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Help with recommending the best lens for street portraits

Court41
Contributor

Hello:) I am new to the Canon community and just starting my photography journey. I have read so many different opinions on the best lens. Need help with what others truly recommend. I have been shooting a lot of street photography or outdoors with my subjects but want to get a good lens finally! I am looking for something for street portraits and indoors. I’m torn between the 3 most common . The “nifty fifty” , the 85mm or the 24-70mm. I have read so much I don’t know what would be best. I need a lens that would work for outside portraits for those beautiful shots and also inside for possibly natural or low light. Help please as I am a newbie:) thank you! 

20 REPLIES 20

Waddizzle
Legend
Legend

One of the first things to learn about photography is that there is no such thing as a “best lens” for any type of photography.  If there were, then there would not be such a wide selection to choose from.  There would only be one type of lens available for sale, which simply isn’t the case.

Your question is more broad than you may realize.  For example, what type of indoor shooting?  Casual photos around the house during a family gathering?  Volleyball or basketball in a high school gym?  A live performance by a band in a dark night club?  Etc.

Also, the type of image sensor in the camera you are using should play a factor in what recommendations that you might receive.  You will get different results from the same lens with an APS-C sensor compared to a full frame sensor.  What camera are you using?

For a full frame sensor, my favorite lens for indoor photos of family events at home is Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens.  I also like the Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM, too, for video.  My favorite lens for capturing outdoor photos “in tourist mode” is the Canon EF 24-70mm  f/2.8L II USM

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"The right mouse button is your friend."

I definitely did not realize how broad my question was. I am definitely taking baby steps. I purchased a Canon EOS 2000D as a starter. The type of pictures I hope to capture are mostly family photos outside on the streets and nature. Primarily focusing on capturing the individual as the focus not so much of the background noise. I also am looking to learn wedding or party shots inside as well. Not sure if there is a lens that can help me with both of these types of shots. Thank you so much for your help! Connecting with a human is a lot more helpful than reading tons of options I feel dizzy sometimes:( 

deebatman316
Elite
Elite
  1. First of all what is your budget to spend on a lens.
  2. What lenses are you currently using.
  3. What is your primary use of your camera stills or video, this is a deciding factor on a lens.
  4. What camera are you going to be using this lens on APS-C or Full Frame.
  5. Is a speedlite being used or is low light a concern of yours when indoors. 
  6. The lenses you pointed out the 50mm, 85mm and the 24-70mm zoom lens all have specific case uses.   

-Demetrius

Current Gear: EOS 5D Mark IV, EF 16-35mm F/2.8L III USM, EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM, EF 50 F/1.8 STM, EF 85mm F/1.8 USM, EF 70-200mm F/2.8L IS III USM, 470EX-AI & 600EX II-RT

Retired Gear: EOS 40D & Sigma 17-50mm F/2.8 EX DC OS HSM


-Demetrius

Current Gear: EOS 5D Mark IV, EF F/2.8 Trinity, EF 50mm F/1.8 STM, EF 85mm F/1.8 USM, 470EX-AI & 600EX II-RT

Retired Gear: EOS 40D

Thank you for breaking down the options. As a newbie I did not realize how many factors there are. 
Budget is hopefully under 1000 as I do know they are all pretty pricey:( 

I have a started DSLR for sure , the Canon EOS 2000D. I to be honest have read mixed answers whether it is full frame of APS-C. 
low light is a concern indoors but I am looking for hopefully a lens for outdoor still photos for portraits or street photography. Not so many action shots but potentially if someone were doing something like “walking or jumping” 

thanks for all the help:) 

You have an APS-C camera not a Full Frame camera. Do you already own the EF-S 18-55mm lens. If so which version please list the full name. This can be found on the outer ring of the lens after removing the lens cap. This lens should work fine for group pictures. But this lens has a variable aperture. Depending on which EF-S 18-55mm lens you own wide open will be from F/3.5-5.6 (DC AF Motor models) or F/4-5.6 (STM AF Motor model). This has an impact on low light focus and your exposure. The lower the light the longer shutter speed will be. Also the higher the ISO will be and show more noise. You mentioned 2 completely different scenarios for lenses. Generally you would use a 35mm or 50mm lens on an APS-C camera for portraits.

-Demetrius

Current Gear: EOS 5D Mark IV, EF 16-35mm F/2.8L III USM, EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM, EF 50 F/1.8 STM, EF 85mm F/1.8 USM, EF 70-200mm F/2.8L IS III USM, 470EX-AI & 600EX II-RT

Retired Gear: EOS 40D & Sigma 17-50mm F/2.8 EX DC OS HSM


-Demetrius

Current Gear: EOS 5D Mark IV, EF F/2.8 Trinity, EF 50mm F/1.8 STM, EF 85mm F/1.8 USM, 470EX-AI & 600EX II-RT

Retired Gear: EOS 40D

image.jpg

Is this your only lens that you own. That focal range is most commonly used one. When I used to shoot with an APS-C camera. I used the higher end EF-S 17-55mm F/2.8 IS USM lens which was a workhorse lens. I used it 90% of the time. But that lens is expensive. The Canon EF-S 17-55mm F/2.8 IS USM lens is the best lens for what you need. This lens will give you a fast Constant aperture of F/2.8 and has IS (image stabilization). IS greatly reduces camera shake in pictures with long shutter speeds. This lens uses a USM (Ultrasonic Motor) AF motor and has full time manual focus. You can turn the focus ring at anytime while the AF/MF switch is set to AF without causing damage to the AF motor. 

-Demetrius

Current Gear: EOS 5D Mark IV, EF 16-35mm F/2.8L III USM, EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM, EF 50 F/1.8 STM, EF 85mm F/1.8 USM, EF 70-200mm F/2.8L IS III USM, 470EX-AI & 600EX II-RT

Retired Gear: EOS 40D & Sigma 17-50mm F/2.8 EX DC OS HSM


-Demetrius

Current Gear: EOS 5D Mark IV, EF F/2.8 Trinity, EF 50mm F/1.8 STM, EF 85mm F/1.8 USM, 470EX-AI & 600EX II-RT

Retired Gear: EOS 40D

image.jpg

I also purchased when I got the camera because I got a beautiful deal …. A 70-200mm EF 2.8 L IS USM . Still learning how to use it for sure. Thank you for all your help. The numbers and so many different answers on the web are overwhelming! 🙂 

Canon's EF 70-200mm lens lineup is great. in fact I own the Canon EF 70-200mm F/2.8L IS III USM lens. The 70-200mm lens lineup are telephoto lenses. This lens would provide an angle of view of 112mm-320mm when compared to 35mm or Full Frame. Make sure you have IS (Image Stabilization) on when shooting unless on a tripod. Did you also get the tripod collar and the protective traveling case with the lens too. If you have the protective case. Keep the lens stored in there when NOT in use. If you know the exposure triangle already. When working with non-IS lenses. You need to use the 1/ focal x crop factor rule to avoid camera shake. For your camera it would be 1/ focal length x 1.6 since you have an APS-C camera. For example if you were shooting at 200mm. When we do the math 1/200 x 1.6= 320. So your minimum shutter speed would need to be at least 1/320th of a sec or faster to avoid camera shake.

-Demetrius

Current Gear: EOS 5D Mark IV, EF 16-35mm F/2.8L III USM, EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM, EF 50 F/1.8 STM, EF 85mm F/1.8 USM, EF 70-200mm F/2.8L IS III USM, 470EX-AI & 600EX II-RT

Retired Gear: EOS 40D & Sigma 17-50mm F/2.8 EX DC OS HSM


-Demetrius

Current Gear: EOS 5D Mark IV, EF F/2.8 Trinity, EF 50mm F/1.8 STM, EF 85mm F/1.8 USM, 470EX-AI & 600EX II-RT

Retired Gear: EOS 40D
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