View Full Version : Portrait lens

14-02-2011, 12:05pm
Hello everyone,

I am just about to buy my next lens and would like something that I could shoot portraits with, mostly of my son, family and friends. I have a 450D and not looking to upgrade in the near future.

I already own a 100mm f/2.8 macro lens which produces some wonderful quality portraits but I often find, I have to stand too far away. So I was thinking either the 50mm f/1.4 or 35mm f/2.0? My budget is around $500.

Any guidance gratefully received!

14-02-2011, 12:21pm
Hey rbat....

I have a 500D & my brother a 450D....and he has a 50mm (f1.8) prime lens, commonly called the 'nifty fifty'. I have used this lens for both portrait pics & some landscape stuff & find that for the $$$ it performs really well. Whether it's being used for shutter speeds slower than normal or in bright conditions, i found it a very good piece of equipment.

If you'd like, i could dig up a couple of pics tonight & post for you....:)

Also...attached link to dpreview.....



Adrian Fischer
14-02-2011, 2:56pm
+1 for the nifty fifty.

14-02-2011, 3:07pm
I was thinking either the 50mm f/1.4 or 35mm f/2.0?The 50/1.4 is probably better regarded generally than the 35/2.0 and is more the kind of focal length, on a crop body at least, that is commonly used for portraiture. The 35 would be considered a bit wide to be a good portrait lens by many people, though I use a 50/1.4 on a full frame camera (the same as using a 35 on a crop body) and I find it fine for portraits. If you're not quite sure of what you need, the 50 would be a safer bet and it's quite a good lens.

14-02-2011, 3:47pm
I have a 450D and have found the "Nifty Fifty" to be quite good.

14-02-2011, 5:05pm
soulman, I was particularly concerned about the crop body and distance of the 50mm. It sounds like others are using the 50mm with no issue though which is helpful to know.

Thoma, I would love to see your photos if you have time to post them, thanks.

14-02-2011, 9:35pm
Your macro is probably a better portrait lens than all others mentioned though

Keep in mind when you are closer, your perspective will change, and you will get a more cluttered background too with the shorter focal lengths.

Big Pix
14-02-2011, 9:37pm
nifty fifty.......

14-02-2011, 9:50pm
soulman, I was particularly concerned about the crop body and distance of the 50mm. It sounds like others are using the 50mm with no issue though which is helpful to know.

Thoma, I would love to see your photos if you have time to post them, thanks.

The 50/1.8 isn't a bad lens on a crop body for portraits (equiv field of view to an 80mm lens on full frame which is definitely in the portrait lens territory). However, optically it does not act like an 80mm lens. Compression is much less and distortion greater.

Anyway, here's some (rather old) samples I shot (mostly on a 400D) from when the 50/1.8 was my primary lens.


15-02-2011, 12:36am
Started with the 50 1.8 and went to the 50 1.4. Love that damn lens :th3:.

15-02-2011, 3:51pm
Sorry mate....forgot to tick 'notify me'...:o

Shall dig up some tonight.

My brother doesn't have any issues on his 450D with this lens....lovely shallow DOF wide open.


16-02-2011, 9:16pm
Hey rbat...

Here's the pics....

Details are:

Pic 1: 1/30 S/S @ f3.2
Pic 2: 2.5 sec S/S @f16
Pic 3: 6 sec S/S @ f22
Pic 4: 1.6 sec S/S @ f22

As you can see, the nifty is at home at both ends of the scale.....

Any questions, fire away...!!!!!!

PS. sorry this took so long.


17-02-2011, 3:01pm
I find most professional portraits are done with mild telephoto - a la what you already have. Once you are doing head and shoulders and head to foot shots, then I think the 50mm 1.8 or 1.4 would be great. I have a 1.4mm and found its optics very good...now if I can only find out where I put the lens. :D

19-02-2011, 12:37am
the 50 1.4 is nice, not sure about the 35. but have you thought about the 85 1.8, I know it is close to the 100mm range, but is a nice lens and really good for portraits.

02-03-2011, 6:33pm
i loved my 50 1.8

02-03-2011, 7:24pm
I have a 50 f1.4 canon and have used a 50 f1.2 (which is about 4 times the price) to do portraits. The difference is almost undetectable. the 1.2 is a bit better in low light (I'm talking dusk to a bit later). I think the 1.4 cost me around $600 a couple of years ago. Its a very versatile lens and takes magnificent portrait shots. For someone getting into it I would definitely recommend a 1.4

03-03-2011, 3:45pm
For full body/half body shots, i would go with the 35 f/2. It's a great lens. I use it on full-frame and am very satisfied for the amount I paid, which is a fraction of the L glass. If you're mainly shooting head shots, then go for the 50mm... the 50mm 1.4 is better than the nifty fifty for its AF but the nifty fifty is really a bargain for its amazing sharpness... haha just remember, you pay for what you get

04-03-2011, 10:50pm
with the budget, I'll go for 50mm 1.4 mate..

06-03-2011, 7:46am
Thoma, love the nature shots. The water looks amazing. I have pretty much decided on the 50mm f/1.4 as my portrait lens. The nifty fifty is brilliant for the price but I think the 1.4 will suit my needs better.

06-03-2011, 10:09pm
as has been said, the 50mm f/1.4 is a good lens.
It's not a huge improvement over the 1.8 though IMO. The 1.8 really is good value.
I've have both and would say simply buy which ever one you can afford. As you have $500 to spend, might as well go the 1.4
Though it may be worth considering the sigma 50mm f/1.4, it's a little bigger and heavier but has certain advantages.

Some shots taken with the canon 50mm f/1.4



06-03-2011, 10:14pm
I love my 50mm 1.4! I have a 450D too and it rarely comes off my camera :) I think its perfect for portraits IMO

07-03-2011, 7:09pm
Get the 35/2 and the 50/1.8, all within your budget.