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Achieving a particular style of portrait photography

Discussion in 'Street, Documentary, and Portrait' started by DHart, Oct 23, 2011.

  1. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Some here will recall my glee with the arrival of the new 45/1.8 portrait lens. Most of us are pretty excited about the portrait looks we can achieve with this great new lens.

    While the 45/1.8 marks a wonderful point in m4/3 system, I am still left yearning for one more lens to enable me to achieve my "signature" portrait style, while using m4/3 cameras.

    My bread and butter comes from shooting portraits, typically at about 1/2 body length, from 12-18' distance, with extremely shallow DOF, and very pronounced bokeh. And I prefer auto focus for this work, to help with speed and focus reliability.

    My tools to achieve this include a full frame sensor (5DMkII) with 80-200 f/2.8L lens shot at f/2.8 and typically at 200mm.

    There is no native m4/3 lens (AF) on m4/3 that will give quite this look.... yet! It will require a 90mm to 100mm f/1.8 m4/3 lens to do so. While a similar look can be achieved with the new 45/1.8 lens, it is only with camera to subject distances of around 4' to 5', which requires a much tighter head and shoulders composition only and thus greatly limits the compositional versatility as compared to the 200mm f/2.8 on full frame cameras.

    This is the look I earn my bread and butter with:

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    I do have a Zeiss Planar 85/1.4 lens, which will give me this look on m4/3 (though without the higher dynamic range and lower noise at high ISO that comes with the full frame sensor) but it is without AF. So... "the look" certainly can be achieved on m4/3 with a lens such as the Zeiss Planar 85mm f/1.4 lens, just without the speed and focus reliability of AF.

    Zeiss Planar 85/1.4 on GH2:

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    When Panasonic or Olympus gives us a 90-100mm f/1.8 native m4/3 lens with AF, I will be giddy with joy!

    I have to get this close with the new 45/1.8 on m4/3 to achieve a similar look:
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    I'm eagerly awaiting a native m4/3 Panasonic-Leica or Olympus Zuiko 90-100mm f/1.8 lens!
    • Like Like x 5
  2. Rudi

    Rudi Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 16, 2010
    Unfortunately you'd need at least an f/1.4 lens to duplicate that look. These are the perils of using a smaller sensor camera. This is one reason why I don't use anything smaller (sensor-wise) than a crop DSLR body for my professional work. The APS-C sized sensor still enables me to control DOF to my satisfaction, but I wouldn't want to go any smaller.

    I am planning to add the Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 to my arsenal, to be able to do portraiture "on the fly", but I still don't consider my m43 system to be my "professional" system (that is not to say that it hasn't been used to make me money, but I usually don't pick it up when the end result required is a portrait with shallow DOF). And I have to say that I enjoy shooting with my E-P3 a hell of a lot, it doesn't feel like work (using a DSLR sometimes does)!

    If Olympus ever make that 100mm f/1.4, we will both be happy. :biggrin:
  3. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    I have to think a good, fast 100mm prime is a next target for m43. I'm shooting with my OM 100mm 2.8 currently, and an 85/1.4, but AF is sorely needed. I agree with you 100%!
  4. Rudi

    Rudi Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 16, 2010
    I have used my EF 85mm f/1.8 on the Olympus, and it does the job. But AF would be nice. (I wish I could try the 85mm f/1.2 L, but it has focus-by-wire, so loses focus when not on an EOS camera.)
  5. 0dBm

    0dBm Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 30, 2011
    Western United States
    Your image with the O45, 1.8 is my signature portrait style! "Caesar" bust.
    Very nice image, BTW.

    So far, I have only used the O45 during social gathering, casual portrait shots sans formal posing. I'm about to go into the studio with a colleague to do prelim work for upcoming wedding work in November (me as second banana). I'll have my Nikon D3*Nikkor 85mm, 1.4 in the studio; however, the GH2*O45 will be my on location setup since I'll be on duty for only 3 hours tops. Gotta do some practicing with the Panasonic.

    I do like the prospect of having a 90 or 100, 1.8 prime built by Olympus a la' the 12mm, 2.0 build quality and silent AF of the O45. I suspect that Panasonic may jump on this one with a 90 in the same build scheme as the PL25 since Olympus offers the 12 and 45. Hopefully not too much more rotund.

    Now if Cosina Voigtlander comes up with a 100, 1.0 that that stops down tack sharp at 1.4, I'll jump all over it - AF or not.
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 8, 2011
    This is a Nikkor Ai 105 2.5 on my gf2

    Pretty nice smooth bokeh IMO

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    • Like Like x 1
  7. pinholecam

    pinholecam Mu-43 Rookie

    Oct 20, 2011
    Thanks for the insight and gorgeous portraits.

    I'm just curious why you did not mention a m4/3 version of a 85/1.4 and instead mention longer focal lengths?
    Since 85/1.4 is a 'proven' design on FF and APS-C.
  8. RnR

    RnR Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    The Olympus 45mm 1.8 is 90mm in 35mm speak. So that focal range is already covered :) 
  9. RR76

    RR76 Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 6, 2011
    South Wales UK
    What about the Nikkor 105mm f1.8 ais ? With an adapter you could use it on your 5d also.
  10. pinholecam

    pinholecam Mu-43 Rookie

    Oct 20, 2011
    What I mean is 85mm so 170mm on m4/3. 100/2 is possible, but 85/1.4 seems to be an easier optical formula based on the fact every manufacturer seems to be able to make one.
  11. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Pinhole... I did mention the 85/1.4 and included a photo I made with the Zeiss Planar 85 1.4 on GH2. I agree with you that the 85 1.4 seems to be a design than would be relatively straight forward to adopt for a native m4/3 lens and yes, I would be THRILLED to have a native 85 1.4 for m4/3. If I could have a 100 1.4 or 1.8 I'd like that even more for the additional compression the extra focal length would provide and additional bokeh available at greater camera to subject distances. But I think you're right in that 85 1.4 would be able to be a little smaller, lighter, and less expensive and would still provide the remarkable optical effects that I like so much. :smile:
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 8, 2011
    My friend has the 85 1.4 optex (other brands rebrand it) nice little lens, however DOF is paper thin that's why I didn't recommend it. A longer focal length and smaller aperture will have a similar effect. Nikkor 105s are great I love mine. No CA nice colors, sharp, cheap lol. Mine is minty mint and cost only 140
  13. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    I love having the ability to get paper thin DOF when I want it. You can always stop down a fast lens (or increase camera to subject distance) for more DOF, but you can't open up a slow one for shallower DOF.
  14. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    Who cares about lenses, you need models with attitude! Nothing more bland than stiff subjects. I always bring wine or beer to a shoot. Makes everyone more relaxed. :cool: 

    D3 & 70-200 VR-II:
    View attachment 180665

    I also prefer the candid look, posed photographs get boring. :flypig:

    D300S & 300 f4 AFS:
    View attachment 180666
  15. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Loving this lens... another of my (boring!) day to day clients... :wink: I'm having so much fun with this camera and lens! :thumbup: Life is good and business is great! :smile:

    G3 with 45mm f/1.8 lens...

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    • Like Like x 3
  16. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    DHart you do incredible work! Portraiture is one of the things I really want to work on this year.
  17. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    spatulaboy... thanks buddy! I'm glad you appreciate the work. It's been my life's passion and I'm among a very, very fortunate few to have been able to earn a great living as an image maker. Best wishes to you in your image making endeavors.
  18. foto2021

    foto2021 Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 5, 2011
    SE England
    I would also recommend an 85mm f/1.4. I use the Samyang in Nikon AIS mount.

    On m43 with an adapter it will give the OP the 'look' that he seeks.
  19. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 4, 2010
    How about a 4/3 mount lens ? I'm guessing Olympus would have it covered by something.

    Four Thirds | Four Thirds | Four Thirds | Chart(Lenses)

    With the 4/3 to m4/3 adaptor you'd get AF too - apparently slow but probably fine for portraits.

    Ned usually pipes up at the mention of adapted 4/3 lenses . . .
  20. PSimmons

    PSimmons Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 24, 2010
    Central Florida
    love, love, love that last image, her eyes just pop and their connection with the camera is superb
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