Home News Buyers Guide About Advertising
 
 
 
   
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 21
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    34

    Portrait Lens Question: 50mm vs 85mm

    Hi, Everyone:
    I know that many of you tout the 50mm 1.4 as superior to the 50mm 1.8...

    Also, I keep reading how terrific the 85mm lens is for portraits, too.
    The 85mm would force the photographer to stand back much further from his subject than the 50mm would...
    I imagine it would be more ideal for 'studio portraits'?

    I love a good prime lens, but with my newly purchased 50mm (F/1.8), I see that I stand plenty far back from my kids to take informal portraits.

    So, do I really need an 85mm? Would it's far superior quality be of importance to someone like me?

    Thanks, guys!!!
    Last edited by DLugassy; 11-16-2007 at 08:46 AM. Reason: Added info: Assume cost of the 85mm lens is of no concern...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    6,590
    You can of course take portraits of people with whatever lens you fancy. But what makes a portrait lens a portrait lens is that its focal length is a short tele lens, which achieves 2 things...

    1. A short tele lens will give a slight flattening of perspective, which makes for flattering results.

    2. A short tele will allow for quite shallow depth of field, allowing you to separate the subject from the background.

    The typical portrait focal range is between 80-135mm.
    So, 85mm and 135mm lenses traditionally are portrait lenses, and their optics often are better than other lenses because of the care lens designers take with these critical focal lengths.

    So... it is less about the distance to the subject that makes them "ideal" portrait lenses, more about the effect the focal length has on a portrait.

    50mm of course is the "standard" focal length on full frame. But on a Canon APS-C it becomes a 50 x 1.6 = 80mm lens, so in the portrait range.
    The 85mm will become a 85 x 1.6 = 136mm, so it becomes a long portrait lens.
    A 135mm portrait lens gets to be a bit long on APS-C, yet still you can use it for portrait if you want... The optical qualities of the 135mm primes is excellent.

    The importance to you... the focal length you want to use is more important than the sharpness or other qualities of a lens. So... if 50mm is a focal length that suits you, there is no reason to consider a longer portrait lens.

    The Canon 60mm (96mm) f2.8 macro and the Sigma 70mm (112mm) f2.8 macro (and also the Tamron 90mm (144mm) f2.8 macro) can double as portrait lenses too, they will give excellent results wide open. And of course will give macro abilities.

    Another lens that may be of interest to you... the Canon 35mm f2. It is affordable, good, and has a nice focal length... 35 x 1.6 = 56mm... close to 50mm standard focal length.
    Another lens in that class is the Sigma 30mm f1.4 (48mm).
    They are very nice for indoor shooting, with a natural perspective and you don't have to keep the same distance as with your 50 (80)mm lens.
    Last edited by coldrain; 11-16-2007 at 10:18 AM.
    Canon EOS 350D, Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 macro, Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 DC EX, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM, Tokina AT-X124 Pro 12-24mm F4, Soligor 1.7x C/D4 DG Teleconvertor, Manfrotto 724B tripod, Canon Powershot S30

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Amherst, MA
    Posts
    3,249
    What Coldy said.

    The 85mm f/1.8 is a fantastic lens, but this long FL is difficult to use in a small indoor setting (on a 1.6 crop). I really want one for outdoor portraits. Its sharp wide open at f/1.8 which alows you to really isolate your subject from the background with nice bokeh.

    I use my 60mm macro and my 50mm f/1.8 for portraits now. The USM on the 60mm is really nice for moving targets (esp kids!!).


    Here's one of my niece with the 50mm f/1.8 @ f/2.2....





    Another niece with the 60mm macro at f/3.2..
    Michael B.
    Canon 5D2, 550D, Sony NEX 5N, Sigma 15mm fish, 24L mkI, 35L, 40mm f/2.8, 50 1.8 II, Sigma 50 1.4, Sigma 50mm f/2.8 macro, 60mm macro, 100mm f/2, 70-200 f/4, 200 f/2.8 mk I, Tamron 28-75 f/2.8, 430EX. Growing list of MF lenses!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    16
    I obviously was completely wrong, as I thought the perspective of a lens is the same no matter if you use FF or cropped sensor,and that it only was the FOV that changed.
    Last edited by humbertklyka; 11-17-2007 at 02:18 AM. Reason: I was wrong :)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    6,590
    Quote Originally Posted by humbertklyka View Post
    I might be completely wrong, but as I understood it the perspective of a lens is the same no matter if you use FF or cropped sensor. If thats true, both 85 and 135mm lenses would then work nice as portrait lenses on a crop sensor, but the 135 will require a longer working distance.
    In this case, you are wrong. The perspective changes the wider te view gets... when you crop away width, the perspective does change as the width gets less.

    With the same focal length, to fill the frame the same, you have to get closer with a full frame camera. This may make it more understandable for you, as to why the perspective changes.
    Canon EOS 350D, Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 macro, Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 DC EX, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM, Tokina AT-X124 Pro 12-24mm F4, Soligor 1.7x C/D4 DG Teleconvertor, Manfrotto 724B tripod, Canon Powershot S30

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Amherst, MA
    Posts
    3,249
    An 85mm lens is an 85mm lens is an 85mm lens regardless of the camera, but with a crop sensor your 85mm will produce an image that is equivalent to about 135mm on a FF camera.
    Michael B.
    Canon 5D2, 550D, Sony NEX 5N, Sigma 15mm fish, 24L mkI, 35L, 40mm f/2.8, 50 1.8 II, Sigma 50 1.4, Sigma 50mm f/2.8 macro, 60mm macro, 100mm f/2, 70-200 f/4, 200 f/2.8 mk I, Tamron 28-75 f/2.8, 430EX. Growing list of MF lenses!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    3,565
    What FL you chose is a very personal choice and your style will play a very important part in your choice.

    If you are unsure which FL to chose try keeping one of your zoom lenses at a specific FL for a day or two and see how much you like it, repeat for each FL you are interested in.


    If you find 50mm too long try 30mm or 35mm.
    5D MK III, 50D, ELAN 7E, 17-40mm 4, Sigma 10mm 2.8 fisheye, 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 IS, 30mm 1.4, 85mm 1.8, 580 EX, 430 EX speedlight, Pocket wizard flex and mini.
    Canon G10

    Pentax P30, 50mm 2.0

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    3,109
    To the OP: CR gave a very concise analysis and everyone else's comments are also good. But to boil it down a bit, for the kind of shooting you plan on doing you may find the 85 1.8 too long, esp. on a crop camera. The 85mm is a better portrait length (i.e., head & shoulders - a 50mm tends to exaggerate the nose a bit if you frame for only head & shoulders, even on a crop body IMO). But if you're shooting kids in a confined area, as they say in NY "foggitaboutit". You'll do much better with the niffty fiffty.
    Canon A720 IS, 40D w/ BG-E2N, 28 1.8, 50 1.4, Sigma 70 2.8 macro, 17-40 F4 L, 24-105 F4 L IS, 70-200 F4 L IS, 430 EX, Kenko 2X TC & Ext Tubes, AB strobes and more...
    View my photo galleries here: imageevent.com/24peter

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    31
    Quote Originally Posted by DLugassy View Post
    Hi, Everyone:
    I know that many of you tout the 50mm 1.4 as superior to the 50mm 1.8...

    Also, I keep reading how terrific the 85mm lens is for portraits, too.
    The 85mm would force the photographer to stand back much further from his subject than the 50mm would...
    I imagine it would be more ideal for 'studio portraits'?

    I love a good prime lens, but with my newly purchased 50mm (F/1.8), I see that I stand plenty far back from my kids to take informal portraits.

    So, do I really need an 85mm? Would it's far superior quality be of importance to someone like me?

    Thanks, guys!!!
    in short, no; keep your 50mm.

    I had both the 50 1.8 and 85 1.8 and while the 85 was sharper @ 1.8, it did not make much difference on print. The 50 is a good range, and a bit long. The 85 is very long, and taking pictures indoors is uncomfortable unless you have a lot of working space. Both VERY good lens, but the 85 has quite a bit more reach (which can work for or against you, depending on situation).
    Canon 30D | Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 | Canon 50mm f/1.8 | Sigma 10-20mm EX | Canon 70-200L f/4 USM | Canon Speedlite 580ex + Vivitar 285HV | Lowepro Slingshot 200

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    4,498
    Quote Originally Posted by 24Peter View Post
    as they say in NY "foggitaboutit".
    Yo, Petey! Youz guys don't know what you're talkin' about here. It's spelt "fagedaboutit". You got dat?
    Some Gear: Nikon D700; Nikkor AF-S 50 f/1.4 G; Nikkor AF-S 24-85 3.f/5-4.5 G ED; Tamron 28-300 f/3.5-6.3 VC; Nikon SB-800; Velbon Maxi-F; Canon Pixma Pro 9000; Canon S3IS, Canon SD500; Epson 4990; Epson P5000; Wacom Intuos 3

    Main Software: Capture NX2; Adobe PhotoShop CS2; Corel Paintshop Pro X2 Ultimate

    Sold: Canon XT/350D, EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS, EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro; EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5, Sigma 18-200 OS; Canon ET EF 25II; Kenko Pro 300 DG, Canon 430EX, Canon BG-E3.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •