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Thread: Advice on portrait lens for canon 500d

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    New Member balooba's Avatar
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    Advice on portrait lens for canon 500d

    Hi everyone, I am looking at buying a portrait lens for between $250 to $500. I dont know whether to get a prime lens or a zoom, I would appreciate any advice on what would be the best way to go, and whether I should stick with Canon lenses only, or look at Sigma,s etc.

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    Ausphotography Regular crafty1tutu's Avatar
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    The Canon 50 mm prime is a wonderful portrait lens. I have the 1.4 f stop, but the cheaper 1.8 version is also a wonderful lens. My daughter is a wonderful child and family photographer and she only has two lenses the 50 mm and an 85 mm although she uses the 50 mm for 90% of her photos. You can check them out if you wish at:

    http://samanthapearce.com.au/Blog/

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    Member JJM's Avatar
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    I agree with the above, before I upgraded my 50mm F1.8 lived on my 350D for taking photos of the wife and kids.
    The 85mm would have also been nice as I was often looking for a little more range. The 50mm 1.8 I hear can sometime be a little hit a miss quality wise.
    The 50mm F1.4 and 85mm F1.8 are both around $450 each depending where you shop.
    The Canon 17-55mm F2.8 IS Lens is also very nice but would be stretching your budget at around $1,0000.
    Last edited by JJM; 25-06-2014 at 7:00am.

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    Loves The Wildlife. Mary Anne's Avatar
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    I dont do portraits though when I do take pics of the family or their puppy I find I am using the Canon 50mm f/1.4 and the Canon 100mm Macro lens.
    My 52/2011 Challenge

    I shoot with Canon And Olympus Cameras



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    What lens(es) do you have now?

    How do the lens(es) that you use now impede you when you make Portrait Photographs – that is to say what’s wrong with the lenses that you have now; and what do you want to do, that you cannot do at the moment?

    WW

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    William, I have a Canon ef-s 55-250 mm , 4-5.6. I want to do some portraits using natural light, and I thought that a faster lens would help, I also would like to improve the sharpness of the shots I take, although the level of sharpness may be down to my technique. Any advice would be appreciated.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks for the advice crafty1tutu, and the link to these beautiful shots. I will definitely look at the canon 50 mm lens after seeing the quality of these images.

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    Thanks for the advice crafty1tutu, I will definitely have a serious look at the canon 50 mm 1.4, after seeing those lovely images

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks for the information, crafty1tutu. After seeing the images that you linked I will definitely check out the canon 50 mm 1.4

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    Thanks for the prompt reply,

    It seems unusual that you have only that telephoto zoom lens and no other lens. Nonetheless I am familiar with that particular lens and it is quite sharp and I doubt that you will get a faster zoom lens (new) for the budget that you have stipulated.

    *

    If you go the route of a Prime Lens, then you can set your zoom at 55mm and 85mm and 100mm and 135mm and even 200mm and use it only at those FL settings for a few days and get the feel of what it would be like to use a Prime Lens of those Focal Lengths.

    Choosing the Focal Length that best suits your needs is very important

    In Canon – very good value for money and very sharp Primes within those FL’s are: EF50F/1.8MkII; EF85F/1.8MkII; EF100/2 and EF 135F/2.8SF. The EF200F/2.8L might be a bit out of the budget but it is excellent.

    It might be possible to get a 50/1.8MkII and 85/1.8 within you budget, by buying one or both second hand.

    Also consider FL outside the range of the one zoom lens that you have: for example the EF35F/2 could be useful as could be the EF28F/1.8, but it would be difficult to try these FL for your uses if you only have the 55 to 250.

    In a rough order of usage, the FL's of the Prime Lenses which I use on an APS-C Camera for Portraiture are: 50mm; 35mm; 85mm; 24mm; 135mm.

    ***

    If, by what you have written in your response to my questions, that you mean that you have used your 55 to 250 attempting to make Available Light Portraits and the result is soft – then that might be because of the SHUTTER SPEED that you used – that is to say the Shutter Speed might have been too slow and as a result you have captured Subject Motion Blur.

    An example image with EXIF would assist – in any case you can investigate the Shutter Speeds that you used and if they are wandering slower than 1/320s for Adults and 1/500s for Children, then Subject Motion Blur is a likely candidate for serious investigation. Obviously a faster lens will provide the scope for a faster shutter speed at the expense of using a larger aperture for any given ISO. The larger aperture will subsequently reduce the Depth of Field, which might be good or on occasions might be bad for the image, depending on the situation.

    *

    Also Post Production Sharpening is a very important part of the Digital Photography workflow: there may ned to be improvement in this respect.

    *

    In any case, there is no reason why the lens that you have cannot make good, sharp Portraits using only Available Light. Perhaps the main element that you need to consider is in fact the light itself – maybe look at using a reflector or experimenting with harsher side sunlight in the early morning or the late afternoon.

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 25-06-2014 at 10:50pm. Reason: corrected typo

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    William, thanks for taking the time to help me out with your advice on lens choice and technique. Going on what you have said, I think I have been using a shutter speed that has been too slow for the circumstances . I do have another lens, it is a Sigma 150-500 zoom 5.6 - 6.3 which I have been using to take shots of my mates surfing, but I didn't think it would be any good for portraits. The Canon ef 50, 1.8 seems like a good choice, and the price is well within my budget of $500, so thanks again for putting me on to that.

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    Good luck with it . . . there will also be some money left over in the budget if you buy the 50/1.8 and you can start saving for something else.

    On issue of the shutter speed - I think it is better to bump up the ISO and have a bit of noise (grain) and capture the image without subject movement.

    WW

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    Ausphotography Regular Brian500au's Avatar
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    if you are looking for a lens that primarily is for portraiture work then I would seriously consider both the 50mm and the 85mm in tandem. I find the 50mm great for whole body shots but the 85mm is my go to lens if I am doing upper body. In fact my 85mm is my primary portrait lens - I just use my feet to zoom in and out.
    www.kjbphotography.com.au

    1Dx, 5DsR, 200-400 f4L Ext, 100-400 f4.5-5.6L II, 70-300 f4-5.6L IS, 70-200 f2.8L IS II, 24-70 f2.8L II, 16-35 f4 IS, 11-24 f4L, 85 f1.2L II, 500 f4L IS, 300 f2.8 IS, ∑50 f1.4 A


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    Ausphotography Regular basketballfreak6's Avatar
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    if primarily portraiture and outdoors i say 85mm 1.8 especially given your budget, excellent lens for the money, or maybe you can find a second hand sigma 85 1.4 (i have that lens it is excellent) within your budget

    i say outdoors because it is quite long on a crop body, might be bit too long for indoors

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