Best Canon portrait lens?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by elizabeth_l., May 6, 2009.

  1. I have a Rebel XTI with a kit lens and am looking for a new lens (or two?)
    Mainly I am looking for a great portrait lens, although for somewhat candid portraits. (I have two small children who are always on the move, so I usually take pictures of them when they are playing rather than having them sit for formal portraits.) I also am an avid gardener, and would love a macro lens to photograph my flowers and their winged visitors.
    I have looked at the 50 1.8, 50 1.4, and 50 2.5 macro reviews. I have also read the reviews for the 60 2.8 macro. My question is this: should I get a 50 2.5 macro to cover both portraits and macro (and if so, will it be quick enough inside for portraits and good enough for macros of insects?) Or should I get a 50 1.8 for portraits and a 60 2.8 for macros (which will be around $100 - $150 more than just the 50 2.5)? Or is the 50 1.4 so much better than the other 50s that I should get it despite the fact that I would then have to wait awhile for a macro lens?
  2. If you are into macro, using the macro lens is not a bad idea at all. I'm not a big portrait photographer, but my brother does a lot of portrait work - and on his full frame camera he often uses the 100mm macro. On your camera - as I think you've figured out - the field of view from the 50mm lens is the same as that of the 92mm lens on his camera.
    Some will tell you that you must use the lens with the largest possible aperture, mainly in order to blur out the backgrounds. What they don't tell you (or forget, or don't realize...) is that if you do try to shoot portraits at the very largest aperture your DOF will be so narrow as to make things a bit tricky. And DOF will not exactly be yards deep at f/2.8 on your camera at this FL.
    Alternatives abound at 50mm though - you wouldn't really go wrong with any of the 50mm lenses you have mentioned.
  3. You've mentioned some fine lenses. If you're looking for a macro, the 60mm 2.8 macro is a great all around lens. I've taken quite a few shots of kids (portraits and candids) and feel its perfect for this use. You can get some great super closeups of them with a macro. If you want to save some cash, I've read the 50mm 2.5 is a great lens as well, but the 60mm offers a more modern design and may be preferable.
    Another option is the 100mm 2.8 macro. Its heavier and bigger than the 60mm, but allows you more distance when shooting insects (and kids for that matter). If you want a small & light versatile lens, I'd probably go with the 60mm.
  4. it


    The 50/1.4 is a nice all round portrait lens.
  5. I have the Canon 50/1.8, the Canon 50/1.4, and the Canon EFS 60/2.8. For macro, the 60mm is the obvious choice. But the 60mm/2.8 is just terrific for portraits as well. Very bright. Very sharp. And wonderful background "bokeh" at large apertures. I prefer it to the 50/1.4 because, in general, I find that the 60/2.8 focuses more reliably on my Canon XTi. The 50/1.4 autofocusing seems to be a bit hit or miss for me.
  6. I personally recommend the 50mm for the APS-C sensors. I have the 50mm f/1.8 and it is usually plenty fast. I also have a Nikkor 55mm f/1.2 which works better than swell (of course, manual focus, etc.) on my APS-C.
    One of the finest portrait lenses ever made is the Nikkor f/2.5 105mm, but it's a little long on the APS-C bodies. Again, MF, stop-down. If you find an older non-AI version they sell for very low prices on eBay, etc. The adapter will cost around $15, cheap enough to buy one for each Nikkor you use on your Canon bodies.
    In any case, manual focus is not a real disadvantage on portrait work, since you will want to make sure the focus is on the eyes, for example, rather than some arbitrary point chosen by the camera. Indeed, the real drawback of the 50mm f/1.8 is that its manual focus ring is not easy to use. You also have to turn off AF to use manual focus, unlike more modern AF systems.
  7. I would say the EF-S 60/2.8 macro is a good choice. Should be a fine portrait lens except in very dim light. It's very sharp and a true 1:1 macro (the 50/2.5 macro is only 1:2). Also the 50/2.5 doesn't support full-time-manual focus - for a portrait lens that's worth the extra $100 right there.
    Another one to consider would be the Sigma 50/1.4. Probably a better lens than the Canon 50/1.4, though larger, heavier and more expensive.
  8. What is your budget?
    I'd suggest the 100mm 2.8 macro, it will give you a very good lens for macro, and it does well as a regular lens. You said you like to take pics of them when they play, you can do so with the 100mm and not be obvious about it to where they will stop what they are doing and stare at you. You'd have to be reasonably close with the 50mm or 60mm. Canon also has an 85mm 1.8 that is considered one of the better choices for traditional head/shoulders portraits.
  9. There is no "best" Canon portrait lens. There are several Canon lenses that can be used succesfully for portraiture.
    should I get a 50 2.5 macro to cover both portraits and macro (and if so, will it be quick enough inside for portraits and good enough for macros of insects?) Or should I get a 50 1.8 for portraits and a 60 2.8 for macros (which will be around $100 - $150 more than just the 50 2.5)? Or is the 50 1.4 so much better than the other 50s that I should get it despite the fact that I would then have to wait awhile for a macro lens?
    The 50/2.5 macro will not be fast enough for indoor portraits unless you routinely photograph in very bright interiors, have and know how use flash (es) or by large windows.
    Assuming a limited budget, I would start with the 50/1.8 and the 60mm.​
  10. I take more portraits of my kids than I do macrophotography (right now at least) so I got a +4 close up filter for my 50 f/1.8. The quality and magnification factor are less than a true macro lens, but for only US$25.00 for the B+W brand it was a very inexpensive way for me to experiment. My plan was that if I liked it enough I'd get the 100 f/2.8 macro eventually. BTW, I have a 40D.
  11. Another vote for 50 f/1.4, great on a crop sensor for portraits, great bokeh.
  12. All the lenses you mention are very good. It all depends on your budget and whether or not you want a one-lens solution. If you seriously consider Canon's superb 60/2.8 macro, you might then also want to keep an eye on Tamron's new (and not yet released) 60/2 macro lens.
  13. I have the 50/1.4 USM, 100/2.8 Macro USM and 70-200/4L IS USM. All capable of capturing great portraitures.
    But, the all round favourite would be the sharp 100/2.8 Macro. I set the aperture between f/2.8 to f/3.5 to get the bokeh from a 1:1 magnification ratio to full body portraits. I know. You have to multiply the lens by 1.6 which means taking more steps backwards to get what you need from your Rebel XTi.
    Oh, the lens hood for the 100/2.8 is extra cost. So, try eBay for the hood.
  14. the 50mm f2.5 is a very sharp compact well constructed lens, but its af is very very slow, I would recommend either the 50mm f1.8 (but used at f2.8 or f4 on your xti) or the sigma 70mm f2.8 dg, which has a limiter switch to reduce af hunting.
    The 100mm f2.8 macro is a great lens, but a bit long for your application on your camera body (with 1.6 crop) and whilst the 60mm f2.8 lens would be almost perfect, it is an ef-s lens. Not useable on a full-frame body, which I think is always something to consider.
    My money is on the 50mm f1.8 or the sigma 70mm dg macro.
  15. Echoing what Paul says about the 50/2.5. Very sharp lens, non-USM motor so slow AF compared to the newer ones. Indoors with kids probably wants faster AF and wider aperture. Full time manual focus won't hurt either when you get down to the macro business, something that neither the 50/1.8 and the 50/2.5cm have.
    Both lenses are very good (I like mine) but neither may be adequate for everything you want. With these thoughts in mind the efs60/2.8 looks pretty good. Or as an alternative think about the 50/1.4 and get some closeup lenses for it to decide if you really want to go the macro route.
  16. By far the best "portrait lens" I've ever used is the legendary FD 85/1.2 L. But apparently its EF equivalent is very slow focusing, so it wouldn't be optimal for your application (moving children). And it also would be a bit long for portraiture on a crop frame body.
    I've found the EF 50/1.4 to be an outstanding lens for available light portraiture of my children on a full frame body (which is all I've ever used), and I think it might be even better on a crop frame body. The EF 85/1.8, 100/2, and 135/2 L are also highly recommended "portrait lenses," but again they may be a little long on your Rebel.
    As far as macro work goes, getting a dedicated macro lens is really your best option. But I have successfully used non-macro prime lenses with extension tubes for close-up photography.
  17. Buy the EFs 60mm f/2.8 Macro first Elizabeth as it may fit
    ALL your needs. Believe what you hear and have read about it
    and don't be put off by the small s - the lens is SUPER!
  18. if you want macro and portraits, the 60mm 2.8 is the way to go however, i would also recommend the tamron 17-50mm for the kids on the move.... yes primes tend to be sharper but zooms allow for framing when the subjects are constantly changing position and in their natural environment.... i have the tamron and can attest to it's sharpness.... i also shoot portraits with the 85 1.8 501.4 sigma 30 1.4 and 24-70mm2.8.... all are good and useful in various situations.... good luck and happy shopping....
  19. No one has mentioned the 85 f1.8 lens. It is extememly sharp, focuses fast and is small and light weight. It is my favorite lens for indoor portraits because of the ease of focusing due to its fast aperture. Be sure to buy the lenshood for maximum contrast and quality. Best feature it's price. CHEAP! Appox $350. I own a lot of Canon glass, the 70-200IS, 50 and 100 macro, 135SF, but this is the one I choose for indoor portraits.
    Mike Dziak
  20. Ok, Now I'm completely confused. I might try the 60 2.8 macro for both, and if it doesn't collect enough light, get a 50 1.8. Or I could get a 50 1.8 & use a +4 filter for macros as Ed said. Or maybe I should look into the 85 1.8 . . . but I'm unsure about an 85 with a 1.6 crop factor. Mike, do you use yours on full-frame? I will be photographing my kids everywhere -- inside & out, moving sometimes & still if I can ever get them to sit still!
  21. No one has mentioned the 85 f1.8 lens. It is extememly sharp, focuses fast and is small and light weight.​
    Yes, great lens - I have one and like it a lot. But many would regard it as being a bit on the long side for a portrait lens on a cropped sensor camera.
  22. The only downside with the 85mm is that it won't do much for macro. That is the reason I recommend the 100mm 2.8 macro instead. Especially if you want to get the kids at play. The 50mm 1.8 or 60mm macro would be great as well, but you'd have to be pretty close to them to get your shot, but fine if you want to include surroundings. If you mainly want to take pics of them sitting still/posed, then the 50 or 60 would be fine.
    I use a 200mm lens when my kids are at the playgound (on a 40d), and it does just what I need without me having to stay 5-10 feet from them.
  23. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    There is no such thing as a "best portrait lens" for any camera. Portraits can be taken in a variety of situations and have very different characteristics. There is a huge difference between what you need for a classic headshot (like for a z-card) and an environmental portrait.
    Through the history of photography, most portraits have been made with a "normal" lens, which would translate to something like a 35mm on your camera. Over the years, camera manufacturers decided they could sell more lenses if they convinced people to buy something other than what they already owned. This resulted in the "portrait lens," which assumed everyone wanted to take headshots with a short depth of field.
    Instead, be creative and take portraits with a variety of lenses. The idea that a portrait has to be taken with a short telephoto results in a lot of uncreative and frequently boring shots. FWIW, I mostly use the 17-40, sometimes the 24-70 because I use it for other things at the same time. I get hired to shoot portraits, although not your textbook headshots which I avoid, and my lens choice has never had anything to do with it.
  24. For candids of kids at play I would probably go with a zoom for quick framing, but maybe that is just me. While I have a few primes I find they are slower to work with.
    The 50/2.5 CM is a good lens and ok for set portraits but probably would not be my first choice for candids due to slow focussing speed and sometimes slightly inaccurate focus.
    The 60/2.8 would be my choice if buying only one dual purpose lens for a 1.6 camera. The 100/2.8 macro is a very nice lens but a bit too long for indoor protraits, and certainly not indoor candids.
  25. Canon 85mm f/1.2L - headshots
    Caon 50mm f/1.2L - fullbody shots
    Canon 200mm f/2 L - beautiful bokeh
    Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 - beautiful lens
  26. Great advice Richard.
    Someone with an XTi and thinking about a 50 f1.8 or 60 f2.8 macro and you steer them to lenses ranging from $1300 to $5000.
  27. 100 2.8 macro can be too long to use for portrait for kids but will be better for insects compared to 60 2.8 macro.

    i chose the 100 macro because i have sigma 50 1.4. but for one lens solution, 60 macro might be better for you specially the XTi is a small body (compared to my 40D). balance will be better me thinks.
  28. My vote is for 70-200 f2.8, which is what I goto whenever I am shooting portraits. I recently purchased the 100 mm f.28 macro, it is an excellent lens but I haven't tried portraits yet - so can't comment on it. From everything I have read it is a great choice.
  29. Elizabeth, what's your budget? I'd advise you set one; it will really help narrow the choices. I have the 50 f/1.8 on my XTi for low light and portraiture. I love it, and don't plan to upgrade any time soon (ok, maybe the 50 f/1.4 for FTM). It's a bit long indoors, so maybe the 35 f/2 might be a better bet with a crop sensor. I've also shot great portraits with my humble 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 USM. There's a lot more to great portraiture than just fast glass. But as I said, you need to decide how much you want to spend so that you can get accurate advice...
  30. Go for 50mm 1,8 as it is about 100-Euro only and results in great images - this is what you should take.
    With the 1,6 factor this lens will result to a very good portrait lens on your machine.
    As you seem not have a prime lens up to now this also will give you a good introduction to it and you will love it.
    Regards Axel
  31. Like Mark says determine how much You want to spend, The 60mm is designed for the crop camera and from what I`ve seen and read an excellent dual purpose lens, personally to me macros are usually too sharp for portrait but may get away with kids. If its within the budget fair enough, but I would suggest a small flash for indoors as well, 430 or new 270. diffused light or bounced would help. I`d also consider to upgrade the kit lens to somethin like Tamron 17 50 f2.8 or canon 17 55 f2.8 but it is pricey. this will give a constant aperture and make lower light and flash photos much easier. The cheapest option is 50mm 1.8 + extension tubes, reverse ring (lil muckin around) or closeup filters. Until canon improve the 50 1.4 I`d prefer the sigma, also don`t ignore other brands, but I understand the reluctance ro 1/3rd party lenses by some folks. Have fun choosing :)
  32. I would recommend the 50 1.4 as my first choice. example and also the 85 1.8 example I have both and love them on the 30D. If you can aford it the 17-55 2.8 efs lens would be great for everything from portraits to landscapes to everyday everything. It will not be usable on FF later but with XTI upto 50D you I think this is not an issue. The DOF on 1.6 crop sensors as on FF so you with 2.8 you can feel the frame and the DOF should be good. The primes are for the winners if you want a reserves for a faster lens and the best quality possible but the 17-55 efs is tops and gives you a lot its worth testing at your camera shop first.
  33. What I ment with crop factor is the DOF is greater as the same lens on FF. The 85 1.8 is very nice on crop and gives dream defuse backgrounds at 2.2 and the extra lenght from the subject makes the use of DOF very effective this is a lovely lens on Crop as well as FF. I would not go with a macro lens for portraits. The 85mm is great for head and shoulder but to long for full body indoors as your probably going to not have enough room. But is super for head and shoulder as the working distance does not make you subject feel like they have a camera stuck to them. When you are looking at shooting children candid this is for sure and advantage. Try the 50mm with your kit lens and see how close you need to get.
  34. Thanks everyone for the advice! I think my budget is around $400, which is why I am considering either the 60 2.8 macro or one of the 50s or an 85 1.8. I'm thinking that with the crop factor a 100 2.8 macro might be a bit long? I will probably take Carl's advice and see how close I need to get using my kit lens at 50mm. I agree with you, Jeff, that the traditional head shot can be a bit boring. Since my kids are so busy, I guess I shoot more environmental portraits by default. Should I also consider a good zoom lens in this price range, then?
  35. Of course, if the 50 1.8 is as good as the others, I could get it for $100 and save the rest toward another lens.
  36. I love the example photos submitted by Ian and Carl done with the 50 1.4. Does anyone have examples done with the 50 1.8 or the 60 2.8 macro to compare? I usually do outside candids or environmental portraits, kind of like Ian's examples (only not as fabulous!) If I had something that brought in more light, though, I might try more available light portraits inside. Also I'd like to use the lens for birthday parties, etc.
  37. Wow! Lots of responses for you to consider. I'm not sure I have an answer for you, but here's what I have to offer.
    I have the EF-S 55-250 on my XSi. I like it becuase it lets me explore the focal length range to find what lens(es) I may want to get in the future. Last week I used it to shoot my daughter playing on bedrock beside a stream. Even with pretty bright light, I got a lot of blurred shots with her moving. She likes for me to try to "hit the moving target" so to speak. I was shooting the full range of the zoom during the day - yes, all the way out to 250. I do not think the 100 macro would be too long for outdoor, enviornmental shots, though it would be too long for many indoor situations. The 100 would allow you to be further away and not have to be running to keep up with them to get the shots framed. My only other lens right now is the EF 24 2.8. I use it for indoor use. It is pretty good for full body and full room shots, but I don't think I would want to use it for head and shoulders indoors.
    For myself, I am thinking about getting the Tamron 17-50 2.8 as my next lens. I think it will fill my wide angle zoom gap very well. A little later I want to get a dedicated macro, but I don't want to get less than I want so as to have a dual purpose indoor lens. I will probably get the 100 macro over the 60 macro that way since I like bugs as well as flowers.
    Also, something to consider for the future might be a 50-135 2.8 from Tokina or a 50-150 2.8 from Sigma. They are supposed to be pretty good, if you get a "good copy." Both are more expensive than your current budget, but might be considerations for the future if what you buy now does not meet your needs for outdoor with the kids running around.
    Just some ideas based on my experience with what I have and the research I have been doing. It may not be as good as those who have offered first hand experience based advice.
    DS Meador
  38. My experiance is 50mm macro is the best. I am using sigma 50mm macro and get stisfactory results.
  39. I like focal lengths in the range 85-135mm for portrait work. The faster prime lenses make manual focusing easier for those who still do that.
  40. I agree with Jeff. I had a studio and did portraits with whatever fit the distance, the face, the portrait objective(a lot of mine were PR portraits of Doctors where you did not want to see pimples, count hairs, and sharp was not important) and how good you wanted to make the subject. I used a 70-200 2.8, 50mm, MF 150mm and whatever else was laying around the studio, but nothing real short to make big noses. There is no such thing as a portait lens IMO.
  41. You already have a 50mm and the 60mm isn't that much different (unless you do a ton of macro).
    For professional portrait try a good prime like an 85mm or even a 100mm.
    But for taking kid shots you need a lot more versatility. Either stay with the 50mm or get a zoom 24-70mm.
    I think the definition of a good portrait lens is one that puts you about 10-12 feet from subject. And that all depends on how much of the subject you are photographing. For head/shoulders you need a longer lens. For full length you will need a shorter lens.
  42. 85/1.2, 135/2.0, 70-200/2.8.
  43. Elizabeth,
    I use the 50mm 1.4 on full frame and crop, and the results are equally good. On the Rebel Series it becomes approximately an 80mm lens. The enclosed pic is on a full frame. The 50 1.4 wide open will blur out background slightly more than the 50 1.8, and obviously has a little more light gathering ability at 1.4.
  44. For your comparison request, here is a photo outdoors with the 50 f/1.8 set at f/1.8 (cropped to reduce file size). Working at max aperture is tricky, at least for me since any slight movement by the photographer or subject could render the focus point out of focus. I got lucky with this shot that neither of us moved. Most of the shots I take with this lens are between f/2.2 - 2.8 for that reason. Camera is a 40D. Sorry I don't have any photos of the 50 f/1.8 with +4 closeup filter on this computer.
  45. I have the 50mm f/1.8 and use it to do what you describe- take photos of my very active kids. Although I know the 1.4 has some advantages, the 1.8 is unbeatable for the price. It's small and lightweight- even lighter than the kit lens. That's a huge plus to me, as trying to wrangle kids and a heavy camera is a pain when we go places like museums or parties. And the focal length is nice for semi-candid photos of kids- wide enough to be usable in smallish spaces, but long enough that you don't have to stick the camera right in their face.
    You asked for some examples with the 1.8, so I put three up on Picasa Web:
    (I'll probably take these down in a few weeks, so apologies to anyone who reads this after that.)
    The two color ones are at f/1.8 inside using available light (one at ISO 800, the other at 1600). The B&W is outside stopped down slightly to f/2.2.
    I occasionally wish I had the 1.4, but the extra $200 paid for the better part of a Speedlite 430EX, and I'd rather have that than the slightly faster lens.
    I also have the 100mm f/2.8 macro; I love it as well, and have used it for some portraits and candid shots of my kids. Although this is a fun lens, I'd buy the 50 (either the 1.8 or 1.4) first. The focal length is really too long for chasing active kids inside, and you lose 1 1/3 stops from the 1.8 and two stops on the 1.4, which is a huge disadvantage for available light indoor shots. I haven't used the 60mm Macro, but I'd anticipate the same issue- I would have missed a lot of photos at f/2.8 vs. f/1.8.
    So, to answer your question- I would buy the 1.8 and the 60mm macro rather than trying to do it all with one lens (though you might also want to consider the 100mm macro, it is more expensive than the 60, but the 60 is very close in focal length to the 50, the 100 would give you a more distinctive prime for non-macro shots).
  46. Liz,
    I recommend the 50MM 1.8 or 1.4. Your cropped sensor body would convert those to a good effective focal length for portraits.
    Keep in mind that some day you may upgrade to a FF body and that will change the effective focal length.
    BTW, when you do portraits, try using Aperture priority mode (AV) so as to control background blur.
    A few months ago I sprang for Canons 85MM 1.2 and I love it. (2 samples)
  47. If I might put in my $.02 NOT buy an EF-S lens. Stick with EF lenses. I started out with an XTi and when I moved up (good chance you'll want to move up someday also) to the 5d II, my 60mm EF-S, 17-85 EF-S, and 55-250 EF-S had to be replaced.
  48. Jacob is correct. I didn't buy any EF-s lenses for that reason. So, I got rid of the XT and stayed with the 5D. You can get a used 5D now for about 60% less than what it first sold for new.
  49. I use 50mm f/1.8 with my 450D. It works as a 81mm lens for my camera. It gives great results for portraits compared to 18-55mm kit due to it's large aperture. But if I have the choice, I would buy a prime lens that would work as 105mm lens on my camera (a 65 mm lens will do this job). Too bad that Canon and Nikon do not take cropped sensor body users seriously.
  50. If you dont have 50 f/1.8, I think you should certainly start with that. I have used that as well as the 85 f/1.8 and both are great for portraits. But that said, in general, my experience is that taking photos of small children with primes is really going to test your patience.
  51. 50 1.8 samples:
    and others in my portfolio.
    But they are mostly done on an analogue with BW film, so no crop factor here.
    Probably not all that sharp as the lens could be, but shows the low light capabilities.
    Regards Axel
    PS view large.
  52. i've never shot with the 1.8/50mm, but from the images i have seen, it has horrible boke.
  53. Get yourself the 50 f/1.8 and you'll be amazed at the result.
    For easy to shoot candids of your kids i would recomend a longer focal length. I use the 70-200 f/4L for this but have also used a 100-300mm lens.
    For pics of the kids indoors then try the 35mm f/2 also. It's very cheap and gives you a normal FOV on the camera you have.
    I wouldn't recommend you get 85 f/1.8 as for indoors it is too long esp on the camera you have and for outdoor candids a zoom is more useful.
    I own all these lenses so it is from personal experience. There is no one right choice but it sounds to me that you should choose one of the 50mm lenses and then the 70-200mm.
    Good luck
  54. i've never shot with the 1.8/50mm, but from the images i have seen, it has horrible boke.`
    Interesting tom, in over 4 decades not one customer has queried `OOF` to me YMMV maybe just a personal ego thing :)
  55. Chris, if I understand your post correctly, you are saying that your customers pace no importance on OOF drawing? Really it is one of the main things that can make or break a lens IMO.
  56. I would also recommend the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 MkII, though Mk I was better. This small lens is too much plastic (everywhere) but optically great (for that money). It is not well shield (not at all actually), it has not perfect motor-gears AF system, it has 5 diaphragm blades and this sometimes it is so and so, but for this money price it is ok. You will not regret buying it.
  57. Tom, what I experience is , folks will notice OOF, but joe average has no idea what rhey are looking at :)
  58. Thanks so much everyone! I think I will try the 50 1.8 first. It's inexpensive, and seems like a good FL to start with. Using it should help me determine if I need a zoom for the outside "action" shots. Then I can decide about the macro later. How do the macro filters work? Or extension tubes? Anyone have experience &/or sample shots with these?
  59. I think you are making the right choice by starting with the 50 1.8 lens. For the price, you can't go wrong. Many years ago, it was my first "upgrade" after I had my initial Canon Rebel 300 with the kit lens. I still use it for indoor portraits where I want to use available light on my 40D. (For outdoor portraits, I would think your kit lens would work for now, given your budget.)
    For macro shots, I have used both macro filters and a set of 3 Kenko extension tubes. I like the tubes much more and it is what I use now. The macro filter is just like any other filter, you just screw it on the lens and then focus. But the quality seems a little bit off to me. The extension tubes go between the camera and the lens. They are just rings with air between the lens and camera. So the quality is much better. If you search on e-bay, look for the newer set of 3 Kenko extension tubes that cost around $125. These are the ones that work with both EF and EF-S lenses. There are other older models that do not work with some Canon lenses so be careful. The different tube sizes (12, 20, 36) provide different levels of magnification and allow you to be further away from your subject when you focus.
    Besides, the 50 1.8, I now also have the 85 1.8 and 100 2.8 macro lenses. They all work well with the Kenko extension tubes for macro work. One warning though: macro photography can become addictive, especially if you have a nice garden! :)
  60. On my cropped sensor I used my 70-200mm f2.8 for portraits a lot in the old days but at times it's big and unwieldy and nowadays I tend to use primes more ... I used the 85mm f1.8 a lot but recently after using my 50mm f1.4, I find it is sometimes a better focal length since the 85mm at times seems too long - I have used my 100mm f2.8 macro at times and love it's sharpness but it's a bit too long on my camera. I don't really like the build quality on my 50mm f1.4 and sometimes think about selling it and grabbing the Sigma 50mm f1.4.
  61. When I used to shoot portraits with my 20D, I sometimes wondered why my photos weren't as striking as on my old 35mm film camera, even with the same lenses. Then I got a 5D, and suddenly realized I was missing that critical bokeh. Background blur is dramatically better with full frame compared to an APS-sized sensor.
    I'm not telling you this to convince you to switch to full frame, but rather to emphasize that you want a fast lens to minimize that effect. I would reach for the 50mm 1.4 or 1.8 to go along with your XTi.
    But with greater budget, and to answer your question as to which lens I consider to be my best portrait lens? No question, the 70-200 2.8, +/- IS.
  62. There is no such thing as the "best portrait lens" .
    A quick browse of Bill Brandt's images goes to show that portraits can even be created with extreme wide angles. It's really mostly your ability to frame an image that makes a great portrait; the lens is secondary.
  63. Yes, but extreme wide angles will typically make people "bend" in the photos and generally are not used for portrait work. You can sometimes get buy with wider photos, but you have to carefully place the subject in the center of the composed shot, rather than the left or right side.
  64. the EF 85mm F1.2L mkII, PERIOD!
  65. I'd like to remind everyone that the OP has a APS-C sensor. 85mm would be about 135mm equivalent for 35mm, which is really quite long for portraiture unless you're standing quite far away and wanting the face to fill the frame.
    50mm is much, much more reasonable in this regard, and will still perform admirably when the day comes to go 35mm. The question then, is whether to get the macro, 50/1.4, or 50/1.8. The macro will enable the macro shots of course, giving almost--but not quite 1:1 magnification for the OP's purposes. But the max aperture is more than 1 stop smaller than the 50/1.4. The 50/1.8, while a veritable steal for the overall optical quality, has a 5-bladed diaphragm and it most definitely shows in the form of pentagonal bokeh. If that's not a problem for your purposes then by all means consider it, but before you do, you should look at and check out the sample photos to see what I mean.
    Personally I'd lean toward the 50/1.4 but for the OP I think the macro should be taken under consideration too. The only way to know for sure is to test each one out. Look for AF speed and accuracy, corner-to-corner sharpness at a variety of apertures from max to f/8, bokeh with shallow DOF, and overall contrast. Both should perform admirably in these regards. It becomes a question of whether you prefer the close focusing ability of the macro or the wide f/1.4 aperture for low light and very shallow DOF.
  66. 100mm macro is my favorite
  67. I think the best portrait lens would be a 50mm with a wide aperture such as EF 50mm f1.4 or the more expensive 50mm f1.2 for a beautiful background blur and subject isolation..I Personally have the f1.4 and you can check the results here:
    -Slim Letaief-

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