Have you ever wondered if you’re using the BEST newborn photography lenses?
This is one of the number one questions we hear when it comes to newborn photography. If you’re just getting started in the newborn niche, you’ll no doubt be wondering if you have the right lenses to capture those precious little babies.
Or if you’re already an established newborn photographer, maybe you’ve been thinking that it might be time to invest in a new lens because you feel your newborn images are lacking a little bit.
So here are some tips for you, and what I’ve discovered are the best lenses for newborn photography.
HOW MANY LENSES DO YOU NEED?
Ok, so let’s start by talking about how overwhelming this can seem for those of you who are just starting out. For example, if you search online for the top lenses you need for newborn photography, you’re going to be hit with a dozen articles all saying different things.
Not only that, but some photographers will tell you that you absolutely NEED to have 4 or 5 lenses for newborn sessions. But I have found that that is simply not the case.
For those of you beginners out there, here is some good news for you: I’m not going to tell you that you need to spend thousands of dollars and buy all of these lenses right now. When you’re just getting started, you really only need TWO good lenses for newborn photography.
Yep, I said just two.
These are the essential lenses that you need to get started. Number one is your go-to lens, and number 2 is a macro lens.
1) A ‘GO-TO’ LENS
First is what I call your ‘go-to’ lens. This is the lens that you’ll be using a majority of the time for your newborn sessions. Now, this will be different for each of you, depending on a few factors – which I’ll talk about more in a minute. But for me, my go-to lens for newborns is the 50mm 1.2. I use my 50mm lens for standard portraits of baby alone, as well as for images of families together, and lifestyle images.
- Weather-resistant standard lens
- Focal Length & Maximum Aperture-50mm F/1.2, Closest Focusing Distance - 1.48 ft. / 0.45m
- AF with full-time manual focus, 72mm filter size
2) A MACRO LENS
The next lens that is really essential for newborn photography is a macro lens. This is the lens that will allow you to capture all of those teeny tiny details that are so important in newborn photography.
I love the 100mm 2.8 lens – it is a really wonderful lens. Now, if you don’t have a macro lens, you can try to get these types of details with another lens – but honestly, it is just NOT the same. A macro lens will give you the sharpness and show details that you really can’t capture with other lenses.
- 100 millimeter focal length and 1:2.8 maximum aperture. The EF1.4X II; EF2X II extenders cannot be...
- Lens construction consists of 15 elements in 12 groups
- 23.4-Degree diagonal angle of view
CHOOSING YOUR GO-TO LENS
So those are the two lenses that I use on a regular basis with my newborn portraits. You definitely need a go-to lens, and a macro lens.
The macro lens is pretty straightforward… but as far as your go-to lens, there is definitely a little wiggle room here, and a lot of different opinions on which one is best. So let’s talk for a minute about how to choose a go-to lens that would be best for you.
The 3 most common go-to lenses that a lot of newborn photographers like to use are: a 50mm, 85mm, or 35mm lens. These are all prime lenses, and the number I’m referring to is the focal length of the lens. Be sure to check out Betsy’s post on focal length basics to get more information about what these numbers mean.
- Wide F1.8 maximum aperture enables beautiful defocusing effects
- 9-Blade circular aperture creates beautiful round defocused bokeh
- ED glass element for corner-to-corner sharpness
All 3 of these lenses are GREAT – and each has their own pros and cons.
As I already mentioned, my favorite go-to is the 50mm, but a lot of other newborn photographers also love using either the 85 or the 35mm. Now, a lot of this simply depends on personal preference, like which lens you love the most and what you’re most comfortable with. But there are also a few other factors to consider when you’re choosing your go-to newborn lens that we should mention.
- Designed specifically for APS-C sized sensors
- Internal focusing and zooming allows for more usability and functionality
- The 18-35mm is ideal for landscapes, portraits, still life, snap shots, casual, and close-ups
First, if you have a full-frame camera, you can definitely go with either the 50 or 85mm.
However, if you know your camera has a crop sensor, you might find it a bit difficult to shoot with the 50 or 85 – and it might be easier on you to try the 35mm, so that’s what I would recommend. Read more about Full Frame vs. Crop Sensor cameras here!
YOUR SHOOTING SPACE
Next, you really need to consider how much space you’re working with. If you have a lot of space or are working in your own studio, then an 85mm might be a great option for you. If you’re a little more limited on space or will be shooting in your client’s homes that don’t have a lot of room to back up, then the 50mm would probably be better. And of course, the 35mm would give you the most flexibility when you’re working in small spaces.
The last thing you should consider when choosing your go-to lens is lens distortion. If you are going to be shooting up-close to your subject, then keep in mind that using a 35mm lens can really start to distort your subject.
So for newborn sessions, for example, if you are shooting very close to the baby with a 35mm lens, some of the baby’s features may appear too large or just disproportionate. And that’s not something we want. So the best option would be an 85mm, or a 50mm.
Just something else to keep in mind while you are thinking about which lens is best for you.
Ok, so that’s it for now you guys! I know I’ve given you a lot to think about when it comes to lenses and newborn photography. But just to wrap it up, here’s what you need: First, choose your go-to lens – I recommend either a 50mm, 85mm, or 35mm… and second, you will definitely want to use a macro lens for close-up detail shots of those sweet newborn babies.