Choosing a portait lens


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Jan 20, 2008
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#1
Hi,

Thinking to add a fast prime.
For portrait shooting, what is the 'usual' shooting distance...1 to 2m ?
Base on this distance, what would you recommend for head&shoulder shoot...50mm ?

Tks
 

zac08

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Feb 21, 2005
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#2
Hi,

Thinking to add a fast prime.
For portrait shooting, what is the 'usual' shooting distance...1 to 2m ?
Base on this distance, what would you recommend for head&shoulder shoot...50mm ?

Tks
Indoors or outdoors?

It all depends on your requirements. 50mm will give u a nice head and shoulder perspective at approx 2metres or so. To get the same on a 85, you'd have to stand further away. So it all depends on how much room you have to play with and how much distortion you can accept. The closer you are to the subject with a wider lens to get the same subject size, the more this distortion will get.
 

dennisc

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Oct 24, 2002
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#3
35mm 50mm 85mm 100mm 135mm 200mm, etc there's no usual shooting distance, it depends on your preference and style. As said, you only have to stand further. I prefer 35mm, but usually 50mm would suffice.
 

Apr 15, 2008
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#4
35mm 50mm 85mm 100mm 135mm 200mm, etc there's no usual shooting distance, it depends on your preference and style. As said, you only have to stand further. I prefer 35mm, but usually 50mm would suffice.
but there is a 'minimum distance' ;)
to capture 'natural looking' faces.... at least 1.5m away? :think:
 

catchlights

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Sep 27, 2004
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#5
Hi,

Thinking to add a fast prime.
For portrait shooting, what is the 'usual' shooting distance...1 to 2m ?
Base on this distance, what would you recommend for head&shoulder shoot...50mm ?

Tks
50mm is too close for head & shoulder even it is on a DSLR, unless you like to stand very close to your subject.

I prefer 90 to 105 mm.
 

Apr 15, 2008
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#7
50mm is too close for head & shoulder even it is on a DSLR, unless you like to stand very close to your subject.

I prefer 90 to 105 mm.
hmm... i use my 150mm to shoot 'head and shoulder' shots. Have to stand around 4-5m away to get a spacious crop :think:

well...just goes to show different photographers prefer differents focal lengths. Some portrait photographers even use powerful 300mm lenses for such shoots! :bigeyes:
 

Last edited:
Jan 20, 2008
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#8
would prefer a lens that is flexible for both indoor & outdoor.
am i right to say indoor is more demanding, as there's less background distance to achieve bolek,
compared to outdoor, where the background tree/scenery can be far far away.

also, i prefer to shoot nearer, for shallower dof.
if you shoot at say 5m, i will need a really big aperture for achieve the bolek.

Am i right ?
Thanks.
 

Headshotzx

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Dec 14, 2007
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#9
It's "bokeh" and depth of field depends on a lot of factors. Aperture (wide aperture suggested), distance to subject vs dist of subject to bg, size of sensor etc.

I'd say get a 50mm f/1.8II if you're on a budget, or get a 85mm f/1.8 (or 50mm f/1.4) if you're not.

Cheers
Zexun
 

zac08

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Feb 21, 2005
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#10
would prefer a lens that is flexible for both indoor & outdoor.
am i right to say indoor is more demanding, as there's less background distance to achieve bolek,
compared to outdoor, where the background tree/scenery can be far far away.

also, i prefer to shoot nearer, for shallower dof.
if you shoot at say 5m, i will need a really big aperture for achieve the bolek.

Am i right ?
Thanks.
Bokeh is dependent on aperture size, distance of subject to camera and focal length.

So if at 5m, if you use a longer focal length to reach to the subject, you can get a decent bokeh even with apertures as small as f8. ;)
 

Jan 20, 2008
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#11
For aperture, i'll just use the largest avail,

For subject distance & focal length,
If you are using zoom lens eg.24-70mm,
Is there a sweet spot for portrait ?
 

catchlights

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Sep 27, 2004
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Punggol, Singapore
www.foto-u.com
#12
would prefer a lens that is flexible for both indoor & outdoor.
am i right to say indoor is more demanding, as there's less background distance to achieve bolek,
compared to outdoor, where the background tree/scenery can be far far away.

also, i prefer to shoot nearer, for shallower dof.
if you shoot at say 5m, i will need a really big aperture for achieve the bolek.

Am i right ?

Thanks.
no, if just shooting a 'head and shoulder' shots, you will get more Bokeh from a 150mm lens than a 50mm lens, even you have to shoot it from a further distant when using a 150mm lens
 

Mar 10, 2008
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#13
For subject distance & focal length,
If you are using zoom lens eg.24-70mm,
Is there a sweet spot for portrait ?
You should try to avoid using too much of the extreme focal lengths ie. 24mm to avoid the ugly distortion.;)
 

David Kwok

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Aug 23, 2008
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#14
Hi,

Thinking to add a fast prime.
For portrait shooting, what is the 'usual' shooting distance...1 to 2m ?
Base on this distance, what would you recommend for head&shoulder shoot...50mm ?

Tks
Generally on DX body, the few popular prime lens for portrait are 30mm, 50mm, 85mm and 105mm.

Having f/1.4 or f/1.8 gives nice bokeh on your subject and brings out your subject in contrast to your surrounding. Few closeup I know is full body, half body, shoulder upwards. As you approach your subject in the closeup lineup I gave earlier, you make your subject more and more powerful, meaning your subject becomes more and more outstanding.

But there is a catch here. It doesn't mean using a 30mm and you can close up and using 105mm, standing further away means your subject is less powerful.

You have to consider your subject. Is your subject close to you ? Do your subject moves alot ? These factors determines how far you want to be away from your subject ? Mentioned in one of the replies above, a 300mm telephoto lens can do portrait too. So at the end of the day, based on these factors, you choose the right lens to work with.
 

azul123

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Dec 4, 2004
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#15
I find that a distance of 2m~3m is a good range, therefore 85~105mm (with 1.5x crop) is my preferred choice for shooting head-shoulder portraits. It's nothing technical more of the environmental aspects of it.

You would want the subject to feel comfortable and not feel intimidated because you are so close (50mm below) in your face type expression on portraits. So anything below this range/distance I find I cannot get the natural expressions I always see in my subjects... btw, my subjects are close family members/relatives, imagine if a total stranger... it would be more difficult to bring out their natural smile/expressions etc..

Just adding my 2cents.

../azul123
 

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