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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 01 Jun 2014 (Sunday) 18:19
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Tips for using a 35mm for portraits.

 
pstyle1
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Jun 01, 2014 18:19 |  #1

I'm on my third 35L. Each time I've had it before, I've been pretty "meh" about it and sold it.

This time I'm determined to give it a fair shot as I really want to incorporate it into my wedding and engagement portraits. I like 85mm and longer primes for portraits, and depend on my 24-70 2.8 II for the shorter focal ranges.

I know a lot of photogs swear on the their 35L as their favorite lens, so I guess I'm looking for some advice on how it best shines for portraits and other wedding work.


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vengence
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Jun 01, 2014 19:18 |  #2

When you use an 85 or 135L you are trying to destroy the background. When using the 35L you are NOT trying to destroy the background, you want the background included in the shot. That means no head & shoulders with it, it means you aren't trying to destroy everything but the subject. You want to isolate the subject, but you want the environment they are in to still be part of the photograph. The 35L is all about perspective.




  
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nightcat
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Jun 01, 2014 19:26 |  #3

The 35mm focal length sure wouldn't be my favorite for portraits. Vengence said it well. When using the 35mm for portrait work, stand back and avoid head and shoulder shots.




  
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MalVeauX
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Jun 01, 2014 19:31 |  #4

Heya,

I find the 35mm range is my go-to tool for the indoor stuff, and when outside, when the background is close to the subject, or when I simply have to be within a few feet and can't be far away. That short distance to subject with wide aperture leans towards that crazy thin depth of field, if you want that look, otherwise, you can stop down a bit and still nail great depth of field, but get ridiculously sharp images that still blur near backgrounds where a telephoto would keep the background sort of in focus. It's also easier to get a group at 35mm given the work space. The other benefit of 35mm, is that your flash has to do less work. You're closer, so your lighting is closer, which means less power, faster cycle times, and more shots for the battery life. I don't think the 35L specifically is so dreamy. I think it's just the focal length, the wide aperture, and the properties of using a wide focal length that lacks the distortion of really wide focal lengths along with sharp shots at wide apertures at short distances. You would get the same results using a Sigma 35, and very similar results with an EF 35 F2 IS, or even the Samyang 35 F1.4 (fully manual, not ideal for weddings of course, but for engagement it's fine and portraiture in general). That short focal length is great for those shots where you want hands, rings, kissing shots, things that are not full body portraiture where you want to be close and not standing at the edge of a rail to compose with a telephoto. There's something personal about being 2~3 feet away with a 35mm lens, rather than 10+ feet away with an 85mm or longer. 35mm is also easier to do environmental inclusion shots, where things in context are in the photo, and not completely blurred out. Also, 35mm is easier to do different perspectives with, like from below or from higher up, by dropping to a knee or stepping on a chair/stool, etc.

Very best,


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RayinAlaska
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Jun 01, 2014 19:45 |  #5

I would think that the 35L or even the 40 pancake would be great for indoors shots of people sitting at the table not far from you. I have used the 40 on FF to take photos of my wife sitting perhaps 4 feet away (at the table) with wonderful results. But I have no idea if it would be good for portraiture.

There is only is one way to find out. One thing for certain: I have seen some sort of experimental portrait photos taken with lenses such as the Tokina 11-16 for crop sensors.




  
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Sirrith
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Jun 01, 2014 19:55 |  #6

I like 35mm for portraits a lot. Use it for full body or half body shots including the background for more of a story.


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mystik610
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Jun 01, 2014 20:00 |  #7

35mm is useful for loosely framed environmental portraits where you're "telling a story" with the interaction of the background and subject:

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vengence
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Jun 01, 2014 20:04 |  #8

mystik610 wrote in post #16945217 (external link)
35mm is useful for loosely framed environmental portraits where you're "telling a story" with the interaction of the background and subject:

bw! Beautiful examples of what a 35 can do when used for what it is intended for.




  
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RayinAlaska
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Jun 01, 2014 20:12 |  #9

vengence wrote in post #16945223 (external link)
bw! Beautiful examples of what a 35 can do when used for what it is intended for.

+1

A lot of us believe in unbending rules about photography, and then comes someone who blows them all away :)




  
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corndog ­ cabernet
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Jun 01, 2014 20:41 |  #10

RayinAlaska wrote in post #16945241 (external link)
+1

A lot of us believe in unbending rules about photography, and then comes someone who blows them all away :)

What unbending rule would you be referring to?
35-50mm lenses (FF) have been used for this type of photography since their inception.

Good images Mystic.




  
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werds
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Jun 01, 2014 21:00 |  #11

mystik610 wrote in post #16945217 (external link)
35mm is useful for loosely framed environmental portraits where you're "telling a story" with the interaction of the background and subject:

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DSC09296 (external link) by Carlo Alcala (external link), on Flickr

QUOTED IMAGE
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/ndab​Ry  (external link) Arpita & Kapil (external link) by Carlo Alcala (external link), on Flickr

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IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/mf3p​f4  (external link) DZ2A8815 (external link) by Carlo Alcala (external link), on Flickr

QUOTED IMAGE
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/fnfn​Fo  (external link) DZ2A04982 (external link) by Carlo Alcala (external link), on Flickr

https://flic.kr/p/iEEb​4S (external link)DZ2A9700 (external link) by Carlo Alcala (external link), on Flickr

Awesome examples!


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Will ­ Chao
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Jun 01, 2014 21:26 as a reply to  @ werds's post |  #12

35mm produces a more slimming look than 85mm, at the expense of covering more background which can essentially mean more garbage and trash

But if you select background properly it can create very intimate and powerful shots

85mm is an easy focal length to work since you can be a lazy on background selection (most will be blurred anyway)

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daleg
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Jun 02, 2014 10:27 |  #13

vengence wrote in post #16945130 (external link)
When you use an 85 or 135L you are trying to destroy the background. When using the 35L you are NOT trying to destroy the background, you want the background included in the shot. That means no head & shoulders with it, it means you aren't trying to destroy everything but the subject. You want to isolate the subject, but you want the environment they are in to still be part of the photograph. The 35L is all about perspective.

See nail, hit it hard. Just like this. Fine advice. Imho, exactly correct. The 35mm is a compositional treasure.

Not so sure about the f/1.4 & the accompanying red ring. From my perspective, I do NOT want razor-thin DOF - for that, I'll either add an extension ring or grab a macro lens (100mm L, 180mm L, etc.).

That is NOT the point of MY compositions with the 35mm lens. Even shooting extreme closeups, I still want a few inches in focus (blooms, artsy still-life's, etc.). In my kit, canon's old 35 f2 is treasured. The images work. I keep saying it's the next upgrade - but I have yet to pull the plug. Why do I need a 2 pounder with razor-thin DOF instead of my 2 ounce gem that focuses perfectly - even with it's ancient arc-form AF (no USM)?

Ever wonder why almost all early street photography was shot with 35mm lenses (often mounted on leica rangefinders)?




  
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daleg
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Jun 02, 2014 10:29 |  #14

Will Chao wrote in post #16945384 (external link)
35mm produces a more slimming look than 85mm, at the expense of covering more background which can essentially mean more garbage and trash

But if you select background properly it can create very intimate and powerful shots

85mm is an easy focal length to work since you can be a lazy on background selection (most will be blurred anyway)

QUOTED IMAGE
IMAGE LINK: http://clients.willcha​ophotography.com/sampl​e/e376f0e38  (external link)

beautiful composition. nice job. I'll guess that your model was thrilled to add this to her portfolio (if not, she should). Props.




  
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Will ­ Chao
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Jun 02, 2014 10:38 as a reply to  @ daleg's post |  #15

85 doesn't necessarily destroy background :P

IMAGE: http://willchaophotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/37.jpg

but different lenses have different functions, you just need to be good at deciding which perspective you want to use

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Tips for using a 35mm for portraits.
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