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Old Aug 9, 2010, 11:15 AM   #1
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Default My Favorite Focal Length for Studio Fashion

Everyone I know in the business have their preferences regarding focal lengths for different applications. I tend to work quite a bit shorter than most when it comes to working in closed quarters in a studio environment. I specify this for a reason. Studio work is a fixed space that you set up lights in and know what those dimensions are for the whole day of the shoot. Unlike interior location shoots where you often have to change settings and adapt your focal lengths to the circumstances.

It is for this reason, that I often find myself using a wide angle zoom in non studio environments. My focal length of choice in 75% of my studio shoots is around 60-75mm i.e. 40-50mm in the 1.5 ratio APS-C sensor cameras. But I tend to shoot closer to the former. I have read on several forums that the majority of shooters tend to shoot quite a bit longer i.e. 90-120mm i.e. 60-80mm 1.5 ration APS-C sensor cameras. I find that getting in closer to the model, allows you to communicate on a different level which in my opinion is more immediate. I am also not that fond of (at least at this juncture in time) that compressed long focal length look. All of the major brands have focal lengths that fill this criteria.

I have on occasion shot shorter than the above at around 30mm (45mm) APS-C, with very pleasing results, but for this focal length I need to work in studio's with very high ceilings, as I more often than not am sitting or lying on the floor when shooting. I also need the much larger seamless when using this wider focal length or just work off of a bare studio cyclo wall.

Shooting at these shorter focal lengths most certainly have a distinctively modern edgy look about them (at least for now)...So don't be afraid to experiment with shorter than the recommended norm for fashion work. It may give you a bit of the edge to stand out from the rest of the very highly populated crowd.

Would love to get your feedback...

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Last edited by benjikan; Aug 9, 2010 at 11:16 AM. Reason: Error Posting
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Old Aug 10, 2010, 9:24 AM   #2
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Hello Benjikan. This is not really feedback but more my personal observations. (which normally raise as many questions as they answer)

When shooting fashion where do you keep the aperture settings? I shoot with a Sony A-550 with the APS-C size sensor. I do not have any examples to post but for the most part it seems the 85mm F/1.4 yields a softer image than the 50mm F/1.4 (both Minolta Maxxum lenses)

I do understand that my shooting portraits is different than your fashion work as it seems that fashion photographers are not looking for the shorter depth of field. As an example I had a woman come it with straight Black hair that glows under the lights and shows fantastic detail. At F/1.4 the DOF seems so short that the detail is lost and her hair starts to get fuzzy where shooting at F/2.8 gave the hair more detail and maintained the shine and texture.

Many years past I took a class for pointers on how to use my Mamiya medium format film camera and the thought process back then was to keep the camera the same distance from the subject but use a 135mm for a single individual and something along the lines of an 80mm or a 60mm for couples and groups.

I like the 17-50mm F/2.8 when I am moving around and have started using the 50mm F/1.4 on the tripod. I put the 85mm F/1.4 back in its box and it now resides in the cabinet with everything else I do not use often.

What I think I am seeing would seem to fall into line with what you have said above I am just not sure how or if it would apply as I am trying to do portraits where you do fashion and the requirements seem to be different.

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