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I have a Canon T2i, a 50mm f/1.8 and the kit lens (18-55mm). I'm considering buying a new lens for more flexibility with taking pictures of my upcoming newborn.

I LOVE the 50mm/1.8 lens, but on the 1.6x crop body, it is too much of a telephoto sometimes for up close picture taking. I'm thinking about purchasing a 30mm (approximately) lens, like the Canon 30mm f2, but I'm wondering what other reccomendations there may be.

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17  
+1 for the mental jump. "OMG! I am having a baby! That'll change everything. To start with, I'll need new camera equipment!" (More seriously, congrats!) –  Oddthinking Jul 23 '10 at 3:34
    
would a zoom lens be appropriate or are you only interested in a prime? and would you have a bigger budget if the lens was going to be useful for the toddler years as well? (i'm thinking a more expensive standard zoom f/2.8 may get more use in the long-run) –  drfrogsplat Aug 16 '10 at 6:56
    
I did pretty much the same as you, although just ran with the 50mm f/1.8, mostly with good results. It would have been nicer to get in close once in a while though. Some day, some day, maybe I'll get the 17-55 f/2.8 or an equivalent... –  khedron Aug 1 '11 at 18:45

12 Answers 12

up vote 16 down vote accepted

As someone who has gone through this very exercise just recently, I can safely recommend the Canon 35mm f2.0

Firstly, you definitely don't want to blind the baby, and even bounce flash causes his/her eyes to close tightly.

You also definitely want a fast lens - and here I wouldn't recommend anything slower than f2.0. I first bought the highly rated Canon 50mm f1.4, but found it WAY too zoomed in on a 1.6x crop factor. I also found it to be very soft wide open, meaning it needed to be stopped down to f2.0 or f2.8 before being sharp enough anyway.

After much research I settled on the Canon 35mm f2.0. It is very sharp at f2.0 and has obviously a much better crop factor. It's very reasonably priced if you don't want to buy L glass.

Highly recommended!

Another lens which appears to be a very good option is the Canon 28mm f1.8. It costs around $460. I have not personally used it, but I am interested in getting it.

PS: Don't forget to set your white balance else your pics will be way too warm.

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1  
I have the Canon 35mm f2, and can confirm that it's a great short range indoor lens, especially for the price. –  tnorthcutt Aug 22 '10 at 20:57

I don't know if we define up-close differently, but 50mm-85mm is exactly what you need to take up-close pictures. Without distortion, that is.

But if you want to take photos of the baby in its surrounding (ie. not up-close) you need something like 28mm 1.8 USM ($509), or consider a 18-55mm 2.8 fixed aperture and a flash that swivels up and a diffuser box on it. Canons version is too expensive, though.

Anything below 50mm (on crop) makes distorted up-close pictures in my experience, so if you get a 35mm you have to be careful not to get up-close with it. But a lot of people here tend to disagree with that, but you can test it on portraits of your wife and ask her which picture she prefers if you shoot her with 28, 35, 50, and 85mm.

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I strongly recommend the 40mm F2.8 STM, its only $150. I got one for my daughter when she had her baby and she loves it. She also had the standard 18-55 kit lens and a 50mm F1.4.

The 40 mm is shorter and that is handy indoors, on a crop body, the 50mm can be long. It focuses quickly and at 2.8, its fast enough for available light.

I would stay away from the superzooms, (18-200, etc.) as they tend to be convenient, but not all that high in IQ. Get a quality short lens, and you can go cheap on the long lens, say the 70-250 which sells for about $150.

Of course, after you have used the inexpensive long lens, you may decide that you like that length, and get a better lens when you know you need it.

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Having recently had a child, using the 50mm 1.8 took great photos (I have the Canon 450D).

But once they start crawling, running, etc. you need the flexibility of a standard zoom range.

I got the Tamron 17-50 2.8 VC (VC is Tamron's name for image stabilization). It was about AU$600, so about US$500.

I highly recommend this lens, in fact, the sharpness and colour are actually better than the 50mm 1.8.

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1  
I don't believe the Tamron is sharper than the 50mm. Perhaps if you compare it to the 50mm wide open, but stopped down to f/2.8 (i.e. the Tamron's maximum) the 50mm is sharper. –  drfrogsplat Aug 16 '10 at 6:51
    
Haven't done a comparison at say, f/4 or f/8, but at f/2.8 the prime is still soft. –  Daniel O Aug 17 '10 at 22:58
    
See this comparison at f/2.8 photo.stackexchange.com/questions/522/… –  Daniel O Aug 18 '10 at 20:14

How about Sigma 30mm f1.4? I had a Canon 50mm f1.8 couple of years back but then it broke down and I decided to try something wider. I had been using the 50 only inside and it is a bit too narrow there when combined to a 1,6x crop sensor (Canon 40D).

I've been satisfied to the Sigma I now got. Like some Sigmas, also mine had a back-focusing issue but it was fixed quickly at the local service center.

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Do you mean "too narrow"? –  Reid Jul 22 '10 at 20:26
    
Ah yes, lost my thoughts there :) –  htuomola Jul 26 '10 at 11:28
    
Keep in mind that the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is a DC lens, and as such will only work on crop sensor cameras. Usually it is important to note the full lens name in cases such as this when it really does make a difference - Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM Lens. –  dpollitt Jan 22 '12 at 3:50

I assume you want a "faster" lens, because your kit lens is too slow?

Instead of getting a new lens, I suggest in getting a flash/strobe. As your baby gets bigger, they will tend to move more, and flash is absolutely useful in capturing those moments by "freezing" the movement.

You can learn on how to use flash via strobist: http://www.strobist.com

Here are my kids photos, some are using flash, some aren't. As you can see, they won't go blind and you can still get good open eyes picture -

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Personally I wouldn't want to blind the baby with a flash. Rather get some good glass now and save on glasses for the baby. ;) –  Craig Nicholson Jul 22 '10 at 19:58
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If you use a bounce flash, it might not be a problem. But I'm not a dad, so be aware of my lack of experience with babies. :) –  Reid Jul 22 '10 at 20:40
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As stated by Shark Attack below, who is a dad, the bounce flash results in closed eyes. –  Craig Nicholson Jul 23 '10 at 11:48
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I am a dad - and yes I do get closed eyes now and then, but not often. I completely agree with bounced flash(es). I setup my flashes in the corner of the room and use remote trigger (Nikon CLS) to trigger them (TTL mode). This setup, has served me for 4 years (since my son was a newborn until now) using various lenses (but does not matter, since I always have enough light). Plus, I gain a huge body of knowledge in working with flashes. There is nothing wrong with getting a faster lens as I do have some, but it can only do so much indoors without flash. –  Johannes Setiabudi Jul 23 '10 at 14:39

Look at the Canon EF 28mm f2.8 (review) or the Canon EF 35mm f2.0 (review) lenses.

Both lenses are very reasonably priced:

  • $249 for the 28mm f2.8
  • $329 for the 35mm f2.0

Both lenses are relatively fast and impressively sharp at their lowest f-stops. This can be checked over here.

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I second the 28mm f2.8, i've used it for pretty much the exact same thing. –  Callan Jul 22 '10 at 22:55
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Care to elaborate on why these are the best? –  Ivo Flipse Jul 23 '10 at 9:55
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Because they're reasonably fast (have a lowish f number). This means that the aperture can be opened up wide to capture as much light as possible, thus avoiding the need to use flash, which can create unnatural looking photographs, both in terms of the general look of the photo and behaviour of the subject (baby). –  Nick Jul 23 '10 at 11:53
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I have a hard time believing that f/2.8 is enough for indoor available light newborn photography. –  dpollitt Nov 3 '11 at 20:56
    
Get the USM version 28mm 1.8 or sigmas 30mm 1.4 –  Michael Nielsen Feb 27 '13 at 8:17

I second the recommendation to go wide with either the Tamron or Sigma lensen that go from 17/18mm to 50-70mm.

I have the Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 EX and that is a really proper performer for its price. I think they have newer ones out now which are even better and all of them are under the $500 budget.

You'd want to go wide rather than narrow so anything beyond 50mm isn't as important as the bit between 17-24 is. And also you may want to look into one where the aperture doesn't degrade as sharply as mine. Get a flat f/2.8 if you can find 'em (for instance the 18-50mm f/2.8).

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I used my Olympus 4/3 camera and the Zuiko 50mm lens to photograph our newborn with excellent results. That lens is equivalent to a 100mm on a 35mm camera, so it's even more telephoto that a 50mm on your Canon. Newborns are very small and don't move around. You can easily take a step back or lift the camera up (using live view) to get a wider view. Taking pictures up close with a wider lens often gives less flattering results.

So I don't think you'll find your 50mm to be too much of a telephoto. Save your money to buy a fast action zoom lens once your kid starts running around and zooming with your feet becomes tiresome.

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I've been using a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens with my XSi for a while now, (I also own the 50mm f/1.8 and the same kit lens) and its a great all-rounder with good low light performance. Its a good balance between the two lenses you already have, and doesn't break the bank.

More info at PopPhoto.com: Lens Test: Tamron SP 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II VC AF

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I highly recommend the consideration of the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM. If it is indeed out of budget then try to get one in very good condition used or simply wait. It's essentially a normal zoom and a short telefocal in one--you'll probably discover little need to remove it for family, single-person, small group portraitures. And friends asking you to cover their special events would certainly not mind it if you use this lens to do just that.

Try the reviews on the lens. Best personal regards,

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The 50mm f1.4 would be the best bet, it's fast at low light, and quality is superb. I use my 24-70mm for baby shoots too, but that's more expensive than your price range

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The 50mm f1.4 is an amazing lens, however the 1.6x crop on an APS-C body doesn't help for close-up, although it does assist in not needing to use a flash often. –  Craig Nicholson Jul 22 '10 at 19:54
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He states his current 50mm is too telephoto for up-close pics. 1.8 to 1.4 wouldn't be that much of a benefit for his situation. –  NicJ Jul 22 '10 at 19:56
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Possibly, but then do you really have to get so close? I find that or my 24-70 to be the best, and I take photos of newborns quite often –  Jenty Jul 22 '10 at 20:17
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We're answering for the asker, so if he says he doesn't like the 50, it's a poor candidate. –  Reid Jul 22 '10 at 20:27

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