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full lenght portrait lens

Vic Canberra , Sep 05, 2011; 12:17 p.m.

i'm searching for a good lens for full lenght portrait
for example
i have a dx body
what is the ideal lens for my work?
hope someone can give a good advice


I'd like to know whic one offers better proportion of the body


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Jeff Spirer , Sep 05, 2011; 12:38 p.m.

You keep asking about lenses. First of all, it isn't the lenses that make the photo. It's everything else, the hard stuff that can't be solved through "which thing should I buy" questions. Second, get a used 18-200 and use it until you know which focal lengths you are finding useful. Given that you are asking these questions, I don't think the slightly inferior image quality of a zoom like that will matter much. Find out what works and buy then.

Shun Cheung , Sep 05, 2011; 12:39 p.m.

You have asked very similar questions a couple of times already:

Don't those threads give you answers already?

Andrew Garrard , Sep 05, 2011; 12:46 p.m.

Hi Purple. You can, of course, use any lens for a full-length portrait, simply by standing farther back. I'd be hesitant of using too extreme a wide-angle to get this effect simply because the start of the image will look distorted if viewed from a conventional distance. If you're using the old "15 feet" guideline to keep the subject from looking too distorted, that's roughly an 85mm lens on (35mm) full-frame, or about 60mm on DX.

However, the image you linked to looks wider than that to me (it appears, from the angle of the feet, that the photographer was closer to the subject). Perhaps something in the 35-50mm range on FX, or 24-35 on DX? In fact, it appears to have been cropped asymmetrically - which would be a good way to stop the head being too distorted, but stretching out the legs. This was probably a moderate wide-angle lens (assuming it was a pro shoot, the first guess would be a 24-70 f/2.8, but that's just because they're common professional kit). I don't have a good enough eye to work out exactly how wide it was. You could achieve this without cropping by using a tilt/shift lens, but that's probably overkill in this day and age of large pixel counts and easy digital manipulation.

The image you linked has a lot of depth of field (although it's a little hard to see at web size). Good news: you don't need Nikon's latest and greatest 35mm f/1.4 to do this. Do you have a kit zoom for your DX body? I'd expect it to perform admirably, stopped down to f/11ish. And, as a zoom, you can play with it and get the focal length you want. There may be some distortion with the zoom, which can be fixed up reasonably well using either Photoshop's distortion filter or something like DxO tools. If you don't have buildings in the background, this may be irrelevant.

This assumes you're really shooting fashion (as in your other thread), and want a deep depth of field, as in this photo. If you want a portrait that isolates the subject from the background, and you don't care about some of the subject being slightly out of focus (which is often, arguably, fine if the eyes are sharp), then you need to go faster. If 35mm is about right, the Samyang 35mm f/1.4 has got stellar reviews and is a bargain - if you can live with manual focus. Sigma make decent autofocus lenses in that range too. If you're happy just to stand farther back, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 is worth a look. I hope that helps.

Andrew Garrard , Sep 05, 2011; 01:16 p.m.

Shun - this particular image seems to have been taken with a wider lens than the 50-85mm lenses previously discussed, and wider than is conventional for portraiture. I don't think the question was redundant, although simply describing it as "full length portrait" might be missing some critical information. If the thread title was "I'm trying to replicate this look, what lens do I need?" then I hope it would be clear that there's something new here. Although Purple may not have realised that the lenses previously discussed wouldn't give this effect.

Jeff - I agree, Purple would benefit from playing with a zoom lens and experimenting to find the effects of various focal lengths. That said, for portrait lengths, an 18-200 may be overkill for her (I doubt the long end will be useful), although an 18-105 might include some useful lengths that the 18-55 kit lens doesn't.

Purple: The important thing to realise here is that the perspective of your subject depends on your distance from the subject, not the length of the lens. The focal length only changes how your field of view is cropped. I'd suggest you try a zoom lens and try shooting from different distances to see how the subject (and the background) appears. You might also like to look at the "Dolly zoom" page on Wikipedia. I also want to make the point that a "portrait lens" and a "fashion lens" are potentially different things - there's a difference between making an ugly person look pretty, and making a pretty person's clothes look good. Being clear might stop some confused answers.

Guys: I'm a little wary that we're not being very welcoming. Purple admits to being a beginner and that English isn't her first language. Asking questions when you don't know what you don't know isn't much of a crime, especially if (from other threads) she's under time pressure in making a lens purchase decision; I don't want her to be driven off. Purple: if you're still confused after you've tried out a zoom lens, I'd suggest the beginner forum - mostly because any answers you receive might be useful to other beginners. The Nikon forum tends to be quite technical and equipment-specific, and I think you're still at the stage of asking fairly general questions which would benefit non-Nikon owners. Not that I'm a forum admin, or that it's my business to tell you where to post. I hope playing with a zoom lens will help you come up with more specific questions (there is, sadly, no substitute for trying things out), and that the Nikon forum can help when you're trying to decide between specific Nikon lenses. We're all here to learn. Good luck.

Peter Hamm , Sep 05, 2011; 01:28 p.m.

You keep asking about lenses. First of all, it isn't the lenses that make the photo. It's everything else, the hard stuff that can't be solved through "which thing should I buy" questions. Second, get a used 18-200 and use it until you know which focal lengths you are finding useful. Given that you are asking these questions, I don't think the slightly inferior image quality of a zoom like that will matter much. Find out what works and buy then.

Follow this advice! It's good stuff.

Robert Hooper , Sep 05, 2011; 01:42 p.m.

My impression is that you are not ready for fashion photography. Your questions are those of someone without even a basic understanding of photography. My advice would be to volunteer to assist an established fashion photographer in your area until you have some confidence that you know what you are doing. You really shouldn't have to ask us what lens to use.

Andrew Garrard , Sep 05, 2011; 01:49 p.m.

In case I've accidentally started a "which lens should I buy in order to decide which lens to buy?" debate: The 18-200 is a very good option and will tell you everything you're likely to want to know in the short term about the effects of different focal lengths. It's a little expensive, though; my suggestion of the 18-105 was only offered as a budget alternative, since I doubt, for portraits, you'll have much need of lengths longer than 105mm on a DX body (although the 200mm is certainly useful for sports and wildlife, for example). I do think it's useful to see what everything from 18mm to at least 85mm looks like while learning.

Purple: pick whichever of these (or similar lenses with the same range) most appeals to you, and at least try it out in a store for a while - or, preferably, hire it. If you end up buying one and getting a prime lens of the length you most want for portraits later, you'll still have a versatile zoom to work with. For what it's worth, I've just picked up a zoom lens to add to my selection of primes, solely for a bit more flexibility - it won't be wasted.

Robert: I agree that Purple seems to be a beginner, as she admits. I'm assuming that the talk of "fashion photography" is a miscommunication and that she's not really talking about trying to do a shoot for Vogue at this point. That said, taking some publicity photos of a friend's student clothing line is still "fashion photography". And there's no harm in doing some learning on your own time before you go to a pro and become an assistant, if that's what Purple wants to do. (Not that I know anything about fashion photography beyond what I've read on this site and the technical side of what equipment can do - the chances of my being in a state to take a decent photo when presented with a supermodel in skimpy clothing are even lower than usual.)

Robert Hooper , Sep 05, 2011; 01:58 p.m.

Does a chef have to ask what pots to use?

Lex Jenkins , Sep 05, 2011; 02:23 p.m.

Ditto the advice to start with a zoom. Any decent midrange zoom will do for now - there are some good third party zooms with relatively fast f/2.8 maximum apertures if you need something faster than the affordable Nikkor variable aperture zooms.

Take lots of shots of models or friends helping you gain experience. Then study the EXIF data to see which focal lengths you use most often with a zoom. That will give you a good idea of which prime lens to get if you feel the need for a faster lens. Wega2 is a good free EXIF data utility for examining your tendencies when using zooms.

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