THe Myth of the 'Portrait Lens'

Started Apr 26, 2010 | Discussions thread
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Crocodile Gena
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THe Myth of the 'Portrait Lens'
Apr 26, 2010

It's often said that the "ideal portrait lens" is between 85mm and 135mm on FF (50mm and 85mm on crop). However, the fact is that any focal length is well suited to portraiture.

In my opinion, it's simply that focal lengths between 85mm and 135mm (50mm and 85mm on 1.6x) allow for a "more comfortable" working distance for both the photographer and the subject. The "distorted look" of closer perspectives is not a bad thing for a competent photographer, nor is the "compressed look" of longer perspectives.

You often won't take the same types of photos at radically different perspectives (although I suspect that once you get past 200mm, and likely even earlier, they're all pretty much the same), but this doesn't make any focal range more conducive than another in terms of making an effective portrait. As I said, some focal lengths are merely more convenient for both the photographer and the subject.

Below are some pics at various focal lenthgs to support my opinion:

15mm FE portrait:

16mm portrait:

24mm portrait:

35mm portrait:

50mm portrait:

70mm portrait:

85mm portrait:

100mm portrait:

135mm portrait (85mm on 1.6x):

150mm portrait:

200mm portrait:

320mm portrait (200mm on 1.6x):

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