Best Canon Lens For Newborn Photography

Are you searching for the best Canon lens for spectacular newborn photography pictures?

I’ve shot and taught baby photography for two decades and have tested dozens of lenses in pursuit of the best image quality possible. In this article you will learn the exact lenses I use to achieve top newborn image quality that will capture those precious memories.

baby laying on carpet looking up at camera

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What to Look For in a Newborn Photography Lens

Choosing a newborn photography lens is no easy task. To help you out, this article will break the search process down into five key features to keep in mind: focal length, aperture size, image stabilization, zoom capabilities, and minimum focus distance.

By reading through these features and understanding what they mean for a baby photography lens (or any other type of photography for that matter), you’ll be able to make the final decision based on your needs.

Focal length: The first thing to look for in a newborn photography lens is the focal length. Basically, the larger the focal length, the greater your “reach,” or how close your camera can be to the subject and still be able to capture an image. For example, if you are photographing a baby lying down on her back in her crib with soft lighting and you want to capture a full body shot (head-to-toe), you would need to get very close to the subject. A newborn photography lens with a zoom function would be ideal because it would enable you to approach your subject from different angles in order to capture a full body shot.

Aperture size: The second key feature to look for in a newborn photography lens is the aperture size, which refers to the size of the hole through which light passes onto the sensor or film. As stated earlier, when photographers speak about focal length, they are usually referring to the focal length and not the aperture. However, a newborn photography lens must have a relatively large aperture in order to capture detailed images with shallow depth of field. For example, if you were photographing a small newborn laying in her crib at night, the light in the room would cause the background walls and other objects to be blurry. However, using a wide-aperture lens with good image stabilization will no doubt take care of the blur caused by camera shake (a slight movement of the camera while capturing an image).

Image stabilization: The third key feature to look for in a newborn photography lens is image stabilization, or “IS” for short. This is the ability of a newborn photography lens to shoot clear images even with some movement on the photographer’s part. IS technology has taken baby and family photography to a whole new level, eliminating blurry images due to camera shake. By utilizing IS technology, you can shoot at slower shutter speeds than would normally be required without any blurring. The result is a whole lot of clearer pictures.

Zoom capabilities: The fourth key feature to look for in a baby photography lens is zoom capabilities. A zoom lens is an all-around lens that serves as both a wide angle and telephoto lens, making it ideal for capturing multiple images of your baby throughout the year. The “zoom ring” located on the barrel enables you to switch from one focal length to another in seconds and the optical quality remains high even when changing focal lengths.

Minimum focus distance: The fifth key feature to look for in a newborn photography lens is the minimum focus distance. Minimal focusing distance refers to the minimum distance between the lens and the subject that your camera can focus on, which also determines how close you can get to your subject. Even though you may have a wide-aperture lens, if you are too close to any subject, it will not be focused properly. Minimal focusing distance is usually measured in millimeters. The higher the number, the greater your ability to get close to the subject.

No matter which Canon camera you are shooting with, the top rated lenses below will allow you to get amazing baby pictures without having to invest tons of money into a bunch of substandard lenses.

If you still have not decided which camera to get, check out my review on the best camera for newborn photography too.

baby sleeping holding stuffed animal

Best Canon Lens for Newborn Photography

Canon EF 50mm F/1.2 L USM Lens

I am a huge fan of the Canon EF 50mm lens! It is incredibly versatile and has made my list of recommendations for many types of photography. And you can tell why as soon as you open the box. It is solid and the high build quality is apparent from the get go. It provides the ability to use a wide open aperture. The lens optics are high quality and it is even designed for shooting in poor weather, meaning you can even do an outdoor session without worrying about damaging your lens.

The Ultrasonic motor and high speed CPU means you get fast, accurate, and quiet autofocus which is perfect for taking pictures of sleeping babies. It provides you with 8 circular aperture blades and offers 72mm of filter with a minimum focal distance of 0.45m which is ideal for newborn photography. It additionally provides you with a max aperture of f/1.2 and a min aperture of f/16 which should handle most lighting conditions you will be shooting in.

Flare reduction is also provided through the Super Spectra coating which means no ghosting and excellent color contrast even when the lighting is less than ideal. When shooting on a budget and you don’t want multiple lenses the 50mm focal length is the way to go. This lens is versatile and flexible making it the best all around Canon lens option for baby photography.

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Pros

  • Create gorgeous bokeh effect
  • Lens excels in all lighting conditions
  • Durable and well designed

Cons

  • Not the fastest autofocus on the market

Canon EF 85mm F/1.2L II USM Lens

This is another great Canon lens option for newborn and baby pictures. This aspherical lens provides amazing image quality that is truly top of the line. It operates with an internal autofocus motor that is quiet and accurate helping you easily capture clear and beautiful images.

The build and construction quality is again top notch. It provides 8 AF elements in 7 groups and a focal length of 85mm which is great for baby photos. Keep in mind, when using this lens with a 1.3x camera you will get a similar focal length of a 107mm lens mounted on a 35mm camera. If that is confusing, don’t worry. This is an excellent lens option regardless of which Canon camera you have.

You can focus in on your infant as close as 3.2 feet which is great for those swaddled images and mom holding baby pictures. You can also go with manual focus, which is my preference for any professional photographer.

Overall this lens is best known for it’s fast and accurate autofocus and clear and lifelike image quality. This lens is ideal for baby portraits and will offer you some of the most outstanding newborn images you can get with your Canon camera.

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Pros

  • Exceptional build quality
  • Capture excellent images with clarity and beautiful colors
  • Create bokeh effect

Cons

  • Lens is on the heavy side

Canon EF 100mm F/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens

This is the updated version of the widely popular lens many pros have used for years. It has retained the great performance of it’s predecessor while gaining some excellent feature improvements. It provides you with the new Hybrid Optical Image Stabilization which utilizes an internal gyro sensor that keeps your images clear even when the camera is moved during shooting.

This is great for the less experienced photographer as you can shoot in hand and get no blur. The build quality is great even though some plastic is used in the lens barrel. It provides weather protection as well so you can shoot this lens outside without water damage being an issue.

The high quality rubber seal makes this possible, and I’ve shot mine for years and it has never failed. With this lens you get 15 elements in 12 groups with a focal range of 100mm and an aperture of f/2.8. The internal focusing system works fast and accurately while allowing you to use a CPL or polarizing filter.

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Pros

  • Excellent image quality, clear and great color
  • Quality autofocus system
  • Create bokeh effect

Cons

  • Can create angled highlights on the covered aperture setting

Canon EF 35mm F/2 IS USM Wide Angle Lens

This is another updated classic that is well loved by many baby photographers. The 35mm f/2 Canon lens is a workhorse that consistently produces beautiful images. With this lens you get an exceptional image stabilization system that will ensure your images are clean and blur free even when shooting by hand. If you shoot with a full frame Canon camera this is my favorite lens by far.

They are compatible with APS cameras too so no need to avoid this lens no matter what camera you are using though. Just keep in mind that with an APS sensor this lens performs like a 56mm lens. No matter which camera you have, you get the super quiet and fast USM autofocus system which is great for the beginner and amateur photographer.

But you can also switch to manual focus and use that with a large focus ring. You get amazing image optics with 10 elements in 8 groups and one of those is an aspherical element. When shooting you get an angle of view at 63 degrees diagonal and 38 degrees vertical. The lens also controls chromatic aberrations even across different apertures. (You can even achieve macro images thanks to the .24 magnification and 24cm min focusing distance).

This lens is truly well designed for easy use. You also get a lens with a great build quality providing you with years of use. It is relatively lightweight and easy to shoot with during long sessions. Overall this is a great newborn photography lens for any Canon photographer.

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Pros

  • Provides excellent image quality with little image distortion
  • Built in image stabilization
  • Small and lightweight
  • Excellent build quality and design

Cons

  • No lens hood

Conclusion

father holding sleeping newborn

After years of being a professional baby photographer I’ve learned just how important it is to get the right lens for the job. Whether you are embarking on your own professional career or your goal is to get the best pictures of your own baby, any of the top rated Canon lenses above will provide you with pictures you can cherish for a lifetime. And if the best image quality possible is your goal they are well worth the investment.

For more photography tips and guides read these articles