Will it be possible to take excellent portraits with the RX1?

Started Nov 14, 2012 | Discussions thread
Sdaniella Contributing Member • Posts: 969
...excellent portraits possible with the RX1? yes, why not? it all depend on your subjects

...excellent portraits possible with the RX1? yes, why not? it all depend on your subjects

Vovk wrote:

I have heard that the ideal focal length for the portrait is 90-105 - from my own little experience with portraits - I find that this is true. Do you guys think it will be possible though to take excellent classical portraits with the RX1 35 mm lens? I mean given the fact that the lens and the camera will be meant to "marry perfectly"... do you think it will also mean that the portraits will work well - ie no distortion, etc. With F2 at 35mm one can have a decent bokeh I suppose... Please give me your thoughts... Thanks in advance!

MOST may claim that (85mm) 90-105 is 'ideal' FL for portraits, but in fact that is an ambiguous and imprecise generalization with NO CONTEXT.

in order to appreciate WHY such FL ever arose as being considered as being IDEAL, one has to INCLUDE cultural context in which it arose.

every time, i see a photo of myself by anyone (even if by me too in 'testing') using a LONG FL such as 85 (90-105), the outcome is very UNFLATTERING to me, because of my ETHNIC DIFFERENCES (I'm not Caucasian, with a larger nose; but an East-Asian, with a smaller nose, and female too)

SO... the FARTHER you stand, with a LONGER FL, the worse I look, because of FORESHORTENING of my female/east-asian ethnic features (yes, even Caucasian girls have shorter noses than males). thus, the CLASSIC 'white man's perspective' of 'ugly flat-faced' east-asians arises because using the LONGER FL lens (more appropriate and FLATTERING to longer nosed, DEEPER faced Caucasian) ENSURES that the FLAT FACE LOOK is associated with those like me.

as soon as I resort to a SHORTER FL, say 35mm (in my case, I like 24mm instead), then all of a sudden my proportions on my face look optimal, aesthetically pleasing, and not 'ugly flat faced'.

SO... the FLIPSIDE to this, is what happens when a SHORTER FL, say 24mm or 35mm is used on a longer MALE NOSED, DEEPER FACED Caucasian... well, you know... bozo the clown nose effect happens... just the very opposite of what happens to me... Caucasians look very UNFLATTERING with a DEEP HUMONGOUS NOSE protruding INTO the viewer at much closer range.

i tend to ENJOY the WIDER FOV of 24mm which allows me to look an optimal size in BOTH a portrait only, or a 'combo landscape portrait' (which includes really nice surrounding scenery around me, and given I am able to sit or stand closer to the camera, I don't look 'tiny'; and don't need a 'tele' FL lens to bring me closer, or put me in either a 'portrait only' context or a 'lanscape portrait combo' context.)

you ever wonder why PHOTO BOOTHS are NOT popular in the west, as the photos [of Caucasians] always look GOOFY??? YET, PHOTO BOOTHS are VERY COMMON/POPULAR in the east, as the photos [of east-asians; girls or guys] actually look quite nice/balance/proportioned in spite of its tight close quarters??? think about that the next time you go somewhere faraway to a land where people are FACIALLY different, that taking a shot TOO FAR OUT, only creates your 'western stereotype' of your notion of east-asians... being flat-faced (uglier)... i've read repeatedly on the web, in western circles how everyone HERE perceives this flat-faced ugliness... i've heard the WORD 'UGLY' used as it was associated with FLAT-FACED specifically.

i was born in North America... in Canada, and grew up both in USA and Canada, and when i saw portraits on my ethnicity taken by Caucasians, i was horrified at the DISTINCT FLAT-FACED look of how my ethnicity was 'portrayed' ideally in the minds of westerners... something I NEVER SAW at such long TELE FL 'naturally'.

ALL I ever saw on a daily basis was close-up 'at home', 'at school', 'personal space' distances involved, and NONE were so 'long' as one would put a person in a studio shoot; it's unnatural!!!

ADD to this, all i ever see when i 'put make-up on' in front of the mirror, i don't stand much farther than the depth of the washroom sink, or a make-up table, the length is only arms length deep, thus the overall REFLECTION is essentially only 2 arms length DEEP plus a little for sitting/standing gap behind the table/counter's edge. while i feel i can look GREAT in NATURAL CLOSE-UP RANGES, by putting me in a 'western portrait range' where the 85mm (90-105mm) FL length is used, all of a sudden the beauty i fined tune for the look i want at say 6-7 feet, is demolished well beyond 10 feet+!!! I've tested this, and YIKES, every photo by others of me at 'western big nose' distances make me look 'eastern stereotype flat faced' ugly!!!! OUCH!

so... do you plan on taking photos of GIRLS (naturally smaller noses) or East-Asians (ditto on noses) or do you plan on taking photos of Caucasians (especially men, who have the larger noses???)

i don't doubt, this is LOST on most westerners, as they've been doing this and TEACHING IT as though it is 'golden', when in fact it is VERY specific to ETHNIC FACIAL/HEAD morphology.

in fact, I've even seen very FLATTERING self-portraits of myself at a MERE arms length (which is typical for WEBCAMS)... YET, anytime i see a Caucasian resort to a close-up webcam portrait, they look distorted/goofy big nosed (predictable; unintended; inevitable).

SO... like i said, it all depends on your subjects, and the distance you capture them, as well as the DESIRED CONTEXT you want them to be seen in (wide landscape portraits, or narrow close-up crop portrait)

this is why i use the 'golden' (to me) 24mm FOV... my favorite of all, as many of my relatives would be east-asian, as am I, and if I have a few big nosed deep faced Caucasian friends, well, gee, I know to put them a bit farther back so they look 'optimal/ideal' in a 'group shot'... hehehe...

since i DO occasionally want a 'far shot' of me in a WIDE 24mm landscape portrait of me, I 'know' my face will look that much UNFLATTERING/FLATTER, but there is no other way to get such a wide-far shot without that happening; so i'm okay with it, up to a point. and that point is NEVER do a close-up crop of myself at similar 'far' distances; it is just NON-OPTIMAL, and if anything INSULTING to my sense of my self, as I'm used to seeing my 'everyday self' at closer 'people-to-people', 'face-to-face' distances as well as 'mirror check' distances (for face or full body check (max 7 feet out, tall body mirror))

if i stand wayyyyy out... examining it and seeing the foreshortening effect, makes me look 'fatter' too... yikes, not good for girls y'know!!! hehehe

if you didn't know before... NOW YOU KNOW.

live and learn.


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