Best DSLR + lens combo for low light, indoor kid shots

Started Jan 16, 2013 | Discussions thread
bugzie Senior Member • Posts: 1,601
Re: Best DSLR + lens combo for low light, indoor kid shots

tedandtricia wrote:

Ok, I need a DSLR to shoot kids indoors. Compact isn't enough. I get it. Took me a few months of trying on my compact but now I get it.

I was told a DSLR with a fast prime, like 35 mm f/1.4 or f1.8, is a good approach. I'm figuring APS-C is more realistic at this point but would consider full frame if it'll make a difference. I assume most DSLRs have good enough sensors that you don't have to worry too much about ISO like you do on a compact. Of various DSLR bodies and lenses, when my sole primary intended application is low light kid motion shots, what cameras should I be considering? I'm thinking primarily in terms of AF capabilities:

- having more AF sensors to keep track of your subject, if you are not keeping your center AF point perfectly on your subject

- continuous AF once you lock on a subject

- can you get a DSLR to lock on the eyes of a child in motion?

- focus hunting issues in low light or low contrast situations

- focus release option

- OVF vs EVF (not sure if anyone except Sony is EVF)

- I am told center point AF is the best method for kids (shoot wide and crop)

- what other AF features matter?

I considered a Sony SLT/SLR at first. Except with an SLT, it would be -1/2 EV because some of the light is diverted to the AF sensor. In good light it probably is negligible but since my primary application is low light motion, I want to focus on cameras that EXCEL in low light (or are considered the least bad in low light). The Sony DSLR A580 is apparently better than the A57 with low light motion, but there's no real upgrade path for me in the future since Sony is going SLT. So I think I'm leaning away from Sony at this point.

So that leaves Canon, Nikon, and whatever anyone else suggests.

Also, if anyone knows a good link to a chart that maps out DSLR maker family trees for cameras so I can understand how different models compare with each other. I don't have the faintest clue, particularly with Canon and Nikon, how the Canon 60D compares to the 50D etc.

Also, which manufacturer has the biggest aftermarket of used lenses, good primes, good zooms, reasonable prices? Are Tamrons and Sigmas compatible with all DSLRs? I know zilch about lens basics at this point.

Ted, moving kids indoors is not that easy. If you look about the web, you'll find that there's not so many shots of moving kids indoors. This is because it's a difficult task. For any camera. Everybody seems to want to take photographs of active kids indoors. I take photographs of my young nieces and nephews and they're an active bunch. First thing is I try to take them outside to play as much as possible. This is very good for kids in general. Getting them outdoors gives you more light to work with. And they get some fresh air. Close up portraits... I tend to wait for when they're nice and still. If you look around for classic portraits of kids, they're usually taken when the kids are stationery. Depth of field can be so thin. It's hard to nail it when they're moving. When the kids are actually doing something, you may need a wider angle. Worry less about the arty portrait shot and more about getting the general context around them. These are the shots they're going to cherish when they get older. The ones with all their clutter! Also you have fewer problems with depth of field. Remember that with a dSLR, you're going to have problems with DOF being too shallow at times.

For candid shots, I usually have a flash gun. Especially indoor shots. If you're going to get candid shots, the light inside is often rubbish. Bouncing the flash gives you very soft light. Beginners don't like flash because they associate it with the built-in flash and all its limitations. You get a flash gun and start to use it cleverly and you'll get far more keepers. It's great for candid shots because you don't have to worry if the available light is all wrong. Natural light can be beautiful. But if you're going to get candids of kids mucking about, the light, I find, is more than often totally wrong. With a flash gun, you can get very natural results.

Getting kids to pose is an art form. I find the best way to get kids happy with you taking photographs of them, is to give them a camera. Make them photographers too and they'll be more willing to do whatever you want. They can take some wonderful photographs of each other. Make photography a fun game for them.

Which camera? Whatever really. The D7000 is a popular camera for serious beginners. No camera is going to do it for you. It's about your skills as a photographer. The lens I use most is the 18-200mm Nikkor. The lens everybody loves to hate. But it means I'm ready for almost everything. Not the sharpest lens, but for portraits, for example, you don't want to be too brutal. A good, fast, portrait lens would be a nice complement. Remembering that with kids, you often don't have time to change lenses. An optical viewfinder is generally more responsive. A very important consideration if you want to precisely time your shot which is important when the subjects are moving. It's not just about getting them when they're moving but getting the timing just right. A good flash gun.

Look on photo sites for images you imagine taking. The lack of good photos of kids moving fast indoors should tell you something.

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