A few days ago I bought a used canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS lens from a local photographer that’s getting out of the business. She was asking $800 which is a great deal for an amazing piece of glass. The lens is great is my new favorite for shooting portraits. There was only one small issue. It came with a UV filter that had been over-tightened and was now stuck on the front of the lens. [Read more…]
Telephoto Zoom Alternative
From time to time I’ve rented Canon’s 70-200mm f/2.8 lens when I knew I’d need a solid telephoto lens for portraits, events, or wildlife photography. This is an exceptional piece of glass that features fast image stabilization and a wide aperture allowing you to shoot with it handheld indoors in many cases. At around $2,500 it also comes with an exceptional price tag that is hard to justify unless you are constantly shooting in situations where you need those features.
My current workload just doesn’t warrant spending that kind of money on a lens I wouldn’t use all that often, but I have been looking for a cheaper telephoto lens to add to my bag for a while now. My research led me to the Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM Telephoto Lens which sells for a fraction of the cost of the 70-200mm at around $820.00. There are some trade-offs with this less expensive lens which I will outline below. Overall I’m really pleased with this lens so far and would recommend it for someone who wants a great telephoto lens but can’t justify the cost of Canon’s premium zoom glass.
Because photography is an art form, you could argue that there is no right or wrong focal lengths for taking portraits. While I agree that the best focal length is the one that gives you the results you desire, there are focal lengths that are generally more flattering to the human form than others. We will discuss wide angle, medium, and telephoto focal lengths and the pros and cons of each when photographing portraits.
Generally, a wide angle lens is not the first one I’ll reach for when shooting a portrait. Anything in the 10-25mm focal length on a full frame body tends to distort the subject the closer they are to the lens. A wide angle will exaggerate prominent features and make them appear even larger. It’s definitely not the most flattering focal length, especially if you are shooting close to your subject.
A wide angle lens can be essential though if you are looking to capture someone in their environment. Think about how much more compelling your photo of a F-16 fighter pilot would be if you captured him inside the cockpit of his jet and the image was wide enough that you could see the canopy around him and the some of the controls. Sometime a wider focal length will help tell a better story because it gives context and location to the subject.