The Perfect Sunrise

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I just purchased the Nikon D5100 DSLR. The kit lens that came with it (18-55mm vr) is great when shooting outdoors, but once I try to take indoor pictures of my kids, the images aren't that good. Is the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Lens good for shooting kids indoors in low light? My kids don't sit still either (2.5-year-old twins) so I need something that will allow for movement as well.

I'm new to photography, and this is my first DSLR, so I'm a little lost on all the terminology, which lens is for what, etc.

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See also this related question: If I have a 18-55mm lens, is there a point in buying a 35mm prime lens?. Some of the answers there may be useful to you. –  mattdm Sep 21 '11 at 22:53
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And also, not what you asked but should be interesting to you: Prime lens or flash: which upgrade will most improve baby photos? –  mattdm Sep 21 '11 at 22:55
    
Thank You! Do you think a good flash companion would be the Nikon SB-400 AF Speedlight? –  Jayme Sep 22 '11 at 1:18
    
Thank you, I will take a look at that once my munchkins are in bed! –  Jayme Sep 22 '11 at 1:19
    
@Jayme - the SB400 should work fine for what you're doing, but if you think you ever want to get 'more into it', consider spring for a SB600 or SB700, the difference is considerable in options. –  rfusca Sep 22 '11 at 2:01
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4 Answers

Yes - but for indoor shots of fast moving kids, I'd highly recommend a good flash first. You'll be guaranteed to freeze that motion regardless of the lens.

Indoors, in low light, with fast moving subjects - I'd choose a flash over a f/1.8 lens. With that lens, you'd still have to crank your ISO considerably to get motion freezing results, but a flash will do it everytime at whatever ISO you want. (Luckily, the D5100 does have pretty decent high ISO capabilities.)

Try not to associate flash with that cheesy popup thing on your camera. Even a SB-400 pointed at the ceiling to diffuse would be a serious step up and MUCH better.

I'm not knocking the 35mm lens - I think you should get it (optically and in everyway, its very much worth the price), but for freezing shots of kids indoors, a flash rules.

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Thank you so much!!! I've ordered both the 35 mm lens and the SB-400 flash!! Both are very reasonably priced for starter gear:) I'm so excited! Now I just need to figure out how to actually work the camera itself besides on the standard point and shoot! Haha This is going to be a great adventure! –  Jayme Sep 22 '11 at 3:17
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Aaaaaaaaand we've sucked another person in. –  Evan Krall Sep 22 '11 at 4:01
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@Jayme when using a flash like the sb400, angle it up at the ceiling - don't point it at the person. You want soft, diffuse light usually. Try the 'flash' tag here on the site for some good reading. –  rfusca Sep 22 '11 at 5:44
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Nikon should be paying us commission... –  ElendilTheTall Sep 22 '11 at 7:33
    
I agree, Nikon should pay you guys commission! You guys are awesome!!! My Lens should arrive this morning and my flash tomorrow!! Yay!! –  Jayme Sep 22 '11 at 15:50
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Yes, it probably will:

  1. The focal length is good for restricted indoor spaces (as you probably know from shooting with your kit lens)

  2. The aperture is great so you can do low light shots in much faster speed than with the kit. You mentioned that your kids are moving a lot. In this situation (subject motion) the image stabilizer that you have on the kit lens does not really help.

  3. Being a prime lens the optical quality of the images will be superior compared to the kit lens. The bigger aperture will let you create more appealing portraits with much more blurred background.

Note that even though this is a fast lens, it may not be enough if the light is too dim. You may end up wishing you had a good flash after all. FWIW, this is a good investment, as a complement to a good lens or as a standalone purchase.

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Thank you!! I am trying to retain all this new knowledge you guys are giving me!! It's greatly appreciated:-D –  Jayme Sep 22 '11 at 3:47
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Photographing kids indoors is very often a nightmare but a 35mm f/1.8 would be a good lens to use. The large aperture will give faster shutter speeds for the available light and in a well lit room or near a window you will probably get away without flash and the focal length is good for restricted indoor spaces especially on a crop sensor body. If you really want to get good indoor shots of kids though you need to consider a flash. The one built into the camera will be of limited use as it will give a very harsh focused light that will not give you good results and in my experience kids hate them. You need a flash unit which allows you to bounce the light off the ceiling or a wall, something like an SB-400 which mounts on top of the camera allows you to angle the flash so that it does not directly illuminate the subject but bounces off a surface, hence the term bounce flash. This will give an even illumination without the harsh shadows behind the subject that the built in flash produces.

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Thank you! The answers I'm getting are great! You guys are awesome! –  Jayme Sep 22 '11 at 15:53
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Yes, for low (available) light work with the Nikon D5100, the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 is a very good lens. However, as others have said, for sharp images of fast-moving subjects (such as kids at play), a good Nikon SB flash unit is indispensable, and will give much more versatility than the built-in pop-up flash. For still-life, product, or street photography, that 35mm lens would be excellent! Have fun!

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protected by jrista Oct 26 '12 at 20:26

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