My favorite documentary newborn and family session gear [updated]

Mom holding newborn baby, toddler sleeps on floor

It’s been a couple years since my latest family and newborn photography session gear update post – so it is about time for an update:

Nikon D750 camera body

The D750 camera body combined with the 35mm and 24mm 1.4 lenses are my favorite for low-light situations like dark rooms, non-bright indoor lights and births – as well as tight spaces. I’m still loving how fast the auto-focus is – always helpful with FAST kids!

I used to bring two D750 bodies to every shoot before 2017, so I could switch between two different lenses quickly. This way one camera functions as a backup incase the other one stops working, too. But – that was a heavy load to carry, not to mention hold onto for Day In The Life sessions. Which brings me to the…

Leica Q

This little thing has a fixed 28mm 1.7 lens, and is SO LIGHT! So I decided to replace one of my heavy Nikon cameras with this nifty thing, which has been amazing especially during long sessions. It also has macro capability, which is awesome for baby toes and other details you wish to document.


Because the Leica Q is so light, it was easy-peasy to keep the camera high up in the air for a good while.

But – my main issue with this camera has been that it’s not weather sealed, and I’ve been nervous to bring it to outdoor adventures with families – or my dog. Which prompted me to start shopping around at the end of 2018 for a…

Fujifilm XT3

As with the Leica Q, this one is super light, has an option for a silent shutter – and it’s weather-sealed! The colors that it produces are beautiful as long as there is good light – and I say that as a mostly black-and-white photographer. Even though it’s not performing as well as the Nikon in low light, I prefer the colors and look of the grain of the Fuji to the Leica.

Boy asleep in his bedroom
Loving the silent shutter option in the Fuji for nap time.

Lenses

I like working with prime lenses (lenses that don’t have a zoom), because that forces me to move my body closer or further instead of fiddling around with a zoom. I’m not big on zooming, because I feel like the closer I am to the action the more the pictures will feel like they’re taken right in the middle of the action, instead of by observing from further away. I have a 24, 35 and 50mm (or equivalent) for both cameras – but I only use the 50mm for portrait sessions that aren’t documentary.

The 35mm really helps the person looking at the photos feel like they were there.
I also use the 35mm to photograph my photo books – I don’t mind the distortion.

Sigma 35mm 1.4 / Fujifilm 23mm

This is by far my favorite lens – it might as well be glued onto one of my cameras. It distorts the scene a bit more than the 50mm since it tires to include more environment into the picture, but that’s also why it gives you a feeling of being right there.

Dad sleeping on couch with newborn baby
The 24mm is great for getting more of the environment in the picture.

Sigma 24mm 1.4 | Fujifilm 16mm

This wide lens is a really handy tool for small spaces! However, it distorts images a lot more than the 35mm and the 50mm, getting closer to a fish-eye effect than the other lenses.

What else is in my camera bag?

A padded leather messenger bag by FeatherTouch – it fits my two camera bodies and my fave lenses.

I prefer wide straps (2+ inches), so that they’ll even out the weight of the cameras on my shoulder.

Spare batteries, lots of memory cards (64Gb Lexar ones), lens cleaning supplies, a notebook with scribbles about the family I’m meeting, snacks and a good luck charm I got at a photography conference I attended a few years ago.

Girl looks sad, dad holds tooth brush for her, pregnant mom braids her hair

Do you have any questions about my gear? Leave a comment below!

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JENNA CHRISTINA PHOTOGRAPHY

 

Documentary newborn and family photographer serving San francisco Bay Area, San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, Santa Cruz and surrounding areas

 

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