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Thread: Macro lens: too sharp to take portraits?

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    Default Macro lens: too sharp to take portraits?

    With a macros lens (say 100mm), I found it is too sharp when taking portraits. Any flaw on the face of the model can be spotted. How to avoid this situation?

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    Default Re: Macro lens: too sharp to take portraits?

    Originally posted by tomshen
    With a macros lens (say 100mm), I found it is too sharp when taking portraits. Any flaw on the face of the model can be spotted. How to avoid this situation?
    Err... Add a soft filter? :P

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    Shake your camera and at the same time press the shutter! Sure not sharp one, i.e. subject plus background (for the latter, you don't even need to open your aperture big big! In fact, it works with any setup! Don't believe? Try it!

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    I think you just have to set the sharpness level of your camera to the lowest level and that should do the trick.

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    Fallacy.

    Even if you don't use a Macro lens, any prime lens or pro zoom lens (e.g. L lenses) are damned sharp anyway. In fact, I've seen pictures from a Voigtlander 75mm f/2.5 portrait lens and the 8R print from it is damned sharp, sharp enough for you to resolve the skin pores and all. Lens sharpness is not a sole property of macro lenses. It just looks damned sharp coz you are looking at a magnified view of something so small!

    If you want to soften the resultant image, add a soft focus filter. Or try the cheap way - stretch a stocking over the lens. Or in PS, duplicate the layer, apply a bit of gaussian blur, then adjust opacity of the blurred layer for the desired effect.

    Regards
    CK

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    Macro lens: too sharp to take portraits?

    With a macros lens (say 100mm),
    I found it is too sharp when taking portraits.
    Any flaw on the face of the model can be spotted.
    How to avoid this situation?

    Portrait photographers making a living out of his profession
    find that softness sells pictures. On the other hand there
    are thousands out there who do portraits for their
    speciality and not for commercial purposes.

    Your 100mm Macros will find its way into this arena.
    However one should equip with the well rounded
    knowledge of portraiture and enjoy the preferred choice.

    Many photographers still preferred some characteristic
    studies of a male or female subject with a naked lens
    where every details of the face is shown. Wrinkles and
    blemishes are important refinements in a portrait study.

    In learning about portrait taking; some photographers
    shared the following information with me:



    Eight Ways to Softness in Portraiture

    1. Use a lens full of fungus, the more fungus the softer
    will be the end result.

    2. Use commercial available soft filters of every type
    and dare to experiment to discover new things for yourself.

    3. Make your own soft filters so that no one can duplicate
    or immitate your style. Get a few old UV filters, knock
    off the glass and improvise your own softness by using
    different materials.

    4. Just put two piece of translucent of half an inch wide
    across a UV and see what happens.

    5. Get some haircream, even tigerbalm will do to act as
    diffuser. Just put and smear them lightly and sparingly over
    an old UV filter.

    6. Use translucent celleophane paper and crumpled it up
    and put over the UV filter to get a different sort of diffusion.

    7. Get a pair of ladies stocking and pull over the filter
    of your lens.

    8. Get fine black soft clothing material, these are wonders
    for creating soft effects. So what have you got next?
    Think!

    ___________________________

    Well, to be creative, you have to be a thinking photographer.
    Fortunately our garden city is so beautiful that we cannot
    bear not to be creative given the norm that we will aim to
    be one of the most artistic city in this part of the world in
    the future. When I don't know.
    It all depends on the people isn't it?

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    Default Re: Macro lens: too sharp to take portraits?

    Originally posted by tomshen
    With a macros lens (say 100mm), I found it is too sharp when taking portraits. Any flaw on the face of the model can be spotted. How to avoid this situation?
    Don't point finger to your lens, a modern portrait lens is as sharp as those macro. (only a few old portrait lenses were designed with certain level of uncorrected aberration to soften the image).
    If you need to soften, just use a soft-filter.

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    Take pictures of kids only.
    No problem with blemishes or wrinkles.

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    Originally posted by forward


    Eight Ways to Softness in Portraiture
    After reading your tips, my jaw dropped in no time...

  10. #10

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    there is a very famous portrait photographer. he is well-known because he take a deep breath and blew air onto his lens. So the photo will have a blurry effect.

    can't remember his name but I think some of you might have heard of him.
    Last edited by ninelives; 29th August 2002 at 03:31 AM.

  11. #11

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    think creatively and put your good thinking caps what effect you want to create!

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    Hang on. I appreciate where this thread has gone and how it's got there, and I agree with most of what's been said on the softness issue.

    But I think the original question was only really dealt with by CK and tsdh and I'm in agreement with him on his reply. Macro lenses being too sharp for portraiture is an urban myth, and anyone who sees evidence of this in their photos are, I'm sorry to say, easily influenced and not really evaluating what's in front of them.

    In general, at normal working distances, modern macro lenses are not any sharper than general use lenses, at least not more so than lens A is not any sharper than lens B. In fact, older macro lenses were inferior at normal working distances than general use lenses.
    There are very, very few soft focuses lenses currently manufacturer. The Nikon DC lenses are not soft focus, and AFAIK of the big three only Minolta still make a soft focus lens.

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    Ok, for those who trusts photodo....

    Nikkor AF 105mm f/2.8D Micro : 3.9
    Nikkor AF 85mm f/1.8D (typical portrait lens) : 3.9

    The highly rated AI-S 105mm f/2.5 portrait lens : 4.2
    AI-S 85mm f/1.4 : 4.4

    As you can see, the portrait lenses are rated even higher.

    Regards
    CK

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    Now, seeing as it was me that led you indirectly to those results anyway, I'll say this, I'm highly dubious about those results... but whatever...

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    Whatever the testing result is, I am not pleased with the real-life performance of using macro lens to take portraits. Sometimes the details on the face are not pleasant to see, unless my subjects are old ppl or kids.

    So i suppose a soft filter can solve the problem, more or less?

  16. #16

    Talking why no one try this option?

    tom, last but not least, to eliminate spotty details from the face,
    use concealing makeup..

    note..has to be heavily layered if the subject is very very spotty...

    but hey, makeup does work wonders!



    regards,
    argent2

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    Originally posted by tomshen
    Whatever the testing result is, I am not pleased with the real-life performance of using macro lens to take portraits. Sometimes the details on the face are not pleasant to see, unless my subjects are old ppl or kids.

    So i suppose a soft filter can solve the problem, more or less?
    Tom, it's not the macro lens. Like I said, you will get similar results with a portrait lens (e.g. Canon 85/1.2L). Either put makeup on them like argent2 said, or use a soft filter.

    Regards
    CK

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    ic, but normally i take candid shots, not really convenient to ask my subjects to go back and make up. Seems a perfect face is not god given, but an art work

  19. #19

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    Originally posted by ckiang


    Tom, it's not the macro lens. Like I said, you will get similar results with a portrait lens (e.g. Canon 85/1.2L). Either put makeup on them like argent2 said, or use a soft filter.

    Regards
    CK
    actually from the begining I already thought the only answer was to "prepare" your model, get someone with better skin or just apply make up.
    36frames Wedding Photography - http://www.36frames.com
    rueyloon - http://www.rueyloon.com

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    Originally posted by rueyloon


    actually from the begining I already thought the only answer was to "prepare" your model, get someone with better skin or just apply make up.
    Or apply makeup using Healing Brush or Patch Tool. Easier, and no problems with things like allergy, etc.

    Regards
    CK

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