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 Subscribing Member

    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="" 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