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Marc Lebryk

The Right Lens Part 2...


Welcome to part 2 of a three part installment in what my favorite lenses for portraits are. Just in time for the the soon to be changing leaves for fall, when I know you'll want to make some beautiful portrait images. (You can find Part 1 about lenses for Sports HERE). You may not have all, or any of the lenses I talk about in this series of blogs, but this will also help you add to your bag when you are ready to either get started, or make that jump to the good stuff. Lets get started yes?

upp-test

OK, so there are lots of variables for portrait photography to consider when getting started in lens selections and there are links to ALL of the lenses listed in this blog at the bottom of the post. Do you need a specific lens, or kind of lens to shoot portraits? Simple answer is no. The more complicated answer is that if you're looking for a specific effect, then yes. First lets get started with Depth of field. As I tell workshop attendees, or students in general, depth of field in a photo is created by three factors. Focal Length, Aperture, and distance from the camera. When shooting in a studio on bright white, none of the information about these lenses means as much. I don't shoot with a 85F1.4 in the studio to shoot bright white because that's shot usually at F10 or higher, which honestly I can shoot at any lens that has an 85mm Focal length. When on location though, or looking for a certain effect that means that just about any lens can be used as a portrait lens depending on what you need out of it. In fact, this shot here was shot using a 400mm F2.8.

_M4S1445s(Nikon D4s, 80ISO, Nikon 400mmF2.8VR, 1/250th@F3.5. Paul C Buff Einstein set to 1/32nd power above Ashley shot through a 47" Octabox. Paul C Buff Einstein unit bare bulb behind the background set to 1/16th to give a little bit of an outline. Both Einsteins fired by PockeT Wizard Plus X Units from another in the Camera hot shoe).

The 400mm lens compressed the background so that even though she was only a few feet from the background it's nice and out of focus, along with her taped hands. The shot was really focusing on her face/eyes and I couldn't get that with anything other than the 400mm (trust me I tried other things). If you are wondering about long lens compression, check out this example using a cat! Compression and depth of field are only two factors in choosing a lens for a portrait though. Shooting in a Studio is different than shooting for effect. As I mentioned above, shooting on bright white you can use just about any lens, at any focal length because you are generally shooting at F8 or F10. The lenses in question here are going to be more specialty, but for depth of field purposes and not low light purposes. Generally folks think of low light when they think of a 50mm F1.4 or F1.2 lens, but today I want you to think Depth of Field and backgrounds. When I want to shoot a portrait, I have a few go to specialty lenses in my bag. I have a Nikon 24F1.4, a Nikon 50mm F1.4, and a Nikon 85mm F1.4D lens. Normal lenses in my bag for studio portraits include a Nikon 24-70F2.8G, and a Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2. Quite the collection, I know. (you can actually see ALL of the gear that I own and use on my Gear Page). It took years to get them all, and there is still one lens I would love to add to that list that I haven't yet, but I'll get there. Each of those lenses has their own purpose, not to be abused. They aren't the only lens options either, but I'll get to that.

ML42635

(Nikon D4, 400ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2@115mm, 1/100th@F2.8. Nikon SB900 in the Rogue XL Pro Lighting kit set to Strip softbox mode above to the right of our Nurse of the Year set to iTTL, and a Nikon SB-800 Speedlight zoomed to 105 set to fire via SU-4 Dummy slave set at 1/8th Power shot into the flags. The SB900 was controlled by a SU800 Speedlight commander on the Cameras Hot Shoe.)

In the sports blog I mentioned using a 70-200mm and it can be used for quite a bit more than just sports. It's a great range for portraits as well especially at F2.8. I own a Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2, but there are lots of options out there in the land of the 70-200. Obviously Canon has it's Equivalent 70-200F2.8IS2, but Sigma and Tamron also have their hats in the ring with their 70-200's. Over the last two years I've been incredibly impressed with Sigma's build and image quality and when I teach I recommend Sigma when someone may not be ready to spend the big bucks on the Nikon or Canon equivalent. The point is that the 70-200 is a major staple of any photographer's bag, and if you don't have one then you should start there. This is why so many companies make them. This is why a Nikon 80-200F2.8 was the first big boy Pro lens I ever bought. In fact when I sold it to buy the next one, I even got as much as I paid for it. Just like for Sports, the 70-200 is great for portraits with a wide open aperture. I prefer Nikon, but whether you like Canon Sigma or Tamron check here!

Jane23

(Nikon D3s, 500ISO, Nikon 50mmF1.4, 1/100th@F1.4. Nikon SB900 set to iTTL shot through a 32" umbrella held over the models head triggered by a Pocket Wizard TT1 in the camera hot shoe, which also triggered two Dynalite 400UniJR units set to full power in the barn in the background attached to a Pocket Wizard TT5 each).

SO you have a 70-200, or you are looking for something a little more specialized but not wanting to break the bank. Then you should look into what I think EVERY photographer should own. The 50mm Prime. It's considered a "normal" lens, and it's a pretty standard focal length. Great for street photography, great for walking around. Anyway, you don't buy a prime lens to shoot it at F10. No, you buy a 50mm F1.8 or F1.4 to shoot at F1.8 or F1.4. You know, the place where all other lenses can't go? Yea. Exactly. The 50mm can run you anywhere between $75 for a used 50mm F1.8 (in Canon OR Nikon) Or you can get the F1.4 version for a few hundred. (Nikon's is $400 refurbished and Canon's F1.4 is about the same.) Beyond the $400 version, the wizards at Nikon, Canon and otherwise have masterminded even better 50mm (or equivalent) lenses for public and professional consumption. Canon makes a 50mm F1.2 lens, and Nikon makes a 58mm F1.4 lens. These lenses are supposed to be the cream of the crop in terms of 50mm Primes. At $1600 and $1700 respectively they aren't for the feint of heart or wallet. This is probably a good time to mention the alternatives to the Canon and Nikon lenses. Until Recently a 50mm lens was a tough thing to mess up. Sigma has proven that 50mm lenses should all be the mecca of quality considering as a lens they have been around a very long time. To prove it, they have released their 50mm F1.4 Art lens to compete with the Canon and Nikon super high end equivalents. I recently reviewed this lens for Roberts (you can read that review HERE). I love my Nikon 50mm F1.4, but Sigma has knocked it out of the park. If you've got the money go for the Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art lens on this one. Otherwise, 50mm F1.8's are cheap and awesome!

Guy13

(Nikon D3s, 200ISO, Nikon 85mmF1.4D, 1/4000th@F2. Nikon SB900 Speedlight with a SD-9A Battery pack shot through a 32? umbrella held by Tom above the subject to camera right zoomed to 105mm set to iTTL +1.7EV fired by Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 unit triggered by a Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 Unit on the camera with an SU-800 in the hot Shoe.)

Why shoot at F1.4? Well it provides a very silky smooth bokeh (out of focus portion of the image) that you can't get with any other lens. That's why a 24-70mm at 50mm F2.8 will give you the same viewing angle, but not the same depth of field. The wide open aperture is what these prime lenses are all about. If you're really looking for an even creamier wide open F1.4 though, you should look for the 85mm F1.4 lens like seen above. The 85mm F1.4 lens is a staple in the portrait photography world because of the incredible depth of field it provides wide open. It will provide such a shallow depth of field that when focused on someone's eye, their nose will be out of focus in the image. The important part is the background though. Totally gone. Beautiful out of focus portions. It really draws your subject out of the background, and puts them at attention in your frame. The 85mm is expensive, but when it comes to portrait lenses, this really is the big one. Nikon and Canon both make a 85mm F1.8 and F1.4. Canon actually makes a 85mm F1.2 instead of a F1.4, and you pay a premium for it. Both Canon and Nikon's 85mm F1.8 can be had for $400-$500 and they are beautiful copies of the lens. I actually own an older Nikon 85mm F1.4D which you can still buy for about $900. The Brand new Nikon version will set you back around $1700, but the Canon 85mm F1.2 will set you back almost $2200! Sigma also has a 85mm F1.4 lens, but it's not of the newer Art lens variety. I've heard good things, but I've got my money waiting on their 85mm F1.4 Art lens when it's time. The Canon or Nikon 85mm F1.4 lens is kind of a stretch in cost for a lot of folks but there are few better portrait lenses that I've the same depth of field. I love my F1.4, but there can be some awesome deals on 85mm F1.8 lenses out there. If you're getting an 85 for the first time, look at the 85mm F1.8 lenses first and you might just save a ton!

Joe1

(Canon 5D Mark II, 100ISO, Sigma 35mm F1.4, 1/200th@F1.4. Photogenic light shot through a 36?x36? softbox set to minimum power pointed mostly towards the background to help diffuse the light enough to use such a wide aperture)

Ok, so not just longer lenses have fast apertures. What if you want that shallow depth of field at a wide angle? Nikon and Canon have taken care of you there too with their 24mm and 35mm F1.4 lenses. I personally prefer the Sigma 35mmF1.4 lens over the Canon and Nikon because again you get 97% of the performance of the Nikon or Canon Counterpart for 50% of the price. I said the same thing when I reviewed the Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art lens a few years ago. Nikon and Canon also have 24mm F1.4 lenses, which are a lot more specialty than they are necessary, but I own one and I love it. When shooting a portrait, I regularly find a shot where I can use the nice wide angle and shallow depth of field created by these lenses. Absolutely beautiful. When it comes to the wider fast primes, I again have to say the Sigma 35mm F1.4 is by far my first choice for the 35mm version, but the Nikon 24mm F1.4 is my first for the wider because Sigma doesn't make one of those (yet). Again, if you're just getting into it definitely check out the F1.8 lenses too because they as usual can save you a ton if you aren't sure if it's for you! That said I've also heard incredible things about the Sigma 18-35F1.8 zoom lens. A F1.8 zoom lens? Yea, not a typo. I haven't actually seen one, but I've heard nothing but incredible things about it.

IUAlumni045

(Nikon D4s, 50ISO, Nikon 24F1.4N, 1/250th@F1.4. Paul C. Buff Einstein set to 1/32nd power shot through a 47" Paul Buff Octabox overhead held by a C Stand. Einstein triggered via Pocket Wizard Plus X unit via a Pocket Wizard X unit in the cameras Hot shoe.)

So there you have it. That's a quick rundown of the lenses that I love for Portraiture in no particular order. yes there are Lots of lenses out there that can be used for portraits, but the Fast Aperture Primes are usually the best. A friend of mine absolutely loves his 100mmF2.8 Macro for portraits. While I don't own a 100mm F2.8 Macro personally, I can attest that the shots he's gotten out of it for portraits have been wonderful. They keys are to shoot at a shallow depth of field in enough light, and your portraits will be much more pleasing. Nikon has really started filling out it's lineup with a lot of F1.8 lenses which cost significantly less than their F1.4 counterparts. If I didn't own a large portion of the F1.4 counterparts already, I'd probably own the F1.8 versions due to cost. They create exceptional images, and are a truly valuable piece of gear in anybody's bag. Hopefully that helps narrow it down.

GuioCards

Remember, what's the effect you are looking to achieve? What's the angle of view you want? Those two things will determine what portrait lens is right for you, and your shots! The shot above was much much more than a bit of fast glass, but none of it Photoshop. If you're looking for something more like what's above than you'll just have to stay tuned, because that's a whole other story for a whole other day. More Soon.



Derek

NEX Is Dead, Long Live Alpha! And, Here's the A5100


a5100

Do you remember the NEX-5T? Of course you do, because you clearly remember each of the several hundred engineer-named cameras that come out every year, right? Who doesn't? In the unlikely case that you don't remember every hard-to-remember camera model we talk about, the NEX-5T was the last mid-level model NEX camera Sony made, and is now the last of the NEX branding to be dropped in favor of the more liked Alpha brand. It's replacement is the Alpha A5100. Nothing else has changed, we're still talking about a mirrorless compact system with the Sony E mount, compact body, 1.5x crop sensor. There are specs bumps, of course, with the A5100. Resolution is up to 24 megapixels, ISO range is up to 100-25,600, there's a touchscreen, on sensor phase detect AF, a higher resolution display, and more. Actually, it's easier to think of the A5100 as a cheaper A6000 with a slower frame rate. "Cheaper?" you ask. Yep. The A5100 will run about $550 for body only, or $700 with a 16-50mm, an easy $100 less all around than its bigger bro. If a cheaper camera with the A6000's quality and only a few catches sounds good to you, hit up our preorder links below:

A5100 Body Only

A5100 with 16-50mm Kit



John

Profoto AIR TTL-N


Do you own a Nikon camera?  Have you been waiting to shoot TTL with no wires, more modifiers than you can shake a stick at and 500 watts of color correct and exposure accurate power?  Your wait is nearly over.

Profoto's incredible new battery powered monolight the  Profoto B1 500AIR TTL unit has received rave reviews since its release with a Canon TTL transmitter early this year.  It was certainly one of my favorite new products of the year and one of the most innovative lighting tools in as many years as I've been taking pictures.

Read a hand's on review of the B1 here.

Hit this link for the Preorder

 



Walt Kuhn

Announcing a new class with Walt Kuhn: Roche Diagnostics - 4-Week Fundamentals Class


This 4 week class is meant to get you started in understanding your camera. "Auto" is more than a four letter word. It's the wrong mode setting for you. Learn all about shutter speed, aperture and ISO and how we can change them to impact our final image. We'll teach you how to quickly find the exposure information for the photo you are about to take. Topics covered also include auto-focus, white balance and how to stop getting blurry pictures in low light. To get started in photography and learn the fundamentals, this is the course for you. By the end of this four week class, we'll have you exploring your camera's settings and getting more out of your equipment. Class size limited to 14.

THIS CLASS IS ONLY FOR ROCHE DIAGNOSTICS EMPLOYEES AND THEIR SPOUSES. ALL STUDENTS WILL BE VERIFIED FOR ELIGIBILITY.

Presented ByWalt Kuhn
Cost:$60
When:September 4th, 2014 - September 25th, 2014
Times:5:30-7:30pm
Where:Roche Diagnostics Corp.
9115 Hague Road
Indianapolis, IN 46256
Register Today


Walt Kuhn

Announcing a new class with Walt Kuhn: Roche Diagnostics - 4 week Fundamentals


This 4 week class is meant to get you started in understanding your camera. "Auto" is more than a four letter word. It's the wrong mode setting for you. Learn all about shutter speed, aperture and ISO and how we can change them to impact our final image. We'll teach you how to quickly find the exposure information for the photo you are about to take. Topics covered also include auto-focus, white balance and how to stop getting blurry pictures in low light. To get started in photography and learn the fundamentals, this is the course for you. By the end of this four week class, we'll have you exploring your camera's settings and getting more out of your equipment. Class size limited to 14.

THIS CLASS IS ONLY FOR ROCHE DIAGNOSTICS EMPLOYEES AND THEIR SPOUSES. EACH STUDENT WILL BE VERIFIED FOR ELIGIBILITY.

Presented ByWalt Kuhn
Cost:$60
When:October 6th, 2014 - October 27th, 2014
Times:5:30-7:30pm
Where:Roche Diagnostics Corp.
9115 Hague Road
Indianapolis, IN 46256
Register Today


Walt Kuhn

Announcing a new class with Walt Kuhn: "Free" Canon Rebel camera class


If you purchased your Canon Rebel, begin the process of learning how to use the camera to it's fullest. Learn what the buttons and dials on the camera do. You paid good money for your camera now let us teach you how to us it. Free to anyone who purchased a Canon Rebel at Roberts. $30 to anyone who did not purchase the camera at Roberts

Presented ByWalt Kuhn
Cost:$0
When:September 15th, 2014 - September 15th, 2014
Times:6-8pm
Where:Jewish Community Center
6701 Hoover Road
Indianapolis, IN 46260
Register Today


Walt Kuhn

Announcing a new class with Cheryl Wessel: 4 week Fundamentals - Carmel


This 4 week class is meant to get you started in understanding your camera. "Auto" is more than a four letter word. It's the wrong mode setting for you. Learn all about shutter speed, aperture and ISO and how we can change them to affect our final image. We'll teach you how to quickly find the exposure information for the photo you are about to take. Topics covered also include auto-focus, white balance and how to stop getting blurry pictures in low light. To get started in photography and learn the fundamentals, this is the course for you. By the end of this four week class, we will have you exploring your camera's settings and getting more out of your equipment. Class size limited. Offered at various locations throughout Indianapolis, Brownsburg, Carmel and Greenwood. Required equipment: DSLR camera.

Presented ByCheryl Wessel
Cost:$125
When:September 3rd, 2014 - September 24th, 2014
Times:6-8
Where:Roberts Camera - Carmel
12761 Old Meridian Street
Carmel, IN 46032
Register Today


Walt Kuhn

Announcing a new class with Walt Kuhn: "Free Nikon D3000's/D5000's camera class


If you purchased your Nikon D3100/D5100, begin the process of learning how to use the camera to it's fullest. Learn what the buttons and dials on the camera do! You paid good money for your camera - now let us teach you how to us it. Free to anyone who purchased a Nikon D3100/D5100 from Roberts. $30 to anyone who did not purchase the camera at Roberts

Presented ByWalt Kuhn
Cost:$0
When:September 22nd, 2014 - September 22nd, 2014
Times:6-8pm
Where:Jewish Community Center
6701 Hoover Road
Indianapolis, IN 46260
Register Today


Walt Kuhn

Announcing a new class with Walt Kuhn: "Free" Canon Rebel camera class


If you purchased your Canon Rebel at Roberts, begin the process of learning how to use the camera to it's fullest. Learn what the buttons and dials on the camera do! You paid good money for your camera - now let us teach you how to us it.  Free to anyone who purchased a Canon Rebel at Roberts. $30 to anyone who did not purchase the camera at Roberts

Presented ByWalt Kuhn
Cost:$0
When:September 15th, 2014 - September 15th, 2014
Times:6-8pm
Where:Jewish Community Center
6701 Hoover Road
Indianapolis, IN 46260
Register Today


Walt Kuhn

Announcing a new class with Jeff Johansen: HDR - A New Art Form


This introductory course will help you to understand the art of High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography and how to go about creating bright and colorful images by combining multiple exposures of the same subject or scene. You will learn the process of how to properly bracket your exposure and shoot images suitable to process as High Dynamic Range and discover how to make HDR imagery both in your camera as well as via post processing in Photoshop, etc. A selection of scenes with both extreme highlights and dark shadows will be shown, followed by the post production process to create images true to what the human eye perceives -and- OZ-like surrealistic and painterly scenes.

Photography as art (Photo Art) will also be discussed and demonstrated including ways to turn your HDR and non-HDR images into artistic expressions to further your own photographic vision.

This is a fun and dynamic course and those wishing to attend are encouraged to bring their HDR questions to the class as well as send in any images ahead of the class to the instructor; student created HDR or images potentially seen by the student as a good candidate for HDR treatment. The instructor will endeavor to make comments and suggestions on a select number of images as well as process some in class, as time allows. These need to be sent in at least 3 days ahead of the class date. Prints for comments can be brought in the evening of the class.

Presented ByJeff Johansen
Cost:$39
When:September 9th, 2014 - September 9th, 2014
Times:6-9pm
Where:Jewish Community Center
6701 Hoover Road
Indianapolis, IN 46260
Register Today