In general most of the well composed photographs have got something in them as the main subject or point of interest and there are some handful ways by which photographers try to lead the viewers’ eyes smoothly and immediately to these sweet points of interests. I will deal with these solutions in further details in the next few posts but now I just mention one in order to explain the preferred lenses for high end portraits.
One of the most effective ways to emphasize a point in a photo is to record it sharp and keep the rest blurred and vague as the human mind unconsciously try to reach a sharp and focused area in every scene it encounters.
So as it suggests a good choice of lens for portrait work is one which can render shallow depth of field in order to make the photographer able to achieve very sharp and very blurry areas even in a setup of limited depth as it would be in portraits. In this regard the further the focal length of the lens and the larger its maximum aperture is, the better it would be. Of course there are some other limiting factors such as available space, the need for primes of zooms and most importantly price; as the faster the lens would be (larger maximum aperture) the more expensive it would be.
As I am more familiar with Canon, I may suggest some lenses for serious portrait photographers as below:
- Canon 50mm, f/1.8 (especially good for beginners with cropped sensor DSLRs and limited budget. It tends to get soft wide open but usually produces brilliant quality considering its rock bottom price at say f/2.8. I may say a must have for every Canon DSLR owner)
- Canon 85mm, f/1.8 (Very good well built lens good for both full frame and cropped sensor DSLRs, mid range price)
- Canon 85mm, f/1.2 L (Made for professionals who are ready to spends around 2 grands for their glass, versatile and durable but if you are not really making money out of your photography you may be more than satisfied by the two earlier ones. You may invest the price difference in some studio lighting gears which bring your photography to very important new levels).
- Canon 135, f/2 L (A very sharp excellently build professional prime lens especially good for full frame DSLR owners)
- Canon 70-200, f/2.8 L (A legend for many photojournalists, an excellent but heavy and pricy professional lens which gives shallow depth of field and relatively long focal length especially good to produce flattering high end fashion shots. The zoom function makes it a hell easier to compose fast)
- Canon 24-70, f/2.8 L (A well built L series lens made for professionals who need relatively wider focal length compared to the former lens such as wedding photographers who tends to shoot in many confined spaces but needs fast and accurate composing and focusing and constant shallow depth of field. It is older brother Canon 28-70, f/2.8 L is also a very good lens)
By examining theses glasses (even the cheapest one) and comparing the results with the ones produced by say the kit lens of entry level DSLRs you will appreciate the beauty they let you create.