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Gear Talk => Lenses => Topic started by: littlepilotdude on November 22, 2012, 07:10:10 PM

Title: Portrait lenses
Post by: littlepilotdude on November 22, 2012, 07:10:10 PM
Hello,

Is the 200mm F2.8 II a good portrait lens?
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: pj1974 on November 22, 2012, 07:46:42 PM
It can be on a FF (full frame) if you have enough working distance (ie space between you and the subject, to take the photograph). Even on a crop good portraits with this lens can be achieved (eg outside).

Generally 135mm (FF) or 85mm (on a APS-C / crop) is considered a more practical portrait focal length.  The 200mm is a sharp lens. At times you may want faster (that is, a lower f/ value aperture)... but f/2.8 at 200mm isn't bad! :)

However person to person style does differ. I don't take close up portraits often myself, so on my 7D (APS-C / 1.6x crop) - I like a fast 50mm - 60mm setting.

Best wishes.

Paul
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: neuroanatomist on November 22, 2012, 08:15:13 PM
It wouldn't be my first choice for a portrait lens, no.   I'd take 135mm or 85mm lenses, first.

But just about any lens can be used for portraits.  For example, the 600/4L IS II:
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: bycostello on November 22, 2012, 08:35:20 PM
yes....


any where between 50-200mm is a good focal length... 

what camera do u use though as the crop factor maybe important too
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: littlepilotdude on November 22, 2012, 08:57:57 PM
yes....


any where between 50-200mm is a good focal length... 

what camera do u use though as the crop factor maybe important too

Hi,

I'm using a 5D Mark II, so no crop factor.
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: littlepilotdude on November 22, 2012, 08:59:42 PM
It wouldn't be my first choice for a portrait lens, no.   I'd take 135mm or 85mm lenses, first.

But just about any lens can be used for portraits.  For example, the 600/4L IS II:

Hello,

If I were just starting out, and being on a  budget, would this be a good lens? I'm also thinking about the 135mm, but I here that it might be upgraded, so I'm not sure.

Thanks for your input  :)
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: Zlatko on November 22, 2012, 09:17:03 PM
Hello,

Is the 200mm F2.8 II a good portrait lens?
Generally speaking ... no (though of course there are exceptions and photographers who make it work).  It puts you so far away from the subject that it's not easy to communicate with the subject.  And while telephoto compression can be flattering, the compression of a 200mm can feel excessive, making the subject look two-dimensional.  The point of a 200mm is usually to get "nearer" to the subject than would otherwise be practical (as for sports) or strong isolation of the subject from other elements.
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: neuroanatomist on November 22, 2012, 09:25:46 PM
If I were just starting out, and being on a  budget, would this be a good lens?

In that case, I'd recommend the 85mm f/1.8 - in terms of IQ for cost, it's one of the best values in the Canon lineup, and it's a great focal length on FF for portraits.
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: littlepilotdude on November 22, 2012, 09:30:29 PM
If I were just starting out, and being on a  budget, would this be a good lens?

In that case, I'd recommend the 85mm f/1.8 - in terms of IQ for cost, it's one of the best values in the Canon lineup, and it's a great focal length on FF for portraits.

Hi,

I might buy the 135L. Do you guys know any people that use a 200L?

Thanks
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: littlepilotdude on November 22, 2012, 09:57:28 PM
It is funny, people pay nearly $6,000 for the 200 f2 and say it is the most awesome portrait lens ever with amazing compression and unmatched "look", same for the older 200 f1.8 at $3,000 secondhand, but when it is the more modest 200 f2.8 L suddenly the focal length is too long! And lets not forget all the 70-200 owners that end up with portraits from the 200mm end.

Indoors the 200, especially with a crop camera, can be unworkable, outside and/or with a ff camera the 200mm focal length can work very well, just look at the 200 f2 lens sample thread on this site for some examples.

As for holding off on the 135 for fear of updates, don't forget the 200 f2.8L is an ancient lens too.

Hi,

Thanks for that input, I thought that since the 200 II was a mark II version, I thought it was recent until I looked it up and it was released in the 90s. I might buy it because it is a cheap lens and I'm looking for a new L lens that is inexpensive.

Thanks


Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: verysimplejason on November 22, 2012, 10:10:10 PM
It is funny, people pay nearly $6,000 for the 200 f2 and say it is the most awesome portrait lens ever with amazing compression and unmatched "look", same for the older 200 f1.8 at $3,000 secondhand, but when it is the more modest 200 f2.8 L suddenly the focal length is too long! And lets not forget all the 70-200 owners that end up with portraits from the 200mm end.

Indoors the 200, especially with a crop camera, can be unworkable, outside and/or with a ff camera the 200mm focal length can work very well, just look at the 200 f2 lens sample thread on this site for some examples.

As for holding off on the 135 for fear of updates, don't forget the 200 f2.8L is an ancient lens too.

Hi,

Thanks for that input, I thought that since the 200 II was a mark II version, I thought it was recent until I looked it up and it was released in the 90s. I might buy it because it is a cheap lens and I'm looking for a new L lens that is inexpensive.

Thanks



Must it be an L?  As Neuro said, 85mm F1.8 is one of the best even if it's cheap.  This is also workable in an indoor shootout.
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: RLPhoto on November 22, 2012, 10:13:07 PM
Yes but I prefer the 135L
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: littlepilotdude on November 22, 2012, 10:15:38 PM
It is funny, people pay nearly $6,000 for the 200 f2 and say it is the most awesome portrait lens ever with amazing compression and unmatched "look", same for the older 200 f1.8 at $3,000 secondhand, but when it is the more modest 200 f2.8 L suddenly the focal length is too long! And lets not forget all the 70-200 owners that end up with portraits from the 200mm end.

Indoors the 200, especially with a crop camera, can be unworkable, outside and/or with a ff camera the 200mm focal length can work very well, just look at the 200 f2 lens sample thread on this site for some examples.

As for holding off on the 135 for fear of updates, don't forget the 200 f2.8L is an ancient lens too.

Hi,

Thanks for that input, I thought that since the 200 II was a mark II version, I thought it was recent until I looked it up and it was released in the 90s. I might buy it because it is a cheap lens and I'm looking for a new L lens that is inexpensive.

Thanks



Must it be an L?  As Neuro said, 85mm F1.8 is one of the best even if it's cheap.  This is also workable in an indoor shootout.

Hi,

It doesn't need to be an L, but since it is one of the cheaper L models, I am considering this and the 135L. I haven't looked at the 85 1.8, but I am going to take a look at it sometime.

Thanks
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: Zlatko on November 22, 2012, 10:22:43 PM
It is funny, people pay nearly $6,000 for the 200 f2 and say it is the most awesome portrait lens ever with amazing compression and unmatched "look", same for the older 200 f1.8 at $3,000 secondhand, but when it is the more modest 200 f2.8 L suddenly the focal length is too long! And lets not forget all the 70-200 owners that end up with portraits from the 200mm end.

Indoors the 200, especially with a crop camera, can be unworkable, outside and/or with a ff camera the 200mm focal length can work very well, just look at the 200 f2 lens sample thread on this site for some examples.

As for holding off on the 135 for fear of updates, don't forget the 200 f2.8L is an ancient lens too.
It's generally too long, no matter which one you get or how much you spend.  Of course, beautiful & amazing work can be done at 200mm (or any focal length).  But my sense is that if someone doesn't know whether 200mm is a good portrait lens, then it's probably not the focal length they should start with.  I would start with any of the 85's or 100's.  The cheaper versions of those are excellent for someone with a limited budget.
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: pwp on November 22, 2012, 11:18:28 PM
I've been monitoring the focal length used in my portraits shot with 70-200 f/2.8isII over the past month and it was instructive to me that an extraordinarily high percentage of the shots were in the 120-150mm range. If this is telling me anything, it's to go straight out and get a 135 f/2...regarded by many as the primo portrait lens.

There was a small percentage in the 180-200mm range, but they were generally not the strongest shots. The virtual absence of shots from the short end says that the Canon 85mm glass would be a wasted spend.

Plenty of other photographers are fans of the 85 as their go-to portrait lens. Very few will nominate a 200 as a primary portrait lens. But hey, apart from missing the bright f/2 max aperture of the 135, a 70-200 will earn it's keep every single day that you own it.

-PW
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: AudioGlenn on November 23, 2012, 12:38:24 AM
+1 for any of the 70-200 lenses.  They're all great.  2.8 IS II is one of my favorite lenses
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: hawaiisunsetphoto on November 23, 2012, 01:24:45 AM
The 135L seems like a good option.  You might also want to check out the 100mm f/2.8L IS macro, which doubles as an excellent portrait lens.  I find that I'm using it a lot more than the 85mm f/1.2L II.  And, it has IS.   Now, the 200mm f/2, that's in a league of its own.
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: Zlatko on November 23, 2012, 01:40:16 AM
It is funny, people pay nearly $6,000 for the 200 f2 and say it is the most awesome portrait lens ever with amazing compression and unmatched "look", same for the older 200 f1.8 at $3,000 secondhand, but when it is the more modest 200 f2.8 L suddenly the focal length is too long! And lets not forget all the 70-200 owners that end up with portraits from the 200mm end.
It's generally too long, no matter which one you get or how much you spend.  Of course, beautiful & amazing work can be done at 200mm (or any focal length).  But my sense is that if someone doesn't know whether 200mm is a good portrait lens, then it's probably not the focal length they should start with.  I would start with any of the 85's or 100's.  The cheaper versions of those are excellent for someone with a limited budget.

It is really annoying when people selective quote, why cut out the next bit? Where I advised it is often too long and looking at actual images might help get a feel for the focal length. "Indoors the 200, especially with a crop camera, can be unworkable, outside and/or with a ff camera the 200mm focal length can work very well, just look at the 200 f2 lens sample thread on this site for some examples."

Also don't forget the 70-200 f4 L is a bargain at under $700 if you feel an L lens will offer better depreciation value if it doesn't work out. Don't forget f4 on a FF camera gives less equivalent dof to a 2.8 lens on a crop camera, and if you use a short tele zoom for a while you can read your EXIF and see what focal length you take your favourite images.
Ok, I modified my previous post to quote your whole post.
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: candyman on November 23, 2012, 03:48:48 AM
I used the Canon 85mm f/1.8 on my 7D in the past. Excellent portraitlens on a crop camera for close-ups. I did some great portraits. I did not like this lens on my FF. I bought the 135mm f/2 which is similar focal length as the 85mm on the crop camera. Beautiful lens.

But, focal length 135mm may sometimes be too long for smaller indoor houses. So 85mm would be an excellent focal length. Did you consider the Sigma 85mm f/1.4?

I sometimes use the 200mm of my 70-200mm but really only at indoor events where there is more space to move around.
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: Knut Skywalker on November 23, 2012, 06:59:21 AM
The 100mm f/2.0 is a lens that i would recommend. I've read some really, really good reviews of it. Basically they say that it performs like an L-lens, very good wide open and super-fast AF + better controlled fringing than the 85mm 1.8. I think this would be a good option for you. I will buy mine around christmas for my 5D MkII for portraits. :)
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: littlepilotdude on November 23, 2012, 08:57:32 AM
Hi,

I think that I have narrowed the choice do to the 135L because, I generally shoot at the 105mm range of my lens and I would like the extra reach. I will still keep in mind the 200L, though it might be a bit too long to be a portrait lens.

Thanks,

littlepilotdude
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: Chuck Alaimo on November 23, 2012, 10:55:38 AM
I took the plunge on the 85 1.8 and was skeptical, when i snagged it (along with the 50 1.4) I bought them at my local store and before buying my question to them was ---- what is the return policy here?   LOL.  I thought this for a couple reasons - I have a 24-70 2.8 and the 70-200 2.8 (non IS version, which, that one may not be a bad option if you have a steady hand!!!!).   Also, there was a big part of me thayt said these are cheap, so they could never stack up with the L lenses and hold their own. Another factor - when i bought them it was actually a desperate attempt to make my 7d more usable (cause though i love it, it just does not keep up with the 5d3.  So, yeah, why do i need these little primes when i cover both focal ranges already?

To my surprise, these little primes rock.  Screw the 7d, I use them on the mk3 for a variety of purposes.  I favor the 85 over the 50 for sure (it's a touch sharper i think, and I am just kind of in love with the field of view it offers).  Build quality wise, yeah, they don't feel as sturdy as the L lenses.  I wouldn't want to have them on camera in questionable weather.  But, all that said on a general portrait shoot I use the 85 quite a bit.   And yes, using the 85 does make me want the 135 as well!!!

As to the idea of waiting for the upgrade on the 135L, I honestly wouldn't worry about that.  Everything I have heard about the 135L is that it's "magic".  Plus, who knows when it will actually be upgradd, and ---if Canon follows its recent trend with primes, it may not be the upgrade you want (IE: it may not be 2.0, it may be 2.8 and with IS and tack on an extra $500-1000)
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: TWI by Dustin Abbott on November 23, 2012, 11:04:53 AM
I have owned most of the lens mentioned in this discussion (other than the 200mm f/2s), but I have to say that I LOVE the 135L.  It is hands-down my favorite lens for either portraiture or event work.  And here's the thing:  if you are thinking about a 200mm f/2.8, do yourself a favor and grab the 135L and then get a get a 1.4x teleconverter (I use the Kenko Pro 300).  You have a 189mm f/2.8 prime that works exceptionally well.  The still fast aperture allows for handholding in most conditions but without the weight of a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom.  It's a combo that has worked well for me.

That being said, the 85mm f/1.8 is probably the best bargain in a portrait lens out there.  It has stayed in my bag even while other more expensive options have come and gone.
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: epsiloneri on November 23, 2012, 12:32:31 PM
For example, the 600/4L IS II
If I were just starting out, and being on a  budget, would this be a good lens?
Depends on your budget... I think only the 800/5.6L IS is more expensive among the Canon lenses ;D

The portrait EF lens budget ladder looks something like (going to more expensive lenses)

85/1.8 or 100/2.0
135/2.0L
85/1.2L II or 70-200/2.8L IS II
200/2.0L IS

To me, the 70-200/2.8L IS II is the perfect middle ground with its zoom flexibility. Sure, you don't get the ultra-thin focal depth, but sometimes it's actually preferable to have both eyes in focus ;) The Sigma EX 85/1.4 might be a great alternative as well, sitting between EF 85/1.8 and EF 135/2.0L. A disadvantage of the zoom (apart from price) is that it is heavier than the primes and brings attention with its size and white colour.
Title: Re: Portrait lenses
Post by: ChilledXpress on November 23, 2012, 01:33:39 PM
For example, the 600/4L IS II
If I were just starting out, and being on a  budget, would this be a good lens?

Thats just Neuro struggling to find anyway to bring up he finally got a 600 f/4.

+1000 for the 135 and also using a 1.4x, this combo takes very little of a hit due to the extender.