What would be the best lens for portrait photography

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by capewrath, Apr 3, 2004.

  1. Greetings all... I have a Canon EOS 300D, my lenses are: 18-55mm came with camera, 75-300mm and 50mm f1.8, all canon. I have noticed the improvement of quality using the 50mm f1.8, but unfortunately there is a wall stopping me going back the distance I need from the model, the 18-55 is ok but not as good as the 55mm. Could anyone suggest a good alround lens for portrait photography, it must be able to capture animals / children etc. I mostly shoot inside. I have read about the canon 28-70mm f2.8, but this is expensive, Sigma offers the same but much cheaper, is this ok..... I look forward to your replies, that’s if you understand me... Regards Mark
     
  2. Define what you mean by "portrait" -- headshot? I don't shoot many portraits per se, but when I photograph people it is usually with 24mm, 35mm and 50mm lenses. I have a 135mm lens, which is acceptable for headshots, but that's pretty boring and it is not used nearly as much as the other lenses.
     
  3. but unfortunately there is a wall stopping me going back the distance I need from the model
    Then you're screwed. Get a hammer and knock the wall down. It's the distance to the subject that gives you the perspective you want, not the lens. Use the 50/1.8.
     
  4. but unfortunately there is a wall stopping me going back the distance I need from the model
    Then you're screwed. Get a hammer and knock the wall down. It's the distance to the subject that gives you the perspective you want, not the lens. Use the 50/1.8.
     
  5. but unfortunately there is a wall stopping me going back the distance I need from the model
    Then you're screwed. Get a hammer and knock the wall down. It's the distance to the subject that gives you the perspective you want, not the lens. Use the 50/1.8.
     
  6. Bob must feel really strongly about this. Guess you gotta' knock down that wall....
     
  7. I think bob has a stutter (-: thanks for the comments though bob.
     
  8. All stuttering aside, Bob is correct. Generally, you don't want to use wider angle than 50mm lens for portraits because wider angle lenses can result in unflattering distortion. It can make people look fatter, which many people are quite sensitive to. With the 1.6x crop factor of your DSLR, you will need to step back somewhat farther to use the 50mm lens. With 35mm film, many portrait shooters use something around 85mm, particularly for head shots. You can get away with slightly wider for full body shots, and with groups of people, you often have no choice but to go wider (though distortion on group shots isn't usually as noticeable as individuals). The Canon 28-70mm f2.8 is MUCH sharper than the 18-55 you have now. It is an excellent lens, though quite bulky and heavy for that range. Generally, I feel that you get what you pay for in lenses. If you want the highest quality optics, you have to pay for the "L" glass. You've already noticed the quality difference between your inexpensive consumer zoom and the 50mm prime. I have not used the Sigma lens. If you live anywhere near a good camera store, I suggest a visit. Bring your camera body and a tripod. Take a few sample images in the store with both lenses. Shoot subjects with lots of fussy detail. Especially try the lenses at the extreme widest, and at f2.8 (this is where these lenses are at their weakest, and where they are most likely to show differences). Take your camera home and carefully examine your test images, and see if you notice a difference, and if this difference is worth the extra money to you. Only you can answer that question for yourself (for me it was yes).
     
  9. I have the Tamron 28-75 f2.8 and my initial tests show that it is very sharp, obviously not as sharp as Canon's 24-70 f2.8 but it does seem sharper than the 28-135 IS I used to own.I really wanted a Canon lense but Canon had nothing in my price range that was what I wanted, ie: a f2.8 medium range zoom. If they had a 28-75 f4 in an L lense for around $800.00 I would have made the stretch but all that is avaliable is darker variable aperture zooms. I shoot portraits with a 10D and at the long end those lenses get pretty dark at f4.5 or f5.6 when doing studio work with strobes.
     
  10. Save the wall. Go outdoor to do the portrait instead. Better lighting anyway. My 2c.
     
  11. Your 50mm is giving you the equivalent of an 85mm on a film camera - perfect for head and shoulder perspective portraits indoors, and tight group shots outdoors. Buy the Canon 35mm f2.0. This will give you the equivalent of a 50mm on a film camera. It's one of the cheapest Canon prime lenses, but optically it's one of the best 35mm lenses you could buy. This will get most of what you want to take indoors, and help with groups outdoors. The results when used wide open and focused close up are incredibly good. I have three Canon Lenses - EOS 135mm f2.0L, FD85mm 1.2L, and the 35mm f2.0. The other 2 lenses are probably the best available at that focal length, but the 35mm is really very close in quality.
     
  12. I may be alone in my preferrences, but I choose my lenses based on focal length and price, and not necessarily in that order. I have never looked at one of my prints and thought "I wish that lens was sharper, or more expensive". Some of my favorite portraits were shot with an old polaroid pack film camera, with the portrait lens that snaps on over the standard lens, and Polaroid P/N 55. My point is that the qualities that make a lens useful or desirable for portraits are not the same ones that make a lens sharp or expensive. Without knowing what it is about the lens that you have that you don't like, it's hard to recommend a replacement. Which lens you use is purely a matter of taste. I hope you find one you like.
     
  13. 50mm is ideal. All the shots in this folder (2 fairies, a portrait and an art nude) were made with a 50mm. So were some in Another folder (mainly art nudes) - "bodyscape" the 2 called "eat more fruit" and the 2 versions of "Entwined" all use this lens.
    It has become my preferred studio lens because
    (a) It's brighter and in a studio that helps when your composing and picking the moment when the sitter is just right.
    (b) With the multiplier you get with digital it is the equivalent of a 35mm portrait lens (i.e. roughly double film diagonal ~85 mm on 35 mm film.)
    If you really have to work in a confined space the 35mm suggested is the next best thing - equivalent of 50mm on 35mm, but don't go any shorter than that.
     
  14. If you want quality for a budget price, forget about the zooms. Zooms are great for action photography, but if you have a studio environment you are better off with primes. There is quite a lot of strange thinking about focal length and distortion. The problem with big noses and no ears portraits is caused by being too close to the subject. Generally one and a half meters distance is enough. This means that for a headshot you'll want aroun 100mm on a film camera, and around 70mm on digital. For full length you'll want shorter focal lengths. If you use really short lenses, say shorter than 24 mm on a film camera, 17mm on digital, you get strange distortions in the corners of the frame. So for larger groups your studio is probably too small.
     

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