Best portait lens for Canon 5D Mark II

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by david carver, Jan 29, 2010.

  1. Anyone have any opinions on a portrait lens for full frame? The only lens I have now for my 5D II is a 24-105mm L and the 50mm. I really need a portrait lens. That is what I really enjoy. I am not a pro but do not really care about the price. Thanks in advance. I am looking at the 85mm f/1.8, 100mm f/2, 100mm f/2.8 macro (dual purpose), and the 135mm f/2. I really don't want a zoom lens.
  2. If price is no object, consider the EF 85mm f/1.2.
    I personally think it's a little long, but an often overlooked lens for portrait work is the soft-focus EF 135mm f/2.8 lens (the soft-focus can be switched off, but could be very handy in portrait work).
  3. David,
    What don't you like about your 24-105? Have you looked in your exif at your favourite images? That is where your answers are.
  4. Depends on what kind of shots you like. For head shots I like the 100macro.It's very sharp,lightweight and easy to handhold. For full length I usually switch to my 70-200.
  5. Based on your choices, the 85mm f/1.8. You can maintain a comfortable 15 feet for head and torso shots. It's also affordable.
  6. If you like 100mm the 100 f2.0 is a superb lens. And not outrageously expensive.
  7. Of that grouping, I'd pick the 85mm f/1.8 as the best value and most usable all around portrait focal length.
  8. If you want a shallower DOF then the 85 F1.8 or 135 f2 will give the best results - I find the 135mm lens a bit on the long side for portraits personally. the 100 Macro will give better images than the zoom but does not give the very thin DOF of the faster lenses - that said for most shots it will work fine.
  9. Your 24-105mm is a very good to excellent portrait lens. At normal portrait length the 4.0 has reasonably shallow depth of focus. On the full frame I like the 100mm 2.0 best of the 85mm - 135mm range. Another much more versatile but larger portrait lens is one of the 70-200mm zooms. Try out your 24-105mm and see which length works best for you. Good luck!
  10. the best portrait lens? i would definitely vote for the 85.2. definitely all the names it has such as the cream machine, bokeh king, grapefruit, the keg, etc... are examples why it's a favorite for portrait photographers (and the size and weight too) but it's canon's gold standard. hope this helps!
  11. Best lens on a FF for outdoor portraits is the 135mm 2.0. BG's suggestion of the 100mm 2.0 is a good less expensive alternative.
  12. Hey David, if money is no object it's the 85 1.2 by a country mile. None of the others are even close. If not, it doesn't really matter. All of the others you mentioned give roughly the same look. JJ
  13. Jeremy,
    With regards the two 85mm's the 1.8 is well within a country mile of the 1.2, indeed it does some stuff better (like focusing). A mystique has built up around the 1.2 (almost Leicaesque), and it is a lens that can give beautiful images, but most people couldn't tell the difference if shown prints of the two, in fact it is pretty amazing how wrong even us knowledgeable photographers can be even on basic focal lengths, let alone super narrow f stops. When you are going for the n'th degree of perfection then sure the extra $1,600 is worth it, but at 95% of the IQ for well less than $400 the 1.8 is far and away the better buy for nearly everybody.
  14. David, what do you find are the limitations of your 24~105 for portraiture, and, assuming there are several, what is your priority for overcoming them? All the lenses that you are considering are excellent lenses – I have three of them (85/1.8, 100/2.8IS, 135/2) myself, so I can speak from personal experience – and if you answer that question you will know whether you need any of them, and, if so, which one, or which ones in which order.
  15. The most used lens for portrait work by me, 70-200 2.8 IS hands down! I used to use my 135 2.0 but I find myself reaching for the zoom a lot more. So I sold my 135. I also have the 85 1.8 and the 50 1.4 but I don't use them much either so I will be selling them soon. It seems like my latest flavor is 70-200 2.8 IS on my full frame and 17-55 2.8 IS on my 7D. I get all the shots I need with that setup. 70-200 2.8 IS on a full frame is pure magic. v/R Buffdr
  16. I own 24-105 and I find it's not great for portraits, due to limited background blur IMO.
    I also own a Canon 85MM 1.2. It is the best portrait lens for a full frame camera in my opinion. It is also very expensive and very heavy.
    For the best bokeh with the 85 1.2 you need to shoot wide open or almost wide open. However, the DOF is so thin at 1.2 that you'll get many shots where both or at least one eye is not sharp.
    Here's a Canon 85MM 1.2 lens portrait shot at F1.6
    Here's a portrait made with Canon 85MM at 1.2
    If money is no object, buy the Canon 85MM 1.2. Otherwise, the Canon 85MM 1.8.
    Some more samples of the 85MM 1.2 are here made by Eric Sorenson
  17. Scott, you are right, the 85 1.8 does focus better. So, if your subject is running around in the dark, get the 85 1.8. For gorgeous bokeh, get the 85 1.2. JJ
  18. Jeremy,

    Don't get tetchy because I guessed which was the Leica and which was the 5D MkII :)

    The 85 1.2 below 1.8 is very difficult to get superb results with. Even if "money is no object " it takes a serious reason and ability to use the 1.2 effectively in situations where the 1.8 could not do the job very nearly as well, and in many cases better. Is the 1.2 worth five times the 1.8? In some cases yes, in the vast majority of cases, no.

    As the 85 1.8 was one of David's shortlist and the 85 1.2 was not I was just adding my experience into the mix, that includes the fact that the 1.8 is well within a country mile of the 1.2.
  19. Hey Scott, I guess we need a definition of "country mile" to sort this out. We obviously have different experiences. I agree the 85 1.2 can be tricky to use but I would never give up my 85 1.2. The 85 1.8, however, would not be missed. JJ
  20. Since it's full frame, than 85mm and 100mm lenses are your best choice. Just a personal preference, granted, but I would choose primes over zooms, but that's just me.
  21. I have an 85mm 1.8 and a 24-70 2.8, love them both.
    J. Harrington very nice portraits.
  22. I have a set of studio lights and I use plain backgrounds and control the intensity of the plain background with with a background light. When using this setup bokeh is not that important. I have used 645 MF lenses at around 150mm, and a 70-200 2.8 L at around 90mm on a full frame as well as several other lenses. If you can control your background the 24-105 will take acceptable portraits, IMO. I just did a job were I moved my studio lights and background into a home and where I used the 70-200 for PR photos for use in several publications. The only problem with the 70-200 is that it is quite sharp for portraits if you don't soften the image a little bit in post process particularly where the customers want facial improvements. Like the customer who told me Dick you damn well better retouch my pictures. I want to take a few years off. The customer is always right. When I had my business I did not buy lenses that did not pay for themselves except those that were essential to actually do a job. I found that I could make do with a variety of lenses rather than think I had to buy special lenses that ate into my bottom line hoping for some improvement that a customer probably wouldn't be aware of. What comes out is up to me and how well I could evoke an expression and make the subject look good. My suggestion would be to work with the 24-105 for awhile to see what you get. Personally I am not thrilled by trying to work around the narrow depth of field of a 1.2 lens but that's just my opinion.
  23. Isn't the 50mm considered 'the' classic portrait lens? :) That aside, your 24-105 isn't half bad for portraits. This is a shot from a recent wedding I did. 5D2+24-105 at f/4.
    As for which lens to get next, a few factors come into play: available/preferred working distance from subject, intended composition (tight headshot, hear+torso, full-length). You could probably determine this by having a look at your past work. What is your usual focal length when doing portraits (check your exif data).
  24. My favorites are the 85mm Zeiss for normal, and the Canon 85mm f1.2 for large aperture portraits.
  25. Thanks for the comment Simon. Another example of the Canon 85MM 1.2 is here. This was made at F 1.4.
  26. Canon 85mm 1.2 by a mile. I sold 85mm 1.8 after getting it. Some say its AF is slow, but I have shot fast moving subjects with it without any problems. Yes, 85mm 1.8 is definitely very good.
  27. It's all about the budget. The 85 1.2 if you have the $$ to spend or the the 85 1.8 or 100 f2 if you don't. I don't so I picked up an excellent used 100 2 with hood for $350. With the money saved I bought a used 5D I body, 430 EX flash and still had $175 left to spend. Think about it.
  28. Can't go wrong with the 85 1.8, or the 135 2.0, and the cost of both together is less than the 85 1.2. Since you already have the 24-105 range covered with a fine lens, I would start by expanding your range. The 135 L is awesome. Another way to expand your range would be to get a macro lens. Not needed for portraits, but it would open up other possibilities for you since you will be replicating part of the range that your 24-105 and 50mm lenses cover. The 100 2.8 macro is fine--the new L version is worth a look, and I'd probably go with that macro since you already have the 50mm prime length covered. Also, give the Zeiss ZE 100mm f2 Makro Planar a look if you want macro, portrait, large aperture, exceptional build, and manual focus.
  29. I am a pro photographer in Uk and my advice is quite simply 'don't get bogged down' with lenses.
    The best prortrait range is 100-200, depending on how far you want to be-or space allows you to be-from the person/subject. My own favourite is a Nikon 105mm f2.5. It is crystal sharp, feels like gold in the hand and has earnt me a lot of money! Alos Nikon 180mm f2.8 is a gem, but maybe too long for 'general' studio shoting, though outside in the open its a superb lens. These are the best Nikon lenses.
    In summary though its how you shoot-compose, understand light and your ability to draw the best from your subject, that really matters. Good luck

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