If you are a new parent or are looking for a great photographic gift for friends or family with a new arrival, here are some gift ideas that won’t break the bank but will help you make better baby pictures.
Lensbaby Composer with Double-Glass Optic, Soft-Focus Optic and Creative Aperture kit. Designed for use with most digital SLRs (there’s a version of Lensbaby Composers, available at Adorama, in each brand’s mount), this funky lens system will let you create distinctive images that will stand out. Besides from the fact that it’s got “baby” in its name, the Lensbaby Composer is fantastic for selective focus and zooming in on baby and turning the background and out of focus areas into smooth, wonderful blurs that really bring you right in on the baby’s eyes and face. Additionally, the soft-focus Optic, which is part of the Optic Swap System, provides a diffused crispness and glow to the baby’s skintones. The Creative Aperture disks can be fun for themed photographs, especially around the holidays. Use a heart for Valentie’s day, stars for Christmas, etc. Baby photos with Lensbaby can be a lot of fun
Flash Diffusers: Direct Flash plus babies isn’t a great combination. You want to soften up the skin tones. Flash diffusers are the way to do this. For on-camera flash, Ken Kobre’s Lightscoop (Adorama price: $29.95, shown) or the Lumiquest Soft Screen, (Adorama price: $11.95) are fantastic ways to soften indoor light. If you have an external flash that fits on your camera’s hot shoe, check out the Flashpoint Q-series Diffuser Dome (Available exclusively at Adorama for $34.95-39.95) or Flashpoint 16x16-inch Soft Box for Shoe Mount Flashes (Available exclusively at Adorama for $39.95)
A fast(ish) 50mm or 35mm prime lens. Babies and a fast prime (single-focal-length) lens are a great combination, because a wider-aperture lens gives you much more light-gathering power. Often an f/1.4 lens is expensive. But if you sacrifice a tiny bit of light and accept an f/1.8, you can find a normal-range lens that won’t break the bank. (Learn more about the difference by reading 50mm Lens Shoot-Out: f/1.8 or f/1.4? at the Adorama Learning Center.) Why get a fast non-zooming lens? A couple of reasons: Beautiful background blur will soften up even the busiest nursery background while you really focus in on baby’s face and eyes, and at f/1.8, you can shoot in low light, up to 3 stops faster than a typical kit 18-55mm zoom lens will allow. In practical terms, this means you can shoot at 1/80 sec with the fast prime, instead of an un-holdable 1/8 second with the slower zoom lens.
Eye-Fi Pro Card. (The X2 8GB version is available from Adorama for $69.96) Eye-Fi SD cards have built-in WiFi transmitters. Let’s be honest: when you’ve got a little one in the house, you’re busy and you forget things. An Eye-Fi Pro Card is a fantastic way to make sure your shots are automatically transferred from your camera to your computer. Pick a folder on your hard drive, set up your Eye-Fi Card and it will automatically transmit your still shots and video from your camera to your computer. You can even send photos directly from your camera to your favorite online printing site, such as AdoramaPix.
Flashpoint 22-inch Small Silver/Gold reflector. These things fold up and can be carried anywhere conveniently. The silver side adds neutral fill light while the gold side adds warm fill light. This reflector can be used to bounce light into your little subject’s face. Exclusively available at Adorama, the Flashpoint 22-inch Silver/Gold reflector costs only $9.95.
Flashpoint II 320 Monolight Kit. This is a wonderfully inexpensive setup for anyone who is ready to move beyond snapshots and set up a studio for baby photos and general family portraiture. At an Adorama price of $144.95, you can buy two of these kits and you’re ready to start a well-equipped travelling portrait studio!
Lastolite Baby Poser Modular Cusion System. This 3-piece baby posing pillow system, at the Adorama price of $178.89, is especially designed for infant and baby photography, allowing you to reposition pillow parts for lying down and sitting up posing, depending on the age of the baby. It is soft and comfortable and if baby is happy and comfortable, you have a better chance of capturing your masterpiece.
Additional research for this article by Jack Howard.