Please recommend a Portrait Lens for my Rebel XT

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by vbvr, Jul 22, 2008.

  1. vbvr macrumors newbie

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    Jul 3, 2007
    #1
    Hello Everyone.

    Currently I use my Canon Rebel XT with three lenses.

    1. EF-S 18-55 (Kit lends which came with the camera)
    2. Canon 75-300/4.5 AF Zoom Lens
    3. Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Medium Telephoto Macro Lens

    Im now looking to purchase a new lens with which i would like to shoot potraits and one which would also work well with low light.

    Any suggestions/recommendations are greatly appreciated.


    V
     
  2. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #2
    How does the Sigma macro lens seem to you as a portrait lens? Given that you have that, a longer portrait lens isn't as useful (and they're expensive). I'd just go for the cheapo 50mm f/1.8. Getting anything significantly better is going to be pretty expensive.
     
  3. vbvr thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3


    Its been great if I wanted to take pictures up close. But I was wondering like you said if an 50mm would get me better pictures.
     
  4. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #4
    While the 50/1.8 is an excellent lens for the money, the 50/1.4 is a much better lens, and, frankly, isn't really all that expensive as lenses go. I've found that I'm always making excuses for the 50/1.8; it's cheap, so I put up with the just 'ok' bokeh, the terrible low-light focusing performance, and the general dullness of the pictures compared with the 1.4.

    On a 1.6x crop body, a 50mm lens is just about perfect for portraits. So I'd say go with the 50/1.4, which will give you very nice OOF backgrounds, which are fantastic for portraits.

    The other option is the 85/1.8, which is a bit long on the 1.6x bodies, but is also a nice portrait length, and, I think, a bit more versatile than the 50/1.4 (quality is about equal).

    Either of those lenses would be fantastic, and would be great low light performers.
     
  5. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #5
    I'd say it really depends on your budget, which I'm assuming is not unlimited. judging by your current lenses, it doesn't seem like you're in the market for $1000 lenses, but are also willing to shell out $400 for a quality lens if it's worth it.

    No doubt the 50 1.4 is a better lens, albeit manly in terms of build quality and focusing. It's also roughly $325 vrs $90 for the 1.8. It's worth asking what else you might do with that $235. For me, I'd rather have a 1.8 and the 430EX flash than just the 1.4, but that's just me.

    Another question is patience. Would you rather have a great system building one good piece at a time or get more now and have to deal with selling and replacing more things? If you're in a learning process and happy with that, one good piece at a time gives you more time to learn how to use each new piece.
     
  6. ButtUglyJeff macrumors 6502a

    ButtUglyJeff

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    #6
    Another vote for the Canon 50mm f/1.4. Quite fast and good in lower light situations. I would also recomend considering a flash..........
     
  7. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    The problem is that it is in precisely the in lighting situations where the f/1.8 comes in the most handy that the 50/1.8 falls flat; namely, when you have very low light and can't use a flash. The 50/1.8 simply wont autofocus properly in very low light; I end up just manually focusing everything, and that's very difficult in low light. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    So the $235 you save goes to waste because you can't get any photos in focus. The 50/1.8 is not a bad lens, per se, but the wide aperture is really only useful for DOF effects, not so much for low light use. Get the 1.4, which focuses just fine until you have VERY little light (think of a single street light at night).
     
  8. Mike Teezie macrumors 68020

    Mike Teezie

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    #8
    I second this in it's entirety. If you can, pony up for the 50 f/1.4.
     
  9. vbvr thread starter macrumors newbie

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  10. mfsnyc macrumors newbie

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    #10
    I have a Canon 28mm 1.8 that works nicely for portraits (I like it b/c I frequently switch from portrait shots to wider angle shots, so it's a nice compromise, you can get a decent depth of field for the portraits).
     
  11. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #11
    The Sigma's $500. I doubt it's that much better than the Canon 1.4.
     
  12. nutmac macrumors 68040

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    #12
    The default portrait lenses are Canon's 85mm lenses (EF 85mm f/1.2L USM and EF 85mm f/1.8 USM). Both lenses are optically excellent with fast and accurate USM.

    Three things to look for in portrait lenses: (1) excellent background blur -- wide aperture, long focal length, and/or lots of apertures blades (2) sharp center, (3) long focal length (85-135mm) captures more flattering looking face and useful for candid shots.

    On APS-C crop bodies such as Digital Rebel XT, EF 50mm f/1.4 USM and EF 50mm f/1.2L USM can be used as a portrait lens (50mm becomes 80mm). I find EF 50mm f/1.8II to have a bit harsh background blur as well as inaccurate focus for my taste, but I have seen good results. For daytime outdoor shots, I use EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM, but it is often easier to shoot with lighter EF 50mm f/1.4 USM.
     
  13. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #13
    Head and shoulder shots: EF 85mm f/1.8 (needs about f/2.8 to sharpen).
    Torso shots: EF 50mm f/1.4 (needs about f/2 to sharpen).
    Full body or group shots: Sigma 30mm f/1.4 (sharp wide open).
     
  14. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #14
    While I 100% agree that both these lenses are great, let's be honest: the 85/1.2 is in a different league altogether in terms of IQ. In fact, I'd say that an 85/1.2 on a FF digital body is the ultimate portrait setup.

    The 85/1.8 is no slouch, and is a very capable performer (bordering on excellent), but the 85/1.2 is a whole other ball of wax, so to speak.
     
  15. nutmac macrumors 68040

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    #15
    Thanks for the clarification. I didn't mean to suggest that EF 85mm f/1.8 USM, which costs 5 times less, can come close to EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM optically. EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM is the king of all portrait lenses for Canon.
     
  16. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #16
    It can be more difficult to use and is slower to focus than the 1.8.
     
  17. vbvr thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #17
    Thanks for the suggestions people. Looks like i have a few choices on the lenses. I've also decided I want to get the Speedlite 430 sometime soon as well.
     
  18. anubis macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    I'd highly recommend the 50mm f/1.2L. It's really nice and really fast, good bokeh. The 50mm f/1.4 is ok in an absolute emergency but I'd really opt for the f/1.2L for portraits.
     
  19. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

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    #19
    I had the 50 1.8 mkII Canon for awhile. It was broken during a house move and I never replaced it. It's a great lens for some things but not portrait.

    The bokeh (aka background blur) is very distracting and I would never use it for portraits. I did and the pics aren't very good. The lens is decent for landscape and other situations but bad for portraits.

    I eventually splurged on a Canon 24-70L 2.8 which was 12 times as much as the 1.8 50mm, but is a world of difference. My understanding is that the 50 has 6 blades and the 24-70 has 8 and that is what makes the bokeh so much better?

    I think that the 85 1.8 Canon has 8 blades so the bokeh is great. At least in every pic I have ever seen taken with it.
     
  20. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #20
    Really? You'd recommend a $1400 50mm lens to someone with a Rebel XT, kit lens, consumer zoom, and good macro lens? Why?
     
  21. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #21
    Canon makes excellent fast primes (50/1.2L, 85/1.2L, 135/2.0L), but they are pricey, unless you're earning money using them.

    So, if this purchase is for pro use and you make enough money to justify the lens, then go for the fast primes; they are definitely worth it, and the IQ really is better than the low/mid-priced primes (50/1.4, 85/1.8, 100/2.0).

    But if you're doing this as a hobby (and dont have money to burn), stick with the mid-priced primes. They get you 90% of the way there for (sometimes) 30-40% of the price.
     
  22. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #22
    Seconded.
    For most, there is no need to spend four digits on a lens which is surely excellent, but has a much less expensive brother or sister which is `almost as good.' Especially if someone uses a Rebel XT, chances are, (s)he is not going to spend big bucks on a professional lens.

    Since you have a Rebel XT, I suggest you look into a 50 mm lens, either the 1.8 or the 1.4 if you can afford it. They're cheap :)
    For my taste, 85 mm are already too much for many things (plus, I have a 80-200 Nikkor zoom, so I don't need an 80/85 mm prime). I think the 50 mm + 50-135/80-200 zoom combo is more useful in practice.
     
  23. nutmac macrumors 68040

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    #23
    EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM fixed slow focus issue on EF 85mm f/1.2L USM. EF 85mm f/1.8 USM is still faster of the two, however.
     
  24. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #24
    Yeah, I'm sure that tiny USM motor still has trouble moving those big pieces of glass in the 1.2. :)
     
  25. rhett7660 macrumors G4

    rhett7660

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    #25
    I use this lens alot:

    EF85mm F1.8 USM.

    It doesn't break the bank, has a little longer reach then the 50 thou....
     

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