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Author Topic: Thoughts on primes  (Read 11772 times)

Haydn1971

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Thoughts on primes
« on: July 11, 2011, 12:53:54 AM »
Having just bought a 50mm f1.4, I'm hooked on low light primes !  I've now got a christening coming up, with some opportunity for low light use both in the small (English Village) church and the pub afterwards.  I've been playing about with focal lengths in my house on my 15-85mm, I'm finding that 85mm seems a tad wide for one person shots on my 1.6x crop, 100 & 135mm about right, 200mm just silly.  Given the pub will have similar proportion rooms to my house, but the church being much bigger, I'm pondering 85mm f1.8 now and a 135mm later or 100mm f2 for both now with a mind to something longer later, either 135mm or 200mm.

I've tried the 70-200 f2.8, it's huge and I'd not wish to carry it for any length of time as a "hobbyist", I'm fairly happy with my 70-300mm non L currently, but may consider either a 70-200mm f4 or some teleconverters on a longer prime later. 

Thoughts and experiences would be helpful, especially for on crop bodies !

BTW, I'm the godfather (again) ;-)
Regards, Haydn

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Thoughts on primes
« on: July 11, 2011, 12:53:54 AM »

Flake

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Re: Thoughts on primes
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2011, 02:06:19 AM »
That's what primes are for! Fast apertures and light & compact designs, most  of them are pretty cheap too.  The fastest zooms are f/2.8 and anything over 70mm is bulky heavy & expensive.

Of course the drawback is that you cannot compose a shot by standing still, you have to 'zoom by walking' so if you think 85mm is a little wide, just walk a bit nearer - you are a godparent, it's not as though you'll be tucked away at the back!

For a shoot like this though I'd be worried the other way around, that the lenses aren't wide enough, especially on a crop frame.

UncleFester

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Re: Thoughts on primes
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2011, 03:11:11 AM »
85 wide for ports? 1.6 x 85 = 136. Are you sure you're putting your lenses on the right way?? :o

neuroanatomist

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Re: Thoughts on primes
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2011, 08:49:59 AM »
As UncleFester points out, 85mm equivalent to 135mm on FF, and that's the 'classic' (meaning film days) focal length for tight portraits.  The reason for those classic focal lengths (50mm for full body, 85mm for torso, 135mm for head shots) is that they provide a good perspective for the shot - not so close that features are exaggerated, far enough for compression to have a mild flattening effect, not so far that compression has too much of an effect).  Note that perspective is solely a function of distance from the subject, so those focal lengths are used to get the right framing at the right distance.

Personally, I found 85mm on a 1.6x body to be ideal for tight portraits (head/shoulders, or a young child).  So much so, that with my 7D, I went from the 85mm f/1.8 to the 85mm f/1.2L II for thinner DoF, then when I added a 5DII to my kit, I also added the 135mm f/2L (which delivers the equivalent framing and DoF as 85mm f/1.2 on APS-C). 
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7enderbender

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Re: Thoughts on primes
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2011, 10:45:06 AM »
For your 1.6x camera format I second the 85 1.8 for what you're planning to do. And it's very reasonably priced so you can put the rest towards your godchild's college fund ;-)

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Re: Thoughts on primes
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2011, 02:26:49 PM »
Having just bought a 50mm f1.4, I'm hooked on low light primes !  I've now got a christening coming up, with some opportunity for low light use both in the small (English Village) church and the pub afterwards.  I've been playing about with focal lengths in my house on my 15-85mm, I'm finding that 85mm seems a tad wide for one person shots on my 1.6x crop, 100 & 135mm about right, 200mm just silly.  Given the pub will have similar proportion rooms to my house, but the church being much bigger, I'm pondering 85mm f1.8 now and a 135mm later or 100mm f2 for both now with a mind to something longer later, either 135mm or 200mm.

I've tried the 70-200 f2.8, it's huge and I'd not wish to carry it for any length of time as a "hobbyist", I'm fairly happy with my 70-300mm non L currently, but may consider either a 70-200mm f4 or some teleconverters on a longer prime later. 

Thoughts and experiences would be helpful, especially for on crop bodies !

BTW, I'm the godfather (again) ;-)

Its all about how you want your portraits to look, and the distance to your subject.

100mm f/2 or 123mm f/2, 200mm f/2, of even 300mm f/2.8 are sometimes used for portraits.  I like my 135mm f/2 L when used with my 5D MK II.

Do your own thing, and don't worry too much about what someone else prefers.

My son with 5D MK II and 135mm L  its all about how far back you can move.


Haydn1971

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Re: Thoughts on primes
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2011, 04:13:50 PM »
Oh don't worry, I don't tend to worry what others think, it's more about getting a feel for opinions I guess.  I'm a Civil Engineer who specialises in Traffic Engineering, which means I do a lot of consultation on schemes, as diverse as motorways, safety schemes and parking restrictions, I tend to have formed a general view early on with most things, but like a second opinion in life, as the little old lady often points something very important out which us "pros" have completely missed at the concept design stages ;-)

Tell ya what I'd also love to see right now, a low cost good quality wide prime - something in the 12-15 range, perhaps a second in the mid 20's, specifically for APS-C with a low f of about 1.8-2.0 to pair up with my current 15-85mm for low light wide use, pancakes perhaps ?  What else ? How about a APS-C specific (L quality) 50-150mm f2.8 with IS ? to give crop bodies a decent 70-200mm alternative ?  With an APS-C specific teleconverter - I don't want a big fat heavy lens and body hanging around my neck !
Regards, Haydn

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Re: Thoughts on primes
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2011, 04:13:50 PM »

dr croubie

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Re: Thoughts on primes
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2011, 07:12:54 PM »
Tell ya what I'd also love to see right now, a low cost good quality wide prime - something in the 12-15 range, perhaps a second in the mid 20's, specifically for APS-C with a low f of about 1.8-2.0 to pair up with my current 15-85mm for low light wide use, pancakes perhaps ?  What else ? How about a APS-C specific (L quality) 50-150mm f2.8 with IS ? to give crop bodies a decent 70-200mm alternative ?  With an APS-C specific teleconverter - I don't want a big fat heavy lens and body hanging around my neck !

i think you've just quoted my wish list right there too. there was a patent app on this site i saw for an EFS 11 f/2, that would be perfect. A canon answer to the sigma 30 1.4 DC (ie, sharper wide open, i'd pay more for it, just smaller and cheaper than the 1.4L). And the protrait zoom, ~ 40-160 f/2.8 would be my range (to couple the 16-35), even make it FF and L, perfect for all-round wedding lens.

I've just had a look through a few of my favourite portrait shots of the past few months, - with the missus on a ferris-wheel with the niftyfifty head only,
- in a park with 15-85 at 55mm full body and a tree, 70mm waist-up from a lot closer,
- with friends in a park with the 70-300L at 124mm full body, 300mm head and shoulders, 200mm waist-up, i even let him touch my camera to take some shots of me (not as good) 70mm full body with a lot of extra space coz he held it horizontal.
(but ok, i don't do portraits (or anything else) professionally, these were opportunistic with the lenses i was carrying at the time.)

So yeah, they're all really over the shop, it really depends on how much space you've got.
the only advice i'd think of is that you can always crop an 85mm shot down, if you get the 100mm or 135mm, there's only so far you can walk back before you hit a wall. unless you're going to print them as 3'x4' posters, you don't have to fill the frame to use every pixel you can...
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dstppy

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Re: Thoughts on primes
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2011, 08:01:28 PM »
Tell ya what I'd also love to see right now, a low cost good quality wide prime - something in the 12-15 range, perhaps a second in the mid 20's, specifically for APS-C with a low f of about 1.8-2.0 to pair up with my current 15-85mm for low light wide use, pancakes perhaps ?  What else ? How about a APS-C specific (L quality) 50-150mm f2.8 with IS ? to give crop bodies a decent 70-200mm alternative ?  With an APS-C specific teleconverter - I don't want a big fat heavy lens and body hanging around my neck !

i think you've just quoted my wish list right there too. there was a patent app on this site i saw for an EFS 11 f/2, that would be perfect. A canon answer to the sigma 30 1.4 DC (ie, sharper wide open, i'd pay more for it, just smaller and cheaper than the 1.4L). And the protrait zoom, ~ 40-160 f/2.8 would be my range (to couple the 16-35), even make it FF and L, perfect for all-round wedding lens.

I've just had a look through a few of my favourite portrait shots of the past few months, - with the missus on a ferris-wheel with the niftyfifty head only,
- in a park with 15-85 at 55mm full body and a tree, 70mm waist-up from a lot closer,
- with friends in a park with the 70-300L at 124mm full body, 300mm head and shoulders, 200mm waist-up, i even let him touch my camera to take some shots of me (not as good) 70mm full body with a lot of extra space coz he held it horizontal.
(but ok, i don't do portraits (or anything else) professionally, these were opportunistic with the lenses i was carrying at the time.)

So yeah, they're all really over the shop, it really depends on how much space you've got.
the only advice i'd think of is that you can always crop an 85mm shot down, if you get the 100mm or 135mm, there's only so far you can walk back before you hit a wall. unless you're going to print them as 3'x4' posters, you don't have to fill the frame to use every pixel you can...

I'll take a super fast, ridiculously sharp EF-S 15mm please :D

I second the sentiment about crops and 85mm.  I love the 85, but it's always felt too-tight for indoors for me.  Full-face portraits and big rooms, certainly.  50mm (the one the OP mentions) feels the best on my 60D for FOV . . . I'm usually close to my subjects though.
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koolman

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Re: Thoughts on primes
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2011, 04:07:50 AM »
I have a t2i and use 60mmEF-S macro for portraits. Its opx 100 mm on a crop, very sharp, and creates a comfortable distance from the modal - not to close - but not to far either so you can get a good shot, keep eye contact, and not have to stand way off.

Even the 85mm on a crop - will be tight in many indoor situations, forcing you to stand way back.

The 50mm 1.4 you have is also great for head and shoulders shots.
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Eagle Eye

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Re: Thoughts on primes
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2011, 08:06:39 PM »
+ for the 85mm.  I use the 135mm on my 5D for stuff like ballets.  On APS-C it's going to be really close.  If you like portraits where the head fills the frame and then some, go with the 85mm and you can always crop it tighter.
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Thoughts on primes
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2011, 10:23:24 AM »
Here are a few 85mm samples from APS-C:


Rebel T1i, EF 85mm f/1.8 USM, 1/2000 s, f/1.8, ISO 100


EOS 7D, EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM, 1/1250 s, f/1.4, ISO 100


EOS 7D, EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM, 1/2000 s, f/1.6, ISO 100


EOS 7D, EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM, 1/1250 s, f/1.6, ISO 100
« Last Edit: July 14, 2011, 02:29:19 PM by neuroanatomist »
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Edwin Herdman

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Re: Thoughts on primes
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2011, 10:28:46 AM »
Cute kid!  I didn't think I had a reason to get the 85mm f/1.2, aside from forward compatibility with full frame, if I get to that point.  The TS-E 90mm seems pretty long to me for people work but it has been great for product photography, so I'll think that over again.

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Re: Thoughts on primes
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2011, 10:28:46 AM »

Haydn1971

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Re: Thoughts on primes
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2011, 03:23:17 PM »
OK, had my day today, the 50mm f1.4 worked out fine, with some close up <1.5m shots giving a full head of Jessica (the baby) framed on the 50mm on a 1.6x crop, head and shoulders (of adults and youngsters) framed nicely at about 2.0m, full torso of adults at about 3.0m.  On the whole, my focus was a tad off today, but captured some lovely memories of today.

Afterthoughts ? Well perhaps the 28mm f1.8 would have worked for some shots, but I'm pleased I didn't jump at getting a 85mm or 100mm this week, as they both would have been a tad too long for today.  I'm still keen to grab a 85mm and 135mm over the next few years, along with a 28mm, because I just can't quite bring myself to carry a pair of monster f2.8 zooms and whilst my trusty 15-85mm will reside on my camera most of the time, it's quite reasonable to make a choice of a couple of useful primes to also carry along to suit where I'm going to be taking photos.
Regards, Haydn

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Edwin Herdman

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Re: Thoughts on primes
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2011, 07:09:19 PM »
The funny thing about the 50mm is that I tend to shoot it at f/5.6 (or f/8 ideally), or wide open.  The out of focus highlights look bad enough when partially stopped down and the sharpness improved little enough that I tend to just go for f/1.4.

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Re: Thoughts on primes
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2011, 07:09:19 PM »