No matter what genre of photography you’re into, I’m sure you have your favorite lens(es). Manny Ortiz does mainly portrait and has two lenses he’d recommend to any portrait photographer out there. The 50mm and the 85mm are his lenses of choice, and he explains why he thinks every portrait photographer should own them. Let’s see if you agree.
The 50mm and 85mm are close in focal length, but according to Manny, they serve a different purpose.
50mm is usually the first one we buy after the kit lens. It was the first prime lens for me, and still remains my favorite. It’s similar for Manny, as he often returns to the “nifty-fifty,” too. He uses Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA. Not exactly 50mm, but close enough. He points out this lens is great for environmental portraits. Still, you can also get up close, and shoot without the distortion you’d get with, for example, a 35mm.
As for the 85m, Manny says it’s his “bread and butter lens.” Many of his portraits were taken with this one, and I also know lots of portrait photographers who’d choose it over any other lens. It has a larger working distance, but you can stand close to the model and communicate. For example, with the 200mm, you’d need to stand far back, and get closer every time you need to direct the model. This could slow down the photo shoot, but with the 85mm, there’s no such problem. Also, there is no distortion and the lens is flattering to the subject. The background compression is great, and this lens gives you a nice, shallow depth of field.
Of course, all this is subjective, and there are no explicit rules. Plus, you can always experiment with wide-angle portraits and get amazing, creative images. Personally, I don’t do portraits so often, but when I do – it’s usually with the 50mm lens. Although, on my Nikon D7000, this lens provides 75mm equivalence. So I guess I’m somewhat closer to Manny’s beloved 85mm. What’s your “bread and butter lens” for portrait photography? Do you agree with Manny’s choice?
[Two LENSES every PORTRAIT photographer should own! | Manny Ortiz]