1. Welcome to Mu-43.com—a friendly Micro 4/3 camera & photography discussion forum!

    If you are thinking of buying a camera or need help with your photos, you will find our forum members full of advice! Click here to join for free!

Proper portrait lens?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by feppe, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. feppe

    feppe Mu-43 Regular

    As it seems there won't be a fast proper native portrait lens coming any time soon, I'm considering looking at adapted lenses.

    My requirements:
    • Prime
    • 50-70mm (100-140mm 35mm equivalent)
    • f/1.4 or faster (35mm equivalent)

    Is there such a lens or do I have to stick with a DSLR? I believe the last point will be the deal breaker for most lenses, but thought I'd ask :) 
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    The Hexanon 57 1.4 is a beautiful portrait lens......
    I use either the 17 or the 20 but that's just me....
  3. apicius9

    apicius9 Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 1, 2010
    Philadelphia, PA
    I especially like the C/Y Planar 50/1.4 but there are plenty of cheaper options, I am sure. Only heard good things about the Hexanon 57/1.4 and like the few extra mm enough to eventually give it a try myself...

  4. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    Isn't the traditional portrait lens more like 80 or 90mm on film?

    That said, how about...

    Konica 57/1.2
    Konica 57/1.4 (a lot cheaper but still quite nice)
    Super Takumar 50/1.4

  5. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Traditional portrait lenses went from about 70-100mm (equivalent, give or take, so 35-50mm in m4/3s terms). There are plenty of manual lenses available that are f1.4 or faster to choose from, it just depends on your budget. But if you have a chance, just check on anything from f2 and faster, you might be surprised.


  6. Krang

    Krang Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 19, 2010
    I have the very cheap olympus 50mm 1.7. It's very nice for portraits. I have one portrait in my gallery with this lens.

    I actually have two, so I could sell or trade the another for you, very cheaply :) 
  7. hmpws

    hmpws Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 24, 2010
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I have the Konica Hexanon 57mm f/1.4, but haven't had much chance to use it.

    Here is one I took of my friend back when I still have my GF1 (doesn't do the lens justice I know.. send me a few pretty girls):
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonytse/5033081716/" title="_1040851.jpg by ttse007, on Flickr"> View attachment 150588 "500" height="375" alt="_1040851.jpg" /></a>
  8. feppe

    feppe Mu-43 Regular

    Thanks for all the ideas, wasn't aware there were so many choices - which is great :) 

    Around 100mm seems to be around average for portrait lenses. I use an 85mm on an APSC body which yields 136mm - I like the compression for tight facials. Some use much longer focal lengths; I saw a photo of a guy with a telephoto who communicated with his model with a radio :D 

    Some people like 70mm or even 50mm, but I find they distort facial features too much to my liking due to the close distances required. So that's why 50-70mm would be ideal for my tastes.

    The 57mm Hexanon seems nice. According to DOFmaster the f/1.4 wouldn't give the same shallow DOF as even an f/1.8 85mm lens on an APSC camera. But there appears to be a f/1.2 Hexanon, which would be close - but hard to find and plenty of $$$. Also some even faster and more expensive Leicas and Cosinas.

    In any case it seems there are some nice lenses which offer good bokeh for MFT. I might get rid of my APSC gear altogether :) 
  9. Conrad

    Conrad Mu-43 Veteran

    Your requirements:
    • Prime
      Understood, but that throws you back to manual focus, unless the 45/2.8 is acceptable.
    • 50-70 mm
      I use a 90 mm for face-only portraits on my GF-1. The ideal distance for natural perspective is 3 to 5 m. Focal lengths between 70 and 90 mm fit perfectly.
    • 1.4 or faster (35 mm equivalent)
      I'm not sure exactly what you mean, but you're effectively stating that you want an f/0.75 lens. DOF scales with the f-number and (inversely) with focal length. 90/2.8 gives you a DOF around 3 cm. That'll do perfectly. As will a 50/1.4. But remember, as a rule of thumb, 1 stop gain doubles the weight of the lens. You profit more from a 90/2.8 that is actually usable at 2.8, than a 90/2 that you have to stop down before it's sharp.
    My personal list for lenses around 275 g of weight (and 200-400 euro price range):
    • Leica Tele-Elmarit M 90/2.8 (not the "fat" Elmarit)
    • Minolta Rokkor 85/2.0 (not the 1.7, that one is close to 400 g)
    • Voigtländer Color-Heliar 75/2.5 M39
    • Zeiss Sonnar 85/2.8 MM for Contax
    If money and weight is of less concern, and you really want the DOF that'll leave the eyebrows out of focus:
    • Zeiss Planar 85/1.4 for Contax (or Canon, or Nikon for a more recent version and a few euros more)
    All lenses need an appropriate adapter, of course.

    Good luck.
  10. feppe

    feppe Mu-43 Regular

    I'm aware of the math, that's why I implied that going to f/1.4 (35mm equivalent) is probably not feasible. Looking at the lens specs proposed earlier that seems to be the case, although at f/1.2 we're getting close enough for my needs. I'm not looking for paper thin DOF - I have MF and LF film cameras for that.

    Are you referring to 90mm actual focal length on MFT? I can't imagine using a 180mm equivalent lens for portraits, but haven't tried. Isn't motion blur and issue; what kind of shutter speeds are you getting with on-location portraits without flash? Do you have any full facial portrait examples taken with any of the lenses you suggested, on an MFT body? The math suggests that 90mm f/2.8 on an MFT body would give almost the same shallow DOF as an 85mm f/1.8 on an APSC camera.

    Sharpness is not high on my requirement list. Not too many women will say "I want my pores to be more prominent!" :) 

    Not a bad idea about the Zeiss f/1.4 for Canon, as I could use it on my Canon as well - that's the portrait lens I'd get for my Canon next anyway.
  11. robertro

    robertro Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 22, 2010
    50 / 1.4 "native"

    If you are looking "relative" as well as native, there is the excellent Sigma 50mm 1.4 AF lens in 4/3 mount. I tend to use the Sigma 30/1.4 or Oly 50/2 macro, but these fall outside of your requests.

    For manual focus lenses in the 50-60mm range, there are a bunch of excellent ones: the one's I've worked with include Rokkor-X 58/1.2 (incredibly sharp and incredibly smooth bokeh), Canon FL 58/1.2; Hexanon 50/1.4; Olympus 50/1.4, Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.4. Once current favorite is an old scratched-up Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 rangefinder lens. If I had to keep one for portraits, it would be the Canon FL, because it is a bit softer wide open than the Rokkor. If I could keep only two, I'd keep the Rokkor-X and the Summarit, complimentary but both excellent.

    Now don't get me started on 80-100mm lenses:wink:

    Good luck!

  12. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    I can't recommend the Canon FL 55/1.2 enough. Beautiful bokeh, just a touch of softness wide open, but perfect for portraits. Very nice lens.
  13. JoepLX3

    JoepLX3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 13, 2010
    Sorry for being slightly off topic
    Are any of those on M42?
    - I would like to use on a Pentax camera
  14. Rawfa

    Rawfa Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 17, 2009
    I use a Pentax 50mm f1.4 that was not too expensive and it awesome. I really love it. It´s compact, it has a very nice bokeh and it allows you to get very close to the subject.
  15. Conrad

    Conrad Mu-43 Veteran

    I am indeed referring to an actual 90 mm. Motion blur can be a problem below 1/125 hand held, although a little concentration has given me sharp results at 1/30 or 1/15.

    Panagor 90/2.8 at 4.0 or 5.6, 100 ISO, 1/250 s, hand held on a GF-1. This lens is quite heavy at 500 g. Distance around 4 m. Lighting condition is broad daylight (no clouds, in the shadow of large trees).

  16. Conrad

    Conrad Mu-43 Veteran

    I'm not aware of any of those on M42. If at all, maybe older versions of the Zeiss.
  17. feppe

    feppe Mu-43 Regular

    Thanks. I don't think I could tell the difference between a similarly framed 135mm (35mm equivalent) shot - looks natural to me.

    That is some gorgeous bokeh, and a pretty model as well!
  18. Rawfa

    Rawfa Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 17, 2009
    Conrad, how did you get Jeanne Tripplehorn (Barb) from Big Love to pose for you? :) 
  19. Conrad

    Conrad Mu-43 Veteran

    Thanks for the compliments.

    For more opinions on the ideal focal length for portraits, read this article from the never unopinionated (is that a word?) Ken Rockwell.
  20. feppe

    feppe Mu-43 Regular

    Oh dear, I just took a shower, and now I need to take another one just to get the rockwell off me :p 
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.