which lens on 5DII and 7D for portraits

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by emilyray, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. I have been asked by a friend to take photos of her and the kids in an outdoor setting. I live in the Middle East, so lots of nice sunshine/light but I am not really much of a 'people' shooter.
    I am sure I can manage to do something, but I would like things to go as smoothly as possible, so could anyone please help me out with regards to body/lens combos from the following list of equipment which would be good and suit fast moving kids, eg on a beach/static people....
    135 2.0L
    85 1.8 USM
    50 1.4 USM
    70-300 4-5.6 IS USM
    100 macro 2.8 USM
    EF-S 18-55 3.5-5.6
    17-40 1.4 L USM
    Many thanks in advance
  2. In fact, any lens, even ultrawides like the 17-40 (on the 5D), CAN be used for portraiture, depending on the effect you want. Shorter lenses will exaggerate the nearer elements of the face whereas longer focal lengths will 'flatten' the face.
    Generations of portrait shooters have conventionally agreed that the most flattering portrait pictures, for the majority of people, are short telephotos. This would mean something like 70 to 85mm (even up to 100mm) on a 35mm-sensor camera like the 5D, or 50 to 70mm on a APS-C camera like the 7D. Many people like nice out-of-focus background blur, so the 50mm f/1.4 on an APS-C body may be very good wide-open.
    These are just conventional, consensus, lengths, of course. At least, it's a place to start. One of the great advantages of digital is that you can get some idea as you go if your focal length choice is working out. As I suggested, much depends on the nature of the subject's face and features and the effect they want.
    You may also wish to take a look at some of the various lighting tutorials here and on other sites for how to use reflectors, or studio lights to a pleasing end. Even nice outdoor natural light can often use some reflection or flash to prevent harsh contrasts, for example. Cloudy, overcast days may be good for a more diffuse effect, if you can find them in your area :)
    Oh, and watch out for "gotchas" in the background, like a traffic signal or something growing out of a subject's head....
  3. 85/1.8. Camera. Brain. Good luck!
  4. It all depends on your working distance. Any of the primes you listed (and a couple of ones you missed) will be perfectly suited for this job.
  5. If you are asking about the "best" perspective I would chose the 85 on the 5DII or the 50mm on the 7D for standard portraits. The zooms could be harder to manage but I do agree that any lens would work fine.
  6. I shoot a ton of impromptu portraits on the street with my 5DII and find that a 35mm lens is just right for
    how I like to shoot. An 85mm is way to much of a telephoto; unless you're doing head shots. Even more so if used with a crop-body camera like the 7D. If restricted to the list, I'd go with the 50mm on the 5DII.
  7. Though primes would work best generally.. EF-S 17-55 is a serious consideration for 7D. Excellent results throughout and f/2.8 helps a lot in portraits
  8. Brad, did you have a typo or did you read it the list wrong? There is no 35mm lens. There is a 135mm
  9. JDM has offered some good advice, but don't let him lead you astray on the question of perspective. He states: "Shorter lenses will exaggerate the nearer elements of the face whereas longer focal lengths will 'flatten' the face" but that just ain't so! These are matters of perspective, which is not an attribute of a lens but depends solely on the distance of the camera from the subject.
  10. Robert, not to be a pain, but there is an EF 35mm 2.0 and a 1.4/L from Canon.
    As for what you need, basically you need to get comfortable with how much frame space each focal length gives you at a reasonable distance for that lens.
    Like many have said already, the 50mm is a pretty standard portrait lens on APS-C, however just so you know what that means, you will be getting mostly a head and shoulder shot of one person unless you step back a reasonable distance. The 85mm is essentially too much for me to use indoors on APS-C however, its perfect outdoors (i can step further back) and its pleasant on a 35mm sensor.
    I would suggest that you pick the 50mm f/1.4 (or the L if you have the money to spend) and any of the 3 bodies you mentioned. Work with that range and then determine what you are lacking to help you decide what other lenses to get. But a 50mm should definitely be in your kit!
  11. Faysal, I know that they exist and I would recommend them as well but the OP asked about a list she posted and you are not a pain. I usually am if you ask any woman in my life! I just thought he might have a made a mistake and after re-reading it I guess he was posting another option.
  12. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    take photos of her and the kids in an outdoor setting. . . Middle East . . . lots of nice sunshine/light . . . suit fast moving kids, eg on a beach

    My Choices:
    With On Camera Flash Fill – 5D MkII + 50/1.4 + Lens Hood + CPFilter
    Without Flash Fill - 5D MkII + 50/1.4 or 85/1.8 or 135/2 (for group shots the 50mm most likely choice) + Lens Hoods + CP Filters.
    On the side conversation: I also have a 35/2 and a 35/1.4, but those lenses are not on the OP's list. For this shoot I would take the 5DMkII + 35/1.4 + Lens hood + CPFilter and most likely use it rather than the 50/1.4.
    I do not suggest using the 17 to 40, in lieu of a 35 Prime - on this occasion.
  13. Any of the first five lenses that you listed will fine. Try them all and you'll end up with a variety of looks.
  14. Funny how we all look at this with different perspectives. For me, Nothing will compare to the 5D mark II and 135 F2 L. Only other lens that comes close is the 100 Macro L IS or the best zoom made, 70-200 2.8 IS. v/r Buffdr
  15. thank you all very much for all your suggestions and for taking the time to write. It is much appreciated.
    The list is of the lenses and bodies which I currently have, but I should hopefully be getting the 70-200 2.8 L IS USM II on Friday - I have found a nice little shop in this country who will sell it to me for the same price as the version I used to be. Very impressed.
    and no, I don't have a 35mm one.
    I will have to print off this thread and highlight info, as that will be much easier than trying to remember it all! lol
    and then I will have a play with everything by using hubby as a model first, hehe.
  16. One other note, if you want to use fill flash (which is pretty much required for portraits in direct sun) you'll need to keep the shutter speed lowish, like 1/200 on the 5D2 as I recall; if you also want to blur the background with something like the 135 f/2 wide open, it's basically impossible since ISO 100 at f/2 in bright sunlight gives a shutter around 1/4000. You have to drop to around f/11 to get the shutter speed to 1/200, and there goes your blurred background.
    Solutions would include neutral density filters, or optionally a polarizer; or using reflectors instead of fill flash (cumbersome unless you have an assistant), or using high speed synch.
    For what it's worth, with your gear I'd go with the 5D2 and 70-300 for kids-running-around candids, and 5D2 and 135 for static portraits. Be careful on the beach. Cameras and salt water don't play well together.
  17. "...if you want to use fill flash (which is pretty much required for portraits in direct sun you'll need to keep the shutter speed lowish..." - Alan
    <p>True, if flash is your supplemental lighting option. You can also use high speed sync although this limits the reach of your flash. I didn't see you mention owning a flash, though.
    <p>If it is a posed portrait, you will gain far more mileage with a reflector for fill, or in many cases a diffuser to soften the harsh sunlight. That way you can still get low ISO, wide aperture shots without worrying about sync speeds. An added bonus of this is of course motion-stopping, useful for capturing playful young 'uns :)
  18. There's no reason why you couldn't make excellent portraits with the 70-300. For an outdoor portrait, I would choose that lens over any of your other lensesbecause I like to shoot individual portraits at 200 mm + on full frame.
    "Oh no," some concerned photographer is crying out right now. "You can't shoot portraits at f/5.6!" Baloney! It's easy. The trick is to have enough distance between the subject and the background.
    For indoor portraits, I'd use the 135 or the 100 macro.
  19. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Other options to shoot Shallow DoF and Flash Fill in a Beach Scene with a 5D MkII is to use ISO100 or ISO50 and F/8 – rending a Tv of around 1/200s.
    A 50mm lens on a 5D MkII will capture a Full Length Child, or Group of Children adequately at a Shooting Distances of between 9 to 12 ft.
    Provided the background is suitably chosen, and the main DRAPE of the background is more than 25ft to 35ft beyond the SUBJECT, there will be adequate and quite nice background blur.
    The major consideration with On Camera Flash Fill in Bright Sunlight is the Shooting Distance – essentially one should consider that any SD beyond 15ft will be difficult to near impossible with any on camera Flash unit.
    These are the primary reasons why I specifically nominated the 50/1.4 for the lens to use, if On Camera Flash Fill were to be used, and also why I noted that I would prefer the 35/1.4L.
    If we were to make the same framing of the Group of Kids with a 135mm lens, the SD would be about 30ft thus rendering On Camera Flash Fill impossible.
    I disagree that Flash Fill is a requirement for shooting Portraiture in Full Sun. Flash Fill is a Technique to provide an outcome but NOT a requirement.
  20. thanks again and yes, I do have a flash which I have used for fill-in previously; I just wasn't sure I would need it here.
    and Dan, thanks too - there would definitely be room between the subject and the background - the beach is at point X say and there is nothing at all between it and the mountains about 1km away, apart from a couple of trees!
  21. Emily,
    Since you have more than one body, have you thought of using more than one on this particular day? Why not put the 70-300 on the 5DII and the 17-40 on the 7D? You could put the 50 1.4 in a bag too. That way, you might only have to switch the flash between bodies, if you decide to use fill flash.
    Here's a photo I took a week or so ago at the beach. It was about 5:00 PM in South Brazil. It was taken with my EF-S 55-250 on my XSi. No post-processing applied yet, just a quick RAW conversion to JPEG in Picasa.
    I hope this helps in your decision making process.
    DS Meador
  22. Ben is technically right about distance being the reason for perspective. In reality, of course, you must move in closer to get a head and shoulders shot with a wide angle, and move away to get the same with a long lens.
    The effect is as I said. A 16mm lens is not going to be a very useful portrait lens at the same distance as a 85mm lens.
  23. I concur with Dan. I have 5D markII and my 70-200 4 IS is exceptional as a portrait lens. I also have a 40D and it works well for that camera as well.
  24. thanks again everyone and yes, I was planning on using two bodies for the shoots.
    Anyway, I caught up with my friend yesterday and had another chat about what she is looking for. She is still up for the outdoor shots, eg on the beach and would also like ones taken inside her house. She has now decided to use these as promotional shots for her website, eg ones of her + kids + husband, her on her own....
    will be interesting! only able to start taking some pics of her in January, as am v busy til then!
  25. I like the Tamron 28-75 F2.8 for portraits on my 5D2. I just compared it to my Sigma 70-200, and Canon 85 1.2L my other two portrait lenses.
    I had to change the agle of the tripod a little when I change to the 70-200 to get the same focus point. Both the Tamron and 85 are about the same length the Sigma Istwice as long so I had to raise tip. Focus point was teh first ball on teh candle holder. Each lens got 1 shot only. Move tripod back 1 foot when I used 85 to get same framing as other two.

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