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Canon 85mm 1.8 or canon 100mm macro 2.8

Marie H , Jan 15, 2011; 11:09 a.m.

I am wondering if the 85 or the 100mm macro make more sense as a portrait lens.. I do like the idea of shooting macro this coming summer... My question is the 100mm macro also useful as a portrait lens? Thanks.


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JDM von Weinberg , Jan 15, 2011; 11:38 a.m.

Both and either make sense on a 35mm-sensor camera (aka "foolframe"). Both are a little long by traditional standards for portrait work on an APS-C body, but people often shoot portraits with longer lenses. Because of the greater distance, and its effect on perspective, longer lenses may be great for portraits of people with large schnozes.
For APS-C you can combine the Macro and portrait function with either the EF 50mm f/2.5 or the EF-S 60mm f/2.8.

Macro lenses may be a little too sharp for older faces with lots of wrinkles; but diffusion filters are cheap, and there's always Photoshop.

Al Rohrer , Jan 15, 2011; 11:38 a.m.

I have both. I prefer the 85mm for portraits but see no problem in using the 100mm macro.

Bueh B. , Jan 15, 2011; 11:56 a.m.

There is also an excellent EF 100mm f/2 USM non-macro lens. But if you want to shoot macros, then you need some kind of macro equipment, i.e., a dedicated lens, or extension tubes, or adapted manual focus etc.

Mark Anthony Kathurima , Jan 15, 2011; 12:35 p.m.

I agonized over this very decision for a long time. Mine was either 85 f/1.8, 100 f/2.8 macro or 100 f/2. I had only an APS-C sensor body then. After I got a full frame and using my 50 on the crop, I realised the 880mm equivalent focal length wasn't exactly what I needed. From my research, I discovered that the 100 f/2 is very similar in optical construction to the 85 f/1.8. In your case I would lean towards the 100. The macro on the f/2.8 version can then serve the dual purpose of portrait lens and macro lens.

Do bear in mind it will have an equivalent field of view of a 160mm lens on a full frame camera. This may have implications such as needing more working distance if you want anything wider than a headshot. If you indeed have an APS-C sensor size and seriously want to do some macro work, two other lenses that come to mind are the EF-S 60 f/2.8 macro and the EF 50 f/2.5 macro. Yes, more choices to ponder ;-)

Matthijs Claessen , Jan 15, 2011; 01:09 p.m.

A 100 on a crop is great for tight portraits. Full body portraits and environmental portraits are more easy with wider lenses than an effective 160.

The 85 is smaller, the macro yields more options. I'd go for the macro, but that's me.

Les Gibbons , Jan 15, 2011; 01:33 p.m.

I use both but favour the 85mm due to the f1.8 and also its slightly smaller for hand holding, not so obvious when out and about.
If you are staying with the crop sensor I would have a serious look at the 60mm macro.
Is there a local camera shop where you can try all three and see which 'feels' best for the work you want to do?

William W , Jan 15, 2011; 04:35 p.m.

I am wondering if the 85[F/1.8] or the 100mm macro make more sense as a portrait lens

The 85F/1.8 is more useful and more flexible, as a Portrait Lens.

At F/1.8, it is sharp enough and F/1.8 is a useful aperture for isolation, especially for Half Shots and Full Shots.
Much of the other rationale is explained in the commentary under the Photo I have linked to, in the next part of my answer.

Here are some samples from the 85F/1.8: http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=925231 (all shot at F/1.8)


. . . My question is the 100mm macro also useful as a portrait lens?

Yes: http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=10738709 (At F/2.8)

Depending upon the Style of Portraiture you have, you might consider the EF 100F/2.8L IS USM.


Philip Wilson , Jan 15, 2011; 07:22 p.m.

I have the 100 F2.8 L IS and the 85 F1.8 and both makes great portrait lenses. Foe me the Bokah on the 100 F2.8 L IS is slightly better than on the 85 F12.8 but that the 85 F1.8 can be used at F2 for shallower DOF. I am not sure how the Bokah on the non IS macro lens compares but I suspect it is similar to the newer IS lens. You may find the 100mm lens is a bit long for portrait use on an APS-C body but it is great on full frame.

Marie H , Jan 15, 2011; 07:43 p.m.

I'm most likely staying with the aps-c sensor I now have a 40d. I never thought about 60mm macro, that's an option.. I'm reading the responses, I guess its not as simple as one lens.... the 60mm macro sounds like a viable option, but then I'll likely have to get the 100mm f2 or 85 or a longer L (lovely) to be really happy. I guess its a 2 lens dilemma. Thanks for the links...

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