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Why is a 85mm lens preferred over a 50mm lens on a full frame camera?
I get the impression that the 85mm range is the preferred range for taking portraits. Why is that the case?..

Comments (11)

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

I get the impression that the 85mm range is the preferred range fortaking portraits. Why is that the case?.

A 100-ish lens gives more distance to work with (for a portrait, a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera has to be quite close to the subject's face)..

The perspective from the longer distance is more flattering. The nose seems less protruding, the "peephole" effect goes away..

In search of flattering perspective, professionals often use very long lenses for shooting models. Sometimes the working distance is so far, that they need a portable radio to tell the model what to do..

Hope this helps!.

Boris..

Comment #1

Because 50 mm focal length used on FF with face more or less filling the frame produces visible and undesirable perspective distortion..

Http://lordofthelens.smugmug.com/..

Comment #2

MICHAEL_61 wrote:.

Because 50 mm focal length used on FF with face more or less fillingthe frame produces visible and undesirable perspective distortion..

Yes. The preferred focal length depends on the size of sensor, of course..

Lenses of f-length between 1.5x and 2x the diagonal (measured on the sensor from one corner to the other) are often preferred for portraiture. This is because lenses like that are narrow enough in angle to *induce* shooting from sufficient distance that perspective is flattened a bit... and a bit of flattening is considered flattering for people pictures. .

["flattening is flattering", okay?].

Because it is approx 50mm from corner to corner of a 35mm frame....

(actually, it is much closer to 43mm, but don't lose any sleep over it).

... in FF35mm cameras such a lens would be about 80 100mm or thereabouts, although there is a current trend towards longer and longer lenses being used. In crop cameras the 50mm is an equivalent to the 80, and finds it's use as a crop-camera head-shot lens..

In full frame cameras the 50mm was a considered a good one for full length portraiture, and group shots, say. Obviously, from the greater FRAMING distance, perspective effects are the same as longer lenses used in framing tighter on faces..

The important thing to remember in perspective, is that it is the distance ONLY that alters perspective. All that the different f-lengths provide, is different framings at the distances we use them. .

I hope this helps.Regards,Baz..

Comment #3

BorisK1 wrote:.

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

I get the impression that the 85mm range is the preferred range fortaking portraits. Why is that the case?.

A 100-ish lens gives more distance to work with (for a portrait, a50mm lens on a 35mm camera has to be quite close to the subject'sface)..

The perspective from the longer distance is more flattering. Thenose seems less protruding, the "peephole" effect goes away..

In search of flattering perspective, professionals often use verylong lenses for shooting models. Sometimes the working distance isso far, that they need a portable radio to tell the model what to do..

Hope this helps!.

Boris.

Thanks for the explanation. I guess this is why the 50mm lens is recommended for a 1.6x crop camera since the effective focal length is in the 80mm range...

Comment #4

I just read the review of the 135mm f/2 lens and I'm wondering why people would still prefer the 85mm L lens over the 135mm L lens? Is it because of the aperature on the 85mm lens? It can go as big as f/1.2 which I guess would be great at isolating the objects in the picture...

Comment #5

Mostly you get this impression from people who fail to provide fuill information..

A lens for a portrait depends on the size of the sensor or film, and the kind of picture you choose to call a portrait..

Passport. on a 35mm film camera? 85 is fine, 100 is better..

Half body shot showing suit jacket buttons, on a smaller sensor camera like a Nikon D80? 50 beats an 85..

BAK..

Comment #6

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

I just read the review of the 135mm f/2 lens and I'm wondering whypeople would still prefer the 85mm L lens over the 135mm L lens? Isit because of the aperature on the 85mm lens? It can go as big asf/1.2 which I guess would be great at isolating the objects in thepicture..

A lens has a lot of characteristics beside focal length and maximum aperture. It affects sharpness, contrast, and even colors of the picture. There's bokeh - the quality of out-of-focus areas. People may prefer a particular lens for a host of reasons..

85mm F/1.2 wide open for a head shot will have tiny depth of field indeed. Imagine having to choose what to make sharp - eyebrows, eyelashes, lips, or the eyeball (which one?). In fact, DOF is narrower than the length of an eyelash. Focusing must be manual, and quite tricky - no AF system can make that choice, and the model has to stay quite still for the duration..

Boris..

Comment #7

BAK wrote:.

Mostly you get this impression from people who fail to provide fuillinformation..

A lens for a portrait depends on the size of the sensor or film, andthe kind of picture you choose to call a portrait..

Passport. on a 35mm film camera? 85 is fine, 100 is better..

Half body shot showing suit jacket buttons, on a smaller sensorcamera like a Nikon D80? 50 beats an 85..

BAK.

Sorry if this sounds rude, but why? You haven't exactly provided full information either...

Comment #8

Perhaps you should go to a book store and look at the photography section, and note that there are an awful lot of pages written about photography..

You keep asking semi-valid questions baseed on no knowledge at all..

There's a lot to be said for walking before you run..

Top actually answer your semi-question in depth based on faulty info would take a couple of hours..

And I've done it before. Try your luck on a search here, in the pro forum, and in the Canon lens forum..

And go biy Digital Photo Pro, with Masters Special ont he cover, and read the lens article..

BAK..

Comment #9

Sgt_Strider wrote:.

BAK wrote:.

Mostly you get this impression from people who fail to provide fuillinformation..

A lens for a portrait depends on the size of the sensor or film, andthe kind of picture you choose to call a portrait..

Passport. on a 35mm film camera? 85 is fine, 100 is better..

Half body shot showing suit jacket buttons, on a smaller sensorcamera like a Nikon D80? 50 beats an 85..

BAK.

Sorry if this sounds rude, but why? You haven't exactly provided fullinformation either..

What BAK is trying to say (I think), is that there are different types of portraits. A group shot, a full-body shot, a half-body, head-and-shoulders, head shot, etc. Each one of these choices will force you to be at a certain distance from the subject..

That distance will also change with the lense's focal length and with the size of the camera's sensor. In other words, the working distance depends both on your system's field of view and on the size of the subject..

For example, for a full-body shot on a APS-sized-sensor camera, a 50mm lens will take you about as far as you want to be for this type of shot (about 15-20 feet)..

I agree with BAK in that photography books are very helpful. I never miss a chance to recommend "Understanding Exposure" and other titles by Bryan Peterson. However, this is a beginners' forum, so don't hesitate to ask questions..

Hope this helps!.

Boris..

Comment #10

BAK wrote:.

Perhaps you should go to a book store and look at the photographysection, and note that there are an awful lot of pages written aboutphotography..

You keep asking semi-valid questions baseed on no knowledge at all..

There's a lot to be said for walking before you run..

Top actually answer your semi-question in depth based on faulty infowould take a couple of hours..

And I've done it before. Try your luck on a search here, in the proforum, and in the Canon lens forum..

And go biy Digital Photo Pro, with Masters Special ont he cover, andread the lens article..

BAK.

I never claimed to be a professional at this hobby. I'm trying to learn and if I have a question then it should be approrpiate to ask. Isn't that the whole point of the forums? Wouldn't it save me a lot of time instead of scrolling through books to find my answer? I know there are a lot of people on this forum that knows the answer to this. I'm just trying to dig deeper by asking why. Even in university, I have been told that there is no such thing as a stupid question even if the answer is in the book. You don't have to answer my questions if you don't want to.

I'm just trying to learn and I'll never fully understand anything if I never ask why. If somehow I wasted your time, then consider myself as someone you ought not to help in the future..

Also, I get very tired with people suggesting to use the search feature. Search is always down due to that stupid indexing that Dpreview does on a frequent basis. It's not that I don't want to use it, but I can't use it. I rather create the thread asking the question with the search feature down then not asking at all...

Comment #11

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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