What camera & lenses should I buy for DIY newborn & maternity photography? - Blog

What camera & lenses should I buy for DIY newborn & maternity photography?

This is a question I get asked again and again. So let me help you out a little.

Let’s start with – what are you actually going to DO with the images you are planning to take?

If the answer is…

  • I just want to keep them as a memory (on USB/computer)
  • I will make some standard size prints and maybe an album
  • I want to share them via email/social media
  • I want to use them in digital frames
  • I might blow a few up for my wall

then ALL of the above is now possible using your camera phone. Yes, even blowing up images for your wall. I saw a stunning canvas recently, and I could not believe the image was taken on an iphone 8.

Saying that, I am not encouraging you to just use your phone, if you want to further your photography. There are still things that phone camera’s can’t do nearly as well as a “proper” camera.

Those are mostly (but not only), to do with the lenses and other add ons that are available. If you use more advanced equipment, it will be better at capturing moving subjects, the ability to photograph beautifully in difficult light situations, and other things like better focusing accuracy or improved dynamic ranges. And you can shoot in RAW format.

So, for those of you that just want to know the answer to “so what camera do I buy?”, the answer is – it depends on your budget.

The DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) is what most professional family photographers use. In the recent years, a mirrorless system has been introduced which some professionals have switched to.

If you are a techie, and you want a proper insight on the technologies above, I have sourced a great article for you. You can read It HERE, and It will give you a pretty exhaustive comparison between the two different types of cameras, including pros and cons.

Personally, I have not had any experience with mirrorless, so I cannot comment. The reports are good, but if your budget stretches to a DSLR, in my opinion that’s still a better choice.

Essentially, both of those will allow you to buy separate lenses, and you can shoot in RAW or JPEG ( those are different image formats you can shoot in, as explained HERE).

Why would you want this? 

Well, if you are a stickler for quality, a serious enthusiast, or you have a real eye for photography then buying an DSLR will give you by far the most flexibility, and the highest quality (I’m not including medium format and other pro equipment in this statement).

It could also be an opening to a new career – who knows, right?

The downsides of the more serious equipment are higher prices, much steeper learning curves, and because it all initially seems too complicated, you may not use it at all.

I’ve seen this happen with my clients time and time and again – in fact many of my photography clients actually own a DSLR. They buy it, get it out of the box, look at the instruction manual, get totally overwhelmed, and never look at it again. The camera ends up on Ebay a few years later, to be sold at a fraction of the price as it’s now out of date.

Or instead, the camera does get used now and again, but only on AUTO mode, without making use of any of the many features that actually make the technology expensive.

So, if you are a parent looking to take some images of your baby/family at home, is it a worthwhile investment?

This totally depends on you – you are the only person that knows if you are likely to actually pick up that manual. Because to get value out of a DSLR , I would definitely say that you need to take a little time learning the basic functions as a minimum. Is there ANY POINT in getting one if you are not prepared to do this? 

Personally I would say no.

Unless of course, budget is not an issue – if you have lots of money to spend, and simply like to have the best money can buy, then go for it.

Yes you may end up using it in AUTO mode, but quality wise, sure, there will be a difference with professional quality cameras and lenses. After all, if there wasn’t, why would professionals use them?

But is the difference really visible unless you are actually paying special attention to it and have a good eye for photography? I would argue that no, it isn’t. What makes a great image really stand out is

1- how it makes you feel

2- great lighting

3- composition & posing

When I look at an image that has stopped me in my tracks, unless the quality is extremely poor (or extremely high), it’s rarely something that even registers. And I promise you, this applies to most people. Because great photography is very rarely about equipment alone.

The equipment will take you some of the way, but if you have no idea about great lighting, composition, posing & most importantly making your subjects feel relaxed and comfortable, then no equipment will make your images stand out.

This still doesn’t answer the question that is posed at the start of this article though, does it?

So if you have had enough of my rambling, feel free to hop over and download the ACTUAL GUIDE. It’s completely free and assumes that you are NOT a photographer, you just want to take some nice images of your family at home.

But before you decide what is best for you, there really is no getting away with considering the point I raised before you buy – what will you actually do with your images? Do you like things simple? Are you strapped for time? Is there a danger that if the learning curve of the equipment you buy is high, you will abandon the idea all-together?

If you feel like you are happy to spend some time learning about your camera and lenses, and don’t mind learning post production – then a DSLR or Mirrorless may be a good option for you. Personally I would be looking at second hand camera models – Ebay is full of them, and spend more of my budget on great lenses.

There is also the halfway house – which is point & shoot technology (think holiday camera) and also some hybrid models that are much smaller than your standard DSLR camera, but still have interchangeable lenses.

Download the guide HERE for my personal thoughts on the matter.

And do let me know what you decide!

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