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One question I am often asked on my YouTube channel is “What focal length lens should I buy or use for portraits?” Photographers always want to know if they should purchase a 35mm, 50mm or 85mm lens for their portrait work.
The answer is that it depends on the distance between you and your subject. You can take portraits with a 35mm lens, but if you’re too close to your subject, then your portrait will have distortions. A 50mm lens is the most popular entry-level lens, but even it can give you a bit of distortion if you’re composing head shots with your camera in portrait orientation. Yes, this is true, even after calculating the crop factor. Having said this, if you keep a little distance between yourself and the subject, then you won’t see any distortion with a 50mm lens.
Look at the following pictures. Each is taken with different focal length lenses: 35mm, 50mm and 85mm.
|35 mm||50 mm|
50mm with distance
50mm with distance
Clearly, the 35mm photo reveals distortion. The 50mm has a bit of distortion, but the same shot in landscape orientation would have been distortion-free. I would say 85mm is ideal for close-up headshots because you’ll see no distortion.
What should you do if you don’t own a 85mm lens? Try not to position yourself too close to your subject. That will take care of any distortion. If you own all 3 focal lengths, then simply pick the right lens, depending on what kind of composition you’re creating.
All pictures are taken by PhotographersOnUTube. You can find their Photography Tutorial channel at http://www.Youtube.com/user/photographersonutube and Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PhotographersOnUTube.
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