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  1. #1
    LRPS Alison's Avatar
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    The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    Please help!

    I am an intermediate photographer and only have my kit lens. And my little pop up flash on the camera.

    If you look at my gallery my kit lens does an ok job but, I would like to take clear pictures of active toddlers using only window light.
    I know, I know your shutter speed is slower in these conditions.

    Am I barking up the wrong tree?
    Would it be better for me to start by getting an external flash with an omni bounce diffuser rather than a lens.
    I was looking at the Canon speedlite 580EX but would it be better for me to start with the Canon speedlite 430EX? Does the 430EX have a bounce function?

    I feel like I am banging my head against a brick wall! I really need some answers!

  2. #2
    LRPS Alison's Avatar
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?


  3. #3
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    I'll try to give you my 2 cents (er, Schillings is it?) worth even though I am a nature nut and an even bigger available-light nut.

    I think you answered your own question when you said, "...using only window light". To me that says 50mm f/1.4 or f/1.8 and the 85mm f/1.8. While I do not have any of these three Canon lenses, I hear that image quality is great. I have used other brands of the same focal length/f-stop combinations and they worked "smashing" for the type of work I think you're looking to do.

    I wouldn't worry about the flash yet. Get the lens first, try it in natural light, then get the flash if you think you still need it. By the way, I bought the 430 just last month and I am trying to learn how to even use a flash ("come to the bright side" just doesn't sound as good as the opposite). What? Huh?
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  4. #4
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    I agree with Loupey, although 2 cents is only worth 2 pennies, Shillings are worth I think American Dime (ten cents) is that correct.

    You will be better off getting a faster lens as you will find that the slower lens with the flash might not give you what you want. Natural light is always going to be better. What you could do is use some white board about 4 feet by 4 feet to reflect the outside light comming in back on the subjects, get someone to hold it for you.

    I have a 50mm f/1.8 and it is a very good lens for the price.

  5. #5
    LRPS Alison's Avatar
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    Thank you both, so much!

    But I am right in saying that the flash will speed up my shutter speed aren't i?

    I mean, when I use my pop up flash the clarity is awesome. If I got the flash and omni surely I could use the natural light coupled together with a bounced flash, say, off a ceiling, wall or reflector?

    It just annoys me, that when I turn my camers to the portrait angle rather than the landscape my flash causes a shadow on one side of my subject! So, I am not a fan of using my flash. It also makes for very harsh white faces, it's horrible!

  6. #6
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    Flash won't help increase your shutter speed, the limit on the camera is 1/250 second.
    That gives plenty of time for the little darlings to move !

    What flash will do is freeze the action by using a very short burst of light.
    But you'll end up with blur as well unless you stop the camera using it as fill-in flash.

    When you do that, you will end up with dark backgrounds if you use flash only and stop down a lot.


    If you really want to work with daylight only, then your best option is to get a wider aperture lens. More light into the camera and so you can use higher shutter speed.

    Also you can try turning up the ISO speed, but the images get noiser the higher you go.
    Getting more light into the camera is the best way !


    Another alternative is a ring flash, as its name implies it's a ring-shaped flash that fits around your lens. Because it gives even light it works portrait or landscape - but it's not cheap!

    More than one flash is also possible, but it takes time to set up and limits where you can work. That's a good question to ask over in the lighting forum.


    P.S. where are you in the UK?
    You can see I'm in rainy Oxford, are you anywhere near?
    PAul

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  7. #7
    Powder River Imaging EOSThree's Avatar
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    I second the 50mm f/1.4 or 1.8

    Both of these lenses have a wide aperture and a decent portrait focal length(short tele on a 1.6 body). The wide 1.8 or 1.4 apertures may cause some DOF problems but will gather a lot more natural light.
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  8. #8
    LRPS Alison's Avatar
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    I'm in Kent. It's been rainy down here too lol.
    I have narrowed down my choices by asking as many photographers as I can, although, not all are willing to share info

    Anyway, the finalists are...

    SIGMA 28-70mm f/2.8 EX DG LENS (CANON AF) priced at 229.99
    CANON EF 85mm f/1.8 USM priced at 306.99
    These two are more realistically in my budget range.

    CANON EF 135mm f2.0L USM priced at 729.99
    CANON EF 85mm f1.2L LENS priced at 1,249.99
    Gorgeous L lenses but unrealistic prices for me! *SIGHS* I can dream can't i?

    So.... out of the cheaper 2 do you reckon my best option is to go for the CANON EF 85mm f/1.8 USM priced at 306.99

    Thanks for all your help everyone!

  9. #9
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Wink Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    If you're planning to take mostly available-light INDOOR shots, I think that the 85mm might be too long (with the 1.6x crop factor of the 350D) except to take only tight head shots.

    I really think that the 50mm f/1.8 would be a great starting point due to its compactness, wide 1.8 aperture, and low cost. Plus, don't you already have a zoom?

    Remember, when you shoot indoors with prime lenses, your feet become the zoom.;)
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  10. #10
    Toon Army Foot Soldier straightarm's Avatar
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Loupey
    (er, Schillings is it?)
    We never had schillings (that was Austria before they converted to the Euro)

    Prior to 1971 we had pounds, shillings and pence, written s d

    There were 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound
    Simon, bombadier 1st class

  11. #11
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Smile Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    What?! That's crazy talk. Well at least we have 12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in a yard, and 5280 feet in a mile. Makes about the same sense, I think.
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  12. #12
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    With the crop factor of your camera, I wouldn't go for the longer lenses.
    I would have thought the 24-70 would be adequate.

    That's 38 - 112 on a full frame sensor - I learned with a 35mm camera and I still have to do the conversion to work out what it will look like !

    The extra light through the f1.8 will make a difference, but you may find the longer focal length a problem. I don't know how much room you have to work in.
    PAul

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  13. #13
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Samples for you

    Alison, perhaps some examples are in order. I grabbed some samples (not the greatest) that I thought might represent the type of photos you're looking for.

    The top 2 where shot with 50mm FILM equipment which would be equivalent to about 30mm with your 350D. The bottom one was shot with 135mm (same as the 85mm with your 350D) at about an average room width distance.

    As you can see, what you want to photograph will ultimately determine your choice.
    Attached Images Attached Images    
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  14. #14
    LRPS Alison's Avatar
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    Just when I thought I'd made up my mind...there are 2 different opinions again lol.

    SmartWombat - the room issue is...not alot, there are 9 of us in a 3 bed house. I have no access to a studio

  15. #15
    LRPS Alison's Avatar
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    They are brilliant examples Loupey!
    The top 2 representing my portrait shots and a function, like a wedding reception with poor lighting.
    And the bottom one representing the exact type of photo I took of my daughter. Except my shot turned out clearer and that was with my little kit lens! Do you have any idea WHY mine turned out clearer?
    Is it the darkness you are pointing out to me or the clarity?
    My settings for this image were AV mode / ISO 400 / f/4.50 /SS 1/15
    Last edited by Alison; 02-25-2007 at 05:24 PM.

  16. #16
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    The bottom one was only to point out the field of view you would get using an 85mm lens on your 350D from across a small room. To point out that it would be difficult to get your sample using such a lens (you would have have to be standing way back).

    As I mentioned, please don't compare these for any other reason (darkness/clarity). The shot is actually a "throw away" as the original slide has unacceptable blur due to slow shutter speed using ISO 64 film.
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  17. #17
    LRPS Alison's Avatar
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    This is the thing, see. I need a faster lens to photograph moving toddlers.

    Alot of other people I know use a speedlight with an omni bounce along with either a 1.4 or a 1.8 lens.
    If you'll pardon the pun I still kinda feel as though I am in the dark.

    The 50mm f/1.8 is around 90 in the UK which says to me, cheap and nasty. Probably because it's made of plastic!
    I have read reviews on here that one small bump on a door frame and it was in 2 pieces. I don't need that if I am just about to do a shoot!

    Reviews on the 85mm f1.8 are saying that it's a fast lens. This to me says moving toddlers wouldn't blur. But you say it will be too dark for me to use.

    I really really don't know which way to turn.

  18. #18
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alison
    I really really don't know which way to turn.
    I understand where you are coming from. IMHO the speed light with the capability to direct the flash is a very good choice at this time. I use a lot of bounce flash coupled with reflective surfaces to light indoors. Using it as a fill can be very rewarding. A faster lense is always helpful but if you have directional available light (like from a window) you are still going to have lighting challenges without someway to get light into the shadow areas. Before spending big buck why not rent the lense you are thinking about and also a flash for a weekend and try a ton of pics. You have the ready subjects. See which fits your needs the best. After all in the long run you are the one that has to be satisfied with the setup you choose. Most off us like different elements and lighting in our photographs. Find the one you like best.
    Don't forget about the Gallery. Are your photos there??


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  19. #19
    LRPS Alison's Avatar
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    Thank you Old Timer. I was thinking, before I even started this thread that I should probably get the 580EX speedlight with an omni bounce diffuser to use along with window light.

    I have seen your gallery and it is AWESOME. If you say you have used a bounce flash on the images in your gallery along with window light then this is probably the road I will take BEFORE I get another lens.

    I mean, my kit lens does an ok job and I think I would rather take a bit longer in my choice for a lens so I make the right choice.

    Renting the equipment is a good idea but I don't think they do that in the UK (

    The guy in Jessops did say that I could take my camera to the shop and shoot a few pictures with a lens and flash. But, I dont think a 5 minute visit will tell me much.

    I definitely want to get an external flash so that is probably what I will do first.

    Thank you everyone. You have been a mine of information and a great help to me.

  20. #20
    Member Stephen Lutz's Avatar
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    The best portrait lenses for Canon are, starting with the best:

    135 f/2L
    100 f/2
    85 f/1.4
    85 f/1.8
    50 f/1.4

    For a digital camera with the 1.6 crop factor, the 50 1.4 is a good choice. Fast, sharp and about an 85mm equivilant. For absolute best quality, the 135 f/2 or 85 f/1.4 are the top choices, but they cost a fortune.

    Flash is the work of the devil! Portraits should not be shot with direct flash. Bounced flash is tolerable, but for best results, bounce the flash in an umbrella or through a softbox. Only when I have no other choice do I use direct flash, and that's usually in a dark bar.

  21. #21
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    This photo looks sharp (great subject!). Even sharp at 1/15 second, you must have been using a tripod (or have very steady hands) and she posed beautifully ...

    Are you sure the unsharp images are your lens, not the subject?
    Could it be movement at slow shutterspeed?

    Are you processing the images on the computer, with an unsharp mask?
    One pass of USM filter may make all the difference to the sharpness.
    Though of course that may not be a good thing if you want later to add an overall softness to the image !
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  22. #22
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    You have to hunt around, but there are rental places here.
    Have you signed up for EOS magazine?
    http://www.eos-magazine.com/
    PAul

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  23. #23
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alison
    The 50mm f/1.8 is around 90 in the UK which says to me, cheap and nasty. Probably because it's made of plastic!
    Alison - it's good to see a new person getting in so deep. Welcome to the addiction

    The 50mm is the right thing to do. I know the 50mm f/1.8 appears to be "cheap and nasty." But it's not so. It's the secret weapon of many a pro. It's cheap because the camera makers have been producing and refining the 50mm lenses for so long that they cost very little to make. Check the reviews on the site and you'll see that the Canon 50mm f/1.8 is a much loved lens. And if you insist on spending more, get the 50mm f/1.4. I have it and will vouch for the quality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alison
    Reviews on the 85mm f1.8 are saying that it's a fast lens. This to me says moving toddlers wouldn't blur. But you say it will be too dark for me to use.
    The word, "fast," has a different meaning when applied to lenses. It means that the lens has a large maximum aperture - in this case, f/1.8. A large aperture will allow you to use faster shutter speeds. But the lens doesn't necessarily focus faster. And low light is still low light. The problem with the 85mm focal length is you may find you can't get far enough away to get good portraits. With your camera, the lens is effectively converted to a 136mm lens. That's pretty long for shooting indoors. The 85mm focal length was the standard for portraits with 35mm film cameras. But it's awkward for digital SLRs with APS-sized sensors. That's one reason so many people recommend the 50mm lenses.
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  24. #24
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    umm....actually a 50mm is NOT a good portrait lens...
    you need at least a 90mm to get the right proportions on people if you are going to shoot up closer. Since you have the small sensor, I would think that you wouldnt want to get anything less than 75mm. That 85 that people are talking about would be dandy.

    But then again, if you are shooting some kids, then perhaps you are not just taking portraits per se then a 50 would be fine. Although, I must say that the 50/1.8 is not a lens I like (too plasticy...and a plastic mount)

  25. #25
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    Re: The BEST lens for Portraits for the Canon EOS 350D?

    Quote Originally Posted by 92135011
    umm....actually a 50mm is NOT a good portrait lens...
    you need at least a 90mm to get the right proportions on people if you are going to shoot up closer. Since you have the small sensor, I would think that you wouldnt want to get anything less than 75mm. That 85 that people are talking about would be dandy.

    But then again, if you are shooting some kids, then perhaps you are not just taking portraits per se then a 50 would be fine. Although, I must say that the 50/1.8 is not a lens I like (too plasticy...and a plastic mount)
    This post is not making sense to me. 50mm on a cannon digital 350xt is equal to 80mm on a film camera, a pretty good choice for portraits

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