Proper portrait lens?

feppe

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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 :)
 

apicius9

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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...

Stefan
 

dixeyk

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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

Kevin
 

OzRay

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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.

Cheers

Ray
 

Krang

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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 :)
 

hmpws

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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>
 

feppe

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  • #8
Thanks for all the ideas, wasn't aware there were so many choices - which is great :)

Isn't the traditional portrait lens more like 80 or 90mm on film?
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 :)
 

Conrad

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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.
 

feppe

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Your requirements:
  • 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.
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.
 

robertro

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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!

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 :)
 

photoSmart42

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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.
 

JoepLX3

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Jun 13, 2010
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Japan
Sorry for being slightly off topic
[/LIST]
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.
Are any of those on M42?
- I would like to use on a Pentax camera
 

Rawfa

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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.
 

Conrad

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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?
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).

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 

feppe

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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #17
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).
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!
 

Rawfa

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Conrad, how did you get Jeanne Tripplehorn (Barb) from Big Love to pose for you? :)
 

Conrad

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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!
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.
 

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