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Portraiture lenses
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Apr 30, 2013 19:54:45   #
wilsondl2
 
rpavich wrote:
True...but I'm not talking about the definition...I'm talking about what happens when someone gets a "nifty fifty" and does some head shots because they heard it was a "good portrait lens"....


THATS what I've been referring to.


I like longer lenses but you can do quite nicely with a 50 mm lens. On a cropped camera you are the same distance from the subject for a head shot as you would be for a head and shoulder with a full frame. If your subject has a big nose and you want them to look at the camera you can step a little father back and then crop to a head shot in PP The 50mm is a lot faster than the other lenses many photographers have and you can open them up and get a nice blur to your background. My point is that you should be able to make what lenses you have work. - Dave

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Apr 30, 2013 20:18:42   #
selmslie (a regular here)
 
rpavich wrote:
True...but I'm not talking about the definition...I'm talking about what happens when someone gets a "nifty fifty" and does some head shots because they heard it was a "good portrait lens"....

THATS what I've been referring to.

On a crop sensor that's equivalent to 75 or 80mm. That is what makes it a pretty nifty portrait lens if you do a head and upper body shot.

But if they get closer than about 8 feet to do a head shot it's going to get ugly.

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Apr 30, 2013 20:30:49   #
Kuzano
 
A common rule held forever in photography.

"The shorter the focal length, the bigger the nose"...

The lens considered normal for the 35mm frame on film is typically 50 millimeters. That length is approximately the length of the diagonal distance of the frame. That has always been a relative constant on any format. Measure the diagonal of the frame and the normal lens will be that measurement.

For instance on 6X6 cm medium format the normal focal length is 75mm. For negs of 6X9 Cm... the normal lens focal length is 90 to 100.

However, face shots with a normal lens for the format chosen will begin to enlarge the nose in proportion to the face.

Thats why the best lens for portrait head shots is the beginning of the "short telephoto" range. In the case of the 35mm film frame, or Full Frame on digital would be about 85mm to 100 for some.

In the case of a DX (crop) digital, one can get by with a bit shorter lens, because the equivalent focal length will work out the a good portrait length. On a 1.5 factor camera sensor, one could use 60-75mm lens which would created undistorted facial features, equivalent to 90-100 on full frame.

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Apr 30, 2013 21:04:51   #
TedPaul
 
PalePictures, I really like the feel of then portrait.

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Apr 30, 2013 22:21:26   #
PalePictures
 
TedPaul wrote:
PalePictures, I really like the feel of then portrait.


None of what is discussed here will make much difference in creating a portrait with a "feel". That's where the art comes in.

The difference between the technician and the artist.

The technician builds walls with rules and opinions.
He deals in black and white... yes and no.
The psychological need to be right overrides everything.

The artist deals with "50 Shades of Gray".

We know too much and are convinced of too little.
The few things we are convinced of imprison's us more.

Pardon me.

I had a philosophical moment.

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Apr 30, 2013 22:35:49   #
GoofyNewfie
 
PalePictures wrote:

I had a philosophical moment.


We could use more of them here sometimes.
Thanks for the break.

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Apr 30, 2013 22:55:59   #
Jblanke
 
portcragin wrote:
Great discussion. That's what this forum is all about....
Thanks to all that participated.

Good shooting


Me, too. I'm learning a ton!!

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Apr 30, 2013 23:58:17   #
Jblanke
 
[quote=portcragin]Great discussion. That's what this forum is all about....
Thanks to all that participated.

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May 1, 2013 00:19:22   #
marcomarks
 
Annie_Girl wrote:
I think you need to speak with many, many professional photographers that use crop sensors that also use the 50 for portrait work.

The test/sample you posted is somwhat valid, but the sample can be very misleading espeically to people new to photography. It's teaching photographers to associate perspective with focal length instead of your distance from the subject. As I said, the 50 can be used for portrait work, you just have to be aware of the distance from the subject to the camera, as with any lens the closer you get to the subject the more distoration you will create.
I think you need to speak with many, many professi... (show quote)


If somebody is using a 50mm prime fixed lens for portraits (professionally or not) it's because they don't have the correct longer prime fixed lens and prefer not to use a zoom for their own personal reasons. 85mm to 135mm has been the standard lens range for professional head & shoulders portraiture for practically 100 years so one can stay a distance from the subject and out of the light path of external flashes in light boxes. That's not about to change just because some decide to use a cheaper, shorter, Nifty Fifty and make the subject uncomfortable by moving into their comfort zone.

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May 1, 2013 10:20:08   #
Annie_Girl
 
marcomarks wrote:
If somebody is using a 50mm prime fixed lens for portraits (professionally or not) it's because they don't have the correct longer prime fixed lens and prefer not to use a zoom for their own personal reasons. 85mm to 135mm has been the standard lens range for professional head & shoulders portraiture for practically 100 years so one can stay a distance from the subject and out of the light path of external flashes in light boxes. That's not about to change just because some decide to use a cheaper, shorter, Nifty Fifty and make the subject uncomfortable by moving into their comfort zone.
If somebody is using a 50mm prime fixed lens for p... (show quote)


the 85 and 135 have been the standard on 35mm camera, but if we are taking a crop sensor then the 50 acts like a 75- 80mm (depending on the crop factor), which would put you in the range of the desired focal lengths for portrait work.

And my cheaper 50mm is priced at $1,500+, I don't use the 1.8. :)

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May 1, 2013 10:33:25   #
cacompton
 
ole sarg wrote:
As was Robert Capa once said “If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough”.

It is for this reason that I seldom more than a 50mm lens.



Capa was shooting war pictures, not portraits. You knew that, right?

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May 2, 2013 01:55:11   #
Michael O'
 
jhayden wrote:
hello all. i wanted to ask all you pros in the portrait world about lenses. For my head to shoulder shots, i normally use an 85mm lens (FX) and for my half body shots i use a 50mm. I have seen alot of pros use longer lenses like 120mm.. I don't own a lens that long so i was wondering if you could explain what advantages or artistic differences come with using a lens that long?


An 85 mm lens on a 35mm camera body provides the perspective most like that viewed by the human eye -- which is the accepted standard generally sought for portraits. A 240mm on a 4X5 body.

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May 2, 2013 01:55:36   #
Michael O'
 
jhayden wrote:
hello all. i wanted to ask all you pros in the portrait world about lenses. For my head to shoulder shots, i normally use an 85mm lens (FX) and for my half body shots i use a 50mm. I have seen alot of pros use longer lenses like 120mm.. I don't own a lens that long so i was wondering if you could explain what advantages or artistic differences come with using a lens that long?


An 85 mm lens on a 35mm camera body provides the perspective most like that viewed by the human eye -- which is the accepted standard generally sought for portraits. A 240mm on a 4X5 body.

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May 2, 2013 10:55:30   #
jhayden
 
alot of great info here guys.. overall i understand i need to work on my 85mm shots more. Stand back a bit more and work on my flash setup to make sure my subjects are lit correctly.







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May 3, 2013 00:15:06   #
stan0301
 
What they sort of aren't telling you is that with a shorter lens--say a 50mm for a head shot things like the nose are significantly closer to the lens than the rest of the face--hence photograph larger--which is what you don't want. Now days there seems to be a trend that all professional photographs need to look like they were taken by total amateurs--brides sitting in coal piles, and who knows what else--it is the "I made you look" philosophy--so do something nobody has ever seen (or wanted to) and you will be proclaimed a great artist--do you sense that I hate it?--anyway Joe Zeltsman use the equivalent of a 50 for families, an 80 for three quarter length, and a 105 for head and shoulders--Joe died not long ago--and I think he still holds the record for the most prints hung at national (I was lucky enough to study with him}--and if you Google his name you can see some of his lessons. What Joe was doing was creating images that match what people look like when your eye looks at them--
Stan

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