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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 02 May 2013 (Thursday) 10:56
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Portrait or Macro Prime?

 
Tiller
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May 02, 2013 10:56 |  #1

Hey guys, I've been sitting on this question for a while. I'm not getting much closer to an answer so I'll post here.

I want a lens for portraits, mostly outside, but inside as well. The closest I have right now is a 90mm Tamron 52b f/2.5. I bought it for a macro lens, but it doubles as a portrait lens for me. But I'm starting to really miss autofocus. I'm finding that I'm playing around with focus, and I'm missing shots, especially around dusk, when I don't have much time to begin with. I just bought the nifty fifty, but I like the length of the 90 on my 60d.

So I'm thinking about either the 85 1.8 or the 100 macro. I've heard the 100 is ultra sharp, and would also be useful to me for macro.

There is also the option of getting the 70-200 f4 (non-is). I know it can be a good portrait lens, and I may like the versatility. But I'll be giving up that big aperture...

So, all that for this question. If you were me, would you go for the 85 1.8 and stick with the Tamron for macro? Or would you get the 100 macro as kind of an all purpose lens? OR would you go for the 70-200 for the versatility?

Thanks everyone!


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gasrocks
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May 02, 2013 11:08 |  #2

I teach a class in photo portraits. One thing all my student learn how to do is MF. I do not believe in AF for portraits. The Tamron 90 (52B) is a great lens. Maybe give it a try. Being able to MF opens up a whole 'nother world of wonderful portrait lenses for you.


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Tiller
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May 02, 2013 11:17 |  #3

I do use it, but when I'm trying to use it at 2.5 at dusk with an umbrella, it gets very difficult to hit focus every time. I always underexpose my ambient which makes it really hard to focus with such a shallow DOF.


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KirkS518
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May 02, 2013 11:21 |  #4

Are you using Live View and Focus Confirmation? Those should help.


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Tiller
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May 02, 2013 11:34 |  #5

I do use live view. I thought focus confirmation only happened with autofocus-capable lenses?


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KirkS518
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May 02, 2013 16:24 |  #6

I know I'm going to technically say this wrong, but... AF confirmation will work on all lenses that have the AF confirm chip. So any Canon EF lens (or Sigma.Tamron/Tokina, etc. built as a Canon EF/EF-S mount) will give you AF confirmation in AF or MF. You can also get AF confirmation from an old manual lens with the right adapter. As an example, I have a Mamiya Sekor 60mm Macro lens, manufactured around 1962 (?), and it has an M42 mount (threaded mount). I use an M42 to Canon EF adapter with AF confirm, similar to this (external link). If your Tamron is an older MF lens, you can get the correct adapter, and it will give you AF confirm. Hope that helps.


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gasrocks
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May 02, 2013 18:14 |  #7

Even with a chipped adpater, AF confirm cannot be trusted to get the focus exactly correct.


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Sirrith
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May 02, 2013 18:26 |  #8

gasrocks wrote in post #15890402 (external link)
I teach a class in photo portraits. One thing all my student learn how to do is MF. I do not believe in AF for portraits. The Tamron 90 (52B) is a great lens. Maybe give it a try. Being able to MF opens up a whole 'nother world of wonderful portrait lenses for you.

But how do you teach someone to hit MF accurately and consistently with wide apertures using viewfinders which are unable to show the true DOF when using such lenses?

If you use live view, there should be no problem, its easy to MF with live view.

If you really want AF, then I'd either replace the current 90mm macro with a modern version which has AF, so you'll only have 1 lens, or if you don't mind having multiple lenses at essentially the same focal length (I don't like this personally, unless its a slow zoom and a fast prime) then go for the 85.


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May 02, 2013 18:34 |  #9

I use the 100L macro as a candid portrait lens, but 100mm on my crop is quite long - all of my indoor shots are quite tightly framed. IMO, it's too long for a portrait lens on crop, unless you are taking short telephoto portraits with plenty of space. That being, said, it sounds like that is what you are doing with the 90mm anyway, so you already know this.

The autofocus on the 100L is very good but, like most macro lenses, its tuned towards close distances. That is, the throw is long at close distances, but shorter at long distances. There is much more travel from minimum to maximum focal range than normal lenses, so it really helps to use the focus limiting switches to minimise AF hunting, especially in low light.


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artyH
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May 03, 2013 08:20 |  #10

I recommend the 85 for portraits. It is as long as I would on a crop - good outside, but long inside. The 100 is even longer.
I use the 85 inside for head shots. I don't use my 100 macro inside for portraits.




  
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amfoto1
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May 03, 2013 11:51 |  #11

On a crop camera, 50mm and 85mm are the two extremes of the "ideal portrait focal lengths". There are many to choose from, many of which are at least 1 or 2 stops faster than the 90/2.5 Tamron Macro.

Sure, you can use shorter and longer lenses... but these are the "traditional" focal lengths, felt to be ideal for the way they pleasingly render faces without distortion.

I am not a big fan of using a macro lens for portraiture. Macro lenses give one type of look, portrait lenses another. Part of the difference is the flat field design of macro lenses, another part is the larger apertures available on more portrait oriented primes.

Using a crop camera such as the 60D, an interesting lens that might serve both purposes better is the Tamron 60mm f2.0. It offers a full stop larger aperture than most macro lenses, so addresses at least partially the differences I see between macro and portrait lenses. I have not tried it yet... mainly because it's a crop only lens and I use both crop and FF cameras, so would prefer lenses that can serve on both, but am very tempted to make an exception for this particular lens.

If you don't shoot a lot of macro, if portraits are a higher priority...a non-macro "portrait" lens might be a better choice, along with a set of macro extension tubes for occasional use. I've often used them on 50mm, 85mm, 24-70 lenses. The Kenko set is good. So are the Canon tubes that are sold individually. There are other, good tube sets that are a bit less expensive.

There are times when a zoom is nearly essential for portraiture (kids, pets, anything where you respond quickly). On a crop camera, 24-70/2.8 is a near ideal portrait lens. In fact, I like it better for portraiture on a crop camera, than I do on FF. Still, it's "only" f2.8. And the Canon 24-70/2.8 is pretty expensive. However, there are some excellent third party 24-70/2.8, too, that might serve and cost a lot less.

The 70-200/2.8 is a pretty good portrait lens on full frame, but a bit long much of the time on a crop camera.

I would not consider an f4 lens for portraiture. The 70-200/4 is a super lens, plus is smaller and lighter than the f2.8 version... but it's still relatively large and intimidating. In fact, all the "big white" Canon lenses are a bit intimidating for use with non-professional models.

The 135L is a super portrait lens on FF... it's a very long portrait lens on a crop camera.

28/1.8 is a good group portrait or environmental portrait (showing a broader view of a person in their surroundings such as a workspace or home). It has to be used very carefully to avoid wide angle distortion issues.

BTW, I also use the vintage Tamron 90/2.5 manual focus lens... the Adaptall 2 version... with a "chipped" EOS mount (bought from China, via eBay) so that my cameras' Focus Confirmation still works. It's a good lens, but I mostly use it for macro. Mine is the smaller 1:2 version (all the f2.5 might be, I'm not certain), which I often use with macro extension tubes to get closer to 1:1 magnification. I don't use the matched Tamron 1:1 adapter, it's a pain to use because it fits in between the Adaptall mount and the lens. Standard EF mount macro extension tubes are much easier to use.


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Tiller
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May 03, 2013 23:17 |  #12

Thanks everyone! I just got a nifty fifty in today to see how I like primes, and I'll make my decision from there.

Amfoto1 - Yes, mine only gets to 1:2 by itself as well. I use the Tamron 01f teleconverter to get it to 1:1.


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May 03, 2013 23:34 |  #13

Tiller wrote in post #15890361 (external link)
... The closest I have right now is a 90mm Tamron 52b f/2.5. I bought it for a macro lens, but it doubles as a portrait lens for me. But I'm starting to really miss autofocus. I'm finding that I'm playing around with focus, and I'm missing shots, especially around dusk, when I don't have much time to begin with. I just bought the nifty fifty, but I like the length of the 90 on my 60d.
...

I let go to my Tamron 90 Macro due to AF disaster in low light.
Nifty-Fifty is IQ disaster compare to any Tamron in terms of IQ.
IMO.


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gasrocks
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May 04, 2013 10:40 |  #14

The Cannon 50/1.8 with a TC? Sounds terrible.


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Steve ­ Ruddy
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May 04, 2013 11:05 |  #15

If I was in your situation and was using a crop camera for portraits I may go with the 85mm 1.8 and use the Tamaron for macro until I could upgrade to the new Canon 10omm IS macro.


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