Beginners Tips to Shooting Portraits with a 50mm Lens

Model: Natalie Margiotta

Model: Natalie Margiotta

Even the cheapest and most affordable 50mm lens is capable of helping you to deliver excellent portraits. While the best and most important part of creating a portrait is the savvy of the person behind the camera, each focal length often has its own specific renderings that you’ll need to work with to create a better and more pleasing contemporary portrait. It involves having a creative vision, specifically paying attention to someone’s body shape, and creating a scene that will elicit a reaction from someone. 

On the success of the site’s guide to working with the 35mm focal length for portraits, here’s The Phoblographer’s guide to working with 50mm lenses.

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The Phoblographer’s Guide to Zeiss Milvus Lenses

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Milvus lens product images (5 of 7)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.0

Zeiss released their Milvus collection of lenses as an update to their lineup of standard DSLR lenses. They all incorporate weather sealing, an amazing metal build exterior, a giant rubber focusing ring, and enhance optics that make you really feel like you’re shooting with a Zeiss lens. Some words that come to mind are beautiful, masterpiece and long lasting.

The site has reviewed every Zeiss Milvus lens so far, and so all of the reviews are being compiled into a guide for those interested in Zeiss lenses. This guide features tidbits about each lens along with sample photos.

Editor’s Note: this guide is not sponsored by Zeiss. With that said, Editorial judgement has been left in tact.

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The Best Modern Lenses Under $500 for Street Photography

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm Xt10 review photos (19 of 27)ISO 16001-40 sec at f - 2.8

I’m going to preface this list by saying that anything that any manufacturer makes these days as far as lenses are concerned are all very good. Any lens in the hands of a skilled photographer can deliver jaw dropping results, but some lenses are still better than others.

Street Photographers need lenses that allow them to get close to the scenes on the streets while delivering vibrant colors, good sharpness, and overall autofocus reliability if they’re not using the zone focusing system.

The Phoblographer has reviewed lots of lenses, and after going through the reviews index and looking for great options under the $500 price point, the following lenses were chosen amongst others for the fact that their performance simply just stands out above the rest.

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Eight Beautiful 50mm Lenses for Portraits

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 50mm f1.4 Milvus lens review product images (6 of 8)ISO 4001-200 sec at f - 4.0

While the 85mm lens is very popular amongst the portrait photography community, some folks prefer to reach for the 50mm focal length. Some do this because they use an APS-C sensor camera while others just genuinely prefer the wider field of view. In general though, we’ve tested this and much prefer the 85mm focal length.

Based on requests and searches on our site, we decided to search our Reviews Index and round up some of our favorite 50mm lenses for portrait photography. Each one has a pull quote from our reviews along with a sample image. For the absolute best results with any lens though, work with the color channels in Lightroom.

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Comparison: 50mm vs 85mm Lenses on a Full Frame Camera for Portraits

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM lens review product images (1 of 2)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.8

We’ve answered this question many times when it comes to technicalities, but there is so much more to photography than just being technical.

The folks over at Weekly Imogen recently published a video doing just that. They compare the Canon 50mm f1.8 and the Canon 85mm f1.8–both are great lenses. Their technical problems aside, there are lots of reasons why you’d use the 85mm lens over a 50mm lens when ti comes to using a full frame camera. 85mm lenses render less distortion, compress bulging parts and tend to throw a lot of the scene out of focus. That means that when you’re photographing a subject, you can make the scene really just focus on them.

Their video is after the jump, but if you’re interested in more then check out our comparison featuring the 50mm f1.4 vs the 85mm f1.8, Weekly Imogen’s own debate on the two, and our field test comparison of the Sigma versions of the 50mm vs 85mm lenses.

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Review: Canon 50mm f1.8 STM (Canon EF)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM lens review product images (2 of 2)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 4.0

Of all the cheap 50mm lenses made, Canon’s nifty 50 has always reigned supreme as the niftiest thanks to both image quality and affordability. Very recently, however, the company chose to update its formula for the lens. The Canon 50mm f1.8 STM is a lens that, like its predecessors, is still priced rather affordably and also performs very well for the price point. In every single way, this lens is a step up and improvement from the previous version and with that in mind, it will surely serve a new generation of budding photographers very well.

But it’s not totally perfect.

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The Three Best Focal Lengths For Shooting Candid Photos

Pro Tip: Manual focus lenses make you require the way that your brain tells you to shoot. Instead of just putting a viewfinder to your eye, focusing, and shooting, sometimes you pre-focus, put the viewfinder to your eye and either shoot immediately or touch up just a bit. You can do this using the depth of field scale.

Pro Tip: Manual focus lenses make you require the way that your brain tells you to shoot. Instead of just putting a viewfinder to your eye, focusing, and shooting, sometimes you pre-focus, put the viewfinder to your eye and either shoot immediately or touch up just a bit. You can do this using the depth of field scale.

Modern autofocus is quite good–don’t get us wrong. But when push comes to shove and you need to capture a moment in a split-second, some focal lengths are easier to work with than others. Part of this has to do with depth of field at a specific distance and the other has to do with the specific focal length. For what it’s worth, a telephoto lens and a wide angle lens focused out to 7 feet away and shooting from the same distance will have a varying amount of the scene in focus. The telephoto will have less in focus while more of the scene will be in focus with the wider angle lens.

But at the same time, you may not want to be so close to the scene that you’re within arm’s length of the person or scene being photographed. So to do that, we’re recommending three focal lengths that are best for candid photos.

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The 5 Best Cheap Lenses for Canon DSLRs

AbramGoglanian_ThePhoblographer_Canon40mm

You don’t need to spend over $1,000 to get a great lens for your Canon DSLR. Heck, you don’t even need to spend over $400. Canon and third party manufacturers have great lenses available for your DSLR at fairly affordable prices. Some are surprisingly good, and some will possibly stay glued to your camera.

Over our years of reviewing lenses and cameras, we’ve rounded up our top five choices for the best Cheap Lenses for Canon DSLRs.

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