They race by you faster than a speeding bullet with the echo from the roar of their little engines.  No, I’m not talking about a race car.  I’m talking about something that might be considered the most difficult subject to photograph. The two-year-old. They laugh, they cry, they wiggle and throw tantrums.  They run, they mess up their hair, they tear off their clothes and they hide.  In other words, the two-year-old child’s lack of predictability can be a difficult task for any photographer to capture.  So needless to say, a fast camera with a sharp lens is a must in my book, especially when capturing my own little wild child.  Now of course lets add in my four-year-old and the seven-year-old.

The Choice for Speed

I’m a Nikon shooter by heart, but I wanted to keep an objective point of view when choosing my brand.  So I did some research, asked my favorite team of experts over at LensRentals.com and they helped me choose the Nikon D4S.  Why?

Geek Talk:

  • FPS: 30% greater speed than the Nikon D4 = 11 fps
  • Upgrade: Expeed 4 image processing engine which gives the camera extra processing power
  • Full-Frame: 16.2-megapixel sensor
  • Refined Autofocus: The 51-pt Multi-CAM 3500FX AF sensor is carried over from the D4 but sees improved algorithms for increased speed and accuracy.


The Choice for Sharpness

No doubt there are many choices for sharp lenses.  But I wanted to try something different other than the usual 50mm, 85mm or 24-70mm that stereotypical portrait photographers use.  So I went with the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G AF-S.


Geek Talk:

  • High Quality Optics. Two aspherical lens elements provide correction for any distortion and coma flaring and also make for more accurate colors.
  • Fast Normal Range. The 58mm focal length is a blend between a normal and short portrait length lens, making it a great high quality option for both full-frame and crop-frame shooters. When used with a DX-sensor camera, it has an effective focal length of 87mm.  I might be making it difficult on myself by not having a zoom option, but a little exercise won’t hurt :)
  • Silent Wave AF Motor. Enables fast, near-silent autofocus performance with full-time manual focus capabilities. This will help when chasing around a child.


The Outcome

Anytime I shoot my two-year-old, I’m usually sweating profusely before we even begin.  Just getting the equipment and the child dressed, in the car and to a location is more than exhausting.  And this particular child has a personality to make any photographer laugh (or sweat).   Now this was just a test shot but I thought it would set the appropriate tone of what it’s like working with my lovely little stinker.  Meet Naomi.


My goal for this shoot is to simply get a portrait to fill a few 8×10 frames and a few head shots for the grandparents.

So lets test out this sharpness shall we?

Naomi doesn’t usually stand still so let’s test one where she’s actually running out of the frame or dancing, or crying, or pouting or giggling.

Now this is a little misleading because these frames above don’t show blur or hair movement to fully exemplify her movement. But trust me, from the sweat of my brow and the constant chasing after this little monster that I love, she doesn’t stop wiggling.  Like, ever.  I was blown away with the sharpness and versatility of the Nikon D4S.  Even when I made the girls jump up and down for :30 seconds, I still had the ability to catch them in the air sharp as a tack regardless of the low light/high ISO situation.


I’m so thrilled about the Nikon D4S and 58mm 1.4.  I’d even go as far to say this is the dream gear partnership for shooting children.  And thanks to Chase over at LensRentals.com for his constant feedback and expertise on the best gear for any given situation.

If you get the chance and can’t afford the $7,000 price tag of the Nikon D4S, rent it.  And then rent it again for a fraction of the purchase price.  This beast will rock your world and thanks to LensRentals, it seriously rocked mine.  Read more about the D4S and rent it here and be sure to try the 58mm 1.4.

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Join the conversation! 8 Comments

  1. Odd question, but where are you located? that alley looks familiar. Wonderful images, One day, when hell freezes over, I’ll have saved up enough for a D4/D4S only to find out that there’s now a D8 or D9 released by then. ;)

    • Hey there! I’m in Vegas and I took my girls to Old Downtown Vegas. The photoshoot lasted about 15 minutes since there was a very drunk couple having a fight right next to my daughters…not the safest part of town. :) I don’t think I could ever buy this thing but I will definitely rent it again. Thanks for your kind feedback!

  2. It’s like renting a Ferrari to take your wife to the grocery. Sure, it’ll get the job done but, man, we’re talking serious overkill here.

    • Umm… I’d have to disagree. Portraits of ones loved ones are some of the best pictures to make. Plus renting gear is a dirt cheap way to get your hands on the best of the best when you want it.

    • Haha, well maybe just for you I’ll rent a ferrari to take my kids thru the McDonalds drive thru. ;) In all honesty, renting is the coolest way to get to try those “Ferraris” in the photog world, so why wouldn’t I try it on the three most important assets I own. Overkill? No way, dude.

  3. Beautiful photos, the Black and White praying is my favorite…. Great info!

  4. Melissaniu,

    Thank u for sharing. I was wondering if u used to group area autofocus selection. Also could you share your settings on wb?


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About MelissaNiu

Melissa Niu is a storyteller at heart. Niu's work ranges from her Broadcast Journalism experience at NBC in Seattle to her recent work as a co-founder and host of the photography platform, [FRAMED] Network. Her passion for photography, music and journalistic skills harvests into a massive need to tell a good story. As a mother of three daughters and running multiple businesses, Niu is constantly seeking balance, health, laughter and progression.


Inspiration, Opinion, Photography, Portrait, Your Focus


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