Best portrait lens?


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Nov 8, 2007
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Wichita, KS
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I have a 400$ limit on a lens and a back drop.

I'm doing more and more portrait and model photography and I realized that when I start my business that's all I want to do.

Anyone got some good advice as to lens' and backdrops that could help me? and in the line of my 400- maybe 500$ limit?

The backdrop I was thinking a black and a netural like cream or something.

I can always use the stuff from the studio like I'm doing now.. but I'd much rather have my own.
erm...if you work in a studio, you should be in a position to know what's best.
yea but i don't know whats the best. If you are going to make smart remarks then just stay out of the thread please.
I personally don't see either of our responses as being 'smart'. I find it quite logical that before entering into business of any kind, and in turn charging people for your time and talent, this should be quite basic knowledge.

For some a 35mm is ideal, for other 50mm, for myself an 85mm. However others like the 24-70. Others the 70-200mm. Then you could use a T&S if you really felt out there. Does that clear things up a bit?
What kind of camera are you using?
personally i bought a second hand canon 50mm f1.8 which is a very nice lens especially for ÂŁ90 but i only really find it good for head and shoulder portraits but this is due to the cropped frame sensor on my 30D, a 24-105mm L would be the best for your uses but im not sure of the second hand prices in the US. As for your background i made some really cheap ones by buying a massive length of material (i got 4m x 1.5m) which still isnt really wide enough, but i just rolled these onto poles and i hang them up in my garage (or studio in my case :p) just make sure its pretty thick material. They dont work perfectly but with a lil more effort the end product still looks amazing. Also if you are looking at a home studio your gonna need a massive space, i still find a 2 car garage too small for shooting people, i have to shoot much wider than i would like when i want a full body shot (its best not to use a small focal length and this distorts features, makes people look fatter than they are.) Also, get some step ladders! im amazed at how useful they are.
A set of good primes starting with 50mm and 85mm.

My personal preference would be start with a lighter neutral back drop.

IMO, the lighting takes precedence over lens selection when it comes to studios......
The lens you choose depends on your personal style. As far as just "portrait" lenses I might suggest a good prime. But if you want a little more flexibility a 70-200 f/2.8 VR/IS depending on your system would be the way to go.
well baring in mind what camera you have and the budget I'd say

the Canon 35mm F2

and the Canon 50mm F1.4

if that is over budget then change the 1.4 for the 50 1.8

then when you can afford it the possibly go for a 70-200 F2.8 for a 24-70 F2.8
agreed on what others said, it depends on your style/ setting. I personally use the 24-70L for my portraits. What system are you using? Its hard to recommend specific lenses without knowing format.
I believe I recall you saying you use Nikon?

The 70-200 is near legendary, however you almost cannot ever beat the quality of a prime lens. The 105mm seems to be very popular with the pro crowd, obviously a fast F/2.8. Of course there is no reason one cannot use any other prime beween 30-105mm effectively in a portrait situation.

The 50-70 range is good for full body range and the 105mm range is excellent for head and bust shots, of course if you have the room to step back, there is no reason you could not use a 105 in a full body situation.

IMHO, best quality portraits demand a prime... what size depends on your needs and budget.

The Sigma 105mm F/2.8 prime will easily fit within your budget and give very good results.
Well that changes things a bit. The crop factor on each camera is different, and lenses especially primes will suit one more than the other.

Lost Prophet's 35mm f/2 suggestion is good for full body sized shots on the XTi, but would be too wide on the 5D. A 50mm f/1.4 would suit that one better.
So, Should I just get both? I use the xti more.. I only use the 5d if I'm in the studio and no one else is using it..

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