Choosing prime or zoom lenses is mainly a matter of preference. And what to choose when you’re shooting portraits? Many photographers would rather reach for primes, but modern zoom lenses can also give you sharp, high-quality images. In this video, Manny Ortiz discusses his choice when it comes to the lens for portrait photography. He tests an 85mm f/1.4 and a 70-200mm f/1.8. They are both great, but they have both advantages and disadvantages.
Manny shoots with Sony Alpha a7R II and the lenses are Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM and Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS. Although he leans more towards the 85mm, the 70-200mm also has its advantages. Of course, this is just a personal preference, but it could help you make a decision based on your personality and shooting style.
Let’s start with the advantages, as this is Manny’s preferred lens. For starters, the 85mm lens is a lot lighter than the 70-200mm. According to Manny, it’s also sharper. It has a wider aperture than the zoom lens, so you can get more light even when the lighting conditions aren’t ideal.
On the minus side, with a prime lens, you have to physically move to change composition. Depending on the location, it may not always be possible.
When it comes to the advantages of a zoom lens, it’s apparently more versatile. It allows you to get more different shots in the same location. With a long lens such as 70-200, you can zoom in and get excellent compression and isolate your subject.
On the minus side, at 200mm, you can feel disconnected with the model. Manny prefers being close to his subjects so he can direct them, and also doesn’t. With the 85mm, he feels more engaged. Another disadvantage I’d add is: zoom lenses are generally less sharp, at least if they are within the same price category. For example, you can buy a sharp prime for $200, but it’s not very likely you’d find an equally sharp zoom in that price category.
As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to portraits, I also rather choose primes. In my case, it’s a matter of budget: my cheap 50mm is certainly sharper and has a wider aperture than any zoom lens I can afford. But of course, this is also subjective, and I mainly take photos as a hobby. What’s your preferred lens for portraits?
[85mm vs 70-200 2.8 for portraits? WHICH IS BETTER? | Manny Ortiz via fstoppers]