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09-03-2011, 06:49 PM   #1
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Sigma 70mm macro for portraits?

I have always wanted to add a kit of equipment to my gear so I could take formal portraits. As some of the pentax equipment was going up I bit the bullet and purchased everything I thought I needed before the price rise.

My sigma 70mm macro is part of the story. Since i purchased a 100mm pentax WR macro, the sigma has little use, but I love it as a portrait lens more than macro. I was staggered at what the sigma 70mm will do! When I looked at details of the photo we had to go back to the lady and check if she had fluff in her hair or head lice. It was fluff. So the biggest complaint I have using this lens is with kids. Their faces need scrubbing including nasal passages.

I have been thinking the lens is too sharp for anyone over 40 years old and I need to to place a soft filter on the lens or maybe just shake the camera.

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09-03-2011, 09:17 PM   #2
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I won't post a picture I took of a friend, now passed away, during the last year of his disease. I took it with the SMC-P M 100/4 macro. His comment was that it was revolting. I don't blame him. You need a soft focus lens for portraiture, I'm thinking, rather than a macro.
09-03-2011, 11:57 PM   #3
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Allow me to be all philosophical here. Just as photography is literally writing|drawing with light, so portraiture is literally the portrayal of a persona. That portrayal may be of something inanimate or animate, dead or alive, human or not. (Many flower shots are portraits; buildings and vehicles can be shot as portraits.) If we're portraying a live human, the image might include their face, or maybe not. (I'm thinking of famous shots of the hands of musicians.)

And if we shoot a human face, we have various approaches: near, far, hard, soft, light-sculpted, high-key, whatever. With such possibilities, many sorts of lenses are suitable for portraiture. Ah, but in an old Kodak manual [STUDIO TECHNIQUES FOR PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY] focal lengths are mentioned exactly twice -- the rest of the book is about poses and light. Lens and camera are less important than photographer, subject, light.

Use an ultra-sharp macro or enlarger lens for portraiture? Sure, I do it all the time. And I carefully soften the images as needed. Use a soft lens for portraiture? Sure, I do that too, especially with fast lenses like 50/1.2 or 85/2 or an awesome 120/1.8 Xray lens. Some subjects and treatments cry out for ultra-sharpness, others for misty romantic softness. It all depends...

So is the Sigma 70 macro suitable for portraits? Sure, as long as you are handy with softening tools in PP. Or some of the old tricks: smear vaseline on a clear filter, or just rub some nose grease around the lens itself. Shoot through a thin tissue or gauze. Deliberately introduce flare and glare. Defocus slightly. There are all sorts of ways to lose detail. But I don't advise shaking the camera. I try not to kick the tripod during exposures.
09-04-2011, 03:11 AM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback. I will go through my collection of very old filters. I suspect I will have what I need among them, but it will need to go onto my pentax 50mm 1.4

09-04-2011, 08:25 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
So is the Sigma 70 macro suitable for portraits? Sure, as long as you are handy with softening tools in PP. Or some of the old tricks: smear vaseline on a clear filter, or just rub some nose grease around the lens itself. Shoot through a thin tissue or gauze. Deliberately introduce flare and glare. Defocus slightly. There are all sorts of ways to lose detail. But I don't advise shaking the camera. I try not to kick the tripod during exposures.
I've had my K10 for nearly four years, and I still forget that I can do things in PP that were very difficult in the darkroom. Thanks for the heads up.
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