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Author Topic: Portrait photographers, what's your go to lens?  (Read 3300 times)

mjrichardson

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Portrait photographers, what's your go to lens?
« on: January 13, 2009, 01:48:20 pm »

Hi.

Sorry if this is a crappy question but thought I'd ask anyway.

I have pretty much always been a landscape photographer but recently due to working here in Sudan, I have got massively into portraiture. I have a work colleague traveling out here in a couple of weeks time so would like to use the opportunity to get a new lens brought out.

I'd be interested to hear from you guys who do a lot of portrait photography, what's the best available Canon fit lens? It will go on a 50D so a crop sensor. I see the Zeiss canon fit is out now, anyone used them yet? I don't mind manual focus at all. Is the 85mm a good focal length on the crop body? I need to keep a little distance as it is not really acceptable to take photographs here so when you get permission you don't want to be in there faces.

Like I said, sorry for the what lens type of post but not in a position to go and test, currently the only lens i have for this sort of thing is a 28-135, I'm sure there is better quality out there!

Thanks in advance for any help.

Mat.

This is the sort of thing I want to develop.


[attachment=10887:portrait_10.jpg]
« Last Edit: January 13, 2009, 01:52:18 pm by mjrichardson »
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Ken Bennett

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Portrait photographers, what's your go to lens?
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2009, 02:34:01 pm »

Given that you want a little distance, the Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens is a great portrait lens on a crop body. It's also sharp, small-ish, light, and not too expensive.

I tend to like a longer portrait lens, so I end up using the 85 a lot on my 40D and my 1D Mark II.
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feppe

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Portrait photographers, what's your go to lens?
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2009, 04:09:11 pm »

I'm in a similar situation, a travel photographer for ten years and now expanding to portraits.

Quote from: k bennett
Given that you want a little distance, the Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens is a great portrait lens on a crop body. It's also sharp, small-ish, light, and not too expensive.

I tend to like a longer portrait lens, so I end up using the 85 a lot on my 40D and my 1D Mark II.

I second this. Very inexpensive, and excellent quality, fast enough for portraiture. I use it on my 450D. Just ordered Canon 135mm f/2L since I'm moving to FF; the focal length is ideal for facials.

There's another very recent discussion about this as well here, good points in that thread if you can find it.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2009, 04:10:05 pm by feppe »
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mjrichardson

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Portrait photographers, what's your go to lens?
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2009, 04:21:06 pm »


Hi
Thanks Feppe and K Bennett for your comments, much appreciated. I am actually quite tempted by the Canon 85mm f1.2L lens or the Zeiss 85mm f1.4, it might sound daft in such a hot country, but I am finding that when I'm out and about, people tend to avoid the incredibly harsh sun and they are usually under trees or in whatever shade they can find, I have found I am struggling to get clean images at the high ISO I need to keep the shutter speed up when in the shade.

Are there any owners of these lenses around? I know the Canon is very expensive but does that equate to quality results?

Thanks again for your comments.

Mat
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Dansk

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Portrait photographers, what's your go to lens?
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2009, 05:28:34 pm »


 85 is a great lens but the 100 f2.0 is TACK sharp and has beautiful bokeh and half the price so if you dont need the extra speed its got my vote for prime. That said my go to is a 24-70 f2.8L its shot many a portrait. Its a stellar lens IMO and just as good as primes and its variable so you have some flexibility on your toes in the moment. Most sessions are about speed and quality. Heck Annie Leibovitz used one on a 1dsmk2 to shoot the Queen.

If that doesnt convince you...


Not to mention its also a solid macro lens as well.
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Ken Bennett

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Portrait photographers, what's your go to lens?
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2009, 06:28:24 pm »

I have both the 85/1.8 and the 85/1.2 II lenses.

The 1.2 has an excellent reputation, mostly due to its amazing bokeh (the creamy out of focus areas.) Shooting a tight headshot wide open, the eyes are in focus, and nothing else. The head seems to melt into the background, which itself is an abstract blur.

The 1.2 also suffers from some amazing color fringing at wide apertures on both my 1D2 bodies and my 40D. Since I like to shoot close to wide open indoors, and many of my locations have lots of windows in the background, this can be a problem. The 1.2 is also a heavy beast, and quite unbalanced on a 40D body, even with the vertical grip (though that helps.)

At f/2 and above, the two lenses are equally good.

This may sound like a negative review of the 1.2, but I love it. It's just not my first choice for carrying around and shooting. Along with my 24 and my 35/1.4 lenses, it's very useful under special circumstances, but it's not a general purpose lens. (For walking around and shooting candid portraits, my usual lens is the Canon 70-200/2.8 IS.)

Finally, a word about manual focus on modern AF cameras, since you mentioned the Zeiss. The standard focusing screen is optimized for brightness, not accuracy. It's **very** difficult to accurately focus a very fast lens wide open using manual focus on a digital SLR with a standard focusing screen. AF actually works much better. You can get a special screen for your Canon that will be more accurate, and better display your depth of field, but it's too dark to use with any lens slower than f/2, or maybe f/2.8.
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mjrichardson

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Portrait photographers, what's your go to lens?
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2009, 03:50:15 am »


Thanks Dansk for the 100 suggestion, I will have a read up on it.

Thanks also for your views on 85 1.2 k bennett, I had read that it was a heavy lens, I have the 50D with grip so will be a fairly heavy set up for carrying around.

I think ideally I want to find a decent combination and leave all my other kit at home. I fly every week or so here and carrying a back pack of camera gear is not fun. If I can get a high quality single lens and a holster type bag to carry it in I will save a lot of hassle. The 70-200 would be great but just too big, especially as people aren't used to cameras here.

Thanks also for the comment on manual focus, I am used to it on medium format but never used manual on my dslr, will leave the zeiss for when I can try it out.

Cheers.

Mat.
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Josh-H

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Portrait photographers, what's your go to lens?
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2009, 04:00:50 am »

I have regularly been finding my go to portrait lens is the 50mm F1.2L. It gives me a dreamy creamy bokeh, is sharp even wide open and even sharper stopped down and it isnt as heavy as the 85mm F1.2L which I have as well, but these days rarely sees the light of day. Not because I dont love it - I really do. I have just been finding the 50mm is preferable for my style of work.

I have also been finding 50mm F1.2L also lets me get a little more intimate with my subjects, which are almost always kids - and being closer provokes more expression and interest for them. See below a recent portrait with the 50mm F1.2L.

I really feel that both the 50mm and 85mm 1.2L lens's make excellent portrait lens's.
[attachment=10903:Alicia_f...edit2008.jpg]
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NYRich

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Portrait photographers, what's your go to lens?
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2009, 08:34:44 am »

Mostly a Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 AFD but sometimes a 50mm f/1.8 if I can't back off far enough indoors.
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Chris_Brown

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Portrait photographers, what's your go to lens?
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2009, 09:30:09 am »

I use one of several lenses based on layout considerations:
  • Canon 85mm f1.2 v2
  • Canon 135 f2.0
  • Canon 90mm TS-E
  • Canon 45mm TS-E
I never use a zoom because I dislike the bokeh they produce.
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aaykay

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Portrait photographers, what's your go to lens?
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2009, 09:47:13 am »

On my APS-c camera (Sony A700), I found the Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Planar to be excellent for the type of portraits I do, but I find that on the Full-frame Sony A900, the Carl Zeiss 135mm f/1.8 Sonnar serves the same purpose (from a view-angle perspective).  

I have yet to buy the CZ 135mm f/1.8 Sonnar and make do with the CZ 85mm f/1.4 Planar for now, but will be adding the  luscious CZ 135mm f/1.8 Sonnar into my lens list shortly.

For your APS-C camera, I would go with either the 50mm f/1.4 (or 50mm f/1.2L USM) and/or the 85mm f/1.8 USM (or 85mm f/1.2L USM), depending on the kind of portraits you are looking to do (full body, head shots, head-and-shoulders etc).
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