“Use a 50mm lens! It’s got a normal perspective! It will see just like you see! Taking photos will never be easier! Look at all the glorious bokeh!”
No. Just no. No a thousand times and a million times over that. So long have I heard something preached over and over again to consumers and photographers in general just starting to get into the photography world and too long have I wanted to say that it is nothing else but absolute garbage.
I was just like many of you at one point or another: a photographer that was a total novice and looking to learn about anything while trying to discover myself as a photographer. And in many cases I used the 50mm focal length. It really started with my 5D Mk II and the 50mm f1.8 II–otherwise known to many shooters as the cheapest nifty fifty you can get your hands on. Yes, it’s sharp when stopped down. Yes, you can get beautiful bokeh. And even more so, you can make potential clients look good and deliver beautiful images with one.
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A while ago, we did a comparison of the Canon 50mm f1.4 vs the 85mm f1.8 (due to price points) when it comes to taking portraits. Weekly Imogen recently did their own filmed portrait comparison and asked their readers which one they preferred. After a long time of gathering comments and feedback, many of the readers loved the look of the 85mm lens more. However, as some commenters state, the crew used a cropped sensor camera body–which for Canon actually renders an 80mm field of view not the 75mm as stated due to the 1.6x crop factor.
What this actually means is that a 50mm lens will give the field of view of an 80mm lens and an 85mm lens will give around 136mm to the viewer with a cropped sensor camera. Still though, the lenses will still act like their actual focal lengths–which means that an 85mm will still render a less distorted image.
The comments and feedback are an interesting back and forth debate–though many still lean more towards the 85mm. The video is after the jump.
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Before you even get into reading this piece, know that we’re talking about an actual lens focal length, not equivalent to field of view. Look at it this way: you like taking photos with a 50mm lens, right? Let’s say you’re working with Micro Four Thirds camera options. In order to get a 50mm field of view, you need to slap a 25mm lens on your camera. But guess what? That 25mm lens will still act like a 25mm lens. It will be just as distorted and even though you’re still using the center area of the lens more or less you’ll still get all the problems that a lens like that faces. To get rid of that distortion, you’ll need a longer focal length. I found this out the hard way when working with a subject of larger stature. Though I felt the images looked great, she didn’t–and the only thing that really could have helped would have been a longer lens.
To eliminate that distortion to begin with, you’ll need to work with longer focal lengths. The generally accepted portrait focal length is an 85mm or longer. Now again, I’m not talking about an 85mm equivalent field of view on Micro Four Thirds. I’m saying that I need at least an 85mm focal length. Yes, the M43 coalition does a great job with making sure that their lenses are superb, but if you’re going to do portraits then you should eliminate any sort of distortion problems from the start.
Moving up to larger formats like APS-C or Full Frame, we think that the 85mm to the 135mm range is a great area to start working. Remember, the main thing that you’ll need to do is keep the distortion down to begin with.
Between my Canon 60D and now the 5D Mark III, I’ve made a variety of investments in lenses. I’ve often been asked about why I bought what I did at the time. So, I thought this might be an opportunity to share my thinking when I invested in each lens. Keep in mind though that this setup is just my personal own–and it may not work for you.
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Months and months in the making, the Phoblographer staff has been working hard to finish a guide that we’re finally proud to say is ready for release. In the past couple of years, Sigma has stated that they have improve their QC measures in manufacturing lenses and also released the plans for a new vision of their future products. Today, they are separated into Art, Contemporary and Sports. And one of the leading third party manufacturer of lenses, they helped to vanquish the ideology that third party products just aren’t as good as the first party.
And with that in mind, we bring you our guide to Sigma’s Prime Lenses–featuring the entire list of Sigma fixed focal length glass.
Editor’s Note: This guide was not sponsored by Sigma. It was done by the Phoblographer staff with complete Editorial credibility being kept intact. However, before you make a purchase, we recommend that you give them a try first. And we recommend no one else but BorrowLenses.
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The Korean brand Samyang has announced the imminent arrival of their 85mm lens for the A-mount. It plans to join its siblings, the 14mm, 24mm, 35mm, and 8mm fisheye, in the video lens family. The 85mm T/1.5 is a manual focusing lens that comes in at 72mm in diameter and features a silent aperture ring while adding 513g of weight to your overall shooting gear.
Samyang has hinted towards a late this year release and looks to make its mark in the videography scene. Their brother, Rokinon, has also been doing the same thing. We’ve reviewed the 8mm and 35mm lenses already. It will be interesting to see how this does on the Sony A99.
Via Sony Alpha Rumors
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