More and more I find my self shooting one of three Sigma prime lenses in the studio… the 50mm f/1.4, the 85mm f/1.4 and the 150mm f/2.8 OS macro. I noticed that zooms were making me a bit lazy. Hey! It’s a lot easier to twist a zoom ring that it is to move a 300 pound studio stand even if it is on wheels. So why do I do it? A couple of reasons. Perspective, perspective, perspective. I shoot full frame Canon cameras. Their normal focal length is almost 50mm. That’s about the same angle of view as we see with our eyes. I use the 50 mainly for full length photographs.
This may surprise you, it’s great for shooting lay downs like this Confederate Army jacket or this sword and scabbard from the civil war. It’s wonderfully sharp and has almost no distortion.
Then there’s the resolution. Look at the hilt and the engraving. These are cropped from the photograph of the sword.
The 85mm f/1.4 is my go-to prime lens. I shoot most of my fashion and catalog work with it. As with the 50mm f/1.4; I love how bright the viewfinder is thanks to these super fast maximum apertures.
The 85mm is the ideal portrait length which is twice the normal focal length. It’s a silly one point six millimeters shorter than ideal. Before my math takes a hit, the actual normal focal length for a full frame sensor is 43.3mm. There is one more thing I love about this lens. I can make prints that are huge… 40 by 60 inches. They are sharp edge to edge, top to bottom
I also love how the slight compression helps separate the subject from the background whether it’s a close up…
…or a full length.
Last and not least of my three prime lenses is the 150mm f/2.8 macro. I don’t do a lot of macro work. What I do is a lot of close up portraits. One of my favorite make up artists, Kristen White created an amazing look for Presence Atlanta model Amy Patterson. The angular glitter-color mask frames her face. Her long hair in braids wrap her head. Intentional frizzies demanded back light and of course, extreme detail.
The three prime lenses and I have a lot more shooting to do. Take a moment and leave a comment. Better yet ask a question or two about topics you’d like a blog to cover.
Oh! The other reason for shooting primes… exercise, exercise, exercise.
I shoot primes all the time and love them. They give that feeling of really working with your perspective and not relying on your zoom to do the work.
Thanks for this interesting piece, even though I’m late to the party…
As a beginner, I’m trying to decide between my first primes on Canon 100D (crop factor 1.6). Because I have only a small studio space, say 11x18ft, I’m torn between 30mm and 35mm. I would love any advice you have on this!