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Author Topic: need a portrait lens, help please!!  (Read 1747 times)
stacibeth
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« on: June 18, 2013, 09:37:19 PM »
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I recently had a baby and my current kit is lacking a good portrait lens

I currently have the canon 1ds mark3, i have a bunch of lenses but mainly use my 24-105L as my all purpose ,  100mm f2.8 for tabletop, and a schneider 28mm PC  for architecture, but I really need a nice portrait lens, I've tried to use my 100, but everything comes out blurry when shooting at 2.8, and probably due to the fact it has no IS.

Any recommendations?
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2013, 09:49:57 PM »
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I do not think you would need a new portrait lens. You already have two in the 100-105mm range, which is traditionally considered as "ideal" for portraits. IS is not going to help when shooting moving subjects, like your baby. If "everything comes out blurry," the possible cause is a low shutter speed you use. For a 100mm lens, the minimum speed should be at least 1/125s. Another possibility is a rather shallow depth-of-field at f/2.8.
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EduPerez
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« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2013, 03:34:45 AM »
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If your photographs are blurry at f/2.8, but not at other apertures, then I guess it is because of the shallow depth of field, and no IS is going to help here; if you are experiencing motion blur, then closing down the diaphragm should force you to use a longer exposure time, and thus produce even more motion blur.

First of all, I would try to clarify which kind of blur we are dealing with.
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stacibeth
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« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2013, 05:55:44 AM »
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It's a macro lens, could that have anything to do with it?
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petermfiore
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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2013, 06:12:00 AM »
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What ISO are you shooting at? You may want boost this for obvious reasons. Faster shutter and smaller aperture.

I have the the 100 2.8 macro and works wonderfully for portraits. But my subjects are not moving at baby speed.

Peter
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2013, 09:51:47 AM »
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You need to get yourself a speedlite and if you want nice smooth light point it at the ceiling,  assuming your ceiling is some shade of white. Getting it off camera and bouncing the light off the ceiling  is an even better idea.  I like the cables from http://www.OCFgear.com for that purpose when I don't want to use a wireless E-TTL sync solution.

The flash from the flash won' hurt your baby's eyes as long as you don't fire it from a couple of feet away straight into the kid's eyes,  will give you control over what the lighting looks like, produce enough light that you can work at a smaller f-stop, and the duration of the flash is brief enough that it will freeze motion.
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Ellis Vener
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Sheldon N
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« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2013, 10:29:19 AM »
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Good advice from Ellis. Learning how to use a speedlight to bounce the light will open up a whole additional level of options for you. Here's a good selections of tutorials on bounce flash to read up on, some basics listed first, then scroll down to the bounce flash info.

http://neilvn.com/tangents/index/flash-photography/

Your 100mm f/2.8 lens is the perfect lens for baby photography, and your 24-105 will also work well.

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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2013, 11:01:43 AM »
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It's a macro lens, could that have anything to do with it?

No.

Unless, of course, it was in macro range (and manual focus mode) and you did not re-focus it. I assume you are actually focusing on baby eyes, either manually or with autofocus, and you can SEE in the viewfinder that the eyes are in focus.
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Slobodan

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stacibeth
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« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2013, 09:04:49 PM »
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So I tried again today shooting with the 100mm portraits of my walking moving baby, and again maybe only 1 out of every 20 images was in focus and sharp. I shot outside at f 2.8, and 160th at iso 200/250/320, i also tried at f4, all either blurry, or not sharp. When i use the 100mm on a tripod, for my tabletop work its sharp as can be.

What am I doing wrong?

Is there a different lens I should be using?

Either I am shaking the camera, shes moving too fast, I'm too slow (but at 160th, even at 200th, it not to be sharp??) or my lens is malfunctioning, but then why does it work fine for macro work?
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2013, 09:08:07 PM »
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you need to be shooting with a shorter shutter speed (like in the 1/800 -1/2000 range) which means use a higher ISO if you don't want to use a speedlite.
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Ellis Vener
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2013, 09:24:07 PM »
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So I tried again today shooting with the 100mm portraits of my walking moving baby, and again maybe only 1 out of every 20 images was in focus and sharp. I shot outside at f 2.8, and 160th at iso 200/250/320, i also tried at f4, all either blurry, or not sharp.

You are probably experimenting a combination of subject motion blur and AF "issues".

I would:
- Use a speed no lower than 1/500 sec for a randomly moving baby, 1/1000 is probably better,
- Ensure a good understanding of the AF of your body. Typically I would select only one AF point with good sensitivity (meaning the cross ones pretty close to the center of the viewfinder) and strive to keep the closer eye of the baby within that AF sensor.

I have a 15 months baby girl myself, and when taking images indoor, it takes my D800 to the edge in terms of ISO and AF.

This is in fact one of the most technically challenging subject you can find because:
- With a 100mm lens on a small subject like a 80cm tall baby, you are at pretty close range where AF typically performs worst on most lenses,
- the movement is random and hard to predict,
- you are often in pretty dark indoor conditions.

It wouldn't be reasonable to expect a 100% success rate, but 1/20 is definitely on the low side.

Since I am a Nikon shooter, I don't know much about the Canon 100mm macro other that it is optically excellent. What matters most here is probably AF speed when used in combination with your body. Macro lenses are typically not optimized for AF speed.

Cheers,
Bernard
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A few images online here!
marcmccalmont
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« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2013, 11:12:11 PM »
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I upgraded my Canon 100mm macro to the IS version and for handheld shots it was quite an improvement
Marc
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Marc McCalmont
Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2013, 12:59:16 AM »
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I upgraded my Canon 100mm macro to the IS version and for handheld shots it was quite an improvement
Marc

Which is irrelevant for moving subjects.
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Slobodan

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EduPerez
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« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2013, 03:23:59 AM »
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In my humble opinion, 1/160s is too slow for a 100mm lens and a moving subject; definitively, I would use shorter exposure times to avoid motion blur.

But a moving baby presents another difficulty: you must focus and shot quickly (specially with narrows depth of field), or he may get out of the focusing plane by the time you take the shot. I would set the focusing mode to "AI Servo AF", so the camera adjust the focus as the baby moves; you may also obtain sharper shots dissociating the AF button from the shutter release button, but that takes some practice.
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LesPalenik
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« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2013, 04:07:51 AM »
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The 100mm lens should be perfect. Try F5.6 or F8 instead of 2.8

As the other posters suggest, increasing the shutter speed should fix the problem.
Or maybe you are too close and can't get the subject in focus (check the minimum focusing distance on your lens).

However, a malfunctioning lens is a real possibility. It's easy to find out if the lens works properly.
Take a few shots outside in good light at 1/500s or even 1/1000s. If you get a sharp image, the lens is OK, and all you'll have to do is improve your lighting or raise the ISO.
You might want to vary the aperture to get a feel for DOF, because if you are very close to the baby, at F2.8 you'll be getting only an inch or two in focus. 
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marcmccalmont
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« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2013, 07:18:36 AM »
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Which is irrelevant for moving subjects.
I think you are getting blur from 2 sources the subject moving and your hand moving reducing one of those will help!
Marc
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Marc McCalmont
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« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2013, 08:32:57 AM »
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It's a macro lens, could that have anything to do with it?
Slobodan says no, but as Bernard says, some macro lenses auto focus rather slowly (I think due to the wider range of distances that the focus mechanism has to work over.).  So have you tried using the 24-105/4 instead? Losing the f/2.8 option is not a big worry because as others have said, f/4 or f/5.6 is probably a safer aperture choice anyway for a nearby and moving subject. and I for one have never seen a baby photo that is "artistically enhanced" by extreme shallow DOF effects like having only one eye in focus but not the other: I like to see the whole face!

I personally would prefer raising the ISO and shutter speed and avoid using flash, more so with a baby's eyes in play.
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stever
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« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2013, 09:11:34 AM »
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Ellis has it right about bounce flash for shooting children indoors.  i've used both the Gary Fong Omnibounce and the Lumiquest 80/20, but not sure they're enough better than the a wide setting on a Canon 580 and the white card pulled out.  the results of learning to use the flash are worth it.  if don't have a ceiling or wall to bounce the flash a small soft box mounted on a camera bracket is pretty good.

i've found the 24-105 quite satisfactory - faster focusing than the 100M (be sure you have the distance limits set) and as the kids get bigger much more flexible.  if you really think you need large apertures (which i haven't found to be that useful with kids) the 85 f1.8 is an excellent fast focusing lens at a fairly reasonable price.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2013, 12:55:19 PM »
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One thing that hasn't been mentioned so far: what AF mode are you using: One-Shot, AI Focus or AI Servo?

If you are using One-Shot for moving subjects, then indeed chances are you are going to end up with a lot of blurry pictures. Try AI Servo, in combination with the fastest drive setting for your camera. Focus on the eye closest to the camera, or on the head in case of full figure, and try a sequence of 5-6 shots. At least One should be in focus. Try that first with the 24-105 zoom, as the smaller aperture is going to have more depth-of-field.
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Slobodan

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stacibeth
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« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2013, 08:29:48 PM »
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ok, so i tried again today!

First things first, I am not shooting indoors with a flash/bounce. I am shooting outside in nice afternoon light. I set my iso to 250/320/400/640 and even 800. I tried shooting at f2.8 and sped up my shutter speed to 250, and 400, even 500 still only a few shots were sharp! And only in the cases where she was somewhat still, anytime she was in any kind of motion, the images are either all out blurry or soft. I tried continous shots instead of one shot. I did not try al servo though. Its almost as if the AF is either too slow, or even though the red dot is on her eye, its focused on her nose. I am maybe 5 feet away from her.

I tried testing the lens by shooting my husband holding perfectly still at f7, and mostly sharp but a few soft, but once i had him walk towards me, even at f7  and 400 at iso 640 the images were blurry. I am baffled as too why i can't seem to freeze the image. When I use this lens on a tripod for tabletop macro work, its sharp as can be, but when i want to use it for portraits i'm running into such an issue?Huh?
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