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Author Topic: Lens Choice for Portraits  (Read 6549 times)  bookmark this topic!
KeithB
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Lens Choice for Portraits
« on: February 25, 2011, 03:04:08 PM »

I am going to be shooting a series of Mother/Son portraits in the near future, so I was wondering about lens choice.

I have an EF-S 17-85 4.5-5.6, EF 50 1.8 and a  EF-S 60 2.5 Macro available.  Which would be the best choice for this?

I will try them all out myself, of course, but I just wanted some opinions.

I am using a 1.6X XS body.
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Bob Atkins
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Re: Lens Choice for Portraits
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2011, 09:34:07 PM »

As always "it depends", but my first choice would probably be the 50/1.8

For reasons, see http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/tutorials/portrait_lenses.html
« Last Edit: February 25, 2011, 09:37:52 PM by Bob Atkins » Logged
bmpress
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Re: Lens Choice for Portraits
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2011, 10:12:14 AM »

A few years ago there was an article where the photographer was using a very long telephoto to shoot a fashion model. He was so far away that they used walkie-talkies to communicate. As you would expect, the idea of a long lens was to flatten everything out to the max. Perhaps the clothes looked better on the model...who knows? I suppose that rules will always be broken.
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Bob Atkins
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Re: Lens Choice for Portraits
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2011, 01:07:21 PM »

As I mentioned in the article, some of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model shots are taken with long (600mm +) telephotos. This actually does a couple of things. It flattens perspective, but probably more importantly it blurrs out the background.

Background blur (well outside the DOF) is proportional to the physical aperture of the lens, which for telephoto lenses is approximately the size of the front eleoment, so for a 400/4 lens it's 100mm and  for a 600/4 lens it's 150mm. This means that the lens which will give you the most distant background blur when focused on a closer subject will be the one with the largest physical aperture/front-element, which in turn means it's going to be a long, fast, expensive, telephoto.

You wouldn't want to use one in a studio where (a) you don't have a distant background and (b) you don't have enough room to back up far enough from your subject. However on the beach neither of those conditions apply.
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marcfs
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Re: Lens Choice for Portraits
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2011, 09:19:11 PM »

I like to use a 50MM f/1.4 on a 7D for portraits. 
My second lens choice is the 70-200 f/4L.  For this lens I've noticed  some images appear to over flatten facial features. 
My third lens choice is the 16-35MM f/2.8L. 
These three lenses all have their place in portrait photography and need to be evaluated for each situation. 
I stopped using my original 17-85MM which I bought for the 20D.  The results were not very satisfactory.

An issue that I face when capturing portraits is how to light the subject when using only a single flash.  I combine natural lighting with some fill.  I add the original Gary Fong Lightsphere ($39.00) to my 580 flash.

Regards,

Marc
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KeithB
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Re: Lens Choice for Portraits
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2011, 07:49:20 AM »

Thanks.

One other interesting wrinkle (hah!), since sharpness is not really a concern, what about putting my 1.4X telextender on the 50mm /1.8 to get a little more focal length?  Though since these will be two-person portraits, 50 mm on a 1.6X should be about right.

Several years ago, I took similar portraits with my Canon A400, and I cannot believe how well they turned out.  (I had my little Selphy with me and printed the pictures up right then, which was a big hit.)
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Bob Atkins
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Re: Lens Choice for Portraits
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2011, 10:43:48 AM »

That works. I've put a Tamron 1.4x on my 50/1.8 and still gotten pretty good results. Whether 50mm or 70mm works best depends on your subject, framing and how much room you have to shoot.
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KeithB
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Re: Lens Choice for Portraits
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2011, 03:48:44 PM »

Thanks for the advice.

marcfs:  I am going to use a two flash set-up.  I have an old manual vivitar that I will set at 30 - 45 degress and my 270EX that I will use from the camera and adjust the power to use as a fill.  I have to use manual mode so that the pre-flash does not set off the Vivitar.
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klindup
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Re: Lens Choice for Portraits
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2011, 12:43:26 AM »

Before using an old flash check the trigger voltage.  You can probably get it from the Vivitar website.  I have an older Metz flash that I planned to use with my 40D.  Firtunately I mislaid the connection lead and in searching for a replacement I discovered that it used a 200 volt trigger voltage and if I had used it it would have fried at least part of the cameras's electronics.  I had no idea that such problems existed.

Ken
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KeithB
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Re: Lens Choice for Portraits
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2011, 08:09:17 AM »

I am using the 270EX on the camera.  I bought a flash trigger for the Vivitar, just so I don't fry my Rebel.  Thanks for the warning, though.
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Bob Atkins
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Re: Lens Choice for Portraits
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2011, 10:38:44 AM »

Actually you would probably have been OK with a 40D and a flash with a 200v sync voltage. The 40D (and all current EOS DSLRs as far as I know) have a 250v maximum sync voltage.
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klindup
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Re: Lens Choice for Portraits
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2011, 11:25:43 AM »

Hi Bob
How sure are you that current EOS cameras are safe with 250 volts.  I would love to be able to use my Metz Hammerhead flash but I was warned that the sync voltage was too high.  I cannot remember where I picked this up, I think it was from a local dealer.  I was originally told that you had to be careful when using the hot shoe but that it was safe if using a cable connection.  Later I was told 200 volts was too high regardless of the method of connection.

Ken
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KeithB
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Re: Lens Choice for Portraits
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2011, 12:26:07 PM »

If you are worried you can use a wein safe-sync.  It does raise the flash an inch or so:

http://www.amazon.com/Wein-990-560-Shoe-Safe-Sync/dp/B00009UU18/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1299007532&sr=8-1

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Bob Atkins
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Re: Lens Choice for Portraits
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2011, 02:12:23 PM »

There no official list from Canon saying what is safe at what voltage. The source of reference is always this post from Chuck Westfall of Canon. He's their head guy in the US when it comes to all things technical and he was the one who wrote the origibal Canon Speedlife Reference Guide:

Quote
It's likely you'll never see an official list of all Canon SLRs according to this specification, because Canon Inc. (our parent company in Japan) simply doesn't do things like that. I've been with Canon USA since 1982, so I'm in a pretty good position to know Canon Inc.'s habits. However, I'll be happy to provide you with my unofficial list:

Canon Digital SLRs safe for TCV up to 250 volts:
EOS-1D Mark II N, EOS-1D Mark II, EOS-1Ds Mark II, EOS-1D, EOS-1Ds
EOS 30D, 20D, 5D
EOS Digital Rebel XTi, XT (400D/350D)
EOS D6000/D2000, Kodak DCS560/DCS520 (circa 1998)
EOS-DCS series (circa 1995)

Canon Digital SLRs safe for TCV up to 6 volts:
EOS 10D, D60, D30
EOS Digital Rebel (300D)

Canon 35mm SLRs safe for TCV up to 250 volts:
EOS-1V, EOS-1N, EOS-1, EOS 3

Canon 35mm and IX240 SLRs safe for TCV up to 6 volts:
EOS 650, 620, 630, RT
EOS 850, 750, 700
EOS Rebel Series
EOS Elan Series
EOS 10s, A2E, A2
EOS IX, IX Lite
T90

Canon SLRs released earlier than the T90 did not have TTL flash circuits, and comprehensive information on safe TCV levels is not available.

The trigger circuit voltage (TCV) rating for any EOS SLR is the same on the hot shoe as it is on the PC terminal (if the camera has one), but the acceptable TCV level varies according to the camera model. Incidentally, the main reason for the difference is the way the X-sync signal is generated. With the 250V cameras, the X-sync signal is generated electronically. With the 6V cameras, the X-sync signal is generated mechanically. There are no guarantees, but going forward I anticipate that most if not all future EOS SLRs will be safe for TCV up to 250 volts.


So from that you can say that all the current EOS DSLRs should be OK with a sync trigger voltage up to 250V whether connected via the PC connector or the hot-shoe. Canon probably don't comment on hot shoe sync voltage because they don't make any high sync voltage hot shoe speedlites and they certainly aren't going to guarantee that some ancient 3rd party flash in unknown condition isn't going tio damage the camera. A statement like "don't use high voltage trigger flashes on the hotshoe" leaves them in a safe position. They do comment on the PC socket voltage (250v) because they expect studio flashes to be connected that way so they have to say something!
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klindup
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Re: Lens Choice for Portraits
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2011, 04:51:14 PM »

Thanks Bob and Keith, I guess I will err on the side of safety.  I have bought a new Metz flash that is fully compatible with the camera.  My older gun will not go unused because I can still take great photographs with my f2.8 Rolleiflex.
Ken
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