New Portrait Lens: 35 1.4, 50 1.2, or 85 1.2?

Started Dec 31, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Nick Wignall
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New Portrait Lens: 35 1.4, 50 1.2, or 85 1.2?
Dec 31, 2011

Hi,

I'm a wedding photographer beginning to transition into doing more portrait work, and I was hoping to get some helpful advice about the above lenses for portrait work. I do outdoor, natural-light portraiture almost exclusively. My style emphasizes lots of out of focus blur and good bokeh.

Here's a link to some of my work if you want to get a better sense of my shooting style: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nick-Wignall-Photography/227912570584730?sk=photos

My current kit includes a 5DII and 7D, along with the following Canon lenses: 24-70 2.8, 70-200 2.8 IS II, and 50 1.4.

For portraits, I've been primarily using the 50 1.4 on my 5DII and 70-200 on my 7D. Generally, I've been pretty happy with this set-up, but there are a few areas I'd like to improve upon:

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The 50 1.4 has been great, however the bokeh tends to be a bit nervous with complex backgrounds and it has pretty bad purple fringing wide open (I shoot wide open 95% of the time), which is hard to remove in post processing. I'm thinking about upgrading to the 50 1.2, mostly for the improved bokeh.

--A few times per shoot, I wish I had something wider than the 50 1.4, so I generally use my 24-70 with acceptable results; however I don't get as much or as good quality out-of-focus blur as I would like. As a result, I'm thinking about upgrading to the 35 1.4.

--For tight portraits and extreme background blur, the 70-200 has been fine. However, I prefer not to be so far away from my subjects. I'd also rather not lug it around as I always shoot portrait sessions with two cameras for the flexibility of two different lenses.

Anyway, here are a couple specific questions:

--While I plan to get all three of these lenses eventually, my budget only allows me to get them one at a time. Given my current situation and shooting preferences (bokeh junky, outdoor, natural-light portraits) how would your prioritize purchasing these lenses and why? Which would be the best to get first?

--For any other portrait photographers out there who do work similar to my own, what lens combinations do you tend to use the most?

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

--Nick

Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS 7D
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