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This is my first outdoor maternity shoot, beautiful field setting with gorgeous sun peaking above the trees. I have a Canon 600D and I am curious to know which lense would be great for shooting. I was thinking Wide angle lens, such as the EF 35mm f/2 Wide Angle Lens.. it's in my price range.

I have her wearing tan, natural colors to bring out our belly. Do you have any recommendations?

Thank you for any help!

(Right now I have the standard kit lens and the 70-300mm telephoto lens)

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    This is a good place to start: Which focal-length lens is usually used for portrait photography, and why?. In that price range the 50mm f/1.4 and the 85mm f/1.8 both come to mind and they are both excellent lenses. – dpollitt Sep 17 '13 at 19:05
  • Remember that the 600D has a APS-C sensor, so the EF 35mm will be more or less "normal" instead of wide angle (equivalent to a 56mm on a full frame body). – Caleb Sep 18 '13 at 19:28
  • Caleb, Since I am still learning, would the 35mm then be too wide? Thank you so much for your help – Amanda Brown Sep 18 '13 at 19:59
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A good starting point is at Which focal-length lens is usually used for portrait photography, and why?

The additional consideration with a maternity shoot is this: How much do you want the baby bump to bulge in the photos?

If you use a wider lens, such as a EF 35mm f/2 and shoot very close to your subject the same effect that enlarges noses relative to ears on faces will make the part of the belly closest to the camera appear to bulge more than it already does. Maybe you want that effect, maybe you don't. It is an artistic decision. If you compose with the belly closer than the subject's face, you can avoid the facial distortion while still geting the benefit for the belly if you want. For environmental shots this will be less of a concern as your subject will likely be further from the camera.

A longer lens, such as the EF 85mm f/1.8 will allow you to shoot from a little further away which will serve to compress the bulge of the baby bump.

In between these two is any of the 50mm lenses. I own both the EF 50mm f/1.8 II and the EF 50mm f/1.4 versions. If you are planning on doing any manual focusing or fine tuning, you want the f/1.4. Additionally, unless it is used wide open at f/1.8 where it is a little soft overall, bokeh is a little harsh with the f/1.8 II due to having only five aperture blades.

Note: Since this answer was written Canon has introduced the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM. The lens is just as affordable as the older EF 50mm f/1.8 II but corrects pretty much all of the older f/1.8 lens' shortcomings that caused me to recommend the f/1.4 over the older f/1.8. I still really like and regularly use my f/1.4, but if I were in the market today for an affordable 50mm prime the newer STM model would certainly be compelling compared to the current 50mm f/1.4 from Canon. The current (as of 12/16/2016) EF 50mm f/1.4 was introduced in 1993 and is way overdue for an update!

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A good prime is definitely a great choice. 35mm might be a bit wide on full frame, however, so you might want to consider a 50mm.

  • Thank you! Now the 50mm, is that referred to as the "Nifty Fifty"? – Amanda Brown Sep 17 '13 at 18:51
  • Often, yes. A generally useful focal length, and you will notice a massive improvement in sharpness and overall quality over kit lenses. – ElendilTheTall Sep 17 '13 at 19:47
  • Canon sells 3 different 50mm lens. The 50mm f/1.8 is the "nifty fifty" or sometimes the "plastic fantastic", at around $100 it is a bargain, stopped down a bit it is wonderfully sharp -- that said its autofocus and build have something to be desired. There is also a 50mm f/1.4 and a 50mm f/1.2L -- each more expensive, but with more advantages as well. – Patrick Hurley Sep 17 '13 at 19:49
  • Patrick- That's the lens desire is the 50mm f/1.2L, but it will be a while before I get it. The Nifty Fifty is in my price range at this point, but the other two are more of what I need to work my way up. I really love the 50mm f/1.2l, and the images are beautiful that come out of it too. ElendilTheTall- Thank you so much. I will see what I can do about the prices. I can't go at this point, any higher than $300 for a lens, but hoping that will help me at this point. – Amanda Brown Sep 17 '13 at 22:23
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    Amanda, you might consider renting one first to see if it suits you. A weekend rental will hardly cost a thing. – ElendilTheTall Sep 18 '13 at 9:42
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Based on your description, I believe you want some of the environment in your shot, I think the 35mm is an excellent choice. 50mm on your body will be a little long, don't be afraid to use your flash and flash exposure compensation (FEC) to balance the exposure if the sun is behind her.

The 50mm and 85mm are also excellent lens, but they will show less of the background with your subject having the same framing.

  • Maybe I am picky, but I wouldn't call 50mm on APS-C outdoors long at all(80mm equiv.). It is very practical even to get quite a bit of the environment included. – dpollitt Sep 17 '13 at 20:35
  • Yes, I would love to keep the beautiful clouds above, the green trees and some of the field in the background. I am trying to go as natural as possible with the shoot, since it's my first one. I am used to doing nature, and not humans. This is my first time venturing out with this, (newborn, maternity and birthing). – Amanda Brown Sep 17 '13 at 22:48
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    80mm is a little long for environmental portraits -- no doubt you can do it, just would not be my first choice. As I type this I would say the smart thing to do with check out what focal length you shoot most/like most with your kit lens and then get a prime near it. – Patrick Hurley Sep 18 '13 at 0:42

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