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Thread: Whats the best lens for indoor portraits?

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    Whats the best lens for indoor portraits?

    I use my husbands gear, but I struggle to get good sharp shots of my new grandson indoors.

    I use his Canon 5D2 and I don't want to have to use a flash nor a tripod, I just want to be able to grab the camera and take a good shot when the moment it right. The two lenses that I have been using are a 24-70 zoom lens and a 100 macro lens, but still the shutter speed is still slow.

    Would a faster lens be the answer?

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    Both of those are pretty fast lenses. With the ISO up at 800-1600, and your aperture set at f/2.8-f/4, there is no reason you should be experiencing horrendously slow shutter lag in indoor lighting, especially during the daytime when there should be light coming through some windows.

    You already have some great lenses and a fantastic body for creating portraits. Without spending thousands of dollars, you can't really improve on what you already have. I have taken photos on my 24-105mm f/4 L at ISO1600 of people doing professional dance in rooms lit only be a small number of Par-60s and a spotlight. I was still able to shoot at 1/80s-1/125s, which is fast enough to freeze action in most images.

    Your subject is not moving faster than my dancers, you have far more light than me, and your lenses have an extra stop maximum aperture advantage over mine - there's no reason you can't take good photos indoors with the equipment you have!
    Last edited by ElectricImages; 20-05-2011 at 11:26am.
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    Ok so it's me.

    I don't have that great an understanding of iso, but thats something that I can rectify with reading.

    I just want to use the slr more than the Canon Ixus that I am more used to, because when I do get a nice shot with the slr it's so much nicer than with the Ixus.

    Thank you for the reply.

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    A brief tute.

    First, to make it easy, make sure you're shooting in either Av (aperture priority) or Tv (shutter priority) modes (you could also shoot manual, but this will come later after you've practiced a bit!). You can select this mode using the dial on the top of your camera body, on the left. If you want to reduce the possibility that your image is affected by motion blur (caused by movement of your camera and/or subject) choose Tv. If you want to ensure you have nice blurry backgrounds behind your subject that really focus the viewer on them, choose Av.

    Now, on the 5D Mark II there are a few buttons on the top right panel of the camera (just behind the shutter button). One of those is marked "ISO". If you press that, you can then turn the clicky dial on the top right panel (near the ISO button) left and right, and you'll see an ISO number change up and down on the top (black-and-white) LCD display. I recommend multiples of 160 as ISO values on the 5D Mark II - e.g. 160, 320, 480, 640... with a maximum of 1600 for best results.

    Now to set our shutter speed or aperture value. If you're shooting in Tv, you'll need to adjust the shutter speed to a value for freezing human movement. I recommend 1/125 for most purposes, but you can drop it as low as 1/80 if you have to, or increase that speed for fast-moving subjects. If you're shooting in Av, you'll need to adjust your aperture for the depth-of-field you want. At large apertures (e.g. f/2.8) depth of field becomes very narrow, and the background behind your subject should become blurry and abstract. Be aware, however, that sometimes your depth-of-field can become too narrow to keep the subject's face and, especially their eyes, in focus - particularly if you're zoomed in (e.g. 70mm/100mm) and quite close to your subject. If you're zoomed in and close, you may need to "stop down" your aperture to f/4-5.6 to maintain a good depth of field and keep your subject in good focus.

    You can bring up the menu for selecting your Aperture or Shutter Speed by pressing the toggle located at the top right of the screen on the back of the camera. You will need to select the appropriate box using the toggle, which works like a joystick, and then change the values using the wheel below the toggle.

    That's a flash intro to good exposure with the lenses you have... hope it helps a bit!
    Last edited by ElectricImages; 20-05-2011 at 12:00pm.

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    Yeah, what he said

    Unless I'm in a really bright room (lots of sunlight) I usually find there isn't a lot of room to move with my settings to get enough exposure when shooting handheld... So I'd usually be shooting close to maximum aperture (f/2.8, f/4), around 800 or higher ISO, and as slow as possible without getting motion blur or shaky hands blur. A general rule of thumb for avoiding shaky hands blur is using a shutter speed at least 1/[focal length] of a second... so if you're shooting with the 100mm macro, don't shoot slower than 1/100.

    Keep shooting!

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    Youll need to post some examples with the EXIF info intact to get any real answers, but yeah, bump your ISO to whatever it needs to be go get a shutter speed of 1/200s and you should be on the way to redemption
    Darren
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    Thank you very much everyone who replied.

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    If you are shotting hand held in low light, you may also need to practise how you hold the camera, as a lot of your blurring may be caused by camera movement.
    If I read correctly, the lenses you are using don't have IS, that may be the cause.

    Make sure you are supporting the camera properly by having your elbows close in to your body and make sure you are nice and still when you hit (or rather, squeeze) the shutter.
    Try and be conscious of your moving when taking the shot, and think about the best way to support yourself, like leaning against a wall or chair for example, to try and make yourself as still as possible.
    Otherwise, look for a good lens which has IS in it.
    All my photos are taken with recycled pixels.
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    Only one answer from me - 85 f/1.2L II

    Next best solution, get a flash and bounce it

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    Inhale a breath, exhale 1 third then hold your breath and take the shot. Remember to gently squeeze the trigger. This will keep your upper body still and help you concentrate on trigger action

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    remember not to wait 60 seconds to take the shot whilst holding your breath....

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    I also find (whilst holding your breath) to brace your arms. Even against your body will help you steady. particulalry if you're getting used to an SLR & a heavy lens. Good luck & most of all HAVE FUN! ;o)
    Sarah
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