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Old May 25, 2010, 8:26 PM   #11
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Can you share some of your nightime indoor and nighttime party shots of toddlers with the 50mm 1.4?
You know, where kids are actually playing?
Not yet, because my granddaughter is 1.3 years old and has just barely reached the stumbling-around-the-house phase (and the house is 200 miles away). I'll visit again this autumn, so I'll see what I can do then.
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Old May 25, 2010, 9:04 PM   #12
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Not yet...
So you have no personal first hand experience, yet you're convinced it's the best solution? I thought from your other posts you based your advice on experience? If you haven't photographed active toddlers in low light conditions, how do you know what works and what doesn't? I know this sounds mean spirited. But there's a lot of advice on the web. And it's amazing how much of it is often based on theory rather than personal experience. I like available light too - I shoot it quite often as a sports photographer. In my hands on experience photographing toddlers in the home, I've found it to be lacking. Sure it's good for things like a first communion where flash is inappropriate and movements are minor:


Even this shot though has motion blur though. Downside of 1/80 shutter speeds. Camera perfectly steady but subject's face is blurred because of motion blur.
And, of course, shallow dof available light is great when there's enough light:


or when your subject isn't moving and slow shutter speeds are OK:


In the typical family home at night, the flash photos I posted simply aren't possible with available light. How do I know? Because I have hands on experience. I've tried both - available light is a poor solution for everyday photo captures. Too many blurred movements. Too many shots where dof is too shallow for what I as the photographer want to capture. In all sincerity, when you have hands on experience and give both methods a try you might feel differently. Of course, cheap automatic flashes aren't the same as good ETTL flashes. So if that's all you have, you might want to invest in a better flash ahead of time and practice. Available light photography has it's place, but it's a disappointing choice for active children indoors.
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Old May 25, 2010, 10:22 PM   #13
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Hey LisaG,

I would highly recommend the Nikon D5000, with the 18-55 kit lens. I have the D40, and I have thought about upgrading but it turns out great pictures. I know some people say that the issue with buying more expensive lenses with the auto focus in the lens makes this less than optimal, but I have the 18-55 kit lens and the 55-200 VR, and they work great. I really don't think I need anything else.

I ended up with the D40 before our daughter was born for the exact same reason, check out Ken Rockwell's site (Google his name). He highly recommends the d5000, he is a big Nikon guy, but he does have a great PDF user guide with settings for the D5000 that is great to learn some settings to turn out better photos.

Just my .02.

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Old May 25, 2010, 11:15 PM   #14
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If you want to add a 50mm prime lens, with the d5000 you are looking at 450 for the nikon AF-s, and 500 for the sigma 1.4. Kinda pricy. Also for chasing kids. The better AF is will give you better results. So LisaG wants that artistic look of the blur back ground. It is a bit more money then a 90 dollar nifty fifty. Or 330 for the canon 50mm 1.4 usm if she went for canon. Or the 350 50mm 1.4 with a pentax product. Both have a better AF system then the D5000 currently

The D5000 has the flash system going for it.
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Old May 27, 2010, 2:03 PM   #15
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John G: thanks for posting the great photos - what did you use for them?
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Old May 27, 2010, 2:24 PM   #16
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Original flash photos were taken with Canon 1dmkIII, 24-105 lens and 580exII flash.
Now, obviously that's not the same equipment as what you would be using. But the biggest difference won't be the camera body or the flash it will be the lens. Kit lenses for entry models aren't going to be as sharp as the 24-105L. But I can tell you every one of those flash shots is better than it would have been with wide aperture prime lens and high ISO.
Now, the shallow DOF shots were done with 85mm 1.8 lens.
The communion photo was with 70-200 2.8 or 120-300 2.8 (i forget which). I chose that lens because I could shoot from an empty balcony which allowed me to use a tripod AND get a shot of faces - rather than shooting from the seats where I would have gotten the backs of heads and would have other people between me and my subject.
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Old May 31, 2010, 9:41 AM   #17
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thanks to all for the advice.

I'm leaning toward Canon, but strongly considering the older xSi (much cheaper now) which a couple of friends highly recommend and spending the diff on lenses. Any comments?
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Old May 31, 2010, 10:06 AM   #18
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I think the XSi is a good choice for what you want to do, and spending the difference on a flash is a good idea. The kit lens is pretty good, and you haven't said anything that would make me think you need a better or a supplimental lens so far. And a better stabilized lens would be the Canon 15-85 which would streetch your budget quite a bit.
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Old May 31, 2010, 10:21 AM   #19
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if i were buying body and lens separately, what would you recommend as a good lens for what I want to do?
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Old May 31, 2010, 10:44 AM   #20
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Hi Lisa-

External flashes should not be discounted. They are very valuable accessory items. If you are purchasing the body and lens separately and going to be working in fairly close to your subject as most of JohnG photos are, an Canon XS or XSI body with a Tamron 17-50mm lens would be a very good combination.

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