Newborns aren’t running around yet. You don’t need a fast, expensive camera to capture newborn baby pictures. But that doesn’t mean you should pick up a random, cheap budget camera to snap newborn photos with.
This article will show you what to look for in a camera for newborn photography and the best camera for newborn photography. Whether you are looking for the best camera as a new parent or you are looking to take professional baby photographs.
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What Does the Best Camera for Newborn Photography Have?
Newborn photography is the closest the portrait genre gets to still life. Often, newborns are photographed sleeping.
Sometimes fussy babies only offer a few seconds to get the shot. Most of the time, you’ll have a few minutes to get the shot once you get the baby in position.
That means a fast camera, with a high burst speed such as 10 fps, isn’t absolutely necessary.
Many newborn photographers or parents looking for a new camera will also be photographing toddlers at some point or photographing a toddler with a brand new sibling. That’s a different story.
Photographers specializing beyond the newborn stage may want to consider a camera with a good burst speed. Kids go from that still newborn to a wild, won’t-sit-still toddler in a blink.
For newborns, don’t feel like you need to spend a lot of cash for a crazy fast camera.
While still, newborns are often photographed using natural window light, since flash can startle some newborns. That means a good camera for newborn portraits should have excellent performance at higher ISOs.
Look for a camera that has excellent noise ratings for the higher ISO levels. Indoor scenes often mean more than that base ISO 100.
Stick with a full frame camera, or an APS-C camera if you’re on a budget. This will allow you to take the most advantage of the available light as well.
Stabilization in the lens or camera body will also boost low light quality. It’ll allow you to shoot at slower shutter speeds instead of increasing the ISO. This will happen only if the baby is being very still.
Along the same lines, when you look for a lens to pair with your camera body, look for one that has a wide aperture, like an f/2.8.
Give yourself permission to skip those f/3.6 kit lenses often bundled with camera bodies. A 35mm or 50mm f/1.8 is a great lens for newborn photography. Many good versions are also cheap.
Another consideration is how loud the camera will be. In most cases, newborn photographers play white noise that will drown out the click of a shutter.
In some instances, a quiet mode is an excellent feature to have. Many mirrorless cameras have this feature and some DSLRs.
The best cameras for newborn photography have a resolution that’s right. A camera with a resolution that’s too low won’t allow parents to have large prints.
Your camera should have at least 12 megapixels, but 20+ is even better. Many photographers have successfully used cameras around 50 megapixels. But higher megapixel cameras don’t handle high ISOs as well.
The greater detail in higher megapixel cameras can make the many skin imperfections that are very noticeable on newborns. This will leave you with more post-processing work.
The Best Cameras For Newborn Photography
- excellent low light performance
- a quiet shutter
- image stabilization
- a 24.2-megapixel full frame sensor
DxOMark, a third-party company known for unbiased camera testing, calls it an excellent low light performer. The camera scores high for more than low noise at high ISOs.
As a mirrorless camera, it is lighter than many DSLRs and also has a silent shutter mode.
Photographers can find more resolution with the Sony a7R III. But the a7 III strikes an excellent balance between features and price.
The full frame sensor means the camera isn’t a budget model.
And for photographers that are looking to photograph kids beyond the newborn stage, the a7 III still packs in a solid 10 fps burst speed with a quick autofocus system.
That makes the camera an excellent all-around performer for photographers who shoot in several genres. It’s also great for parents who want a camera that will perform well when that newborn is a toddler.
The biggest downside? The battery life has improved from older models but still doesn’t come close to a DSLR’s long battery life.
Still, the a7 III will last through a newborn session — and capture high-quality images. If you like the features but can’t afford the price tag, you can also look at older versions of the camera like the a7 II and original a7.
The Z 6 uses a 24.5-megapixel full frame sensor that captures excellent images. DxOMark ranks it right below the Sony a7 III by a single point.
The camera body also has stabilization built-in. This can help in those low light shots if the baby isn’t moving around.
As part of Nikon’s new mirrorless series, the Z 6 has access to a lot of existing Nikon lenses using an adapter. This could be reason enough to choose the Z 6 for photographers that already own some Nikkor glass.
Like most mirrorless cameras, there’s a silent electronic shutter for when being quiet matters. And the Z 6 is even faster than the a7 III with a 12 fps, though that’s in an extended mode with a few limitations.
The Z 6 is lighter than Nikon’s DSLRs, though not by a lot if you use a heavier Z lens or once you add the mount adapter. The tilting touchscreen can also help get the perfect angle without getting out a step stool.
The Z 6 is also weather-sealed. You won’t be photographing a newborn in the rain, but baby drool and toddler spills shouldn’t be a problem.
Nikon also has the higher-resolution Z 7, but the Z 6 has an autofocus that’s rated a bit better in low light. The mid-range resolution is perfect for newborns. It also means the camera doesn’t cost quite so much.
The 30-megapixel sensor is a good mid-point for newborn photography. It’s not too high to introduce a lot of noise or make skin imperfections obvious, but high enough for big prints and good detail.
The Canon EOS R also has a lens adapter that will allow it to be used with Canon’s DSLR lenses. It’s a good option for photographers that may already have a stash of Canon lenses.
As a mirrorless, the camera is also equipped with a silent electronic shutter.
With solid low light performance, the Canon EOS R is one of the best Canon cameras for low light, according to DxOMark. They rank the image quality a bit below the first three cameras on this list.
The colors and dynamic range aren’t ranked quite as high as others in its class. This won’t stand out though. Canon’s Dual Pixel autofocus system is also highly praised. This should come in handy when shooting with only window light or capturing those fast-moving toddlers later on.
The EOS R also offers a respectable 8 fps that will keep up with toddlers and older children as well.
The Canon EOS R body sells for $2,300, which is a bit higher than the Sony a7 III and Nikon Z 6. The EOS R is missing image stabilization equipped in those models and didn’t score quite as high on sensor tests.
While the other cameras may be better deals, the compatibility with Canon lenses and dual pixel autofocus will sway some to pick up this still excellent camera.
Photographers (and parents) don’t have to drop $2,000 on a camera to take good photos of a newborn. For a lower price point, APS-C sensor cameras like the Fujifilm X-T30 can capture excellent newborn photos.
The Fujifilm X-T30 sports a 26.1-megapixel APS-C sensor. That’s not as large as the full frame cameras on this list. But the Fujifilm brand is known for the image quality coming from its X-Trans sensors. An APS-C is still plenty big enough for newborn photography.
The APS-C mirrorless category also means a smaller body and less to carry around. It still delivers performance that’s good enough even for budding professionals.
The autofocus system has a whopping 425 points and is quick to focus. The burst mode is a respectable 8 fps. If you need more, you can push it up to 30 fps with a slight crop and the electronic shutter (which is quieter anyways).
As a mirrorless camera, the X-30 is easier to carry around. It still has features like a tilting touchscreen to help capture the more hard-to-get angles. Fujifilm is also loved by many photographers for its retro look.
Parents don’t need to deplete their diaper fund before the baby even arrives to capture good newborn pictures. While not a top performer like the Sony a7 III, the Nikon D5600 can shoot circles around smartphones and compact cameras.
And you can keep the costs even lower if you buy a refurbished model.
The Nikon D5600 sports a 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor. This isn’t quite as good as full frame but still packs plenty of capabilities.
The sensor captures solid photos for the price point — and DxOMark still considers the camera a top performer. The EXPEED 4 processor is still decent at capturing images in low light, especially if you pair the camera with a brighter lens.
Speed-wise, the D5600 snaps away at 5 fps. This is not enough to be hailed as a great spots camera, but it could still do the trick for toddlers and older kids in motion. The 39-point autofocus is decent, thanks to using the type of autofocus that’s long been fine-tuned inside DSLRs.
The camera also uses a tilting touchscreen unlike the slightly cheaper Nikon D3500. This can help get fun high and low angles that often work well when photographing babies and kids.
The Nikon D5600 isn’t the best camera on this list and isn’t ideal for professionals. But it is one of the best cameras you can get on a limited budget.
As a DSLR, it’s a bit louder than a mirrorless camera’s silent mode and doesn’t have stabilization in the body. For new parents that already have a list of things to buy, the D5600 will help capture those fleeting memories of the newborn stage and beyond without breaking the bank.
Photographing newborns comes with a long list of challenges. You need to get the baby settled, sleeping and into that perfect position then doing it all over again for a new pose.
But the challenges that come along with newborn photography aren’t the ones that need a $4,000 best-ever digital camera.
For newborn photography, look for a camera that will perform well in window light, a quiet shutter, and a mid-range resolution.
When introducing toddlers into the shot, like with sibling photos or working with older children, photographers should also look for a camera with a faster burst speed.
If you are considering buying grey market cameras or gear, read our article first!