Best Portrait lens for Canon EOS 7D

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by steveparisi, Jan 25, 2010.

  1. I recently purchased the Canon 7D and was interested in either purchasing the Canon EF 85 mm F 1.2 or Canon 50 mm F 1.2 lens. I will be using the lens strictly for location portraits and my subject will be only one person at a time. I'm leaning towards purchasing the 85 mm lens, any suggestions?
     
  2. I find the fairly standard 17-85mm IS Canon zoom OK for portraits. The lens should probably have an effective focal length of around 90mm and you never want to be too close to the subject. You need to multiply the focal length of the lens by 1.6 in the case of the 7D and this gives you a 27mm-136mm lens when using the 17-85mm zoom. The lens quality is very adequate and I feel no need to use any other lens. The lenses you mention will cost an arm and a leg and there is no need to go that route. Give the cheap 17-85mm a try! I think you will be very impressed.
     
  3. How about the 35/2.0 or 35/1.4? If money is an issue (which you did not mention), the Nifty Fifty is excellent for this, as well.
     
  4. Thanks for the early responses. I might need to clarify my question to help with my needs. I will be shooting mostly high school senior portraits outdoors. Most, but not all, of the photos will consist from the waist up. I really want the ability to blurr the background as much as possible. I hope this helps.
     
  5. Nothing wrong AT ALL with the 85mm 1.8 . I'll be using that lens with my 7D (in 4-5 days).
     
  6. What lens do you have now? I too like my 85 1.8. On my full frame, I use the 70-200 2.8 IS and or 135 2.0. Since you mentioned the 85 1.2 or 50 1.2, for that price you can get the 85 1.8 AND a 70-200 2.8 (non IS). v/r Buffdr
     
  7. Actually, I only own the body right now. I like the idea of the 85 mm 1.8. I think it will accomplish my needs, not break the bank, and let me keep distance from the subjects. Thanks for everyones help!
     
  8. I have the 85 1.8 and 70-200 2.8 non IS and they both work very well for portraits on a full frame body. 85 may be a little long on a 7D so I guess it depends on what kind of portraits your taking.
     
  9. I currently use the 24-70 F2.8 I like the lens a lot and I find using it at the 70 for portraits most of the times. So if you are looking for a prime I'd say the 80 1.8 should be the one to get. I do have the 50 1.4 and as much as I think the lens is fabulous it might not be the best suited for portraits specially if you are outdoors where space should not be an issue.
    I'd love to have the 80 1.2 but I can't see the lens being 4 times better than the 1.8 as it is 4 to 5 times the cost.
     
  10. If you can afford it grab the 50 f/1.2, on a crop body that's equivalent to an 80mm lens which for me is a great focal length to shoot portraits with. For tight head shots the 85 will work nicely.
    There are other choices if you wish to consider zoom lenses.
     
  11. You should choose the focal lenght also taking into account how far away you will need to be from your subject, to achieve the from waist up portrait framing. With the 85mm lens, you will need to be further away, than with the 50mm lens.
    The option between the normal prime lenses range and the L prime lenses range is all entirely for you to decide. In terms of background blur, I don't think that the difference between 1.2 and 1.8 plays a big role. Why? Most likely, you will not be shooting at either one of those apertures, since you want your subject to be sharp from the nose to the eyes, so you will be using something like 5.6 or 8 as f stops. The distance from your subject to the background will be more important.
     
  12. Portraits 101 says that 85mm is the perfect length for children and female subjects. That said, the 50mm f1.4 is 80mm on a 1.6 cropped lens, your 7D. That will give you all the blurred background you need, and it can be picked up easily for $350.
    For male subjects 135mm is the perfect length. The 85mm 1.8 is 136mm on your 7D body, those can be picked up for $370.00.
    I think this solution will give you the pefect lenses for all subjects, and the cost of those 2 lenses are about 1/2 the cost of the ef 50mm f1.2 L.
     
  13. I own a 24-70mm 2.8 and an 85mm 1.8 on a 50D and both both are great. I cannot say for the 70-200 2.8. But it is on my wish list.
     
  14. If working distance isn't an issue I'd go with the 85mm 1.8. The bokeh is very pleasing. The distance between your subject and background doesn't have to be as far to create a nice soft background bokeh effect. The more telephoto you go the closer your background can be and still have a pleasing out of focus effect. I'd suggest renting a 50mm 1.4, 85mm 1.8 and 100mm 2.8 macro. You'll like the macro because it'll allow you to do some nice tight head shots due to it's closer focusing ability. It also blurs the background very easily.
     
  15. On a crop sensor camera like your 7D, you must factor in the focal length multiplier. Your 85mm lens will essentially be a 136mm lens. Depending on how much space you have to work with, this could potentially be too long for a head-and-shoulders portrait. A 50mm effectively gives you an 80mm lens which is perhaps more manageable/versatile. I would propose a 50 f/1.4
     
  16. I want to thank everyone that contributed to my question. The information was invaluable. Based off the feedback I've received I feel very confident with the direction I'll take in purchasing the "right" lens. Thanks again and happy shooting.
     
  17. Mark Anthony, you hit the nail on the head. I am surprised how many times I see post about lenses and it seems the poster is not considering the crop factor, especially when it comes to portrait lenses.
     
  18. You may find that the 'right' lens is the 17-85mm Canon zoom with IS! It is a very sharp lens and quite cheap to buy and it gives you all the focal lengths you may require for portraiture. I cannot see why you would want anything else. Bounce flash wil take care of the light. I suppose if you wish to take pix in dim conditions with no flash then an f1.4 lens might help.
     
  19. there is nothing wrong with an 85mm on a 1.6 crop body, it is almost like another on of canon's great portrait lenses the 135mm f2.0 on a full frame? you can use whatever your comfortable with. you can use a 300mm 2.8 if you want.
     
  20. I own both 50mm 1.2L and the 85mm 1.2L II. Both are great lens. The 85mm 1.2L II will give you a tighter frame which is ideal for portraits. However, 85mm 1.8 is a great bargain. The 85mm 1.8 will focus faster and will be easier to handle since it's lighter.
    Since you were inquiring about the "Best," I would say the 85mm 1.2L is the best. And yes, I am taking into consideration of the crop factor. Some professionals use 135mm 2.0L on a full frame body for headshot portraits but it's going to be too long on a cropped sensor.
    If I were you, I would get the 85mm. It frames tighter than a 50mm and should yield more of a natural look. The DOF on the 1.2 is razor thin. Get the 1.2 if you know that you're going to shoot with the aperture wide open. Either way, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
     
  21. If you don't have the 70- 200 f2.8L IS or non IS you should get that first. The 85 is great but I like the 100 macro better. Wow! this could get in your pocket befor this is over. The 70-200 f4 is ok if you are shooting in good light. I find that my subjects do better if I'm not in there face. I sometimes use the 300 f4 out side and I get some great results. I hope this helps, Bill
     
  22. Canon EF 135 mm 1:2 L is excellent portrait lens if you like to take a picture from 2 or 3 meters distance from a subject. Some people also like it for it's black rather than white finish..Wide open it produces nicely blured background. Images are very sharp almost regardless chosen aperture. I use it with 40D and I like that feeling of it's weight comparing with 50 and 85 mm lenses that are also very good for taking portraits. If you take most of your photos with hand-held camera you should have in mind that on a crop sensor camera it is cca 200 mm lens, and the exposure should be about that number, since it is not equiped with IS engine.
     
  23. Frederick Stevens , Jan 26, 2010; 12:16 p.m.
    You may find that the 'right' lens is the 17-85mm Canon zoom with IS! It is a very sharp lens and quite cheap to buy and it gives you all the focal lengths you may require for portraiture. I cannot see why you would want anything else. Bounce flash wil take care of the light. I suppose if you wish to take pix in dim conditions with no flash then an f1.4 lens might help.​
    It may be sharp, but towards the upper end, your f ratio goes upwards of f/5.6. If you want a decent separation of DOF and bokeh, f/5.6 isn't going to be as pleasing as f/1.4 or f1.8.
     
  24. For high school senior portraits shooting wide open at 1.8, 1.4 or 1.2 or 2.0 is not a suitable technique. You should be stopping down to a min of f/4 otherwise you may find yourself with some slightly OOF shots if you don't get you focus in the right place, ie the eyes. With a crop camera such as the 7D the DOF is slightly more forgiving than a full frame but I would still recommend a min of f/4 if you are getting paid to take these shots. The 85 f/1.2 would be my choice if you can afford the dollars and the weight although the f/1.8 would be just fine.
     
  25. Dave - I take your point BUT people do seem to be over dedicated to the gear and forget that it is the photo you want. I am sure Cartier Bresson was happy with kit that today would be considered inadequate but his photos have stood the test of time. I think photographers should start examining themselves a little more. I did some of my best work with a 90mm Leica lens in the 1950's. I wonder how that lens would be considered today? Terms like 'bokeh' are relatively new and I am not sure how significant it is. Digi pix are really a new world.
    I think impoverished photographers should also know that lenses like the 17-85mm will get them excellent results - and it has IS which does help and you can buy an excellent used lens for around £200. I have tried to add some shots to my earlier messages to prove this but failed completely! I will add them when I find out how to do it!
     
  26. You really have to take into consideration the crop factor. In a high school you really have limited room. You should probably get a 50mm F1.4 and stop the lens down to F4 or beyond for maximum sharpness.
    In your camera, it will become an 80mm lens approximately.
     
  27. I find 85mm on a crop body is ideal for waist-up portraits outdoors. However, 50mm is also useful and I wouldn't turn down a 70-200mm, either.
    For me, a more interesting discussion is whether it is worth the premium for the f1.2 relative to the f1.8 lens. Given my experience with the 1.8 (fantastic), I would be hard pressed to justify the premium for the 1.2. I wouldn't hold it against anyone who has a specific need and therefore owned the 1.2, but my two cents is that if you find yourself asking if the 1.2 is "worth it" you would be very happy (and have more in your wallet) with the 1.8 until you can identify specific problems with the performance of the 1.8 that only the 1.2 can address.
    By the way I find I get more "wow" pictures with the 85mm 1.8 than any other lens I have, even though I use it relatively infrequently. It focuses extremely fast, it is small and light, and its background blur and bokeh are beautiful.
    Josh
     
  28. Since you have a crop sensor camera, you need absolutely nothing more than a 50mm f/1.4, which will give you an effective focal length of 80mm with a crop sensor camera.
    If you were shooting a full-frame camera, then I would recommend the 85 f/1.2, but you are not, so save yourself a lot of cash (about $1500 worth). With plenty of light and a fast shutter, you can force the 50mm f/1.4 wide open and get quite a shallow depth of field.
    It really does work, and it works very well--for a fraction of what you would be paying for the 85 1.2, which would be the wrong lens for the work you are contemplating with a crop sensor camera. An aperture of 1.2 is so shallow as to be unusable for the purposes you have described. It was designed for portraiture with full-frame cameras. This is not to say that you could not use it for portraits on a crop sensor camera, but what would be the point?
    Now, if you were doing more artistic shots instead of mass production high school photos, I could see trying the 85 1.2, which would give you an effective focal length of 138mm on a crop sensor camera. That is rather limiting, however. The 70-200 2.8L IS could be useful and might turn out to be your real workhorse lens, as it is for so many of us.
    --Lannie
     
  29. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "I will be shooting mostly high school senior portraits outdoors. . . I really want the ability to blur the background as much as possible. I hope this helps."
    The blurred background (or looking at it the other way around “the DoF”) is resultant of the shot, and the aperture and camera format used.
    If you shoot "waist up" with a 50mm lens and then use same framing "waist up" with an 85mm lens, the DoF will be the same, if you use the same aperture and camera.
    But the 85mm lens will place the camera farther away from the subject.
    For an half shot (waist up), vertical format, using an APS-C body (7D) and with an 85mm lens you will be working at about 10ft to 12 ft . . . and you will require about F/4 to get at about 6" DoF being about the average human's head thickness.
    In this regard I agree (as does the Physics) with Paul Marbs . . .
    I doubt you will be using anything much wider than F/4, in any circumstance for High School, half shot Portraits.
    So I think your working distance is the key to your question – personally would like to work an 85mm lens for half shots BUT if you ever need a Full Length shot then a 50mm Prime would be the better choice, such that you will be still to be close enough to converse with and arrange your Subjects – this point I don’t think has been mentioned.
    On a 7D I don’t think a 70 to 200 would be the most useful zoom lens for this job – the 24 to 105 would be much more useful.
    WW
    FYI: http://www.photo.net/canon-eos-digital-camera-forum/00VbKl
     
  30. If you can handle the slightly long length of the 85mm, get that
    i have the 85mm f/1.8 and its amazing and i really would love to have 85mm f/1.2, Canon's largest aperture lens in their arsenal
    the 70-200 would probably be a little long for a crop sensor body, particularly for portraits, and since ur gonna be shooting seniors, they are usually not super models and ideally you would be close to them to help them pose and such
    The 50mm is a bit more versatile tho. Although you wont get the crazy dof of the 85mm, which you most likely will not need (the 85 stopped down can focus on just the nose of a person, thats how shallow the dof is), the 50mm may be better
    but if you plan to upgrade to a full frame body in the future, the 85mm may be a better choice. the 50mm on a full frame doesnt look as good as an 85 does
     
  31. Go with 85mm 1.8. I used it on my 5d, and it is a great portrait lens. 85mm 1.2 is too costly. Though I use 85mm 1.2L on 7D, I feel 85mm 1.8 is equally good in most cases.
     
  32. Any of the lenses mentioned will do the job but I will suggest that you also look at Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L. It has all the focal length range you will need with 7D. Excellent sharpnes, very good bokeh, fast focusing. It is sharp from wide open (f2.8) but you can use smaller aperture if you like more depth of field. It is heavy and expensive but popular with wedding photographers. Sandy
     
  33. I love the 50mm f/1.4 on my 40D, but in my opinion, it's a bit tight with the cropped sensor. It's focal length is equivalent to 80mm on a full frame sensor or 35mm film camera. I think 85mm will just be way to tight. My suggestion? Rent them both from lensrentals.com, and see what you think. You might even consider the 35mm focal length lenses.
     
  34. After reading all of the above my 2 cents, 50mm or 35mm primes, zooms; Canon 24-70L or 17-55 ef-s f/2.8, Tamron 15-70 f/2.8 either VR or no VR,
     
  35. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    addendum:

    "I will be shooting mostly high school senior portraits outdoors. . . I really want the ability to blur the background as much as possible. I hope this helps."
    I meant to also say that . . .
    A Prime lens, rather than a zoom lens would be better in this situation, because the Lens Hood of a Prime Lens, will be more efficient. . .
    in this regard (potential lens Flare / Veiling Flare) a 50mm lens would be more useful than a 35mm lens, an dan 80mm lens more useful than a 50mm lens, but there would likely be more difference from 50 to 35 than 85 to 50.
    This is another reason why Large Apertures, (and filters) would be avoided.
    WW
     
  36. For what its worth, I would pick the 85 1.8. I have a 7D and many of the lenses mentioned(17-55 2.8, 70-200 2.8 is, 50 1.4, 85 1.8). They are all great lenses and will all do the job. However, I know when I want to take a potrait I always reach for the 85 1.8 first. My favorite potraits have almost all been shot with it. Yes I do occasionally wish it was a bit wider, but it really does make make beatiful pictures. I'm sure the 851.2 is even better, but its much more$$$ and I cannot imagine you could use the extra speed because the DOF would be miniscule. Good luck!
     
  37. I'll keep it short and unsubtle. Borrow a superzoom (like an 18-200), play with it until you find the focal length you prefer, buy the prime or zoom that fits. Listen to your heart and not to other people's preferences. And listen to what are deemed good lenses with regard to color, contrast, handling and build quality. Think 35/2, 50/1.4, 85/1.8, 100/2.8 macro (L if you can spare the money), 135/2.8SF (or the L), 200/2.8L for primes should do. EF-s 15 or 17 to 85, EF-s 17-55/2.8, Tamron 17-50/2.8 or any 70-200L for zoom should do. . Enjoy! P.S. My preference is the 100 L macro because I like headshots. And tight ones at that.
     
  38. Hmmm just noticed that you'll be shooting outdoors. In that case, if you don't have a 70-200mm 2.8L IS, I would start with this lens. Canon is going to come out with a Mark II version of this lens next month so I would wait for that. Many wedding photographers use this lens for outdoor portraits. It's pretty much their bread and butter lens.
    I would skip the 24-70mm 2.8L. From my research, most professionals don't carry a medium zoom. It's better to carry a wide zoom and a 50mm prime. You'll get much better performance with this setup.
     
  39. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "From my research, most professionals don't carry a medium zoom. It's better to carry a wide zoom and a 50mm prime."

    That's an interesting comment.
    WW
     
  40. For indoors, go with a 50mm or 60mm. For outdoors, go with the 100mm 2.0.
     
  41. For what its worth, I would pick the 85 1.8. I have a 7D and many of the lenses mentioned(17-55 2.8, 70-200 2.8 is, 50 1.4, 85 1.8). They are all great lenses and will all do the job. However, I know when I want to take a potrait I always reach for the 85 1.8 first. My favorite potraits have almost all been shot with it. Yes I do occasionally wish it was a bit wider, but it really does make make beatiful pictures. I'm sure the 851.2 is even better, but its much more$$$ and I cannot imagine you could use the extra speed because the DOF would be miniscule. Good luck!
     
  42. Outdoors, like has been proffered often above, the 85 1.8 :: BEST LENS BANG for the buck. Super high IQ!
    Otherwise for pro zoom quality, the 24-70 2.8L or the 70-200 2.8L. All lenses I employ and love (and will use them when my 7D arrives tomorrow I can hardly wait, on page 103 of the manual already).
     
  43. The 85mm 1.2 is a "dream come true" of a lens. Unfortunately very expensive.
    Comparing the 50mm 1.2 and 1.4 I would go with the 1.4. It is a very good lens with beautiful bokeh. According to user reviews the 1.2 doesn't deliver better images and 1.4 already delivers a very shallow DOF.
     
  44. Everyone, thanks for your input and insight. After reading all the posts, I realized the best thing I could do was actually go the the camera store and try out the various recommendations. In case anyone is curious, I've decided on purchasing the 50 mm 1.4 AND the 85 mm 1.8. I realized the extra expense of the faster lenses I originally thought I needed wasn't warranted for the type of photography I'm pursuing. I think the key is to take pictures with what you have and not worry about what you don't.
     
  45. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "In case anyone is curious, I've decided on purchasing the 50 mm 1.4 AND the 85 mm 1.8."

    Yes I am always curious about outcomes to these questions, thanks for letting us know.

    Did you buy the lens hoods for both of those lenses?

    WW
     
  46. I'm getting the lenses next week. It sounds like the lens hood is highly recommended. To be honest with you, I'm a little nervous to check anymore posts ... I think I've changed my mind about five times now on what to get. Every lens has a pro and con.
     
  47. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "It sounds like the lens hood is highly recommended."
    Yes, as previuosly:
    addendum:

    "I will be shooting mostly high school senior portraits outdoors. . . I really want the ability to blur the background as much as possible. I hope this helps."
    I meant to also say that . . .
    A Prime lens, rather than a zoom lens would be better in this situation, because the Lens Hood of a Prime Lens, will be more efficient. . .
    in this regard (potential lens Flare / Veiling Flare) a 50mm lens would be more useful than a 35mm lens, an dan 80mm lens more useful than a 50mm lens, but there would likely be more difference from 50 to 35 than 85 to 50.
    This is another reason why Large Apertures, (and filters) would be avoided.​
     
  48. When I had a crop sensor camera (10D) I used the 50mm 1.4 far more effectively than the 85mm 1.8 (i have both) but bought them for 35mm film cameras. I think your choice is great as you can decide which suits you best for a reasonable cost.
    With either of these lenses you can still blur the background if you fill the frame with the subject on either lens and ensure the subject to background distance is as large as possible. If you fill the frame with either of the lenses you will notice very very little difference between shots regarding dof and subject appearance.
    Also f/4 is your friend unless you can afford to take a chance.
     
  49. Congratulations, Steve. You have chosen the two best values in lenses that Canon offers, in my opinion. Good luck and happy shooting.
    --Lannie
     
  50. Since you can manualy focus consider the Zeiss 85 1.4. You can buy it new with the Canon mount for $1,100.00 or get the excellent Zeiss w/ the Contax mount used for around $650.00 - $750.00 and use an EOS adapter, about $45.00.
    I have the latter and the image quality is excellent and the backgrounds can be that creamy, sweet Zeiss boketh your clients will love.
     
  51. df

    df

    I don't disagree with any of the comments made. I have a 50 1.4 that I use on my 20D and 50D. I recently was "forced by necessity" to buy a 50mm 1.8. For $99 you might want to try this throw-away-lens for awhile before making a bigger investment.
     
  52. I know this thread is old, but it's exactly what I'm researching right now as well. I want to "up my game" with portraits. I really want a clear, luminous quality with lovely background blur and bokeh. (Yes, I know that getting that is at least equal parts skill!)
    Right now I have a Canon Macro f2.8 60MM, and the Canon 70-200 f4 L lens and the basic Canon kit lens. f5.6 28-135. If I understand correctly, the qualities and the perspective of a lens don't change, just the crop factor. Basically - I would have to stand back farther to get the same crop that a full-body camera would get, yes?
    I want to be able to do portraits in studio and outdoors - some tight, but most probably part to full body. I was looking at my most recent portraits and nearly all of them use at least 100 mm on my zoom, so the 85 might be nice to get. On the other hand, I'm tempted to get the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM so I have a zoom that compliments the 70-200 (at better quality than my kit lens.)
    Money is not unlimited, but I'm willing to put it towards an expensive lens if it is really much better than what I have.
    So, will I see a substantial quality difference from my 60mm macro and will I really regret not having those extra 2 stops that Canon 70-200 f2.8 L lens for portrait work? I've done some rather nice portraits with the 70-200 recently - the background was nicely blurred - but it was also far away.
    I'm sort of thinking out loud as I go here. Perhaps I need to see how far I can push the equipment I have before I decide what I really need next! With that said - what about that EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM as a next lens?
    00bc4c-535487684.jpg
     
  53. >>> Best Portrait lens... Need to get Jeff Spirer to weigh in on that.
     
  54. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    If I understand correctly, the qualities and the perspective of a lens don't change, just the crop factor. Basically - I would have to stand back farther to get the same crop that a full-body camera would get, yes?

    A Lens does NOT “have perspective”.
    Perspective is a RESULT OF the Camera’s Viewpoint.
    The Camera’s Viewpoint is a product of the DISTANCE to the SUBJECT and the relative ELEVATION of the Camera to the Subject.
    The fact that you will stand back farther to make the same FRAMING with any particular lens used on a smaller sensor camera (aka ‘crop camera’), than if you used the same lens on a “full-body”” camera DOES change the PERSPECTIVE.
    ***
    The qualities of a lens don’t change, however if an Canon EF Lens is used on and APS-C camera, then a SMALLER portion of the Lens’s IMAGE CIRCLE is being used to cover the APC-S sensor; therefore, there is often comment that one might note a slight increase in image quality of some EF Lenses when used on the smaller sensor cameras. This is more often and or more readily noted in the ‘Prosumer’ class of the EF Lenses and particular to lens’ deficiencies such as vignetting and chromatic aberration, as two examples: because these deficiencies are noticed more at the edges of the Lens’s Image Circle. Also because some Lens Deficiencies are more noticeable at the very large and maximum apertures, we can expect that an EF Lens might perform slightly better on a APS-C when using the lens wide open – for example your EF 28 to 135 zoom.
    ***
    So, will I see a substantial quality difference from my 60mm macro and will I really regret not having those extra 2 stops that Canon 70-200 f2.8 L lens for portrait work? I've done some rather nice portraits with the 70-200 recently - the background was nicely blurred - but it was also far away.​
    I am confused.
    I do not fully understand what you are asking - I understand you are considering buying 85/1.8 - OR - a 24 to 70/2.8 MkII?
    Assuming you also have a 7D (or other APS-C camera) – then comparing the 24 to 70 F/2.8 L MkII to the 60/2.8 - I doubt you’ll see any difference in Image Quality - but what you will gain is the flexibility of the zoom.
    The 85/1.8 is a cracker lens and magnificent value for money. By setting your existing zoom to 85 mm, you could experiment as to how it might fit with the 60/2.8 as a pair of Prime Lenses for your Portraiture pursuits.
    ***
    Secondly, I don’t understand the reference to: “not having the extra two stops”
    will I really regret not having those extra 2 stops that Canon 70-200 f2.8 L lens for portrait work?”
    What lenses are you comparing where one has an extra two stops?
    ***
    I think you also need to look at how much space you will have in your studio. For most Studio’s dimensions using a 7D - then a 24 to 70 lens would be more suitable than an 85 Prime to: “be able to do portraits in studio and outdoors - some tight, but most probably part to full body.”

    WW
     
  55. Hi WW,

    You're right. I'm sure my post has lots of confusing elements as I'm trying to organize my own thoughts and research as to what I want. I'll try to clarify a bit. (To the extent that I'm able!) I may not have the right vernacular for describing things, so I ask for your patience in helping me figure out what I'm really asking.
    1. I am trying to fully understand the crop factor. I understand the easy part that it has a smaller crop of the sensor and that you need to take that into consideration as it gives a greater zoom than on a full sensor camera. However, what other things need to be considered when choosing a lens such as glass sharpness, aperture blades, DOF, etc? So, yes, I can use my 60mm macro or my 70-200 for portraits, but I'm trying to determine if there are better versions of those focal length lenses for what I want to do.
    2. My ultimate goal is that I want to improve my portrait technique. 90% off that will studying and practicing my technique, but I'm also trying to determine what % of trying to get gorgeous, clear skin tones and lovely, blurred backgrounds has to do with sharpness of the glass, DOF capacity, and aperture blades. The qualities of a lens besides the focal length. Would there really be little difference in quality between my $470 EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens and a $2300 EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM? That's a little hard to believe!
    3. You're right, I misused the term "Perspective". I do need clarification on this. If focal length affects distortion and DOF (I think I mean the distortion when I say perspective) than wouldn't said distortion and DOF be the same, just cropped in more on a cropped sensor? See this post for what I mean by distortion. What causes the distortion in wide angle lenses, is it being closer to the subject or is it the characteristics of the lens at that focal length? (I hope that is clear - I don't know how else to say it!)
    4. My question about “will I really regret not having those extra 2 stops that Canon 70-200 f2.8 L lens for portrait work?” is in comparison to the Canon 70-200 f4 L lens that I already own. How much advantage do I lose by only having an f4 if as some point out you wouldn't actually be shooting a portrait at f2.8? I believe I've read that a lens is sharpest when used above the widest aperture it can go, so perhaps that is an issue?
    I know this is getting long, but I want to ask two further questions to help clarify my questions above.
    1. If I were to take a photograph with my 7D using let's say a EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens and a photographer beside me using a full-frame sensor were to take the same photo using the EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM - what would be the differences in the photo? Would the image distortion be the same? Would the sharpness be the same? Would the background blur of the bokeh be the same?
    2. What if I took the above photograph using the EF 50mm f/1.2L USM compared to the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM? What would the difference be?
    I Wish I had a good rental department near by. I live in the boonies of France. I used to live in S.F. and rented equipment all the time. Hmmm. I wonder if there is a mail order rental here? Have to check into it. Would be worth renting the lenses I'm thinking about and testing against what I have.
    I thank you for your help working through this!
     
  56. I just found a rental by mail in France! I'll be trying out a few lenses! Actually, would also like to try out a full-sensor body as well...
     
  57. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    OK there are lots of parts to your many questions.
    I believe I understand most of what you are asking, but I don’t have the time at the moment to respond to every point.
    But a few points:
    • A lens is NOT usually the sharpest when it is used at its ‘widest’ (LARGEST) aperture: it is usually sharpest a few stops down.
    • F/2.8 to F/4 is one stop – and for Portrait Situations where it is a Tighter Shot (e.g. Tight Head Shot) the DoF difference will be minimal, however for a Wider Shot (e.g. Full Length Shot) the DoF difference might be significant to the flavour of the image. Certainly for a Wider Shot, the DoF Differential of an F/4 lens compared to a very fast lens (e.g. F/2 or F/1.4) will be more often significant. Note that a “Tight Shot” and a “Wide Shot” refers to the FRAMING and NOT to the Focal Length of the Lens.
    • One reason why many Portrait Photographers choose 135 Format (aka “Full Frame”) DSLR Cameras and not APS-C Format, is because the larger format will allow a smaller DoF for any given Shot (meaning and same “Framing”) – this goes to answering your question about different lenses on different camera formats and this montage should illustrate this point.
    WW
     
  58. A lens is NOT usually the sharpest when it is used at its ‘widest’ (LARGEST) aperture: it is usually sharpest a few stops down.​
    Yes, as I said: "I believe I've read that a lens is sharpest when used above the widest aperture it can go." (Yes, "largest" is the correct term and stopped down is more accurate than "above"!)
    I looked at your montage, which is somewhat helpful. Still interested in the difference in image distortion. Am I using that term correctly?
    Thanks!
     
  59. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Briefly - Ah sorry - my error. I misread "above the widest aperture it can go". I didn't read "above".
    Be back later.
    WW
     
  60. Briefly - Ah sorry - my error. I misread "above the widest aperture it can go". I didn't read "above".​
    Actually, it's good for me to be pushed to use the correct vocabulary. Would have been easier for you to understand:)
     
  61. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    . . . what other things need to be considered when choosing a lens such as glass sharpness, aperture blades, DOF, etc? So, yes, I can use my 60mm macro or my 70-200 for portraits, but I'm trying to determine if there are better versions of those focal length lenses for what I want to do.​
    OK – understood.
    I think we have discussed all this except aperture blades. Rounded ones are usually nicer for “bokeh”. But I don’t get all hung up on Bokeh, though. But, on the other hand I like an even number of aperture blades, mainly because I shoot a lot of available light and I often shoot into the light and the starburst is better (IMO) if there is an even number of blades. Anyway I think an even number of blades tends to be nicer for Bokeh if the Bokeh portions take on some of the geometric patterns of the aperture blades
    ***
    My ultimate goal is that I want to improve my portrait technique. 90% off that will studying and practicing my technique, but I'm also trying to determine what % of trying to get gorgeous, clear skin tones and lovely, blurred backgrounds has to do with sharpness of the glass, DOF capacity, and aperture blades. The qualities of a lens besides the focal length. Would there really be little difference in quality between my $470 EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens and a $2300 EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM? That's a little hard to believe!​
    OK – DoF and ‘background blur’ (Bokeh – the quality of it) and Foreground Blur and related but are all different. Have a look at this thread. Read Bob Atkins’ essay in the link he provides. Perhaps download his “Blur Calc” tool.
    ***
    Answering your specific question:
    “Would there really be little difference in quality between my $470 EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens and a $2300 EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM? That's a little hard to believe!”​
    Yes. Truly there would be very little difference.
    You are paying an extra two grand for the F/2.8 aperture across the whole zoom range to make very high quality images AT ALL FOCAL LENGTHS. That costs a lot of $$$ (well - they can sell it for a lot of $$$).
    If you want ‘value for money’ then you might want to look at a couple more Prime Lenses? You’d be pressed to see very much real world difference in quality between the prosumer primes used at F/2.8 (24/2.8; 35/2; 50/1.4; 85/1.8) compared the 24 to 70L used at F/2.8. The most obvious (real world) differences will be with the 24 and the 35 when those lenses are used at F/2.8 – the zoom will indeed cream them.
    But, when we get to the 50/1.4 and the 85/1.8 (used at F/2.8) and compare those lenses to the zoom there will be very little difference. It is a lot easier (and cheaper) to design and make a good quality Prime Lens, than a zoom lens – a Zoom Lens has many more compromises.
    What you are paying for in that zoom lens is the convenience of many focal lengths and the F/2.8 speed whilst keeping at EXCELLENT Image Quality: a better comparison is Zoom compared to Zoom and not Zoom to Prime.
    ***
    I misused the term "Perspective". I do need clarification on this. If focal length affects distortion and DOF (I think I mean the distortion when I say perspective) than wouldn't said distortion and DOF be the same, just cropped in more on a cropped sensor? See this post for what I mean by distortion. What causes the distortion in wide angle lenses, is it being closer to the subject or is it the characteristics of the lens at that focal length? (I hope that is clear - I don't know how else to say it!)​
    I understand what you are asking.
    The most common ‘distortion’ in wide angle lenses, used for portraiture to which you refer is FORESHORTENING.
    That is where the front bit appears terribly big compared to the back bit (which is ‘foreshortened’) - here big glasses, smaller head, much smaller people behind in the background:
    [​IMG]
    “Love those Glasses” 5D & EF24 F/1.4L
    Another aspect often referred to is “Compression” – e.g. you might read "a 135mm lens provides just the right 'Compression' for a Portrait."
    For example here the Subject’s Eye Glasses, nose head and body all appear to be in correct relationships:
    [​IMG]
    Candid Portrait – 5D & EF135F/2
    Here is a similar shot using an 85mm lens on a 5D, and the face is less “Compressed” than when using the 135mm lens:
    [​IMG]
    Candid Portrait 5D & EF 85F/1.8
    ***
    “What causes the distortion in wide angle lenses, is it being closer to the subject or is it the characteristics of the lens at that focal length?”​
    Yes you are correct.
    What I wrote above is all about PERSPECTIVE and the DISTANCE from the camera to the Subject.
    If I were to use the 24mm lens and stand back as a far as I was for the shot using the 135mm lens and then later cropped that section, then there would be NO foreshortening.
    ***
    However another aspect of a Wide Angle Lens which often plays havoc into Portraiture (especially Groups Portraiture) is the effects of Barrel Distortion and Keystone Distortion.
    Barrelling is where the lens curves outwards and is often seen more at the edges:
    [​IMG]
    20D & Kit Lens set at 20mm
    For group portraiture what can happen is : ”fat people at the edge syndrome” - where the barrelling of the lens makes people have fat arms or bottoms.
    Also, combine this with “Keystone Distortion” – which happens when a WA lens is NOT square (90°) in both axes to the Subject: the parallel lines in the scene will converge – then there can be quite strange results occur to people's images when they are located at the edges or at the top or at the bottom of the frame.
    ***
    My question about “will I really regret not having those extra 2 stops that Canon 70-200 f2.8 L lens for portrait work?” is in comparison to the Canon 70-200 f4 L lens that I already own. How much advantage do I lose by only having an f4 if as some point out you wouldn't actually be shooting a portrait at f2.8? I believe I've read that a lens is sharpest when used above the widest aperture it can go, so perhaps that is an issue?​
    OK - I understand.
    I think I have covered that, but just in closing - the difference between F/4 and F/2.8 for Portraiture, in regard to Depth of Field, will be more noticeable for Full Length Portraiture and ONLY IF you want to have minimum DoF.
    Also the F/4 to F/2.8 difference will be noticeable in regard to Background Blur – and again more noticeable for the longer Portrait Shots.
    For example this is a candid Portrait taken with a 5D using the EF 24 to 105F/4L IS, at F/5.6 and 105mm and I am OK with both the DoF and the Background Blur, but as you can see it is NOT a Full Length Portrait:
    [​IMG]
    ***
    If I were to take a photograph with my 7D using let's say a EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens and a photographer beside me using a full-frame sensor were to take the same photo using the EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM - what would be the differences in the photo? Would the image distortion be the same? Would the sharpness be the same? Would the background blur of the bokeh be the same?
    What if I took the above photograph using the EF 50mm f/1.2L USM compared to the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM? What would the difference be?​
    OK.
    We have established that the Perspective will be the same (almost) for each shot – so in these respects the foreshortening and compression (the representation of the human form) will be the same – because both images were made at the SAME DISTANCE from the Subject.
    Secondly the DoF will NOT be the same (if the same aperture is used). And that is show in the montage I supplied earlier.
    Thirdly the Background Blur and the quality of it (Bokeh) will not be the same, even if the same aperture is used, because they are different lenses.
    Fourthly, how sharp each will be, will depend upon the aperture used. And there are several (hundreds) of discussions here about the: EF 50F/1.2L and EF50 F/1.4L and the 85L MkII and the 85 F/1.8 – and also about how sharp the L zooms are compared and contrasted to various Prime Lenses.
    ***
    Bottom Line:
    Speaking about Portraiture only - for my money, if I buy a fast lens I will indeed use it wide open or close to wide open: the reason for that use might not be (usually is not) to get the shallowest DoF, but rather so I can attain a faster Shutter Speed than I might otherwise with a slower lens.
    This is because I tend to generally use only available light for Portraiture – and much of my portrait work is not controlled: ‘candid’ of you like – so I often require the faster shutter speeds to arrest both Camera Shake and also Subject Motion, this is one reason why I tend to use Prime Lens, quite often.
    Generally speaking, many Portrait Photographers will most often use a Zoom Lens for Portraiture, because that will provide the best value for money “many Focal Lengths” in one lens. If one seeks high quality, then the Canon L Zooms will provide that. If one wants a fast lens, then the F/2.8 Zooms really are Prestige pieces of Kit.
    However I really do think that form all I have gleaned of you meaning and passion – if you want to extend your Portrait work specifically: then a move to a 135 Format Camera (aka “Full Frame”) will bode well for you as it will allow you to explore the really shallow DoF and fully utilize some of the marvellous lenses such as the 135/2, the 85/1.8 or 85 1.2MkII at shooting distances more likely suitable for most Portrait works.
    As a beginning - the EF 24 to 70 F/2.8 L MkII USM is a fine lens and will allow you to make great images. Combine that lens with your 70 to 200F/4L (and a ‘Full Frame’ Camera), I do believe that you will rock . . . and then you’ll likely want a couple of Primes.
    So, for your Portraiture pursuits, I do not see any disadvantage in you getting the 24 to 70/2.8L MkII. You can use this lens with your 7D and later evaluate whether you should change camera formats.
    ***
    I was travelling around the Loire Valley in September and October last year. It would be coincidence it the woman whom I spied toting a white lens around in the rural areas, was you!
    WW
     
  62. WW, first of all - you ROCK! I really thank you for taking the time to write all of this out with examples. All of your responses have been patient and informative. I feel like I understand the issues pretty well now and I'll do more research based on the correct terminology now.
    It's a little embarrassing to admit I don't have these concepts down after so long in photography - (I did take a very long side trip into design though). Having spent years working in pro darkrooms and then in professional digital imaging, I tend to be much stronger in the post-processing equation of making photographs. I'm finding though that I'm wanting to balance my skills on the other side of the lens. I'm an adequate photographer and I'd like to be a good (if not great!) photographer.
    Since my last post, I've been doing more research and reading. I've taken advantage of my Creative Edge subscription and I've been looking at portrait photography books. This is really helpful as they usually give examples with the lens/ f.stop / focal length, etc. One I was looking at this morning, nearly every shot so far is with the 20-70mm and most taken under f4.
    I've decided I am going to buy a 5D MKII this year and the 20-70mm and then I'll start getting more primes (like the 85). I'm planning a trip to the US this year and figured out that if I buy from B&H while I'm there, the savings compared to buying in France (with dollars) will just about pay for my ticket! So, in September, I should be equipped with ideal (for me) equipment. Until then, I'm going to study and practice with my 7D and the equipment I have to hone my skills.
    Who knows? Maybe it was me toting the white lens! I usually tote the white lens when I'm photographing dogs in the field. I'll attach a snapshot made by my husband.
    00bcS4-535801584.jpg
     
  63. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Seems a very sound plan predicted on a good base of logic and research.
    Good luck with it.
    ***
    Well, the woman did have a baseball cap on her head, but I didn't see any dogs with her.
    WW
     

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