Best portrait and all-around lens

Nick

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Joined
Aug 9, 2007
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12,934
I am about to buy a new lens and I need guidance. Here is my criteria.

1. Needs to be great at portraits and taking photos of people in a controlled environment with supplemental lighting. Must produce nice bokeh in these situations. (for my job)

2. Should be beneficial to me the rest of the time while I'm out playing.

3. I want something really high quality. I feel I'm lacking that in my current setup.

4. Would be nice if it didn't cost me $1200+. Would be really nice if it was less than $800.

I currently shoot with my Canon 60D (crop sensor) with a 10-22mm or an 18-200. The 18-200 sucks on quality so whatever lens I get will likely replace that one. I'm on a crop sensor right now but I anticipate moving to full frame within a year or two at the most. My biggest motivation for moving to full frame is night shots. It would be nice if it could also serve as my wide angle on the full frame when I get it but I understand that the 17-40 or 16-35 would not be good for portraits, even on a crop sensor.

So with all that said. What would you guys recommend? Here is what I've been looking at.

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<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00009R6WT/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=backcountrypo-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00009R6WT">Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Standard Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=backcountrypo-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00009R6WT" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /></br>
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<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000AZ57M6/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=backcountrypo-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000AZ57M6">Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens for Canon EOS SLR Cameras</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=backcountrypo-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B000AZ57M6" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />
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Deadeye008

Hambone
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Jan 18, 2012
Messages
742
I've got a Tamron 28-75mm 2.8 that I use as my standard zoom on my full frame. When used on my crop sensor camera I find myself wanting it to be wider. Before I moved to full frame I had a Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 that I used as my standard zoom. Both lenses are optically on par with their Canon counterparts and are good portrait lenses. The Canons have the advantage with the USM AF and the build quality. I prefer prime lenses for portraits. I love my Canon 85mm 1.8 on my full frame camera. It is definitely my go to lens for portraits. I love shooting @ 2.0 or 2.2 because of the DOF and bokeh that I get.When I'm shooting a portrait session I usually just carry my Canon 28mm 1.8 and my 85mm 1.8. I also have a Canon 70-200 2.8 IS. It's the original version. This lens is a great all around portrait lens and a lens I shoot a lot with at weddings. You might be able to find one around $1200 used. I think that's what I bought mine for about 3 or 4 years ago. It is very heavy though so I usually don't bring it hiking with me. I have also owned the f4 version of the 70-200 and it is a great all around portrait lens. The only limitation is the f4 aperture. You should be able to find one of those used for a decent price. They are a lot lighter than the f2.8 version and something I would consider carrying while hiking. If you take a look at my photography website(link in my signature) most of the portraits are shot with either the 70-200mm 2.8 or the 85mm 1.8 on a full frame camera.
 

Nick

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Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,934
Isn't f/2 too shallow for portraits? I haven't played much with it but I know with my 50mm 1.8, I had a hell of a time getting more than a half inch of a face in focus.

Is the Tamron quality comparable to Canon L-series glass?
 

Deadeye008

Hambone
Joined
Jan 18, 2012
Messages
742
Isn't f/2 too shallow for portraits? I haven't played much with it but I know with my 50mm 1.8, I had a hell of a time getting more than a half inch of a face in focus.

Is the Tamron quality comparable to Canon L-series glass?

The glass on the 2 Tamron lenses I mention is comparable to the Canon L-series glass but like I said the AF and build of the Canon L series lenses is better. Here are a couple shots from a recent portrait session. Both shot @ 2.0 with my 85mm on a full frame camera. You do have to make sure you nail the focus when shooting with such a shallow DOF.





IMG_3280 by Deadeye008, on Flickr


IMG_3303 by Deadeye008, on Flickr
 

Archbishop

Make ready. Go forward!
Joined
Jan 21, 2012
Messages
202
Those are some sweet shots. As to the comment about whether 2.0 is too shallow. It bares keeping mind that it might be if you're doing head and shoulders shots, but the farther back you get your lens, the more depth of field you'll have. (As seen in these full body shots.)
 

IntrepidXJ

ADVENTR
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
3,392
IntrepidXJ, you said you really liked your 24-105 f/4L. How do you think you'd like it if you could choose between that and the 24-70 f/2.8L?

I like the 24-105mm as an all-around lens. I take most of my rock art and ruins shots with it and it works great as a lens to keep on my camera during hikes. I don't think I would consider it a portrait lens, though.

I have no experience with the 20-70 lens, but from what I have heard, it's a better lens than the 24-105...
 

IntrepidXJ

ADVENTR
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
3,392
My good friend recently picked up the Canon 85mm 1.2 for portraits.....it's pricey, but that is one awesome portrait lens!
 

Deadeye008

Hambone
Joined
Jan 18, 2012
Messages
742
I don't have any experience with the Sigma 24-70 2.8 but I have heard good things about it and read good reviews on it. It has Sigma's HSM AF which is comparable to Canon's USM. I've owned 2 Sigma lenses with HSM and can attest that their HSM and Canon's USM are very similar. The Sigma is about $450 cheaper than the Canon. You might want to take your camera to Priceline or some other photography store and try the lenses out at the store. Most places will let you take pictures with their lenses. Then when you get back home you could compare the images.
 

Deadeye008

Hambone
Joined
Jan 18, 2012
Messages
742
My good friend recently picked up the Canon 85mm 1.2 for portraits.....it's pricey, but that is one awesome portrait lens!

This lens is truely an awesome portrait lens but like you said, it's pricey. That's why I have it's little brother, the 1.8 version. I have heard the Sigma 85mm 1.4 is very comparable to the Canon at about half the price.
 

Nick

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Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,934
Holy schnikey is that thing expensive!! $2k for a fixed 85mm prime!? Wow. I definitely need a zoom though. Otherwise it doesn't fill the role of being useful to me the rest of the time. :)
 

wes242

This one time...
Joined
Feb 4, 2012
Messages
605
The quest for a new lens is a tough one, I have pondered over the years about the "best" one to get... My findings are there isn't one, well not just one anyways. I have also bought the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8.... TWICE! The only downside is it is 28mm and the isn't wide enough for landscape. It is awesome for people shots though. I don't have a Full Frame, but still not wide enough I don't think. I bought a Tamron 17-35 f2.8-4 years ago and it has been a great lens, although they quit making it. That is my lens for group people pictures. But the lenses I like most for people is my 70-200 f2.8 .... If I had that in a 17mm or wider then I would love that. My main lens that is on the camera is 10-20 sigma, but for people it is just odd with the fisheye look it gives them. So for just one lens...... let me know when you find the best :) I forgot that I have a 17-70 sigma, but it is CRAP! Thats why I let my brother have it. I think I got a bad version, it is blurry on 1 side.
 

Nick

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Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,934
Okay... I've been doing a lot of reading up and I think I'm gonna pull the trigger on the 24-105 f4/L. I figure when I move to full frame, that plus a 16-35 f/2.8 should probably do me. This means I have a new lens to play with for backpacking Zion next weekend! :D
 

HomerJ

Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2012
Messages
1,199
Don't know if this will help any of you that are looking at new lenses or not, but I saw this today:

$50 off Sigma Lenses
 

wes242

This one time...
Joined
Feb 4, 2012
Messages
605
Okay... I've been doing a lot of reading up and I think I'm gonna pull the trigger on the 24-105 f4/L. I figure when I move to full frame, that plus a 16-35 f/2.8 should probably do me. This means I have a new lens to play with for backpacking Zion next weekend! :D
I think that 24-105 will be good on a full frame. I was going to buy it when if 1st came out years ago, but on a crop sensor it wasn't going to do the job for me. That 16 sounds pretty slick though.
 
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