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 New Member • Posts: 5
New Portrait Lens: 35 1.4, 50 1.2, or 85 1.2?


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:

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.


Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS 7D
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