For cropped frame sensor cameras, what lens would work best for taking portraits close to the face? If the focal length is approximately 2 ft between the subject and the camera, what lens would work best for these portraits?

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    "If the focal length is approximately 2 ft between the subject and the camera" You probably misunderstand what the focal length is. Maybe you meant focusing distance. – user29608 Jun 26 '17 at 3:44
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    You don't want to be that close to anyone's face regardless of the lens. Step back for more pleasing perspective. – user4894 Jun 26 '17 at 4:13
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    I guess that this question is sort of answered in this question: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/25350/… . – Lilibete Jun 26 '17 at 4:27
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    "Intimacy" is more about how you shoot, compose and frame and lighting. You're confusing your being at an uncomfortably close distance to the client with intimate. I'd typically use 50mm on crop frame for this stuff, but for intimate I'd prefer something like a 90mm or 105mm, as it can give the client less of a sense of being crowded and they'll relax more. Closer will have the opposite effect, in my experience. Mostly it's lighting, composition, framing and getting the right expression and pose. – StephenG Jun 26 '17 at 8:45
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    Why do you want to be ~2 ft from the subject? Do you know that you need to be ~2 ft from the subject, or is that what you think you want? Can you provide examples of what you're trying to achieve, or at least close to what you want? – scottbb Jun 26 '17 at 13:43

Art has few rules. You are free to work the human face from a distance of 2 feet. If you do, the nose will image too large and the ears too small. We are talking facial distortion that will result in images that are unflattering. That’s OK if you truly want to induce facial distortion.

The “normal” lens for the compact digital is 30mm. If distortion is your goal accentuated by working in close, then choose a 30mm. To intensify the distortion, use a shorter lens as this delivers a wide-angle view.

If classic portraiture is your goal, you would be wise to mount a moderate telephoto. Such a lash-up will force you to step back and this act will mitigate facial distortion. Best would be a focal length 2X thru 2.5 X “normal”. Now we are talking 60mm thru 80mm. Stepping back and using this focal length range will deliver portraits that flatter.


To pick a good lens, there are a couple things you want to consider.

The first thing that you want to check is the minimum focal distance. Some lenses (for example) can only focus at distances of more than 1.5 meters.

Second, you need to think about focal length. Shorter focal lengths tend to give more distortion.

A favorite among photographers (for cost and quality) is the "nifty fifty lens"; a 50mm f/1.8 lens. Canon and Nikon both have an equivalent for relatively low cost, the results are better than anything you can get for the cost, and the low f/stop number allows for a great artistic feel.

If cost is not an issue, there are many other lenses that work great. The best focal range for portraits (this is subjective) is between 50mm and 150mm. Those provide good results.

Hope this helps.


I use my EF 85 f/1.2; it has real shallow depth of field and is super bokelishious. For some reason unknown to me, this lens really likes women and babies.


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