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Which lense for potraits

Discussion in 'Photography Forums' started by Centurion, Nov 17, 2004.

  1. Centurion

    Centurion
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    I am going through the motions of buying a Canon EOS 300D camera and although it comes with a 18-55mm lense, I was wondering wether it would be more suited to a different lense for potraits ie a 50mm macro lense.

    The kind of style im aiming at is shown in the image gallery here
    venture photography

    I am setting up a white room in the attic studio and using adobe photoshop cs for image editting, some ideas on lighting would also be beneficial

    Help most appreciated
     
  2. aliflack

    aliflack
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    the normal line of thinking is to get telezooms so that people's noses to stand out so much (the long zoom helps compress their features) e.g. 70-200 F4 L gets rave reviews, yours for around £450

    primes can't be beaten for sharpness and large apertures. The thrifty fifty
    F1.8 is only £50 or so...

    why a macro lens by the way?
     
  3. SanPedro

    SanPedro
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    Most portrait photographers tend to go for a longer lens - 200mm upwards. This gives the benefit of throwing the foreground/background out of focus so you can concentrate on the image of the person you are photographing.

    But looking at the shots on the page you mentioned it looks like a range of lenses were used to get the different images.

    As for your question about lighting in your studio area - are you talking about light to work at your computer by? Most design studios I've worked in have lowish ambient light so as not to add in unwanted glare to the screen. This is less of an issue with flat screen displays. What really counst is the quality of your screen rather tahn the ambient lighting. i recently upgraded to a LaCie 19" TFT and love it. You will need to calibrate your screen - using Adobe Gamma as a good starting point. You can then get into full camera-screen-printer colour profiling to try and get consistent results across all the inputs and outputs.

    Chris
     
  4. seany

    seany
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    Well if you're going to get serious in to it i think you need a better quality lense then the 18-55 which i alos have for me D20. I'm not sure that you need a macro lense for those type a shots on that site.

    Plenty of advice on lighting here http://www.ephotozine.com/techniques/index.cfm?subject=4
     
  5. Crocodile

    Crocodile
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    You need to remember that on the 300D, the focal length of lenses needs to be multiplied by 1.6 to get the 35mm film equivilent. So the upper extreme of the standard lens will be effectively 88mm. This is very close to the traditional lens (85-105mm) used for head & shoulders & should be perfectly good for your first steps.

    True macro is the ability to produce a lifesize 1:1 image on the film/sensor for extreme close ups. No-one is going to thank you for photographing them with a macro lens!

    Lighting needs to be diffused & off camera to provide definition of the subjects features with soft shadows.

    If you're serious about true portraiture a good way to experiment endlessly with lighting is to visit your local wig supplier. If you can get them to part with one of their model heads for a few quid you will have the most patient subject in the world.

    As far as a 200mm lens is concerned that will be the equivilent to 320mm in film terms. May get you some great candid shots but not much use for a posed shot in a studio environment, unless you've got a very long attic!

    My final thought that applies to this & many other "how do I..." questions on this forum is very old fashioned indeed - buy a book. Your local charity shops will be stuffed to the gills with bargains & although the technology may have changed out of all recognition from film, the techniques & theory haven't.
     
  6. tomson

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    Quite agree - mine is really sharp and great in low light situations. The build quality is terrible tho - it feels like a toy (and manual focus is near impossible). But for 55quid it doesn't matter if I have to replace it in a couple of years time.


    As for a portrait lens the 50mm f/2.5 macro is pretty widely used as its incredibly sharp but you might find the working distance a bit short, meaning you have to get very close to your subject - which can be a bit off putting. You could try an 85/1.8 or a 135/2 instead or get some extension tubes for a bit of flexibility. Or like has been suggested a mid-range zoom - a 70-200L (only f4 and a tad heavy though) or even a Sigma 70-200 f2.8. Both are slightly cumbersome though.

    Ultimately though its depends on your budget.
     
  7. thebigkung

    thebigkung
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    Hi Centurion,

    For the type of portraits that you have pointed out done by Venture then the focal length of your lens should be fine. The shots range from wide angle to slight telephoto. As a rule of thumb (in 35mm terms)

    40mm and below is Wide angle and 70mm and above is telephoto.

    For more 'formal' portraits a telephoto is recommended (usually 90-150mm or even longer...!) as this produces a more flattering 'slimming' picture of the subject and as mentioned in the thread can help throw the background out of focus to remove distractions and make the subject stand out more.

    However the venture shots are all Hi-key, shot using a white background and using the exposure to control the look.

    To produce a pure white background the exposure should be 1 and a half stops brighter than the subject (across the whole background). Any less and the background will become grey. Any brighter then you will start to get flare around the subject, but you may want this depending on what effect you want.

    You'll just have to give it a go! :smashin:

    Macro lenses and macro settings are really for close-up work, also mentioned in the thread.

    Always buy the best quality of lens you can afford.
     
  8. wilber

    wilber
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    To get shots like the Venture Gallery requires lots of light and space, you can do a lot with three lights though and a white painted room. I used a main, hair and background with a reflector to act as fill for a lot of high key work in the past and it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg if you shop around on the net - two portaflash 336 heads + stands / tilt brolly brackets will cost about £200. A wide angle slave about £40 2 x Brolly another £40 and a large piece of white card for a relector, a hotshoe adaptor for the PC syns lead will be another £10 and thats it. Ebay may yield cheaper items. If you have old flash guns lying around you can use them as extra lights by buying a cheap hotshoe slave unit (£8 or so).

    If you have the funds then soft boxes are great for high key work.

    If heat isn't an issue, you can use lots of tungsten lights and use the white balance function in your camera to allow for this- personally I don't find that solution as good, but it's a very cheap.

    Photshop can be your friend for this type of image but it's far more satisfying to get it right in the camera and only use PS for artsy things.

    As for lenses - I use a 50mm lens (equivalent to 80mm) a 100mm and a 35mm from time to time. a good piece of glass makes a lot of difference.
     
  9. Centurion

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    Thanks for the posts guys. I am much happier now after reading thru your input. For starters I have opted to go with the 18-55mm supplied and an extra 55-200mm lens. I also think the softboxes are a good idea for lighting my attic white room.

    Cheers guys
     
  10. tomson

    tomson
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    A Sigma DC lens by any chance? I've got one of those, not a bad lens at all for the money.
     

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