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Thread: 17-40mm f/4 and Portraiture

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    17-40mm f/4 and Portraiture

    Having dipped my toe into the world of shooting people, I have found my current lens set (70-200 excluded) is not up to the task of producing sharp results at open apertures. So I am looking at the 17-40 f/4 L and further down the track, when funds allow, a 24-70 f/2.8 or 50mm prime.

    Is the 17-40 useable for portrait work on a crop body? Does any one have some examples of portrait work with the 17-40?
    Canon 50D - Zuiko 28/2.8 50/1.8 100/2.8 - Tokina 11-16/2.8

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    It would be a very odd choice! Not really long enough and only f/4 - well, yes, you could use it, but why would you want to if you were not stuck?

    I'd be using your 70-200 if I had the space to get far enough away from my subject. In fact, the best portrait lens I own is the 500/4. Does a fantastic job! But (obviously) a bit unweildy. My favourite lens for portraits (that monster aside) is the 60mm macro. The 24-105 works quite well too, at the longer end f/4 still gives decent control over DOF. And I should mention the 100-400 - on the 1D III it's rather similar to your 70-200 on crop.

    With your kit, I'd be thinking about a 60mm macro, or the 100L (both are truly excellent) if I wanted a multi-purpose lens. None of the 50mm primes really attract me - they all have faults. Both the Canon 85mm primes are very well regarded and certainly not too long for portrait work on 1.6 crop.

    Heaps of options! Tell us more about what you want to do and why your current kit isn't cutting it - then perhaps a best-for-you choice will emerge.
    Tony

    People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.

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    the 17-40 L is a weird choice for portraiture - due to distortion of the subject etc on both crop and full frame if used at a close distance to the subject. Despite saying that I will post up 2 shots from a 17-40 L I did for a commercial shoot - first one is not a close up but u can still see the distortion in the bath tub, 2nd is more pronounced.

    I would use a 17-40 for creative purposes, but not for the run of the mill portrait photography.

    a 24-70 isnt the best solution either, you still suffer from a degree of subject distortion even at the 70mm end.

    I'd be looking at anything from 85 or 100mm and above to flatten the subject more.




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    Thanks Tony and Jackie for your input. I didn't really explain myself well did I. I blame my high school english teachers (might as well they get the blame for everything else)

    I have found the 70-200 to be adequate however what I am after is something wider to compliment it. Initially I would have gone for a 50mm prime but my budget won't allow for the 1.2L and I dougbt I could live with the faults of the 1.4. I have been using the Sigma 24-60 at around 30-50mm but it misses focus way to often (less then 50% of shots are acceptable) and even when it does focus correctly it still lacks sharpness at open apertures (needs to be 5.6 or narrower to be acceptable).

    90% of my photography will be landscape work therefore the 17-40mm would be my preferred next purchase (16-35 is out of my price range), but not completely necessary as I am fairly happy with the lenses I have for landscapes, they all perform well when stopped down.

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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    Hmmmm! I'm surprised that the Sigma is as bad as that. I've never had a lens that misses focus like that - been lucky, I guess. The Sigma sounds like a real dud.

    The first thing that occurs to me is that you would be well served by a Canon EF-S 17-55/2.8 IS. I've never owned one, but this lens is almost universally regarded as an especially fine unit, optically damn-near perfect, with recent-generation IS and a handy range - same as the 17-40 at the short end, quite a bit longer at the long end. It would be an excellent choice for your landscape work, and long enough for portraits too. At about $1400 (retail, Australian stock) it's only $300 more than a 17-40, distorts less, is much longer, a stop faster, has IS, and is even sharper. The only limitation is that it is an EF-S lens, meaning that you'd have to sell it if you bought a 5D.

    I agree with you about the poor choices in 50mm primes. Why, when Canon have a superb 60mm prime (the macro) and two excellent 85mm primes, is 50mm so difficult? BTW, I've used my cheap plastic 50/1.8 for portraits indoors in bad light. It does OK (not great, OK) but what is the point when the 60 macro is better in every way except maximum aperture, and can be happily shot wide open, where the 50/1.8 needs to be stopped down a bit anyway.

    There are also several third-party 17ish-50mm f/2.8 lenses. See this thread for some details: http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...All-round-lens - but the 17-55 is easily the pick of them if you can afford it.

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    Actually I hadn't considered the 17-55/2.8 or 3rd party variants as I do intend to go full frame eventually. Having read a couple of reviews on the Canon 17-55, I would be silly not to consider it. Provided they hold there value better then other EF-S lenses, it may be a winner.

    Again, the 60mm was off the radar due to FF plans, but it is obviously also worth considering. Would like to see some real world samples.

    I wouldn't say the Sigma is a complete dud until you try and push it to its limits. It only ever just misses focus and for smaller prints would probably be bearable. Given the price I paid for it I won't be complaining to much.

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    Or you might buy 2nd hand. There is a 60mm macro going on cameramarket.com.au at a very good price right now. Note: I know nothing whatever about the seller, the particular lens, or indeed the Cameramarket organisation, so this is just for your information. The 17-55 IS doesn't seem to come up 2nd hand too often. At least, I don't remember seeing them around much.

    Some of my 60mm macro shots here - http://tannin.net.au/browselens.php?lens=7&sort_by=iso As you can see, I don't do people much!

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    I have seen some amazing portraits with the 50mm f/1.4 and also the f/1.8. I think if you are outside with a lot of room, the 100mm f/2.8 is great also.
    My gear: Canon 450D, EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM, EF 50mm f/1.8 II, Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8, EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS and EF-S55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS, Canon 430EX II. My Flickr


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