Best focal length for portrait in photography

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by photographerR, Jun 21, 2011.

  1. photographerR macrumors newbie

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    Jun 21, 2011
    #1
    Hello photographers ,

    i was checking some posts about photography , and i saw something strange , and i want to ask about it.

    while i was reading this post ( Photography Backdrops ) , i saw that the best focal length to take portraits is 85-100 , is that true , and if it was true , why is that ?


    Thanks alot
     
  2. ChristianJapan macrumors 601

    ChristianJapan

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    #2
    it gives a little bit distance to the person you shooting; (to keep the person relaxed)

    a wide-angle would create more distortion; ok for funshots

    a longer zoom narrow the DOF; which make a sufficient sharp picture more difficult (though not impossible)

    One of the reason why I most of the time have my 70-200 attached
     
  3. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    #3
    I agree with most of what ChristianJapan says.

    Wide angle lenses tend to create distortion, most noticeably they can enlarge the nose. A 200mm lense (35mm camera or equivalent) is often used for fashion to "flatten" the face, and to deliberately throw the background out of focus. (Look at some of the photos by George Hurrell to see how he effectively used a very short DoF for his portraits.)

    The problem with a 200 mm lense is that you are too far from the subject. Most photographers don't have the space to use a 200mm effectively, and the subject feels "disconnected" from the photographer due to the distance. You end up raising your voice a lot to be heard, and adjusting the lights involves a trek. Beside distortion, shorter lenses put you too close to the subject. It's hard for a non-professional subject to "relax" when there is a lense 300mm from their noise.

    In the heyday of 35mm film cameras, lenses in the 90mm to 135mm range were sold as "portrait" lenses. Shorter for full-body or waist-up, generally - - and longer for the more intimate head-and-shoulders.

    With all of that said, one can take great portraits with a wide-angle or long telephoto. You just have to work harder at it. However, if you master it you will have a distinct look that will make your work stand out.

    Good Luck.
     
  4. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

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  5. flosseR macrumors 6502a

    flosseR

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    #5
    agreed with the 85 or 105mm, even on crop sensor and for a full body or upper body shot, i would say a fast 50mm for a crop sensor. they are fairly cheap and have their uses, contrary to what some people say. But for portraits I could not live without my 105mm f2.8 lens.
     
  6. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #6
    I use my 70-200 around near 135 - 150 @ f/2.8-4 for most outdoor portraits.
     
  7. Randy McKown macrumors member

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    Kansas City
    #7
    I divide all my portrait sessions up with a 105mm, 85mm & sometimes a 50mm. If I'm running short on time I skip switching to the 50mm and just step back with one of the other lenses.
     
  8. jborko macrumors member

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    It depends mostly on your style and type of portrait photos you take. On FF all between 35 and 400 can be good if you know what you are doing. Below 35 on FF is deforming too much but can be acceptable, again of you know what you are doing.

    50-135 with wide apertures will give you best results with least effort. But that's about it. The rest is all imagination and creativity.
     
  9. Vudoo macrumors 6502a

    Vudoo

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    #9
    For portraits, I use my 70-200mm f/2.8 because it gives me the most control. Telephoto lens will create more depth of field isolating your subject from the background.
     
  10. ChristianJapan macrumors 601

    ChristianJapan

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    #10
    Tele has actually shorter Depth Of Field; thats why your subject gets better isolated.
    Also the aperture is part of the function. Roughly smaller f-stop number (physically more open aperture) gives smaller DOF and more isolation.
    (on the other side more risk of unsharp subject if not very carefully focused)
     
  11. Vudoo macrumors 6502a

    Vudoo

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    #11
    That's what I meant....staying up too late responding clouds one thinking. :)
     
  12. Abstract, Jul 2, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2011

    Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #12
    Using a longer focal length is related to depth of field. The depth of field is narrower, so longer lens = blurrier background.

    However, it's also used to "flatten" the image --- bringing the person and the background closer together so that there's less depth. If you use a wider lens, everything in the background will appear far back (as it is in real life), while your subject appears up front. If you use a longer lens, even the mountain that's 10 km (6 miles?) behind the subject will appear somewhat close.

    It changes the way the photo looks.


    http://photo.tutsplus.com/tutorials...ls/exploring-how-focal-length-affects-images/
     
  13. Nostromo macrumors 65816

    Nostromo

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    #13
    You can easily go beyond 100mm. But it depends on what you want.

    Try it out, and see what gets you closer to what you want to shoot. That's your focal length.
     

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