"Best" lens for baby candids and portraits

Started Oct 26, 2009 | Discussions thread
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kavel
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"Best" lens for baby candids and portraits
Oct 26, 2009

Ok, I admit I need help... I thought I could do this without posting a forum question (by reading reviews and forum discussions, and trying out the lenses, etc.), but after almost a month of poring over reviews and reading almost every forum post on this issue on PN and DPR, I'm still no closer to making a decision. I apologize in advance for what is sure to be a long winded post

To give you a little background before asking the question: I have been a photo enthusiast on and off for more than 10 years (started with an Elan II, moved to digital with 30D 4 years ago, and the proud owner of a 7D for the last month). Until very recently, I was into landscapes and architecture, with some macro thrown in for fun. In the last year or so, I became a little more interested in portraiture (both the environmental and studio kinds), took a couple classes on the subject and started experimenting with off-camera flash (hence my enthusiasm for getting the 7D as soon as it was out) as well as available light portraits. For the kicker, we are now expecting our first baby in a month or so, and I would like to be ready with my gear to capture every minute of her early life So more portraits and candids are in the cards for me.

Here is my existing "kit":

  • Canon 7D

  • Canon 30D (planning to keep it as a backup, but might just sell it)

  • EF-S 10-22mm/3.5-4.5

  • EF 50mm/1.8 II

  • EF 85mm/1.8

  • EF 100mm/2.8 Macro USM (not the new L)

  • Canon 430EX Speedlite (not the newer 430EX II)

  • Light stand, umbrella, gels, etc. for "studio" lighting

(I know that I'm pretty short on the long end and I plan to get the 70-200/4L IS at some point, but don't need it today)

At this point, I'm trying to decide on what (if anything) I should get to make sure I have a reliable way of capturing the baby indoors with mixed lighting. I love my 85/1.8, but find it too long on a crop body indoors. 50mm/1.8 is a little better in that aspect, but I just hate the way it focuses (noisy and slow). I feel the 10-22mm is too slow for indoors available light photos of moving subjects, and a little too wide sometimes even at 22mm. By the way, I'm not a pixel-peeper (though I appreciate people who test the lenses for us), so I find the results I get from all my lenses under ideal conditions pretty spectacular

Here are the options I've considered so far:

  • 35mm/1.4L - excellent lens optically, fast, nice FOV on a crop, but ouch for the price

  • 17-55mm/2.8 IS - excellent optics, IS (won't help with moving things, but makes it a nice walking around zoom), 2 stops slower than the 35 (but still fast enough for my purposes maybe?), convenience of having zoom available; not moving to FF anytime soon now that I have the 7D

  • 35mm/2.0 - very good optics, no USM motor, so the same buzzing (and maybe the slow focus?) of the 50mm/1.8, a little long in the tooth design-wise

  • 28mm/1.8 - has the USM motor, the speed, but apparently can't be used wide open, which really defeats the purpose

Budget wise, I can stretch myself for the 35L, but that's it (so, no 50/1.2 or 24/1.4 for me )

I'm currently leaning towards one of two options, but I'm open to other suggestions as well:

  • Get the 35L, be happy with it, and do without a zoom in the normal range for the foreseeable future

  • Get the 17-55 and another 430EX for the same price, use off-camera flash when 2.8 is not enough. Have a nice walk-around zoom and more light sources to play with

So, here it is... Something I thought I would never do: my very own "which lens should I get?" post

Thank you very much!

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