What's the best lens for newborn photography?

We love a bit of lens talk here on the blog, so today we are going to be answering this question: what's the best lens for newborn photography?

If you are just getting started with newborn photography, you might be wondering what lenses you need to get started, and which you can do without! Let's face it, lenses aren't cheap, so knowing exactly what you need - and what you can do without - will help make sure you get the best images possible, without spending your life savings 😛

in this post we are going to cover: WHICH types of lenses you should have, and most importantly, how to choose the best newborn photography lens for YOU!

Let's crack on shall we?

Learn about the best lens to use for newborn photography, so you can get the best newborn photography session you can, whether it's at home, or in a studio.

Which lenses do I need for newborn photography?

When it comes to newborn photography, all you really need two different types of lenses - one lens for general "all-purpose" shots, and another lens for those teeny tiny details. 

Of course, you COULD have more lenses, (who doesn't love to get their hands on a new lens?!) but if you are just starting out, and don't want to spend the earth on equipment just yet, these two lenses are all you need - provided you choose wisely. 

Let's break down when you would use each of these two lenses. 

The "all-purpose" lens is what you will use for the majority of the shots you take during your newborn session, as you'll use this for portraits of the baby, and also for the family together, maybe breastfeeding images, and any images where you want to show the environment - for example, elements of the nursery.

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Suggestions for your "all-purpose" lens 

One of my favourite lenses that is a great all rounder is the 50mm focal length. On a full frame camera, this gives you roughly the same view as the naked eye (it’s not exact, but close enough for our purposes!) 

Due to the fact that there is no distortion with this focal length, and you don't have to back up too far to get everything you want in the frame, it is endlessly versatile. 

Something like a Canon or Nikon 50mm F1.4 lens, or the Sigma 50mm F1.4 (which is rumoured to be sublime) You could even use the trusty 50mm F1.8. 

The other option you have is a wider angle lens - something like a 35mm lens is another lens that can be ideal for newborn photography.  If you find yourself often shooting in small spaces, the 35mm may more useful, because you can back up a little bit more. It's also a better focal length if you like to fit in more of the environment, (for example wide shots where you see the whole room along with your subject) perhaps if you are more of a lifestyle newborn photographer. 

Do be wary of the fact that the wider angle lens produce distortion if you are up close, so this lens is better for when you are stepped back a bit. 

(You can find more general differences, and advice about whether the 35mm or 50mm lens is better for you in this recent post. You'll get a breakdown of what to use when, along with loads of example images) 

Some suggestions for the 35mm lens would be the Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art Lens, or the Canon or Nikon 35mm F1.4 lens. 

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Of course, you could go for a zoom lens instead - something like a 24-70mm will give you a great focal range.  I tend to prefer primes - they are usually sharper (unless you are getting a high end zoom) and because they can open up to a wider aperture, much more useful for shooting indoors when light is low.

If you would like a little more help choosing which lenses are suitable for different situations and shots, be sure to download my “Which Lens Kickstarter Guide” - you’ll get example images from different lenses, and details which focal lengths you should use for different types of lifestyle, portrait and documentary photos, so you know exactly which lenses might suit the job! Go here to get your free copy.

What if I have a crop frame sensor?

Excellent question young grasshopper. 

When deciding between these different focal lengths you should always take into account the crop factor if you are shooting with a crop sensor.  All you need to do is multiply the focal length of the lens by either 1.5 or 1.6 (depending on whether you shoot Canon or Nikon respectively) and that will give you the "equivalent" focal length. 

If you have a cropped frame camera, then it is actually the 35mm that will give you the field of view that is roughly what you see with the naked eye, so "equivalent" to a 50mm. 

And the 50mm will give you a field of view that looks more zoomed in - in other words, your subject will take up more room in the frame - more in line with what an 85mm lens would give.

Do I need a macro lens for newborn photography? 

Although you might be able to get away with using your 50mm "all purpose" lens for close up shots, a macro lens is IDEAL for capturing all those itty bitty details that makes you want to snuggle up to a newborn, so I would definitely recommend that you get your hands on one. 

A macro lens can also make an ideal portrait lens too, so it is not strictly limited to macro photos, making it a good all round investment.  

You can read more about choosing a macro lens right here. 

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That's it! My suggestions for the best lens for newborn photography. I hope you found this post useful, and as usual, if you have any questions, do leave them below!