Best lens for indoor portrait?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by pix530, Dec 21, 2013.

  1. pix530

    pix530 Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 2, 2013
    I need something shorter than my 35-100 zoom. Occasionally as I still do most shoots with 35-100, 45mm and 75mm.
    I shoot portrait only, so there is nothing else. Natural light 90% of the time.

    I consider:
    14mm for its size and price. But may be too dark and too wide
    17mm just as I like 35mm on FF. Hear some negative reviews
    25mm as I had one and like it. Nothing bad except its close to my 35mm zoom.

    As an alternative I can take:
    12-35 to cover all range + good friend to my 35-100. The issue is that I will not use it a lot. Would be this zoom IQ close to primes above?

    I need AF.

    Lets imagine, what would you take?
    And what would be your choose if money is not a factor.
  2. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    Real Name:
    There is really no way to answer your question. All of the lenses you asked about can take great pictures, but only you can know if their field of view and apertures meet your vision and requirements.
  3. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 5, 2013
    Real Name:
    I have the 14 and love it, but it doesn't work for me for portraits (too wide). I also have the 45 and use it for indoor portraits sometimes, but if the 35 is too long, then of course the 45 will be as well. I just got the 25 and love it so far, but haven't really had a chance to use it much. Since you've already had that lens, I'd imagine you know more about it than I do, but it'd be my pick. Or, for twice the money the 12-35.
  4. tjdean01

    tjdean01 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 20, 2013
    If you already have the 35-100, why not get the 20/1.7? It will be considerably wider, faster, and require a much lower shutter speed to handhold over the 35-100.
  5. pix530

    pix530 Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 2, 2013
    Its difficult.

    14 is too dark and wide.
    17 I have very positive feedback and also some people talk its soft and bad in corners.
    20 slow AF, my friend told me do not buy it.

    Looks like I stuck between 17 and 25.
  6. boostin

    boostin Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 21, 2013
    IMO Panny 25mm and Oly 45mm
  7. Fred2726

    Fred2726 Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 13, 2013
    Audubon, New Jersey
    Real Name:
    I just picked up the PL 25 a couple weeks ago from another forum member and love it. Very good all around lens.
  8. jolieteddie

    jolieteddie Mu-43 Rookie

    Jul 9, 2012
    Take a look at the Sigma 30mm. Just did some pooch photos of our new little Golden Retriever pup with this lens and my GX1 indoors using a single floor lamp for a light source. Got some really nice shots with this lens under minimal conditions.
  9. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    It rather depends on whether these are portraits of individuals or groups, whether these are large or small interiors, whether you are using flash, studio lights or available light, what your budget is, whether these are posed or candid portraits and what style of portraits that you prefer.

    For taking photographs of groups of people in candid situations in limited natural light, there is much to be said for the 17mm f/1.8: the corner sharpness is lacking, but you don't need corner sharpness for portraits; the autofocus speed is very good (so, good for unposed shots), and it is not so wide as to make photographs (of groups or individuals in context - don't get too close to individuals) unflattering.

    For taking photographs of individuals in small or medium sized spaces, or small groups in larger spaces, there is much to recommend the 25mm f/1.4. You can isolate your subjects from the background very effectively with the large maximum aperture, and the 25mm focal length will give you a more flattering perspective than anything wider. The lens is not so long that your working distance will be difficult in smaller spaces, but you do not have to get too close. The autofocus speed can be slower in low light on at least some cameras (and in very low light, it can hunt), but this can be improved by using a single focus point. The overall quality of this lens is very high, and the out of focus rendition is very good, but at wide apertures, the corners are not sharp; but, again, you don't need sharp corners in a portrait. This is also probably a useful lens for posed photographs in either natural or artificial light.

    For picking out individuals in a larger space, the 45mm f/1.8 is very good: it is designed as a portrait lens, has extremely high optical quality, and is very fast to focus. The longer focal length of 45mm combined with the f/1.8 maximum aperture gives very good subject isolation, and the fast autofocus speed makes it good for candid pictures where there is no time to pose the subjects. The relatively long focal length may be a difficulty if you are in a confined space, need to be near to your subjects, and/or want to take pictures of people either in clearly discernible background context or take pictures of groups in anything other than relatively large indoor spaces. This would be a good lens at, for example, a larger social gathering, such as a wedding, where you want to take candid photographs of individuals at some distance but not too far away.

    For very large indoor venues where your subjects are some distance away (and really for couples and individuals only), the 75mm f/1.8 is an excellent lens: it, too, is fast to focus and has a fast maximum aperture, and, in terms of image quality, is reputed to be one of the best available for any system. It is expensive and somewhat large, however, and its narrow angle of view precludes its use for anything other than larger spaces. It is likely to be very useful for things such as indoor sports, however, where it is difficult to get close to individual subjects.

    The 20mm f/1.7 is likely to be a good lens for posed group photographs in either ambient or supplied light; it is inexpensive, small and light and of good optical quality, but the focus speed is probably too slow for candids. The focal length is good for groups; wide enough to be able to get a sensible number of people into all but the smallest of spaces but not so wide as to make people look unflattering; it is also long enough to give some contextual details of individuals. Corner sharpness on this lens is better than the 17mm f/1.8, but that is of limited significance for portraits.

    The sigma 35mm and 60mm lenses are budget options that might be worthwhile in some cases; they have reasonable autofocus speed (about the same as the 14mm f/2.5 from what I understand), and are of decent optical quality, but their f/2.8 maximum aperture reduces the level of subject isolation available.

    The 14mm f/2.5 is a bit on the wide side for portraits properly so called, but in a very confined space, or to get a lot of environmental/contextual detail, if you are not too concerned about subject isolation, this can work effectively. This can be good for informal pictures of groups in a social setting as long as people are not too close to the edge. However, in most cases, the 17mm f/1.8 is likely to be better for the things that the 14mm f/2.5 can do. The 14mm is much cheaper, has better corner sharpness and is smaller and lighter than the 17mm, however.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Neftun

    Neftun Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 15, 2012
    Real Name:
    Patrick Kristiansen
    I'd say the 25. A real light-gatherer, and can vary from tight shots to wide shots using feet. Did a bunch of indoor portraits last weekend, used mostly the 45 and 25, the latter definetely the most.

    Patrick K
  11. pix530

    pix530 Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 2, 2013
    boostin, agree, I had both and I like it.

    Fred2726, yep, very good lens.

    jolieteddie, I'd pass 30mm...

    jamespetts, thank you for such interesting post!

    My main area of interest is individual posed portraits in small to medium interiors as well as outdoor shoots with limited space or non standard positions.
    Both natural light and flash (strobes).

    Looks like 25mm is the best choose.

    I will have 25 + 45 + 75, looks like a nice trio.