Best Lens for Newborns: As Seen by Janine
Newborns: As Seen by Janine is the latest development in my photography business!
A natural follow-up to adding weddings to my services in 2013 was newborn photography. My chance came with the arrival of Olive Jolie Paciotti the first week of November, daughter of Eric and Steph Paciotti, whose wedding I photographed during Colorado’s Great Flood in September 2013. Total joy was the experience of photographing Olive at 3-weeks-old and also getting a gorgeous family photo with her parents!
Since my newborn session when I took this photograph of baby Olive, I’ve been renting the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 USM lens from BorrowLenses.com, which I used for that session. Had to get fast glass to get the effect I was seeking for newborn photography; my 18-55mm kit lens just wasn’t going to cut it.
Needless to say I’ve become certain I’m utterly unable to live without the Canon EF 35mm 1/4 lens for my newborn, portrait, and wedding work. Being able to get Bokeh background is a must in all these areas. Not to mention, a faster lens will help me in landscape work as well, for various purposes.
I’ve actually renewed my BorrowLenses.com rental twice now because I can’t give the lens up, but the reality is I have to stop and buy one, because I’m throwing away rental money on a lens I now know is a “MUST HAVE” for my craft. The thing is, I can’t bear to plunker down $1479 for it; even with the current $150 rebate Amazon is offering, that is still $1329. A painful chunk of cash…
I’ve been grappling with knowing I can get the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM, which was recommended to me by another newborn photographer, for only $899. I admit my ego has been struggling with really wanting the Canon name on my lens, both so I don’t look cheap, and also because I just assumed “you get what you pay for” so the Canon must be better.
Well surprise, surprise, in side-by-side test comparisons by Matthew Gore (from lightandmatter) featured on LensVid.com, Sigma was the hands-down winner in every aspect compared. See the review at the link below and you’ll see why I just placed an order for the Sigma, due to arrive by Dec. 26.
I’m super excited, because several of the problems with the Canon which Matthew shows in his video review, I actually have been having with the Canon lens I’m renting; however, I thought it was my own fault. Luckily, I did get shots which, in the end, I am very proud of, but it was not without struggle to overcome some shortcomings I’d assumed were my own.
For example, I assumed it was my inexperience with shooting super wide apertures which caused me to have problems with less sharpness around the outer edges of the frames, and also shots out of focus. I felt it was my inexperience with depth-of-field shooting at wide apertures which caused me to struggle on that first newborn session (even though I still got shots I am very proud of and the parents are thrilled with). But both are problems Matthew’s review showed consistently occur with the Canon lens until you stop down as far as f/5.6 or f/8, defeating the point of paying for fast glass!
Conversely, the Sigma hands-down outperformed with better edge-to-edge sharpness, less chromatic aberration, faster and more accurate focus, and less dark vignetting around the edges. The other significant factor is that the Sigma focuses noticeably more quietly, which is relevant when trying to photograph newborns and praying they stay asleep!
In every area reviewed, including sharpness, focus speed & accuracy, vignetting, quality of Bokeh effect, and quieter sound, I was totally sold on the Sigma after seeing this review and placed my order. Yeah, I’d look cool if all my stuff really said Canon, but the reality is, I’ll look a lot more cool when all of my photos come out better! AND, I’ll have an extra $400 in the bank. End of debate.
Stay tuned for once I get it and try it out for myself ~ it will be here the 26th, just in time for my next newborn session! Meanwhile, enjoy these other two photos from my first-ever custom newborn session with Olive, Steph, and Eric Paciotti.
By Janine Fugere
As Seen by Janine: Eyes of the World Images