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View Full Version : Focal Length


dmk26
06-10-2005, 03:14 PM
So, curious, what focal length do you guys generally prefer to use when taking portraits or cosplayer photos.
About 90% of the time I use 50mm with my DSLR (80mm when you account for the x1.6 sensor difference). The rest of the time I use 16-25mm (25 - 40m) to get slightly more extreme angles.

bob1968m
06-10-2005, 03:28 PM
i don't do many closeups, but when i did I tried to use a long a focal length i could. The pic i took of Mana below i used 50mm (75mm equivalent). nikon is x1.5. If it was just on a single person, i would have gone longer.

http://images.cosplay.com/showphoto.php?photo=329861

for full body shots, which for Cosplay, are more interesting to me, i ended up using wider angles. anywhere from 18mm(27mm eq) to 29mm(44mm eq).

RuthlessJS
06-10-2005, 03:32 PM
I usually end up using my Canon 50 f1.4 lens. It's not wide enough to fit the entire costume in the frame...and it makes it very hard to take group shots but
I like being able to throw the baqckground out of focus and the bokeh I get from the lens

dmk26
06-10-2005, 03:41 PM
I usually end up using my Canon 50 f1.4 lens. It's not wide enough to fit the entire costume in the frame...and it makes it very hard to take group shots but
I like being able to throw the baqckground out of focus and the bokeh I get from the lens

Yeah, thats why I prefer the 50mm as well. The bokeh. Although one other major issue I have with wider angle lenses is the body distortion. Unless you intend for it, or adjust for it using the right shooting angles, the body distortion from wide angle lenses really bugs me.

gmontem
06-10-2005, 03:43 PM
For me it's cramped Dealer's Room @ 50mm; Hotel/Convention Hall @ 50mm or 85mm; Outdoors @ 50mm, 85mm, or 135mm depending on the situation. I try to stick with normal and tele lenses and try to avoid wide-angles for portraits, not unless I intend to distort a facial/costume feature.

Super No 1
06-10-2005, 04:39 PM
I use my 80-200/2.8 lens most of the time, and usually at 80mm. If it gets too crowded I'll go to my 50mm lens.

raye
06-10-2005, 04:51 PM
I am currently using a 105mm lens on a 1.5 crop camera. It feels just fine outdoors but is too long indoors. When the money is there, I will try a 85mm. I don't think I would like 50mm too much as I usually like tighter head and shoulders pictures. Or maybe I should just use a zoom... NAH.

phaedrus
06-10-2005, 05:16 PM
If you want to get technical, a 'portrait lens' is generally taken to be 135mm, IIRC.

jtnishi
06-10-2005, 05:57 PM
actually, the portrait lenses my dad has from his 35mm Nikon are 85mm & 105mm. Normally, 120 is the upper for portraits.

That said, I like my 50mm as well on the DRebel.

Admin
06-10-2005, 08:29 PM
My favorite for portraits is 135, though I normally use 85 for outdoor cosplay and 50 for indoors. For outdoor cosplay where I frame the cosplayer as just one part of the overall scene, 35mm.

yukitoLeonheart
06-10-2005, 09:50 PM
depends on when and where. When getting more candid portrait's inside it is best to just use a wide zoom. I think the best bang for your buck there on a Canon is the 17 - 40 L hands down. It is an F 4, but you really don't need to worry that much about it not being the stop lower like the 16 - 35. It won't affect shutter speed that much and Depth of Field on wide angle lenses is not really there. Also, the 17 - 40 costs half as much and is sharp wide open.

For straight up "I am outside and have all the room in the world" I have used an 85 1.2 and the 135 2......... depends on the person. I like the 135 a lot because that thing is gorgeous, sharp wide open, and the Depth of Field is so amazing because of its focal length. I don't own it, but man that lens is just gorgeous. The 85 is kind of cool because it can produce that dreamy effect everyone thinks is so amazing. People tend to think that decently sharp images with everything around the main focal point extremely blurry means "amazing job".

Personally, I think of all the L zooms, the hugest let down "for the money" is the 24 - 70. It is the PERFECT carry around lens at a convention, but it can be so soft and it just isn't up to par with what I would expect when paying over $1200 for a lens.


For those on here shooting Canon, does anyone know the difference image wise between the 70 - 200 F 4/ L and the F 2.8 L IS or non IS? I haven't used the F 4 but I hear wonderful things.

gmontem
06-10-2005, 10:13 PM
The 85 is kind of cool because it can produce that dreamy effect everyone thinks is so amazing. People tend to think that decently sharp images with everything around the main focal point extremely blurry means "amazing job".
Not sure why you believe those people are wrong to feel that way. There will be people who love those kind of results and there will be people who hate it. It's all a matter of opinion really.

yukitoLeonheart
06-10-2005, 11:44 PM
I believe it because a lot of people I have worked with seems to think that knocking out everything but the main focal point means the picture looks "really cool".

I am not saying it is "wrong", in fact, I didn't say it was wrong. I just said most people think that it means the photo is amazing. If anything, I should of elaborated and said that a low depth of field or using a large apperature, whichever you want to call it, doesn't necessarily mean a decent photo. There are many reasons why, but I am sure you are well aware of them.

Kokuu
06-11-2005, 02:01 AM
For portraits and photoshoots, I like to use my telephoto 55-200 mm f/4.5-5.6. Not a very fast lens, but I'm poor. XD It does make for pretty nice photos, since cosplayers are pretty good at posing and holding still. I've tried to use it for convention photography, but even at 55mm it's kind of difficult, since it's just too crowded, and I feel bad making cosplayers hold their pose while I back up and not try and hit people. Fanime I got stuck using my 18-55 mm wide angle, since that's the only other lens I have, which didn't make for great photos (it also doesn't help that I don't know how to work an external flash properly yet, so the photos came out rather dark and harsh looking).

Super No 1
06-11-2005, 10:17 AM
For portraits and photoshoots, I like to use my telephoto 55-200 mm f/4.5-5.6. Not a very fast lens, but I'm poor. XD It does make for pretty nice photos, since cosplayers are pretty good at posing and holding still. I've tried to use it for convention photography, but even at 55mm it's kind of difficult, since it's just too crowded, and I feel bad making cosplayers hold their pose while I back up and not try and hit people. Fanime I got stuck using my 18-55 mm wide angle, since that's the only other lens I have, which didn't make for great photos (it also doesn't help that I don't know how to work an external flash properly yet, so the photos came out rather dark and harsh looking).
Welcome to the wonderful world of SLRs! The ability do change lenses does have it's drawbacks. I find that many times, I will pass up good photo opportunites just because I'm in a particular location that I don't like to take photos or because I don't have the correct lens on my camera and I don't feel like changing it. Buying lenses eats up cash, but even if you don't have a lot of money, Canon offers a 50mm prime lens for about $70 and if portraits are your interest, then you should consider getting one.

For Nikon users, they also have a 50mm prime lens for less than $100.

gmontem
06-11-2005, 12:29 PM
Super, you should relive the shoulder pain days and buy a Nikon body for every lens you have. :razz:

liddo-chan
06-22-2005, 02:12 AM
I believe it because a lot of people I have worked with seems to think that knocking out everything but the main focal point means the picture looks "really cool".

I am not saying it is "wrong", in fact, I didn't say it was wrong. I just said most people think that it means the photo is amazing. If anything, I should of elaborated and said that a low depth of field or using a large apperature, whichever you want to call it, doesn't necessarily mean a decent photo. There are many reasons why, but I am sure you are well aware of them.

I like taking pictures on my Nikon FE with a 1.4 aperture because it allows me to select what people will notice in the photo. I like the blurred effect too, but as gmontem pointed out, aesthetics are personal choices.

There are people who say that photos are "cool" just because they look "artsy," (again, this is all subjective), but that happens with coloring, grain, all sorts of things.

Ollie
08-03-2005, 12:27 PM
Maybe you wise people can help elaborate on what the differences are for focal lengths in portrait photography. It seems a fast lens reduces the depth of field to avoid having the background in complete (or almost complete) focus. But what about the focal length? I've heard people recommend fairly short (50mm, or about a 85mm equivalent on a 35mm film camera) lenses, but also (what seems to me) to be fairly long (135mm or 200mm) lenses, too. I thought a longer focal length lets you stand farther away, flattening the image, but would also increase the depth of field. Maybe people just want different amounts of DOF.

Is the difference in setting, such as outdoors or indoors? Or is it really just something that comes down to artistic opinion? For reference, I'm moving up from a Kodak EasyShare to a Canon Digital Rebel XT with the kit lens. I'll experiment the crap out of the kit lens before buying another one,

dmk26
08-03-2005, 06:18 PM
You basically covered the two main things regarding focal lengths: DOF and flattening.
The longer the focal length, the more flattening you'll achieve, but you have to keep in mind your environment and whether or not you have space. A lot of people suggest the longer focal lengths for portraits, but as you said, this requires a lot of distance between you and the subject, which isn't always achievable. Also with really long focal lengths (150 mm or above) stability and camera shake becomes an issue.
While focal length affects DOF, you can basically achieve similar DOF results at different focal lengths by modifying your aperture setting. In the end, it comes down to artistic preferences, but for portraits, anything less then 50mm tends to cause too much distortion on a full body image. Of course, ultra wide angles can help create extremely distorted images, which are cool in a different way, but can't really be considered portraits.
For your digital rebel, I highly recommend getting the 50mm 1.8 lens along with your kit. Its pretty cheap (~$75) and extremely clear with a great aperture range...

Maybe you wise people can help elaborate on what the differences are for focal lengths in portrait photography. It seems a fast lens reduces the depth of field to avoid having the background in complete (or almost complete) focus. But what about the focal length? I've heard people recommend fairly short (50mm, or about a 85mm equivalent on a 35mm film camera) lenses, but also (what seems to me) to be fairly long (135mm or 200mm) lenses, too. I thought a longer focal length lets you stand farther away, flattening the image, but would also increase the depth of field. Maybe people just want different amounts of DOF.

Is the difference in setting, such as outdoors or indoors? Or is it really just something that comes down to artistic opinion? For reference, I'm moving up from a Kodak EasyShare to a Canon Digital Rebel XT with the kit lens. I'll experiment the crap out of the kit lens before buying another one,

shiroin
08-31-2005, 03:06 AM
im really not using set focal length lens... for example the 50mm
usually i use my 18-70mm
but i have been thinking of getting a 25-85mm
beacuse honestly with low focal lengths its really useless to photograph cosplayers in my opinion
anyting beyond about 60mm then ur getting close-ups for the face
so 25-85mm should work nicely, although i have not yet aquired the lens

Ollie
08-31-2005, 07:11 AM
im really not using set focal length lens... for example the 50mm
usually i use my 18-70mm
but i have been thinking of getting a 25-85mm
beacuse honestly with low focal lengths its really useless to photograph cosplayers in my opinion
anyting beyond about 60mm then ur getting close-ups for the face
so 25-85mm should work nicely, although i have not yet aquired the lens

I need the 18mm (x1.6 = 28mm) focal length often when there is a group shot going on and there are too many people behind me to back up. Similarly, in such a situation a pretty high focal length is pretty good for getting individuals from a large group. At about 20 feet away from a group of 20, you'll need a wide angle for the whole group, but for a good individual picture you'll need a decent zoom.

Now, if it were me, and I don't know much about lenses, I wouldn't want a second lens covering the same basic range of focal lengths, unless there was some particular need. A prime in that range might be good for optical quality and large aperature. Maybe if you can blow the money on a higher quality lens, it's worth it. But if you already have a lens in that range, why not go for something a bit more dynamic? A 50-200mm lens would get you get good closeups from farther away. It would make wider shots harder, but that doesn't seem to be your concern.

Of course, maybe I'm missing something obvious here.

TomodachiFriend
08-31-2005, 10:29 AM
I don't believe anyone here beside me shoots Minolta? Anyway, if you do, you should get the 1.4 50mm (it has circular aperture while the 1.7 doesn't). It has good bokeh, is sharper than Nikon, and can be had for VERY cheap.

shiroin
08-31-2005, 06:08 PM
if you are shooting at individual cosplayers 200 is way too high
to be honest i wouldnt even go over 100 for individuals'

maybe a SIGMA 28-105 F2.8-4?

ZiggyB
09-12-2005, 04:00 AM
After going to PMX and doing some photoshoots, I found the 50mm 1/8f lens fantastic quality wise, but I really didn't like the fact that I was so far away from the cosplayers.

This was mostly an issue when I was dealing with groups or trying to take full body photos. Doing portraits and stuff were fine.

I'm seriously considering getting the Sigma 30mm/1.4f prime lens (I'm on a 1.6x multiplier). I noticed that I used that focal length alot, since I switched to my 28-105mm zoom lens to get closer to the cosplayers.

I'll have to think about it some more, since that lens isn't exactly cheap. X-/

gmontem
09-12-2005, 08:46 AM
Canon's own 35/2 should be a good temporary lens to use while you save up for the more expensive glass.

ZiggyB
09-12-2005, 06:42 PM
Ouch, that lense is actually most then half of the one I'm looking at. :)

I'm looking at the Canon 28mm/2.8 since it's a bit more affordable. But I'm almost thinking that I should just save and go with the Sigma. Cheaper in the long run.

We'll see how things go after I pay my bills. :)

shiroin
09-19-2005, 10:27 PM
just did some shots during some protests last weekend
here are some great shots done at 18mm, the lowest focal length i have on all my lenses

http://www.deviantart.com/view/23089177/
http://www.deviantart.com/view/23041480/

emotive and dynamic shots...
not exactly cosplay themes, but those shots would have not been soo great if i had a lens with a greater minimal focal length... so for now im thinking of just sticking with my 18-70 (i still want to try a 28-70 f/2.8 though) but the next lens i would prob get is the SIGMA 10-20 F/4-5.6 EX DC HSM or some other low focal length zoom lenses