A lot of people ask me what is the best lens to take photos of my kids. Often this happens when it’s mom or dad’s birthday or a special occasion and the other parent wants to gift a lens to go with their fancy camera. Well I’m here to solve the mystery.
The Best Lens is the One You Have
First of all, the kit lens that the camera comes with will always be a great option. My first dslr (digital single lens reflex) camera was the Cannon Rebel XT back in 2005. I remember very clearly the commercial that sucked me. It was a mom taking photos at her kids sports event. The camera had burst mode, which is when it takes a bunch of photos in a row to capture the action. I thought that was so cool! And I immediately took my new camera on a whale watching trip where I used the heck out of burst mode.
My Rebel came with an 18-55 mm 3.5 lens. this was a great lens to learn and practice on. Like any zoom lens, it lets you play with how wide or how zoomed in you would like to shoot. So depending on the situation you can capture a whole scene or focus on one part of it. I highly recommend utilizing the kit lens before you invest in any additional lens as they can be quite expensive.
However, if you have had your camera for awhile and are ready for some nicer gear, I suggest the 50mm 1.8. This lens is relatively inexpensive running around $200. You can find the Cannon version here and Nikon version here. The 50mm is a fixed lens which means it has only one focal length. Fixed lens are known to be better quality because they have a wider f stop/aperture. For example, the kit lens we talked about has a 3.5 f stop at its widest whereas the 50mm has 1.8. And a wide aperture is how you get that coveted blurry background called bokeh.
The 50mm 1.8 will take your photos of your kids to the next level without breaking the bank. Now there are some things you need to know about shooting with a wide aperture. The wider the aperture, the smaller the area of focus will be. This means you are not to meant to shoot groups of people or spread out activity at 1.8. It’s really best for one or two people that are very close together.
Also, the best way to get that bokeh is to get close to your subject and make sure the background is off in the distance behind your subject. If you put your kid up against a wall, the wall will not be blurry, even when shooting with a 1.8 aperture. Have your kid take several steps away from the wall or background and you will then see the background get blurry. Take several more steps, and the background will get even more blurry. This gives your photos an aesthetic appeal while isolating your subject so that there are no distractions.
So there you have it. Start with the lens that comes with your camera to practice and learn what works. And then when you are ready, invest in the 50mm 1.8 for extra special portraits of your kids. If you would like to learn more, check out this blog post for more tips on taking better photos of your kids.