Headshot Lens (Canon) Question

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by firesuite, Oct 26, 2009.

  1. firesuite

    firesuite TPF Noob!

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    Hi all,

    Myself and a friend run a headshot studio out here in Los Angeles and have had some modest work over the last few months (only started the business this summer)

    Currently i do most of the headshot shooting with my 70-200mm f2.8L lens on a 5D. Beautiful lens and love taking headshots with it but in order to improve our images further Ive been looking into primes.

    Had some experience with Primes, namely the ol' 50mm 1.8 a few years ago. Im now looking at the 135mm f/2 and the 85mm f/1.2 L Lenses.

    Can anyone offer me advice on which one would benefit me the most right now ? The 135mm does look like a great lens for headshots and given the price seems a better option over the 85mm at almost twice the price, so im leaning towards the 135mm for sure, I also read the 85mm is great wide open but suffers a little once you stop it down.

    Can anyone offer advice from experience ?

    Graham
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    From what I can tell (via 2nd hand experience only), they are both great lenses. I think I would probably lean toward the 135mm for portraits because I don't know how often I'd actually want to shoot at F1.2. The DOF would be so thin, you might have trouble getting a person's eyes and nose in focus at the same time.

    I've seen a lot of great photos taken with the 85mm L, mostly outdoor 'environmental' shots. The Bokeh from that lens is creamy smooth. I'm not sure how much that matters for in-studio head shots though.

    One option would be to rent either lens and give them a test run. Or even buy both and then just sell the one you use less.

    The 85mm F1.8 is a decent lens, and much less expensive than the 85mm L. I don't know if it has that top end quality that you are looking for though.

    There is a new 100mm L lens from Canon. The 100mm F2.8 L Macro IS. I'm not sure if F2.8 is what you are looking for, but it's an L prime that splits the difference between 85mm and 135mm.
     
  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    The 70-200 2.8 L-IS has nice bokeh, and is very workable at a lot of distances. The 135/2 L focuses very fast,and produces a nice transition from the foreground out of focus zone into the depth of field zone, and also has a lovely transition from the focus zone into the rear out of focus area, and overall the 135/2 is known as one of Canon's best bokeh lenses. I own both the 70-200 and the 135/2, but don't own the 85/1.2 L. Its claim to fame seems to be the extreme defocus it can get, but it also focuses extremely,extremely slowly and honestly, on 3-D backgrounds, I think the 85/1.2-L, the new version, tends a bit toward double-line bokeh on out of focus foliage or man-made objects,and in that respect, I think the 70-200 2.8 and 135/2 L actually render prettier, smoother backgrounds.

    A lot of people might not like to hear it, but as a "people lens" combo, the Nikon 105mm f/2 AF-D Defocus Control lens has better bokeh than the 85-L,and the Nikon 85-1.4 AF-D also has prettier,creamier bokeh than the Canon 85-L. I don't really see how buying the 85-L would help you much on headshots when there are the 85 1.4 and 105 Nikkors and the Canon 135/2 L lenses that have smoother, less-jangly bokeh. I'd look into an adapter to check out the 105 D.C. Nikkor as a headshot lens,and try it on your 5D. Maybe rent the 105 DC lens and by a $17 adapter and see what a lens actually designed for people photography can do,as opposed to "field telephotos". if you ant to base an entire business on headhsots of people, maybe you ought to consider than Nikon has five superb lenses with bokeh that beats every competing Canon lens....85, 105,135, 70-200 VR, and 200/2 VR. Just saying it out loud...the Nikkors were designed with bokeh in mind, and the 105 and 135 DC lenses are unlike anything Canon has.

    But if you stay Canon entirely, you really ought to check out the 135/2-L lens; it has a smoother look to its transitional focusing zones, and more-defocused backgrounds than an 85mm lens; 135mm is a lot longer than 85mm is, and the look is much more "selective focus" with that focal length than with 85mm. Also, until you've tried the 85/1.2, it's hard to believe such an expensive lens can focus so slowly and be so unresponsive compared with other similarly priced lenses from Nikon and Canon. The 85-L focuses very slowly compared to the 85 1.8 EF and significantly slower than Nikon's 85 or 105 or 135 lenses,which are all screwdriver focusing; just having an in-lens focusing motor doesn't make a lens focus rapidly, as both the 50/1.2 and 85-L lenses prove.
     
  4. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    I agree and disagree with Derrel. I would also vote for the 135L for headshots.

    You can tell when someone that doesn't own the 85L chimes in about it.....its not that slow to focus. Slower, yes. I liken it to a similar speed as the Canon 100mm 2.8 macro lens. Its not a rocketship by any means, but its not stupidly slow either. I have never in all my photos taken with "my" 85L seen any out of focus characteristics that Derrel speaks of. Mine is buttery smooth. The best portrait lens in my bag. My next prime lens will be the Canon 135L for use as a "headshot" and indoor sports lens. If I were looking for a great zoom lens, I might think about adapting a Nikkon to my Canon, but when I want great primes, I know there is no reason to look further than Canon.

    Edit~ edit to add.....the only flaw I have found with my 85L II is the CA wide open in harsh/semi-harsh backlit scenes.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2009
  5. firesuite

    firesuite TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the comments,

    I certainly have been leaning more towards the 135mm as Ive been reading up on both lenses, mainly like most people im sure because of price.

    The 135mm appears to be a great lens and im just not sure if the extra money would be worth it on investing in the 85mmL at this point in terms of picture quality. the only thing holding me back at this point is maybe the 135mm is a little too long, I mean I shoot headshots outside in natural light mainly so it wouldn't be a problem there but inside in front of backdrops and lighting I don't know if i have the space in my makeshift studio at this point to be able to use that long a lens.

    But really thats a small issue. Can anyone tell me the difference in terms of picture and quality between the 135mm and my current 70-200mm2.8L which i love very much and does take great portraits also.

    Graham
     
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    One can always tell a one-system shooter who has spent $1700 on a piece of equipment that he thinks is flawless...and yeah, the CA the 85 1.2L exhibits is pretty notable.

    Most people think extreme defocus is the same as bokeh. It's not.

    As far as "pretty" bokeh, that looks appealing, the 135/2 L has a slight edge over the 70-200 2.8L IS. Not much. But one is a zoom, and one is a prime, and the two therfore are not really comparable.

    I would never buy he 85/1.2L, due to its slow focusing and the fact that I already own a better bokeh lens, the Nikkor 85 1.4 AF-D, and that lens works superbly on a Canon body. Maybe yuo ought to try a lensrental.com trial period and see if the lens or lenses you'd like are all their owners say they are.
     
  7. firesuite

    firesuite TPF Noob!

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    So i checked some samples of the Nikkor lens online and it does indeed look like a very nice lens, its also in the same price range (ish) as the 135mm

    So you have this setup on a canon camera and it works flawlessly ? im interested, certainly seems like a better option to the canon 85mm.
     
  8. Rifleman1776

    Rifleman1776 TPF Noob!

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    If you do headshots professionally, I would think you have had ample opportunity to experiment and determine what you like the best.
    But, in general, the 70 to 135mm range is very good for portraits/headshots.
    Before I had access to good zoomers (many years ago), I generally favored the 135. One advantage is that it keeps you away from the subject. Being too close can cause some folks (subjects) to be uncomfortable and it can show in the picture.
    105mm is another excellent choice because it still keeps you back and a good quality, fast, lens can be purchased quite reasonably compared to a longer focal length.
     
  9. Rekd

    Rekd TPF Noob!

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    This isn't a Canon, but I'm sure it'll work great for a headshot. :lmao:

    [​IMG]
     

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