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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 31 Aug 2010 (Tuesday) 07:11
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50mm-60mm for portraits

 
Rsyx
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Aug 31, 2010 07:11 |  #1

Alright, I was all set on the 50 Makro Planar up until a few days ago, when I started doubting. If I'm buying a ZE, I want the distinct Zeiss rendering like the ZE 35 Distagon has. From what I've heard the Makro Planar is an awesome lens by all means, but the rendering is not as 3D as some of the other ZE lenses.

Now, I'm looking at a lens mainly for portraits. For general walkaround I have a 24L and my tele needs are covered by the 135L. The 135L is also used for candid street photography. What I'm missing is a lens in the 50mm-60mm range for portraiture and indoor shots. I would prefer a lens that is usable from f/2 upwards.

The options I'm considering:
- Canon 50mm f/1.4 - I've seen some great shots in the Sample Archive, but this is for now the option that I'm most likely to drop.
- Canon 60mm f/2.8 Macro - This lens is not as fast as I'd like, being "only" f/2.8. Other than that, it seems like a great and inexpensive lens.
- Zeiss ZE 50mm f/1.4 - I'm actually starting to like this option. The rendering is very distinct, what I'm wondering is if it will be a good lens when shooting portraits from 1m (3 ft) - 3m (9 ft) distance though.
- Zeiss ZE 50mm f/2 - Still in the back of my head and a great lens, but I'm missing the special look that my ZE 35 used to produce.
- Canon 50L - I don't think that the L is going to be my next lens, but if there are convincing arguments to get the lens I'm very open to it.

Not considering:
- Sigma 50mm f/1.4 - I personally don't like the rendering.

I would love to hear your insights. If I'd buy a less expensive lens than the 50L/50MP, I'll use the remains to go on a citytrip to take some photos. :)


5D II + ZE 50 MP

  
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TweakMDS
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Aug 31, 2010 07:31 |  #2

Is the 85mm focal length out of the question? Because there are some great options there also... The 85 1.8, new Sigma 85 1.4, CZ 85, samyang 85 etc.

Out of the ones you named, I'd be most interested in the 60mm macro, but you'll still need lighting for indoor portraits or the Zeiss 50mm f/2.


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Rsyx
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Aug 31, 2010 07:35 |  #3

They're not really out of the question, I've taken a look at the 85mm f/1.8, 85L, 90 TS-E and ZE 85, but the 50mm range works better for me. The 85L would also be too expensive at the moment.

If there are good arguments to get a 85mm (or 90 TS-E) for portraiture they're very welcome, but I'm more likely to stick with something less long. The new lens will be used on a crop body.


5D II + ZE 50 MP

  
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NinetyEight
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Aug 31, 2010 08:34 |  #4

On a Crop body like your 40D I'd personally use my 60mm f/2.8 macro for indoor portraits, probably wide open. Any larger than f/2.8 and DOF is getting a bit 'thin' but it depends on the effect you are after (one eyelash in focus for instance :-))


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Brennan.M
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Aug 31, 2010 09:24 |  #5

Interested to see the replies to this cause I'm in the same boat minus the 60mm and on FF... from what I hear though the ZE 50mm f/1.4 is lacking compared to the Makro. The rendering and colors people seem to like better from the ZE rather than the L too.


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RPCrowe
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Aug 31, 2010 09:37 as a reply to  @ NinetyEight's post |  #6

One criteria to consider

A major, but often overlooked, criteria in selecting a portrait lens is the quality of bokeh it produces. Don't confuse the subject term "bokeh" with the objective term "depth of field".

DOF is the area between the near and far points of acceptable focus and is determined by: distanced focused on, f/stop, focal length and image size.

Bokeh is the smoothness (or lack of smoothness) in the out of focus areas of the image and is determined by how perfect a circle is formed by the aperture blades. This in turn is determined by the number of blades (the greater number having a more perfect circle) and the shape of the blades.

An image, especially a portrait or macro image really benefits from a smooth bokeh because then, the out of focus areas do not compete with the in focus areas for the viewers attention.

IMO, a relatively minor criteria of a portrait lens is sharpness. Most of today's lenses, even decent consumer models, have sufficient sharpness for portrait work and often the ultra sharp lenses do not achieve a flattering image - especially when photographing females.

Also IMO, many photographers like a lens with a very wide aperture because it renders a narrow depth of field. I personally do not generally like the impact of a portrait with an extremely narrow DOF.

Focal length: I personally like a longer focal length for portraits - especially head and shoulder portraits because I believe the longer focal length is usually more flattering since it doesn't exaggerate features like the nose. I like a lens of 85-100mm, even when using a 1.6x format camera... However, I have plenty of room in my studio so I can easily use a longer focal length. If I were working in a constrained space, I would use a 50mm or 60mm lens on a 1.6x camera but, would not really be happy with it.

Zoom: Since portraiture (I am talking formal portraits) is usually a fairly static situation, the photographer can most often zoom with his or her feet. However, the use of a zoom lens allows greater flexibility in framing the subject as well as a greater flexibility in camera to subject distance. The 24-70mm f/2.8L and 70-200mm f/4L IS lenses are both relatively nice portrait lenses if you use the 24-70L towards then long end and the other lens towards the short end of their focal ranges. IMO the 70-200mm f/4L IS produces smoother bokeh, due to the shape of its diaphram blades, than does the non-IS version of that lens.

One of my favorite lenses for portraiture is the 90mm f/2.8 Tamron Macro. I like the focal length, f/stop and love the bokeh. It is a bit sharp but sharpness can always be reduced in post processing.
I most often use Portrait Professional 9 when post processing both male and female portraits. It does a very decent job just using the detent settings but, really shines when you adjust the editing parameters.


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tkbslc
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Aug 31, 2010 10:06 |  #7

For the amount of money you are talking about, switch to a 5D and a 85mm f1.8 or Rokinon 85mm f1.4.

I mean after this 50mm purchase you are basically going to end up with the crop equivalent of 35, 85 and 200, all of which are likely going to be cheaper and better on FF.


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dmnelson
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Aug 31, 2010 10:51 |  #8

Great advice, RPCrowe. I totally agree about bokeh. To me the quality of the out-of-focus areas can totally make or break a photo... or lens.


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toxic
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Aug 31, 2010 11:19 |  #9

I didn't like the 50/1.4, and I personally don't like the rendering of the 60 Macro for portraits.

RPCrowe wrote in post #10822641 (external link)
Bokeh is the smoothness (or lack of smoothness) in the out of focus areas of the image and is determined by how perfect a circle is formed by the aperture blades. This in turn is determined by the number of blades (the greater number having a more perfect circle) and the shape of the blades.

Bokeh has little do with aperture blades. The diaphragm is always a perfect circle when the lens is wide open, so how do you explain crappy bokeh wide-open?

Bokeh has to do with lens design, not aperture blades.

Also IMO, many photographers like a lens with a very wide aperture because it renders a narrow depth of field. I personally do not generally like the impact of a portrait with an extremely narrow DOF.

Depends on the FL...with telephotos, I agree. All my portraits using the 100/2 are at f/4 at widest.

Focal length: I personally like a longer focal length for portraits - especially head and shoulder portraits because I believe the longer focal length is usually more flattering since it doesn't exaggerate features like the nose. I like a lens of 85-100mm, even when using a 1.6x format camera... However, I have plenty of room in my studio so I can easily use a longer focal length. If I were working in a constrained space, I would use a 50mm or 60mm lens on a 1.6x camera but, would not really be happy with it.

Distance is what changes perspective, not FL. You simply prefer working at longer distances.

IMO the 70-200mm f/4L IS produces smoother bokeh, due to the shape of its diaphram blades, than does the non-IS version of that lens.

I disagree. Both f/4 versions have a donut effect going on, much like the 24-105, while all the f/2.8s are very smooth.




  
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canongrip
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Aug 31, 2010 11:38 |  #10

toxic wrote in post #10823248 (external link)
The diaphragm is always a perfect circle when the lens is wide open, so how do you explain crappy bokeh wide-open?

example:

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: NOT FOUND | MIME changed to 'binary/octet-stream'

In the above comparison image, the background blur of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens (external link) (left), Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens (external link) (middle) and Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens (external link) (right) are presented.

@ http://www.the-digital-picture.com …f-1.8-II-Lens-Review.aspx (external link)


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tkbslc
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Aug 31, 2010 11:40 |  #11

Those pictures are all taken at f2.8, so they do in fact include the aperture shapes in the highlights. I completely agree with Toxic, the only thing the aperture shape alters is the shape of highlights as shown in your example.


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JBroida
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Aug 31, 2010 13:16 |  #12

I'm no expert, but i bought a 60mm macro a little while ago for my t1i and in the process, i tried the 50mm 1.4 and 50mm 1.8. They are better for low light for sure, but the 60mm was that much sharper and no distortion at all. Plus, being a macro, its been a useful addition to my kit, but i'm shooting products, not people


Canon 5D MkIII, Canon 60D, Tokina 11-16 2.8, Canon 16-35 F4 IS L, Sigma 35 Art, Canon 24-105 L, Canon 60mm 2.8 Macro, Canon 100mm Macro IS L

  
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nightcat
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Aug 31, 2010 14:33 |  #13

For indoor portraits, I like the 60mm 2.8. I like 60mm focal length better than 50mm. I also have used the 50mm 2.5 CM at times. For some reason, the 50mm 2.5 has slightly better bokeh than the 60mm 2.8, but I still prefer the longer length.

For larger indoor areas, I've had success with the 100mm 2.0. And for outdoors, the 100mm 2.0 is my go to lens for portraits. Very smooth bokeh!




  
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sth_
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Aug 31, 2010 14:46 |  #14

Brennan.M wrote in post #10822557 (external link)
Interested to see the replies to this cause I'm in the same boat minus the 60mm and on FF... from what I hear though the ZE 50mm f/1.4 is lacking compared to the Makro. The rendering and colors people seem to like better from the ZE rather than the L too.

On FF I would rather choose a lens in the 85-135mm range for portraits. 50mm requires you to move quite close to the subject for headshots, which results in a not-so-nice perspective (big noses etc. ;) ).


[edit]: This post is obsolete - didn't see the 135L in the signature. ;)


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Brennan.M
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Aug 31, 2010 15:24 |  #15

sth_ wrote in post #10824384 (external link)
On FF I would rather choose a lens in the 85-135mm range for portraits. 50mm requires you to move quite close to the subject for headshots, which results in a not-so-nice perspective (big noses etc. ;) ).

thats why he has the 135L


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50mm-60mm for portraits
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