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Old Jan 31, 2010, 9:11 PM   #1
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Default Canon 50D Portrait Lens

I have read through many of the posts regarding a "good" portrait lens. From what was posted, I saw the following lenses posted quite a bit:


Tamron's 17-50mm f/2
Sigma 18-50/2.8
Sigma 17-70/2.8-4.5


I know there is not a "perfect" lens - there is usually some sort of trade off, but if one KNOWS the trade offs, one can "work with it". That being said, allow me to take this one step further.

I have a Canon 50D and am taking my photography to the next level. I am wanting to produce high quality portraits and landscapes both indoor and outdoor. I am branching out and photographing more than my family. So for a good, quality lens what would be:
my "dream" lens (if price was not an object)
a lens that would be under $700.00

I am looking forward to the answers. If you have pictures with your "favorite lens" please post them.

Thanks in advance for the help!
Heather S.
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Old Jan 31, 2010, 9:31 PM   #2
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you might want something a little bit longer than those you mention (and faster than the sigma at 70mm)

you could look into the 24-70 2.8s from sigma, or 28-75 from tamron.

even better you could grab a couple primes that do not suffer from the distortion you see in zooms and are much faster.

50 1.4 is a near perfect 80mm equivalence on a crop camera, would probably be the first prime to get.

the 28 1.8 can be used nicely for group shots or for full lengths.

the 85 1.8 is a fantastic lens for head shots, or for when you have more room to work with.
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Old Jan 31, 2010, 9:33 PM   #3
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i actually use my 60mm 2.8 macro lens alot for portraits, its sharp wide open, no distortion whatsoever and works out to a nice 90mm on my 50d.
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Old Feb 1, 2010, 12:58 AM   #4
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I use the ef 85mm 1.8 USM as my portrait lens, it is very sharp, giving you a nice bokem effect. It will also give you some stand off distance when shooting the photo over a 50mm which I use sometimes. Also since it is an USM lens, it is very quite and fast in focusing.

I rather use a prime lens over a zoom for portrait work.
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Old Feb 1, 2010, 7:45 AM   #5
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In the days of film, a good focal length for a portrait lens was 85mm to 135mm, with 105mm generally regarded as best. Anything shorter would create an odd perspective causing noses to be enlarged and ears to be reduced. Anything longer would give too deep a depth of field. On a Canon APS-C dSLR, you'd get a similar angle of view using a lens with a focal length of 53mm to 84mm.

Of the lenses you mentioned, only the Sigma 17-70 would have an appropraite focal length, but it would have too small an aperture at that focal length to be used as a portrait lens. The lenses others have mentioned here would all do a better job than the lenses you listed.
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Old Feb 1, 2010, 4:49 PM   #6
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almost any lens from ultra wide angle to super telephoto can be a "good" portrait lens, it all depends on your style, subject and the working room you have. Good lighting and good rapport with your model are more important for a good portrait than a lens imho. Unless you really like to have only one eye in focus you won't really need very fast (and expensive) lenses. For 'classic' portraiture anything from 50mm to about 135mm on a 1.6 crop camera will work - you will just need more room to you use longer lenses. My favourite is a 60mm macro lens - the focal length just works for me, but I use 30, 50, 60 and 85mm primes, 70-200 zoom and shorter zooms as well. Anything goes really . A good lens for portraits might be a Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8, don't have one, but thought about getting one before they disappear for Canon, Sigma 50-150 f/2.8 covers a very useful focal range as well.

30mm Sigma @ f/1.4:


28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 @ about 50mm:


85mm f/1.8 @ f/3.2:


60mm f/2.8 @ f/4.0:


70-200 f/4 L @ about 100m f/4.0:


Hope this helps a little
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Old Feb 1, 2010, 5:33 PM   #7
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Certainly, if you have room to maneuver, a longer lens is fine. But for shorter lenses, if you don't get too close, you'll get a lot of background. But that's ok. It's called an "environmental portrait".
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