Helpful Posts Helpful Posts:  0
Results 1 to 16 of 16

Thread: Portrait lens for Canon full frame

  1. #1
    Adrian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    427
    Real Name
    Adrian

    Portrait lens for Canon full frame

    Advice please.

    I am going to buy a lens specifically for portrait use. It may also be used for video interviews at portrait distance.

    It will be used on a Canon 5DIII (and possibly my son's 7D and 6D that I might buy for office use) and most of the output will be published on the web or in brochures converted to PDFs and sent electronically.

    I am attracted to the idea of being able to achieve shallow depth of field: shallower than I can get now with my 24-105 f4 L. Low light capability is an advantage though we do have a powerful LED lighting set up use in our office (where many of the shots get taken). We usually use a tripod for stills and always for video.

    I am not necessarily wedded to buying Canon, so Zeiss, Tamron or Sigma may also be suitable if they are optimal. Autofocus is nice but not essential. It must be sharp (I can always soften pp if needed).

    And I have considered a macro lens (L or non L) but am aware that most of the focus adjustment on such lenses is at the macro end so may be troublesome on a lens used for portrait and macro? Or is that not really an issue. 100mm seems in the one for macro.

    I am not especially price sensitive, though have no desire to waste money. I have zero experience with specialist portrait lenses. Review on the web help a little bit....

    Is the 85mm L Canon f1.2 too limiting for example? Some people love it, some say focus is ever so slow and rather hit and miss.

    Thanks in advance

    Adrian

  2. #2
    inkista's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    San Diego, California
    Posts
    1,398
    Real Name
    Kathy Li

    Re: Portrait lens for Canon full frame

    Just me, but I say the EF 85/1.8 USM is plenty capable. Only go for the f/1.2L if you don't mind the extra cost, much larger size (they don't call it "the Canonball" for nuthin'), the slower AF speed performance, and if you really really really need the f/1.2-f/1.8 aperture range.

  3. #3
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    12,368
    Real Name
    Manfred Mueller

    Re: Portrait lens for Canon full frame

    The most popular pro portrait lens in both the Canon and Nikon lines is the f/2.8 70-200mm lens.

  4. #4
    Adrian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    427
    Real Name
    Adrian

    Re: Portrait lens for Canon full frame

    Yes, Manfred, thanks. I am aware of the capabilities of the 70-200 2.8 and the big 200 f2 or whatever it is, but, and it is a big BUT, most of my use will be indoors, in my offices. This means we cannot get very far away from our subjects, nor can we position them all that far from the background that we wish to blur into pleasant bokeh. I have tried these sort of medium zooms and really struggle with composition because of the short distance issues.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Portrait lens for Canon full frame

    EF70-200mm F2.8L IS USM II hands down.

    I also have the EF85mm F1.2L USM II - focus is fine. People need to realise that the margin for error when shooting at F1.2 is ZERO - so I suspect the focusing is simply geared down for greater precision (that's how it appears with the manual focus override anyway).

    For its intended purpose it's fantastic - as a sports/action lens the focusing would be hopeless, but then again, it's not a sport/action lens!

  6. #6
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    12,368
    Real Name
    Manfred Mueller

    Re: Portrait lens for Canon full frame

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian View Post
    Yes, Manfred, thanks. I am aware of the capabilities of the 70-200 2.8 and the big 200 f2 or whatever it is, but, and it is a big BUT, most of my use will be indoors, in my offices. This means we cannot get very far away from our subjects, nor can we position them all that far from the background that we wish to blur into pleasant bokeh. I have tried these sort of medium zooms and really struggle with composition because of the short distance issues.
    The 70-200mm is wider at the bottom end than the 85mm you are thinking about (and around the same price as the f/1.2 85mm lens you are looking at). I do use mine indoors in fairly tight quarters. Anywhere between 85mm and 135mm is a pretty typical portrait lens range and really not an issue in indoor shooting in the fairly tight space I have around home. If you get too close to your subject with a wide angle lens you are going to start getting strange looking facial distortions that are not particularly flattering to your subject.

    A fast, longer lens is going to be an advantage, rather than a disadvantage, when trying to throw a background out of focus. Rather than throwing the background out of focus, the best thing might be a neutral background and it can actually provide you with a more pleasing image than an out of focus background. It's pretty typical to shoot a portrait with an aperture of f/8 or f/11 to ensure that the subject's face is in focus. This is going to work against you if you do want go go for a shallow DoF shot.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Grand Cayman, GT
    Posts
    830
    Real Name
    Graham Heron

    Re: Portrait lens for Canon full frame

    Hi Adrian,
    Bear in mind that the smaller the sensor, the greater that DoF effects. So a full frame is preferable to a cropped sensor (7D).
    Some thoughts outside the box.
    If money is no object, go for an even larger sensor.
    Or use the corridor so the background is further from the subject.
    Alternately, if blurred background is essential - have one printed, then the only thing you have to worry about are shadows.

    Graham

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Re: Portrait lens for Canon full frame

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamH View Post
    Hi Adrian,
    Bear in mind that the smaller the sensor, the greater that DoF effects. So a full frame is preferable to a cropped sensor (7D).
    It only works out at about 1 stop difference, which usually doesn't equate to all that much.

  9. #9
    Adrian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    427
    Real Name
    Adrian

    Re: Portrait lens for Canon full frame

    OK, thanks guys. It is on a full frame camera (5dIII). I will clearly have to hire a 70-200 f2.8L and try it out in practice. I had sort of hoped I could kill two birds with one stone and go for the Canon 100mm L macro which I think is f2.8, but another alternative is to get the cheapish 85mm USM f1.8 prime rathe than the four or five times more expensive f1.2L. It is for work and is taxa allowable, so cost is not super critical, but having moved away from Leica I am building up lenses that suit my needs and want to avoid just having lots of very expensive glass for the sake of it.

    The video aspect is actually very important. We will be shooting video at work three to five times a week, and so something that is ideal for that is crucial. We have almost no experience of video and so we are still learning as we go.

    I have thought about the backdrops idea and it is something we may experiment with. My ideal is probably a bright "invisible white" background for video (which requires a white screen or some kind and careful lighting) and possibly black for our portraits.

    Graham - sadly we have no corridors! The office is a large open plan space on each floor, mainly with floor to ceiling glazing on three of the four sides. The shooting areas are my office (which has glass walls) and our largest boardroom (two thirds of which is dominated by a huge table, which reduces flexibility). Most of the office has overhead lighting which is eco friendly: so it is movement activated and we can't switch it off! I have had to have overrides installed in my office and the boardroom for this reason as the lights create awful shadows in photos as well as changing the colour temperature.

    One day we will get a proper studio within our facility, but for now we have to work with what we have got. It is a steep learning curve.

    Adrian

  10. #10
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    12,368
    Real Name
    Manfred Mueller

    Re: Portrait lens for Canon full frame

    Adrian - I think I have commented on your video requirements before; and shooting video is a totally different beast than still photos. I think the basic difference between the two (and I do a lot of both); photos are all about composition; video is all about the editing.

    In video, you have to provide the editor (you?) with sufficient coverage to build a compelling video. In photography, we have a choice of formats; landscape and portrait, while in video; all our shots are in landscape. As well, in video you need multiple shot angles, so a wider lens is going to be more important. You will be moving around between wide shots, medium shots and closeups; so if you insist on using the 5D MkIII, you should look at a different lens than for the portraits; for instance the 24-70mm, to compliment the work you are going to do with whatever portrait lens you will end up with.

    I personally prefer shooting with a dedicated video camera, because of the features that they have, including a good way of recording and synchronizing voice. I haven't tried shooting with a wireless lavalier mic on my still camera, I'm sure there has got to be a way. It's a snap on a dedicated pro video camera with the phantom power and the on-camera audio controls.

    The other thing to remember is that still lenses (even zooms) are varifocal, which means that the focus point shifts as you change focal lengths and a true video lens is parfocal, which means it does not (so you can zoom in and out and keep your subject in focus).

  11. #11
    Adrian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    427
    Real Name
    Adrian

    Re: Portrait lens for Canon full frame

    Ah yes. Our videos are pretty straightforward. We are either doing a market commentary piece to camera or recording an interview / conversation between two people. Either way the positions are pretty much fixed and there is not much editing as each clip is quite short and the main edit is trimming the beginning and end usually. The 5DIII is superb for video: there is very little camera noise and we can plug in an external microphone if we want and monitor the sound through headphones that plug directly into the camera. As we are using fixed positions there is no need to zoom and panning is basic. All I am interested in at the moment is optimising IQ and sound. The editor is one of my staff and like me she is learning all about it. That said we have achieved far better results ourselves than we expected. The reason I was interested in lenses is we are using an f4 lens with LED lights. At times it would be handy to have a faster lens and use ambient light.

  12. #12
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    12,368
    Real Name
    Manfred Mueller

    Re: Portrait lens for Canon full frame

    Adrian - look at some top-notch professionally produced video and compare your work. Part of the problem with a lot of the commercial video we see out there is that it is one long sequence of two talking heads. Yet, when we watch television or movies, or music videos, we have cuts between shots that are generally less than 10 seconds.

    As a viewer, our brains have been trained to lose interest in longer shots, so the impact is simply not there.

    I find the same thing with my own video work; what I thought were short shots are generally overly long, so I am working on getting better coverage and assembling it in more interesting ways.

  13. #13
    Adrian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    427
    Real Name
    Adrian

    Re: Portrait lens for Canon full frame

    I agree Manfred, but.....we need to do a market commentary and get it live before 9am every day. It is perhaps 30 seconds of topical material. It is history by the following day. We know we could improve the production values but time is a real issue.

    Interestingly I have just had an email from our web designers. They are proposing a number of images for our new site, all of them royalty free Getty images. The cheapest is 330 and is just a shot of a girl sitting at her desk: you can't even see her face. Another, similar price, is an ordinary young woman in the street holding an iPad. Another is a basic perspective shot of a financial building, with a somewhat blue cast. So that is 1,000 for three simple images. They are proposing 30 or so in all. This is why it is worth us learning to do a lot of this stuff ourselves!

  14. #14

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Re: Portrait lens for Canon full frame

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian View Post
    Interestingly I have just had an email from our web designers. They are proposing a number of images for our new site, all of them royalty free Getty images. The cheapest is 330 and is just a shot of a girl sitting at her desk: you can't even see her face. Another, similar price, is an ordinary young woman in the street holding an iPad. Another is a basic perspective shot of a financial building, with a somewhat blue cast. So that is 1,000 for three simple images. They are proposing 30 or so in all. This is why it is worth us learning to do a lot of this stuff ourselves!
    Might be time to evaluate alternative web developers as well!

  15. #15
    Adrian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    427
    Real Name
    Adrian

    Re: Portrait lens for Canon full frame

    They are good web site developers: no idea about photography!

  16. #16
    William W's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Sraylya
    Posts
    3,843
    Real Name
    William (call me Bill)

    Re: Portrait lens for Canon full frame

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian View Post
    I am going to buy a lens specifically for portrait use. It may also be used for video interviews at portrait distance. . . .
    I am attracted to the idea of being able to achieve shallow depth of field: shallower than I can get now with my 24-105 f4 L.
    What (typical) Portrait Shot (i.e. Full Length; Half Shot; Bust Shot; Tight Head Shot)?
    What is "portrait distance" (give rough indicative in linear distance.)

    WW

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •