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Old Jul 27, 2011, 8:58 PM   #1
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As I posted in another thread, I'm about to complete my first formal photography class. My current setup includes a Sony A200 with the kit 18-70 lens. I also picked up a Sony 55-200 lens for a song and a dance. My camera has an APS processor, which I don't understand but I understand that a 50mm results in something like a 90mm lens.

I can see the need in a portrait lens. Sony has a 30mm at 1.8. For a few $ more, I could get a 50m at 1.4mm. Which would be the best portrait lens?
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Old Jul 28, 2011, 3:34 AM   #2
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G'day outhouse

Stick with the 50mm lens ... or just use the 50mm end of the 18-70
From my experience, I take portraits with lens varied between 50 & 135, depending upon Depth of Field / background blurryness that I'm seeking

Best portrait shots are taken from 1,5m to 3metres [5ft to 10ft] camera-to-subject. This gives a good appearance of the curvature of the face ... too close and the nose becomes overlarge and unpleasant

I cannot recommend the 30mm as a portraiture lens, although others might disagree
Regards, Phil
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Old Jul 28, 2011, 4:24 AM   #3
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Your Sony A200 has an APS-C format image sensor, which is about 1/3 smaller than a standard 35mm film exposure. That means it has a narrower angle of view that a 35mm film camera or a 'Full Frame' dSLR like the Sony A900. So a 50mm lens on your A200 has the same angle of view as a 75mm lens would have on a 'Full Frame' body.

On a 'Full Frame' body, a "Portrait" lens generally has a focal length of from 85mm to 135mm. Any shorter and you get perspective distortion (making the subjects nose look bigger), and any longer, and you need to be farther away and it's harder to isolate the subject from the background. On an 'APS-C' body, focal lengths of from 57mm to 90mm produce similar results. You can use lenses of other focal lengths, but you need to compensate for problems like the ones I mentioned. A 50mm lens would work for portraiture, but you need to not get too close, and therefore, include more of the surroundings. (This is often called an 'Environmental Portrait'.) While a 30mm lens is good for other things, it's generally too short for portraits.
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Old Jul 28, 2011, 6:40 AM   #4
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Your shooting style also enters into the lens you need, as does how much room you have to work with.

If you're shooting mostly head shots, a longer lens is a good idea. If you're shooting full body and/or group photos, you're going to need a shorter focal length so you'll have room to get everyone into the image in more conditions. No one lens is going to be perfect for all conditions.

If you really want a budget prime, and you want it to do double duty as a portrait lens, I'd probably look at the new Sony 85mm f/2.8. It should work nicely for head shots in many conditions, as well as give you a brighter lens to use for things like plays, concerts, etc., depending on how close you can get. Personally, I'd find 85mm to be a more useful focal length compared to the shorter primes you're considering.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Mid_range.html

At around $250, you're probably not going to do any better for a lens that bright at an 85mm focal length. For example, a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM Zoom lens would run you around $949 right now at vendors like B&H; and the brighter Sony/Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 is listed at $1369.99.

Here's a two page review of the new Sony 85mm f/2.8 (and note that it has very good sharpness and contrast, even wide open at f/2.8):

http://www.photozone.de/sony-alpha-a.../599-sony85f28

If you wanted a shorter primes to go with it later, I'd check the listings at vendors like keh.com. For example, you can find used Minolta 50mm f/1.7 or used Minolta 28mm f/2.8 AF lenses for around $100 each now.

http://www.keh.com/Camera/format-35m...c=55947&r=WG&f

The primes I use with my Sony A700 are the the Minolta 28mm f/2, 50mm f/1.7, 100mm f/2 and 135mm f/2.8 AF lenses; and my Minolta 100mm f/2 AF lens probably gets the most use. If I had an 85mm, it would probably get the most use (but, I wouldn't want to give up a stop of brightness and would go with a used Minolta 85mm f/1.4 AF lens if I ever needed a replacement for the 100mm f/2 and I couldn't find another one).
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Old Jul 28, 2011, 10:42 AM   #5
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I'll ask a question I almost asked originally. When I bought my A200, I will admit I bought it based on price, mostly. Sony was closing out the A200 and bring out their next version and I picked my camera and kit lens for $400 delivered. I was going from a Point & Shoot and wanted something faster (shutter lag). Now that I am learning more about DSLR and before I start investing in it, should I consider investing in a full frame camera?
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Old Jul 28, 2011, 11:31 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Now that I am learning more about DSLR and before I start investing in it, should I consider investing in a full frame camera?
There's not a compelling reason to just yet. There are benefits to full-frame, but they're not as great as some portray them to be. Full-frame will always be able to provide greater dynamic range than aps-c, greater high ISO performance and will be able to provide shallower depth-of-field. And, they open up more lens possibilities for wide angle. But, the current generation of aps-c sensors produce outstanding results. The truth of the matter is - for 90% of the shots most people take you wouldn't notice the difference at 8x10 from a shot taken with full frame vs. a shot taken on aps-c (assuming shots used a lens focal length / aperture appropriate for the sensor size being used).

Depending on the type of photography you do, other aspects are infinitely more important - your skill, your framing, the lighting, reflectors, backdrops, lenses, tripods etc. For example, one of our members - benjikan - shoots fashion in Europe with pentax aps-c gear. Some of our Oly users produce stunning portrait work - with a sensor size even smaller than aps-c. In short, full-frame is not some silver bullet to photographic quality.

That's not to say the A200 is the same as a modern generation aps-c camera - that's just the way of things - the current generation of cameras have improved upon almost every aspect.

BUT, the real key is identifying where problems lie with your current photography. I've seen some horrible work done with very expensive camera gear.
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Old Jul 28, 2011, 11:43 AM   #7
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I've seen some horrible work done with very expensive camera gear.
So, you've visited my gallery. I'm flattered...
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Old Jul 28, 2011, 3:11 PM   #8
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What JohnG said.

In addition, the only full frame camera I've held (a Canon that belonged to a friend of mine) was large and very heavy. After a few minutes reviewing pictures he took I came to the conclusion that it wasn't a camera I would be able to use for more than a few minutes at a time - my arms would get tired so quickly I wouldn't be able to hold the camera still for more than a shot or two. It's definitely NOT a camera I'd want to go on a day hike with, especially since I usually carry 5-6 lenses. Spending a small fortune on a camera (or lens) I would rarely use doesn't seem to be money well spent, no matter how great a camera it is.
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Old Jul 28, 2011, 4:33 PM   #9
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'Full Frame' is the new 'Medium Format'.

'Full Frame' dSLRs can do things that APS-C dSLRs can't, but not many, and they're not in great demand. Plus 'Full Frame' dSLRs are bigger, heavier and a lot more expensive than APS-C dSLRs, and they have fewer lenses to choose from.
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Old Jul 30, 2011, 2:35 PM   #10
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Well, I bought a Minoltas 50mm 1.7 off eBay for $66. Hope it's in as good condition as claimed.
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