm ecstatic with the 50mm and now DEFINITELY the 85mm f/1.8. Got some amazing shots at the ballpark with background out of focus. VERY HAPPY outdoors. Working with the flash and seeing some good results there.

mtclimber, picked up the 430ex. Have tried all kinds of tips, even just printer paper as the "better bounce card" and that to work pretty well. I'll certainly look into some of the on-flash diffusers as I really like that softer light without having to continually re-angle the external flash.

Now, you mention using the cameras pop up flash to trigger a slave. I'm a Canon shooter. If there is something I've missed on this capability with CAnon, please start typing and the check willl be in the mail. I know Nikon, others?, allow this but didn't think Canon has stepped up here even though there is one mention I've read (NHL's) of how easy it would be to upgrade through firmware.

Finally, I've not really posted a bunch of photos but will try here to show my outdoor shots. Getting some good ones indoors.

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