70-200mm F4 Portrait

Started Apr 16, 2017 | Discussions thread
JimKasson Forum Pro • Posts: 32,247
Re: Portrait peeping?

FingerPainter wrote:

Jim wrote:

I've had the chance to learn by observing and questioning a couple of pros (not formal lessons). One of these pro's subjects included several US Presidents, and many other world leaders and entertainment figures. Another was a goto photographer for professional actors' headshots. I think the photographers knew what they were doing. The preferred subject distance was never under 2.5m when taking portraits of adults, and often over 3m.

To get the framing you used in the second example below from 2.5m on FF, one would need a 200mm lens. To get an actor's tight headshot at 3m one might use a 300mm lens.

Like  a 300/2.8 in a studio setting? I've never seen that. Sounds like hard work to hold it.

But let me offer a few examples from my own efforts in that realm.

These are all very well executed - better than I could do myself (I still have lots to learn about lighting), yet to my eye, all three are taken from too close, The first is the least objectionable.

Maybe it's a matter of taste. I find that distant shots with long lenses look "flat" to me. There's also the issue that the eyes seem to be focused at something behind me when I look at the images from a comfortable distance. I already mentioned the lack of rapport when you get too far away. I'll have specific comments on the bottom image down below.

For head and shoulders portraits, I've always liked a 150 on a 6x6 or 6x7 or a 120 on a 645. That would be the equivalent of a 90mm lens on a FF camera, which I've also used:

You can even move in tight with that combination and not have distortion:

Sometimes a 135mm FF equivalent works when you're really in tight:


If I were to shoot this immediately-above image with a much longer lens, I would have needed a stepladder to get way up in the air. More, important, I think I would have lost the feeling of intimacy that IMO makes this photograph work.

Here's an data point: Karsh used a 14-inch Commercial Ektar for many of his images. That's about 350mm. The diagonal of an 8x10 neg is about 160mm. So he used about a 50mm FF equivalent lens.


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