lEsson 01:

GEAR

There is so much out there on gear, I’m pretty simple, so I’ll keep this section to-the-point.

 

I want to do portrait photography, what camera do you recommend?

If your goal is to learn portrait photography inexpensively the setup I recommend would be a Canon 5D Classic and a Canon 50mm 1.8 lens. Once you have gotten some experience under your belt you can start adding other lenses.

    I started out on a Canon Rebel series and a 50mm 1.8 lens. It was only after an entire year of shooting that I switched to shooting on the original Canon 5D a 12.8 megapixel full frame camera but with that same cheap 50mm lens.

    This is a fantastic choice because despite being old it has almost everything that the newer 5D cameras have and will allow you to learn all you need to know about how to use a camera before dropping thousands of dollars for upgrades on those features.

     

    which lens should I get? What Minimum f-stop Is Good?

    This is probably the most commonly asked question and its usually due to someone seeing a great photo taken in low light or a massive separation between the subject and the background because of blur created by shooting at a wide aperture. These actually go hand and hand, let me explain.

    Aperture is the diameter of the entrance pupil of the lens and is determined by a series of adjustable blades inside the lens that move to change the size of the opening in the lens controlling how much light will enter the lens and hit the sensor. This also effects the depth of field (what is in focus) the DOF can be very deep or very shallow depending on your aperture size. The smaller the hole made by the aperture blades the deeper the focal plane (more in focus) Why? because light has less time to spread before hitting the sensor. The wider the opening the more spread out the light becomes before hitting the sensor resulting in a shallower DOF and more blurred background. In addition the smaller the aperture the less light hitting the sensor.

    There are plenty of videos out there explaining this if you would like to learn more on the subject here are a few helpful links:

    A common misconception in the photography world is that a shallow DOF equals a more professional image. You can use DOF to draw focus to certain parts of your image. Take for example the image on the left, I had a busy background but I wanted your sole focus to be on Lauren so I used a wide aperture resulting in a very blurred background. Additionally that photo was shot in a room with very little light so using a wide aperture meant I'd let as much light into the lens as possible.

    In contrast when taking the image on the right on a bight sunny day I used a much smaller aperture because I wanted to have almost everything in focus.

     

    Click each image to enlarge. 

    Shot at f1.2 on a Canon 50mm

    Shot at f10 on a Canon 50mm

     

    Additionally distancing yourself from your subject means more will appear in focus as shown in the image below.

    Shot at f1.4 on Sigma 35mm ART

    So just because your lens can open up to F1.2 doesn't mean you always need to shoot at that aperture or that it's a better lens. Use a wide aperture when appropriate.

    Below you'll find some great choices in gear depending on how much you want to spend and your skill level.