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Portrait lens help?

sarahr_7
Enthusiast

I'm looking for a portrait lens (I know there is no "specific" lens that is for portraits only but just one that will be good). I am looking to do all types of portrait work (head, full body, etc)

 

I currently have a Canon 70D & Canon 50mm 1.8

 

I was really interested in the Canon 135 f/2 but I'm afraid it'll be too long on my cropped body, any opinions? I also like the 85mm 1.2 or the 70-200mm 2.8 but I just don't know! I'm trying to spend under $1000 on a used lens. ANy sugestions or advice would be much appreciated! 🙂

 

Attached are some photos I've done with my nifty-fifty:IMG_9066.jpgIMG_9846.jpgIMG_9902.jpg

62 REPLIES 62

diverhank
Authority

Very nice portraits you were able to get with the 50/1.8.  They are a bit soft for my liking but it's a matter of preference.

My favorite portrait lens is the 85mm and it's not too bad for a cropped body.  For full body shots you will have to stand a bit farther back - generally not a problem outdoors.

 

There are quite a few choices for the 85mm.  Within Canon, you have the 85mm f/1.8 which costs about $350 then you have the 85mm f/1.2L II that costs quite a bit more ($1900).  Sigma has the 85mm f/1.4 and recently the 85mm f/1.4 ART.  Tamron also has a 85mm f/1.8...none of them can match the price for the Canon 85mm f/1.8.

 

I own the Canon 85mm f/1.8 and the Canon 85mm f/1.2L II and I have to look really hard to tell the difference between the two...not sure if I'd easily pass a blind test, to tell the truth.  They are both very sharp with incredible bokeh.  So I'd recommend getting a 85mm f/1.8 to start with then upgrade later if you feel the need (like I did - just so I know I got the best).  The only thing about the 85mm f/1.8 is there is quite a bit of chromatic aberration (purple fringing) if you shoot against the sun.  Most of it can be rid of in post processing.  In return the Canon 85mm f/1.8 focuses faster than its bigger brother.

 

85mm 1.8 vs 1.2

 

 

The 70-200 is very good for portrait too but in many cases, cannot match the bokeh of the 85mm (below f/2.8)

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Diverhank's photos on Flickr

I agree! My pictures have been pretty soft with this lens and I'm not sure if it's just the way I shoot or if it's the lens. Thank you so much for the advice on the 85mm!  I think I might get the 1.8 and see how that goes, like you said. Thanks!!


@sarahr_7 wrote:

I'm looking for a portrait lens (I know there is no "specific" lens that is for portraits only but just one that will be good). I am looking to do all types of portrait work (head, full body, etc)

 

I currently have a Canon 70D & Canon 50mm 1.8

 

I was really interested in the Canon 135 f/2 but I'm afraid it'll be too long on my cropped body, any opinions? I also like the 85mm 1.2 or the 70-200mm 2.8 but I just don't know! I'm trying to spend under $1000 on a used lens. ANy sugestions or advice would be much appreciated! 🙂

 

Attached are some photos I've done with my nifty-fifty:IMG_9066.jpgIMG_9846.jpgIMG_9902.jpg


The only thing in those pictures that could possibly be helped by a new lens is the garish bokeh in the second one. The rest of the problems are correctable failures of technique.

 

The first one needs the contrast turned up. If that doesn't do the job, it may be slightly overexposed. See if turning the brightness down a little helps. (That may not be necessary, since any WB correction will cost you light.)

 

The second one, except for the intrusive background, isn't bad. The face is a little dark, so it might help to turn the brightness up a little, Fill flash would cure it easily, but you'd probably have to have the subject lose the glasses.

 

The third one is compositionally static, with a badly blown background and a white balance problem. It may be salvagable if you turn the contrast up and get rid of the orange cast. But I suspect there's a sharpness issue too, and that's not easily corrected. I'd probably call that one a do-over.

 

You're shooting in RAW and editing with a decent photo editor, right? If not, change your ways. You'll be limited until you do.

 

 

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

I like the backlit look, but it really benefits a lot from some fill light, either flash or just a collapsible reflector.  Trying to artificially boost exposure in post blows out the background, and even using a local adjustment to brighten only the subject creates noise and lessens detail on the lightened area.  And brightening it can look weird in some images, even if you are pretty good at it. 

 

I agree the 85 f/1.8 is a good way to go for a somewhat specialist lens and on a budget.

 

If you can stretch it, the 70-200 f/2.8 IS MK2 really does a great job with portraits, and so many other uses. You'd never be sorry. 

 

 

Scott

Canon 5d mk 4, Canon 6D, EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS mk2; EF 16-35 f/2.8 L mk. III; Sigma 35mm f/1.4 "Art" EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro; EF 85mm f/1.8; EF 1.4x extender mk. 3; EF 24-105 f/4 L; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS; 3x Phottix Mitros+ speedlites

Why do so many people say "FER-tographer"? Do they take "fertographs"?

Okay thank you! And yes, I think I will get a reflector soon and see how that changes my pictures.


@RobertTheFat wrote:

@sarahr_7 wrote:

 


The only thing in those pictures that could possibly be helped by a new lens is the garish bokeh in the second one. The rest of the problems are correctable failures of technique.

 

The first one needs the contrast turned up. If that doesn't do the job, it may be slightly overexposed. See if turning the brightness down a little helps. (That may not be necessary, since any WB correction will cost you light.)

 

The second one, except for the intrusive background, isn't bad. The face is a little dark, so it might help to turn the brightness up a little, Fill flash would cure it easily, but you'd probably have to have the subject lose the glasses.

 

The third one is compositionally static, with a badly blown background and a white balance problem. It may be salvagable if you turn the contrast up and get rid of the orange cast. But I suspect there's a sharpness issue too, and that's not easily corrected. I'd probably call that one a do-over.

 

You're shooting in RAW and editing with a decent photo editor, right? If not, change your ways. You'll be limited until you do.

 

 


All of the exposure issues can be easily corrected in Lightroom.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3AMavaU5uU&list=PLmXfFxjdp3CFWa1egQmUNo10XtJdNHoa2&index=12

 

"Try it.  You'll like it."

--------------------------------------------------------
"The right mouse button is your friend."

Okay, thank you so much for the advice!! I will defintely be using it!

ebiggs1
Legend
I bet you were not expecting to get the critics choice? To answer your question the 70-200 is the way to go. Both the 85 and certainly the 135 are too long.
The 70-200 is all I use for portraits anymore. Curious, the 50 is a good focal length on cropper. So why change? Your shots are very good as is. Especially the first one. The over exposure is in currently. My niece uses it a lot and she is very successful.
Go get a 70-200mm you will love it.
EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!


@ebiggs1 wrote:

Go get a 70-200mm you will love it.

I think the 70-200 should be standard equipment for everything but she did say under $1000 used...not sure you can get it for this price, at least not version II...

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Diverhank's photos on Flickr
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