Next lens for portrait shooting: zoom or prime?

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Alex_UK_Asia New Member • Posts: 15
Next lens for portrait shooting: zoom or prime?

My photography is almost exclusively portraits - I love to have model photoshoots with my partner here. I guess these are mostly 'environmental portraits' - posed pictures of the model where there is a sense of place. Locations are often outside, at dusk, blue hour, or even at night. Also, at historic buildings and boutique hotels / restaurants.

I'm beginning to learn to supplement ambient light with artificial light - during daylight, using off-camera flash, and at night, using hand-held LED lights.

My usual camera is a Panasonic G80, which I love for it's swivel screen, overall good handling, and high quality files (usually in Portrait colour setting, then boosted a bit in Snapseed afterwards). I also own an Olympus E-PL8 (The default colours are often better). My heart prefers Olympus but my head seems to pick Panasonic.

My question is what new lens could help improve my portraits?


1. Pana-Leica 15mm f1.7

2. Pana-Leica 25mm f1.4 - probably most used. Definitely not sharp at f1.4 but I like the wide angle of view and soft backgrounds. This lens seems to have a spark of magic about it.

3. Olympus 12-40mm f2.8. Boring but sometimes the versatility is useful for a photoshoot.

4. Sigma 60mm f2.8. The only 'portrait telephoto' lens I own. Little used. I struggle with using it effectively. I think I prefer to be closer to the model, and take in more of the surroundings. But I'm learning to make good portraits with it. My model has an amazing figure and exudes confidence, so I'm able to take good photos that cut out her body against a blurred background (our main hobbies are sports / workout related). However, I'm learning slowly as the focal length is restrictive.


Is there a new lens which will help me develop portrait photography skills? Contenders are:

1. Panasonic 35-100mm f2.8 - will a zoom help me learn faster, or make me lazy? At f2.8 and a busy bokeh, will the photos look good?

2. Sigma 30mm f1.4 - I think it may be a lot sharper than my current Leica 25mm f1.4. Plus the slightly tighter framing could be useful.

3. Sigma 56mm f1.4. If I'm going to persevere with a telephoto prime, I may as well swop it for this more modern lens with more bokeh than the 60mm f2.8 which I already own?

Finally, to throw in a wildcard, should I pick up a used Pen-F, or a brand new Olympus e-m5 mark iii? Budget is not unlimited - I perhaps spend $1000 a year on new equipment (sometimes a lot less. I don't really add it up).

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Finally, I'm based in China. I just buy new - not really interested in the used market.

I welcome your thoughts.

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