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Old Jul 27, 2004, 11:59 AM   #1
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I have the Canon Digital Rebel with the kit lens and the EF 55-200 II 4.5-5.6USM. I use the 55-200 II as my portrait lens. When I shoot portraits I shoot at 200mm, 5.6 and about 15ft frommodel. I get really nice background blur, butmmany times the models image also looks a little out of focus. Someyimes I get really great shots, but it is inconsistent. I was looking to upgrade to the Canon 70-200 f4L for better optics (sharpness) and more speed, F4 vs 5.6. I am also considering the 50 1.8 for portraits.Would either of these two options solve my consistency problems.

Is it the 55-200 lens orposibly other issues? I always shoot portraits at ISO 100 or 200, would going higherISO like 800and udjusting my shutter speeds up help or make things worse?



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Old Jul 29, 2004, 3:54 PM   #2
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I would bet the noise of the higher ISO would overcome any benefit from the higher shutter speed.

You haven't said if you use a tripod or not. I will assume you do, or that should be your first purchase (if possible. You don't say what type of portraits you do.)

The 50mm f1.8 is so cheap, you could get it and try it any ways. It is optically quite good.

It is my understanding that the 70-200L f4 is good, but I don't know personally how it compares to the 50 f1.8. It will certainly be much better than the 55-200.

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Old Jul 29, 2004, 4:45 PM   #3
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You're using your telephoto zoom at its extreme length. It is a well known fact that all zoom lenses perform their worst at the ends of their range. You would probably get better performance from that lens using a zoom at or near the middle of the range as well as using an aperture closer to the f/8. For portraits you don't want to be TOO sharp as it defines the blemishes, age lines, and other flaws all of us have.

ISO and shutter speed do not directly affect your focus, but proper exposure is critical for sharp photos. As Eric pointed out, you should use a tripod for optimum performance. Also consider using a remote shutter release if you're going to be using slower shutter speeds (not likely with portrait work).

The Canon 50mm f/1.8 is a very sharp lens and on the rebel would make a fine portrait lens as far as focal length (~80mm), but you may need to apply a softening effect in Photoshop. The Canon 70-200 f/4L is a superb lens in its own right. I have the 2.8 version, but optically they are pretty much the same. Even with my L lens, the performance is the worst at the extreme ends of the zoom (although worst is probably a bad choice of words, because it's still pretty darn sharp!)

I'm not all that familiar with the 55-200, but it is one of Canon's less expensive consumer lenses and does not come close to being in the same league as one of their L lenses (neither in performance OR price!). Try shooting your lens around 135mm (mounted on a tripod) and see how you like those results.
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Old Jul 29, 2004, 9:14 PM   #4
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I would think that 15 feet is at the very edge of your flash, unless you have a lighting set up. You may need to bring the camera in a little closer if you are just using a flash.



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Old Jul 29, 2004, 9:29 PM   #5
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Thank you, this all sounds like good information. I was using a monopod but that doesn't work well espeacially with portratis because I can't turn the camera sideways. Getting a good tripod is a good idea since I mainly shoot still objects.It would probably help make shots with the55-200 better. Until then I will switch135mm and try an F8. With the sutter speed formula 135 X 1.6 = 216 vs 200 X1.6 = 320 as minimal shuuter speed. I didn't realize you needed more light when your further away.I have to have the50 1.8, you already know why. The quality / price seems unbeatable. I have a feeling after playing withthe 1.8, Iwon't be happywith the F4L and will want F2.8. I like the look of natural light better than flash, and would therefor prefer faster lens, like a 135F2Lprime. I have definately learned to research first rather thanbuy cheap cameracomponents.
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Old Jul 30, 2004, 2:16 AM   #6
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Here are some of my pictures taken with the 55-200 and the 18-55 kit. Photography is definately not as easy as it may seem. I took quite a few shots this night. I started shooting manual because the auto setting with flash forces an F8 sutter of 60. I went manual to increase to F8 and increased shutter to 100 and ISO 200. Sometimes this caused the shots to be too dark. Flash also took a long time to recycle. However, when I really needed to make sure I got the shot I went auto M or Portrait. :-)

http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=417633


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