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lens compression or FOV?
Old 02-09-2007, 09:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Why is it that an 85mm lens is prefered for portraits? Is it the compression at the lenght that provides something over a 50mm, or is it the FOV (not that it is much different in either case). I'm trying to get a handle on lens compression and why longer is better (as it seems).
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Re: lens compression or FOV?
Old 02-12-2007, 08:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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For 35mm film photography most photographers preferred an 85mm lens for 2 reasons. First, it allows a longer working distance. It keeps you outside the subject's 'comfort zone' which creates a more relaxed atmosphere. Longer working distances also yield greater depth of field at a given f/stop. Second, also a result of the longer working distance, it prevents subject distortion. If one part of the subject, say a hand, is much closer to the lens than another part, say the face, the hand will look much larger than the face. Less noticeable, but still very real, is the distortion caused by photographing a face close up with a short lens; the nose will appear oversized in relation to the ears.

Allowing for a 1.5 crop factor, you would need to use a 57mm lens to get the same reult in digital as an 85mm.

Many photographers prefer an even longer lens for 35mm portraits. I personally like to use a 105mm Nikkor. I've seen Monte Zucker shoot a portrait using a 500mm on his Hasselblad. Yes. you read that right, 500mm. It gave a very long working distance. Using long lenses like that gives you extremely good control over your backgrounds.

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Re: lens compression or FOV?
Old 02-17-2007, 08:29 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I prefer to use the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 for portraits on my Canon 5D, but use the 50MM f/1.4 or the Canon 20D... However for tight head and shoulder shots the 85mm works great on the 20D...
The perspective and field of view are all dependant on the amount of the subject you want in the frame and with digital the size of the sensor... To get close enough with a wide angle lens to fill the frame with the subject may cause some distortion whereas a longer length will not distort the image... A full frame sensor will distort more with a wide angle lense than a APS-C size sensor because you need to be much closer to fill the frame...
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