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Which Lens Should I Buy?


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#1 Tony Northrup

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 06:44 AM

First, read "Portrait Photography Lenses" in Chapter 6 and watch this video: http://www.youtube.c...h?v=TdAFEUCZiXQ

 

Canon

In order from cheapest to best, pick what your budget allows:

  • Canon 50mm f/1.8 ($95). If your budget is under $100, this is the lens for you! The 50mm focal length is NOT flattering for adult headshots, but the fast f/1.8 aperture allows you to get a nicely blurred background.
  • Canon 85mm f/1.8 ($420). This fast, sharp prime lens makes much more flattering headshots than the 50mm and provides amazing background blur, but it's not as versatile as the zooms that follow.
  • Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 ($770). Zooms gives you the versatility to instantly switch from a full-body shot to a headshot, a vital capability for a pro. This basic lens is sharp enough, but because it lacks image stabilization, you will have to use higher ISOs indoors and in low light to prevent camera shake.
  • Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 VC ($1500). The VC in the name is Vibration Control, Tamron's version of Image Stabilization, and it means you can handhold this lens in low light while keeping a lower ISO, critical for weddings and indoor use. This lens is one of the sharpest zooms ever made, surpassing even the top-end Canon.
  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II ($2500). This pricey lens takes the same photos as the Tamrons, but it focuses a bit faster and holds up to professional levels of abuse.

I've left many wonderful portrait lenses off this list: the Canon 85mm f/1,4 (because for the price I'd rather have zoom), the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 OS (because the Tamron VC model is a similar price but noticeably sharper), and the other Canon 70-200 varieties (because for similar prices you can get a Tamron with more features).

 

 

Nikon

In order from cheapest to best, pick what your budget allows:

I've left many wonderful portrait lenses off this list: the Nikon 85mm f/1,4 (because for the price I'd rather have zoom), the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 OS (because the Tamron VC model is a similar price but noticeably sharper), and the other Nikon 70-200 varieties (because for similar prices you can get a Tamron with more features).

 

 

Sony Alpha

In order from cheapest to best, pick what your budget allows:

  • Sony 50mm f/1.8 ($170). If your budget is under $200, this is the lens for you! The 50mm focal length is NOT flattering for adult headshots, but the fast f/1.8 aperture allows you to get a nicely blurred background.
  • Sony 85mm f/2.8 ($300). The longer focal length provides more flattering features.
  • Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 Di LD IF ($770). Zooms gives you the versatility to instantly switch from a full-body shot to a headshot, a vital capability for a pro. This basic lens is sharp enough.
  • Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 DI US ED ($1500). This lens is substantially sharper than the lower-end Tamron and Sony's own overpriced 70-200 f/2.8.

I've left many wonderful portrait lenses off this list: the Rokinon 85mm f/1,4 (because it lacks autofocus), the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 (because the Tamron VC model is a similar price but noticeably sharper), and the Sony 70-200 varieties (because it's not that sharp and overpriced compared to the Tamron).


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#2 Richard Law

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 03:37 PM

It's worth noting that image stabilisation is not really a negative for Sony A mount lenses due to the cameras having in body stabilisation.
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#3 Tony Northrup

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 03:47 PM

It's worth noting that image stabilisation is not really a negative for Sony A mount lenses due to the cameras having in body stabilisation.

Yes, of course, thanks for that. Just a copy-paste oversight. Fixed!


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#4 Herr Dice

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 03:59 PM

For the non existing Mirco Four Thrids category I would add the Olympus 45mm f 1.8.

Is this category going to be added or even planned?


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#5 Tony Northrup

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 06:32 PM

I'm definitely planning to expand coverage of micro four-thirds. I know it's important! Sorry for the delay.

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#6 Hung Nguyen

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 07:30 PM

10eem85.jpg

 

 

 

Here an example of the Tamron SP 70-200 VC Di, Canon mount. I think it is awesome alternative if you don't have the type of budget for that red ring.


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#7 Tony Northrup

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 08:31 PM

Great shot, Hung, and you're right--the Tamrons are the right choice for almost everyone. The VC variety tests sharper than the name brand varieties. More info in the Lens Buyers Guide.

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#8 Richard Law

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 05:30 AM

The Sony 85mm 2.8 lens can be bought cheaply and is definitely worthy of inclusion as a portrait lens. Lightweight plastic construction which feels cheap but the results can be stunning.
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#9 Hege Antonsen

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 08:13 AM

I just bought a Canon 6d and would love to have more than one lens. I have 24-105mm. Which lens should I buy and which brand is cheaper? I can't afford the really expensive right now (which I probably should have thought through before I bought  a 6d..) I do mostly portraits. 



#10 Herr Dice

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 08:49 AM

I'm definitely planning to expand coverage of micro four-thirds. I know it's important! Sorry for the delay.

 

You don't have to be sorry. The forums are brand new. As long as it's coming I'll be happy.


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#11 Tony Northrup

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 09:14 AM

The Sony 85mm 2.8 lens can be bought cheaply and is definitely worthy of inclusion as a portrait lens. Lightweight plastic construction which feels cheap but the results can be stunning.

 

Good suggested, and a good way to bridge the gap between the 50mm and 70-200. Added, and thanks!


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#12 Tony Northrup

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 09:16 AM

I just bought a Canon 6d and would love to have more than one lens. I have 24-105mm. Which lens should I buy and which brand is cheaper? I can't afford the really expensive right now (which I probably should have thought through before I bought  a 6d..) I do mostly portraits. 

 

I think the suggestions in this topic are perfect for you. You can check Chapter 2 in the buyer's guide (http://sdpcommunity....sGuide/Ch2.html) and Chapter 7 as well (http://sdpcommunity.com/index.php?/page/BuyersGuide/Ch7.html) -- just be sure to use Chrome or Safari as your browser (we're working on solving the problem with the other browsers now).


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#13 José Leonardo

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 12:43 PM

I want to use primes, for indoor and outdoor portrait, what do You think of this set on a T3i (1.6 crop sensor), canon 28mm f/1.8, canon 50mm f/1.8, canon 100mm f/2.0, for the moment i can not afford L series.
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#14 Tony Northrup

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 10:40 AM

I want to use primes, for indoor and outdoor portrait, what do You think of this set on a T3i (1.6 crop sensor), canon 28mm f/1.8, canon 50mm f/1.8, canon 100mm f/2.0, for the moment i can not afford L series.

 

Jose, that's a great set. The 100 f/2 is a fantastic lens for portraits.


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#15 José Leonardo

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 05:44 PM

Jose, that's a great set. The 100 f/2 is a fantastic lens for portraits.

thanks sir. Felicidades a usted y su señora esposa y familia por su página web y su gran trabajo ayudando a la comunidad de fotógrafos a nivel mundial.
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#16 David X. Li

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 06:46 PM

Tony, is it worth mentioning that your recommendations might be different based on sensor size? For instance, wouldn't the nifty fifty effectively be an 80mm, and wouldn't the 85mm effectively be a 136mm? I imagine that would have an effect on suitability for portraits.



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#17 Tony Northrup

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 08:40 PM

Tony, is it worth mentioning that your recommendations might be different based on sensor size? For instance, wouldn't the nifty fifty effectively be an 80mm, and wouldn't the 85mm effectively be a 136mm? I imagine that would have an effect on suitability for portraits.

 

It is a factor, but it doesn't change any of my recommendations. I'm certainly open to discussion. Even on a crop sensor, I still think the 50mm is too short for portraits... in fact, crop sensors have longer depth-of-field, so you don't get the nice background blur that you would on a full-frame camera.


thanks sir. Felicidades a usted y su señora esposa y familia por su página web y su gran trabajo ayudando a la comunidad de fotógrafos a nivel mundial.

 

Gracias!


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#18 Luke Belik

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 03:53 AM

It might be a good idea for people to post some pictures they have taken with any of theses lenses. That way people can get an idea of the sort of pictures they could take with it. 

 

So for a Canon 85mm f1.8 example ... I candid of my daughter. 

 

Attached File  Persephone.jpg   125.66KB   0 downloads

 

And, to show the benefit of having a low aperture prime (mine's the 50mm f1.4 not 1.8 but it's only 2/3 of a stop difference). This picture was taken with my 60d at ISO1600 at f1.4 in a very dark historical museum.

 

Attached File  Ukulele.jpg   89.65KB   0 downloads


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#19 Richard Law

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 05:55 PM

Sony 85mm 2.8

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#20 Justin Eckert

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 11:48 PM

So far, all the examples provided are fascinating, and really showcase what these lenses are capable of. Great topic thus far, I will be following this for sure! 



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