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  • Lens for portrait

    I recently went to a model photo shoot and decided to use my lens kit which is 18-55. One of the photographers commented that I should not be using the kit lens. So, I asked if my zoom lens would be good. No answer. Then the photographer went on about spending money for a better lens to get better pictures. What kind of lens would you use when taking model or portrait photos?

    Sample of photos I took with my T1i lens kit 18-55 IS.

    Nicole Elias


    Christa Froehly


    Lauren Sierra
    lrivetz
    Rebel T3i, EF-S 18-200mm F3.5-5.6 IS, EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM, EF Lens - 50 mm - F/1.8
    123RF | Flickr | Facebook

  • #2
    I use the cheapo 50mm f/1.8 until I buy a better one. It's nice, and sharp for the price. The bokeh is the ugliest crap, but it works.
    500px

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    • #3
      Use whatever lens needed to get the image you envision.

      You can take nice images with a kit lens if you know what you're doing. I'm sure there are plenty of folks with nice L lenses I could out-shoot with a kit lens.

      Having said that... there are some lenses that are considered 'ideal' for portraiture. Basically anything that'll allow you to shoot at 70mm-100mm is what you often hear of as 'ideal'.

      50mm, while good, is still considered a bit "short" when used on a full frame camera.. on a cropped sensor (yours) it'll be more like 75mm, so in that way it'd be a good choice especially since it's cheap and allows you to play with fast lenses.

      What I'd do, is spend a lot of time on places like flickr, find photos that you think are something you'd want to do, and look at the exif info. Then you'll know what many others are using.

      Good luck.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by BigFuzzy View Post
        You can take nice images with a kit lens if you know what you're doing. I'm sure there are plenty of folks with nice L lenses I could out-shoot with a kit lens.
        Al is right on. You're producing really nice work with your kit lens, so don't be in too much of a rush to spend money if you are only doing it because someone told you to. In my experience studio work can level the playing field between lenses.

        I shoot portraits across the entire focal range I own, from 24mm to 200mm. The first real lens I bought was the 24mm f/1.4L. Definitely not the "ideal" portrait lens, but who cares? I like sweeping, wide angle environmental portraits so that's what I bought. Do the same. Find what you like to shoot, and buy the lens that best lets you do that.
        Mike Evers
        Rentham Creative | Twitter | Facebook

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        • #5
          I shoot portraits across the entire focal range I own, from 24mm to 200mm. The first real lens I bought was the 24mm f/1.4L. Definitely not the "ideal" portrait lens, but who cares? I like sweeping, wide angle environmental portraits so that's what I bought. Do the same. Find what you like to shoot, and buy the lens that best lets you do that.
          I know this isn't a contest... but I clearly win with my portrait below at 12mm.


          Any lens is a portrait lens.

          I did this with a 12-24 f/2.8.

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          • #6
            Yeah, the kit lens gets some hate, Some of it somewhat deserved, but it can be a workhorse if you know its strength's and weaknesses, and when it comes kitted you can hardly beat the price.

            The 70-200 f/2.8 IS II is a portrait lens that is hugely lusted after, and for good reason, but of course it's a minimum of two grand to own one.

            Longer lengths tend to be preferred for portraiture, at the longer lengths you avoid distortion which makes for a more flattering image, while compressing and separating your subject from their background. You can of course use wide angle lenses and focal lengths to creative effect, but it takes proper positioning of your model or subject to avoid unflattering distortions. I always liked this article on the subject, not on lenses specifically but the variations in focal length for portraiture: Focal lengths in portraits

            That said, you might look at various prime lenses for studio portraits, you can get higher quality glass for less than you would pay for sharp / fast zoom lenses. The 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 are popular choices. I found my 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro lens very handy for pulling double duty for macro work and a very nice portrait lens in general.
            My flickriver

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            • #7
              One of my favorite things to do is go wide, and shoot at an upward angle on my female subjects. Oh noes, teh distortion!
              Mike Evers
              Rentham Creative | Twitter | Facebook

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              • #8
                Talk to the hand, yo
                My flickriver

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                • #9
                  Haha well played, sir.
                  Mike Evers
                  Rentham Creative | Twitter | Facebook

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by lrivetz View Post
                    I recently went to a model photo shoot and decided to use my lens kit which is 18-55. One of the photographers commented that I should not be using the kit lens. So, I asked if my zoom lens would be good. No answer. Then the photographer went on about spending money for a better lens to get better pictures. What kind of lens would you use when taking model or portrait photos?
                    I'm a prime junkie, and I love thin DoF, and I shoot long, so I'd be using a fast prime (f/2 or wider), longer than 50mm. Given your kit, I'd have gone for the 100/2.8 Macro. Given my kit, I'd have used my EF 135 f/2L USM or 85mm f/1.8 USM on my 5Dii.

                    But. That's me.

                    You're not me. And you're not this other guy. You're you. What equipment works for a photographer is a personal thing and can change from situation to situation. Which is why asking someone else what they would use can sometimes be completely useless information. Some folks love zooms, others love primes. Some folks prefer to stay stopped down to the small apertures for crystal clarity and to blast the light, others like to use available light and blur the backgrounds to fuzzy mush. It's about what you want, and what you like, and what and how you shoot.
                    I shoot with a Canon 5DmkII, 50D, and S90, and Pansonic GX-7. flickr stream and equipment list

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                    • #11
                      Primes are nice. 50 1.4 is always good, but an 85 or 100 are also very good because you can put a little distance between you and the subject which can make the model feel a little more comfortable.
                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/erik_unger/

                      https://plus.google.com/113279201747269609190/posts

                      http://www.erikrichardunger.com

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                      • #12
                        I'd love to get a nifty fifty, but since I can't afford it I've been using my 55-200mm zoom. I get much better results than with my 18-105 kit lens so for now I'll keep using that until I can afford the 50 I want.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Aboiement View Post
                          I know this isn't a contest... but I clearly win with my portrait below at 12mm.
                          I'll see your 12mm and raise you a 6mm
                          Scott
                          Nikon D700, D300, 50mm 1.8, 85mm 1.8, 105mm f2.8, 28-75 f2.8, 35-70 f2.8, 80-200 f2.8

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ceremus View Post
                            ... separating your subject from their background. ...
                            I think the author is shooting in her studio. With seamless background paper, DOF should not an issue for her , i think. I see some background images are printed blur..

                            ;D
                            Last edited by ccting; 01-16-2012, 08:11 AM.

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