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Gear Talk => Canon General => Topic started by: jp121 on January 19, 2013, 12:50:13 PM

Title: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: jp121 on January 19, 2013, 12:50:13 PM
http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2013/01/this-is-the-gear-used-to-take-obamas-new-official-portrait/ (http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2013/01/this-is-the-gear-used-to-take-obamas-new-official-portrait/)

Here is the breakdown:

    Camera: Canon 5D Mark III
    Lens: 85mm f/1.2
    Aperture: f/7.1
    Shutter Speed: 1/125
    ISO: 200
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: distant.star on January 19, 2013, 02:11:37 PM
.
Thanks. This is FAR superior to the last one. In that, lint was visible on the jacket -- just looked like a rush job.

Nice to see he's got a 5D3 and fine portrait lens now.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Rienzphotoz on January 19, 2013, 02:52:05 PM
Nice shot and interesting post.
About a couple of months ago I saw a documentary (can't remember if it was Discovery or NatGeo or History channel) about the President's photographer ... apparently the photographer takes photos of the president all day long and he is not permitted to delete even a single photo, even if it is a crappy shot. 
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Vivid Color on January 19, 2013, 03:16:07 PM
Fun tidbits. Thanks for sharing. I generally love Pete Souza's work.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Jesse on January 19, 2013, 04:21:13 PM
85L at 7.1. What a waste!!!
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: RS2021 on January 19, 2013, 05:06:38 PM
85L at 7.1. What a waste!!!

If he went down to f1.2 the background would be putty with zero possibility of seeing the flag etc... This is not an exercise in how to get the most bokeh...but to document the president with some national symbols in the background...With even f/7+ it is blurry but i guess he wanted the prez to stand out while still being able to get a sense of the flag and the background.

Any L lens portrait prime such as 85 or 50L or even cheapo non-L portrait primes wide open would have had the same issue...even stopped down to f/4. If he has to stop down, might as well use the best he has...after all he is photographing the president. :)
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Zlatko on January 19, 2013, 05:13:59 PM
85L at 7.1. What a waste!!!

If he went down to f1.2 the background would be putty with zero possibility of seeing the flag etc... This is not an exercise in how to get the most bokeh...but to document the president with some national symbols in the background...With even f/7+ it is blurry but i guess he wanted the prez to stand out while still being able to get a sense of the flag and the background.

Any L lens portrait prime such as 85 or 50L or even cheapo non-L portrait primes wide open would have had the same issue...even stopped down to f/4. If he has to stop down, might as well use the best he has...after all he is photographing the president. :)

I agree.  F/7.1 is an excellent choice here.  Every aperture is useful.  Which is right depends on how you want to draw the picture.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Jesse on January 19, 2013, 05:16:00 PM
Yeah, my point is he should have been using the 70-200 II.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: RS2021 on January 19, 2013, 05:29:53 PM
Yeah, my point is he should have been using the 70-200 II.

Still lost...why especially 70-200 II ?  So he can poke everyone with the huge white barrel? This occasion doesn't call for a zoom...especially such a huge zoom...the president is not a telephoto subject moving around like a bird needing zooming or IS... it is a posed portrait.

He made the right choice with the stubby reliable prime.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Vivid Color on January 19, 2013, 05:35:46 PM

If he went down to f1.2 the background would be putty with zero possibility of seeing the flag etc... This is not an exercise in how to get the most bokeh...but to document the president with some national symbols in the background...With even f/7+ it is blurry but i guess he wanted the prez to stand out while still being able to get a sense of the flag and the background.


Exactly.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Jesse on January 19, 2013, 05:52:50 PM
I'm just jealous I can't afford the 85L, but can get the exact same shot with my 70-200 L f/4....
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Jesse on January 19, 2013, 05:53:36 PM
And wouldn't have to worry about messing up focus on the president.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: tome223 on January 19, 2013, 06:11:17 PM
You think they would have taken the phone off the desk!?   ;D :o
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: distant.star on January 19, 2013, 06:25:56 PM
You think they would have taken the phone off the desk!?   ;D :o

It would have been cleaner and more balanced with that stuff off the desk. But maybe they wanted some imbalance, or to make a point. Who knows.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: studio1972 on January 19, 2013, 06:37:57 PM
White balance a bit cold I think.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Robert Welch on January 19, 2013, 06:43:17 PM
You think they would have taken the phone off the desk!?   ;D :o

Well, they only allowed him 1/125th of a second to take the photo...no time to move the phone.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Marsu42 on January 19, 2013, 08:18:15 PM
85L at 7.1. What a waste!!!

I never understood why portrait and extremely shallow dof seem to be synonymous for some - it's certainly nice to have the *option* for subject isolation and extreme background blur esp. if the bg is crappy, but if either the eye *or* the nose is in focus it's not necessarily the most pleasing look to me and probably non-photogs that don't get high when looking at a super-creamy bokeh (if they know the word) :-o
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Hobby Shooter on January 19, 2013, 09:29:29 PM
I'm just jealous I can't afford the 85L, but can get the exact same shot with my 70-200 L f/4....
Maybe so, probably even with cheaper gear also.

In this case though you would never get that photo because they wouldn't let you in the oval office to take it   ;)

About the phone being there, I would guess nothing is in this picture back accident.

Nice shot and interesting post.
About a couple of months ago I saw a documentary (can't remember if it was Discovery or NatGeo or History channel) about the President's photographer ... apparently the photographer takes photos of the president all day long and he is not permitted to delete even a single photo, even if it is a crappy shot. 
That's interesting facts. Do you think he's allowed to use the rate button so at least he can keep the post production to a minimum?
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: RLPhoto on January 19, 2013, 10:11:52 PM
85L @ 7.1 is stupendous sharp. It's pretty discreet but why when you have two strobes to light him?
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: gmrza on January 19, 2013, 11:18:46 PM
85L at 7.1. What a waste!!!

I never understood why portrait and extremely shallow dof seem to be synonymous for some - it's certainly nice to have the *option* for subject isolation and extreme background blur esp. if the bg is crappy, but if either the eye *or* the nose is in focus it's not necessarily the most pleasing look to me and probably non-photogs that don't get high when looking at a super-creamy bokeh (if they know the word) :-o

I think you mostly use f/1.2 when you first get the lens - because you can, and then you start to get real realise that in order to shoot portraits with both eyes in focus, you do need to stop the lens down.
The real justification for shooting this lens wide open is when you are just desperate for light, or when you have a subject where you want to isolate one small part, but not for normal portraits.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: sanj on January 20, 2013, 02:11:29 AM
85L at 7.1. What a waste!!!

I never understood why portrait and extremely shallow dof seem to be synonymous for some - it's certainly nice to have the *option* for subject isolation and extreme background blur esp. if the bg is crappy, but if either the eye *or* the nose is in focus it's not necessarily the most pleasing look to me and probably non-photogs that don't get high when looking at a super-creamy bokeh (if they know the word) :-o

I think you mostly use f/1.2 when you first get the lens - because you can, and then you start to get real realise that in order to shoot portraits with both eyes in focus, you do need to stop the lens down.
The real justification for shooting this lens wide open is when you are just desperate for light, or when you have a subject where you want to isolate one small part, but not for normal portraits.

Yes and no. :)
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Rienzphotoz on January 20, 2013, 03:31:00 AM
If ever one needs advice about how many actual shutter actuations the 5D MK III can withstand before it gives up, I think Pete Souza (the guy who took this photo of Obama) would be one of the few guys to know ... apparently he shoots 20000 photos a week of the president, so in less than 2 months he goes through 150000 (the official minimum shutter actuations limit by Canon for 5D MK III) ... unless someone in Canonrumors has already crossed that number.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: AJ on January 20, 2013, 04:28:18 AM
I'm not blown away by bokeh.  Seems slightly nervous.  I see some outlining and doughnuts.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Jesse on January 20, 2013, 04:39:56 AM
Well, anyway, as Vincent Laforet says in his blog, there is NO reason to own the 85L if you're not shooting it between 1.2 - 2.0, as you might as well own the 70-200 II for only a few hundred $ more, with the ability to have the versatility of the zoom, much faster auto-focus, IS and pretty much equal sharpness.

If you can afford both, well, I'm jealous of you.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: tortilla on January 20, 2013, 05:07:12 AM
Well, anyway, as Vincent Laforet says in his blog, there is NO reason to own the 85L if you're not shooting it between 1.2 - 2.0, as you might as well own the 70-200 II for only a few hundred $ more, with the ability to have the versatility of the zoom, much faster auto-focus, IS and pretty much equal sharpness.

If you can afford both, well, I'm jealous of you.

If I'd have to take portraits all day long I would also take a portrait lens, and not a zoom that is slower, heavier, more expensive and has other trade offs. IS is a plus, but obviously Souza uses lighting, so it doesn't matter here.

That said, I'm even jealous of your gear...  ;)
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Rienzphotoz on January 20, 2013, 05:09:54 AM
Well, anyway, as Vincent Laforet says in his blog, there is NO reason to own the 85L if you're not shooting it between 1.2 - 2.0, as you might as well own the 70-200 II for only a few hundred $ more, with the ability to have the versatility of the zoom, much faster auto-focus, IS and pretty much equal sharpness.

If you can afford both, well, I'm jealous of you.
What I understood from the video (Presidents Photographer) is that he follows the President all day long and takes 20000 photos a week, so carrying a big heavy like 70-200, all day long, would be a bit too much (especially for a 59 year old like Pete Souza) ... also in that video I saw him work mostly with a 35 f/1.4 & 85 f/1.2 lenses ... the only other lens I saw him use in that video was 24-70 (if I am not wrong it was mostly used outdoors).
So don't be jealous ... be happy that you are a strong young person with the muscles and strength to carry a 70-200 all day long ;D
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: infared on January 20, 2013, 05:25:58 AM
85L at 7.1. What a waste!!!
LOL!
That was my 1st thought, too!...but it's America...you could not cream the background too much...we need to see those flags and be able to identify them!...plus f/7.1 is a nice safe aperture to get The Prez good and sharp and save the photographer's butt.
I like the shot. It is a conservative, it has to be. So it is perfect for the intended audience. Nice low angle so we get the feeling of power. (Color balance could be a tad warmer..but that is not a shot killer here). It makes The President look in-charge, but accessible (his expression conveys that). The shot is also somewhat relaxed, i.e. not stiff, so I think it captures Barrack's personality, too.  Job well done in the short, stressful time Mr. Sousa had to shoot it!
The phone isn't a prop....Barrack demanded that the phone be there in case his office went into DEFCON 5 National Emergency Mode!  8)
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Marsu42 on January 20, 2013, 05:43:56 AM
I'm just jealous I can't afford the 85L, but can get the exact same shot with my 70-200 L f/4....
Actually, you CAN'T get the exact same shot.  There's a reason he has the photography job he does and you, well...

You seem to be very sure of yourself (which is probably a success recipe for a pro photog) but if you write something like this, would you please care to enlighten us why 85L@f7.1 != 70-200/x@f.71 ?
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: tortilla on January 20, 2013, 06:02:45 AM
I'm just jealous I can't afford the 85L, but can get the exact same shot with my 70-200 L f/4....
Actually, you CAN'T get the exact same shot.  There's a reason he has the photography job he does and you, well...

You seem to be very sure of yourself (which is probably a success recipe for a pro photog) but if you write something like this, would you please care to enlighten us why 85L@f7.1 != 70-200/x@f.71 ?
Probably not - DxO Mark measures only f/5.6 and f/8  :)
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: smithy on January 20, 2013, 06:08:00 AM
It's not often I see people flaming each other like this on CR.  Quite amusing, but unnecessary I'm sure.

The portrait looks good to me.  If someone paid me to take a photo of a president, I'd be wanting to make sure the darned thing was in focus - so I can understand why he'd be wanting to use f/7.1.  Shoot at f/1.2 and you'd probably only get one eye in focus - how embarrassing... "Mr President?  I need to come back to the White House to take your photo again because it's out of focus."

"You're fired."
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: GuyF on January 20, 2013, 06:19:30 AM
Interesting. The smile says "Hey, I'm your pal" but the arms folded says, "barrier".

If you want to see some great portrait shots of world leaders (and world-class thugs) you should check out Planton's book "Power". Ask yourself how many of these people would you want to be stuck in a lift with?

http://platonphoto.com/portraits/politics/index.html (http://platonphoto.com/portraits/politics/index.html)
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: GuyF on January 20, 2013, 06:22:40 AM
Interesting. The smile says "Hey, I'm your pal" but the arms folded says, "barrier".

If you want to see some great portrait shots of world leaders (and world-class thugs) you should check out Planton's book "Power". Ask yourself how many of these people would you want to be stuck in a lift with?

http://platonphoto.com/portraits/politics/index.html (http://platonphoto.com/portraits/politics/index.html)

Sorry for the double-post but does the shot of Clinton in the link I attached say, "legs apart and the tie points the way!"?
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Marsu42 on January 20, 2013, 06:23:41 AM
It's not often I see people flaming each other like this on CR.  Quite amusing, but unnecessary I'm sure.

I'd not consider this a flame, I generally like bdunbar79's posts, but this particular one didn't seem very thought through, thus the question. Plus often some posts don't hit the spot because not everyone is a native speaker, a problem I'm wrestling with.

The portrait looks good to me.  If someone paid me to take a photo of a president, I'd be wanting to make sure the darned thing was in focus - so I can understand why he'd be wanting to use f/7.1.

I guess Mr. President didn't just allow for one shot, but for his official portrait would have had quite a lot of time to get an optimal one - he cannot be elected again, but still, top politicians are said to care about their public image :-)

Sorry for the double-post

There's always the "modify post" button...

Interesting. The smile says "Hey, I'm your pal" but the arms folded says, "barrier".

That surely has been thought through by the 10+ people of his personal publicity staff standing behind the photog... if anyone knows the 80s GB sitcom "Yes, Prime Minister" there's a good episode with the PM being announced on TV and wanting to be seen as authoritative and people's pal at the same time resulting in rather awkward mimic :->
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: photogjack on January 20, 2013, 06:30:52 AM
I'm guessing that that's probably a legal requirement related to Freedom of Information Requests etc. Not like deleting emails. He must carry a lot of CF cards though!

Nice shot and interesting post.
About a couple of months ago I saw a documentary (can't remember if it was Discovery or NatGeo or History channel) about the President's photographer ... apparently the photographer takes photos of the president all day long and he is not permitted to delete even a single photo, even if it is a crappy shot.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: elflord on January 20, 2013, 06:39:15 AM
Yeah, my point is he should have been using the 70-200 II.

But wouldn't it be a "waste" to use the 70-200 II at 85mm ? It goes up to 200.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Rienzphotoz on January 20, 2013, 06:45:19 AM
I'm guessing that that's probably a legal requirement related to Freedom of Information Requests etc. Not like deleting emails. He must carry a lot of CF cards though!

Nice shot and interesting post.
About a couple of months ago I saw a documentary (can't remember if it was Discovery or NatGeo or History channel) about the President's photographer ... apparently the photographer takes photos of the president all day long and he is not permitted to delete even a single photo, even if it is a crappy shot.
According to the video, all those photos are archived by the white house IT security in some "secure" location ... imagine having a a crappy out of focus photo of the president (or maybe of him scratching his family jewels  ;D), archived in some secure location never allowed to be deleted ... wonder what they would wanna do with those photos?
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: FunPhotons on January 20, 2013, 06:51:29 AM
The reason for having a 1.2 lens is also because you have a larger lens with a wider diameter. This can theoretically give you sharper pics across the frame and less off axis illumination drop off as you stop it down to more sane apertures. Consider the tilt shift lenses which have superior straight on performance, because they have these big pieces of glass so in normal use you're using the best part of the glass (the center). AFAIK at least.


I wonder if he used 600-RT strobes. He probably was allowed a minute to make the shot and disrupt the oval office, so the biggest constraint would be time.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: elflord on January 20, 2013, 06:56:02 AM
Well, anyway, as Vincent Laforet says in his blog, there is NO reason to own the 85L if you're not shooting it between 1.2 - 2.0, as you might as well own the 70-200 II for only a few hundred $ more, with the ability to have the versatility of the zoom, much faster auto-focus, IS and pretty much equal sharpness.

If you can afford both, well, I'm jealous of you.

There's no reason to own a 70-200 if the only focal length in that range  that you plan to use is 85mm. Fast AF and IS are not useful for this guys use case (subject is more or less stationary, and he would want to shoot at 1/60 or faster IS or not)
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Marsu42 on January 20, 2013, 07:03:22 AM
This can theoretically give you sharper pics across the frame and less off axis illumination drop off as you stop it down to more sane apertures.

Well,  theoretically - we'll see about that when the ~20mp Canon resolution doubles...

... but please do tell what exactly "off axis illumination drop off" is, I have an idea what "axis illumination" might be but I cannot google the whole concept :-o
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Nyc2dc on January 20, 2013, 07:39:48 AM
I was very surprised that no one commented on the composition/balance of the shot. There doesn't seem to be enough head room. I'm thinking this was probably due to not being able to backup and he had to make a quick decision to either making an unpleasant cut at the bottom of the shot or selling off his head room real estate. If this was the case he probably made the right decision, or maybe the 70-200 would have been a better choice to buy the extra headroom at 70 mm, and still have flattering compression. Who knows
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: FunPhotons on January 20, 2013, 07:41:07 AM
This can theoretically give you sharper pics across the frame and less off axis illumination drop off as you stop it down to more sane apertures.

Well,  theoretically - we'll see about that when the ~20mp Canon resolution doubles...

... but please do tell what exactly "off axis illumination drop off" is, I have an idea what "axis illumination" might be but I cannot google the whole concept :-o

Sorry, my physics background got the better of me, it's called 'peripheral illumination', the falloff that occurs with all lenses as you go toward the edge, most pronounced in the corners which are the closest to the edge, where it is known as vignetting.

Big lenses (1.2) give you a f/stop you'd never want to use, but they also give you a big piece of glass. Stopped down to a sane level you should get a very even image across the frame.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: smithy on January 20, 2013, 07:55:35 AM
I was very surprised that no one commented on the composition/balance of the shot. There doesn't seem to be enough head room. I'm thinking this was probably due to not being able to backup and he had to make a quick decision to either making an unpleasant cut at the bottom of the shot or selling off his head room real estate. If this was the case he probably made the right decision, or maybe the 70-200 would have been a better choice to buy the extra headroom at 70 mm, and still have flattering compression. Who knows
To be honest, I think this composition was intentional - it creates a sense of power and authority.  If the rule of thirds were strictly applied (at eye level) he would seem a lot smaller in the frame.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: lvanzijl on January 20, 2013, 08:23:08 AM
I was very surprised that no one commented on the composition/balance of the shot. There doesn't seem to be enough head room. I'm thinking this was probably due to not being able to backup and he had to make a quick decision to either making an unpleasant cut at the bottom of the shot or selling off his head room real estate. If this was the case he probably made the right decision, or maybe the 70-200 would have been a better choice to buy the extra headroom at 70 mm, and still have flattering compression. Who knows
To be honest, I think this composition was intentional - it creates a sense of power and authority.  If the rule of thirds were strictly applied (at eye level) he would seem a lot smaller in the frame.

What I found interesting was "Orientation: Horizontal (normal)" in the EXIF, never seen such an entry in my EXIF info's. Not sure what it could mean other then that it wasn't Pete who thought the composition through but one of the people how did the crop :)
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: East Wind Photography on January 20, 2013, 08:52:33 AM
Agreed!  You buy the 1.2 so you CAN stop it down and still have reasonably low light capability.  W/ a 70-200 f4 you would have to shoot it mostly wide open...but on the 85, you can get some DOF at F/4.  Works out nicely...provided you have a large wallet like the federal govt...oh thats right, no money in our govts wallet.  The Chinese paid for that 85L!  ;)

85L at 7.1. What a waste!!!

I never understood why portrait and extremely shallow dof seem to be synonymous for some - it's certainly nice to have the *option* for subject isolation and extreme background blur esp. if the bg is crappy, but if either the eye *or* the nose is in focus it's not necessarily the most pleasing look to me and probably non-photogs that don't get high when looking at a super-creamy bokeh (if they know the word) :-o

I think you mostly use f/1.2 when you first get the lens - because you can, and then you start to get real realise that in order to shoot portraits with both eyes in focus, you do need to stop the lens down.
The real justification for shooting this lens wide open is when you are just desperate for light, or when you have a subject where you want to isolate one small part, but not for normal portraits.

Yes and no. :)
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: FunPhotons on January 20, 2013, 09:10:36 AM
Actually I'm surprised they didn't go through a electronic transmission EXIF stripping stage. Isn't that a security risk  ???
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Vivid Color on January 20, 2013, 10:07:17 AM
Here's the link to the National Geographic video on how the President's photographer and his staff do their work: http://www.pbs.org/programs/presidents-photographer/ (http://www.pbs.org/programs/presidents-photographer/)
It also contains interviews with prior WH photographers as well.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Patrick on January 20, 2013, 11:48:50 AM
Thanks for the link - interesting video! Here in Ireland we are mostly fans of Mr Obama - a poll taken just before your recent election showed 85% for him Vs 15% for his opponent. I like the shot enough separation of the subject from the backgrouns whilst also allowing sufficient detail to show it was made in the Oval office rather than in some studio somewhere.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: bdunbar79 on January 20, 2013, 12:15:08 PM
I'm just jealous I can't afford the 85L, but can get the exact same shot with my 70-200 L f/4....
Actually, you CAN'T get the exact same shot.  There's a reason he has the photography job he does and you, well...

You seem to be very sure of yourself (which is probably a success recipe for a pro photog) but if you write something like this, would you please care to enlighten us why 85L@f7.1 != 70-200/x@f.71 ?

It's not a personal attack, geez, it's just a joke. 

Anyways, my personal feelings on the photo, is that maybe the cameraman to president, to background items, distances were such that f/7.1 gave him the exact DOF he desired for this photo.  Any wider and the background items, based upon distances, were not in the focus he wanted.  I don't know, I'm just guessing here.  As for the lens, that doesn't matter.  Maybe he doesn't own a 70-200L I don't know.  I don't think anybody was saying he chose the WRONG lens, but I can say that about many photographic situations in which there are 15 different lens/settings combinations to get a photo.  I'm not sure if the 85L at f/7.1 is sharper or better at anything than the 70-200L at the same settings, but I'm sure it's not worse.

And you'd be surprised at how unsure I am of myself.  I have plenty of bad photos to share, and I definitely cannot shoot a level shot and I probably can't even level them in post correctly.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: distant.star on January 20, 2013, 03:04:28 PM
.
I suppose you get used to it, but the pressure of photographing the president every day in every situation....

Wow, just the idea overwhelms me.

Hell, I still get nervous when someone just asks me to take their picture!
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Rienzphotoz on January 20, 2013, 03:15:48 PM
.
I suppose you get used to it, but the pressure of photographing the president every day in every situation....

Wow, just the idea overwhelms me.

Hell, I still get nervous when someone just asks me to take their picture!
My thoughts exactly when I saw that video (Presidents Photographer) ... imagine taking almost 3000 photos daily of the same person! That too for 4 years continuously (in Pete Souza's case 8 years with Ronald Reagan and another 8 more with Obama) ... How does one motivate themselves in such situations, ... Damn I get bored after shooting the same subject a dozen times ... much respect to people like Pete Souza ... no wonder they are at the top of the game.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: CR Backup Admin on January 20, 2013, 03:24:29 PM
I have been getting complaints about the off topic posts and offensive posts here all day.  This is not a political forum.

I've removed a ton of posts, and one like the Haters post gets a automatic ban.

Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: RS2021 on January 20, 2013, 04:10:16 PM
Thank you :)
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: infared on January 20, 2013, 04:26:13 PM
I have been getting complaints about the off topic posts and offensive posts here all day.  This is not a political forum.

I've removed a ton of posts, and one like the Haters post gets a automatic ban.

Thank You !!!!
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: smithy on January 20, 2013, 05:30:41 PM
I think it's good that they left the telephone on the desk behind him.  It implies that it is a working office, not just a decoration.  It's kind of a 'people in their workplaces' type photo.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: natureshots on January 20, 2013, 06:00:31 PM
White balance a bit cold I think.

Yes, Obama has orange teeth IRL.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Robert Welch on January 20, 2013, 06:01:41 PM
If you think about the job this photographer has, 99% of the time he is taking photos and having to be as discrete as possible, that means he probably often has to work sans flash I'm sure. But he as to always be able to get a shot, no matter the lighting conditions, so having an f/1.2 lens as your standard working lens is probably mandatory. It's a great lens, and I doubt the results would have been meaningfully better with any other lens, even though this lens probably isn't optimized for shooting as such a small aperture.

As far as the DOF, it seems proper for such a photos, as has been mentioned the flags are a compositional element, with meaning in this photo. I think the amount they are in focus, and the amount of separation between the president and the background is just about as perfect as can be. Job well done, IMO.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: RS2021 on January 20, 2013, 06:02:34 PM
In the PBS/Nat Geo documentary on presidential photographers:

http://www.pbs.org/programs/presidents-photographer/ (http://www.pbs.org/programs/presidents-photographer/)

It is clear that the 35L is on the camera ~90% of the time we see his camera, and when he runs out of space on his disk and fumbles...he is switching between 35L and the 135L bodies. 
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Zlatko on January 20, 2013, 06:28:47 PM
It is clear that the 35L is on the camera ~90% of the time we see his camera, and when he runs out of space on his disk and fumbles...he is switching between 35L and the 135L bodies.
Yes, if you look at his photo stream on Flickr, the 35L gets a very large share of the photos, probably more than any other lens.  It's a great focal length, with a very natural perspective, and good in all kinds of light.  He also uses the 24-70/2.8L II quite a lot, as well as the 24L, 50L, 85L, 135L and 70-200/2.8L II.  On rare occasions, he has used the 100/2.8L macro, 70-200/4L and the 300/4L.  He has also used the Fuji X100 when around TV cameras, apparently for its quiet shutter, but this may be when he was still using the 5DII which lacked a quiet shutter mode.  The 5DIII has a wonderful quiet shutter mode, so I'm guessing the X100 is no longer needed.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: ZEROrhythm on January 20, 2013, 06:39:40 PM
Well, anyway, as Vincent Laforet says in his blog, there is NO reason to own the 85L if you're not shooting it between 1.2 - 2.0, as you might as well own the 70-200 II for only a few hundred $ more, with the ability to have the versatility of the zoom, much faster auto-focus, IS and pretty much equal sharpness.

If you can afford both, well, I'm jealous of you.
What I understood from the video (Presidents Photographer) is that he follows the President all day long and takes 20000 photos a week, so carrying a big heavy like 70-200, all day long, would be a bit too much (especially for a 59 year old like Pete Souza) ... also in that video I saw him work mostly with a 35 f/1.4 & 85 f/1.2 lenses ... the only other lens I saw him use in that video was 24-70 (if I am not wrong it was mostly used outdoors).
So don't be jealous ... be happy that you are a strong young person with the muscles and strength to carry a 70-200 all day long ;D

The 85 f1.2 isn't a light lens, I would say it's almost the same weight as the 70-200 2.8 with out the collar. I know it's a lot heavier than my 24-105 f4. I know carrying a 70-200 more than 4 hrs non stop will do a number on your arms, but i think it would be the same for the 85 f1.2 since you would need to walk around more to get your shot. Both lens would have  done a great on the portrait so what ever you have on you, you will learn to use it to your best ability.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: RS2021 on January 20, 2013, 06:51:20 PM
The 85 f1.2 isn't a light lens, I would say it's almost the same weight as the 70-200 2.8 with out the collar. I know it's a lot heavier than my 24-105 f4. I know carrying a 70-200 more than 4 hrs non stop will do a number on your arms, but i think it would be the same for the 85 f1.2 since you would need to walk around more to get your shot. Both lens would have  done a great on the portrait so what ever you have on you, you will learn to use it to your best ability.

The use of the 85L is just for the official portrait here, perhaps a rare one-off situation; as I said in the last post, it is clear from the documentary the whole team of photographers (Souza for the prez, his female assistant who photographs the first lady, and the other susbstitutes) use 35L primarily to document events.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: aalbert on January 20, 2013, 07:41:30 PM
Ray, thank you for the link... Well worth watching.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: RS2021 on January 20, 2013, 07:48:34 PM
Ray, thank you for the link... Well worth watching.

Yes, PBS always does a great job with documentaries.
But several of us posted the links across different threads including Vivid in this thread... can't take credit. :)
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Marsu42 on January 20, 2013, 07:50:21 PM
It's not a personal attack, geez, it's just a joke. 

No problem, esp. since the post wasn't directed at me in the first place - I just wanted to know if you have any real insight in 85L vs. other lenses or were talking off the top of your head... I don't own such a fast prime and thus really cannot tell if there would be a difference.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: bdunbar79 on January 20, 2013, 08:31:17 PM
It's not a personal attack, geez, it's just a joke. 

No problem, esp. since the post wasn't directed at me in the first place - I just wanted to know if you have any real insight in 85L vs. other lenses or were talking off the top of your head... I don't own such a fast prime and thus really cannot tell if there would be a difference.

To answer that particular question, yes I do, and well, I agree with others in that I cannot perceive a difference in IQ with either lens at f/7.1.  I am interested now, and might just have to get them out and do some tests.  Problem is finding time  :-[.

In the meantime I'm going to see if Bryan Carnathan mentioned the lenses in comparison anywhere on his site.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: sandymandy on January 20, 2013, 09:10:32 PM
I'm just jealous I can't afford the 85L, but can get the exact same shot with my 70-200 L f/4....

So? I heard people that got the pulitzer prize award have used cameras which are totally stoneage technology compared to todays digital world. Does it make a difference? no.
Getting a good shot is not about the lens u have.  Anyway the president is not a model and doesnt want to be presented like that :P Its all about good documentary photos not more not less. Camera settings also look a lot like typical studio settings. Bokeh doesnt make crappy picture awesome its just the distorted view of many people thinking a photo looks great when there is so much bokeh present...
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: elflord on January 20, 2013, 09:39:58 PM
It's not a personal attack, geez, it's just a joke. 

No problem, esp. since the post wasn't directed at me in the first place - I just wanted to know if you have any real insight in 85L vs. other lenses or were talking off the top of your head... I don't own such a fast prime and thus really cannot tell if there would be a difference.

To answer that particular question, yes I do, and well, I agree with others in that I cannot perceive a difference in IQ with either lens at f/7.1.  I am interested now, and might just have to get them out and do some tests.  Problem is finding time  :-[.

In the meantime I'm going to see if Bryan Carnathan mentioned the lenses in comparison anywhere on his site.

I checked photozone and the TDP chart pictures. photozone has the 70-200 doing better (though neither of these lenses struggle at f/7.1). Based on the TDP chart shots, I think you'd really have to be pixel peeping to tell the difference. So for that particular shot, I agree with those who say a number of different (85mm or zooms that cover 85mm) lenses would have worked
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: RS2021 on January 20, 2013, 09:52:21 PM
I don't know when this thread became a competition between 85L and 70-200L f/2.8 IS II   :).

Some of us seem to advocate this particular zoom as an answer to everything... I own it and realize in spite of the excellent IQ it is not for every occasion. So getting that out of the way, I think this zoom's reputation has become so holy and unquestionable that if someone says clearly they are unable to carry it or that it is too obvious in events with its size... The advice from those who have read all the right reviews is ...oh this is the greatest thing ever..".you have a head ache? Take two 70-200 f/2.8 II and you'll be right as rain..." ;)

The 85mm at a slow aperture of 7.1 is covered by a several L lenses...why suddenly this focus on the heaviest and longest among the lot? Why not ask "he could have used the other 70-200L"...we have three other variations of this...pick one. Or... 24-105L?

The 70-200L f/2.8 IS II, has become the "I have arrived" lens...it is not that expensive but the ones who get it for presumed status are like the nouveau riche.. They drive in the biggest, loudest mustang... Come back with an understated car that may cost what 10 mustangs cost and then you can impress people. :).

Now, if you don't fall in this category, and truly need, use, and love your 70-200 f/2.8L IS II, don't get excited...I already said it is a great zoom. But Some just parrot its virtues without any context or if it suits an occasion.

And there is no need for a long white zoom indoors in this specific occasion unless you are a parroting fanboy. The 85L was just as good as many other lenses and suits the occasion just fine.

Love, Ray  :-*
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: RS2021 on January 20, 2013, 09:54:14 PM
So for that particular shot, I agree with those who say a number of different (85mm or zooms that cover 85mm) lenses would have worked

+1
Amen!
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: tnargs on January 20, 2013, 10:16:06 PM
85L at 7.1. What a waste!!!

So an 85 f1.8 and 6D would have done? More than good enough IMHO
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: infared on January 20, 2013, 10:44:31 PM
85L at 7.1. What a waste!!!

So an 85 f1.8 and 6D would have done? More than good enough IMHO

Right ...but if you are the White House Photographer you are going to have the top end cameras and lenses. That kind of goes without saying...What is funny is that I think a lot of people on the thread are making a case for the equipment that they own that could have taken the portrait of the President..but that they are not admitting to that point of ownership. LOL. Most of the suggestions work for this particular assignment, I must say.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: jp121 on January 20, 2013, 11:19:46 PM
Can the more knowledgeable assist me?

85L vs 70-200L f/2.8 II; both @ f/7.1; both focused at the same distance ie 85mm...

Would the compression be the same? Would it be possible to achieve the same ratio of focus/bokeh that this presidential picture achieved?
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: East Wind Photography on January 20, 2013, 11:29:18 PM
Everything being equal I like the bokeh better with the 85mm.  The 70-200 bokeh is good but it's still a little harsh compared to some of the fine primes.  That's the only thing I can say against the 70-200.  Weight is not a problem for me as I carry a 300 2.8L w/1.4x 5d3 with battery grip pretty much everywhere.  The 70-200 is literally a walk in the park for me.  ;)

Can the more knowledgeable assist me?

85L vs 70-200L f/2.8 II; both @ f/7.1; both focused at the same distance ie 85mm...

Would the compression be the same? Would it be possible to achieve the same ratio of focus/bokeh that this presidential picture achieved?
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: bdunbar79 on January 20, 2013, 11:30:35 PM
Can the more knowledgeable assist me?

85L vs 70-200L f/2.8 II; both @ f/7.1; both focused at the same distance ie 85mm...

Would the compression be the same? Would it be possible to achieve the same ratio of focus/bokeh that this presidential picture achieved?

I would be thinking about distortion, if there even is any at 85mm on the zoom, if I am choosing a prime vs. a zoom lens.  In this particular case, I would have shot with a prime.  I've dealt with barrel distortion on big group photos with a zoom lens and it isn't really all that fun.  In this case, it is completely different, but the 85L gets the job done.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: bdunbar79 on January 20, 2013, 11:31:54 PM
Yes, the bokeh with the 85L is actually much better than the 70-200L zoom lens. 
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Rienzphotoz on January 21, 2013, 10:27:07 AM
Well, anyway, as Vincent Laforet says in his blog, there is NO reason to own the 85L if you're not shooting it between 1.2 - 2.0, as you might as well own the 70-200 II for only a few hundred $ more, with the ability to have the versatility of the zoom, much faster auto-focus, IS and pretty much equal sharpness.

If you can afford both, well, I'm jealous of you.
What I understood from the video (Presidents Photographer) is that he follows the President all day long and takes 20000 photos a week, so carrying a big heavy like 70-200, all day long, would be a bit too much (especially for a 59 year old like Pete Souza) ... also in that video I saw him work mostly with a 35 f/1.4 & 85 f/1.2 lenses ... the only other lens I saw him use in that video was 24-70 (if I am not wrong it was mostly used outdoors).
So don't be jealous ... be happy that you are a strong young person with the muscles and strength to carry a 70-200 all day long ;D

The 85 f1.2 isn't a light lens, I would say it's almost the same weight as the 70-200 2.8 with out the collar. I know it's a lot heavier than my 24-105 f4. I know carrying a 70-200 more than 4 hrs non stop will do a number on your arms, but i think it would be the same for the 85 f1.2 since you would need to walk around more to get your shot. Both lens would have  done a great on the portrait so what ever you have on you, you will learn to use it to your best ability.
85 f/1.2 weighs 2.26 lbs (1.03 kg) ... 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II weighs 3.28 lbs (1.49 kg) ... i.e. 70-200 is almost 50% heavier ... also a longer lens (mounted on a camera), when carrying around your shoulder or neck tends to annoyingly hang down more than a shorter lens would, due to its length and weight.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Jesse on January 21, 2013, 06:35:12 PM
Haha, nice debate I stirred here. For the record, if I could afford both the 70-200 II and the 85L I'd definitely shoot this with the 85. Obviously a zoom isn't needed in this situation. And anyone who can't shoot a portrait in focus at 7.1 with the 85L shouldn't be shooting the president.

Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: East Wind Photography on January 21, 2013, 08:26:15 PM
And thus having you lens stick out in front you also causes your shirt buttons to scratch your LCD screen!  Just another reason to carry your camera with the lens pointing down no matter what lens you use.  ;)

Well, anyway, as Vincent Laforet says in his blog, there is NO reason to own the 85L if you're not shooting it between 1.2 - 2.0, as you might as well own the 70-200 II for only a few hundred $ more, with the ability to have the versatility of the zoom, much faster auto-focus, IS and pretty much equal sharpness.

If you can afford both, well, I'm jealous of you.
What I understood from the video (Presidents Photographer) is that he follows the President all day long and takes 20000 photos a week, so carrying a big heavy like 70-200, all day long, would be a bit too much (especially for a 59 year old like Pete Souza) ... also in that video I saw him work mostly with a 35 f/1.4 & 85 f/1.2 lenses ... the only other lens I saw him use in that video was 24-70 (if I am not wrong it was mostly used outdoors).
So don't be jealous ... be happy that you are a strong young person with the muscles and strength to carry a 70-200 all day long ;D

The 85 f1.2 isn't a light lens, I would say it's almost the same weight as the 70-200 2.8 with out the collar. I know it's a lot heavier than my 24-105 f4. I know carrying a 70-200 more than 4 hrs non stop will do a number on your arms, but i think it would be the same for the 85 f1.2 since you would need to walk around more to get your shot. Both lens would have  done a great on the portrait so what ever you have on you, you will learn to use it to your best ability.
85 f/1.2 weighs 2.26 lbs (1.03 kg) ... 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II weighs 3.28 lbs (1.49 kg) ... i.e. 70-200 is almost 50% heavier ... also a longer lens (mounted on a camera), when carrying around your shoulder or neck tends to annoyingly hang down more than a shorter lens would, due to its length and weight.
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: sandymandy on January 22, 2013, 02:56:50 PM
The bokeh is fine in the photo isnt it? If he really used 1.2 then it probably looked like it was taken "somewhere".
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Hill Benson on January 27, 2013, 05:35:52 PM
As if I didn't already have enough reasons to get an 85mm f/1.2L!

I wonder if a digital medium format camera has been considered by this photographer?
Title: Re: FYI: This Is The Gear Used To Take Obama’s New Official Portrait
Post by: Marsu42 on January 27, 2013, 05:59:55 PM
I wonder if a digital medium format camera has been considered by this photographer?

They probably wanted to leak the dslr spec the president was shot with and make him a man of the people (you can also afford a 85L!) rather than a leader whose picture is taken with a medium format camera worth the price of a porsche racecar - the man is a democrat after all :-p