Kids grow up so fast, don’t they? It feels like just yesterday that everyone was having fun in the sun (probably because for a lot of kids it was yesterday), and now they’re already back in school, pencils and paper in hand, ready to fill their little heads with incalculably important lessons. Then, soon enough, the school year will be over, and your kids will be one year closer to leaving the nest.
If you’re anything like my parents were when I was in school (and still to this day, sometimes embarrassingly so), you want to capture the memories of your kids’ accomplishments and triumphs before they’re all grown up. This is why we wanted to give the moms and dads out there options for how to best do that with gear that’s easy to use . . . and easy on the wallet.
First, it’s OK to put down that smartphone: Entry-level Nikon DSLRs are a great option for parents looking to get more from their cameras when photographing their kids. Get started with a Nikon D3100 kit that includes an 18-55mm and a 55-200mm lens, which together cover a wide focal range. Or check out the Nikon D3200 18-55 kit for a larger sensor and better low-light ISO capabilities for indoor and nighttime shots.
These entry-level DSLRs are a good starting point for building your new, reliable camera setup. So what else do you need?
Fall sports have already started up at a lot of schools. Football, soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, and cross country are all kicking into gear, and offer some of the best photographic opportunities for capturing your kids in action. For low-light situations, such as Friday night football games and volleyball sets located inside a dim high school gymnasium, you will definitely want a lens with a decent minimum aperture and a focal length that will make you feel like you’re in the action. The Tamron SP AF 70-200mm F/2.8 Di LD has a fantastic focal length and constant minimum aperture that makes it a perfect option for football season. Pop your kit on a monopod or MeFoto Travel Tripod or Walkabout Monopod for an affordable stabilizing option.
Another reason to get a DSLR is for its video-recording capabilities, especially for parents with musically- or dramatically-inclined kids. The Nikon D5200 has high-quality full HD video recording capabilities and a adjustable Vari-angle display that makes recording a cinch in any situation, plus full-time-servo AF and subject-tracking AF for more sharply focused video. Get an inexpensive Benro video tripod kit, and you’ll be good to go.
If you have kids who are going to homecoming and want to take some formal photos before the formal dance, get a collapsible backdrop and a double background stand kit and set up a mini studio in your house.
Finally, why go through the effort of taking these photos if you’re not going to print them out? Check out our previous post about the value of printing and our suggestions for different photographers and their printing needs.