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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:44 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:53 pm
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Hi all,

I've taken a liking to portraits, particularly those taken indoors under lights - so much so that the other week I purchased a cheap yet reasonable 3 x softbox continous lighting kit plus a black and a white backdrop. I trialled this kit out last weekend with friends who wanted some family pics taken (both parents, 2 kids under 2 and also some individual shots) and following advice found on youtube in regards to lighting configurations, results whilst encouraging left room for improvement.

Lenses I used last weekend were my 50 f/1.8 and my 100 f/2.8 macro. Shooting at f/5.6 most of the time (for the group shots) I found shutter speeds were fine when an ISO of 400 was used.

This leads me to my question - I'm after another lens for portrait photography that I'd like to use both indoors and outdoors and would like some help with the decision. I've narrowed it down to 2 lenses now :-

Canon 85mm f/1.8
Canon 70 - 200mm f/4L IS

I've read great reviews on both of these lenses. My budget just allows the 70 - 200mm and while I've always wanted an L lens, I would rather make the correct decision to further my photgraphy skills and get better results than to buy an L series lens just for the sake of saying that I own an L series lens.

Any advice on these 2 lenses would be greatly appreciated.

_________________
Canon 5D MKIII, Canon 60D, 70-200 f2.8 L, 17-40 f4 L, 50 f1.8, 24-70 f2.8 L, 50 f1.4

http://www.flickr.com/photos/55078072@N06/


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:06 pm 
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Location: Speyer (Germany)
Those are both great lenses. The 85mm can get more than 4x more light and so a shallower depth of field if needed but if you shoot 5.6 most of the time it probably won't.
The 70-200mm F4 is one of the sharpest zoom lenses available and the IS might help in lower light and it offers zoom and the better build quality + weather sealing.

As I said: Both lenses are great but the 70-200mm is the more flexible lens and I'd go for it indeed. If you need the aperture of 1.8 you still have you 50mm lens - even if the 85mm is better.

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Canon EOS 500D + Canon EOS 5D Mark III + Canon EOS 33v
Canon EF 28-80mm 3.5-5.6 USM + EF 24-105mm 4L IS USM + EF 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS USM + EF 50mm 1.8 II + EF 100mm 2.8L Macro IS USM + Sigma 12-24mm 4.5-5.6 EX DG HSM + Canon Speedlite 580 EX II + Nissin Speedlite Di 466


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:04 pm 
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Don't forget you are using a crop frame body so 85mm might be a bit much for portraits.

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Mike "The Squirrel"
Canon 550D | Canon EF 35mm 1:2 | Canon 50 f/1.8 II | Sigma 18-125mm DC OS | Tamron SP 70-300mm Di VC USD | Canon 430EX II
Military Issued Canon 40D | Canon 55-250mm IS


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 12:11 am 
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I'm even using my 100mm 2.8L Macro IS USM for portraits on my crop frame body. I want to use a 135mm F2L USM on a full frame body! Uhhhh yeah... :lol:

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Canon EOS 500D + Canon EOS 5D Mark III + Canon EOS 33v
Canon EF 28-80mm 3.5-5.6 USM + EF 24-105mm 4L IS USM + EF 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS USM + EF 50mm 1.8 II + EF 100mm 2.8L Macro IS USM + Sigma 12-24mm 4.5-5.6 EX DG HSM + Canon Speedlite 580 EX II + Nissin Speedlite Di 466


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 2:21 am 
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The wider apertures on portrait lenses are for subject/background separation more than for amount of light. You can read this review of the 85mm, which says, in part:
Quote:
I didn't find myself using the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Lens very much after getting the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens. Although 1 1/3 stop slower, I found the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens to be far more versatile.

At f2.8, you'll still get very good subject separation. Perhaps saving up for the Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS (II) USM might be a possibility.

If not, and if f4 is acceptable, then I would assume the above quote applies to the f4 lens as well.

Also, if you like taking your portraits with a longer focal length anyway, you may want to consider the Canon EF 135mm f2.0L USM lens, known for being perhaps the sharpest L lens made, and still priced very reasonably.

And if you decide on one of the more expensive options, like the Canon 70-200 f2.8L IS II USM, but it will take a long time to save up the money, consider buying the 85mm for the short term while you continue to save. The 85mm is a fantastic lens at an incredible price.

_________________
Body: Canon Rebel XS, Canon EOS 7D
Lenses: Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4.0 OS HSM DC Macro, Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS II, Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 USM, Canon EF 85mm f1.8 II USM


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 3:37 am 
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I seriously looked at the 70-200 f4 IS L, but as I also have an interest in wildlife photos such as birds, I wanted more range and real weathersealing ( this excluded the 100-400L). Hence I got the 70-300L. With that I am getting f4 from 70-105. With your 55-250 you would get a similar aperture of f4 in the wide bit. See if that achieves what you like.

I personally think that for proper subject isolation and good background you need better than f4. Especially on cropped bodies. There is no question that the 70-200 f4 is a better lens, but for portrait sharpness is arguably not the main focus.

What I am alluding to is that if you cannot afford the 70-200 2.8 I personally wouldn`t bother with the f4. See if you stretch the budget to the 70-200 2.8 non IS version.

I recently bought the 85 1.8 and its an amazing lens. Colour, contrast and sharpness are excellent.

I would love Canon to build a 70-200 2.8 L IS USM lens for cropped bodies, ie a 30-130 2.8 L IS USM. Alternatively I should get a full frame body like the 5D, but its a lot of money which I cannot justify.

Here is pics of the 85 1.8 both taken at f2. They were riding scooters at me with speed, so quick action shots and it become my favourite lens.
Image
Bella9431 by maxjj, on Flickr

Image
Lucas9472 by maxjj, on Flickr

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Canon Powershot S95, Canon 6D,7D, Canon 40 2.8 STM, Tamron 24-70 2.8 VC, Canon 17-40 L, Canon 15-85, Canon 85 1.8, Sigma 30 1.4, 50mm 1.8, Canon 100 2.8L Macro, Canon 70-300L +Kenko 1.4 Pro 300DGX, Canon 430EX II and RS 4 Classic


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 4:29 am 
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Thanks for all replies - seems like its a 50/50 split so far. As far as seperation goes, how important is this if I'm shooting against a plain black or white backdrop ? I can see the importance of a shallower DOF with a more cluttered background.

Also with group portraits, how important is it that the lens can be stopped down to 1.8 ? As an example, over the weekend I took family pics where the adults where sitting down and had a child each in their laps so I found that to get everyone in focus I had to set my aperture to 5.6 and the ISO to 400 to get sufficient shutter speed to freeze one particular annoyed little 2 year old :wink:

I would love the Canon 70-200 f2.8L IS II USM but unfortunately this is more than twice as much as my budget allows :cry:

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Canon 5D MKIII, Canon 60D, 70-200 f2.8 L, 17-40 f4 L, 50 f1.8, 24-70 f2.8 L, 50 f1.4

http://www.flickr.com/photos/55078072@N06/


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:47 am 
I think there is much to say for both lenses. The 85 is a great lens for the price and has the larger aperture, the 70-200 is more versatile.
Question is, do you feel limited by the f/2.8 aperture of your 100? If not, or only rarely, the 70-200 might offer more advantages due to its versatile range, while the f/4 aperture keeps the size of the lens down a bit. (I think the f/2.8 version is pretty big.)


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 7:42 am 
My question is on a cropped sensor body wouldn't the 85mm lens be too long for use inside? A 50mm's field of view is equivalent to an 80mm on a full frame sensor and 90mm used to be recognized at 'the' portrait lens on 35mm film.

The advantage you have with a studio environment is that you have the best zoom available to you in the world, your feet. Sorry but I don't see what significant advantages either lens would bring to the range of lenses you already have for the uses you've described. I'd have thought you'd be better off adding a wider prime to your kit rather than an inbetweener.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 2:27 pm 
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maxjj wrote:
What I am alluding to is that if you cannot afford the 70-200 2.8 I personally wouldn`t bother with the f4. See if you stretch the budget to the 70-200 2.8 non IS version.

+1. I hadn't considered this option, but this is an excellent suggestion. Are you using a tripod? If not, you should be (it sounds like your subjects are stationary anyway). And once you are, the IS will be off anyway. The Canon 70-200 f2.8L USM (non-IS) is priced similarly to the Canon 70-200 f4L IS USM, so it should be in your budget.

_________________
Body: Canon Rebel XS, Canon EOS 7D
Lenses: Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4.0 OS HSM DC Macro, Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS II, Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 USM, Canon EF 85mm f1.8 II USM


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:14 pm 
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The F2.8 (without IS) gives you twice as much light and a shallower depth of field.
The F4 IS has the IS, is lighter, weather sealed and it's sharper.

It depends on what you want.

_________________
Canon EOS 500D + Canon EOS 5D Mark III + Canon EOS 33v
Canon EF 28-80mm 3.5-5.6 USM + EF 24-105mm 4L IS USM + EF 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS USM + EF 50mm 1.8 II + EF 100mm 2.8L Macro IS USM + Sigma 12-24mm 4.5-5.6 EX DG HSM + Canon Speedlite 580 EX II + Nissin Speedlite Di 466


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2011 1:52 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:53 pm
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Location: Sydney, Australia
HHmmmmm - thanks once again for your replies. I'm starting to steer towards the 70-200 f/2.8 non-IS for now then hope to save enough to one day sell this for the IS version.

So my next question is - would you sacrifice IS for a higher F value ?

_________________
Canon 5D MKIII, Canon 60D, 70-200 f2.8 L, 17-40 f4 L, 50 f1.8, 24-70 f2.8 L, 50 f1.4

http://www.flickr.com/photos/55078072@N06/


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2011 5:50 am 
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good question.
It comes down to personal preference and what you are priorities are.
In my opinion for portrait type work aperture is more important.

Consider hiring them both for a weekend and see which one you prefer.
At least then you make the right decision for you.

_________________
Canon Powershot S95, Canon 6D,7D, Canon 40 2.8 STM, Tamron 24-70 2.8 VC, Canon 17-40 L, Canon 15-85, Canon 85 1.8, Sigma 30 1.4, 50mm 1.8, Canon 100 2.8L Macro, Canon 70-300L +Kenko 1.4 Pro 300DGX, Canon 430EX II and RS 4 Classic


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2011 6:58 am 
Hiring them is a great idea. With the high cost involved, having that extra bit of experience is important. At the very least use them for a few test shots.

IS is nice, but using a tripod, or a simple monopod, can do the same (and more). IS doesn't really give you an advantage in terms of what you can technically do, a larger aperture does.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2011 9:13 pm 
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Solid advice, thankyou all.

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Canon 5D MKIII, Canon 60D, 70-200 f2.8 L, 17-40 f4 L, 50 f1.8, 24-70 f2.8 L, 50 f1.4

http://www.flickr.com/photos/55078072@N06/


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