Using a macro lens for a photo session of a newborn
I had the pleasure of photographing Jen and David’s newborn baby. Aside from photographing the proud parents with their little one, it is also essential to get detail photos of the baby. With close-up images, you see even more clearly just how small this newborn baby is, when you show the scale. A tiny hand clasping a finger. Tiny toes gently flexing against her mother’s hand.
For this, a macro lens is an essential part of my camera bag.
Since I like to shoot newborn sessions with available light, the lens needs to be stabilized. Canon lenses have IS (image stabilization), and Nikon lenses offer VR (vibration reduction). This allows you to shoot at a much lower shutter speed than normal, and still get crisp images.
Both these images were shot wide open on the macro lens at f2.8 @ 1/100 @ 1000 ISO
Macro lenses – maximum aperture shift
Because of the way the optics shift when you focus very close, the maximum aperture shifts. Nikon shows effective aperture, and you can see your actual aperture. In this case, even though I had set f2.8 the lens gave me f3.5 and shows it in my display. Canon works differently. With Canon, the set aperture shows … but the exposure will vary as you get closer, meaning the aperture did actually change as you focused closer.
It is just something to be aware of. It’s just how the optical configuration of macro lenses work. I know than Nikon shooters who are new to using macro lenses, are often concerned that they aren’t getting the f2.8 maximum aperture. Canon shooters are generally not aware of this change in aperture, since the camera doesn’t show it.
Macro lens choices
I favor the 100 / 105mm focal length (on a full-frame camera) when it comes to macro lenses. This gives me a comfortable working distance on a full-frame camera. And it also doubles as a portrait lens if I need to.
The best choice here for Nikon and Canon shooters are the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF-S VR (affiliate), and the Canon EF 100mm f2.8L IS (affiliate) macro lenses. Here is my review of the Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS macro lens. It’s a beauty!
If you are using a crop-sensor camera, then there are other good choices which would effectively give you a similar focal length (if you frame the image the same):
- Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro (B&H)
- Canon Normal EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro (B&H) – it only goes to half-size
- Macro photography lenses: options and alternatives
- Wedding photography – Detail shots, bounce flash & macro lenses
- Review of the Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS macro lens