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Author Topic: Portrait lens for canon  (Read 3042 times)
mollycusack
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« on: November 17, 2013, 05:30:51 AM »
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I have a Canon 5D Mark three a 50mm lens and a 24-70 mm lens and I am after a new portrait lens.
I'd be using it predominantly for weddings and environmental portraits.

can anyone please give me any suggestions as to which one I should consider? I'm thinking about a prime fix lens.

Thanks

Molly
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k bennett
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2013, 08:53:24 AM »
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Sure thing. The Canon 85mm f/1.8, and the Canon 100mm f/2.0 are excellent choices, and not very expensive. The Canon 135mm f/2.0 is wonderful, too, but might be a little too long depending on your style and what you want to shoot. My personal preference is for something in the 100mm range, as I think the 85 is a little too wide on a full frame sensor. Also, the 85 is awfully close to the long end of your zoom, so maybe the 100 would work for you, too.

If money is absolutely no object, the Canon 85mm f/1.2 is completely awesome, but it's really best used under controlled conditions as it's hard to focus accurately during an event. Well, at least I find it so.

(Finally, when you get one of these lenses, you'll want to do the AF micro adjustment on your camera, to make sure it's focusing accurately to begin with. It's easy enough to do, though somewhat time consuming.)
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allegretto
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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2013, 10:00:05 AM »
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Wedding???

Canon 85mm f/1.2 really has no peer. You can crop the overhang, you cannot "add" framing. Sigma has new lens down there tha many are raving about IIRC. But resale of non-system brands always haunts me

Add a light 50 (cheap f/1.4, I don't like the feel of the 1.8 no matter what Rockwell says) and a 28-35 range prime. AF here isn't as important due to depth of focus of these guys, but since you're selling pics you want as many snappy shots as possible so the AF 35 1.4 is great.

The 50 is light, the other two... well a bit heftier.

With good glass cropping is no big deal, but YMMV
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atassy
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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2013, 12:20:26 PM »
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when i still had my canon gear, for events like weddings i used the 24-70 f/2.8 and the 135 f/2.0. you can cover everything with this combination, and without carrying excessive weight (ok the zoom isn't light but you probably wouldn't want to be without it).

i had the 85 as well but felt it was too close to the long end of the zoom so reserved it for exclusively portrait sessions only. the 135 really helps as it gives you that bit more reach across a larger room that the zoom is lacking. it's also an awesome lens in its own right.
then for portraits you can either use the longer end of the zoom or the 135, depending on situation and what you're after.
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SecondFocus
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« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2013, 08:37:14 PM »
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Photographers always think the best lens for anything is always the one they don't own Smiley
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Ian L. Sitren
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« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2013, 08:19:43 AM »
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Photographers always think the best lens for anything is always the one they don't own Smiley

Very good point!

One thing, I used to only own and shoot primes. With weddings, you might consider having a high quality zoom. That way you can better handle and capture good images in spontaneous situations. With todays quality in the best zooms, there really is not a big compromise.
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2013, 09:30:29 AM »
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The following recommendations are based on shooting with other full frame Canon cameras, the EOS 1Ds Mark III and the 1D X:

EF 85mm f/1.8: great lens and compared to the price of the half stop faster option, a bargain.

Canon EF 135mm f2L: peerless performance from wide open to deeply stopped down coupled with how this focal length lens "draws" perspective with portraits (this is based on the increased subject to camera distance for the same framing compared to shorter focal lengths)  is something my clients find  very flattering.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2013, 07:47:56 PM by Ellis Vener » Logged

Ellis Vener
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allegretto
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« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2013, 09:44:58 AM »
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Do you have much experience with the Zeiss MF's?


The following recommendations are based on shootign wiht other full frame Canon cameras, the EOS 1Ds Mark III and the 1D X:

EF 85mm f/1.8: great lens and compared to the price of the half stop faster option, a bargain.
Canon EF135mm f2L: peerless performance from wide open to deeply stopped down coupled with how this focal length lens "draws" perspective with portraits (this is based on the increased subject to camera distance for the same framing compared to shorter focal lengths)  is something my clients find  very flattering.
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2013, 09:52:46 AM »
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The 85mm 1.8 was my go to lens for years when shooting weddings, a great all purpose portrait lens than rarely is found wanting. I did however prefer the drawing style of the 100mm f2 and wish my 85mm had it. Just a touch softer and more pleasant. The 85L of course is the king of gorgeous rendering for a short telephoto portrait lens IMO.
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mahleu
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« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2013, 10:02:24 AM »
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For most of the wedding day (the preparation, ceremony and reception) I have a 24-105 and 70-200 mounted. There is always a lot happening in a lot of different places so the zoom is fairly critical. If I have more time or the lighting demands it (I love those dark churches where they don't allow flash...) then on goes a faster prime.

I had an 85mm F1.8 and it was lovely, especially for the price. I may get another. But I prefer the flexibility of a zoom unless i'm doing only taking photos of a single person.
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Jim Pascoe
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« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2013, 11:48:00 AM »
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Hi Molly

For weddings I use my 85mm 1.8 a lot - I leave my wife to lug the 70-200 these days - I like to travel light (is that possible with a 1Ds?).  For location portrait shoots I usually now only use the 85 and rarely anything else.  Outdoors I can run back and forth to get my zoom and the 85 is so small and light I love it.  I did once yearn for the 1.2 but when I tried it I found it heavy and slow to focus.  So for once cheap is good - for me anyway.
This shoot I did a couple of weeks ago was all shot on the 85 1.8 except for one picture - the one of the family around the gnarled tree which was shot on a Zeiss 50mm f2.
http://jimpascoephotography.zenfolio.com/kavanagh

Regarding the 135mm f2 - it is a beautiful lens, but I just find it too long for a fixed focal length.  But it does all depend on your shooting style.

Jim
 
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Lightsmith
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« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2013, 08:24:27 PM »
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I do not understand why everyone thinks that a prime is the only way to go for portrait photography. This is a relatively recent development with the copycat trend of shallow DOF and out of focus facial features. The longer the lens the larger the aperture can be and still have the background out of focus and a pleasing bokeh. The 70-200mm f2.8 is more effective in more situations than a 85mm prime, the lens everyone makes a kneejerk response and buys.

With Canon another very nice lens is the 24-105mm f4 IS lens. Effective in low light and with the ability to have a slower shutter speed while shooting at f5.6 or f8 as may be needed to have adequate DOF when camera to subject distances are limited.

Check the DOF tables for different focal lengths and apertures and compare that to the working distances you normally encounter with weddings and with outdoor work. For outdoors the 24-105mm would be the shortest lens I would want to use. The more you can crop in camera the less post processing work will be needed and with wedding photography the time required is already way out of hand. In this regard digital has been more of a curse compared to the days shooting weddings with film.
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barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2013, 08:04:53 AM »
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Lots of choices here.
70-200mm's are popular and useful for portraits (take your pick f2.8/f4 will do fine too) various offerings from third party makers too
85mm f1.4/1.8

Some use a macro lens anything from 90mm to 105mm will be decent

I think the 70-200mm would be most useful for weddings (if you are into longer shots not everyone is)
Quite a few folks have a prime too, really depends on the speed you want/price/size

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Jim Pascoe
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« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2013, 12:03:26 PM »
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I do not understand why everyone thinks that a prime is the only way to go for portrait photography. This is a relatively recent development with the copycat trend of shallow DOF and out of focus facial features. The longer the lens the larger the aperture can be and still have the background out of focus and a pleasing bokeh. The 70-200mm f2.8 is more effective in more situations than a 85mm prime, the lens everyone makes a kneejerk response and buys.

With Canon another very nice lens is the 24-105mm f4 IS lens. Effective in low light and with the ability to have a slower shutter speed while shooting at f5.6 or f8 as may be needed to have adequate DOF when camera to subject distances are limited.

Check the DOF tables for different focal lengths and apertures and compare that to the working distances you normally encounter with weddings and with outdoor work. For outdoors the 24-105mm would be the shortest lens I would want to use. The more you can crop in camera the less post processing work will be needed and with wedding photography the time required is already way out of hand. In this regard digital has been more of a curse compared to the days shooting weddings with film.

Not sure that "everyone thinks prime lenses are the way to go".  But for me they have become my preferred option.  I have had a 70-200 2.8 for 12 years and shot hundreds of weddings and portrait shoots with it.  However I now use an 85 for most of that work.  I'm sure you have compared the weight of the Canon 70-200 2.8 with the Canon 85 1.8.  One is like lugging a house-brick around, the other can fit easily in a jacket pocket and weighs next to nothing.  Have you noticed the price difference too.  In addition, a small lens is much less ostentatious in many situations and for portrait shoots (outdoors) it is easy to frame by walking forwards or backwards.  Shallow depth of field may be a copycat trend to you, but I have shot that way for a very long time.  I was using prime lenses on a Mamiya RB67 a long time ago. And anyway - the 85mm does have the ability to be stopped down to a smaller aperture too.  You cannot open an f4 lens up to f2. I would not claim one lens is better than another, but for me I have made my choice and the OP is asking for opinions.

Jim
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eronald
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« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2013, 03:22:56 PM »
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You need to check that the camera you get can focus whatever you need to use in the appropriate light conditions. In other words you need to test; specs alone do not predict what will happen.

A very interesting $350 combo wide open is a Rebel with a $100 50/1.8. You can get the Rebel cheaply preowned, the lens I would buy new as they are sensitive to drops.

The 85/1.2 and 135/2 work reliably on cameras with good focus. I don't know if the 5D3 is one of these, the 5D2 is not. The 1Ds2 and earlier have an issue in that they have no fine focus adjustment and therefore may need to be sent back for adjustment with these lenses.
 
Edmund
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Edmund Ronald, Ph.D. 
TMARK
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« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2013, 03:32:35 PM »
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The 135L is one of the fastest focuing lenses I've ever used, on everything from a 5D (good), 5D2 (less good), 1ds, 1ds2, 1ds3 (GREAT).

The 85 1.2II is slowish but accurate on a 5D, same on the 5D2, and great on the 1ds series. Its not an easy lens to use, at first.  At F2.2 the focusing errors, however slight, are generally covered by DOF.

You need to check that the camera you get can focus whatever you need to use in the appropriate light conditions. In other words you need to test; specs alone do not predict what will happen.

A very interesting $350 combo wide open is a Rebel with a $100 50/1.8. You can get the Rebel cheaply preowned, the lens I would buy new as they are sensitive to drops.

The 85/1.2 and 135/2 work reliably on cameras with good focus. I don't know if the 5D3 is one of these, the 5D2 is not. The 1Ds2 and earlier have an issue in that they have no fine focus adjustment and therefore may need to be sent back for adjustment with these lenses.
 
Edmund
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eronald
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« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2013, 05:03:11 PM »
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The 135L is one of the fastest focuing lenses I've ever used, on everything from a 5D (good), 5D2 (less good), 1ds, 1ds2, 1ds3 (GREAT).

The 85 1.2II is slowish but accurate on a 5D, same on the 5D2, and great on the 1ds series. Its not an easy lens to use, at first.  At F2.2 the focusing errors, however slight, are generally covered by DOF.


At 1.2 the focusing errors are certainly *not* covered by DOF  Tongue

Image below taken at very high ISO shows the typical falloff pattern of the 135. There is unfortunately no iris detail due to my incompetent focus, and the high ISO and very bad light under which this image made. As we all know, the 85 has an incredible 1.5 stops (!) advantage over the fast 135, and needs to be focused with great care.


Edmund

« Last Edit: December 09, 2013, 05:04:56 PM by eronald » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2013, 08:04:14 PM »
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"I do not understand why everyone thinks that a prime is the only way to go for portrait photography. This is a relatively recent development with the copycat trend of shallow DOF and out of focus facial features. "

So true.  At least for me as it has been my preferred way of working ( using smaller  lighter weight, larger maximum aperture to make focusing easier even if I shoot well stopped down, single focal length rather than bigger, bulkier and heavier, zoom lenses with smaller maximun aperture zooms) for only the past thirty years.  I guess I'm the cat everyone has been copying.  Smiley

"The 70-200mm f2.8 is more effective in more situations than a 85mm prime"z

I have both. Both have their place. With portraits I want to get the gear out of the clients face as much as possible and let's be honest: any 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is a big hunk of metal and glass to stick into someone's face from a short distance away and while backing off to shoot the same framing of the main subject at 200mm  it has it's aesthetic advantages (compressing  perspective, moderating the degree of background detail), the further away I am the less psychological contact I have with the sitter.

"With Canon another very nice lens is the 24-105mm f4 IS lens."

I've had three and rented two or three others. None met my criteria. Nice decent lens. nice range of focal lengths, but ultimately it's a lens that doesn't work for me.

"The more you can crop in camera the less post processing work will be needed and with wedding photography the time required is already way out of hand. In this regard digital has been more of a curse compared to the days shooting weddings with film."

On that I agree with you whole heartedly.
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Ellis Vener
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TMARK
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« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2013, 09:03:27 PM »
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It's not really usable at 1.2, at least reliably, and certainly not with AF. I've used the 85L for a long time. It certainly works better with a 1ds series body.  At 1.8 it works well.

At 1.2 the focusing errors are certainly *not* covered by DOF  Tongue

Image below taken at very high ISO shows the typical falloff pattern of the 135. There is unfortunately no iris detail due to my incompetent focus, and the high ISO and very bad light under which this image made. As we all know, the 85 has an incredible 1.5 stops (!) advantage over the fast 135, and needs to be focused with great care.


Edmund


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eronald
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« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2013, 11:27:07 PM »
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It's not really usable at 1.2, at least reliably, and certainly not with AF. I've used the 85L for a long time. It certainly works better with a 1ds series body.  At 1.8 it works well.


I published a bunch of fashion show images taken with the old version of this lens, and at one point used it for much of my own work.

As I remember, in a strong close up, my trick was using single point AF to bring an eye into focus, and then moving my head until the precise spot I wanted was sharp.

It's one of the rare lenses with strong personality and sharpness combined, and in fact cheaper than most MF lenses ...

Edmund
« Last Edit: December 09, 2013, 11:38:16 PM by eronald » Logged

Edmund Ronald, Ph.D. 
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