Is it a matter of perspective?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by brian_donaldson|3, May 30, 2010.

  1. When I browse through some of the postings about lenses, I find that there seems to be a liking toward the 85mm prime. I've heard they make great portrait lenses giving their short telephoto length so one can get close but not right in the subjects face.
    With that and the fact that the 1ds() and 5d() are full frame cameras, does one still get an 85mm for the APS-C format cameras or does one get the 50mm? With the crop factor of 1.6 on the APS-C, that 85mm now becomes a 135mm (give or take) and the 50 becomes a 80mm. I realize that this could all be subjective, but I am sure there are several schools of thought regarding this perspective.
    For me, since I have both types of formats in my 1ds and 20d, I would probably own one of each just so I was covered either way. Currently I do not own any primes except for my Nikon film cameras.
    Thoughts? Comments?
  2. When you assume that you'll be standing far away from a person to get flattering perspective, but don't expect to be backing up a huge distance, then 85mm on full-frame is a comfortable length for full & waist-up portraits, while 85mm on APS-C is comfortable for headshots.
    50mm is in general a more versatile portrait lens on APS-C, with the limit that you'll have to get just inside the normal "flattery separation limit" for tight headshots. But you can always back up and crop if you're not going to print huge anyway.
    If you have zoom lenses in these focal ranges, try just setting them to the appropriate lengths and shooting with them that way. See how you like each focal length on each camera.
  3. I would use any 50mm on an APS-C crop factor camera. The 135mm on any crop factor camera is too long for me. I used to own the MF Nikkor 135mm on the Nikon FE. I sold both the lens and the camera and got the AF Nikkor 85mm/1.8D to use on the Nikon F90x. It gave me a more comfortable working distance to the subject.
  4. As with so many other photographic questions, the answer is that it depends on the photographer. As you can see, from the above answers, there's a wide variety of ways of approaching the portrait, all valid. The important thing is: What focal lengths will aid and abet your own vision?
    One routinely sees fashion/glamour photographers using 180-300+ mm lenses, which is not to say you should, but that there's a wide variety of approaches.
  5. Have you used your Nikon primes on your Canon bodies via the cheap adapters? Do you have any portrait primes to experiment with?
    I have used 50mm, 85mm and 135mm lenses on crop and full frames with excellent results, and the 100 or 105 focal lengths can also be used effectively. All of them can be used, it is a matter of determining your typical subject distances and which "look" you prefer.
  6. Why don't you try it with a zoom lens on both cameras and find out? The variables are the size of the sensor and of the subject, the f-stop and focal distance of the lens, and the distances from the camera to the subject and to the background. Swapping a FF camera with an 85 mm will not give the same result as the crop camera and a 50 mm, with everything else being the same, because the depth of focus and thus the bokeh will be different (less blurr on the 50 mm). To get the same bokeh with the crop camera and a 50 mm (and without changing the f-stop), you would have to move the background closer to the camera without changing the distance between camera and subject.
  7. Brian I find that between 85mm and 100mm (equivalent0 to be around the optimum length for portrait use. Camera manufacturers tend to be around 85mm - the classic portrait lenses for Canon and Nikon are 85mm, for my Fuji GX680 the portrait lens is 180 f3.2 which is an 83mm equivalent and 645 bodies have portrait lenses in the 140 to 150mm range (87-93mm equivalent). On full frame I have used lenses in the range 85mm to 135mm and find they all work great - with the longer lenses you need a slightly larger space if shooting indoors. Outdoors I have used lenses up to and including the 300 f2.8 but again 85 to 135 is probably the best range. On my old FD film bodies my main portrait lenses were (and still are) the 85 F1.2 and 135 f2. On digital (and film EOS) I use mainly the 85 F1.8 or the 100 F2.8 L IS Macro on full frame. I have a 7D which does not get a lot of use for portraits but on this body the 85 f1.8 and 50 f1.4 are the ones I use - the 100 f2.8 is too long on APS-C for portrait use in most cases.
  8. Brian,
    Get the 50 f1.4 from Canon, then you have a 50mm for your 1Ds and a fov crop of an 80mm for your 20D, you don't need both focal lengths.
    But before everybody continues to wax lyrical about the "look" of this or that focal length, the truth is even us photographers are often incapable of working out which lens was used. Just look at the differing opinions on this thread. Farcical really. Just goes to show that when you just look at the images few people, even photographers, can truly tell the difference between the much denigrated 50 f1.4 (which I own and really like) and the mythical 85mm f1.2 (which I have used and really don't like).
  9. Some good points. This conversation really wasn't for me. I mean I have the lenses I need and use. But more of a selling point for newer users of the APS-C bodies. Just that I have seen recommendations for both lens. But as correctly pointed out, an 85mm on to 1ds basically the same as a 50mm on the 20d.
    Yes, I have used my Nikkors on both the 1ds and 20d. Granted it is in stop-down mode, but they work just fine. My primes are 50/1.4, 28/2, 135/2.8 and 200/4. I just recently purchased a 80~200/2.8 for the F2AS, which also works on the EOS. But my EOS lenses are all 2.8L; 16~35, 28~70 (which recently broke so I had to replace it), and 70~200. Great lenes (except for the 28~70 only because ti broke - LOL).
  10. Brian,
    Don't feel too bad about the 28-70, I have broken my 24-70 three times now! Indeed it is currently boxed up and waiting an opportunity to get sent off to Canon :-(
  11. Canon 85mm f1.8 is the sweetest lens I've ever used on my 5D! The focal length suites very fine and more than than the bokeh is just marvelous! It's true that if you use a 50mm on a cropped sensor you almost get the same "field of view", but you will not get the same depth of field. Here is a test I did some time ago:
    In addition, 85mm f1.8 is a solid performer. It's sharp, contrasty and focuses very fast. If you use your 1Ds, go for 85mm f1.8, you won't look back!
  12. Alireza,
    The example you give is not really painting the correct picture. If you take the two images from the same place and crop the FF one then the DOF is identical, obviously. But if you use the 50 @ f1.4 on the crop camera @ 7 1/2ft (to allow for the 80mm effective focal length/fov not the 85mm) and the 85mm on the FF @ f1.8 at 8ft the DOF difference is around 0.04ft, or just under 1/8th of an inch! That is not noticeable in a portrait image
  13. It really depends on how much shooting space you have. More is better, obviously. If you have more space, you can go with the longer lenses.
    Speaking in broad generalities, though, the most popular 35mm portrait lenses tend to be in the neighborhood of 90 - 135mm, and Nikon's all-time favorite portrait lens is probably their 105 f/2.5. With that in mind, I bought a Canon 100mm f/2.0 for head and shoulders portraiture. I find it is a slightly better lens than the Nikon 105/2.5, but only for the faster aperture. (I own both lenses.) The 100 is regarded as a sister lens to the 85 and has similar optics and build. I find 100mm is a very comfortable focal length for average shooting conditions, and the lens has pretty decent sharpness even wide open. I'd probably use a 50mm f/1.4 for full body shots of standing people; however, apart from head and shoulder shots, I don't find shallow DoF so important that I would need a fast prime. Instead, a good f/4 zoom (e.g. 24-105) works fine for me.
  14. Scott,
    I compared 50mm f1.8 to 85mm f1.8 at the same aperture. Obviously if you use 50mm @1.4 you get shallower depth of field, and closer to the DOF of 85mm @1.8. According to Zeiss, if you use 50mm @1.4 on APS-C format, you get the same depth of field as of 80mm @2.0.
    But more than that, I believe you get a better quality of out of focus (bokeh) with the 85mm lens compared to the 50mm. I haven't done any tests myself, but according to Neil, 50mm f1.4 does not really deliver in terms of bokeh.
  15. My numbers are correct as per this calculator.
    My 50 f1.4 does, but then I make the mistake of making my own judgment calls, not worrying about what Neil, or anybody else, has to say on the matter.
  16. Like Scott I quite like my 50 f1.4 but I don't use it a lot on a full frame body (or APS-H). i own the 85 f1.8 and while it is a bargain I find it a bit soft wide open. I find myself using both the 50 f1.4 and the 85 f1.8 at f2 or F2.8 as below that i find both my lenses are rather soft. at some point I plan to buy the 85 F1.2 as I have two copies of the FD lens and love them both. Currently as I say I find the new 100 f2.8 L IS makes a great portrait lens but it can be almost too sharp. I am with Scott on the 50 f1.4 and I had a quick look at some images and I find the 50 f1.4 on a 7D and the 85 f1.8 on a 5DII produce very similar images in terms of sharpness and Bokeh. I was playing with old FD lenses on a Panasonic m4/3 G1 yesterday and decided that my old FD50 F3.5 Macro was much sharper than my old FD50 F1.4 - both lenses behave like a 100mm lens on the G1. just to show how good the old FD85mm F1.2 was here is a crop from a quick shot taken with this lens - this is the actual G1 pixels and quality has been reduced to keep the file size down. The G1 was at F1.2 and 1/50 at ISO 100 using a tripod. The 85 F1.2 is an effective 170 f1.2 on the G1
  17. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "I am sure there are several schools of thought regarding this perspective."
    Yep there are: "Perspective" is a factor of the distance from the Subject to the Focal Plane.
    Once the Perspective is decided then the Focal Length determines the Field of View or "The Shot" - such as a Tight Head, Half Shot or 3/4 Shot . . . etc. . .
    But I do know what you are getting at with your question . . .

    So I think you buy the 50 to use with your 20D:

    And you buy the 85 to use with your 1D:

    . . .
    And then you buy the 135:
    And the 100:
    And the 24: and
    And the 35:
    What I mean is it is never ending and it is what you want "Portraiture" to be . . .
    And BTW, you can use the 50mmF/1.4 on the FF camera too:



    “Bokeh” (and the “quality” of it) is much more than just the lens – it is a function of many things not the least of which are: the distance to the Background from the Subject and also the texture of the background the light on it and the angle of the light on it.

  18. It's not a matter of focal length and it has absolutely nothing to do with "bokeh", but strictly of your distance to the subject. When using 35mm cameras as a reference, a portrait lens is 85 to 105mm only because it gives you just about the right distance from the subject for a head and shoulders shot which avoids distorting the person's face. It's the most pleasing perspective (nose won't be enlarged, but whole head won't be flattened either).
    You will get the same effect if the focal length you use is equivalent to the 35mm format's 85 to 105 mm lens. Whatever that actual focal length is given the size of your sensor, it will end up putting you the same distance away from the subject as 85-105mm would on the 35mm camera.
    You can make a portrait with a shorter lens too, but you have to be a little farther away from the subject's face to avoid distorting it... so it will end up being a portrait that includes more of the person's body.
  19. An 85 mm lens is pretty long on an APS-C camera body. You can use it, but try before you buy. I use a number of lenses for portrait duty with APS-C bodies, including the 17-55 f/2.8 IS, 50 f/1.4, 60 f/2.8, and the 70-200 f/2.8 IS zoom. The 60 mm f/2.8 lens offers about the best overall blend of comfort and performance at the long end of the scale for me as a prime lens pressed into portrait duty. The 70-200 f/2.8 IS zoom can be a real gem of a portrait lens on an APS-C body at times, but even at it's short 70 mm setting, it is a bit too long for general portrait use (for me). I like the idea of having a very fast 85 mm lens on tap to take advantage of it's ability to render very shallow DOF on an APS-C camera, but it wouldn't get the call to duty nearly as often as a shorter lens in my portrait work.
  20. zml


    "Bokeh” (and the “quality” of it) is​
    "Bokeh" is a subjective quality of the out-of-focus parts of the picture so "quality of bokeh" is like "buttery butter."
  21. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Michael, trust me, the tautology was on purpose - hence the inverted commas and the brackets, my point being “quality of bokeh” is an oxym0ron as I am more interested in the in focus bits.

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