Portrait Photography - Use The Right Portrait Lens
Portrait photography is one of the most popular categories of both amateur and pro photographers. Almost any lens can be used to take a portrait, but getting a truly great portrait takes some photo know-how. Which lenses are better suited for portraits? Find out here.
You could be surprised to find out that having the perfect Canon portrait lens is not the most critical part of getting an excellent portrait. But a first-class lens will without doubt go a long way toward getting you to that great image.
Some portrait photographers enjoy a glamorous career. If you are good and make the right connections, you could be in the company of some very well known people. And you would be dong it in a very different way than the paparazzi, who are not very well thought of in the photography business. Besides, what they do is not portrait photography.
While shooting the likes of Angelina Jolle or the Lindsay Lohan (cough) may appeal to you, most portraits are of "other" subjects.
Other portrait niches include individuals, family photos (Olan Mills does not have a monopoly here), high school senior photos, babies, and even pet portraits. And sports portraits is a huge opportunity, too. Tons of ways to make a mark in portrait photography.
#1 Effect of Pro Photographers - Depth of Field
The camera is important, but the portrait lens is just as important. In order to make the subject (model) stand out in the image, there are certain techniques that need to be used. The first thing you want is a narrow depth of field. Shallow depth of field happens when the focal plane (the area in focus) is not very wide. Everything behind or in front of that plane is out of focus (OOF). That sharp area of focus unconsciously draws the eye of the viewer.
One of the reasons for this shallow depth of field is the quick speed of the shutter. This is a feature of good portrait lenses. The aperture (or lens opening) is what causes the shutter to speed up or slow down. The larger the opening (aperture), the faster the shutter speed, and vice versa. In fact, the better lenses have apertures as wide as f/1.2. The result of using a wide aperture is that you get a depth of field that is far more sleek and sexy. This effect will really make your subject feel special when they see the final image. More importantly, you will feel that you have created the image you saw in your mind before you pressed the shutter button.
Second Critical Element - Focal Length
Portrait photographers should pay very close attention to the focal length. The majority of photographers who do portrait work use a single or prime focal length, meaning the lens does not zoom at all. If choosing a prime lens, 50mm would be the shortest length to choose. You definitely don't want to go any shorter, because you will have to get too close to your subject. Focal lengths longer than 50mm are more common among those who normally shoot portraits. In fact, a focal length of 75mm to 150mm, or somewhere in between, is considered optimal. This gives the photographer a better combination of depth of field, distance from the model, and flexibility in choosing the perspective.
Using a lens that is too short will create unpleasant facial feature exaggerations, like the ears will be too large for the head. Getting up close and personal with a lens that has a wide focal length can produce humorous photos. You have probably wondered how to capture those animal photos with the big, wide snout. Well, this is how it's done. That is done on purpose, of course, using a wide angle lens (less than 50mm) and getting too close to the subject. We laugh when we see these kind of photos, but we would not laugh if it was OUR face blown out of proportion. People are way too vain.
Lots of photographers, both advanced amateurs and pros, opt for a zoom lens instead of a prime focal length lens to shoot their portrait shots. In particular, the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is mentioned as a fantastic portrait lens. You can imagine how much flexibility a lens like that will give you as you set up your shot.
The good news is that just about any lens can double as a portrait lens. If you know how to pull it off, you can take great portraits with you cell phone.
How To Get Better Backgrounds With A Less-Than-Perfect Lens
The blur of the background, as mentioned, is the key to an exceptional portrait. One way to do that is to move the background further away from the subject. In other words, put as much distance as you can between the model and the background. This will put the background out of focus and compensate for the lack of a wide aperture.
When you own a digital SLR, your family and friends automatically take it for granted that you can take good portrait images. Truth is, you do have the ability to do this. But the job can be done so much easier with the right lens, a portrait lens.
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While buying a great portrait lens is not first on everyone's do-to list, you should know which lenses take the best portraits so that when the occasion arises, you will know which lens to pull out of your camera bag. It can also be part of the selection process when you are buying your next lens, because getting a lens that can double up as a Canon portrait lens is a great advantage financially.
The best lenses, especially Canon lenses, are featured at www.CanonEOSLenses.org.