Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

What lens to invest in for beauty photography?


Hi everyone,


I work for a small-scale beauty brand, we have a tight budget but so far have been working with a kit lens (Canon 70D). We want to be able to shoot tight beauty shots (which include close up portraits) and texture photography.



Swatch Photography:


What we have managed to shoot with Kit Lens:


Most importantly, I would like to take detailed close up shots of the product + faces. We shoot mostly in natural light.



Currently, I managed to shoot this portrait on a kit lens (frustrating lens for beauty shots):


But I'd like to achieve this finish (I understand a lot of retouching is involved):


I've been told to invest in the 100mm but I'm hesitant - will we be too limited? Is there any other lens that allows us to take beautiful close ups and slightly wider angle shots as well.


- Please share your suggestions keeping in mind natural light shooting, versatility, and the Canon 70D + 700D. (+limited budget!)


-I'm also trying to start a studio for content creation for beauty + lifestyle brands - so I will be shooting alot of textures + swatches, hand shots, beauty shots, lifestyle flat lays, sink shots etc. What lens would you recommend?


Thank you,





Easy answer, the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens.  Fast constant aperture with good IQ.  Plus, add Photoshop to your bag. Learn it.

From what you said a prime, like the 100mm is going to complicate your life. A zoom is and will be far easier to accomplish what you need. Capturing the image is the easy part. How you post edit, which is not an option it is mandatory.  It is where you make the shot.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

I believe the 100mm is a Macro, so it can focus much closer than the 17-55.


My lens choices for shooting the swatches and portraits would differ.  This usualy means two different lenses.


I would want a “portrait” lens for shooting the models.  This typically means a focal length between 70-200mm on a full frame sensor body, or 50-150mm on an APS-C sensor body like your 70D.


I would want a macro lens for the swatches, which are typically in the 100mm focal length.  A macro lens allows for very short focusing distances, and capture fine details.  I would put a priority on this ability over shooting portraits. 


Canon makes a lens that meets both of those requirements, the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens.  It has a list price that is nearly half that of a 100mm macro lens. 


"The right mouse button is your friend."


A true macro lens will let you get close enough and resolve fine enough detail to get tight shots with the detail of the makeup (specular highlights, etc.).


On a "tight budget" ... the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro would be the lens to get.  For a 70D, this is basically the equivalent of the Canon 100mm f/2.8 or f/2.8L Macro lenses when used on full-frame bodies such as the 1DX, 5D, and 6D series bodies.


Some of those shots aren't just about the lens, they are also about the lighting.  Being able to control the light, the angle, use of polarizing to control how much reflection you want to see (you can polarize either the lens OR the light (when using lights you control) ... or both.  (pickup a copy of "Light Science & Magic" for a great book on photographic lighting.)


Here's a video to give you some ideas (most of the examples in this video used the 100mm f/2.8 Macro on a 5D III full-frame body.  Using a 60mm Macro on an APS-C sensor body such as the 70D provides an "equivalent" field of view of 96mm on a full-frame body ... close enough to 100mm for the comparison.)



Keep in mind lighting will be a big deal.  You can see in the video above that he's using dramatic use of lighting (even though the video isn't about the lighting.)


When doing outdoor shoots, you can use either some reflectors (and reflectors are not expensive) to bounce some light into your subject.  If the subject is in completely shadow, you can use this to help light them to help them pop.  If in sun, you can use the reflectors to fill some light into the shadows.  You still get shadow... but it's gentle shadow instead of harsh shadow.



Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

"Some of those shots aren't just about the lens, they are also about the lighting."


Absolutely!  The lens isn't nearly as important as other aspects of this type work. But the single most important is post editing in PS.  Whether you us a 60mm or a 100mm or the 17-55mm, it is how you post edit your photos.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

Hi there, your reply is super informative. Would you also recommend this 60mm lens for a canon EOS 700D? I don't understand much of the technicalities but from what I understand, you're saying the 60mm on the 70D Crop body does the equivalent of what the 100mm does on full body cameras? And what reflectors would you recommend for natural light shooting when you want shadows but not so harsh. E.g:


"...the 60mm on the 70D Crop body does the equivalent of what the 100mm does on full body cameras?"


I don't want to beat a dead horse here but the thing you are missing is, the editing of your shots.  That is far more important than the lens you use.  You have the 18-55mm kit lens? Think a minute it is almost at 60mm isn't it?  It would, will, work depending on how you post edit. Would it be my first choice? No, probably not but it will work.

You need to spend some quality time learning to use Photoshop more than worrying about the lens you have or are going to buy. As no matter what lens you buy, you will still need to post edit it.


About the lighting, without seeing your actual set up nobody can tell you what to use. General lighting stuff is what you need. Perhaps a good flash with a soft box? A couple strobes? This is also a place where you need to learn "how to" before you buy. If you are expecting pro results without doing your homework, you should just hire a pro to do your shoot.


First and foremost learn how to use Photoshop. It isn't possible without it.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

@Natasha1992 wrote:
And what reflectors would you recommend for natural light shooting when you want shadows but not so harsh. 

You can do a search for terms such as "collapsible reflector" and you'll find lots of options.  


You'll find "the usual suspects" (brands such as Westcott, Impact, Lastolite, etc.  all of which are good brands) all make these things and they come in various sizes.  They are typically hand-held by an assistant, but it is possible to get stands that hold them in position (if using outside on a windy day, you may need sand-bags for the legs of the stand.)


These things commonly come with a silvery reflective surface or a gold reflective surface or a white surface.  You will most likely use a silver side for most shots, and the white surface if shooting very close to a subject's face (where silver might reflect entirely too much light ... white reflects but not nearly as strong as the shiney silver surface).  


I'm guessing you wont want the gold/bronze surface (but you might) because it puts a color cast on the light.  It's typically used either to try to make the shot look like it was taken during the "golden hour" (near sunset when the light is golden) and/or to help skin look a bit more "bronze" like (if you want it to look like someone has a stronger suntan than they really have).  But if you're trying to accurately reproduce the colors of make-up products you may not want the lighting to have a color-cast because that will alter the color of any product applied.



Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

"...what reflectors would you recommend..."


The usual colors that come with the sets are white, silver and gold. Like Tim Campbell says that makes a big difference.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!