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04-22-2013, 07:17 AM   #1
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Portrait photography

Is there a specific distance between camera and subject that is better for portrait photography\?

Thanks!!

-Chuck




04-22-2013, 07:40 AM   #2
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The "classic" portrait focal length is usually around 85mm in 35mm terms becauses it causes a slight perspective compression that is considered flattering (i.e. it makes the nose appear smaller). On APS-C that equates to about 55mm. So put your kit lens at 55mm, and stand so that you have the subject's head and shoulders in the frame. In practice it works out to about 6 or 8 feet, but I like to stand a little further back, maybe 10 or 12 feet, so I can later crop to different aspect ratios without having to clone the background.
04-22-2013, 07:56 AM   #3
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The 6-8 feet mentioned makes the perspective of the face appear natural - the ears are, to our eyes, the "right" size, the nose is not exaggerated. If your subject has a, errr, prominent, nose, back up a bit, if the ears are like mine and Prince Charles, move in a bit to shrink them.

A wig stand is a perfect subject to play with the distances and see what effects you get.
04-22-2013, 08:00 AM   #4
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Define portraits I like something between 28mm and 35mm focal length for full body portraits; distance would be somewhere around 2.5 meters depending on length of subject.

04-22-2013, 08:09 AM   #5
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Dependant on the lens your using it will vary the distance to shoot from, for ideal focal lengths, others have already made good suggestions.

I would just add try to fill the frame with head and shoulder or three quarter shots, with your chosen lens.
04-22-2013, 08:12 AM   #6
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More for head and shoulders shots.

I think I'm going to buy a 77mm Limited this week.
04-22-2013, 10:38 AM   #7
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Some full-length portraits of models are taken from low-to-ground, using a wider-than-normal lens. Makes the models' legs look longer, relative to the torso.

But since I'm not a pro and don't shoot models, I stick with telephoto (short to medium) lenses.
04-22-2013, 11:57 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by maxfield_photo Quote
The "classic" portrait focal length is usually around 85mm in 35mm terms becauses it causes a slight perspective compression that is considered flattering (i.e. it makes the nose appear smaller). On APS-C that equates to about 55mm. So put your kit lens at 55mm, and stand so that you have the subject's head and shoulders in the frame. In practice it works out to about 6 or 8 feet, but I like to stand a little further back, maybe 10 or 12 feet, so I can later crop to different aspect ratios without having to clone the background.
Forgive me if i am wrong but isn't a 85mm lens on 35mm film still an 85mm lens on APS. The difference only being the cameras APS sensor only captures a cropped portion of the image. The cropped image appears 1.5 times larger. So should we still use a 85mm lens but stand further back?

Please correct me if am wrong, i am only trying to learn like everone else.

Regards Jeff

04-22-2013, 12:49 PM   #9
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It depends on what you're trying to achieve. And what your style is.
04-22-2013, 12:52 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by screwdriver222 Quote
Forgive me if i am wrong but isn't a 85mm lens on 35mm film still an 85mm lens on APS. The difference only being the cameras APS sensor only captures a cropped portion of the image. The cropped image appears 1.5 times larger. So should we still use a 85mm lens but stand further back?

Please correct me if am wrong, i am only trying to learn like everone else.

Regards Jeff
If I'm not mistaken an 85mm is still indeed an 85 "but" it will hold an effective focal length of 127.5mm in "fullframe standards" because it's cropped.

Fullframe 85mm = 85mm
APC-S = 85mm x 1.5
04-22-2013, 02:12 PM - 2 Likes   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by screwdriver222 Quote
Forgive me if i am wrong but isn't a 85mm lens on 35mm film still an 85mm lens on APS. The difference only being the cameras APS sensor only captures a cropped portion of the image. The cropped image appears 1.5 times larger. So should we still use a 85mm lens but stand further back?

Please correct me if am wrong, i am only trying to learn like everone else.

Regards Jeff
You certainly could, but it would give a different effect than using a 55mm on an APS-C camera and standing in the same place that you would with an 85mm on a full frame. The key is the amount of perspective distortion, or foreshortening that occurs.

Perspective is determined by one thing and one thing only, where you stand in relation to your subject. Focal length has no effect on it, it's just that shorter focal lengths allow you to stand closer while framing the same subject, while longer focal lengths force you to stand further back.

To illustrate, imagine this scenario: Let's say I'm shooting a portrait with my PZ-1p and an FA* 85mm. I want to get a head and shoulders shot of my subject, so I turn the camera in vertical orientation and stand about 6 feet from my subject and take the shot. Now I decided I want to create the exact same image on my K20d. I take the FA* 85 off my film body and put it on my digital body. Because I am in the same position, the perspective will be the same, but there's just one problem, I'm now chopping off my subject's head. If I back up, I can get my subject completely in the frame again, but the perspective will change. The face will flatten a bit, but the ears will look a bit larger in relation.

If I really want to create the exact same image, I need to maintain my position but switch to a lens that counteracts the camera's crop factor like the DA* 55. In fact, I believe that's why that lens was designed, to replicate the perspective and field of view of a classic portrait lens. It's the same with the DA* 50-135, it roughly mimics the FA* 80-200.

Now that's not to say that 85mm is a bad focal length for portraits on an APS-C system, it's just that your subjects start to flatten out a bit. To carry the example further, imagine shooting an 85mm lens on the Q, your subjects would start to look very 2-dimensional, [Edit: because you'd be forced to stand WAY back.]

Last edited by maxfield_photo; 04-23-2013 at 10:50 AM.
04-23-2013, 10:43 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by maxfield_photo Quote
You certainly could, but it would give a different effect than using a 55mm on an APS-C camera and standing in the same place that you would with an 85mm on a full frame. The key is the amount of perspective distortion, or foreshortening that occurs.

Perspective is determined by one thing and one thing only, where you stand in relation to your subject. Focal length has no effect on it, it's just that shorter focal lengths allow you to stand closer while framing the same subject, while longer focal lengths force you to stand further back.

To illustrate, imagine this scenario: Let's say I'm shooting a portrait with my PZ-1p and an FA* 85mm. I want to get a head and shoulders shot of my subject, so I turn the camera in vertical orientation and stand about 6 feet from my subject and take the shot. Now I decided I want to create the exact same image on my K20d. I take the FA* 85 off my film body and put it on my digital body. Because I am in the same position, the perspective will be the same, but there's just one problem, I'm now chopping off my subject's head. If I back up, I can get my subject completely in the frame again, but the perspective will change. The face will flatten a bit, but the ears will look a bit larger in relation.

If I really want to create the exact same image, I need to maintain my position but switch to a lens that counteracts the camera's crop factor like the DA* 55. In fact, I believe that's why that lens was designed, to replicate the perspective and field of view of a classic portrait lens. It's the same with the DA* 50-135, it roughly mimics the FA* 80-200.

Now that's not to say that 85mm is a bad focal length for portraits on an APS-C system, it's just that you subjects start to flatten out a bit. To carry the example further, imagine shooting an 85mm lens on the Q, your subjects would start to look very 2-dimensional.
Thanks for you excellent explaination maxfield. Fully understand it now.

Regards

Jeff
04-23-2013, 03:17 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChuckB28 Quote
More for head and shoulders shots.

I think I'm going to buy a 77mm Limited this week.
Go for it. Pretty much all of my studio portraits are shot using 70mm Limited. You can have a look on my website.
04-24-2013, 05:15 AM   #14
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If you Google "Portrait Lens Focal Length Comparison", you will find many links with pictures.

Effect of Lens Focal Length on Portraits | Les Jones
Which Lens Should I Use? | Focal Length Comparison
The Ideal Focal Length for Portraiture: A Photographer's Experiment

You will need to read through the links to see if they are using full frame or crop sensor cameras.

Tim
04-24-2013, 07:39 AM   #15
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Let's add another one Comparison Of Tele To Wide Portraits | Orms Connect (FF/35mm camera used)
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