Which of my Lenses should i use for portraits?

Discussion in 'Nikon Lenses' started by miked617, Feb 15, 2019.

  1. miked617

    miked617 TPF Noob!

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    I'm a beginner with a D3400. I usually take photos of landscapes but cars are my passion. However a friend asked me to take portraits of her. Id prefer to just use what i have and not purchase a lense thats "ideal" for portraits. I plan to shoot her indoors and outdoors. The portraits will be for her linkedin page.

    The DX lenses i own are, kit, 35mm, micro 40mm, 55-200 and 70-300. Which lense would be the preferred option for portraits?

    I have a month or so before i need to do this, so i will continue researching here and youtube for additional tips. Any suggestions are appreciated!


     
  2. D7K

    D7K This is the right time.. Supporting Member

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    I'd go with your 35 prime, on a DX it's pretty much a 50 and will be good from 2.2 up.. 70-300 might work if you space your subject and background right and step it down a little. depends if you want close cropped head shots or full body.
     
  3. Strodav

    Strodav TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    It depends on what look you are going for. The D3400 is a DX format camera so multiply the focal length of your lens by 1.5 for the effective 35mm equivalent focal length. For full body shots a good quality 35mm (52mm) will work great. For head and shoulder shots a good quality 50mm (75mm) is a good lens. Your 55-200 might work here. For head shots an 85mm (127mm) is a great lens. Again your 55-200 might work. The most important things are sharpness, separating your model from the background and lighting. Eyes should always be tack sharp. Separating your model from the background, or making sure the background is not too busy just emphasizes that your subject should not get lost in the background. A lot of portraits are shot in natural settings like county or state parks where you can find different natural backgrounds. Lighting is critical. At a minimum get a set of reflectors (cheap) so you can balance the light with just enough shadow to add depth to your model. If you are going to use a flash, buy a softbox attachment (also cheap). There are a lot of online articles, tutorials, and books on portrait photography. Go online to look at the work of other portrait, and maybe fashion, photographers to see what you like and get some ideas. Let your model know it may take a few sessions to get the look you both want to achieve. Experiment and be patient.
     
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  4. miked617

    miked617 TPF Noob!

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    Ok great sounds good. I'll focus on practicing with that lense. Thanks
     
  5. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I would be using the 70-300 out of everything listed for headshots. and the 35mm for wider shots.
     
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  6. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Don't use the 35mm unless you want your friend to look oddly distorted. (Such as a large nose, chin, and forehead, with shoulders that look smaller than normal.) Shorter (wider focal length) lenses introduce more distortion, while longer focal lengths minimize distortion.

    I would use your 70-300 zoom and lean toward the longer focal lengths when you're outdoors, and when you go inside, you'll have to go more toward the shorter end but only because you'll need to back up away from your subject to get more of her in the frame.

    Most photographers want to "fill the frame" with the subject, but you don't have to frame tightly at all if you're then going to edit the photo on your computer. That is where you select the final frame proportions and frame margins. When shooting the portrait shots, leave extra room to allow for straightening the shot before cropping to the desired proportions and margins.

    Show us how it turned out.
     
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  7. miked617

    miked617 TPF Noob!

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    Awesome, i appreciate the feedback everyone. Im excited to try out these recommendations!
     
  8. photoflyer

    photoflyer TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Of the lenses I have my 85mm f 1.8 is my go to portrait lens on my full frame if I know nothing else about the environment in which I will be shooting. I would normally shoot at f 2.8 if the light is sufficient. I know you don't have that lens and you are shooting on a crop sensor but if there is adequate light, the 70-300 shot at 70 and wide open could give you good results. As others have said...it depends.
     
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  9. Dave442

    Dave442 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I often use my 70-300 for portraits. At 300mm and f/5.6 the background is just a wash of color. The 35mm is a great little lens and I actually like to start with that when photographing someone and then use the 70-300. It's easier to speak with someone when you're at the distance for the 35mm, when you then to go to 200 or 300mm the extra distance requires that there is already some good communication going on.

    Recently I picked up the 85mm f/1.4 and just today used that lens for my updated LinkedIn page image to replace the one done with the 70-300 - but the updated image was not due to the lens, it was because I have new frames for my glasses. I took 174 shots and have that down to 5 right now to select the one for LinkedIn.
     
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  10. JTPhotography

    JTPhotography No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Good?

    The 35mm below 2.2 is perfect for portraits.
     
  11. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If you're in to that sort of thing...
     
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  12. JTPhotography

    JTPhotography No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Why wouldn’t one be into it?
     
  13. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    close up portraits with a 35mm, even with the crop factor, will lead to unflattering distortion.

    beyond that, the 35mm simply doesn't have the compression and fov that lend to "perfect" portraits.

    Just compared to a 50mm, filling the frame identically with the subject and all other things being equal, the 50mm shots will tend to look better. 35mm shots will have more background in the shot that's less blurred, which is distracting.

    If you want to include the environment into your portraits, it's a good lens for it. Otherwise, there are better lenses for "perfect portraits" -- especially at f/2.2.
     
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