Lens for Newborn Photography

Jonynek

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Hello everyone,
we are expecting our first baby in december. So I would like to prepare my photo equipment. Already have GX80 body, P 12-32, P 35-100, P 25. Should I buy rather fast lens as PL 15, P 42,5 or focus on zoom lens as PL 12-60, P 12-35? Perhaps PL 15 first and PL 12-60 later?
What lens would you recommend?

Thank you
 

ooheadsoo

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Congrats! Our baby is approaching 11 mo now so I have fairly recent experience.

For my tastes, from your options, the 42.5 is the next lens to get. The longer focal length gives you a more formal perspective, as in a studio portrait look. The close focusing will allow you to capture the individual features like the hands and feet. You already have a 25 for the more natural/casual/intimate look.

The 15 will give you a similar look to your cell phone (typically about 14 equivalent). I know there are hardcore 15 lovers out there, but it wouldn't be my choice for this application.

After you pick your lens, next is to look for the light. Large windows work well.
 

Joris

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The 42.5 (f/1.2 or f/1.7) seems ideal, and the 35-100 will be handy as well. From what I remember when I was a young father, having a good flash that you can point to the ceiling will allow you to get well exposed, softy lit images without flashing directly into your baby's face. The GX80's flash will allow for that, still I would not hesitate to go the extra mile and get an external one.
 
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I'd put the GAS to rest for a bit. You have the 25/1.7, see how it meets your needs. My suspicion is you will end up needing less reach and the 15 would make a lot of sense.
 

mumu

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I second threeOh's suggestion. The 25/1.7 will suit your needs just fine for now. See how it goes after that. Perhaps experiment with the 35-100 and see if you like the portrait look, or maybe you'll want more scene context, in which case something like the 15/1.7.
 

Hendrik

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As a current grandparent of two (& soon three) my use pattern concentrates on focal lengths 25mm (50e) and longer and apertures 2.8 and faster. I find myself using the O45 1.8 and the O75 1.8 a lot when I'm visiting.
 

ooheadsoo

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I documented the birth with FF 35/85/105 and the first week portraits with 105 exclusively. In later portrait sessions to this point, I'm almost exclusively shooting with my o45. The more formal look is why I go for my "real" cameras. For the wider view, I just use my cellphone. Nothing beats the camera you always have on you, and that's definitely my cell phone. Not even m43 is small enough for me to carry with me all the time.

For the baby photos that I wanted to take, the 25 is the wrong lens for the job. I wanted more formal portraits, and the 25 is much too wide because the baby is tiny and you have to get way too close: the perspective is displeasing for my taste. Much closer than for adults. Now don't get me wrong, the 25 is great for photos of people holding the baby, but you already have that, so you're covered.

Now that my baby is larger and more mobile, I plan to use a 25 more to capture his energy.

It's going to boil down to the style of photo you want to take. If you want a more formalized portrait style, you owe it to yourself to get a 42.5/45. If you want more casual/relaxed photos and/or are more concerned about photos of ppl holding the baby, you're covered with your 25. And as for the 15, in this context, I would personally just stick with a cell phone, as long as yours is within 1-2 years old.

The longer the focal length, the more deliberate I have to be in taking photos. Just food for thought.
 

LilSebastian

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I took many infant shots with my Olympus 25mm f1.8 and I like the results. Sure, a 42.5 or 45 would be special too, but not required. Additionally, I paid the hospital photographer for the session they do in the overnight recovery room. They used a basic Nikon DSLR with a consumer grade zoom lens and flash. Just bundled up our baby and placed her on the white bed sheets. Great results when the person knows what they are doing! You might do the same with your 35-100 and flash, testing it out with a stationary object around the house before the time comes.

Non photo related, but if you are in the united states consider opening a 529 college savings account and inviting family and well wishers to donate to his/her education funding. You will have more diapers and toys that you ask for, why not invite people to invest for the future too!
 

Zairski

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I took many infant shots with my Olympus 25mm f1.8 and I like the results. Sure, a 42.5 or 45 would be special too, but not required. Additionally, I paid the hospital photographer for the session they do in the overnight recovery room. They used a basic Nikon DSLR with a consumer grade zoom lens and flash. Just bundled up our baby and placed her on the white bed sheets. Great results when the person knows what they are doing! You might do the same with your 35-100 and flash, testing it out with a stationary object around the house before the time comes.

Non photo related, but if you are in the united states consider opening a 529 college savings account and inviting family and well wishers to donate to his/her education funding. You will have more diapers and toys that you ask for, why not invite people to invest for the future too!

Ohhhh you can always ask for more diapers and wipes. The 529 college savings is a great suggestion.
 

Jonynek

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Thank you all :)
I never thought that PL15 could be replaced by a cell phone for it's similer angle and look. It has completely changed my decision :-D Probably P25 will be enough for a photo shoot with the family and P42,5 for details. And how about sigma 60 2.8 ? I think 35-100 F4-5.6 will not be very suitable. Somehow I don't want to use my flash Godox tt350.

GAS - that's it!

We live in central Europe, so we also need a lot of diapers and savings not only for college.
 

Gonewest

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All my best photos of our kids as babies and youngsters were taken with an OM4 and 50mm/1.8. Now I’m using m43 I’d be looking for a 25mm prime no question, even though it’s a lens I don’t own at the moment.
 

ooheadsoo

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Jan 13, 2018
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Thank you all :)
I never thought that PL15 could be replaced by a cell phone for it's similer angle and look. It has completely changed my decision :-D Probably P25 will be enough for a photo shoot with the family and P42,5 for details. And how about sigma 60 2.8 ? I think 35-100 F4-5.6 will not be very suitable. Somehow I don't want to use my flash Godox tt350.

GAS - that's it!

We live in central Europe, so we also need a lot of diapers and savings not only for college.
I would say that the narrower the field of view, the easier for you to stage your portraits. If you are taking a solo portrait of the baby, it will be easier for your partner or assistant to get out of the frame while staying right next to the baby. This has to be balanced with the working distance, where the shorter the focal length, the easier for you to influence the action or help out in case of emergency. I'm not sure on the specs for the sigma, though, as far as minimum focal distance, etc. If it doesn't let you get close enough, it will be of limited use for details. The 42.5 will be more flexible and allow lower iso. If you don't want to use a flash, which I understand can be controversial, I'm sure you don't need reminding how fast you will need to ramp up iso. In my experience, unless the baby is sleeping, you can't afford to drag the shutter for a lower iso. Capturing their changing expressions is a joy and I've had the best luck using no slower than 1/125 sec.
 

Alexlotl

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The O45 was my baby lens of choice. Cheap as chips, fast enough for natural light, and lets you close ups without crowding the baby.

Also very good for taking photos of them playing when they’re older without getting in the way. Paddling pools a speciality!
 

HappyBoardgamer

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Congratulations, my lens of choice for the first days was the 15mm. My wife is now expecting the second one and I purchased the 20mm for this. What I liked with the 15mm is that you can sit on the bed beside your partner and newborn and be intimate while you shoot. What I didn't like most of the time was the distortion it creates but you can use it as a strength as well. So I hope that with the 20 I have less distortion but still can be close. And I don't think I would have captured in the same way with a smartphone.

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PakkyT

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I would say your selection of lenses are well up to the task. Instead you might look into an external flash that has a tilt/rotating head that can be bounced off the ceiling. Bounce lighting will both look better and not startle the baby like a direct flash might. Also you can turn the flash power down as needed to still get a sort of softer "natural light" look but enough to help bring up the shadows.

With proper lighting even "kit" lenses can make great photos.
 

DanS

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My son is now 13 months old, but I found my Oly 60 to be the lens I used the most often. It allowed me to be back far enough that I didn't distract him in some scenarios, and also let me get super close and still focus in others.
 

ooheadsoo

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Congratulations, my lens of choice for the first days was the 15mm. My wife is now expecting the second one and I purchased the 20mm for this. What I liked with the 15mm is that you can sit on the bed beside your partner and newborn and be intimate while you shoot. What I didn't like most of the time was the distortion it creates but you can use it as a strength as well. So I hope that with the 20 I have less distortion but still can be close. And I don't think I would have captured in the same way with a smartphone.

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Wonderful photos.
 

Photon

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Jan 31, 2012
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My daughter is now two. I found that a lens around 25mm worked well. I also used my 45mm at times, but not as often.

Size matters. It is nice if you can easily slip the camera and lenses into a diaper bag. The Panasonic 20mm is the perfect size, but other small lenses will also work.

The ability to shoot in low light matters. I tended to use a flash bounced off the ceiling to get nice diffused light (using a f1.8 prime). It worked really well (and no, my daughter is not blind 😂). The other option is to get a very fast lens (e.g., f1.2 or f1.4).

Remember depth of field. Babies are small, so you have a tendency to get close to them. If using very wide aperature, you may or may not have enough depth of field for a shot (depending on your objectives). I like environmental portraits, so getting enough depth of field is typically important for the story I want to tell.

Since you already have 25mm covered, the 42.5 mm may not be a bad option.
 
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WT21

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Congratulations, my lens of choice for the first days was the 15mm. My wife is now expecting the second one and I purchased the 20mm for this. What I liked with the 15mm is that you can sit on the bed beside your partner and newborn and be intimate while you shoot. What I didn't like most of the time was the distortion it creates but you can use it as a strength as well. So I hope that with the 20 I have less distortion but still can be close. And I don't think I would have captured in the same way with a smartphone.

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I would say the 42.5, but HappyBoardgamer has a point (and fantastic pics to prove it!), with the portrait lengths, you are standing a bit away. You can get more intimate with the wider angle lenses, and bring in more context, too.

At this age, infants pretty much stay in one place, so a prime is very nice. I would almost say the 15 and the 42.5, for different uses.
 
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