'Professional portraiture' and the Sigma 50-150mm f2.8

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by hector, Mar 23, 2009.

  1. hector macrumors regular

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    #1
    Hi team

    Having done a search I can't find much here about this lens. Does anyone here have one, and if so can you share your experiences with it?

    I have a D40 and am looking to use the lens for portraits; I took shots of my 3 siblings (and got my sister to take one of me), and framed the 4 prints in this really cool floating frame for mother's day. Based on positive reactions from people who have seen it am thinking about asking friends and family if they would be interested in having a similar thing done for a small fee.

    My idea is to set myself this challenge for the summer: can I get enough business to pay for a snazzy new lens?
    I could either do this with my kit lens until I have earned the money for the new lens, or (more likely) treat myself to the lens with the tax rebate I am due, and then earn the money back by using it, which would mean the results ought to be better.

    So, what are peoples opinions on this lens? Apparently there are focussing issues? Have these been ironed out with the release of the updated lens?

    Also does anyone have any general advice for me on taking peoples pictures for money?
    I am not trying to make a living at all from it, but I would like to try and earn enough to buy some new equipment (ie fund the hobby), and to find out if I am actually capable of selling my work to people.

    Thanks
    Hector
     
  2. wheelhot macrumors 68020

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    Nov 23, 2007
    #2
    Well I dunno bout that lens yet (in fact, never heard of it) but do check reviews from various sites, both scientific (if possible) and general reviews.

    DPReview gives excellent scientific results but too bad their lens reviewed is still very little.

    Another suggestion, if you are interested in portraits is to get primes, cause prime is generally cheaper and lighter and sharper then zoom lens. So far I know pros usually use 70-200mm for Modelling, especially the Canon version since its just almost as sharp as prime lens at the length just without the trouble of having to switch lenses.
     
  3. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    Sendai, Japan
    #3
    For portraits, the lens has the right focal length (it corresponds to 80-225 on full frame). The only competitor is Tokina's 50-135 mm lens (which won't autofocus on your D40). I'd go for it.
     
  4. Phatpat macrumors 6502a

    Phatpat

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    #4
    I have it and have been pretty happy with it. It's fast, the zoom is smooth, and usually pretty sharp.

    I've had some problems tracking focus on moving objects, but that might just be me. It's also significantly heavier/bigger than my other lenses. Not major concerns if your main use is portraits though.

    I like my 50mm f/1.8 for portraits, but that also won't autofocus on your D40.
     
  5. hector thread starter macrumors regular

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    #5
  6. Phatpat macrumors 6502a

    Phatpat

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    #7
    I'm using it with a D50. It's perfectly sharp on stationary objects, but I took it to a bike race and only came away with a few good shots. Might just be because I was on AF-A instead of AF-C.
     
  7. Phatpat macrumors 6502a

    Phatpat

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  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #9
    The lens is to long to portraits with a crop body SLR. You may also find that you want a faster lens for reduced DOF. With the crop body slr I'd say the 85mm prime is ideal for head and shoulder shots. You can use a 105mm but you'd better have a large size studio or you will be backing into walls. The best setup would be to have both the 50mm and 85mm as even the 85 is too long for full body shots indoors, unless your indoor space is large.

    Remember you need a lot of space in back of the subject. The photographer can have is back pressed on the wall but not the subject. If the subject is to close you get ugly shadows and loose control over background ilumination level. So what this means is a shorter lens.

    Save you money for lighting. That is what matters. You so NOT need expensive Nikon automatic speed lights. $40, 25 year old Vivitars will do OK but you WILL need stands and light modifiers (soft boxes, reflectors and the like)
     
  9. 103734 Guest

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    Apr 10, 2007
    #10
    Maybe its me but the pictures seem to have a warmer hue, even on my desktops monitor that tends to show images on the colder side.
     
  10. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #11
    Get insurance. Once you start making money with your equipment most policies that would have covered it won't and you should have some form of liability insurance. Get good lights, they're cheaper than bad ones in the long run. Shoot thrus are easier to set up than softboxes. Carry a spray bottle to de-wrinkle the backgrounds.
     
  11. hector thread starter macrumors regular

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    #12
    I don't understand how a range of 50-150mm is too long, when the two lenses you have recommended are both within that range?

    Also most of the photographs I take are outside using ambient light, and I don't have a studio. My idea is to photograph people outside in the daytime so lighting equipment isn't too relevant, but thanks for the advice.

    These are the sort of photos I have been taking just to give you an idea:

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    [​IMG]

    All these were with the D40 and my kit lens, the last 2 are the shots of my brother and sister which I framed for mother's day as I mentioned earlier. With 55mm being the longest I can go on the kit lens, I find myself getting in quite close to the subject.

    As you can see my preference is to shoot outdoors, and to fill the frame with the head and shoulders, although I imagine I will have to tailor my approach depending on what my potential customers will be after.
     
  12. hector thread starter macrumors regular

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    #13
    Thanks for the advice.

    I think I may have given a grander impression of the sort of scheme I have in my head than I intended. I pretty much just plan on taking photos (probably in their gardens) of family and friends for free (to get experience and feedback), and then if they turn out OK and are happy with with them then asking them to recommend me to their friends over this summer (by pointing them to a website I hope to create) so I can try and make some money out of them.

    I am certainly not planning on trying to make any serious cash or setting up a studio, just want to get experience, and try to make enough money for some more equipment along the way.
     
  13. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    #14
    Lighting equipment, be it a fill flash or actual strobes, is relevant everywhere as demonstrated by your examples posted. A fill flash in nearly every one of those images would have helped the photo. Regardless of how you like to shoot, where you like to shoot, and who you like to shoot ... light is never a bad thing. "Ambient" light is another way of saying, "you'd rather not mess with lighting so you shoot outside." I shoot outside using "available" light but I still find the need for a bit of a flash here and there.
     
  14. Phatpat macrumors 6502a

    Phatpat

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    #15
    Nice shots. I would say go for it. The longer range will make it slightly less awkward to get those close up shots you want :)
     
  15. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #16
    Well, if you intend to do portraiture well, you need to learn to control the light- that requires lighting- every one of your shots above would be much, much, much better with some lighting- it doesn't matter if you use a flash gun, strobes, or reflectors. The harsh dark circles on the only two with catchlights in the eyes could be eliminated with some well-controlled fill at least.

    Quite frankly, the lighting on the first one is horrendous- and you can't even see the subject's eyes- that's a pretty big no-go for portraits, the right side is blown and the left side is in deep shadow, the subject's squint makes them look bad. The second has the same eye issues, too dark and dark circles around them, and the background is way too bright compared to the subject (lighting would fix that.) The third has the shirt blown out- which could have been controlled by lighting the rest of the shot and the lighting is a bit flat, but it's the best of the lot. The fourth is way too flat and the pose isn't good. The fifth would be much, much better with some lighting to provide catch-lights in the eyes, and filling out the left side of the picture (model's right eye socket especially) and the white in the background takes away from the person's face. The sixth one is the second-best one overall, but lack of background control makes the eyes go off to the white in the background since the left side has nothing in it to draw the eye to the subject- which could have been controlled with lighting or with a better background choice.

    Heck, any Nikon Speedlight with automatic "balanced fill" would make a few of these shots tolerable- but as-is, I think considering charging money is a stretch. Although, I've seen really bad wedding photographers get money because they were good salespeople- but I've always thought if you were going to charge money for something, you should give the customer the most value for their money that you can, and that means learning the craft of what you're selling.
     
  16. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #17
    Sorry, but your post title and the reality of what you are shooting and with what gear just don't mesh. There is nothing "professional" about any of your images nor the gear with which you have shot them. Listen to the good advice given in this thread by experienced others and try again.....but don't even begin to think in terms of professionalism until you are really shooting high-quality images.
     
  17. hector thread starter macrumors regular

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    #18
    :rolleyes:
    You'll notice the title of this thread has the same quotations that you have just used... I don't consider myself to be a professional by any stretch of the imagination hence why the thread title is called 'professional portraiture' In inverted commas.

    Seems the sarcasm is lost over the Atlantic.

    Do I really have to tell you guys in any plainer English what my situation is? I have never charged anyone money for taking their photograph. Nor do I plan to until I have some more experience. This explains why I wrote
    "I pretty much just plan on taking photos (probably in their gardens) of family and friends for free (to get experience and feedback)"

    You will have spotted this if you read what I have posted. The subjects of these photos are family and friends, taken with my non-professional Nikon D40.

    So you can see that I am not at all interested in pitching up at people's houses with a boot full of cumbersome lighting gear and charging them professional photography fees for a location shoot. Maybe this is something I will think about in a year or 2 if my attempts this summer go well.
    I think you will agree that everyone has to start somewhere.
     
  18. hector thread starter macrumors regular

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    #19
    Thanks for the advice. Your right that the reason I like shooting outside is because I don't have to mess with the light. I have never owned a flash (except the built in one which I never use), and I would like to get one and learn how to use it at some point. I definitely agree that these shots could be improved, but at the moment lighting just isn't in my arsenal.

    Just to make it clear again, I have never charged any money for photographs, and the above examples are to demonstrate what I have done so far. I don't pretend to be an incredible photographer, but I obviously hope to improve on what I have already done over the course of this summer with a bit of experience.
     
  19. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #20
    If you want a small, lightweight, cheap flash, get the SB-400. It is usually powerful enough, especially for portraits and you can add self-made or bought diffusers for it. You can also bounce off the ceiling, but you cannot swivel. If you don't understand what I just said, we'll explain it to ya.

    Of course, there are other, better flashes, but it's a good start in my opinion and its size is a big, big plus.
     
  20. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #21
    ONe why you could improve those photos you showed is with light. That built-in flash is good for "fill in". set it to be about 1 or so stop lower then the sunlight and you can control the depth of the shadows. Another zero cost idea is a big white square of foam core and an assistant. Lighting is the key to great photos and out doors you either have to wait and be lucky or make the kind of light you want. But it does not have to cost much.
     
  21. hector thread starter macrumors regular

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    #22
    OK thanks for this OreoCookie and ChrisA.
    Would you say it is more important to invest in an external flash and learn how to use it properly first, or to buy a more appropriate lens suited to portraiture, like the Sigma?
     
  22. wheelhot macrumors 68020

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    #23
    Hmm, to me it depends, well flash will certainly add your range of flexibility, but before that, you own any other lens beside the kit lens now?
     
  23. hector thread starter macrumors regular

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    #24
    I own an old 50mm f1.8 that I got off ebay for peanuts to experiment with, but find it a pain to set exposure manually, let alone focus manually. I end up not using it much as a result, so effectively I only have the kit lens...
     

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