best lenses for portraits

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by rweakins, Jun 17, 2008.

  1. rweakins macrumors 6502

    rweakins

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    #1
    i have a canon rebel xt, EF 70-200mm F2.8L USM and 18-55mm f3.5-5.6. i was wondering what lenses are best for portraits mostly.
     
  2. thr33face macrumors 6502

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    #2
    It absolutely depends on what kind of portraits you are shooting and on a million of other factors.
    There is no "best for ..." in photography (i'd say)

    but that 70-200/2.8 will do just fine.
     
  3. harcosparky macrumors 68020

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    #3
    Use the 70-200mm in the 100mm range.

    I used to use a Canon 100mm Macro lens for portrait work and it worked out real well.
     
  4. stagi macrumors 65816

    stagi

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    #4
    the 85 1.2 (or 1.8) and 50 1.2 (or 1.4) are beautiful lenses.
     
  5. valdore macrumors 65816

    valdore

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    #5
    The Canon f/1.8 50mm prime works great for close up portraits, and is very affordable too - about $80.
     
  6. magiic macrumors regular

    magiic

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    #6
    I have heard absolutely nothing but GREAT things about this lens
     
  7. rweakins thread starter macrumors 6502

    rweakins

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    #7
    just curious if anyone is willing to post shots they have taken with that lens
     
  8. steeler macrumors regular

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    #8
  9. ButtUglyJeff macrumors 6502a

    ButtUglyJeff

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    #9

    I would love to get my hands on the Mark I version of this lense, as I've heard the build quality went down on the Mark II version. Not that I'm being too fussy, considering the price.
     
  10. M@lew macrumors 68000

    M@lew

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    #10
    Just stand a bit further back and your 70-200 will be awesome. If you want more bokeh for for the 85mm f/1.8.
     
  11. harcosparky macrumors 68020

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    #11
    OP:

    I did a little search and came upon this thread. It has to do with .....

    " What makes one lens better than another for a particular application. "

    Oddly that is a Digital Video Forum but the topic is clearly on lens usage.

    One poster even mentions that he tool some portraits with his 85mm prime lens and than with a zoom set on 85mm, he said the prime clearly did a better job.

    Here is the URL ......

    http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=15441

    Note: I prefer the 85-100mm length because it allows me to stand back a bit and no be so " in your face " with a subject.
     
  12. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #12
    Here are 2 pages of portraits shot with a Canon FD 50mm f1.2 L lens (using film) and a Canon EF 50mm f1.4 (digital).

    www.gallery.mac.com/crackedbutter

    The ones from Japan are all shot with the f1.2L btw.
     
  13. terriyaki macrumors 6502a

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  14. MacUserSince87 macrumors member

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    #14
    Shooting Distance is what matters...

    Distance to the subject, not focal length, is what controls perspective, such as how big the nose looks relative to the ears. Get too close with any lens and the face will look wider and the nearer nose, arms, feet, etc. will appear larger than normal. Keeping all the body parts a similar distance from the lens also reduces near/far size differences.

    Normal looking perspective in a portrait, similar to that perceived by eye, requires shooting from a distance of 7-8 feet. From that ideal distance various focal lengths will produce different in-camera crops. With the 1.6 crop factor of your camera the Canon 85mm f/1.8 is ideal for a tight head and shoulders shot. A 50mm F/1.4 used from the same distance will produce the same flattering perpective but with a looser head and shoulders crop. Both of these lenses are an excellent value in terms of speed, image quality and weight vs cost. If you want to spend a bit more and have the flexiblity of a wider focal length and zoom the 24-105mm f/4 IS would be a good choice.

    Backing up to about 15 to 20 feet and zooming to crop can result in very flattering perspective so when doing outdoor portraits where space isn't a problem the 70-200mm range is ideal for head shots.
     
  15. PeteB macrumors 6502a

    PeteB

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    #15
    If money wasn't the issue, I'd agree. But based on the OP having an XT, I'd guess that he needs a more value-based alternative.

    The 50mm f/1.8 would be a good bet, as will the 70-200

    The 50mm isn't noted for wonderful bokeh, so you'd need to be careful about backgrounds to get a good effect.
     
  16. Shaduu macrumors 6502a

    Shaduu

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    #16
    I use the 50mm f/1.8 almost exclusively for my portraiture.

    Here's some images:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  17. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #17
    The focal length has a profound influence on perspective, ever try to make a portrait with a wide-angle? (Well, unless you are doing it for the effect on purpose.)

    @OP
    I'd suggest you get a 50 mm lens in addition to your 70-200 zoom. The 70 mm correspond to about 110 mm on film which is already a bit much for portraits for my taste. The 50 mm would complement your 70-200 zoom quite nicely and it's cheap (rather: it has very good value like all 50 mm lenses). It's effective focal length is about 80 mm on your crop sensor XTi, so you'd cover everything in between 80 and 300 mm. Usual focal lengths for portraits are about 70 to 135 mm (on film).

    The other fixed focal length lenses (85 and 135 mm) overlap with the focal length range of your zoom -- which doesn't make much sense in my opinion.
     
  18. Mechcozmo macrumors 603

    Mechcozmo

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    #18
    I use a 50mm f/1.4 on my Pentax K10D, which gives me a 35mm equivalent of 75mm.

    Anything 50-80 will be good on a digital body like yours; the 70-200L is beautiful, but alas, expensive. It's useful for more things, though, and when you upgrade to a 5D or a 1D or something of the sort it'll serve you well.

    If you'd like to see sample pictures taken with a 50mm lens on a digital body, check out my Flickr profile... http://www.flickr.com/photos/mechcozmo

    Hell, I'm the kind of person who'd say you need a 50mm prime in your kit regardless of other gear. Such useful lenses.
     
  19. pprior macrumors 65816

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    #19
    Oreo....

    Focal length has an effect because it changes where you stand to take the picture.

    Take a picture at 28mm.

    Take another picture at 70mm or higher STANDING IN THE SAME POSITION

    Crop to make them the same size with a frame.

    Tell me if you note a difference with these two very different focal lengths.

    Important concept to learn. The practical reality given we tend to fill the frame with the subject is that we stand closer with a WA lens and thus create relative near/far field distortion. However this is not an effect of focal length directly, but rather of distance to subject, as is correctly pointed out above.

    As to the OP, since he sunk money into the 70-200/2.8L I wouldn't make the assumption he's only interested in cheap. The 50/1.4 would be OK, the 85/1.8 a good value choice, and the 85/1.2L a knockout lens for portraits. The 135F2 is also a very nice lens with wonderful bokeh but for full body with a crop camera, you'll need lots of room.
     
  20. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #20
    Makes sense to me, especially if we're talking the 85/1.2L which is absolutely incredible for portraits (though might be a tad long on a 1.6x such as the XT). The best bokeh I've ever seen has been from a 85/1.2L

    As for the 50s, the 50/1.4 is a noticeable step up from the 50/1.8 (in IQ, bokeh, and esp. in build quality); while the 1.8 has the edge on price, the 1.4 is not what I'd call an expensive lens. Skip the 1.8 and go for the 1.4, if you're going the 50mm route (which is the ideal portrait length on a 1.6x).
     
  21. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #21
    Which means you crop both pictures so that they cover the same viewing angle. If you shoot portraits with a wide-angle lens, you will have to throw away most of the pixels. But it's not just about pixels, how do you even compose a shot with a lens that has more than twice the viewing angle? Sorry, but this is not how photography works in the real world.

    So yes, perspective is determined by viewing angle, but viewing angle is determined by focal length and sensor size (so for a fixed sensor, it's determined by focal length). Focal length (not viewing angle) also determines the depth of field you may achieve at any fixed aperture.
     
  22. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #22
    Also because the 1.2/85 lens costs an arm, a leg and your first born …*;) :D
    Plus it's heavy. (Not as much of an issue, I guess, it should weigh about the same as the 2.8/70-200 zoom.)

    Even if he buys the 50 mm and decides he doesn't like it, he has wasted very little money on it.
     
  23. MacUserSince87 macrumors member

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    #23
     
  24. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #24
    You still don't really read what I've written, you simply cannot take pictures the way you describe:
    (i) You want to cover most of your subject without any cropping.
    (ii) You want to have a certain look (larger focal lengths tend to make things flatter, because you can take the picture from farther away).
    (iii) You want a certain depth of field.

    Portraits cover the face and perhaps parts of the upper torso. Of course you need to get closer if your lens has a larger viewing angle to compose your shot properly. For typical portrait situations, i. e. a typical distance (not too close, not too far, you mustn't get into the comfort zone of people, especially those you don't know so well), a typical depth of field you'd like (depends on the shot, but longer focal lengths give you more creative freedom) and perspective. These requirements exclude wide angle lenses.

    Note that I'm not lecturing about theory here, your argument that the distance to the subject determines perspective is correct.
    But people don't buy lenses that have a given depth of field at a given aperture either (= determined by focal length), they buy lenses with the viewing angle they want.
     
  25. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #25
    Oh, I agree. The 85/1.2 is not on everyone's list because of its massive price tag. My comment was merely that overlap of focal lengths is not necessarily a good reason not to buy a particular lens.

    If I were doing portraits on a 1.6x crop, I'd get the 50/1.4 in heartbeat. If I made money at it, I'd sell the 1.6x crop, buy a 5D and the 85/1.2L and be in portrait heaven.
     

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