What’s In My Bag | Perth Newborn and Family Photographer

I get a lot of emails from photographers.  And a lot of those photographers have questions about my camera bodies and lenses.   Instead of individually fielding every question that comes into my email inbox regarding my equipment, I decided to finally create a blog post with all the details about the contents of my camera bag.  Yay for saving time and sharing!  But first, a bit of equipment back story.

My first DSLR was a Canon 40D.  At the time, the 40D was the latest cropped sensor body out there, and the Canon 5DmkII had yet to be released.  The 40D was an amazing camera body to learn with.  With a lot of obsessive study, I made huge strides very quickly (and made a lot of cringe-worthy mistakes along the way as well).  I purchased the Canon 50mm f1.4 prime lens at first, and soon after, invested in the Canon 24-70mm f2.8L zoom.  After a LOT of practice and portfolio building, it was this equipment that led me to launching my business in the start of 2009.

As soon as the 5DmkII release date became available, I decided I was going to upgrade my camera body.  The difference was AMAZING.  A full body frame really helped to improve my images, and fueled another phase of obsessive study into how to take my images to the next level.

Around this time, I started falling out of love with my 24-70mm f2.8L.  I didn’t like using such a narrow aperture for indoor sessions where there wasn’t a lot of light and it wasn’t as sharp as my 50mm prime.  I researched enough about it to come to the conclusion that primes were a better fit for me.  So out went the 24-70 and in came the Canon 85mm f1.2L.   Not long after, the Canon 35mm 1.4L came to live here, followed by the Canon 100mm f2.8L Macro.  Finally, the Canon 5DmkIII body showed up on my doorstep shortly after it’s release earlier this year.  And that brings us to today!  Now the details…


What can I say about my new ‘baby’, other than that I ADORE THIS THING.  Due to some issues with my 5DmkII, I had been patiently awaiting this release for, well, years.  And it was most definitely worth the wait.  The focal system is out of this world (61 focal points?  YES, PLEASE!), the ISO capabilities are ridiculous, and it’s just all around lovely to use.  Plus the shutter button has such a nice click to it.  Sounds silly, but I love it!

I prefer to use my camera bodies with a battery grip, as I love the extra battery life, the vertical controls, and it’s just much more comfortable in my hand.  The 5DIII grip only became available recently and it was such a relief to have my body/grip combo back.  Love it all! :)



I credit the 5DmkII with a lot in the growth of my business.  This camera body was a huge step up for me, and a fantastic one at that.  I ADORED working with a full frame body, particularly one that allowed for such amazing low light capabilities.  I could definitely have lived with this for quite a bit longer than I did, since it truly is an awesome piece of equipment.

In saying that, it was not without its downfalls.  The biggest issue I had with this body was the focal system.  Out of the 9 focal points, the center point was really the only one that was reliably and consistently accurate.  Not that every shot using a different focal point was out of focus (in fact, the vast majority were perfect).  But there were more images than I would have liked that were not tack sharp, and I KNEW it wasn’t user error.  It wasn’t enough to fuel hatred for this camera body, but was certainly enough to annoy me.


LENS: CANON 85mm f1.2L

Sigh.  I love this lens so very much.  It is pure creamy bokeh, tack sharp goodness.  I use this lens for almost every outdoor session and it rocks it on every occasion.  It is, in my opinion, the perfect portrait focal length and has been worth every single penny of that expensive price tag.

The only thing I don’t like about the 85L is that it is quite slow to focus at times, which can really work against you when you are dealing with lighting fast toddlers running circles around you.  I haven’t found it to be a huge hindrance for my family sessions, but I would certainly appreciate a bit quicker focus sometimes.  Even with that issue, I still can’t recommend this lens enough.

Some 85mm f1.2L example images can be seen in all of the outdoor images HERE and HERE.


LENS: CANON 35mm 1.4L

This lens is amazing.  So sharp…so creamy…so delicious…and most importantly, so capable of allowing me into the smallest shooting space imaginable (which is an invaluable tool for on location newborn work).  It has become my go to for on location newborn sessions.  I always have plenty of space to work with, and can always count on sharp, gorgeous images.  90% of the newborn images (and most of the indoor family images) on my website have been taken with this lens.

There is a downside to this lens, however, and that is lens distortion.  Because it’s a wide angle lens, there is some distortion around the edges, which means that I don’t use it for close ups, detail shots, or really anything where baby parts are close to the edge of the frame.  That is the major reason that I invested in my macro lens.  However, even with the distortion inconvenience, this lens has been an excellent on location workhorse lens for me.

Some 35mm f1.4L example images can be seen in all of the pulled back newborn images HERE and all indoor family images HERE.



I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but this lens is just amazing.  It is the sharpest lens in my bag.  It picks up the tiniest flakes of newborn skin and just brings them to life.  I was on the fence about investing in a macro lens and I am SO GLAD that I did.  All of my close up shots, newborn detail shots, and interesting angled shots are taken with this lens.  I have yet to use it outdoors for portraits, but I have read many a rave review about its portrait capabilities.

This is perhaps the only lens I own for which I haven’t yet found a downside!  It really is all that and a bag of chips 😉

Some 100mm f2.8L macro example images can be seen in all of the close up and detail newborn images HERE.


 LENS: CANON 50mm f1.4

I have to admit that this lens has been a bit forgotten in my bag lately.  I quite literally had to wipe the dust off of it when I pulled it out for this photograph.  However, that’s not because it’s not a fantastic lens…quite the contrary!  It’s more to do with the fact that I work on location and didn’t have as much use for a 50mm focal length as I would if I were shooting out of a studio (where I would have more space to work with).

I have read many debates on online forums whether the Canon 50mm 1.2L was worth the extra money when the 1.4 was already so fantastic.  Particularly given it’s price.  It is the lens I most recommend to beginners, due to its sharpness, ability to shoot in low light situations, and its incredible value for money.  In saying all that, I do find marginal differences between this lens and the L series lenses (primarily saturation and contrast).  So being the perfectionist that I am, I will be investing in the 50mm 1.2L as soon as my studio is finished in a few months time.  I have a feeling that lens will then become my studio newborn preference, and I will continue to use the 35mm for on location sessions.  But if you are looking for a fabulous 50mm focal length lens without the $1900+ price tag, then the 50mm f1.4 would most definitely be a perfect choice.


And that, ladies and gentlemen, is it!  Next on my purchase list will be the Canon 50mm 1.2L, followed by the Canon 70 200mm f2.8L IS II (which I will use for outdoor sessions).  Hope this post helps some of you struggling to find a lens that will work for you! :)


kris reynoldsJune 21, 2012 - 7:06 pm

Hi Erin

Thank you for your post. It is really interesting.

This is a really basic question (so i apologise for asking) but … how far back do you stand for your indoor 35mm newborn shots, and how would that compare to say having to stand back for a 50mm 1.2 newborn indoor shot? Am I right in understanding the value you find in the 35mm is that it works well in tight spaces? So how much extra space does/would a 50mm require?

AshlyJune 22, 2012 - 8:51 pm

Great post. Couldn’t agree with you more on everything you just said. I have just broken into the newborn business, and I invested in the 24-105L & the 50mm Sigma, after some problems with the Sigma and now borrowing the business owner’s 50mm 1.4 Canon version, I wish I had went with the Canon version, but hopefully when the Sigma is returned it will be calibrated properly. After this experience though, I have to admit that paying the extra for the name-quality might be worth it. Our next investment is the 100mm and I’m so glad to hear the great things from you about this lens ( and all over the place too! LOL), following that, the 85mm/35mm.

I was interested to hear that you favor the 35mm for your newborn shoots. Would it be possible to take a picture in the future of a pullback using the 35mm? (Well as in no cropping) I assume you’re not right in the baby’s face, or are you?

Thanks for your time in teaching us, your work is brilliant and I would love to do a workshop with you if you end up running one again.

DanielJuly 8, 2012 - 5:41 pm

Great post! Lots of lens envy here – I only own the 100L so far, with the 35L my next purchase.

Just wondering if you think you will use your 85L or a 70-200 more on your outdoors shots Erin? Do you shoot your 85 wide open?

Would love to watch you work, your photos are so inspirational and you are my favorite newborn/baby/children photographer! Great stuff!!

[…] just recently wrote a ‘What’s In My Bag’ blog post with a TON of information about my bodies and […]

[…] If you’d like to read a more in-depth review of my lenses and bodies, you can find it here […]

Mary LopezOctober 28, 2012 - 10:48 am

I am dying to have the exact collection you have. LOL <3
I am about to feature you on my blog …

[…] I would love to get the Canon 70-200 2.8L IS II for outdoor sessions. It’s so dreamy! You can see the rest of my equipment here – http://erinelizabeth.com.au/blog/index.php/2012/06/whats-in-my-bag-perth-newborn-and-family-photogra…. […]

AmberNovember 10, 2012 - 5:14 am

What lens did you use for the up close newborn mouth and nose and lips? That looks amazing? :)

Tilton N.August 27, 2013 - 9:07 am

I’m just starting to getting into newborn/family photos, and your “what’s in my bag,” has helped me some much with tough decisions. I absolutely LOVE your photos! Thanks for the help!

Sundar AnupindiNovember 9, 2013 - 1:19 pm

Great pictures and thanks for sharing the information.

MindyDecember 11, 2013 - 3:23 am

Hey there!
I love this blog! I came across it looking for the best lens to use for newborn photography. I am not a “professional” photographer, more for a hobby one but would love to be a professional some day and focus on newborns. :)
My question for you is what program you use to edit your portraits? Your pictures are amazing! I use Lightroom 3 now, kind of old school but it is easy to understand. I would like to get into Photoshop once I upgrade my camera and lens but it seems to be a little harder to use than Lightroom. :)
Thanks for your time! Hope to hear from you soon.
You can find me on Facebook Mindy Bernard Photography. (Once again, I’m not a professional) I would like to better my camera/lens and myself! :) Thanks again!!

Amanda c.December 24, 2013 - 11:46 pm

I love your shoots! They are wonderful! and thank you for sharing “what’s in my bag” blog, it’s very helpful! I’ve just started newborn photo shooting, hope I’ll have a collection like yours soon!

Candy HoehnJanuary 21, 2014 - 8:15 pm

Thank you so much for this in depth view of what camera lenses you have and why you use them. It is so difficult for me to pick which lenses to use at different times and this helps me out so much!

Imagepro Photography & DesignJanuary 23, 2014 - 5:18 pm

This is very beautiful photograph you have shared…it’s really admiring.

IMAGEPRO PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGNJanuary 23, 2014 - 6:41 pm

This is very wonderful picture you have shared…it’s really appreciating.

A-Z PhotographyJanuary 23, 2014 - 7:31 pm

Thank you so much for this detailed perspective of what contacts you have and why you use them. It is so challenging for me to decide which contacts to use at different periods and this allows me out so much!

Rockworld ProductionsJanuary 24, 2014 - 2:59 pm

Excellent images and thanks for discussing the details.

Fiesta PhotoboothJanuary 24, 2014 - 3:25 pm

This is very wonderful snapshot you might have shared…it’s truly appreciating.

Snap DecisionJanuary 27, 2014 - 4:23 pm

Excellent images and thanks for discussing the details.

Rose 2 RingFebruary 20, 2014 - 5:47 pm

Stunning pictures….. Appreciate it with regard to write about…… It’s really useful…..

SelFebruary 21, 2014 - 2:16 am

Thanks for all the examples and feedback on the canon lenses!! Awesome, beautiful work!

Creative Image PhotographyApril 14, 2014 - 10:43 pm

Regards in relation to turn out about…… That is absolutely helpful….

mistyJuly 16, 2014 - 7:25 am

Hi, I was wondering what photo editing software you use? Photography is a hobby & I am taking pictures of my newborn. Thank you very much for your time.

JodiSeptember 4, 2014 - 8:36 am

Even your photos of your camera and lenses are gorgeous! I just don’t know how you do it Erin. Such talent :) Cheers, Jodi

Martin SimmsOctober 17, 2014 - 12:47 pm

As a keen amateur grand dad with a recent addition I was looking for some thoughts on suitable lenses and found your website. I just want to say that I found your advice very helpful and I think it is very gracious of you (as a working professional) to share your knowledge. Thank you.

AlianaNovember 15, 2014 - 4:05 pm

Thank you só much for all this info! Your images are stunning !!!’

Love & LaughFebruary 21, 2015 - 9:50 am

Great Article, Your images look awesome.

Jason PlevrasJune 25, 2015 - 8:19 pm

Could you tell us more about the lighting. I think that’s the key here, moreso than the lenses.

[…] What’s In My Bag | Perth Newborn and Family Photographer – Hey there! I love this blog! I came across it looking for the best lens to use for newborn photography. I am not a “professional” photographer, more for a hobby … […]

HillaryFebruary 12, 2016 - 10:13 am

Hi Erin! Love your work and what you have to say! I am an inspiring family photographer looking to make my first big lens purchase. I want something versatile (indoor, outdoor and newborn shots), since my current funds won’t allow me to buy two expensive lens at the moment. I had my heart set on the 85 mm f1.2, but now I’ve been thinking maybe I should go with the 35 mm f1.4. Which lens do you suggest is a good starting point, something that I can use in multiple situations.

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