50mm or 85mm for portraits?

Started Jun 12, 2013 | Discussions
SelSol
SelSol Regular Member • Posts: 199
50mm or 85mm for portraits?

My 7d is coming bundled with the 50mm F1.8 lens, hardly expensive and largely throwaway at the price, but I do a lot of portrait work with children, so I'm curious as to whether I should stick with the 50 or grab the 85mm F1.8 too.

I know there's a lot of talk about the Rokinon / Samyang f1.4 at £200, and no problem with manual focus, but suspect f1.4 will be largely useless with children as the blighters don't keep still.

Am I wrong? Should I grab the manual f1.4 Rokinon, the 85 f1.8 ef-s or due to the crop, should I be looking toward a 50mm at f1.4 or 1.8?

Thanks in advance!

 SelSol's gear list:SelSol's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC APO OS HSM +2 more
Canon EOS 7D
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Mr Ed M Contributing Member • Posts: 500
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits?

SelSol wrote:

My 7d is coming bundled with the 50mm F1.8 lens, hardly expensive and largely throwaway at the price, but I do a lot of portrait work with children, so I'm curious as to whether I should stick with the 50 or grab the 85mm F1.8 too.

I know there's a lot of talk about the Rokinon / Samyang f1.4 at £200, and no problem with manual focus, but suspect f1.4 will be largely useless with children as the blighters don't keep still.

Am I wrong? Should I grab the manual f1.4 Rokinon, the 85 f1.8 ef-s or due to the crop, should I be looking toward a 50mm at f1.4 or 1.8?

Thanks in advance!

The  Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 is an excellent lens.

Good for anyone with children in their lives.

 Mr Ed M's gear list:Mr Ed M's gear list
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olsem007 Forum Member • Posts: 93
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits?

This is a matter of personal preference. Only you can answer your questions. Canon 50mm f/1.8 is also an excellent portrait lens. By the way, on 7D it is equal to 80mm lens on a FF.

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SelSol
OP SelSol Regular Member • Posts: 199
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits?

That's what I mean, at 80 and 136mm effective lengths, I was unsure if the 50mm basically becomes the default portrait choice on an APS-C camera.

Any thoughts on whether an F1.4 is just a waste?

 SelSol's gear list:SelSol's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC APO OS HSM +2 more
SelSol
OP SelSol Regular Member • Posts: 199
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits?

Do you think it will will give me more useable shots over the F1.4?

 SelSol's gear list:SelSol's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC APO OS HSM +2 more
TTMartin
TTMartin Veteran Member • Posts: 7,304
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits?

I have often said the 85mm f/1.8 is a lens that every parent should own.

Not only is it a great portrait lens, but, it is also great for your child's performances in gymnasiums, and school theaters.

It's focus is faster than the EF 50mm f/1.8, and personally I would get a EF 40mm f/2.8 STM, before getting the 50mm f/1.4.

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SelSol
OP SelSol Regular Member • Posts: 199
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits?

Superb, thank you!

 SelSol's gear list:SelSol's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC APO OS HSM +2 more
Jeff Peterman
MOD Jeff Peterman Forum Pro • Posts: 12,614
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits? - Yes.
1

As you've said, the 85 mm is the equivalent of about 135mm on the crop body. This can make it a little too long for a portrait lens, but it can also be OK if you want mostly head shots or can step back for a wider view.

The 50 mm f1.8 is a very sharp lens. But it has two problems: relatively slow focusing and a worthless manual focus ring. The 85 mm f1.8 has neither of those problems and is a great lens. As you mentioned, getting an 85 mm f1.4 could be a waste with kids (and many other subjects) because depth of field can be so narrow that it is hard to have enough of the face in focus. Plus, non-Canon lenses often have the slower focusing mechanism found in the 50 mm f1.8, which with moving kids can make it hard for you to lock focus in time for the shot.

One other lens to consider is the 60 mm f2.8 macro. This is a great lens - very sharp (even wide open) and very fast focusing, AND is also a very useful macro lens. While it does only open to f2.8, the lens is sharp enough to make that a usable aperture - with the 50mm f1.8, you may need to stop down a little for sharpness.

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Alastair Norcross Veteran Member • Posts: 6,123
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits?

SelSol wrote:

That's what I mean, at 80 and 136mm effective lengths, I was unsure if the 50mm basically becomes the default portrait choice on an APS-C camera.

Any thoughts on whether an F1.4 is just a waste?

If you're talking about a manual focus F1.4 (a previous poster assumed you meant the Canon 50 F1.4), I would forget about it. The 7D has a superb autofocus system, and, although you can use manual focus lenses with it, it isn't optimized for that use. The 85 F1.8 has much faster and more accurate AF than the 50 F1.8. I would pair the 85 with something in the 28-40 range. I have the 35L F1.4, but that is rather expensive. Sigma has a new 35 that is supposed to be very good, and less expensive than the Canon L, but still not cheap. The Canon 28 F1.8 is pretty good. For portraits, I really like the 85-100 range on a crop camera, but I tend to favor head and shoulders portraits over full body portraits. For the latter, a 28, 35, or even the new 40 would be good.

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Jeff Peterman
MOD Jeff Peterman Forum Pro • Posts: 12,614
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits?
2

I find the 17-55 f2.8 paired with the 70-200 f2.8 to be a great combination for portraits - but a little more expensive than the lenses being discussed here!

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SelSol
OP SelSol Regular Member • Posts: 199
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits? - Yes.
1

So sounds like the 85 is a safe buy then. Can't see me doing macro work, not my thing, but if a 60 crops up cheap ill have a look!

 SelSol's gear list:SelSol's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC APO OS HSM +2 more
Dr. Leonard Senior Member • Posts: 1,333
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits?

Back in the day of Nikon F, the consensus portrait lens was the 105mm. Anything shorter broadened the face and enlarged the nose (too close to the subject) and anything larger compressed the face (good for models with long noses). With a 1.6 camera, you're looking at equivalents of 80 vs 136mm so take your pick. Do your subjects have long noses, compressed faces? I would go for fastness and quality over focal length.

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MarshallG
MarshallG Veteran Member • Posts: 4,232
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits?
1

I have often said the 85mm f/1.8 is a lens that every parent should own.

Not only is it a great portrait lens, but, it is also great for your child's performances in gymnasiums, and school theaters.

It's focus is faster than the EF 50mm f/1.8, and personally I would get a EF 40mm f/2.8 STM, before getting the 50mm f/1.4.

If you take an 85mm lens to a performance, bring along a wider lens for photos after the show, such as people and cast photos.

 MarshallG's gear list:MarshallG's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8L II USM Canon Extender EF 1.4x II +2 more
olsem007 Forum Member • Posts: 93
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits?
1

If you compare MTF charts for Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 and Canon 50mm f/1.8

http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/cameras/ef_lens_lineup/ef_85mm_f_1_8_usm

http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/cameras/ef_lens_lineup/ef_50mm_f_1_8_ii

you can see that on an APS-C camera these two lenses are optically practically identical. On a FF camera Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 is marginally sharper in the corners.

As for the AF speed... A good copy of Canon 50mm f/1.8 on a properly calibrated body is only marginally slower than Canon EF 85mm f/1.8. Maybe it is not good enough for taking photos of racing cars but it is quite capable of taking portraits of even the fastest kids.:-)

In any case you should test it yourself. I have Canon 50mm f/1.8 Mk II, Canon 50mm f/1.2L and Canon EF 85mm f/1.8. I use these lenses on a 7D body. IMHO in most everyday situations these lenses give very close results. The main difference is that Canon 50mm f/1.2 gives the best bokeh and Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 gives the shallowest DOF. Only you can decide what is the most important factor for you. If your camera body comes with Canon 50mm f/1.8 I would recommend to get some experience with this lens before taking a decision what lens to buy next.

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SelSol
OP SelSol Regular Member • Posts: 199
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits?

I think by the sounds of it an 85 will be my most used lens, but the el cheapo 50mm may as well stay, for the £60 it's going to cost, I don't think it's worth spending time stressing about. A handy backup for holidays I guess!

 SelSol's gear list:SelSol's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC APO OS HSM +2 more
olsem007 Forum Member • Posts: 93
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits?

Exactly! And if you add to these two lenses Canon 10-22mm you IMHO get a 'holy trinity' for an APS-C Canon camera.

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Jeff Peterman
MOD Jeff Peterman Forum Pro • Posts: 12,614
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits?

I have the 10-22 too. Plus a 50mm MKI (better than the MKII), 85mm f1.8, 100mm macro, and a few others for special use.

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SelSol
OP SelSol Regular Member • Posts: 199
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits?

Ah, the magic word, bokeh!

 SelSol's gear list:SelSol's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC APO OS HSM +2 more
Jeff Peterman
MOD Jeff Peterman Forum Pro • Posts: 12,614
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits?

With mine, the 85 mm is definitely sharper at f1.8 than the 50mm MKII. I also have a 50 mm MKI, which is a little sharper than my MKII (also much better built and with a real manual focus ring).

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TTMartin
TTMartin Veteran Member • Posts: 7,304
Re: 50mm or 85mm for portraits?

Jeff Peterman wrote:

With mine, the 85 mm is definitely sharper at f1.8 than the 50mm MKII. I also have a 50 mm MKI, which is a little sharper than my MKII (also much better built and with a real manual focus ring).

I was on a quest to purchase a metal mount 50mm f/1.8, but, ended up with a 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro. Excellent lens, though still slow to focus.

Today's best value lens really is the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM.

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