50mm vs 85mm: Which Is Finest for Portrait Images?

The put up 50mm vs 85mm: Which Is Best for Portrait Photography? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Meredith Clark.

50mm vs 85mm which focal length is best?

Which lens is healthier, 50mm vs 85mm? It’s a standard query, however one with out a straightforward reply; in spite of everything, 50mm and 85mm lenses are each nice – it simply depends upon what and how you wish to {photograph}.

That’s the place this text is available in. I’m going to share the professionals and cons of photographing portraits with 85mm and 50mm lenses. I’m additionally going to share loads of examples so you possibly can see these two lens varieties in motion.

Hopefully, by the point you’re completed, you’ll know which focal size is best for you.

Let’s get began!

1. Focal size (attain)

The obvious distinction between an 85mm lens and a 50mm lens is the attain; to fill the body with a topic at 50mm, you’ll have to get shut. An 85mm lens provides the identical framing from farther again.

Some photographers desire to get up-close and private when taking pictures portraits, by which case a 50mm lens is the higher possibility. Others desire to maintain the topic at a distance, and right here, an 85mm lens will excel.

Actually, all of it depends upon your degree of consolation and your model of taking pictures. The broader, 50mm focal size allows you to simply obtain environmental portraits that embrace attention-grabbing background options. Certain, you can get the identical impact with an 85mm lens, however you must again up farther, which (as I focus on beneath!) could cause issues.

50mm vs 85mm for portrait photography girls hugging

Should you do a variety of headshots, 85mm might be the higher alternative. You’ll be able to seize stunning, tight photographs from an inexpensive distance, whereas headshots at 50mm can put you uncomfortably shut.

However, should you gravitate towards full-body and even group photographs, 50mm is good.

2. Depth of discipline

Should you shoot a topic with a 50mm lens and an 85mm lens, but use similar framing – that’s, regulate the composition in order that the topic’s face takes up the identical quantity of house in each photographs – the depth of field will stay constant. In different phrases, with similar framing, depth of discipline on a 50mm lens and an 85mm lens is equal.

Nonetheless, should you stand in the identical place and shoot with a 50mm lens and an 85mm lens, the 85mm lens will take you nearer to the topic – and also you’ll find yourself with a narrower depth of discipline (i.e., elevated background blur).

So in a way, an 85mm lens provides a shallower depth of field than a 50mm lens.

After all, everybody has a special desire in the case of depth of discipline. Some desire the extra uniform background blur that the 85mm lens provides, whereas different photographers desire to have a bit extra background definition.

You could even discover that you simply desire totally different approaches in numerous conditions! For instance, I normally favor the extra uniform bokeh of the 85mm lens. Nonetheless, once I’m photographing within the grass, I desire the feel a 50mm lens gives:

girl at 85mm and 50mm

Left: 85mm lens | Proper: 50mm lens

That is purely subjective, so begin making psychological notes about which kind of photographs you like once you take a look at different photographers’ work. Should you discover that you’re all the time drawn to a creamier background, then the 85mm lens could also be a greater match for you. Should you desire a bit extra texture within the background, it’s possible you’ll need to take into account the 50mm lens as a substitute.

3. Background compression

Have a look at this image, taken at 85mm:

85mm portrait of two girls

Then this image, taken at 50mm:

50mm portrait of two girls

What do you see? You could discover that the background within the 85mm picture is far blurrier than the background within the 50mm picture. The cherry blossoms are pretty nicely blurred in each photographs, however the form of the blossoms is extra outlined within the 50mm picture, and the blossoms are considerably extra blurred and creamy within the 85mm picture.

A part of it has to do with the framing; word that the ladies are smaller within the 50mm picture in comparison with the 85mm picture, which results in a barely bigger depth of discipline.

Nevertheless it additionally has to do with background compression.

You see, longer focal size lenses create compression, the place the background options much less of the topic’s environment. Wider focal size lenses, alternatively, cut back compression, permitting extra of the background to shine.

This could be a complicated idea, so let me offer you an instance:

Should you’re photographing a portrait topic in entrance of a highway, the ensuing photographs may show the entire highway:

girl at 50mm

Or they could show a small highway slice:

girl at 85mm

Whereas the framing on the primary picture is barely looser, even when I have been to have created similar frames, you’d see extra of the highway within the topmost picture. Are you aware why?

As a result of it was shot at 50mm! The second picture, shot at 85mm, experiences extra background compression, and due to this fact reveals much less of the background.

Now, background compression has two vital penalties:

  1. It contains and excludes background options. A tree may seem absolutely in a 50mm picture however may barely characteristic in an 85mm picture.
  2. It will increase the standard of the background blur, also called bokeh.

Within the earlier part, I mentioned background blur and shallow depth of discipline results. I defined that some photographers desire a shallow depth of discipline, whereas others like to incorporate larger element.

It’s due to this fact vital to understand: 85mm lenses have stronger background blur than 50mm lenses, even when the depth of discipline (and framing) stays the identical. That’s the ability of background compression.

So should you desire the ultra-blurred look, an 85mm lens is a good purchase.

4. House constraints

Bear in mind once I stated that an 85mm lens will pressure you to face farther away out of your topic in comparison with a 50mm lens, assuming you employ the identical framing?

Whereas this isn’t essentially an issue in out of doors areas, it might turn into a significant hindrance should you’re taking pictures indoors.

For example, you may want a full-body shot, however you possibly can’t again up by way of the wall, so you find yourself settling for a half-body shot. Or you may want a gaggle shot, however you possibly can’t widen the body, so that you’re caught with a partial shot of two topics.

two girls reading a book

The truth is, I virtually by no means use my 85mm lens inside our residence. Our home is simply over 1,000 sq. toes, and relying on the room, generally I bodily can not again up far sufficient to make use of my 85mm lens. I wish to seize little day-to-day moments of our household, and so having a lens that I can use indoors is a must have.

As a lot as I like my 85mm lens, it simply isn’t a terrific match for indoor use. After all, you may need an enormous home with big rooms, otherwise you may desire tight headshots, by which case 85mm is undoubtedly effective. However should you’re like me and also you need to have the ability to shoot extensive indoors, then 50mm could be the way in which to go.

girl headshot in the snow

This picture was taken with an 85mm lens; word the tighter framing and elevated background blur.

However, I usually desire my 85mm lens when taking pictures open air. After I’m outdoors, standing farther away from my topics is an efficient factor. I can let my children play and have enjoyable with out being all up of their enterprise. House between the youngsters and the digital camera signifies that they will calm down extra simply, which in flip results in extra real expressions and candid smiles.

50mm vs 85mm: ultimate phrases

So which is healthier, 85mm vs 50mm lenses? Truthfully, each of those lens varieties are nice for capturing portrait-style photographs of individuals, and I personally maintain each in my digital camera bag and use them with near-equal frequency.

That stated, should you’re solely capable of buy one lens proper now, ask your self: What are my preferences? How do these totally different focal lengths communicate to my wants?

After which make your resolution. Don’t stress too a lot, nevertheless; each focal lengths are nice, particularly for an up-and-coming portrait shooter.

Now over to you:

Which lens do you assume you’ll buy, the 50mm or the 85mm? And why? Share your ideas within the feedback beneath!

Desk of contents

Portrait Photography

The put up 50mm vs 85mm: Which Is Best for Portrait Photography? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Meredith Clark.

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