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    Hi everyone!

    I really want to “graduate” from my kit lens (especially when I hear things like “OMG, they’re using a kit lens, total fauxtog alert”). While I do not think it is awful, I have been noticing that its focus isn’t all that great and it is a few years old.

    So I’ve come here to ask you, what is a good portrait lens for a Canon (it’s the EF-S lens/mount type)? If I’m right, I can use the EF type as well, right? Would it be better to go for that kind in case I ever decide to get a full-frame Canon camera, since you can’t put an EF-S lens on the EF mount?

    I’m going to say price doesn’t matter because I currently can not afford any lens of any type, but I want to know what I should eventually invest my money in instead of buying something barely better than my kit lens.

    Thank you so much! 🙂


    Crop bodies can use EF-S and EF lenses.. FF cameras can only use EF lenses..

    If you’re going to blow a wad on a lens, get a 24-70 mark II f/2.8 or a 70-200 mark II f/2.8


    My sources were wrong! Or I seriously need to read better. I’m going to go back into researching before I open my mouth (or fingers?) 😛



    Well, I guess you should know that by putting a EF lens on a APS-C sensor’d camera, you’re going to have a magnification of 1.6x. Meaning, a 50mm lens meant for a FF camera, will actually be an 80mm lens whereas a 35mm lens will be closer to your 50mm.. EF-S lenses are designed to compensate for that 1.6x factor which is why they sit back further into the body and why they don’t fit a FF camera..  Or that’s my story and I’m sticking to it, anyway.. ;P


    Thanks for explaining it!






    Since the whole magnification factor story is a pet peeve of mine, I would like to jump in here and point out that the crop is just like taking a pair of scissors to a print from a full frame image, if the pixel density of both sensors is the same, so you get an equivalent angle of view with a crop sensor by multiplying the focal length by 1.6, but the lens does not magically gain focal length.  Since the lens does not gain focal length, depth of field does not change, unless you move the camera to adjust for the reduced angle of view.

    Pixel density determines apparent magnification, so if you have two crop sensor bodies, an older 8 mpx body and a newer 18 mpx body for instance, you will see apparent magnification from the 18 mpx body, if an image is taken with both, at the same place, of the same subject, with the same focal length.  Angle of view, however, will be the same.

    If your reference is a full frame Canon 1Dx (18 mpx) and your crop body is one of the several with an 18 mpx sensor, then you will see the 1.6X change in angle of view, and also in apparent magnification.  Even in this case, the lens itself does not change focal length and if taken from the same position, same subject, same focal length, etc., depth of field does not change.

    If you think you will move to a full frame body at some point, you want fast prime (one focal length) lenses, or you want constant aperture zoom lenses, you should consider getting full frame lenses.  But, full frame lenses weigh more.  My 24-70 is hardly ever used because it weighs so much.  There are many good zoom lenses, made by several manufacturers, for APS-C bodies.

    A good place to start is to look at your photos for the last year or two.  Decide what you like, and what you don’t.  Then decide if some feature of a different lens would help correct what you don’t like or would emphasize what you do like…  For instance, I like very, very close-up photos of things so I have extension tubes and macro lenses.

    Actually the difference between an EF and EF-S lens is the diameter of the image circle.  EF-S lenses only need an image circle with a diameter of the diagonal of the APS-C sensor, so they can be made of smaller lenses, which makes them lighter and (usually) less expensive.  Canon lenses have a protrusion that fits inside the camera body and that keeps them from being used with a full frame body and some accessories like teleconverters.  Other manufacturers like Sigma and Nikon make lenses for crop sensor bodies without the protrusion, so they will fit on full frame bodies.  With most Nikons, the crop lens will cause the body to take the photo in a cropped mode giving the usual rectangular shape.  Canon bodies still take the full sensor sized image so the image has black brackets on either side.  It is one way to get a very large, heavy, vignette.  You can manually crop the image to APS-C dimensions, but if you are going to spend the money on a full frame body, you might as well get a full frame lens to go with it.


    A good portrait lens you can afford for your crop camera is a 50mm prime, like the nifty-fifty for $125 retail, or much less used. You can probably find the nice f/1.4 for $250 easily.



    I think I might get the 50mm prime… It is the most realistic option for me now. Thanks! 🙂


    The 85 f1.8 is  a good lens as well for the money, not as cheap as the plastic 50 but far better build quality and much nicer bokeh. The 50 uses six straight aperture blades which means as soon as you stop down a little bokeh balls become hexagons and the bokeh is jittery. the 85 on a crop also gives a more flattering compression. That said, there is no reason why both shouldn’t have a place in your camera bag.

    If you are working out of a studio with proper lights the canon 24-105L is also a good lens, very sharp once stopped down to f8 and it has portrait friendly focal lengths. Because it is a kit lens with 5D and 6Ds there’s loads of them around at reasonable prices yet it is still a pro grade lens with weather sealing, proper ultrasonic motor, image stabiliser and a very good build quality.

    Cameraclicker, I’m going to disagree with you saying that it doesn’t affect DOF. Try punching some numbers into a dof calculator and you’ll see what I mean.




    Cameraclicker, I’m going to disagree with you saying that it doesn’t affect DOF. Try punching some numbers into a dof calculator and you’ll see what I mean.

    Differences are only due to the sensor density, and you’ll notice they’re still extremely close at the same distance. An 18Mpx 7D has smaller pixels than a 22Mpx 5D mark II. If the 5D2 were the same density but with an APS-C sensor, it would be 14Mpx. Thus, the circles of confusion must be smaller to be as sharp, increasing the DOF slightly.


    Well, I think I’ll start with the 50 since I am mostly looking to explore with a lens other than my kit lens (which is getting old and was never fabulous in the first place). I have a telephoto lens but I find that to be best for nature/wildlife shots, not portraits. I think that if I find I enjoy the 50, I would be willing to invest in something more expensive. The way I see it, I should start off with inexpensive (but hopefully not horrible) lenses and then work my way up the photography food chain, if there is such a thing. 🙂


    Cameraclicker, I’m going to disagree with you saying that it doesn’t affect DOF. Try punching some numbers into a dof calculator and you’ll see what I mean.

    You are always free to disagree.  I think the DOF calculators I have seen, such as http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html, are flawed.  When I use them, I generally use the 1Ds body selection because I think it is most accurate.  Playing with the calculator is a nice academic exercise.   In the real world, cameras have a button that stops down the lens so you can see the DOF as you are working.

    When I got into digital, sales people and some of the forums had a lot to say about the “magic” crop factor.  My own testing suggests it was a lot of nonsense.  I have put some notes here:  http://cameraclicker.com/Compare/Sensors/Sensors.html, and here: http://cameraclicker.com/Compare/DOF/DepthOfField.html.

    I tried crop and full frame bodies through the same 150 mm lens mounted on a tripod using the lens’ mounting foot.  The results are at the bottom of the second link to my page, above.  I don’t see the difference the DOF calculator predicts.  I chose the Sigma 150 mm macro lens because longer lenses show DOF more readily than short lenses and that lens has a foot for the tripod so I could remove one body and attach another without moving lens or tripod, ensuring distances remain constant.  If you think I should do the test differently, feel free to suggest how to do a test.  I have a collection of lenses and four bodies, two crop and two full frame to perform a test with.



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