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Thread: Using a macro lens for portraits?

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    Using a macro lens for portraits?

    Ok this will be my first in a long list of dumb questions.
    I was watching a photography video online and the presenter said you can use a macro lens for portraits?
    How does this work ? I thought you used a macro for small stuff like flowers bugs and lil things? Or have i got this completely wrong?

    One day I'll take some serious photos, just not today
    Canon 50D | 450D Gripped | 50mm 1.8| 18-55 | 100-300 | Tamron 17-50 f2.8 | 85mm f1.8 | Manfrotto Tripod | Studio Flashies | 430EX | Loads of useless gadgets | All this gear and still no idea.....

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    No not at all. You can use them for portraits. I've even seen macro's used for landscapes.
    I think with the portraits, the macro lenses have that lower aperture to give that softer background (bokeh).
    Thanks for looking....Cheers,
    Julie-Anne / Julie / Jules / Julesy / JAS

    MY ..... MY BLOG..... Feel free to look.
    Canon 40D / 24-105mm L IS / 70-200mm L IS / 75-300mm / 50mm 1.8 / Sigma 10-20mm / Manfrotto tripod / Bits and pieces to fill the bag.


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    Ahhhh so Im not as dumb as I thought I was!
    Thanks Jules

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    They say the 60mm macro is awesome for portraits.

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    Sorry I'm talking about the Canon lens.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Macro lenses make great portrait lenses! I use my Sigma 150mm macro for portraits at times, bit long, but the results work, and sometimes not being 'in the face' of your subject lets them relax a bit more, cause some ppl get very self conscious when you are taking photos of them from a close distance.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    Not own one yet but probably will be either this weekend or next... (but I rent and borrow one on 2 different occasions)

    The Canon 100mm f/2.8L is excellent for portrait!! Very sharp and the boken is very pleasing.

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    Amor fati! ving's Avatar
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    yup, plenty of times i have heard of the faster marcos being used for portraits.

    hmm... maybe i need to get mysefl a 105mm/2.8 macro.

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    The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday
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    Gremlin,
    As a general rule any lens around the 85-125mm focal length is ideal for portraits. The slight telephoto gives a more flattering look. Again, generally most macro lenses can focus to 'infinity' i.e. not just close up and tend to have large apertures. I have the "old" Canon 100mm f/2.8 and it is excellent for portraits, sharp with a nice bokeh (background blur). The only downsides are that the focus can be (relatively) slow and they can be "too sharp" i.e. show all the wrinkles!

    Cheers
    John


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    Amor fati! ving's Avatar
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    yup, macros generally are very sharp!

    where was that complaints tread on here where a shop said the sigma 50/1.4 was supposed to be soft cause its a portrait lens?
    what a crackup that was

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    Go the Rabbitohs mudman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gremlin View Post
    Ok this will be my first in a long list of dumb questions.
    no such thing. if you don't ask you don't learn.
    my 100mm pentax macro takes very good portraits and medium length telephoto length images.
    basically try it and find out. om a digital camera if no good delete. no problems
    cc and enjoy

    Photography is painting with light

    K7, Pentax 18-250mm zoom, Pentax 100mm macro, Sigma 50-500mm
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    thanks everyone for the replys, as I have one lens Im hanging to get hopefully next week (85mmprime) and going thru listings sites etc Ive usually looked at lists as soon as I see macro a big NEXT.
    Now Mrs Gremlins interested in macro so this would be ideal, I get to buy her a macro, and use for my stuff too!
    I still wish I had all my film eos gear rebuying stuff although fun, is such a pain! Damn you digital!!

    thanks guy
    Grem'

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    I've been using my Tamron 90mm for a portraiture course I am doing and it has given me great results. I have not taken the lens off my camera. I am so happy.
    Nikon D90 with Nikon 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 Nikon 50mm f1.8, Tamron 90mm macro f2.8, Sigma 10-20mm f/4 - 5.6, SB-600, Manfrotto tripod and head.
    Software: Elements 10 and Aperture.


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    Ausphotography Site Sponsor/Advertiser OzzieTraveller's Avatar
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    G'day Gremlin
    [like your sig tag-line ... it applies to me lots of times too]

    In years gone by, many people played with lenses & lens perspective and came up with the 'rule' that a lens of about 1,5x the so-called 'normal' lens gave a visual perspective somewhat similar to the image we see when talking to another person

    Too short a lens meant being too close, and the facial roundness was distorted ... too long a lens meant too far away from the subject and loss on 'intimacy'
    Thus in film camera days, the 'normal' was a 50-55mm and a 'portrait' was 90-105 and a 'tele' was 135mm or more
    Putting these numbers into the APS format, they become (about) 35 & 60 & 90 for the above 'descriptors'

    Whether the lens is a 'macro' or not probably doesnot matter except that a macro is designed for flat-field and slightly-increased-contrast to give greater overall sharpness ... and your portrait subjects might not always want that crispness
    So, [if you find the images too sharp] you may consider ways of knocking back the ultimate sharpness of the macro vis any of several means ... popular years ago was a light smear of vaseline onto the UV filter [but you may not use one these days, and anyway it was a drag to clean off]; or the use of a Cokin or similar 'fog' filter or stretch a piece of glad-wrap across the face of the lens held on via a rubber band ... interestingly it makes a nicely soft result

    Hope this helps a bit
    Regards, Phil
    Of all the stuff in a busy photographers kitbag, the ability to see photographically is the most important
    google me at Travelling School of Photography
    images.: flickr.com/photos/ozzie_traveller/sets/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gremlin View Post
    Ok this will be my first in a long list of dumb questions.
    I was watching a photography video online and the presenter said you can use a macro lens for portraits? How does this work ?
    Macro lenses typically have telephoto lengths, in the range of 100-200mm, which makes them suitable for portraits.

    For that application, you'd use them the same way you'd use any portrait lens.

    The life-size (1:1) view macro lenses can provide is available typically only when the lens is positioned at its minimum focus distance, so you can happily use it as a normal telephoto lens for other subject matter.

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    i use my macro (90mm tammy) for portrait all the time! I love it! It gives me the best results bar far.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ving View Post
    yup, plenty of times i have heard of the faster marcos being used for portraits.

    hmm... maybe i need to get myself a 105mm/2.8 macro.
    David next time you have $900, we'll go out for an afternoon with mine, and you'll be straight onto the PC with the credit card as soon as you get home (to buy a lens that is, not your "usual"

    It's a wonderful portrait lens.

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