:::Question about portrait lenses::: Help Appreciated

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by S Dot B Photography, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. S Dot B Photography

    S Dot B Photography TPF Noob!

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    im planning on getting the canon 7d, but the only thing is that its not a full frame, so i was wondering what would be the best lens to get for portrait shots, i was guessing 85mm but i cant get a straight 85mm since it isnt a full frame. I appreciate the help.
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    The focal length of the lens is what it is. An 85mm lens has a focal length of 85mm whether it's on a full frame camera or a crop sensor camera. The only difference is the field of view.

    The rule of thumb is that you want longer lenses for shooting portraits. This is because longer lenses tend to flatten features while wide angle lenses tend to accentuate features. An extreme example is a peep hole in a door (very wide angle)...if you look though the peep hole while someone is right behind the door, it will likely look like they have a huge nose. The same idea applies to wide angle camera lenses. Wide angles tend to distort people's features...often in an unattractive way. So the longer the lens, the more flat, and thus flattering the tend to look.

    Another factor is DOF. Wider apertures and longer focal lengths can give you shallower DOF, which is often a nice effect for portraits.

    So the 85mm F1.8 lens is a good choice, the 85mm F1.2 L is a great choice.
    A 100mm lens might be a better choice.
    A 70-200mm F2.8 lens would be a good (and versatile) choice.

    My favorite lens (that I own) for portraits is my 70-200mm F2.8 L IS.
     
  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Because it is a cropped sensor, with an 85mm lens, you cannot get the same framing as if it were on a FF body. To photograph a standing, six foot tall person with an 85mm lens on a 1.6x APS-C camera, you must have the camera 34 feet from the subject in order to get a field of view that is 8.47 feet tall, which allows some head-space and foot-space, and also allows for a slight bit of cropping. The facts are the facts, and the above is a fact.

    The problem? At 34 feet, the camera to subject distance is so long, your backgrounds are going to be rendered relatively in-focus, especially at apertures where you need to shoot flash or flash fill-in. If tou are forced to do full-length portraits of people from close range with an APS-C body, ou need to resort to very short focal length lenses, in the 19-31mm focal length range, leading to exceptionally deep depth of field, with backgrounds that are very much recognizable.

    Longer lenses help somewhat, but the smaller sensor and increased shooting distances of APS-C more than offset the focal length advantages of 85 to 100mm lenses. It's a vicious Catch-22. Still, if you need a lens suggestion for an APS-C, my favorite is Canon's 70-200 2.8 L IS--it has some of the nicest bokeh of any Canon lens, and handles well, focuses great (fast,reliable focus),has a fantastic stablizer system,and has good resale value. It simply delivers great images, shot after shot,with optical quality that is very "prime lens like". I see the name "Photography" in your sig; have you considered how awesome the original 5D is as a portrait camera?
     
  4. S Dot B Photography

    S Dot B Photography TPF Noob!

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    thanks for all the information i appreciate it, it was very helpful before i posted this thread, these are the lenses i was thinking of buying.

    zoom
    Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Standard Zoom Lens


    wide lens
    Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM SLR Lens


    Prime Lens
    Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens

    and this for fisheye
    Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye Lens

    let me know what you guys think.
     
  5. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    Lets set the record straight. Lenses don't cause the compression or exaggeration described in one post. They have absolutely no direct effect on perspective. The distance between the subject and camera is the sole influence. The lens' focal length relative to the size of the film/sensor merely determines the field of view at any one chosen distance.

    Any recommendation of a particular focal length lens for some particular use must include a mention of the film/sensor format. Without this, the recommendation is meaningless, period.

    For good portraits, you generally need to have the subject 6-10 feet from the camera. Closer or further way leads to an unnatural rendition of facial features. Too close and noses seem too large and long and ears too small. Too far away and faces seem flat.

    To determine the best focal length lens you need to first determine what type of portrait you are going after. Are you wanting tight face and a touch of shoulder or a 3/4 length waist up or perhaps a full length standing shot. Once you determine the framing you then choose the focal length that yields that framing at an appropriate distance (6-10ft).

    As a general rule, 3/4 length and full length shoots work well with lenses with a Normal focal length (FL=diagonal measure of film/sensor image or 42mm for "full frame" and 28mm for the common crop sensor DSLR). Tight head and shoulders and face only shots are generally best done with one about 2-3x that long (50-85 on crop sensor DSLRs, 85-135 on FF). When using medium formats (there are several) and large formats the proper FL should be scaled up accordingly. With very large formats, other factors come into play that don't affect small cameras.
     
  6. eric-holmes

    eric-holmes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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  7. TiCoyote

    TiCoyote TPF Noob!

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    Big Mike,

    You always have great info. Your profile says you shoot with a 20D, and that's an APS-C. Doesn't using a 70-200 mean you need to be very far away to get a whole body shot? Once you're that far away, how do you get the background OOF?
     
  8. Big Mike

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

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    Yes, sometimes I do have to back up quite a bit when shooting with the 70-200mm. And yes, being farther away from your subject will deepen your DOF. But shooting with a longer focal length will shorten your DOF....so it almost balances out.
    If I'm shooting a group or a wider shot of a single subject, I won't hesitate to drop the 70-200mm and use a 17-50mm lens.

    If you choose your background carefully, it might look OK without having to completely blur it out.
     

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