What size sensor do "pro" portrait photographers use?

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by kylebybee, May 27, 2015.

  1. This isn't a debate question, more a curiosity question. Do professional portrait photographers use FF exclusively? Or are there those that use crop sensor, 4/3 etc.? I've watched video's on the differences and was not wanting to know the difference, I've got it, but curious to know what is used mostly.
  2. I had professional passport pictures done with a P&S digicam. I assume the sky is the tech limit; i.e. somebody must be using DMF and consider FF a tiny amateur format for wannabes. Others stick to film and a few skipped that modern stuff & sell tintypes.
  3. I had to have a professional portrait done for work and the photographer used a 4"x5" (film) camera for his work. This
    was about nine years ago so maybe he's using a large format digital back now. I think the general creative philosophy is
    that the larger the distance the lens is from the film/sensor plane, the greater distortion you get in the out-of-focus areas
    (bokeh) which dictates a larger sensor or film image area. Portrait photographers generally like to manage focus tightly to emphasize their subject and bokeh becomes important in those situations.

    For more commonly-used cameras available from the likes of Canon and Nikon, most people will tell you the larger the
    sensor the better, which means full frame. But I know talented, creative photographers who do some amazing work using
    a crop sensor.
  4. Carl's reference to "bokeh" is perhaps the best way to an answer. There are related considerations. Is the portrait done indoors or outdoors? Can only a head shot be called a "professional" portrait?
  5. As the old saying goes its not the camera but the photographer. That said it mainly boils down to what you can afford. When you can afford full frame you get full frame. When you can afford medium format you get medium format. You see its a disease. LOL
  6. Professionals use whatever tools they feel are appropriate to the job. One wedding/portrait shooter I work with here in Washington, D.C., shoots all full frame. Another I know in New York shoots nothing but DX. I only shoot part time but I shoot DX and my clients are fine with that.

    "I had to have a professional portrait done for work and the photographer used a 4"x5" (film) camera for his work. This was about nine years ago so maybe he's using a large format digital back now."

    More likely, if he was shooting company headshots on 4x5 -- either film or digital -- he's out of business by now. :)
  7. A year ago, the guy shooting for my company used a Hasselblad with a digital back.
  8. it


    Mostly full frame 35mm or medium format digital.
  9. For digital FF is your best bet unless you want to go to medium format, at which point a good choice is a Hasselblad and get a digital back. Or you second mortgage your house and get a dedicated digital Hasselblad,
  10. Yeah, it seems most pros are on the FF bandwagon which I find annoying when it comes to photojournalism because I want to see information in a news image, not blur.
  11. I prefer Full Frame for portraits, merely because it allows me the much larger viewfinder. I think composing-wise, that helps a lot. Often, however; I do not use the viewfinder at all. So I'm not sure, perhaps I prefer the added oompf of the shallower DOF I've heard about, but then again.. perhaps it is just personal preference.
    Or perhaps it's the lenses I have, I do not have any ef-s lenses and have no comparison to test a crop sensor. Larger sensor, generally is better in a lot of regards. Better dynamic range, better resolution we've always been taught.
    I think it's the best bang for your buck, as you can get a FF camera for about $500-800 bucks these days. Whereas medium format... even now is very out of range for most photographers.

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