Newbie wants a prime lens for portrait

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by oleoneday, Dec 19, 2012.

  1. oleoneday

    oleoneday Mu-43 Rookie

    Oct 11, 2012
    I'm new to photography and have a gx1 with pana 14mm and 14-45mm. I'm not sure if it's my GAS that makes me want a portrait lens.

    I'm interested in Oly 45 f1.8, but the problem is that it doesn't have IS built in. In low light condition, is this a big problem? Dear GX1 users, what lens do you use as portrait lens?

    Two more questions: How big the aperture should be to get blurry background? How long the focal length is to avoid face distortion?
  2. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Real Name:
    IS is really over-emphasized in my opinion. Yes, it works and yes you can get slower shutter speeds with it. But, a lot of people seem to be falling into this impression that any longer lens is near-useless without it. I have never owned a body with IBIS, and I can say with confidence I have no issues using the 12mm, 25mm, 45mm, 60mm, 75mm and other non-stabilized prime lenses. I do however feel the OIS/IBIS plays a larger factor with long lenses like the 100-300mm or 14-140mm where they can help stabilize the viewfinder AND the shot.

    Finally, bear in mind for portrait use being able to hand-hold at slower shutter speeds only help so much, unless your subject is conveniently standing really still :smile:
  3. dwig

    dwig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 26, 2010
    Key West FL
    One, it's not "distortion" but "unexpected perspective". Two, focal length has absolutely nothing to do with perspective in and of itself.

    The perspective is control exclusively by the shooting distance. It's a matter of the relative distance between the lens and the various facial features (nose, eyes, ears, ...) which are each a somewhat different distance from the lens. In general, you will get the "proper and pleasing" perspective when you shoot at a distance of about 6-10' (2-3m).

    Whatever focal length delivers your desired framing at that distance it the correct focal length. The definition of "portrait" is vague and varied. To some it means "head and shoulders", to others it means "face only". It can also mean "3/4 length" and "full length". Each different framing requires a different focal length. For the popular "head and shoulders" class of portrait a lens between, roughly, 40mm and 70mm would be needed. If you want tight "face only" framing you'll want something a bit longer, 80-120mm. I've seen great portraits done with lenses equivalent of a 20-25mm lens, but they were loosely framed "3/4 length" and "full length" shots.

    You will generally want a fast lens if you want shallow depth-of-field. In the 40-70mm range that translates to f/2 or faster. Unfortunately at present all such lenses lack stabilization, relying on the body to provide or the photographer to use adequate shutter speeds or a stable support (tripod, monopod, ...).
  4. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Real Name:
    The Lumix 25mm is good and fast - easy to get good DOF and comfortable to hand-hold. The Olympus 45mm is also fairly fast and very sharp. Both will work well for portraits.
  5. apbtlvr

    apbtlvr Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 10, 2012
    Real Name:
    "I'm interested in Oly 45 f1.8, but the problem is that it doesn't have IS built in"

    You are right to be interested in that lens. The 45 f/1.8 and GX1 make a great µ43 combo. Lack of IS is really not a problem either. If a local shop has it for sale, try taking your camera along and shooting some test shots at different apertures. Then check the results. That ought to be sufficient proof to go back and get one.
  6. oleoneday

    oleoneday Mu-43 Rookie

    Oct 11, 2012
    Thank you for telling me that!

    It seems that I am misled by a tutorial on Youtube and then I mislead some other newbies around me. Sorry for that...
  7. oleoneday

    oleoneday Mu-43 Rookie

    Oct 11, 2012
    Good idea! Thank you for your suggestion. I'll go there with no money in case of GAS.
  8. oleoneday

    oleoneday Mu-43 Rookie

    Oct 11, 2012
    Oly 45 is 100 bucks cheaper than lumix 25, but lumix 25 looks better on a black body. Thank you for advice!
  9. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    Real Name:
    Anything over 30mm would make a good portrait lens in my opinion. It just comes down to how much you want to spend. :biggrin:

    The Oly45 is certainly a great portrait lens.
    <a href="" title="The man who stared into the sun by Vincent-F-Tsai, on Flickr">[​IMG]"800" height="600" alt="The man who stared into the sun"></a>

    If you want something cheaper get the Sigma 30mm.
    <a href="" title="Laura by Vincent-F-Tsai, on Flickr">[​IMG]"800" height="600" alt="Laura"></a>

    If you want even cheaper then buy a legacy manual lens and adapter. The Minolta MD 50mm 1.4 is my favorite portrait lens.
    <a href="" title="Miss Audie B by Vincent-F-Tsai, on Flickr">[​IMG]"800" height="600" alt="Miss Audie B"></a>

    And IS... why would you need IS for portraits?
    • Like Like x 2
  10. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Are you wanting to do portraits with it or did you just use that term to describe the focal length?

    If you are going to do portraits then you need to take control of the lighting and that combined with the fast aperture of the lens would render needing IS nil. On the other hand if you are planning on using it during low light and/or fast action then it might be a problem. Although IS is very useful I find I only really need it for very low light situations and with long lenses{150mm + on m4/3}.
  11. oleoneday

    oleoneday Mu-43 Rookie

    Oct 11, 2012
    Maybe sometimes I have to shoot indoor? That's why I worry about IS.

    Nice portraits! Your first picture impresses me most!
  12. oleoneday

    oleoneday Mu-43 Rookie

    Oct 11, 2012
    Oh...It seems that lacking IS is not a big issue for me. Thanks!
  13. arentol

    arentol Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 29, 2012
    I wouldn't worry about that too much. IS doesn't help with subject movement so you wouldn't get much use out of the IS on that lens anyway.
  14. greenlight

    greenlight Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 16, 2012
    Real Name:
    Colin B
    I have both the Panasonic Leica 25mm and the Oly 45mm which I use on my GX1. While the Oly 45 is a fantastic lens, the PL25 gets much more use. It has a couple of advantages for low light indoor casual people shots (1) it has a wider max aperture and (2) being a wider focal length you can hand hold it at slightly lower shutter speeds.

    You do need to get in closer than you do with the Oly though, and the perspective is not quite as flattering as the Oly when doing head & shoulders shots (still allows you to make really nice portraits though).

    I like the PL25 for kids as it helps to be in close anyway so you can interact with them as you shoot.

    Oh and as others have already said, lack of IS should not be a worry.