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18-55 for portraits

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Lenses' started by alaios, Jan 18, 2014.

  1. alaios

    alaios TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2013
    Düsseldorf
    Alex
    Hi there,
    I wanted to ask your opininon for the SEL1855 for portraiture work. I am thinking to work on the lens on the end of the zoom so it would be 50-55. I will have a tripod (so OSS should be disabled).
    What do you think. Would a minolta 50,1.7 would be sharper and better for this work?

    Regards
    Alex
     
  2. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    You have both. Why don't you just try it?
     
  3. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Yep, just try it. As for the kit zoom, I shot portraits of 30 or so people with it at around 50mm, and it did quite well. Nothing special when you look at the rendering or sharpness, but definitely okay for learning portraiture.
     
  4. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Dave
    Nothing special about the 18-55, but nothing wrong either.

    As long as you are not trying to shot in too dark of a location you should be just fine.
     
  5. José De Bardi

    José De Bardi Assistant in Virtue

    Aug 31, 2013
    Dorset, UK
    José
    I shot a friends family portraits today (practising for a wedding I am shooting for another friend in April!) - portraits are not my thing!!

    I started with the 18-55, but almost instantly changed to my OM 50mm F1.8 due to their living room being a bit on the dark side.
     
  6. serhan

    serhan TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2011
    NYC
    Here are some old shots w/ nex 5 from Mount Vernon, VA, not too close shots, but it gives you an idea about 18-55 dof, 2 of them @ 55mm:

    original.

    original.

    55mm 5.6
    original.

    55mm 5.6
    original.

    original.

    original.

    original.

    original.

    original.
     
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  7. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Dave
    Great series, you should post them seperatly.
     
  8. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    My good copy of 18-55 is capable of decent quality portraits, but it's nowhere near my el cheapo MD50/1.7. No contest, sorry.
     
  9. alaios

    alaios TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2013
    Düsseldorf
    Alex
    Amamba, as I have both how do you make this kind of arguments? Have you compared them on shooting exactly the same subject?

    Regards
    A
     
  10. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    I don't need to shoot a test chart to prove this. I have dozens of portrait shots done with each. The 18-55 is decent, that's about it (my 2nd copy; the 1st one was a turd). It has good center sharpness, a rather non-descript bokeh, and colors that to me look just OK, on a cooler / subdued side. The 50/1.7 is insanely sharp at f4 - while still maintaining good bokeh, - still very sharp at f2.8, with beautiful bokeh and warm Minolta colors. Besides, it can be used in low light - it's a bit soft wide open, but still very useful. This doesn't mean that I poop on 18-55 - just the opposite, ever since getting a decent quality copy of that lens I am using it 90% of time, it's convenient and IQ is good. However for a dedicated portrait shoot I'd grab SEL50 or MD50/1.7.

    Here's MD wide open at f1.7, in low light

    9522252226_2b480ab1cc.
    untitled shoot-191.jpg by BugsDaddy, on Flickr

    Here's MD at f2.8 or f4 - note the sharpness and the bokeh. (I don't recall the exact f number for this shot but I never go above f4 when shooting people with this lens).

    9129489047_d65c758a64.

    I don't have a 18-55 portrait handy at 50mm - need to dig for it - but from what I observed the center sharpness would be close - not as good in "portrait" range as you would typically want wider apertures for portraits, and 18-55 at 50 mm is wide open at f5.6 - when the prime is at it's best sharpness at f4. For same reason, the subject separation won't be as good - f2.8 - f4 would give you the best separation, but 18-55 can only start around f5.6, and by the time you stop it down for sharpness you better be away from the background due to DOF issues. Besides, even at same apertures the quality of bokeh on a good prime would beat a typical zoom any time. And I already mentioned the colors.

    18-55 is all about convenience, with good IQ. MD50/1.7 is all about IQ, at the expense of convenience. It's a cheap lens and not the best as far as 50mm primes go but when it comes to the legacy 50mm primes the IQ difference between the best and the good is extremely small. SEL50 would give you the best of both worlds, although IMHO at f4 in decent light MD would be sharper, but by then we're splitting hair really.

    PS look at the photos posted by serhan, see how relatively little background separation there is. In the 3rd photo (the guy with a feather in his hat) the lens is at 55mm / f5.6, i.e. wide open. You can still see pretty much everything in the background in good detail. Now compare this to the 2nd portrait I posted. Granted I am closer to the subject and this helps, but a fast prime will generally give you much better background compression and it shows.
     
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