Portrait Photography Lenses

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Derek Zoolander, Jul 20, 2009.

  1. Derek Zoolander

    Derek Zoolander TPF Noob!

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    I've been reading up on this and I'm seeing people suggest anywhere from 50mm lenses to 70-200mm lenses and in between. It appears most say 50mm is the way to go.

    My question is this. I find myself having to back up a lot in order to get more of a subjects body in the picture. I can only imagine what I'd have to do with a 70mm shot. Are people suggesting the bigger lenses because they have larger studio space?
     
  2. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    Depends on what you're shooting with (full frame or cropped sensor), it could be that a 35mm lens is what you need (close to 50mm on a cropped sensor).
     
  3. Pugs

    Pugs TPF Noob!

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    Well,

    A lot of studio space is BEAUTIFUL thing, but most of us (including me) don't have that luxury... <sigh>...

    Longer lenses are generally recommended for portraiture because they tend to "flatten" out facial features. Longer lens means smaller arc and longer radius which means a more "2 dimensional" look to the photo.

    The reason why this is valued in portraiture is that a prominent, bulbous noise is NOT flattering. An over-emphasized jutting jaw or brow-ridge leads to some Cro-Magnon looking portraits.

    Another thing major benefit about a longer lens and backing up like that is that most people are NOT professional models and are not used to having a camera and a photographer and assistants invading their personal space. So, a client coming to you for a portrait may be a stranger (which means that they'll be that much more uncomfortable with you in their personal bubble), they may be camera shy to begin with, and having a longer lens allows you to stand back from them and give enough space to be comfortable in.

    Having a camera sitting on a tripod some distance from them with the remote shutter release in my hand as I'm standing off to the side of the camera talking to them and making eye-contact goes a LONG way in terms of helping them to feel more at ease.

    I love my nifty-fifty (I have a half-frame sensor so it behaves more like a 75mm) for portraiture, but have at times gone to a 70 or longer lens JUST for the models comfort factor.

    I hope this helps!
     
  4. Bravotwofive

    Bravotwofive TPF Noob!

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    What I have learned is generally 85mm is the ideal focal length. Less, and you get proportionate distortion. More, and they can be flat. However as stated above the exact lens will depend on the magnification factor at your sensor.
     
  5. bitteraspects

    bitteraspects TPF Noob!

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    Yup. 85 is perfect.
     
  6. Big Mike

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

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    There are two main factors here.

    Working distance and perspective. Obviously, if you don't have room/space to back up, then you will need a wider lens.
    However, the wider the lens, the more 'wide angle distortion' you will get. I think it was explained well in a previous response.

    Another thing to consider is DOF. A lot of people like shooting portaits with a shallow DOF (or at least having that option)...so a lens with a larger aperture can be beneficial.
    This is one reason why prime (non zoom) lenses are often recommended for portraits. Also because they typically have better optical performance than zoom lenses, although the top quality zooms are pretty good these days.

    So what's your budget?

    EF 50mm F1.8 - $100
    EF 50mm F1.4 - $300
    EF 85mm F1.8 - $300
    EF 85mm F1.2 L - $2000
    EF 70-200mm F4 L - $600
    EF 70-200mm F2.8 L - $1200
    EF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS - $1600
     
  7. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    For outdoor type portrait type shots, I just love to use a telephoto lens with focal length between 70 to 100mm.

    And that is why I bought the 85mm f/1.8. I just like the way the background looks. Even sweeter with the wider aperture.
     
  8. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Maybe this will help. Read the article, fill in the required focal length calculator with the proper information based on what your shooting conditions are and pick the focal length that fits the bill. As for the exact lens at that focal length, well it's your money so you will have to decide.

    Understanding Camera Lenses
     
  9. Derek Zoolander

    Derek Zoolander TPF Noob!

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    Awesome! Thank you very much for that.
     

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