Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
03-03-2008, 08:05 PM   #1
Veteran Member
Mike Bokeh's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Queens, New York
Posts: 597
Questions And Thoughts On Portraits And Portrait Lenses

Here are some things regarding portraits that I've been thinking about.

1.) What makes a good photographic portrait?

2.) What's your favorite focal length and f stop?

3.) What's your all time favorite portrait lens? (Does not have to be Pentax)

4.) Do you like portraits to be sharp or noticeably soft? (Whether they're your own shots or not)

5.) What is your favorite subject?

6.) Do you have a favorite technique? (Dare I say, a formula?)

I'll go first since it is my thread.

1.) I think a good photographic portrait should make the subject look better (more attractive) than they are in real life. I feel people are more pleased with a portrait if they look better than they actually do. I guess that's the ego in all of us.

2.) Either 85mm or 100mm in the 35mm format, so we're talking about 55 - 70mm in digital. If given a choice, I'll take the 85mm. F2.0 - f2.8 gave me the results which looked best to me.

3.) I have 3: A Carl Zeiss f4.0 150mm Sonnar, a Canon 85mm f1.8 and a Sima f2.0 100mm soft-focus.
If I had to choose one, it would be the Canon 85, because overall it's given me some of the best portraits I've taken.

4.) Soft. I was never one for very sharp portraits. I'd rather have my portraits more closely resemble paintings than photographs. A Tiffen warm soft F/X 3 is one of my favorite soft filters. I still have to do a thorough test with my lensbaby, but I like what I've seen so far.

5.) Women.

6.) If possible, I prefer to shoot portraits outdoors, 1 to 2 hours before sunset (for the backlighting effect) and to use as little fill flash as possible. I never used to use it, but sometimes the eyes were just a little too dull. I also prefer to shoot in an open wooded area (not deep forest) and to use a reflector. If I like what I see in the viewfinder, I'll forego the fill flash. I also like a slightly further away portrait as opposed to a tight head & shoulders shot.

These are more opinions than rules, but I think we might learn a good deal from each other discussing this.

Post images if you have them.

Mike


03-03-2008, 08:25 PM   #2
Veteran Member
creampuff's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Singapore
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 3,955
Mike I agree with your choice of focal lengths. When I shot film on Minoltas years back, the "rule" was the 85mm for midshots, 100mm for head shots and 135mm for something tighter. Unfortunately due to the crop factor, most traditional portrait lenses are a little too long in FOV. The 50mm is OK but to me it doesn't give a nice enough perspective. I prefer the FA 43 because being a tad wider, it is better for environmental portraits.

But I guess any short/mid tele that can throw the background OOF can work just as well. My current fav is the FA 77mm shooting around f2 - f3.5. For casual shooting I like diffused natural light. Subject wise it's kids and animals...


FA 77mm


DFA 100mm
03-03-2008, 10:38 PM   #3
Inactive Account




Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Florida
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 22
I like the mid range portrait

around 85mm. For Pentax, I find the FA 50 f/1.4 to be a very good lens. It's very good for the fast stuff I need with casual portraits, my favorite style of portrait.


K10D; 1/350s f/5.6 at 50.0mm iso200


K10D; 1/60s f/1.4 at 50.0mm iso200

On my Canon 5D I prefer the 85 f/1.8


1/40s f/3.2 at 85.0mm iso200




I've used the EF 20 f/2.8 on my Canon 20D with good results (effective FL is 32mm)

1/200s f/5.0 at 20.0mm iso400


I've considered the 77 f/1.8, and am giving it more thought since I see the photos made by Denis Lim.
03-04-2008, 01:06 AM   #4
Veteran Member
blende8's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Bremen, Germany
Photos: Albums
Posts: 1,484
1. A good portrait is one where people say: Yeah, that's really him or that's really her.

2. focal length: no specific, I prefer 85mm and longer, but already did portraits with the 10mm fisheye. Always fully open.

3. smc FA85/1.4
But I dream of an out-of-focus control lens from Pentax, like the Minolta STF lens or the Nikon DC.

4. sharp!

5. children

6. shooting always anywhere and anytime.

03-04-2008, 04:04 AM   #5
Veteran Member
Mike Cash's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Japan
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 6,952
When I think "portrait" the lens I mount is the S-M-C Takumar 105/2.8.

May not be the "best" portrait lens, but of the glass I own it is tops.
03-04-2008, 04:43 AM   #6
Veteran Member
Finn's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Phoenix
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 1,056
QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Bokeh Quote
1.) What makes a good photographic portrait?

2.) What's your favorite focal length and f stop?

3.) What's your all time favorite portrait lens? (Does not have to be Pentax)

4.) Do you like portraits to be sharp or noticeably soft? (Whether they're your own shots or not)

5.) What is your favorite subject?

6.) Do you have a favorite technique? (Dare I say, a formula?)
1. When it feels natural and unforced. There are few things worse than an overdone, overwrought, over-PP'ed cliche of a portrait (except overdone, overwrought, over-PP'ed cliche of a sunset shot )

2. Depends. I've made great portraits with a DA21, but usually 50 or 77. As for aperture, that depends on the distance to the subject, the distance from the subject to the background, the focal length...but usually f/2.8 or so on a "portrait" length lens.

3. FA 77mm f/1.8. Or the FA 31mm f/1.8. They really make skin tones glow.

4. I prefer them to have LIFE. Sometimes they're sharp, sometimes they're not. I don't really think that makes a portrait (although I hate hate HATE cheesily dreamy-looking portraits). But all things being equal, I'd prefer my shots to be in focus.

5. My kid. A constant source of photographic inspiration.

6. Always natural light. Always.

FA 77mm f/1.8 @ f/2.8:


DA 21mm f/3.2 @ f/8:


Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 @ f/2.8:


FA 50mm f/1.4 @ f/2.8:

Last edited by Finn; 03-04-2008 at 05:14 AM. Reason: swapped out photo
03-04-2008, 04:55 AM   #7
Veteran Member
roentarre's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 11,794
1.) What makes a good photographic portrait?

When the photographers love the shots themselves.



2.) What's your favorite focal length and f stop?

77mm and f2.4


3.) What's your all time favorite portrait lens? (Does not have to be Pentax)

Fa 43 ltd

4.) Do you like portraits to be sharp or noticeably soft? (Whether they're your own shots or not)

Both. No absolute rules.

5.) What is your favorite subject?

Guys or girls

6.) Do you have a favorite technique? (Dare I say, a formula?)

Just snap away!
03-04-2008, 05:30 AM   #8
Veteran Member




Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 423
1.) usually when you can isolate the subject from the background

2.) I like to work from a distance, so anything between 50mm and 200mm =) but usually between 75mm and 135mm

3.) Anything that does the job, currently, K85/1.8 (for head and shouder), FA50/1.4 (for half body), FA135/2.8 (for head). Tamron 28-75/2.8 for zoom

4.) sharp

5.) any good looking girls =) and kids

6.) nope


QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Bokeh Quote
Here are some things regarding portraits that I've been thinking about.

1.) What makes a good photographic portrait?

2.) What's your favorite focal length and f stop?

3.) What's your all time favorite portrait lens? (Does not have to be Pentax)

4.) Do you like portraits to be sharp or noticeably soft? (Whether they're your own shots or not)

5.) What is your favorite subject?

6.) Do you have a favorite technique? (Dare I say, a formula?)



03-04-2008, 07:00 AM   #9
Site Supporter
maxwell1295's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Long Island, New York
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,704
Here are some things regarding portraits that I've been thinking about.

1.) What makes a good photographic portrait?
Any photo that captures the essence of a subject in its natural state. In my case, portraits are not created.....they just happen. The trick is being lucky enough to capture them when they do happen.

2.) What's your favorite focal length and f stop?
Right now, the A50mm/f1.7 is my favorite. F-stop is slow enough to give decent DOF and fast enough to seperate the subject from the background. I've also taken some very nice portraits with the A70-210mm/f4

3.) What's your all time favorite portrait lens? (Does not have to be Pentax)
Love the A50mm/1.7, but I'm also considering something fast in the 85-105mm range.
4.) Do you like portraits to be sharp or noticeably soft? (Whether they're your own shots or not)
It depends on the subject and the type of portrait. IMO, studio type portraits look better soft than a more active portrait.

5.) What is your favorite subject?
My daughters, who happens to be very photogenic, my dog, and any kid.....kids are great subjects. My wife (when she doesn't run from the camera) is my favorite.

6.) Do you have a favorite technique? (Dare I say, a formula?)
Nope, I just shoot when the opportunity arises. Sometimes it's catching one of my daughters playing video games or the dog taking a nap.

Some of my favorites (I haven't gotten around to cropping the last 2 yet):

A50mm/f1.7





A70-210mm/f4


03-04-2008, 07:42 AM   #10
Pentaxian
Lowell Goudge's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Toronto
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 15,400
QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Bokeh Quote
[SIZE="3"][FONT="Palatino Linotype"]
1.) What makes a good photographic portrait?
something that either captures the mood, the situation, or the character, this may or may not include background
QuoteQuote:
2.) What's your favorite focal length and f stop?
generally beyond 50mm (on digital) but no specific length.
QuoteQuote:
3.) What's your all time favorite portrait lens? (Does not have to be Pentax)
no specific, I like my 105 f2.8
QuoteQuote:
4.) Do you like portraits to be sharp or noticeably soft? (Whether they're your own shots or not)
see point 1. this is a question of subject and mood. Some people have very distinct characteristics, and unique faces that require sharpness to capture, other times a softer focus is needed
QuoteQuote:
5.) What is your favorite subject?
family and pets
QuoteQuote:
6.) Do you have a favorite technique? (Dare I say, a formula?)
No
03-04-2008, 07:48 AM   #11
Veteran Member
Gooshin's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Toronto, the one in Canada.
Posts: 5,611
portraits done from a distance make the image flatter and the persons face more natural looking

that is why 70-100 is a good focal range, especialy inside a studio

however taking a portraits with like a 200mm or a 300mm might work even better, but thats usualy a physical constraint on the photographer.


you can do portraits with wide angle lenses, but they distort the persons face, and thats never good.

Last edited by Gooshin; 03-04-2008 at 08:41 AM.
03-04-2008, 08:34 AM   #12
Pentaxian
TaoMaas's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Oklahoma City
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 3,197
1) I think a good portrait captures something specific about a person that everyone who knows them can recognize.

2) On film, 85mm...on digital, I find I use my 50mm more. I usually try to stop down one or two stops so I can get enough depth of field to hold focus on the whole face, but still let the background blur.

3) If I had to pick one lens, it would be my Pentax-M 85mm f2. Wide open, it's a touch soft without being mushy, but I can also stop it down a bit and get plenty of sharpness. Plus, it's got that nice Pentax warmth in the colors.

4) Depends on the subject. With my 15 yr. old daughter, I can go sharp and her skin texture can take it. However, if I shoot my wife with that same degree of sharpness, I'll find myself sleeping on the sofa that night. lol She'd much rather I soften her wrinkles a bit.

5) My daughter and my wife.

6) Whenever it's feasible, I try to have my subject facing the left side of the frame. That way, when someone views the picture and their eye enters the frame from the left hand side, they're greeted by the open face of my subject rather than the back of their head. I also prefer soft lighting over harder light sources.
03-04-2008, 06:58 PM   #13
Veteran Member
Mike Bokeh's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Queens, New York
Posts: 597
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
6) Whenever it's feasible, I try to have my subject facing the left side of the frame. That way, when someone views the picture and their eye enters the frame from the left hand side, they're greeted by the open face of my subject rather than the back of their head. I also prefer soft lighting over harder light sources.
Yes, I agree with this.

We read a page from left to right, and I think it just seems more natural to our subconcious minds to encounter a person's face in a photo the same way.

Good point, ToaMass.

Mike
03-04-2008, 07:40 PM   #14
Veteran Member
Mike Bokeh's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Queens, New York
Posts: 597
Original Poster
There are some very good photos here, and some very different approaches to portraits too. Very good!

Here are some shots of my ideas stated in the first post, #6. These shots, however, were shot at midday and not an hour or two before sunset. I also did not use a reflector, but fill flash was used in photos #1 & #4. These were taken at a model workshop last July. A scheduled model canceled, and another model brought her friend, Heidi at the last minute. As far as I know, this was her first time modeling. She was just getting comfortable posing in the first three photos, but within a few minutes she posed exactly as I wanted her to in photo #4.
#1.

#2.

#3.

#4. I think this is the best of the bunch. I think you can see her confidence beginning to emerge here.

Here's the same photo as it was shot without soft focus.


All the above photos were shot with the 18-55mm kit lens and no filter. The K100D's digital soft filter #2 was added afterwards.

Keep those ideas and images coming, folks!

Mike
03-04-2008, 07:41 PM   #15
Veteran Member
Finn's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Phoenix
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 1,056
QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
However, if I shoot my wife with that same degree of sharpness, I'll find myself sleeping on the sofa that night.
Oh man, I hear you.
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
100mm, 85mm, canon, f2.0, fill, flash, k-mount, pentax lens, portrait, portraits, slr lens, subject
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Thoughts Of These Sigma EX Lenses? Christopher M.W.T Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 16 08-25-2009 07:24 PM
Looking for everyone's thoughts on the following two lenses... stl09 Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 14 07-03-2009 07:49 PM
Portrait Lens questions candgpics Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 14 04-08-2009 04:34 AM
Post some portraits with "non-portrait" lenses! pingflood Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 46 10-04-2008 06:22 PM
A few thoughts about travelling with the 100D and 4 lenses. Alfisti Photographic Technique 17 09-16-2008 10:18 PM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 04:32 AM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top