Macro lenses make good portrait lenes y/n?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by jaomul, Nov 30, 2015.

  1. jaomul

    jaomul Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I often read reviews and they double up by saying macro lenses generally make good portrait lenses, but then some say they're not good at portraits.

    Any macro I've had was a sharp fast prime lens that imo was good, why do those more in the know say they're not great?


     
  2. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    Depends on the focal length compared to the sensor / film size.

    I sure wouldn't use a 50mm (macro or not) on a full frame DSLR for portraiture, but I'd be happy to use something in the 100-200mm range.
     
  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    The problem I have had with several macro lenses (Canon,SIgma,Nikon,Tamron) ranging from 55mm to 180mm is focusing...many of them have remarkably hair-trigger focusing at distances beyond about three feet, so the degree of focusing precision is sketchy at typical portrait distances. Missed focus, in-focus, missed focus, in-focus, missed focus, missed focus, missed focus, in-focus...that's kind of the way it can go when one millimeter of focusing ring movement is the difference between focusing at 10 feet and focusing at 17 feet. Every macro lens I have ever owned has been a pain in the ass as far as focusing consistently at non-macro distances.
     
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  4. petrochemist

    petrochemist TPF junkie!

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    I can think of a couple of factors some might hold against macro lenses for portraits:
    Macro lenses don't generally have wide apertures, making shallow DOF & potentially subject isolation for difficult.

    Some specialist portrait lenses are specially designed to be soft (which tends to be more flattering for ladies) macro lenses tend to be very sharp.

    The most normal focal lengths for macro lenses are around 100mm which is close to the normal 'ideal' for portraits.
    If photographing an older man with plenty of 'character' in positions where subject isolation is easy macro lenses are excellent. They don't do a bad job with other situations, but faster lenses can have significant advantages.
     
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  5. beagle100

    beagle100 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    actually those "in the know" say macro lens are pretty good for portraits.
    sure, you can get better portrait lens (larger aperture, longer focal length) but it's going to costs more.

    https://farm1.staticflickr.com/641/22302257498_b14f6dab85_k.jpg
     
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  6. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    I don't see any difference between a 100mm f/2.8 prime and a 100mm f/2.8 macro, at least in terms of max apertures.
     
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  7. beagle100

    beagle100 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    not much difference there but photographers that shoot a lot of portraits prefer a larger aperture and longer focal length, such as this person ljholloway photography
     
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  8. jaomul

    jaomul Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Thanks for interesting responses
     
  9. JustJazzie

    JustJazzie Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Interesting note! I reall do get hit and miss focus on my 150mm sigma macro. Even when I am sure to shoot at 1/250 or faster. I thought it was me!
     
  10. DB_Cro

    DB_Cro No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    How badly can it miss?
    I'd just stop it down a bit and that'll probably fix it.
    I'd gladly use a macro lens for portraits if it was at least 85mm eq.
     
  11. Dave442

    Dave442 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I don't have a specific portrait lens. If someone asks for a portrait I will usually either use the 70-300mm or my 60mm macro on my crop-body camera. The macro works OK for me, like Derrell mentioned I have had the lens rack through the very large focus range.

    I feel that the macro is usable, but not great, for portrait.

    Just this Sunday I took some impromptu portrait shots where an 85mm or my 70-300mm would have been too long. Every kid was standing about 2 meters from the subjects and taking full body shots with their cell phones, I was at 2.66 meters and shooting sort of over and between them just getting some half-body portrait shots with the 60mm macro wide-open (just a quick check shows I had a 0.2 meters DOF). A short time later I was taking some macro shots of flowers from 0.2 meters with a whopping 0.003 meters DOF.
     
  12. nerwin

    nerwin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I like my 105 2.8G macro lens, lovely bokeh and fast focus. Mine doesn't rack through the focus range when doing stuff like portraits because it has a limit focus switch which limits the focus range so it doesn't rack through the whole focus range.
     

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