2 Great Lenses for Capturing Your Family Memories

Let’s say you’ve gotten over the hump of buying your first DSLR and now you’re wondering what lenses would round out your camera setup. Every photographer has a favorite for what they shoot and I’m no different. When it comes to photographing families and kids on the go, I want a lens that will perform well in low light, that will give me a nice narrow DOF to highlight my subject and “blow out” the background beautifully. I also need something that is versatile, that can give me wide-angle and zoom capabilities. I mean, kids are always on the go, keeping them in frame can be quite the challenge. So, these requirements bring me to two lenses that I always keep handy in my camera bag. They’re great for capturing kids, but also, great all-around options for travel, nature, and more.

A Nice 50mm Prime with low f-stops (Mine is a Minolta 50 mm 1:1.7)

Prime means that the lens length is fixed, as in, you cannot zoom in or zoom out. What you see is what you get. You might immediately flinch at this idea, but the benefits of this lens are fantastic.

  1. Wide Aperture: The 1.7 refers to the widest aperture it can shoot at, and 1.7 is very wide. The smaller the number here, the more light you’re letting in and the more light you’re letting in, the faster your shutter speed can be. The faster your shutter speed, the better you can freeze time and capture the moment without motion blur.
  2. Bokeh/AKA Background Blur: When shooting at a lower aperture, you’re intentionally blurring the background more. This helps focus attention right where you want it. The 55mm give a lovely buttery blur.

So in summary, this lens will allow you to shoot quickly in many lighting situations without the need for a flash and precisely focus your viewer’s attention onto your subject. It gets lovely, artistic results that really, anyone would love. And sometimes, a little restriction can be liberating! Free yourself from worrying how close you should be zooming in or out and just shoot.

A Good Zoom Lens for Action and Versatility (Mine is a 3.5-6.38/18-250)

Unlike the 55 mm lens, a zoom lens is not fixed. It will allow you to zoom in or out, however you need – this is especially good for situations where you’re on the go and there’s a lot of action. The benefits for a lens like this are:

  1. Adaptability on the Fly: In the event you can only take one lens with you to your kid’s game or special event, this one will give you the ability to shoot close-up head shots, and zoom into the action.
  2. Capture Action Shots: If you get one with the ability to shoot in lower f-stops, you’ll increase your ability to use it in low light for faster shutter speeds to freeze time without motion blur.
  3. Indoors/Outdoors: Going from a very low number, 18 in my case, to a high number, 250, allows you to shoot indoors in tight spaces without losing the shot, but also gets you right into the action when you need it.

In summary, a good zoom lens can take the place of multiple other lenses in your camera bag. Zoom lenses are notorious for not being as crisp, or their images suffering from some chromatic aberration, but much of this is minimal and can be fixed in post.

Being able to get the shot without fumbling for the right lens as the action is happening is worth a little effort after the fact. These are my two champs for capturing children and families, they have yet to fail me and I believe they’re a solid addition to nearly any camera bag.

Tell me: What are your favorite lenses?

My background as a fine artist (painter/illustrator) and graphic designer gives me a somewhat unique perspective when at a shoot composing my photographs. I came to photography a bit later in my creative career, but I've embraced the challenge and excitement of harnessing a new medium and have worked to make it my own.

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