I was recently asked by a young father about some recommendations regarding camera lenses. I know, gear talk is dry, but then, if you don’t have the right gear for the right job, you may be disappointed with the image you get otherwise.
If you remember my tips from a while ago, I like to use a macro lens to photograph little babies, as this allows you to get some really nice up close shots of your tiny little gem without it being lost in the frame (here’s a good example of a frame filling macro shot). Well, the young father already had a macro lens, so what next?
I’d say, get the “nifty fifty”. That’s a 50mm lens with a very bright aperture (typically in the ƒ/1.7 to ƒ/2.0 range) which costs you no more than a hundred bucks, in any camera system (of course you could also get ƒ/1.4, ƒ/1.2 or even ƒ/1.0 versions, but those will set you back much, much more). In any case, with these wonderful lenses — really the first additional lens you should be getting beyond your kit-lens — you will be able to achieve some extremely shallow depth of field, nicely separating your little smilies from potentially distracting backgrounds (here’s one such shot). Also, again thanks to the wide aperture, you will be able to take photos even in darkish lighting conditions without having to destroy the ambience with your onboard super nova.
But apart from that, go wide! Get a wide angle lens. With these lenses you are forced to get in close so that you’re right part of the action, and not just a by-standing observer. Robert Capa once said “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” He was a very wise man (and brilliant photographer)…