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Old May 15, 2008, 4:32 PM   #1
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Hi, another quick question, I have a relative visiting me next weekend who wants to take me into town for the day and buy me a present for my 40th birthday.( I got a 40D last week with kit lens) I would like to buy a lens specifically for portraits- mainly it will be used with my fast moving baby nephew and my daughters.
I don't know enough about my camera or lenses to make an informed choice, so any advise would be greatfully received.
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Old May 15, 2008, 4:46 PM   #2
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Great Birthday present. Congrats!

BTW, I moved your thread down to our Canon Lenses forum (setup for questions about Canon lenses) so that Canon shooters would be more likely to see it.

Fast moving baby, huh? It sounds like you may need an external flash. ;-)

For a lens, you'll need to decide what focal length you want (and make sure you've got enough room to use it). The 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.8 are probably going to be popular choices, as well as the lower priced 50mm f/1.8. In closer quarters for group shots, those may not be wide enough though.

Canon shooters can probably give you some of their pros and cons.


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Old May 15, 2008, 5:06 PM   #3
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I've been enjoying the 50mm f/1.8 on my 10D (same crop factor as the 40D) for a couple of years now.

For the price, you can't beat it, hands down.
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Old May 15, 2008, 5:14 PM   #4
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Thanks for moving my question , as soon as I had posted it I realised it was in the wrong section :?

I also got a canon flash for my birthday , so thats not an issue.
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Old May 15, 2008, 5:18 PM   #5
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If u have the flash i would try to use the kit lens and flash before deciding on a lens. Mostly the flash if set right can isolate the subject from the background and the kit lens isnt a bad lens.

Get a 100mm Macro . I find this a terrific portrait lens as well as a macro lens. And at 160mm effective focal length u can get closer as well as stay back depending upon the mood of the baby as well as hiding away from the baby.

The details from a macro lens are much deeper cmpared to a normal 50mm lens. ANd the USM on this lens is pretty fast



I use my 150mm macro for lot of portraits. Though long they give me very sharp wide open images




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Old May 16, 2008, 2:46 AM   #6
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I presume you mean by "portrait lens" something that allows a moderately tight crop (head and shoulders or tighter) and decent background blur. But beware, because IMO the manufacturers are quite happy to label mid-telephoto lenses as "portrait lenses" because then everyone thinks they need to own one.

This is not the type of lens I personally use for portraits, and indeed not the type that many of the great portrait photographers use in general either, a lot of portrait photographers try to get something of the environment into the frame, so tend to use a normal or wide-normal lens like a 50mm or 35mm equivalent. (22-30mm on a 40D).

So in general I would concur that one of the 50 f1.8, 50 f1.4, 85 f1.8 or 100 f2 would all be sound choices.

But you could also consider something like a fast 70-200 zoom, Tamron, Canon or Sigma all do f2.8 zooms at different prices.

But nym's advice is good too, a 90/100mm macro can be a great lens for portraits, once again don't rule out Tamron or Sigma as they do some very good mid-length macro lenses.

Finally, the general obsession with fast mid-length primes for portraits is a bit of an amateur thing; why? Simply because as Jim has alluded to, workaday professional studio photographers tend to use an ordinary lens stopped down to f8 or f11 to avoid DOF problems and a decent flash setup to control the lighting.

So buying some extra strobes, softbox and reflectors (and learning how to use them of course!) will probaby give much better long-term results than a "portrait lens".

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Old May 16, 2008, 3:29 PM   #7
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There is no single 'best' portrait lens, it all depends on what YOU really want and how and where you want it. For indoors, especially with a fast moving babies and children, the most useful option will be a fast focussing 'standard' zoom and a bounced TTL flash, if you can use it off camera - even better. By standard zoom I mean a 17/18-50/70 mm zoom. A nifty-fifty (50mm F/1.8) is a popular choice for half-length/head and shoulders portraits and gives you a field of view of an 80mm lens on a full frame/35mm camera, which is considered a classic 'portrait' studio style focal length. The problems of the 50mm F/1.8 Mk II apart from the build quality are unreliable AF (in lowish ligh) and unattractive bokeh, but you can't beat the price of this lens and optically it's good and sharp from F/2.0-2.2. For full length portraits especially in close quarters you will need something wider: 35mm, 28mm or even wider. Really wide lenses can give you not the most pleasing/flattering perspective especially at short distances.
I don't like to intrude people's space and prefer to use longer lenses for portrait shots, usually a 60mm macro or a 70-200mm F/4 with 2-3 strobes with umbrellas/softboxes for more formal shoots, or just a single off camera Vivitar 283 on a light stand with a white or silver umbrella on location. Sometimes I use a small and light nifty fifty and a 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 USM MkII for candid shots.
HTH
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Old May 18, 2008, 6:36 AM   #8
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Thanks for all your advise, it is much appreciated. Is there a facility on this forum that can let me see pictures taken with certain lenses?
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Old May 18, 2008, 7:16 AM   #9
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Members post photos from lenses all the time. But, there is no easy way to find all of them by lens.

pbase.com lets you search by a specific camera or lens to see photos. If you scroll down on this page, you'll see some Canon lenses listed

http://www.pbase.com/cameras/canon

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Old May 18, 2008, 9:37 AM   #10
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Another site that has some nice full size images from different lenses is http://www.pixel-peeper.com/however I would say anyone can post so some are really not good technically so don't assume that someones bad shot will represent what you can expect but it will give you a guide.


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