First camera for Portrait shoots

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DeCal Photography New Member • Posts: 12
First camera for Portrait shoots

Hello,

I am looking at buying a camera and lens/lenses for portrait photography. I currently have a Nikon d3200 and two kit lenses that I received as a gift. I unfortunately broke the 16-55 and was looking for a lens to replace it. I realized however that I would be investing money money in what is likely a dying system.

Here is what I am looking for, a camera with one or two portrait lenses. I have a budget of around 1,500 usd though I could possible go a little higher. Used gear is fine with me and preferred due to budget constraints. I would like to be able to do professional work though I am just starting out. I have never used a mirrorless camera but that or a DSLR would be fine. I have a few vintage Pentax lenses that I would like to use but it’s not a dealbreaker if I can’t. I would like to invest in a system that I can upgrade down the line and not have to sell all my lenses and camera bodies.

Options I have considered:

Sony a7 classic or a7 ii with 50mm 1.8 and 85mm 1.8

Nikon z50 with  ftz adapter and various lenses

Fuji x-t1/2 - I found this option limiting because of the expensive lenses and relatively few options. 
Nikon d600/610 with various lenses

Thank you!

 DeCal Photography's gear list:DeCal Photography's gear list
Nikon D3200 Fujifilm X-H1 Fujifilm XF 35mm F2 R WR +1 more
Nikon D3200 Nikon Z50 Sony a7 Sony a7 II
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dlevitt Senior Member • Posts: 1,040
Re: First camera for Portrait shoots

DeCal Photography wrote:

Hello,

I am looking at buying a camera and lens/lenses for portrait photography. I currently have a Nikon d3200 and two kit lenses that I received as a gift. I unfortunately broke the 16-55 and was looking for a lens to replace it. I realized however that I would be investing money money in what is likely a dying system.

Here is what I am looking for, a camera with one or two portrait lenses. I have a budget of around 1,500 usd though I could possible go a little higher. Used gear is fine with me and preferred due to budget constraints. I would like to be able to do professional work though I am just starting out. I have never used a mirrorless camera but that or a DSLR would be fine. I have a few vintage Pentax lenses that I would like to use but it’s not a dealbreaker if I can’t. I would like to invest in a system that I can upgrade down the line and not have to sell all my lenses and camera bodies.

Options I have considered:

Sony a7 classic or a7 ii with 50mm 1.8 and 85mm 1.8

Nikon z50 with ftz adapter and various lenses

Fuji x-t1/2 - I found this option limiting because of the expensive lenses and relatively few options.
Nikon d600/610 with various lenses

Thank you!

What do you consider portrait lenses? Back in the 35mm film days, different styles of portraits would be shot with 50, 85, 105 or 135 lenses depending on the subject, staging and lighting.

Just what do you have for legacy lenses? [without considering the F mount 'kit' lenses]

Your vintage Pentax lenses may work on a recent Pentax body - or they might not [check the Pentax SLR forum for opinions and options]

For a $1500, two lens kit how about

  • Olympus OMD M10 mark 2 body [used or refurbished]
  • Olympus Pro 12-45 f/4
  • Sigma 56 f/1.4
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 dlevitt's gear list:dlevitt's gear list
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Martin_99 Senior Member • Posts: 2,907
Re: First camera for Portrait shoots

DeCal Photography wrote:

Hello,

I am looking at buying a camera and lens/lenses for portrait photography. I currently have a Nikon d3200 and two kit lenses that I received as a gift. I unfortunately broke the 16-55 and was looking for a lens to replace it. I realized however that I would be investing money money in what is likely a dying system.

Here is what I am looking for, a camera with one or two portrait lenses. I have a budget of around 1,500 usd though I could possible go a little higher. Used gear is fine with me and preferred due to budget constraints. I would like to be able to do professional work though I am just starting out. I have never used a mirrorless camera but that or a DSLR would be fine. I have a few vintage Pentax lenses that I would like to use but it’s not a dealbreaker if I can’t. I would like to invest in a system that I can upgrade down the line and not have to sell all my lenses and camera bodies.

Options I have considered:

Sony a7 classic or a7 ii with 50mm 1.8 and 85mm 1.8

Nikon z50 with ftz adapter and various lenses

Fuji x-t1/2 - I found this option limiting because of the expensive lenses and relatively few options.
Nikon d600/610 with various lenses

Thank you!

I would rather buy used 50f1.8 / 85f1.8 lenses on your current camera. In your list are old cameras anyway, make not much sense to me. In the future with bigger budget you can buy eg. Z5 with adapter for these lenses.

 Martin_99's gear list:Martin_99's gear list
Sony a6400 Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm F1.8 ZA Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN +3 more
PhotonBeam
PhotonBeam Regular Member • Posts: 297
Re: First camera for Portrait shoots

I would recommend trying to hold the camera before purchasing to make sure that you like (or are at least ok with) the ergonomics. There are cameras on your list that I never got along with from an ergonomic perspective.

The cheapest option would be to buy a used fast prime for your current camera (maybe an 85mm?). If you do a good job shopping around the lens would probably hold most of its value if you decided to sell in the future.

If you are itching for a new camera, I would add a Nikon Z6, Canon RP, and maybe a Sony A7rii to your list of options to consider. Add a prime or high quality zoom of your choice (an 85mm prime would work well as a classic portrait lens).

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Olympus E-M5 II
Klaus dk
Klaus dk Veteran Member • Posts: 8,340
Re: First camera for Portrait shoots
1

As others have said, a good portrait lens for the camera you already have is by far the cheapest solution.

I'd suggest the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM APO

Portraiture is 5% camera and lens, 45% lighting and 50% psychology. Draw your own conclusions.

 Klaus dk's gear list:Klaus dk's gear list
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OP DeCal Photography New Member • Posts: 12
Re: First camera for Portrait shoots

Thank you all for your help!

I have a couple follow up questions.

Firstly, would it make more sense to get an Olympus on-d em-5 or em-1?

Secondly, does it make sense to purchase lenses for a system that likely will be losing support?

Lastly, where would I be able try out the cameras ergonomics?

Thank you!

 DeCal Photography's gear list:DeCal Photography's gear list
Nikon D3200 Fujifilm X-H1 Fujifilm XF 35mm F2 R WR +1 more
dlevitt Senior Member • Posts: 1,040
Re: First camera for Portrait shoots

DeCal Photography wrote:

Thank you all for your help!

I have a couple follow up questions.

Firstly, would it make more sense to get an Olympus on-d em-5 or em-1?

The OMD EM5 mark 3 and the EM1 mark 2 are currently similarly priced, with similar capabilities - the 5.3 is almost the 1.2 packaged in a smaller body.

After some evaluation and dithering last year, I decided to buy the M1 mark 2, bundled with the 12-200 travel zoom lens.

Currently in the US there are specials on the M5.3 body only, and kits with the 12-45 pro lens, or the 14-150 travel zoom [with add on grip]

A real tie breaker would be how each body fits your hand and eyes.

Secondly, does it make sense to purchase lenses for a system that likely will be losing support?

Both Olympus and Panasonic have recently released several new lenses, with more added to the lens roadmap. Panasonic has release a new body, and announced another new body. This does not look like a system that is 'losing support'. Today only Sony E mount seems to have a comparable variety of lenses.

Lastly, where would I be able try out the cameras ergonomics?

Do you have any camera stores nearby? You may not, as camera stores are a vanishing breed. The 'big box' stores do not seem to show anything other than Canon/Nikon - mostly with dead batteries.

You could try an online retailer with generous return policies - or renting, with a purchase option if you like the camera.

Thank you!

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 dlevitt's gear list:dlevitt's gear list
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OP DeCal Photography New Member • Posts: 12
Re: First camera for Portrait shoots

Sorry for the confusion. I was referring to the other suggestions of getting a portrait lens for my Nikon when I was talking about a system that is losing support.

What are the major differences between the Olympus om-d em10 mkii and mkiii?

Both are really close in price on mpb.com.

Also, are the Olympus 25mm 1.8 and 45mm 1.8 lenses good at autofocus and sharpness wise?

Thank you

 DeCal Photography's gear list:DeCal Photography's gear list
Nikon D3200 Fujifilm X-H1 Fujifilm XF 35mm F2 R WR +1 more
OmerEkici Junior Member • Posts: 45
Re: First camera for Portrait shoots

Don't get me wrong,  the micro 4/3 system is great but not for portraits. Would recommend an aps-c or full frame camera. You can find a cheap sony A6000 with great autofocus and face recognition and eye focus in af-s. The Sony A6000 with Viltrox 23mm f1.4 and Sigma 56mm f1.4 is a great cheap option. You can also go for an used sony a6100. Otherwise you can find a cheap Fujifilm X-T30 with the viltrox 23mm f1.4 and 56mm f1.4 or just the Fuji 35mm f1.4.

 OmerEkici's gear list:OmerEkici's gear list
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dlevitt Senior Member • Posts: 1,040
Re: First camera for Portrait shoots

DeCal Photography wrote:

Sorry for the confusion. I was referring to the other suggestions of getting a portrait lens for my Nikon when I was talking about a system that is losing support.

What are the major differences between the Olympus om-d em10 mkii and mkiii?

I have the M 10 mark 2, and have been happy with it.

My understanding is the Mark 3 has simplified the menus to make it more beginner friendly.

I think that Robin Wong has some useful reviews from the photographer viewpoint, instead of just comparing specifications

https://robinwong.blogspot.com/2015/08/olympus-om-d-e-m10-mark-ii-review.html

https://blog.mingthein.com/2017/08/31/review-2017-olympus-e-m10-mark-iii/

Both are really close in price on mpb.com.

Also, are the Olympus 25mm 1.8 and 45mm 1.8 lenses good at autofocus and sharpness wise?

https://robinwong.blogspot.com/2014/02/olympus-mzuiko-25mm-f18-review-part-1.html

I did not see a 'part 2' for that review.

There are multiple images taken with these lenses [and the 'kit' zoom lens] embedded in the linked reviews. Similar Panasonic lenses are also available and are fully functional on the Olympus bodies.

There are also Olympus 'Pro' and Panasonic 'Leica' lenses available at much higher prices [with slightly wider apertures ]

Thank you

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 dlevitt's gear list:dlevitt's gear list
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Klaus dk
Klaus dk Veteran Member • Posts: 8,340
Re: First camera for Portrait shoots

DeCal Photography wrote:

Thank you all for your help!

I have a couple follow up questions.

Firstly, would it make more sense to get an Olympus on-d em-5 or em-1?

People who own them seem to be happy about them. Those of us who don't, have our reasons that may be unrelated to their qualities. Going from 24Mp to 20Mp is counterintuitive to me, although I've been very happy with 18 Mp in the past.

If you want portraiture with shallow DoF, MFT may not be the best choice.

Secondly, does it make sense to purchase lenses for a system that likely will be losing support?

Does it make sense to buy a new body if the body you own does everything you want well?

A lens with built-in focus motor and Nikon F mount will be adaptable to Nikon Z mount and other ML cameras. Whether Z cameras adapt well, IDK.

The camera market is shrinking, so it's unpredictable which manufacturer will fold first.

Nikon and Canon both have secured the use of legacy lenses via adapters for the time being.

A used, but very good lens, can be a stop gap until you can afford better gear. You have not mentioned light, but even though good lights have become more affordable (Godox), they're not cheap.

Lastly, where would I be able try out the cameras ergonomics?

That very much depends on where you live. If you're lucky enough to live near a brick-and-mortar store, place your acquisitions there.

Thank you!

 Klaus dk's gear list:Klaus dk's gear list
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OP DeCal Photography New Member • Posts: 12
Re: First camera for Portrait shoots

I have made sure to budget for lighting and other supplies. My main issue with the Nikon d3200 is the unreliable autofocus and lack of manual focus assists. I used film cameras for some time and really miss being able to reliably manual focus. I do not yet have 1500 dollars, closer to 800 dollars. Is there a camera body that you would recommend for that that I could expand the lenses down the line?

Thanks.

 DeCal Photography's gear list:DeCal Photography's gear list
Nikon D3200 Fujifilm X-H1 Fujifilm XF 35mm F2 R WR +1 more
(unknown member) Forum Pro • Posts: 12,611
Re: First camera for Portrait shoots

DeCal Photography wrote:

Sorry for the confusion. I was referring to the other suggestions of getting a portrait lens for my Nikon when I was talking about a system that is losing support.

What are the major differences between the Olympus om-d em10 mkii and mkiii?

Both are really close in price on mpb.com.

Also, are the Olympus 25mm 1.8 and 45mm 1.8 lenses good at autofocus and sharpness wise?

Thank you

I’ve been using Olympus for some time , the beauty of modern digital cameras is that they are very good .

The 45mm f1.8 is a great lens sharp wide open .

Hell I recently did some portrait pics of my friends daughter with em10mkiii and the 14-42 ez kit lens .

Klaus dk
Klaus dk Veteran Member • Posts: 8,340
Re: First camera for Portrait shoots

DeCal Photography wrote:

I have made sure to budget for lighting and other supplies. My main issue with the Nikon d3200 is the unreliable autofocus and lack of manual focus assists. I used film cameras for some time and really miss being able to reliably manual focus. I do not yet have 1500 dollars, closer to 800 dollars. Is there a camera body that you would recommend for that that I could expand the lenses down the line?

Thanks.

I'd love to help you but nowadays I don't use manual focus at all. The Canons of the R series has what I perceive as a very advanced manual focus guidance system, but I don't know if it's also implemented in other Canons or if other manufacturers does something similar.

I've always been given the impression that Nikon's AF was very good. Could it be that you leave AF point selection to the camera instead of controlling it yourself? (Sorry if it's an inappropriate question, but sometimes simple things get overlooked)

 Klaus dk's gear list:Klaus dk's gear list
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PhotonBeam
PhotonBeam Regular Member • Posts: 297
Re: First camera for Portrait shoots

Labe wrote:

DeCal Photography wrote:

Sorry for the confusion. I was referring to the other suggestions of getting a portrait lens for my Nikon when I was talking about a system that is losing support.

What are the major differences between the Olympus om-d em10 mkii and mkiii?

Both are really close in price on mpb.com.

Also, are the Olympus 25mm 1.8 and 45mm 1.8 lenses good at autofocus and sharpness wise?

Thank you

I’ve been using Olympus for some time , the beauty of modern digital cameras is that they are very good .

The 45mm f1.8 is a great lens sharp wide open .

Hell I recently did some portrait pics of my friends daughter with em10mkiii and the 14-42 ez kit lens .

That is super cute!

If you ever have gear acquisition syndrome, grab a large softbox and look light stand. It will really bring out the eyes 😃. Otherwise, keep up the good work.

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OP DeCal Photography New Member • Posts: 12
Re: First camera for Portrait shoots

Klaus dk wrote:

DeCal Photography wrote:

I have made sure to budget for lighting and other supplies. My main issue with the Nikon d3200 is the unreliable autofocus and lack of manual focus assists. I used film cameras for some time and really miss being able to reliably manual focus. I do not yet have 1500 dollars, closer to 800 dollars. Is there a camera body that you would recommend for that that I could expand the lenses down the line?

Thanks.

I'd love to help you but nowadays I don't use manual focus at all. The Canons of the R series has what I perceive as a very advanced manual focus guidance system, but I don't know if it's also implemented in other Canons or if other manufacturers does something similar.

I would really like focus peaking which is why I am very tempted by the Nikon z50.

I've always been given the impression that Nikon's AF was very good. Could it be that you leave AF point selection to the camera instead of controlling it yourself? (Sorry if it's an inappropriate question, but sometimes simple things get overlooked)

That is a very good question. I am a noobie to autofocus but I notice that the autofocus points don't reach the edges of the frame or only cover the center. I have recently begun to use the manual autofocus selection points. Eye-autofocus would be amazing as well! Thank you for all your assistance!

 DeCal Photography's gear list:DeCal Photography's gear list
Nikon D3200 Fujifilm X-H1 Fujifilm XF 35mm F2 R WR +1 more
Klaus dk
Klaus dk Veteran Member • Posts: 8,340
Re: First camera for Portrait shoots

DeCal Photography wrote:

Klaus dk wrote:

DeCal Photography wrote:

I have made sure to budget for lighting and other supplies. My main issue with the Nikon d3200 is the unreliable autofocus and lack of manual focus assists. I used film cameras for some time and really miss being able to reliably manual focus. I do not yet have 1500 dollars, closer to 800 dollars. Is there a camera body that you would recommend for that that I could expand the lenses down the line?

Thanks.

I'd love to help you but nowadays I don't use manual focus at all. The Canons of the R series has what I perceive as a very advanced manual focus guidance system, but I don't know if it's also implemented in other Canons or if other manufacturers does something similar.

I would really like focus peaking which is why I am very tempted by the Nikon z50.

I've always been given the impression that Nikon's AF was very good. Could it be that you leave AF point selection to the camera instead of controlling it yourself? (Sorry if it's an inappropriate question, but sometimes simple things get overlooked)

That is a very good question. I am a noobie to autofocus but I notice that the autofocus points don't reach the edges of the frame or only cover the center. I have recently begun to use the manual autofocus selection points. Eye-autofocus would be amazing as well! Thank you for all your assistance!

There's a technique called focus-and-recompose. It means that you select a focus point close to the eye you want sharp, turn the camera to place that point over the eye, focus by half-pressing the shutter button and then compose the picture while you hold focus. This can compensate for lack of focus points coverage.

 Klaus dk's gear list:Klaus dk's gear list
Sony RX100 II Canon EOS R Canon EOS R5 Canon EF 135mm F2.8 SF Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM +6 more
Jacques Cornell
Jacques Cornell Forum Pro • Posts: 14,270
As a corporate pro, I shoot Micro Four Thirds
1

I do all my corporate portrait & headshot work with a Panasonic GX8 and 35-100/2.8. Unless you want to print larger than 24", Micro Four Thirds' 20MP is really all you need in terms of resolution. Corporate work doesn't require super-shallow DoF (who wants the tip of the nose out of focus?), but if I ever want shallower, I slap on my Olympus 42.5mm f1.8. I'm not into the whole "just the eyelashes in focus" fad.

Panasonic's face/eye-detect AF works really well.

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Louis203 Junior Member • Posts: 26
Re: First camera for Portrait shoots

You can also consider below

  1. EOS RP + RF 50mm F1.8 
  2. Z50 + Z 50mm F1.8 or Z 40mm F2
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