Next lens for portrait shooting: zoom or prime?

Started 5 months ago | Discussions thread
Henry Stamm Veteran Member • Posts: 3,459
Re: Next lens for portrait shooting: zoom or prime?

I shoot a lot of portraits with the Sigma 30mm f1.4.  It's a great lens for doing studio-type work (i.e., where my subject is relatively close).   I chose this lens because I had rented Oly 25mm f1.2 and Oly 45mm f1.2 and found them not as useful.  Most of my portrait work before buying the Sigma was done with my Oly 4/3 14-35mm f2 or Oly 4/3 35-100mm f2.  And when I checked the FL of my work, I consistently shot most portraits at 30-35mm.  I seldom shoot portraits wider or longer (except when on location, as explained below).  So the Sigma 30mm f1.4 seemed the ideal prime for me.  F1.2 is trickier to use and keep both eyes in focus, where f1.4 does that more easily. (I'm not a fan at all of extremely shallow DOF).

For more location-based photos, I like using a my Oly 4/3 35-100mm f2 because of it's greater flexibility and quality IQ.  It allows greater subject separation from me and from the background and produces excellent OOF areas in the shot, while the subject remains quite sharp.  And it allows me to remain at a greater distance from my subject, which has the virtue of zooming in for tighter shots, or using the wide end to create subject-in-environment portraits.

That said,  I just acquired the Panasonic 35-100mm f2.8 mk2 as an experiment (and because sells it at a great price), but have yet to use it for portraits.  So, I can't say how it renders the OOF background areas--I know it will bring more of the background into focus, but whether that's acceptable or not I'm not sure at this point.  And I can't speak to how sharp my subject will be, either.  I can say, however, that the AF locks faster than with the Oly lens and is a whole lot lighter and smaller

 Henry Stamm's gear list:Henry Stamm's gear list
Olympus E-M1 II Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm 1:4.0-5.6 Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm 1:2.8-4.0 SWD Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 70-300mm 1:4.0-5.6 Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200mm 1:2.8-3.5 SWD +8 more
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