I'm sure people have asked this before!

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by anne_diresta, Dec 27, 2012.

  1. So I'm new with my DSLR Canon xti Rebel 06'. I purchased this camera via craigslist and it's been working just fine. My question pertains to lenses.
    What lenses are good for doing portraits? As well as close ups and shooting scenery too?
    Any input would be helpful as I am trying to upgrade my camera and learn more about it with changing my lenses and such.
    Any feedback would be helpful. Thanks!
  2. Here's the lens kit I've used for years with some notes
    16-35 f2.8 L USM
    • Primary use is for landscapes or indoor shots where space is tight
    • I don't typically use this for panoramic type view shots. I prefer to use the stitching capabilities built into Photoshop
    24-105 f4L IS USM - now replaced by the 24-70 f2.8 USM
    • This is my primary lens, something like 80% of the shots I take are using this lens
    • Landscapes
    • Portraits
    • Primary lens for photos that I use for stitching photos
    • Candid shots of people, kids, etc
    70-200 f2.8L IS USM
    • This is my least used lens but still indispensable.
    • Sports
    • Candid shots of people, kids, etc
    • To get the reach I need, and reduce the mount of cropping later
    Here are some samples of each:
  3. You can use just about anything for portraits, but there are three considerations people often point to:
    -- Perspective. As you go to longer focal lengths and move back, faces appear more flattened. As you go to shorter focal lengths and move closer, the reverse is true--hence the bulbous noses you get with extreme wide angle. Many portrait photographers go slightly longer than a normal lens for this reason. On a crop sensor camera, something in the range of 60-65 mm would be common. However, the effects of varying that focal length modestly are not dramatic, and you can get fine portraits with other lengths.
    --Depth of field. Some people like very shallow depth of field for portraits, and that requires a fast lens. However, if you are doing candids, with people not standing stock still, very shallow DOF is tough and will cause a lot of missed shots. I'm not the most skilled, but I rarely shoot candids wider open than f/3.5, and I usually use f/4 or 4.5.
    --Lighting. If you don't want to use flash or studio lighting, you will probably need a fast lens.
    If you want to go with a fast lens, a cheap alternative is the 'nifty fifty', the EF 50mm f/1.8. It is inexpensive, will give you the narrow DOF if you want it, and is close to an ideal length for portraits on a crop sensor camera. I don't own one, because I do almost all of my indoor shots of people as candids with bounced flash, so I use a slower zoom (mostly, a tamron 28-75 /f2.8).
  4. I'm sure Tudor's list works excellent, but the cheapest lens there is around $1000.... So, Anne, for the sake of making sure the answers are going to be useful to your situation: did you get any lenses with the camera when you bought it, and if so, which ones? How much money are you willing to spend?
  5. Some good budget options are the Canon 18-55mm IS (image stabilized - the newer one is quite a bit better than the old
    one - we have both)' the Canon 50mm f1.8, Canon 40mm f2.8, Caon 55-250mm IS lens. I have the Canon 50mm f1.8
    also and it is very nice!
  6. Canon's 60mm macro lens is by all accounts great for portraits and close-ups, though it won't give you a wide sweep of scenery. If that's too expensive then the 50mm or 40mm lenses mentioned by others would also be a good start.
  7. I would add the 85mm 1.8 to the list, even though it is a little long on a crop sensor camera, closer to telephoto length.
    Also, I'd get the 50 1.4, not the 50 1.8. I have had the 50 1.8 Mk II, and I find the performance below ~F3.5 leaves much to be desired. Above that F stop it's an entirely different story. Since with a portrait lens you at least want the flexibility of a faster F-stop (IMO) I think the weak performance below F3.5 makes it a poor choice for a portrait lens. The 50 1.4 does not suffer from this problem.
    Note - before I'm accused of being a snob, I own the 50 1.8 Mk 1 and traded in the 50 1.8 Mk II only because the Mk 1 has a metal mount, otherwise I quite liked it as a walkabout lens.
  8. This is a fine camera for getting started... and more.
    Assuming that you have the excellent little EFS 18-55mm IS kit lens, you already have a lens that includes the focal length range typically used for a lot of portrait photography. The 55mm focal length on your cropped sensor (smaller sensor) camera provides an angle of view comparable to using a lens with a focal length close to 80mm on the old 35mm film SLRs and full-frame DSLRs. So before you think about getting a specialized portrait lens, I recommend bringing your skills and experience with portrait shooting up to speed with the gear you have. This will help you determine what qualities you want in a portrait lens for your own personal approach to shooting.
    There is no universal "right" answer to the question of what is a portrait lens. For example, will you mostly focus on tight head shots, upper body shots, full body, environmental portraits... or all of the above? The answer - which you may not have yet, hence my recommendation to shoot with what you have first - makes a huge difference.
    As you have started to see already, various people will tell you that this or that lens is the one you need. But it is not that simple! Again, the right answer comes from a combination of your approach to portrait, your personal shooting preferences, and the range of things you'll shoot. It may be that the current lens turns out to work beautifully for you! Or you may simply end up adding a single prime for portrait work. (Though don't jump and get a 50mm right away, despite the number of suggestions you'll get along those lines.) You might decide that you like the range of your existing lens but that you want an alternative that provides increased functionality. Or you could go in a very different direction.
    Take care,
  9. I'm sure people have asked this before!
    ...and you would be right. Try using the photo.net search box, on the upper right side of the page, and plug in "EOS portrait lens" and read a wealth of information.
  10. Thanks so much for your responses. And yes Louis I did see that=). As for the type of lens I have already; it's:

    Canon zoom lens - ef-s 18-55mm. I use a UV lens over top my orginal lens.

    All this imformation with be very helpful.
    As for price range.... I would prefer something decent and not too reasonably expensive. At least for right now. The when I'm able to I can make the upgrade. I'm not sure how the price ranges for the diff. lens types either.
  11. Anne, if you have the 18-55, then you can check for yourself if a 50mm would make sense - put the zoomlens to 50mm (or 55 that's nearly identical) and see if you like that for portraits, or whether you'd prefer something a bit longer (more zoomed in) than what you have now. That way, you can see for yourself which focal length makes the most sense - and that will help shorten your list of potential lenses a lot, making the choice a lot easier!
  12. I've used the Canon 100mm f2 for portrait work in the past. It's a fine portrait lens and reasonably priced.
  13. Ok I will do that and see what I prefer. Thank you guys!

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