The best portrait lens?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by thomastaesu, Dec 15, 2014.

  1. thomastaesu

    thomastaesu Mu-43 Regular

    169
    Nov 16, 2012
    ATL, GA
    Thomas
    Since I got P20, I'm thinking about selling my PL25 and get a portrait lens.

    What is the best portrait lens I can get? 45? 75? Sigma 60?

    Had O75 before, but not O45 or sigma60, so any advise will be appreciated.

    Thank you.
     
  2. lakemcd

    lakemcd Mu-43 Regular

    176
    May 27, 2013
    Montana
    Gary
    I have the 45 and 75. I don't grab the 45 too much anymore even thought most of the time it's in the bag.
     
  3. darrellc

    darrellc Mu-43 Regular

    112
    Aug 21, 2012
    Look at Eric Cote's post at mirrorlessjourney.com about choosing a focal length. Shows a portrait at various focal lengths with consistent framing. You can shoot great portraits at any length but traditionally a longer focal length is used. Lots of people shoot with a big 70-200/2.8 on full frame or a fast lens in 85-135 range I'd say.

    I think the PL42.5 is an amazing lens and great for portraits. I rarely use the 75/1.8 anymore. The color and overall rendering of the the PL is preferable to me. More warmth, more organic or something like that. That lens really closes the gap to my FF kit and supports my belief that great glass is worth it.
     
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  4. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    its down to personal preference and "working distance" ...the 45 is good if you are going to be in close, but personally I prefer my 75mm lens. In my 35mm daze I preferred a 135mm lens for portrait so the 70/75mm area would be good.

    I'm using legacy lenses as for portraiture things are more often fixed and so AF isn't really a big issue for me (although clearly there are AF options)
     
  5. biomed

    biomed Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 22, 2013
    Seattle area
    Mike
    The Sigma 60/2.8 is an excellent lens and an outstanding bargain. While a bit longer than a classic portrait lens it works very well for portraiture.
     
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  6. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    There is no such thing as the 'best' portrait lens. Any lens can be used for portraits, it's your own vision that matters.
     
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  7. EarthQuake

    EarthQuake Mu-43 Top Veteran

    836
    Sep 30, 2013
    Have owned the 45/1.8, 75/1.8 and currently own the 42.5/1.2. Sold the 45 and 75 after I got the Nocticron which for me is the best portrait lens. It allows me to get narrower DOF (especially at half or full body distances) than the 45/1.8 and allows me to work at a more comfortable working distance than the 75/1.8.

    Its a bit heavy and expensive though. On a tight budget I would go with the 45/1.8.
     
  8. khughes44

    khughes44 Mu-43 Regular

    75
    Jun 12, 2014
    Langley BC
    Kevin Hughes
    I've been using an adapted OM 50/1.8 for portraits. I can't say it's the sharpest or has the best color or any of those things. It just has a look all its own that I really enjoy. Most of my portraits are environmental and candid. The lens is a charm on my GX7.
     
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  9. zensu

    zensu An Old Fool

    Aug 8, 2012
    Southeastern USA
    Bobby
    I tried the 45mm f1.8 and it is a wonderful lens but I prefer the 75mm f1.8 FOV. I can take faces and fill the frame without being so close to the subject that they feel uncomfortable. If I want more of an environmental portrait or couples I prefer the 12-40mm f2.8 as in those two situations f2.8 gives perfect DOF.
     
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  10. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Eric
    As others have said, any of the three lenses you mention are capable of great portraits. As to what is 'best', that will depend on what type of portraits you want to take, how large a lens you're willing to carry and how much money you're willing to spend. My thoughts are as follows:

    75mm f1.8 - most expensive, largest, but will generally give the most subject isolation, especially if you're shooting full body portraits, but requires some working room. Fast aperture but may require an ND filter to be used outdoors or with strobes to take advantage of that aperture

    45mm f1.8 - smallest, mid priced and will give plenty of subject isolation at head and shoulder framing. Fast aperture but may require an ND filter to be used outdoors or with strobes to take advantage of that aperture

    60mm f2.8 - mid sized, least expensive and will give plenty of subject isolation at normal head/shoulders portrait distances (and longer if you have control over the subject to background distance). Requires more working room than the 45mm but less that the 75mm. Not the best aperture for low light use, but generally can be used wide open outdoors and with strobes without and ND filter (at least in my experience)

    All three lenses are sharp wide open and I see no reason to stop them down unless you need more DOF or you are outside the shutter speed limitations of your camera. Really I don't think you can make a bad decision between any of these lenses unless you require the low light capability of the f1.8 lenses (then don't get the Sigma).
     
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  11. JNB

    JNB Mu-43 Regular

    164
    Dec 11, 2014
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    If the appropriate working distance were available, I would choose the 75mm. Working indoors in a smaller room, however, the 45 might be more versatile. Consider that the field of view given by the 75mm at a working distance of 7 feet is 13.4 x 20.2". That's a nice, tight head and shoulders shot. At the same working distance, the 45 yields a FOV of 22.4 x 33.6", giving the photographer more leeway for compositional choices.
     
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  12. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    But what does one consider a portrait; head and shoulders, three quarter, full length, one or more subjects, what style, what location? Every situation can call for a different lens choice.
     
  13. JNB

    JNB Mu-43 Regular

    164
    Dec 11, 2014
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    Absolutely. However, I believe the OP stated that he has the 20mm, which does a good job for environmental portraits. He is looking for something to complement that lens, and looking for opinions on the 45, 60, and 75.

    Personally, I would take the 12, 17, 25, 45 and 75 to a single-person portrait shoot. Even when the subject has already expressed a desire for a particular perspective, I might suggest other poses and perspectives. The 17 through 75 would cover most environmental, full-body, seated, torso, head/shoulders and tight headshots. Even the 12 can be used for a very dynamic and different perspective. Heck, I've even seen a few really interesting fisheye portraits!
     
  14. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Don
    I earned a great living as a portrait photographer for decades. Tool of choice? For the look that I preferred, and after I switched from medium format film to DSLR, it was usually the Canon 200mm shot at f/2.8 on Full Frame sensor (5D, 5DMkII). Strong compression √, significant isolation √, great bokeh √. Done in awesome outdoor settings, that became my "signature look" and my clients ate it up like sweet candy from heaven.

    The closest I can get to that look, with auto focus, and m4/3 gear is the 75/1.8. Not quite what I could achieve with the 200/2.8 on FF, but not too far from it. Significant compression √ , good isolation √, good bokeh √.

    Pick your subject-to-background distance well and your camera-to-subject distance well, and you can knock off a pretty dazzling, high-impact portrait ~ if all the other factors are there as well (great lighting, pose, clothing, background, and most of all... great expression!)

    That said, if you do your thing well enough, you can create a great portrait with almost any focal length, it just depends on "the look" that you are going for.
     
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  15. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    There was a Russian (I think) photographer on DPR years ago that posted absolutely stunning portraits taken with the ZD 35-100mm f2 lens,.
     
  16. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Don
    The most important element, by FAR, to a stunning portrait IS, indeed, the person who is creating and directing the making of the portrait. Equipment plays a very, very distant role in the quality of any given portrait.

    Hand ANY camera (to include cell-phone cameras) to a talented and skilled portraitist, and a great portrait is likely to result. The particular lens itself that is used is relatively insignificant in the success of the final image. Factors such as eliciting a great expression, lighting, expression, pose, expression, setting, expression, clothing, expression, and finally.... equipment make a great portrait.

    The biggest failing that I see from many otherwise modestly skilled photographers, submitting examples of their portraits, is a failure to elicit a great, (seemingly) natural expression from their sitter. Certainly, factors such as setting, lighting, clothing, and equipment choices are important... and they are all required for top-shelf results.

    But many photographers seem to feel that once they have their setting, lighting, and camera dialed in that they can just blast away and get great portraits... overlooking the subject themselves... THE most important part of what is being captured by the camera. Take care of all that non-human stuff (setting, vantage point, lighting, lens, camera settings, etc.) and make sure that's all dialed in to perfection... then concentrate on nothing other than your subject so that they look great in their pose and finally before clicking the shutter... elicit a magnificent expression. All that goes before the expression is wasted effort if the expression doesn't soar!

    Simple answer for the average m4/3 photographer... 45/1.8, a 60mm, or 75/1.8 will help create a good portrait. Your choice. There is no best lens. BE the best image maker!
     
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  17. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror!

    949
    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Clint
    Start with the 45 1.8. Then add the 75 as funds become available.
     
  18. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    Hi again
    I agree with most of the views (up to you, depends on likes, any lens - depends on what you define as portrait, ...)

    so something to think about

    http://cjeastwd.blogspot.com/2014/12/portrait-lenses-native-vs-legacy.html

    all shots are with the 45mm Oly ($300) and the Olympus OM50mm f1.8 legacy lens ($20)
     
  19. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Don
  20. tosvus

    tosvus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    632
    Jan 4, 2014
    On m43, I think the nocticron is the best. Absolutely love it!
     
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