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Old 09-07-2017, 11:17 PM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Great Plains, USA
Posts: 286
Default Advice on All-Purpose/Portrait Lens

I'd like to spent around $400 on a somewhat all-purpose lens, or basically a wider-framed upgrade from the popular Canon 50mm 1.8. I often shoot people/activities, animals, and occasionally find myself wanting to shoot macro. I currently have a Tamron 18-200mm telephoto lens ($200), which has a nice zoom but not always the best quality, and the Canon 50mm 1.8 lens ($100), which is a bit tight-framed but great for the price.

I'm considering the Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM ($350), which has excellent macro, but people hardly talk about its ability with portrait/people photography. I'm also considering the more expensive Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Wide-Angle Lens ($550). Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 09-08-2017, 12:08 PM   #2
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 10,478

I haven't kept up with lenses at all but, for 35mm cameras (prior to the advent of digital), 85mm was considered a portrait lens--so much so that on the advice of an experienced photographer, I bought an 85mm lens (vs. 50mm--the norm at the time) as my standard lens for my first 35mm camera and I loved it.

I don't know anything really about macro lenses other than macro is good for very close-up shots so I wonder how one would then do as a portrait lens? I do prefer fast lenses so the f/2.8 and the f/2 are in the ballpark with respect to speed.

I know there are places that rent lenses and I wonder if it might be worth exploring renting for a week or so to see how it would work for you--I don't know what rental costs are but I think it might be worth the cost if it allowed you to get a better sense of a lens?


Last edited by terrie; 09-09-2017 at 09:29 AM. Reason: fix a typo
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Old 09-09-2017, 08:14 AM   #3
Steve Rindsberg
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,710

Do you plan to be working in low light most/all of the time? If so, the extra speed of the f/2 lens might be worth the money.

If I didn't need the speed, and if construction quality is equivalent between the two, I'd buy the f/2.8 one myself. Because y'know, macro.

I still wear my 35mm film-camera head when thinking about focal lengths so a 35mm lens for portraits strikes me as a little unusual. But then I think in terms of close-ups for portraits, not so much environmental portraiture, for which a 35mm lens would be very useful. So pay me no mind on that count.

Steve Rindsberg
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Old 09-10-2017, 02:23 PM   #4
Hugh Wyn Griffith
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,485

I'm considering the Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM ($350), which has excellent macro, but people hardly talk about its ability with portrait/people photography.
In the days when I was an active photographer most would not think of a wide angle lens for portrait work but rather a longer focus like the 85mm -- unless you are thinking of grabbing candid shots.


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