Taking Portaits help

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by lordson, Oct 30, 2007.

  1. lordson

    lordson TPF Noob!

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    Hi guys, I have a Sigma 18-200mm, and take alot of portraits. its 50:50 portaits:landscapes

    i've found anything below 35mm creates too much barrel distortion with the person's face

    what the best focal length to take portraits with that lens?

    and should i pony up for a 50mm 1.4? they're about $300AUD, which is alot of money

    whats the best lens for taking portraits with? i would often be indoors in low light situations. i'm not even going to consider an external flash for the time being. although i know i should get one eventually for the portrait work.

    cheers fellas

    PS. do you guys have any tips for taking portraits? without a full on studio
     
  2. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The 50mm f/1.8 would probably be the best option. If you're complaining about the $300 for the 1.4 then you're not going to like my suggestion to get something in the 70mm range at f/2 because they are even more expensive.

    Mind you for indoor use a 70mm would be too close anyway. The 50mm is a good choice, and the 1.4 is only 1/3rd of a stop faster than the 1.8 anyway.

    As for tips. Try to get creative with lighting. You don't need a studio. 2 fluorescent tubes can give a very interesting effect.
     
  3. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    The normal range of portrait lenses is 85-135. You don't say what camera you have but I'm assuming it's an aps-c, so you'd be looking at 50-85mm.
     
  4. Juls

    Juls TPF Noob!

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    There are people here that know a lot more than me, but I love my 50 f/1.8 lens. As far as lighting, a big window letting in lots of light with a reflector on the other side can give a nice effect. I believe my reflector was an ebay deal but you could make one with a big piece of cardboard with shiney paper attatched- or even painted. I like my gold side best for portraits but it depends on the color of the natural light coming in from the window. If it is a cooler light the warmer gold light reflecting can be too much. In that case I use my silver or white depending on how much light I want bounced. Good luck!
     
  5. Sideburns

    Sideburns TPF Noob!

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    Just get the 50 1.8....it's much cheaper and you can see if you like it. Plus, it's optically great.
     
  6. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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  7. nossie

    nossie TPF Noob!

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    I like this book on Posing Techniques. It's a broad introductory and so it gets mixed reviews but I like it because it deals with real people like fatties and baldies and not just expensive models.
     
  8. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Wow, its rare that I see reviews this bad for any book!

    I think I would prefer to spend an afternoon on flickr.com looking at portrait shots, taking notes and selecting 10 favs and trying them out... and then playing with them. An easy way to waste 4-6 hours with your favorite model and really learn what looks good and what doesn't look good, IMHO.
     
  9. photogoddess

    photogoddess TPF Noob!

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    85mm f1.2 is my favorite - tasty but spendy. The slower version of the 85mm would work well too.
     
  10. nossie

    nossie TPF Noob!

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    Jerry re: Posing Techniques I think this isn't the prettiest of books because it uses real people/amateur models and realistic lighting but as I said that's why I like it.
    I have another book that I won't name that is completely unrealistic since it's a book of big budget shoots claiming to be a beginners guide.
     
  11. elsaspet

    elsaspet TPF Noob!

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    If you are using the 35 on a full frame, then yeah, if you get too close, you are going to get that. If you are on a full frame though, I would think you could stand further back and simply crop in.
    However, I agree with PG that the 85 1.8 is a killer portrait lens, as is the 24-70, and the 70-200.
     
  12. Mike Jordan

    Mike Jordan TPF Noob!

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    I think the 400mm end of the Canon 100-400 4.5/5.6L makes a killer portrait lens. Of course you have to have a pretty long studio to be able to shoot with 400 indoors, though. Or use an extension tube to shorten the focus on it. But if you haven't tried a head and shoulders at 400mm, (you would need a really really long studio to do a full length or group shot ;)), and you have this lens or another one in that range, give it a try.

    For all others, there is no single perfect portrait lens. It all comes down to what you are trying to achive, the space you have to work, if you are shooting single or multiple people, if you want full length, head and shoulders, close crop face... etc. The single best lens is the one that lets you achive what you are going after. If you buy one lens, then you are going to be boxed in to shooting at the perspective of that lens. After awhile, your poses are going to start looking the same and you will find it hard to get out of the rut of shooting portraits that way. So don't think of a single portrait lens... make each lens you have the best portrait lens for it's capability.

    Mike
     

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