Approve the Cookies
This website uses cookies to improve your user experience. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies and our Privacy Policy.
Index  •   • New posts  •   • RTAT  •   • 'Best of'  •   • Gallery  •   • Gear  •   • Reviews
New posts  •   • RTAT  •   • 'Best of'  •   • Gallery  •   • Gear  •   • Reviews
Register to forums    Log in

FORUMS Photo Sharing & Visual Enjoyment Kids & Family 
Thread started 30 Oct 2017 (Monday) 14:39
Search threadPrev/next
sponsored links
(this ad will go away when you log in as a registered member)

Recommended camera height for full size portraits

Senior Member
777 posts
Likes: 3
Joined Aug 2007
Location: Dallas, TX
Oct 30, 2017 14:39 |  #1

I have couple of questions:

1) I mostly shoot full size family portraits with my Canon 5D, 24-70L Lens at about 20-30mm to capture the full size portrait. what is your opinion on this focal length for full size portraits?
2) What is the recommended height of the camera while shooting full size family pictures with different heights? I try to be at just below the eye level but want to check with others here..

Canon 5D III | Canon 24-70 L II | Canon 50D | Canon 70-200 2.8 L IS II | Sigma 17-50 OS | Canon 50mm f1.8 II | 580,430 EX II Speedlite

Cream of the Crop
18,863 posts
Likes: 1057
Joined Nov 2007
Location: Bay Area, CA
Post edited 8 months ago by bobbyz.
Nov 01, 2017 14:19 |  #2

I shoot most of my full lengths at 85mm and then too usually from waist level. I prefer even longer focal lengths if I could. Here is an example of 35mm vs 145mm



5dmk3, 35L, 85L II, 300mm f2.8 IS I, 400mm f5.6
Fuji XT-1, 14mm f2.8, 23mm f1.4, 35mm f1.4, 56mm f1.2, 90mm f2, 50-140mm f2.8

"Looks rough and well used"
12,729 posts
Gallery: 1114 photos
Best ofs: 3
Likes: 8152
Joined Feb 2013
Location: Florida
Post edited 8 months ago by MalVeauX. (2 edits in all)
Nov 01, 2017 15:14 |  #3

It's purely preference based. There's no right answer here. You can shoot portrait with ultrawide, or a 600mm. It all comes down to how you want it to look, how your client/subject may want it, and your environment and what options you have.

Everyone is going to have a different answer for you. But what matters is what you prefer.

The 5D + 24-70 is excellent and will be very versatile for portrait, both groups of fully body and for singles.

Potential distortion and working distance are two things you may find you care a lot about eventually. Distortion has nothing to do with the focal length and everything to do with proximity of your focal plane to the subject (ie, the closer you are, the more distortion you can exhibit). It just so happens that really wide angles allow you to get really close, and the distortion will be easily noticed in the corners due to the proximity. Some love the distortion. Some use longer focal lengths to keep their distance to subject greater, which reduces distortion. Distortion isn't a bad thing, but it may not be what you or your subject want; such as legs in the corners on a wide angle when you're at close proximity looking oddly larger or stretched, etc. This can happen with faces too, such as noses, ears, etc. But, that said, you can use close proximity and wide angles to do environmental portraits without subject distortion with appropriate placement (not in the corners). Mean while you can of course use longer focal lengths to increase distance between you and the subject(s) and reduce distortion due to that distance. You can also use fast focal-ratio telephoto lenses, if there's a lot of distance behind your subjects, to get the shallow depth of field look. 70mm F2.8 can achieve pretty good isolation if you care to do that, but to do a full body of a group of people, that would take a lot of distance from you to subject to compose them all. So it all comes down to your preference, working distance, options, etc. The 24-70 will let you do wide angles for close shots of groups where working distance is limited, and 70mm to increase working distance and reduce distortion if there's plenty of working distance.

My own personal preferences:

I like to get down below the subject's and shoot below their waist, up a little. Or at the very least, so that the ground is not the background, if that makes sense.
I prefer wider angles, so that I can be closer to the subjects. I like to be able to talk to them without shouting, or screaming, to issue commands or to simply hear what they're saying too.
I like the look of my 135L, but I actually really don't like the working distance it requires for full body with a little environment involved.
I use 17mm on full frame for portrait often, I embrace distortion, and just carefully place subjects in the composition to avoid anyone in a corner.
My favorite focal length for portrait in general, is the 85mm on full frame (or close to that, so 70mm~100mm probably). I like the working distance, not in their face, not 20 feet away.
I do more portraits at 35mm and 90mm these days.
I care more about working distance and lighting than I do about what specific focal length I have.


What I avoid a lot of, is high camera height to subject portraits. But only because I personally do not care for them. They can work for some people. Everyone walking around take their every day photos from the perspective of standing near the subject, and if they're shorter, it's top-down. Even people doing selfies do this. It's from up high, down to the subject. It's rampant its so common because it's natural to stand. It's unnatural, when taking a photo, to instantly take a knee or drop down to your elbows. That takes effort. That's what I do though, I generally am always at least on a knee or literally on my elbows because I prefer the perspective from below the subject.



19mm on full frame, below subject's wastes, ultrawide, to get the sky, full depth of field:

IMAGE LINK:​iq  (external link) IMG_5739 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

35mm on full frame, below subject's faces, looking up, wide angle, soft background from F2 at my proximity:

IMAGE LINK:​7n  (external link) IMG_4014mark (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

90mm on full frame, at subject's waist, soft background but enough depth of field to keep some of the details to give it context for where we were:

(This is my favorite working distance, soft background, but still some context so its not just a smear)

IMAGE LINK:​v6  (external link) IMG_6014 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE LINK:​iT  (external link) IMG_5887 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

135mm on full frame, below subject's waist looking up, obliterated background to the point where its really not even contributing anything other than color:

IMAGE LINK:​eu  (external link) IMG_8727 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Very best,

My Flickr (external link) :: My Astrobin (external link)

sponsored links
(this ad will go away when you log in as a registered member)

918 views & 7 likes for this thread
Recommended camera height for full size portraits
FORUMS Photo Sharing & Visual Enjoyment Kids & Family 
x 1600
y 1600

Jump to forum...   •  Rules   •  Index   •  New posts   •  RTAT   •  'Best of'   •  Gallery   •  Gear   •  Reviews   •  Member list   •  Polls   •  Image rules   •  Search   •  Password reset

Not a member yet?
Register to forums
Registered members may log in to forums and access all the features: full search, image upload, follow forums, own gear list and ratings, likes, more forums, private messaging, thread follow, notifications, own gallery, all settings, view hosted photos, own reviews, see more and do more... and all is free. Don't be a stranger - register now and start posting!

COOKIES DISCLAIMER: This website uses cookies to improve your user experience. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies and to our privacy policy.
Privacy policy and cookie usage info.

POWERED BY AMASS forum software 2.1forum software
version 2.1 /
code and design
by Pekka Saarinen ©

Latest registered member is Weekkey
859 guests, 399 members online
Simultaneous users record so far is 6430, that happened on Dec 03, 2017 Digital Photography Forums is the website for photographers and all who love great photos, camera and post processing techniques, gear talk, discussion and sharing. Professionals, hobbyists, newbies and those who don't even own a camera -- all are welcome regardless of skill, favourite brand, gear, gender or age. Registering and usage is free.