Best Portrait Combo?

Started Aug 7, 2014 | Discussions thread
Chris Malcolm Senior Member • Posts: 2,052
Re: Best Portrait Combo?

daggah wrote:

Just another Canon shooter wrote:

Russian Consortium wrote:

Just another Canon shooter wrote:

Russian Consortium wrote:

Full frame adds what you think it will add. If you want it to be better, it will be better. We often see what we want to see to justify what we want to justify.

There isn't a whole lot of advantage to the 35mm format over an APS-C camera unless you are pushing the edges of the particular performance envelope where 35mm format has an advantage.

Bokeh is about the quality of the lens more than the format, and the depth of fild advantage is pretty much a non starter. At portrait distances, APS-C will give a few extra inches of depth of field. Unless you have a fetish for only having one eye in focus, you are going to be stopped down anyway. You'll just stop down a little less with APS-C.

This is basically wrong or misleading, every single sentence of it.

Yeah. I've only worked as a portrait photographer for the past 45 years. I don't really have any experience regarding the subject at hand.

Photography in a studio is not the same as shooting in various conditions.

But is you would care to pick apart my post line by line and point out exactly where it is wrong or misleading, and provide proof, feel free. Note I am aware that there is a typo, please read "filed" as "field".

Choose a sentence, and I will tell you why it is wrong or misleading.

Put your money where your mouth is, and tell us why he's wrong instead of just being evasive.

Agreed. I flatter myself I know quite a bit about the optics and physics of DoF, bokeh, perspective, and focal length. I thought Russian Consortium made rather good and well expressed points. But I'm always interested in improving my understanding. If Just Another Canon Shooter can justify his vague sneer I'll either learn something valuable or have a good laugh.

I've never been much of a portrait shooter. Like the OP I'm starting to get interested because people are starting to ask me for them. My impression so far is that in terms of pure image quality and perspective the longer the focal length the better. But there are practical problems which increase with focal length. Size and weight of lens. Size of studio or room for interior shots not allowing you to get enough distance with longer focal lengths. And the closer you are the easier it it is to move around looking for a good angle. So IMHO the supposed magic best portrait focal lengths are just a compromise between the practicality of being closer and the perspective and quality of being further away. For glamour shots there's also the fact that the perspective changes of closer distances suggest the closeness of intimate distances. The transition from shooting portrait to shooting sex appeal.

I have the extraordinary Minolta/Sony 135mm STF, which was designed purely as the best possible portrait lens. Bokeh quality and the way exact focus transitions into not quite exact is unmatchable. But being a manual focus lens it's not suited to fast opportunistic snapping.

When all the customer wants is a good A5 or A4 print, with high quality lenses and modern high resolution sensors the exact magic focal length is irrelevant when choosing lens focal length. If you want say the 85mm frame filling perspective you can crop it out of even a 35mm shot. A smaller lens is less intimidating & easier to hand hold and move around quickly with. Of course if you want huge exhibition quality prints you need the exact focal length and the biggest and best sensor and lens you can afford.

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Chris Malcolm

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