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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎02-23-2015

question about portrait lens and quality

So, I am full time active duty in the Navy and photography is currently side money.

 

I am going to be getting out and going to school while pursuing photography as a career.

 

 

That being said I am one who believes if you need the best buy it from the beginning and never deal with it again.

 

 

 

I was using the 100mm L for a portrait lens for a long time. Beautiful lens, no complaints. I just wanted something different.

 

 

I bought the 70-200 2.8II and recently returned it to downgrade while buying a macbook as well for a work station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I don't do anything more than normal internet usage of images would I really see a difference between the 135mmL and the 85mm II(besides bokeh and lower aperture) in terms of contrast/IQ/Color

 

 

Quite frankly I've got like $500 bucks left after all the recent gear I bought and I need a portrait lens.

 

 

I was eyeballing the 135mmL, 85mm Mk I, the 85mm Zeiss, Tamron 70-200, maybe a used canon 70-200 (older body.)

 

I really want my portraits to be L series.

I own a 35mm IS F/2 and thats it ha

 

All around the same price used.  I could also get a brand new 85mm 1.8 for $350.

I used to have this lens and it was a work horse but I want the best qualiy I can get since I will be paid for my images.

 

 I could save for a little bit, or over extend to get the best one I can get now and pay it back with money I earn. I just wanna know if the IQ difference is honestly enough to justify a $1500 used lens as opposed to half the price for the same IQ that I would see.

 

 

My gut tells me know but I'm not huge into this.

 

 

Sample work to show my current standards can be found below.

 

http://www.sincerephotography.us/portfolio/portraits/

 

 

Ideally I can justify about $1200 total and pay it back over a few portrait sessions when I have spare time.

 

Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: question about portrait lens and quality


@SincerePhoto wrote:
Beautiful lens, no complaints. I just wanted something different.

 


To be frank, I interpret this as - you're just not happy with your photography, not the quality of the photo, and you're hoping that a new lens will magically make you're portraiture better.  That's fine, and all of us do it to some point, but it seems to me that you really just want to buy something new and looking for someone to say it's the right thing to do.  We'll, you've come to the right place, there are several people on here to do just that.  In fact, they'll tell you to buy the best of the best.   Maybe you'll even get a witty quote with it, like "buy the best and only cry once!".

 

But you hit the nail on the head here:

 


@SincerePhoto wrote:

If I don't do anything more than normal internet usage of images would I really see a difference between the 135mmL and the 85mm II(besides bokeh and lower aperture) in terms of contrast/IQ/Color

 

Nope.  Just as you suspected.  The pixel peepers might argue otherwise, but if you're not using a big expensive lens wide open, and you're downsizing to internet, then there's very little difference in any of them. 

 

Now, I'm not saying to not get good lenses.  Just be realistic in why you're buying them.  If you want/need a fast lens then nothing can give you that look buy a fast lens.  And if you're going to do a lot of portraiture there's nothing wrong with investing in a trusty lens to do your work with.  Or many.  I LOVE using primes for potraiture, and if you're going to do portraiture with primes, you're going to own a lot.  But I also love shooting wide open.  If you're not doing that, then shooting primes is just an expensive way to go about it.


That said, I own and still use my 100mm (non-L) for a ton of portraiture work.  It's a great lens.  I only pull out my 85 1.4 when I need a fast lens, or a wider field of view (though I usually grab my 50mm 1.4 for that).

Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,861
Registered: ‎12-02-2012

Re: question about portrait lens and quality

Did you say what camera you shoot? If it is a crop sensor the 135 May seem pretty long in a lot of situations and a 50mm or an 85mm would be more versatile for you.

The 85 L is a heck of a lot more expensive than the 135 of course. Perhaps it would be helpful to rent one or both and try them out.
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"?
Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,861
Registered: ‎12-02-2012

Re: question about portrait lens and quality

I like your shots btw.
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"?
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎02-23-2015

Re: question about portrait lens and quality

Hey, all. Sorry I was in the middle of an extensive response and this mac rebooted itself

 

 

Quick responses, I am alright with my work. I just need a good quality lens that is built well and will give me the quality I want.

 

I loved the 70-200 but I felt like I would be better off with a better laptop for editing and that I could get a cheaper portrait only lens since i won't be doing much wedding work and I think a wider aperture may give me a better look overall.

 

I look at a lot of samples from every combo and lens from the 85mm 1.8 to the 85mm 1.2 II

I see noticeable differences but so much comes into play with why the difference. post processing, skill level, camera used, settings

 

 

I loved the 100mm macro 

Not sure why I sold it besides clearing up money to get the lens I just returned.

 

 

 

 

 

I shoot a Canon 6D btw

sorry I forgot that

 

 

 

I was thinking I may snag a cheap used 85mm 1.8 but If Itd be better to just snag the 135mm for a little more used I think that may hold me over.

 

I just prefer the 85mm for tight spaces

 

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,816
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: question about portrait lens and quality

[ Edited ]

The 135L will certainly develop a stronger and more attractive background blur if you're going for shallow DOF.  

 

But depending on what body you're using, the 135 makes you walk back a bit from your model to frame the shot.  If you're doing indoor and don't have a big room to work in, the 85 may be easier to work with.

 

You can check out samples for yourself by going to pixel-peeper.com.  Under "Equipment" look to the "Lenses" row and click "Canon", then pick the lens you want to look at ... the 85 f/1.8 or the 135 f/2L -- and you can view tons of sample images from each.  

 

They index Flickr and they only use photos where the EXIF data was supplied so you can see what body (really you want to know if it was a full-frame vs. crop-frame body) and aperture they used.

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: question about portrait lens and quality


@SincerePhoto wrote:
I just need a good quality lens that is built well and will give me the quality I want.

Is there a lack of quality in your photos that you think is from the lens?

 

Again, the effects of a wide aperature are evident, and if that's what you're looking for then you need a fast prime.  But if it's some other, harder to define, "quality" of a photo, I really don't think a new lens will change it.  As you said above, I think having a better laptop with better editing skills will have a more noticable impact than a higher quality lens.

 

As to the 135, I highly recommend renting one if you're looking at buying.  It's a great lens, but not without it's own traits.  135 is fairly long, even on a full frame.  It's fantastic when you have the space, but it's pretty much for outdoor portraiture unless you have a rather large studio.  Also, I don't know if you shoot using flash, but the 6D's sync speed of 1/180, which means I'm usually at 1/160 with flash, puts your rather close to the 1/focal length rule of thumb for min shutter speed.  I frequently use a fill flash even when outdoor and I was getting too many blurry shots from camera shake when I was really rolling with the moment and firing away.  Not an issue if you only shoot natural light of course.  THe f/2 aperture is fantastic, makes some great shots, but unless you plan on solely using it wide open I'd recommend saving the money for a f/2.8 70-200 with image stabilization.

 

The 85mm is a nice lens and a focal length you should have in your arsenal as a fast lens portrait photographer.  I opted for the Sigma f/1.4.  It's a very nice lens, great photos, but the AF is fairly slow.  I can't speak to the Canon f/1.8 from personal use, but I've read that it seems to perform pretty well given the cheap price.

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎02-23-2015

Re: question about portrait lens and quality

The lack of quality it was mainly from when I had the 85 mm 1.8. Since then I have used L series lenses only and they have been beautiful. Image stabilization is not something I need or will use. I would check out the sigma 1.4 if that is an 85 mm. I just want better IQ then the 85 1.8. The 135 seems a little long for me since my studio is pretty small indoors. That is the only reason I've considered a 70 to 200 for now so I have the different focal lengths and tighter compression when I was outside or had the room
VIP
Posts: 11,642
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: question about portrait lens and quality

SincerePhoto

There are two kinds od "pros".  The ones that buy some expensive photgraphgy equipment and think that makes them a pro.  These folks all have regular jobs they go to all week long and shoot a but now and again.  Yeah, they make a little money and that really makes them a "pro".

Then there is those of us who actually put groceries on the table, pay for the daughter's dance school and buy the family car, etc.

It depends on which you are.  If you are really serious you buy equipment that makes you money.  You buy equipment that fits.

Usually this means the best.  Not simply for it's IQ but for it's durability and realibity.  A pro can not afford to have equipment fails.  Clients do not underdstand that.  Also most people don't want you to use the same camera that uncle Bob has and will do it for free.

Now you can take advice from somebody that's been there or not but you must decide what you are after.  What are your goals, your plan?

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎02-23-2015

Re: question about portrait lens and quality

I plan on making it a career. I will upgrade to the 85mm II when I have the cash. Until then I just want the best secondary option. I already make money from this and would do it full time but sadly the military causes me to miss a lot of opportunities
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