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Old Sep 17, 2008, 12:12 AM   #1
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I see many suggestions that a 50mm F1.4 or F1.8 lens be used for indoor portrait shots. I can understand that this will work great for lower light situations which are typical of indoors.

Wouldn't using a lens at max aperature (f1.4 or f1.8 give the user an extremely shallow depth of field? Why would you want that in a portrait?

Or, if the lens typically used at a higher F number, but it does a better job at that F number than other lenses would?
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Old Sep 18, 2008, 8:30 PM   #2
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Anyone? :?:
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Old Sep 19, 2008, 8:12 AM   #3
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If you browse the various photography forums and photo archives you will notice that shooting portraits at wide apertures is a very popular style used by many people.

Using a wide aperture can be an effective way of isolating your subject from a distracting background (both indoors and outdoors). Of course, if you want to include the background you can simply use a smaller aperture to increase the depth of field.

When shooting at a wide aperture the out of focus areas take on a 'creamy' appearance (referred to as bokeh) that can be used to add to the artistic appearance of the picture. You will see many discussions about the bokeh qualities of one lens versus us another.

The optimum resolution for most lenses is typically around 2 stop down from the maximum aperture. However, when shooting portraits of people you are not necessarily trying to achieve maximum resolution and sometimes a little softness is desirable. A traditional portrait technique is to use a shallow depth of field where only the subject's eyes (or maybe only one eye) is the sharpest point in the picture.


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Old Sep 19, 2008, 10:44 AM   #4
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Well put FrankD. I control the DOF on my 50mm 1.4 with both distance from the subject and the aperture. I love to shot portraits close and at 1.4. I can get just the facal features I want in focus and everything else soft. If I want more in focus just back up a foot and the DOF expands quickly. I love this lens for portraits.
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Old Jun 10, 2009, 1:10 AM   #5
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ReneB3
Do you have a full frame sensor or are you working with a magnification factor of 1.5 or something close? Seems like a 50mm would mean you have to be right in the subjects face for portraits if no magnification factor.
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Old Jun 10, 2009, 5:27 AM   #6
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Back then(Sept 08) ReneB3 had a D300 but now he is in the fortunate position of having a D700.

Even in FF 50mm can be used for portraits, it will just depend on the shooters style. If you are only doing head and shoulders then yes you are going to be pretty close but for full or 3/4 length then you are not too bad.

You are right though, for out and out portraits I would choose something longer.
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Old Jul 14, 2009, 12:56 AM   #7
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I love my 50mm f/1.4 for taking pictures of my kids. The only downfall to it is that it's a little tight indoors (in my small house, anyways). Other than that, it's been great so far. Here is one I took yesterday:

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Old Jul 14, 2009, 8:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mckeand13 View Post
...
Wouldn't using a lens at max aperature (f1.4 or f1.8 give the user an extremely shallow depth of field? ...
Of course not! Just because a lens has a maximum aperture of f/1.4, or whatever, doesn't mean that you have to shoot at that aperture. Often, though, shallow DOF is desirable in portraiture.
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Old Jul 18, 2009, 7:10 AM   #9
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Rocketcam,

I still have both cameras. I use the 50mm more on my D300 than on the D700 for portraits, mostly because of the focal length. But the 50mm is a better length for general use on the D700.

Rene
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Old Jul 18, 2009, 2:43 PM   #10
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(I use a D50)
I have the 50mm f1.8 though I almost never use it for portraits, I have a small odd shaped space at the moment and moving a tripod continuously to help control DOF is annoying to me. I tend to sacrifice nearly 2 stops and use my 28-70 f2.8 instead. That being said, I would never give up my 50mm, its a great lens, and the price is amazing.
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