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Best Portrait lens for Canon EOS 7D

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Dr Kevin Mills , Jan 25, 2010; 11:37 p.m.

85mm 1.8

Alex Elias , Jan 26, 2010; 12:58 a.m.

I currently use the 24-70 F2.8 I like the lens a lot and I find using it at the 70 for portraits most of the times. So if you are looking for a prime I'd say the 80 1.8 should be the one to get. I do have the 50 1.4 and as much as I think the lens is fabulous it might not be the best suited for portraits specially if you are outdoors where space should not be an issue.
I'd love to have the 80 1.2 but I can't see the lens being 4 times better than the 1.8 as it is 4 to 5 times the cost.

Don Bryant , Jan 26, 2010; 01:12 a.m.

If you can afford it grab the 50 f/1.2, on a crop body that's equivalent to an 80mm lens which for me is a great focal length to shoot portraits with. For tight head shots the 85 will work nicely.
There are other choices if you wish to consider zoom lenses.

Paulo Bizarro , Jan 26, 2010; 06:43 a.m.

You should choose the focal lenght also taking into account how far away you will need to be from your subject, to achieve the from waist up portrait framing. With the 85mm lens, you will need to be further away, than with the 50mm lens.
The option between the normal prime lenses range and the L prime lenses range is all entirely for you to decide. In terms of background blur, I don't think that the difference between 1.2 and 1.8 plays a big role. Why? Most likely, you will not be shooting at either one of those apertures, since you want your subject to be sharp from the nose to the eyes, so you will be using something like 5.6 or 8 as f stops. The distance from your subject to the background will be more important.

Manuel Neace , Jan 26, 2010; 07:59 a.m.

Portraits 101 says that 85mm is the perfect length for children and female subjects. That said, the 50mm f1.4 is 80mm on a 1.6 cropped lens, your 7D. That will give you all the blurred background you need, and it can be picked up easily for $350.

For male subjects 135mm is the perfect length. The 85mm 1.8 is 136mm on your 7D body, those can be picked up for $370.00.

I think this solution will give you the pefect lenses for all subjects, and the cost of those 2 lenses are about 1/2 the cost of the ef 50mm f1.2 L.

Simon T , Jan 26, 2010; 08:58 a.m.

I own a 24-70mm 2.8 and an 85mm 1.8 on a 50D and both both are great. I cannot say for the 70-200 2.8. But it is on my wish list.

Chad Hoelzel , Jan 26, 2010; 09:00 a.m.

If working distance isn't an issue I'd go with the 85mm 1.8. The bokeh is very pleasing. The distance between your subject and background doesn't have to be as far to create a nice soft background bokeh effect. The more telephoto you go the closer your background can be and still have a pleasing out of focus effect. I'd suggest renting a 50mm 1.4, 85mm 1.8 and 100mm 2.8 macro. You'll like the macro because it'll allow you to do some nice tight head shots due to it's closer focusing ability. It also blurs the background very easily.

Mark Anthony Kathurima , Jan 26, 2010; 11:00 a.m.

On a crop sensor camera like your 7D, you must factor in the focal length multiplier. Your 85mm lens will essentially be a 136mm lens. Depending on how much space you have to work with, this could potentially be too long for a head-and-shoulders portrait. A 50mm effectively gives you an 80mm lens which is perhaps more manageable/versatile. I would propose a 50 f/1.4

Steve Parisi , Jan 26, 2010; 11:48 a.m.

I want to thank everyone that contributed to my question. The information was invaluable. Based off the feedback I've received I feel very confident with the direction I'll take in purchasing the "right" lens. Thanks again and happy shooting.

Manuel Neace , Jan 26, 2010; 12:16 p.m.

Mark Anthony, you hit the nail on the head. I am surprised how many times I see post about lenses and it seems the poster is not considering the crop factor, especially when it comes to portrait lenses.


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