HEADSHOTS: 85L 1.2 or 100L f/2.8 Macro IS USM?

Started Nov 23, 2012 | Discussions thread
OP shutterthug Forum Member • Posts: 82
Re: HEADSHOTS: 85L 1.2 or 100L f/2.8 Macro IS USM?

gdanmitchell wrote:

shutterthug wrote:

I'm a professional headshot photographer and have been using the 85L on my 5D2 for years. I typically shoot handheld, f/3.5 @ 1/320sec under my usual lighting setup.

I'm not really hurting for IS and am OK with the focal length of the 85L, but I rented the new 100mm Macro today for some food work and it got me thinking: I don't really use the 85L in "God mode" (wide open f/1.2) for any of the work that pays the bills around here.

So I'm wondering if the faster autofocus and the Macro capability might not be worth considering as a replacement. Funny, I've really grown attached to the heft of the so-called "Canonball" and see the world at 85mm (a problem I know I need to correct, just admitting it's my comfort zone).

Any thoughts, gang?



I know several folks who use the 100mm f/2.8 (old and new versions) for just this sort of work, liking the slightly longer focal length and the additional utility of being able to do macro work.

I've grown to love where 85mm puts me in terms of proximity to my headshot subjects.  It "works" for the kind of personal branding work I do.  Adding 15mm should be an easy adjustment for the added macro capability and faster autofocus.

I suspect that you know enough to make your own decision here (among the evidence is that fact that you aren't raving about being able to get "narrow DOF for portraits" and are instead shooting around f/3.5), but you should know that others regard the macro lens as a fine portrait lens, too.

Appreciate the vote of confidence, Dan.  You're right on one thing, though: Too many people assume because a lens is capable of shooting at f/1.2 (and you pay a hefty premium for the privilege), that it's some secret path to amazing shots.  I, for one, find the fall-off WAY to steep with this lens anywhere close to wide open, even in straight-on headshots (my favorite kind) where both eyes should be in focus and frequently aren'y when total DOF is measure in scant mm at the <4' ranges.

Thanks for your input, Dan—and just to prove that I may NOT know enough to make my own decision, I will admit that replacing the 85L with anything less than another L lens would have been an affront to my ego


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