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View Poll Results: What is a portrait lens for 135 or FF?
any lens you use to shoot a portrait 31 45.59%
75mm to 135mm 12 17.65%
75mm to 105mm; F/2.8 or faster 20 29.41%
60mm to 200mm 5 7.35%
Voters: 68. You may not vote on this poll

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What is a portrait lens for FF or 135?
Old 01-22-2012   #1
uhoh7
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What is a portrait lens for FF or 135?

I once thought the answer to this was simple
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Old 01-22-2012   #2
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Weird poll. I shot a portrait with a 28mm lens the other day.
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Old 01-22-2012   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uhoh7 View Post
I once thought the answer to this was simple
Your first answer is indeed simple, while pretty accurate...?
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Old 01-22-2012   #4
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Little boxes made of ticky tacky.... Why box this up?

Focal length? 85 and longer begins to eliminate compression in my mind. That's best but, some of my best have been at 40mm with a RF and 50- 210 with a reflex.
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Old 01-22-2012   #5
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Anywhere between 75mm to 135mm would be the "classic portrait focal lengths", and it is a simple question to answer from that perspective.

However, some people with Rangefinders (especially those without Leica M3's) would be loath to use a 135mm for portraiture due to the difficulty of focussing such a lens at close distance with the inherent limitations of a rangefinder design.
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Old 01-22-2012   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uhoh7 View Post
I once thought the answer to this was simple
were you the one talking about this on one of the nikon flickr groups?
just curious...

it's any focal length you choose to use...although traditionally, i think anywhere from 75 to 135 would fit into that category.
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Old 01-22-2012   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DamenS View Post
However, some people with Rangefinders (especially those without Leica M3's) would be loath to use a 135mm for portraiture due to the difficulty of focussing such a lens at close distance with the inherent limitations of a rangefinder design.
The OP is a NEX user, I don't think he's too concerned with that - (moreover since focus peaking works better at large focal lengths).
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Old 01-22-2012   #8
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i remember some japanese commerical photographers use 300mm for studio portraits.
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Old 01-22-2012   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd View Post
The OP is a NEX user, I don't think he's too concerned with that - (moreover since focus peaking works better at large focal lengths).
Actually he IS interested in that as it was his argument to that effect (that a 135mm equivalent field of view is too long for portraiture) in another thread (and difficulties with Rangefinder coupling at that length) which led directly to him creating this poll. Please, see the thread below:

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...64#post1794364

in which he stated that a 90mm lens on a 1.5x crop camera such as the NEX is far too long to be used for portraiture:

Quote:
Originally Posted by uhoh7 View Post
It's a funny discussion, since as noted, the GXR has a 1.5x crop an hence 85s and esp 90s are well beyond a portrait FOV.
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Old 01-22-2012   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkarmy View Post
i remember some japanese commerical photographers use 300mm for studio portraits.

Yes - I made that point in the other thread ... 200mm and 300mm is quite common for high-end portraiture and fashion shoots, where one is able to garner the requisite distance from the subject.
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Old 01-22-2012   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DamenS View Post
Actually he IS interested in that as it was his argument to that effect (that a 135mm equivalent field of view is too long for portraiture) in another thread (and difficulties with Rangefinder coupling at that length) which led directly to him creating this poll. Please, see the thread below:

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...64#post1794364

in which he stated that a 90mm lens on a 1.5x crop camera such as the NEX is far too long to be used for portraiture:
In the light of that thread, it seems that the burning question for the OP seems to have been his disagreement with 135mm being called a "classic portrait lens"
("give me a break, the classic portrait lenses are 75 to 105--is that controversial now?")
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Old 01-22-2012   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd View Post
In the light of that thread, it seems that the burning question for the OP seems to have been his disagreement with 135mm being called a "classic portrait lens".
LOL - I would say that is both a succinct and accurate summation of the situation.

Although he did actually go further and state that a 135mm (equivalent) lens is "well beyond a portrait FOV", so I would suggest the argument is not just about whether a 135mm could be called a "classic portrait lens", but whether it is usable for portraiture at all (though he may have backed down a little from that definitive a statement when he said, a little begrudgingly, later that any lens CAN be used for portraiture).
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Old 01-22-2012   #13
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This seems to becoming about the personality of the OP on threads other than this one. The question prima facially, is about the lens used to take pictures of people. And can't we all agree that the first choice of the poll is correct when that is the definition of portraiture - pictures of people. However if you mean the old-fashioned term, then a much narrower range of focal lengths work best. The exact lens to use depends on several things. The distances involved - not only between the camera and the subject, but also between the subject and the background. The parts of the person to be photographed - tight head shots vs full length and group portraits. The style of portrait - formal with studio lighting vs grungy, punk, drunken master style. And everything in between.

One's portraiture style is a very personal decision.

I see a lot of APS-C digital shooters using an 85mm which has the same look as a 135 on 35mm film. I really like 85 for head and shoulders type studio shots, and anything between 35 to 180 for candids, depending on how tight I want to shoot and how close to my prey I am.
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Old 01-22-2012   #14
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Chris, you are of course right : it depends on distances and what you want on that picture. I would use a 50mm lens to get the more environmental portrait and a 135mm for a tight portrait. This is why for this task I actually prefer crop cameras : there are a lot of fast 85mm lenses out there, by far more than 135mm, and enough 35mm to get me the equivalents ( of course in the wide angle department it's the other way around ). I also noticed that I can shoot portraits with good subject isolation with APS-C cameras - just have to make sure the background is a little further away
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Old 01-22-2012   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DamenS View Post
LOL - I would say that is both a succinct and accurate summation of the situation.

Although he did actually go further and state that a 135mm (equivalent) lens is "well beyond a portrait FOV", so I would suggest the argument is not just about whether a 135mm could be called a "classic portrait lens", but whether it is usable for portraiture at all (though he may have backed down a little from that definitive a statement when he said, a little begrudgingly, later that any lens CAN be used for portraiture).
yeah what was i thinking when I shot this with a 28 summicron a month ago?

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7017/6...8d67c3d7_z.jpg

or

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7141/6...b39f2bd6_z.jpg

I must have forgotten I thought you could only shoot portraits with a "portrait lens" of 75mm to 105mm--I should have checked in with you to clarify my preconceptions--sry.

And I guess when I read my 1955 canon lens catalog I missed the fact they were idiots for refering to 85s as their portrait lenses.

Or the old kodak manuals which term a portrait lens as 1.5- 2 times the negative diagonal.

I need to get up to speed where the term has utterly no meaning since it can refer to any lens.

you might want to also update those writing the leica copy who don't seem to realise the term now refers to any lens:

"The new 75 mm Summarit-M replaces the portrait focal lengths of 90 -100 mm for digital use"

(yes I understand the m8 is 1.3x and this is why they are pointing this out)

I really was not trying to be nasty, but simply point out that 50s are fantastic portrait lenses on APS-C---and they are cheaper and faster too.

So now, I'm going to sulk away and play with my new 400 telyt normal lens.

BTW which 135s am I supposed to flatten my targets with on the M6?
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Old 01-23-2012   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris101 View Post
This seems to becoming about the personality of the OP on threads other than this one. The question prima facially, is about the lens used to take pictures of people. And can't we all agree that the first choice of the poll is correct when that is the definition of portraiture - pictures of people. However if you mean the old-fashioned term, then a much narrower range of focal lengths work best. The exact lens to use depends on several things. The distances involved - not only between the camera and the subject, but also between the subject and the background. The parts of the person to be photographed - tight head shots vs full length and group portraits. The style of portrait - formal with studio lighting vs grungy, punk, drunken master style. And everything in between.

One's portraiture style is a very personal decision.

I see a lot of APS-C digital shooters using an 85mm which has the same look as a 135 on 35mm film. I really like 85 for head and shoulders type studio shots, and anything between 35 to 180 for candids, depending on how tight I want to shoot and how close to my prey I am.
I didn't see the discussion in the other thread before it was pointed out here - my guess is that the discussion started more from the label "classic" and whether it extends to 135mm or not. I guess that's more of a question of style to begin with - maybe the "classic" portrait lenses are those that were and are used for "classic" portraits, which suggest 85mm for a torso shot, and 105-135 for a head shot (all relative to full frame).

After all these conventions all developed when photography was more formalized visually than it is now, with less grungy/punk/drunken master style works.
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Old 01-23-2012   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uhoh7 View Post
yeah what was i thinking when I shot this with a 28 summicron a month ago?

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7017/6...8d67c3d7_z.jpg

or

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7141/6...b39f2bd6_z.jpg

I must have forgotten I thought you could only shoot portraits with a "portrait lens" of 75mm to 105mm--I should have checked in with you to clarify my preconceptions--sry.

And I guess when I read my 1955 canon lens catalog I missed the fact they were idiots for refering to 85s as their portrait lenses.

Or the old kodak manuals which term a portrait lens as 1.5- 2 times the negative diagonal.

I need to get up to speed where the term has utterly no meaning since it can refer to any lens.

you might want to also update those writing the leica copy who don't seem to realise the term now refers to any lens:

""The new 75 mm Summarit-M replaces the portrait focal lengths of 90 -100 mm for digital use"

(yes I understand the m8 is 1.3x)

I really was not trying to be nasty, but simply point out that 50s are fantastic portrait lenses on APS-C---and they are cheaper and faster too.

So now, I'm going to sulk away and play with my new 400 telyt normal lens.

BTW which 135s am I supposed to flatten my targets with on the M6?
You do sound a bit vitriolic there, in particular the bit where Canon being or not being idiots labeling their 85s "portrait" lenses but also elsewhere. I don't quite understand at what or whom that is directed. Maybe it's just me being dense and not getting it.

Regarding the last question, the range of 135s for the Leica M series is quite big (surprisingly, in a way, seeing how framing and focusing them can get tricky). You have the various 135 Tele-Elmars, the 135 Telyt, the goggled 135 Elmarit, or a LTM adapter and any of the 135mm LTM lenses from Canon, Zeiss, Nikon or the Soviet Union. (A .85x viewfinder is probably a good idea, too.)
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Old 01-23-2012   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uhoh7 View Post
yeah what was i thinking when I shot this with a 28 summicron a month ago?

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7017/6...8d67c3d7_z.jpg

or

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7141/6...b39f2bd6_z.jpg

I must have forgotten I thought you could only shoot portraits with a "portrait lens" of 75mm to 105mm--I should have checked in with you to clarify my preconceptions--sry.

And I guess when I read my 1955 canon lens catalog I missed the fact they were idiots for refering to 85s as their portrait lenses.

Or the old kodak manuals which term a portrait lens as 1.5- 2 times the negative diagonal.

I need to get up to speed where the term has utterly no meaning since it can refer to any lens.

you might want to also update those writing the leica copy who don't seem to realise the term now refers to any lens:

"The new 75 mm Summarit-M replaces the portrait focal lengths of 90 -100 mm for digital use"

(yes I understand the m8 is 1.3x and this is why they are pointing this out)

I really was not trying to be nasty, but simply point out that 50s are fantastic portrait lenses on APS-C---and they are cheaper and faster too.

So now, I'm going to sulk away and play with my new 400 telyt normal lens.

BTW which 135s am I supposed to flatten my targets with on the M6?



LOL - be a REAL man, and use a Nikon SLR with the 200mm f2.

Nice way to reverse your argument though in order to attempt a "cheat" win - YOU were the one who claimed anything longer than a 105mm equivalent was unacceptable. I have argued AGAINST this and challenge you to show otherwise - go on, quote me as I've quoted you. I have said that, as I keep saying, 75mm to 135mm is a "classic portraiture lens" and that any lens (including 200 to 300mm lenses can be used). YOU are the one who is saying otherwise and prescribing (do I need to quote you again ?) that a 135mm field of view is "well beyond a portrait FOV" and even started this thread to garner some support for this silly (but clearly impossible to discard on your part) contention. Don't place your own arguments in my mouth and mine in yours and then tell me I'm wrong. LOL. Ridiculous !

No-one is saying Canon are idiots for stating an 85mm is a portrait lens (yet another specious argument on your part), and the term "portrait lens" CERTAINLY has meaning (the meaning being that the classic portrait range is 75mm-135mm) - it's just that you (let's take some personal responsibility here and not blame other people like Canon, Leica and Kodak) were wrong exactly where I said you were wrong, no more and no less, in stating that a 135mm equivalent is "well beyond a portrait FOV".

There's no need to get all "huffy" about being wrong, it happens to most of us (even if we aren't all as vociferous in expressing it and even though some of us are staunchly unable to recognise it or acknowledge it when it happens).

As I explained in the other thread, the Leica words mean that on the Leica M8 the 75mm replaced a 90mm lens on full frame and that a 90mm lens is often considered a "portrait lens" (here they are not wrong, as I have previously said - though a 90mm can do so many other things of course). Read it again ... slowly this time till you understand that Leica is categorically NOT stating that a 90mm equivalent is the only lens suitable for portraits ... just as Canon saying an 85mm lens is a portrait lens is in NO WAY incompatible (as I've said before - I can only assume you are being deliberately obtuse now) with other focal lengths also being considered "portrait lenses" - and if you believe Kodak stating that a portrait lens is 2x the diagonal of the format is a "hard and fast" rule - and focal lengths close to this (such as 135mm instead of 105mm) are therefore "WELL BEYOND a portrait FOV" then God help us all - I'm out. I can't change a mind which is so mired in (incorrect) and narrow "rules" and such regal and direct (incorrect) statements about what is and isn't a portrait lens. If you believe your argument that a 135mm is far too long for portraits is right, and that the advice you dispensed was correct then good on you - you've won this argument - well done. I'm out - and off to "flatten my targets" in portraiture the way many other photographers have done for at least 100 years. Good grief !!

PS. As you already know, I have no power to change the ad copy Leica uses to sell their lenses and nor would I want to - as I said, their terminology is correct - a 90mm lens IS suitable for portraiture, it's the READING of it and using that as an inflexible definition of what is and isn't appropriate for portraiture which is wrong. That comes from you, and only one person can change it (hint: It isn't me, it isn't an online poll and it isn't logic ... clearly) !
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Old 01-23-2012   #19
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This thread largely seems to be about a dispute between two people.
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Old 01-23-2012   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd View Post
I didn't see the discussion in the other thread before it was pointed out here - my guess is that the discussion started more from the label "classic" and whether it extends to 135mm or not. I guess that's more of a question of style to begin with - maybe the "classic" portrait lenses are those that were and are used for "classic" portraits, which suggest 85mm for a torso shot, and 105-135 for a head shot (all relative to full frame).

After all these conventions all developed when photography was more formalized visually than it is now, with less grungy/punk/drunken master style works.
Actually it's worse than that - if you scroll up and read the quote I placed in my post, this is not even to do with what a "classic portrait focal length is" and whether or not that includes a 135mm. The direct quote which I questioned from the OP is his advise to somebody that:

a 135mm (equivalent) lens is "well beyond a portrait FOV".

Not whether it is a classic portrait length or not (although it clearly is), but rather whether his advice that a 135mm equivalent lens is actually "WELL BEYOND" a portrait length (clearly ridiculous and wrong, but unable to be admitted by OP), which is just ... well, I think we can say that's just plain wrong.
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Old 01-23-2012   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DamenS View Post
Actually it's worse than that - if you scroll up and read the quote I placed in my post, this is not even to do with what a "classic portrait focal length is" and whether or not that includes a 135mm. The direct quote which I questioned from the OP is his advise to somebody that:

a 135mm (equivalent) lens is "well beyond a portrait FOV".

Not whether it is a classic portrait length or not (although it clearly is), but rather whether his advice that a 135mm equivalent lens is actually "WELL BEYOND" a portrait length (clearly ridiculous and wrong, but unable to be admitted by OP), which is just ... well, I think we can say that's just plain wrong.
So. That's his opinion. We all know what an 85mm looks like and we know what 135 looks like. We get it. Some of us think that's classic and some don't.

Good. I myself, like 35mm portraits.
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Old 01-23-2012   #22
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LOL - be a REAL man, and use a Nikon SLR with the 200mm f2.

Nice way to reverse your argument though in order to attempt a "cheat" win - YOU were the one who claimed anything longer than a 105mm equivalent was unacceptable.
I don't remember using the term "unacceptable". I think I implied 135mm was beyond the classic portrait FOV---in the sense one might use FOV when discussing normal lenses.

I do think 90 is really long for every day portraits on APS-C, but apparently there are a number of dedicated portrait 135s for digital now, and when i read up I see that the range 80-135mm is commonly refered to as "classic portrait" FL.

I think most photographers would consider 135 long for a primary portrait lens. But not all--I have learned. Which is in fact why I started this thread and this one:

http://forum.mflenses.com/what-is-a-...ns-t46518.html

to learn.

I'm not taking the rest of that bait but I am curious:

"portrait lens" now does not imply any FL?

PS (I'm happy to see that at least 7 others are as mislead as me)

Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd View Post
You do sound a bit vitriolic there, in particular the bit where Canon being or not being idiots labeling their 85s "portrait" lenses but also elsewhere.
Sry- over defensive there---did not expect S-storm--I'm calming down now.
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Old 01-23-2012   #23
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So. That's his opinion. We all know what an 85mm looks like and we know what 135 looks like. We get it. Some of us think that's classic and some don't.

Good. I myself, like 35mm portraits.
I agree. It's probably a bit about (and I should be clever enough to get beyond minutia like this) the difference between saying you believe something is not suitable and saying something is categorically not suitable - between an opinion couched as such and a regal pronouncement. This is especially important when we are responding to advice being asked by people who may be relatively inexperienced and may view our advice as being unassailably accurate if it is couched in definitive terms. It seems to be a Duty of Care thing ... to me ... in my opinion ...
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Old 01-23-2012   #24
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Originally Posted by uhoh7 View Post
I don't remember using the term "unacceptable". I think I implied 135mm was beyond the classic portrait FOV---in the sense one might use FOV when discussing normal lenses.

I do think 90 is really long for every day portraits on APS-C, but apparently there are a number of dedicated portrait 135s for digital now, and when i read up I see that the range 80-135mm is commonly refered to as "classic portrait" FL.

I think most photographers would consider 135 long for a primary portrait lens. But not all--I have learned. Which is in fact why I started this thread and this one:

http://forum.mflenses.com/what-is-a-...ns-t46518.html

to learn.

I'm not taking the rest of that bait but I am curious:

"portrait lens" now does not imply any FL?

PS (I'm happy to see that at least 7 others are as mislead as me)
A portrait lens is anything with which you have taken a portrait - this seems clear, simple and right. I just wouldn't say that anything beyond 105mm is "too long" to be a portrait lens, a point upon which you have differed (and I've quoted you enough now for you to know exactly what you said - hint: it wasn't about "classic portrait focal lengths", but I've seen you back-pedal, and (mis)appropriate my own arguments, enough thus far that I know what you are willing to offer and what you are unable to confess). You suggest that you have now performed some research which has allowed you to come to a new understanding that a 135mm lens may be considered a "portrait" focal length and not "well beyond a portrait FOV".

We give thanks for what we get.

I didn't "bait you" in the previous email - I simply said that you were taking my argument as your own and conferring your own faulty logic upon me - which is not only disingenuous it is demonstrably wrong to anyone who reads what you said (unless you go back and edit).

PS how IS a portrait lens being any focal length (my argument, augmented with the suggestion 75mm-135mm are "classic" portrait lengths, with which you argued mercilessly) compatible with your belief that:

Quote:
Originally Posted by uhoh7 View Post
It's a funny discussion, since as noted, the GXR has a 1.5x crop an hence 85s and esp 90s are well beyond a portrait FOV.
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Old 01-23-2012   #25
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This thread largely seems to be about a dispute between two people.
Yeah, but we don't have to give them that. When you release a photo to the world, it's meaning and intent becomes the property of your critics. Same thing with threads. We (the denizens of RFF) own this thread now. And the topic is interesting to me, and apparently you:

Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd View Post
I didn't see the discussion in the other thread before it was pointed out here - my guess is that the discussion started more from the label "classic" and whether it extends to 135mm or not. I guess that's more of a question of style to begin with - maybe the "classic" portrait lenses are those that were and are used for "classic" portraits, which suggest 85mm for a torso shot, and 105-135 for a head shot (all relative to full frame).

After all these conventions all developed when photography was more formalized visually than it is now, with less grungy/punk/drunken master style works.
Indeed, I too interpret "classic" to connote "established in the past". If one is bound to the rules of established photography, then classic is the way to go. The posing, lighting and lens choices have been made long ago, so the actual artistic choices are more limited. And much like the limits of all of photography, these only add to the 'search-for-the-new' type of creativity that artistic limits induce. So I think there is still lots of life to the tried and true methods of classic portraiture.

Since they are old however, classic methods often get bypassed by the most enthusiastic and creative segment of our craft: young photographers. And it is no accident that happenstance photography is easier and less expensive than directed photography. And, because they are more likely to catch the action, wider lenses are more applicable to happenstance (ie, candid, g/p/d-m style) photography.

So, if we old guys like it or not, the definition of norms is changing. I like it, cause staying the same is boring.
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