DP 1on1 E007 – Choosing a Lens for Portraiture

In this episode of Digital Photography One on One, Mark Wallace [SnapFactory.com] discusses how to choose a lens for Portraiture.

Question Answered:
1) I noticed you shoot a lot with your 70-200 lens. I have a Canon 70-200 lens I use for Sports. I’ve never thought about using that lens for portraits. I usually use a smaller lens.

Portrait Lenses:

It’s a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L. This is by far my favorite lens for portrait work.

I favor longer lenses for portrait work for several reasons:

1) Distortion
When you use a wide angle lens, which is also known as a short lens, you have to get closer to your subject to fill the frame. This causes things to become distorted. Things in the foreground look very large and things in the background look very small. Usually this translates into our subjects looking like they have big noses or odd shaped bodies.

A longer lens requires us to get farther from the subject which will minimize this distortion.

2) Angle of View
Angle of view is simply how much the lens can “see”. A wide angle lens has a wide angle of view. This means that we will see much more of the background. This can cause cluttered images.

Longer lenses have a narrower angle of view. A narrower angle of view will allow us to capture less of the background. This will help us keep the image clean and uncluttered.

3) Zoom
Another reason I like to use my 70-200mm is that it’s a zoom lens. This allows me to compose medium length shots as well as nice head shots without having to move. This will also allow your subjects to feel more comfortable because you’re not so close.

There are times when it’s appropriate. The truth is that there are photographers who use wide angle lenses for portrait photography and are very successful. Platon is probably the most famous of these photographers. You can view his work at: www.platonphoto.com

Published by Mark Wallace

Photographer, explorer, educator, artist.