Best focal lengths 4 portraiture to give flattering resultant perspective?

which focal length would u choose?


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Mystix

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#1
I understand a longer focal length is prefered for portrature as it makes the subject looks more flattering. so do i need 100mm above? let say i have a 28-105 or 28-135 is it better that i juz zoom in to the longest focal length with the zoom lens (will it be enuff?) or do i need to get a telephoto lens like the 100-300?
 

#2
Originally posted by Mystix
I understand a longer focal length is prefered for portrature as it makes the subject looks more flattering. so do i need 100mm above? let say i have a 28-105 or 28-135 is it better that i juz zoom in to the longest focal length with the zoom lens (will it be enuff?) or do i need to get a telephoto lens like the 100-300?
100-300 is a bit too much for portraiture work. The 105 or 135 end of a 28-105 or 135 is much more practical. However, at the end of such zooms, the aperture is usually f/4.5 or 5.6, and you might not get enough background blur.

If you have the budget, and forsee doing a lot of portraiture work, get a 85/1.4, 85/1.8, 105/2.8 or 135/2.8 prime lenses.

Regards
CK
 

tsdh

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#3
As CK had said, set of portrait lenses are: 85mm, 105mm and 135mm. But sometimes there's a need to go beyond those "portrait" focal length. even up to 200/2.8 to get a flattering effect, it's all depend on the subject.
As a rough guidelines, there're 3 parameters for choosing the focal length:
- Frame size (full-body, half, head-n-shoulder, or close up)
- Subject size (small-kid, medium-size, big-person, etc)
- Subject type (thin, fat, flat-face, pointy-face, etc)

Flattering effect mostly applicable to subject with thin/pointy type or small-built. And because of those 3 factors, there is no "best focal length" to get the effect.
 

kh_drew

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#4
Originally posted by Mystix
I understand a longer focal length is prefered for portrature as it makes the subject looks more flattering. so do i need 100mm above? let say i have a 28-105 or 28-135 is it better that i juz zoom in to the longest focal length with the zoom lens (will it be enuff?) or do i need to get a telephoto lens like the 100-300?
Indeed it is true that longer lenses make for generally better portraitures although there are folks out there who take excellent shots with a 20mm f/2.8. Like what ck said, if you're using zooms (especially those with variable apertures) you might not get enough blurring of the background to achieve a pleasing effect and there might be distortions.

If you are a Nikon user I would recommend the 105mm f/2.5 and the 85mm f/2. While I do not have experience with the AF versions, people have assured me that they have the same optical qualities as the MF versions which I have tried and found it to my immense liking. Generally the MF versions may be had for under $400 in mint condition on the used market. If you're looking for a budget lens, try the Nikon 100mm f/2.8 E series, which may be had for under $300 used. I have seen a Vivitar Series 1 MF 105mm f/2.8 macro (1:1) going for $250 around the Peninsular area. Do look around.

andrew

p/s btw, if you are able to, drop by and look at a photo taken with the Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 MF

http://www.photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=575346
 

Mystix

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#5
Originally posted by tsdh
As CK had said, set of portrait lenses are: 85mm, 105mm and 135mm. But sometimes there's a need to go beyond those "portrait" focal length. even up to 200/2.8 to get a flattering effect, it's all depend on the subject.
As a rough guidelines, there're 3 parameters for choosing the focal length:
- Frame size (full-body, half, head-n-shoulder, or close up)
- Subject size (small-kid, medium-size, big-person, etc)
- Subject type (thin, fat, flat-face, pointy-face, etc)

Flattering effect mostly applicable to subject with thin/pointy type or small-built. And because of those 3 factors, there is no "best focal length" to get the effect.
ic... perhaps u could explain a little bit more bout the 3 parameters for choosing the focal length? ie if subject is half body and small type which one should i choose...the 85mm?
 

Ian

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#6
It really depends on the type of portraiture and the effect the photographer is after. There are no right or wrong lens lenghts to use. I've used everything from 13mm to 600mm primes to get the desired effect I'm after. I have a few focal lengths I am fond of, namely;

20mm
50mm
85mm
105mm
135mm
200mm
300mm

A couple of points to note, the longer the lens focal length the greater the required working distance between subject and camera to cover a given part of the model (eg: head and shoulders), however the pay-off is more apparent field flattening (compression) with longer lenses and better background blurring, especially with fast primes.
 

Jed

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#7
Certainly agree with Ian.

Frankly, assuming your composition is not a factor, the longer the better. Somewhere in the mid 90s the entire sector was using 600/4s on fashion shoots, communicating with walkie talkies if necessary (full length shots).

I use a 300mm effective as standard, wouldn't flinch from using longer stuff, but there's something to be said for a really fast lens along the lines of f1.4 as well. Have I said I'm in love?
 

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#8
Hmm.. I don't have the luxury of using so many different types of lens. Especially those teles... Well, I'm happy with my 20mm and 45mm. That's all I can afford currently. I love fixed len though because it helps the photographer to stay focus in composition of the image and gives sharper images too. Maybe I was train from photojournal first for having such perception. Haha..

Yep, I don't think that there's a 'one' and only len for portraiture. It depends on the shooting circumstances and results you want.
 

tsdh

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#9
Originally posted by Mystix

ic... perhaps u could explain a little bit more bout the 3 parameters for choosing the focal length? ie if subject is half body and small type which one should i choose...the 85mm?
I'm talking in the scope of general portraiture (documentary style), not art-portraiture. True that there is no limitation on focal-length in use, that's why there's no 'best focal-length'.
In general portraiture, we should know who will see and 'judge' the picture, is it ourself or our client. If it is the client, then we shall produce a picture which satisfy them regardless of whether we like it or not. Our client may not a photo-savvy, nor an art conscious person, but they can see and sense whether the picture resemble the mood and character he/she want.
The duty of the photographer is to create the picture they want, using all the "tools" he can imagine of (lighting, pose, location, props, make-up, etc.), including selection of focal-length.
Most of the time the focal length would be around 80-135mm, which considered as "safe" for most presentation. Only at certain occasion a photographer will use different focal-length.

So if you're saying that you want to take portrait of a small-size person in half-body, then there're still another parameters to consider: e.g: face-type, pose, mood to achieve, etc.
a brief example: my subject is small-size pointy-type, and I want to make her looks not that small & pointy, so I choose a focal length 135mm or longer to flatten, with frontal diffuse lighting and direct-to-camera pose, with minimum shadows.

Another example: if my subject has a flat-face and fat, then I will choose shorter than 100mm lens, angled shot with a bit shadows, to create a sense of slim person.

Pls note: all of those are general guidelines for presentation to client who mostly want to get their picture looks "better than reality". But most of experienced documentary portrait photographer will talk and understand their client's character & personality to be portrayed, not merely just based on his own taste and style.
 

#10
Hi,

And I suppose that if you would rather prefer a zoom (vs using many individual prime lenses) and don't mind the weight, then the 80-200mm f2.8 is also another great lens for portraits... Not sure about the rest, but I have been using the 80-200mm for a lot of my portraits and I've rarely been disappointed. Then again, I'm sure there are many good (if not better) lenses around for portraits that I've personally not used before.. ;)

KS
 

Mystix

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#11
thanks all for the helpful comments!
becoz i've no idea how different a 85mm would differ from other focal lengths (not seen samples yet) say for eg the 135mm thats y i can't really decide whats the effect i or rather the subject wants yet. will try them all out if possible. :)
 

#12
Originally posted by kssim
Hi,

And I suppose that if you would rather prefer a zoom (vs using many individual prime lenses) and don't mind the weight, then the 80-200mm f2.8 is also another great lens for portraits... Not sure about the rest, but I have been using the 80-200mm for a lot of my portraits and I've rarely been disappointed. Then again, I'm sure there are many good (if not better) lenses around for portraits that I've personally not used before.. ;)

KS
Only thing is the weight.... any of the primes are lighter. ;)

Regards
CK
 

beachbum

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#13
the choice of lens depends entirely on the situation, your shooting style and the effect you are trying to get.

Zoom lens are great if you are working in a dynamic situation, where you have no control of the subject.
Wide angels are also great if you want to do environmental portraits where you include the surrounding of the subject.
telephotos are great if you only want to capture close up of the subjects and have more boken.
take shooting distance into account... you will have to stand pretty far away from the subject if you are using a tele (maybe more than 15m for a 200mm lens), but still want to get full body shots, communications can be a problem, as Jed suggested. This is a REAL working problem and you don't have the luxury of assitants using walkies to help you communicate.

so you see, its really horses for courses.:)
 

binbeto

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#14
As many pointed out. The focal length depends on your choice of portraits.

Head, head & shoulder or full length portraits.

The longer the focal length, the more flattering to the feature. But you might have to shout to get the model to understand what you want . :)
 

Aicuol

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#17
If you have can't afford the high end one(such as Nikkor or Canon), I recommend Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 APO HSM is a good option. A little bit heavy(might need mono pod or tri pod for long session).

There are 2nd hand in the market you can get around betweenS$850 - 950 (depends on the condition). New one is around S$1250 (excluding Tax) at Sim lim (don't try the shop at 2nd level opposing the escalator (they are suckers). Some shops at the ground floor reasonable.

But if you buy either second hand or new one above mentioned Sigma lens bring along your camera and test before you buy, especially with Nikon F80 and D100. Some got problem with focusing. (need to change new ROM Chip if it happens but if you send it to Singma Marketting Singapore, they will change for the new rom chip Free Of Charge!!, I already check with Sigma Singapore).

Both my F80 and D100 got no problem with the Sigma 70-200 mm f/2.8 lens. I really enjoy with this lens for taking Potrait, only thing I am not very happy is minimum focusing length is about 1.8m ( abit far for me especially if you take picture of small object such as Flowers and babies)

But main thing is Potrait taking is mainly depend on the person who takes the Photo not really depend on the hardware.
 

Ashleyy

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#18
As some people had pointed out above that best portraits lens are usually the 85mm, 105mm and 135mm. The main reason is that with a telephoto lens, the background will blur more when you are using a lower aperture like F2.8, F4, etc.

IMHO, prime lens will give you better bokeh compared to a zoom lens like 80-200mm, etc.

For me, I use a 135mm Manual Focus lens F2.8 on my Nikon FM, FE10. For model shoots, I just need to stand further away to get a full body shot.

If you are using digital, I will recommend either the 90mm or 105mm prime lens instead of a zoom lens. ;p
 

dkw

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#19
Ashleyy said:
As some people had pointed out above that best portraits lens are usually the 85mm, 105mm and 135mm. The main reason is that with a telephoto lens, the background will blur more when you are using a lower aperture like F2.8, F4, etc.
Ashleyy,
I believe the reason is not so much background blur, more to do with perspective. For instance, you could get great background blurring using a 35/1.4 shooting close up but the perspective will be most unflattering to the subject. But hey, don't do much of it so what do I know........

Cheers,
 

Ashleyy

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#20
dkw said:
Ashleyy,
I believe the reason is not so much background blur, more to do with perspective. For instance, you could get great background blurring using a 35/1.4 shooting close up but the perspective will be most unflattering to the subject. But hey, don't do much of it so what do I know........

Cheers,
Hehe, juz a way to describe mah.. I forget to mention that the subject looks more outstanding and sharp when using a telephoto lens!

And no thanks on the 35/1.4... So close, later kana smacked by the model!! lolx :bsmilie:
 

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