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Archive 2012 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55
  
 
lighthawk
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p.1 #1 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


I'd like to ask some advice from portrait photographers.

I'm planning on shooting headshots of my rotary club of approx 90 members. They will be used in our roster or newsletters, so we're not looking for 16x20 prints here

I've got two bodies: 5D (new to me) and 7D
Possible lens choices: 50 1.8, 17-55, 70-200 f4is
Unfortunately I sold my 85 1.8 when I found I wasn't using it in my pre-FF days.
I'm not real excited about using the 70-200 unless someone can make a good case for going that direction.

I plan on using a 430ex with a bracket to help illuminate inside the dark foyer I'll be using. Ceiling is 10' and light colored (note to self: verify!) I could bring in an Alien Bee and umbrella, but would prefer to keep it simple. I could also use a second speedlight with a Cowboy Studio popper.

My main question is what body/lens would you recommend?
Follow up: How would you arrange the lighting?

Thanks in advance

Andy



Jan 11, 2012 at 05:50 PM
timbop
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p.1 #2 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


For your rotary clubs headshots, I don't think it matters what lens body you have, and probably no huge difference between strobes and plain old flash. To keep it simple I'd go 70-200 on the 5d, shooting in the 150mm range. I would probably use a fong mounted on my 430 to get some forward fill with plenty of light all around.

.. unless of course you want to show off your gear :-)



Jan 11, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Ralph Thompson
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p.1 #3 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


I've done head shots with the 50 1.8.... It'll work fine with any of the bodies you have. The IQ will be fine.... The 50mm on a 7D is about what you'd get with the 85mm on your 5d anyway (You won't get the bokeh, but hey it's a head shot!). The 430 will be fine too...Keep it simple and don't overthink it....

If you want to make it fancy, you could use the AB as your main w/umbrella, use the 430 as a hair/rimlight..... I'm not sure you need all that for what you've descibed... I think you'll be fine w/ the 430 on a bracket..... maybe use a stoffen......



Jan 11, 2012 at 06:00 PM
wilt
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p.1 #4 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


50mm on either body requires that you shoot too close to your subject, to capture a 'headshot', although 50mm on the 7D would be better than on the 5D for headshots...50mm on 7D requires 5' shooting distance to capture a 1.5' wide frame area. Look here for the effect of getting too close due to use of short FL on the facial distortion caused in a headshot http://www.stepheneastwood.com/tutorials/lensdistortion/index.htm

I advise using the zoom, at 150mm on 5D or use 95mm on the 7D...for about 9.5' shooting distance to capture a 1.5' wide frame area



Jan 11, 2012 at 07:40 PM
BrianO
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p.1 #5 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


I'd take both bodies, with the 17-55 on the 7D and the 70-200 on the 5D, and then use whichever one works best given the space you'll be in. No need to fumble with changing lenses in front of the Rotarians.

I agree with keeping the lighting simple; your 430 on a bracket, and either a Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce or a Lightsphere to get some fill bounce from the walls and ceiling.

The most important aspect for roster shots, in my opinion, is consistancy of framing and lighting. Using a bit of tape to mark lines on the floor where both you and your subjects will stand can help when you're running 90 people through the mill. Try different distances and angles on a test subject before the shoot starts, or do so on the first subject of the shoot, and then place the marks for the rest of the shots to use.

I'd use moderately small apertures so that noses, eyes, and ears are all in focus, and set a high enough -- but no higher than needed -- ISO to allow a shutter speed that will keep everyone looking sharp. Manual exposure mode, of course, so that nothing changes from shot to shot.

Good luck.



Jan 11, 2012 at 08:46 PM
dfresh
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p.1 #6 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


If your copy of 50/1.8 was anything like my old one, I would avoid using it for low light work, especially high with volume.


Jan 11, 2012 at 09:06 PM
lighthawk
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p.1 #7 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


This is good feedback. Two out of three posters are in favor of more reach using the 70-200mm. That will probably be enough gear to show off a bit for most folks
Actually, I'm a bit concerned the Big White Lens may cause some nervousness in the subjects.

I will either go with the Stoffen or tape on a Fong to soften the light, which were good suggestions.

Cool link to the distortion of shorter FL, Wilt! It get's downright scary at 24mm.

Andy



Jan 11, 2012 at 09:07 PM
L.J.G.
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p.1 #8 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


I also agree with the 70-200. I use it indoors as well as outdoors. When inside I just get across the room from the subject. On the 5DII it has amazing IQ and detail of people - just watch out though it does show up any blemish or fault I use a 580 inside but have no doubt you would get in close enough that the 430 would also do the job well.


Jan 11, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Ziffl3
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p.1 #9 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


7D + 70-200.

unless you are to close then use the 5D + 70-200.

either way is fine.




Jan 11, 2012 at 10:50 PM
mttran
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p.1 #10 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


BrianO wrote:
I'd take both bodies, with the 17-55 on the 7D and the 70-200 on the 5D, and then use whichever one works best given the space you'll be in. No need to fumble with changing lenses in front of the Rotarians.

I agree with keeping the lighting simple; your 430 on a bracket, and either a Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce or a Lightsphere to get some fill bounce from the walls and ceiling.

The most important aspect for roster shots, in my opinion, is consistancy of framing and lighting. Using a bit of tape to mark lines on the floor where both you and
...Show more

+1



Jan 11, 2012 at 11:28 PM
 

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lighthawk
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p.1 #11 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


BrianO wrote:
I'd take both bodies, with the 17-55 on the 7D and the 70-200 on the 5D, and then use whichever one works best given the space you'll be in.

. . . Using a bit of tape to mark lines on the floor . . .

. . . Manual exposure mode, of course, so that nothing changes from shot to shot.

Good luck.


Makes sense, BrianO. I like your idea of setting place marks for the subjects. Consistency in background and distance to subject are a very good idea. Same goes for M mode, dial it in and then keep it the same!
Actually I'm thinking M mode for aperture/shutter, but ETTL so flash will be the variable.

Thanks for all the feedback folks. I'll bring both setups listed above, giving the 5D/70-200 priority, but having the 7D/17-55 ready just in case. Truth is, I will probably only get half or more subjects in the first pass and chase down the rest over a few weeks of meetings.

If you had a choice, would you choose a dark background or a light one?

Andy

Edited on Jan 12, 2012 at 02:38 AM · View previous versions



Jan 12, 2012 at 02:20 AM
saneproduction
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p.1 #12 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


Got to agree, the 50 is too short for headshots...especially on full frame!

7D with 17-55 is great for portraits as is the 5D 70-200 combo.



Jan 12, 2012 at 02:26 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #13 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


lighthawk wrote:
...I'm thinking M mode for aperture/shutter, but ETTL so flash will be the variable.


That's the way I usually set up for events where I'm moving around a dance floor or tracking subjects on a stage, for example, but for a fixed location with different subjects coming into a constant scene I'd use manual flash as well as manual exposure. That way the overall lighting, background tone, etc. won't change when one guy walks in wearing a tan jacket and the next comes in wearing a dark blue one, or one guy is a pale-skinned Irish-American and the next is a dark-skinned African-American; both situations could throw off the ETTL meter.

I have a flash meter, but lacking that you could take test shots of a gray card before the subjects start arriving, and adjust power until your histogram shows a spike in the center. (If you don't yet have a large gray card, you can take a white bath towel or pillow case and adjust flash power until the spike is just below clipping on the right side of the histogram...but a gray card looks more professional.)

lighthawk wrote:
...If you had a choice, would you choose a dark background or a light one?


For what you're doing, generally a middle-toned one. If the foyer doesn't have an interesting background -- like a bookcase, trophy case, photo wall, etc. -- then I'd make or buy a neutral BG in shades of blues, grays, browns, and greens. Here's an example:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/812997-REG/Savage_CB108_KIT_Collapsible_Stand_Kit_60.html

The reversible BGs have a lighter side and a darker side, and when you're doing a one-light portrait without a seperate background light(s), I'd use the lighter side to compensate for the fall-off from the single light on the BG versus the subject.

With the subject a few feet from the BG, and the light raised over the camera on a bracket or stand, the head shadow will fall below the bottom of the frame, or at least low enough not to be a serious distraction.



Jan 12, 2012 at 03:40 AM
lighthawk
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p.1 #14 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


"If you don't yet have a large gray card"
I've not gone that far, but watch histograms and bump to the right a tad.

Question about gray card:
Seems that unless the card is rather large, the image will contain BG that is not 17% gray.
So wouldn't that skew the exposure or if you move in closer to fill the image then the flash would be stronger, also throwing the exposure?

Maybe it would be simpler to ask how far away are you when you test shoot the card, and does the card fill the frame?

Much thanks for your suggestions, BrianO and other commenters. I am not particularly experienced in this type of photography. I especially appreciated the comments about selecting a decent BG. The last time our club did roster photos, our photographer posed subjects in front of our blue and gold felt rotary emblem. Kinda cheesy. Some folks opted for profiles and others straight on.

I would prefer to have people feel comfortable which is why I am a bit shy about whipping out a 70-200 w hood + RRS WPF bracket/430ex with lightsphere (even though I do use most of this stuff in other applications). It might be easier to plop it all on a tripod and use the remote, and tell them to look at the birdie! I would like to be more comfortable shooting subjects/models with a more direct eye contact style.

Baby steps . . . baby steps . . .



Jan 12, 2012 at 06:12 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #15 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


lighthawk wrote:
...Question about gray card: Seems that unless the card is rather large, the image will contain BG that is not 17% gray. So wouldn't that skew the exposure or if you move in closer to fill the image then the flash would be stronger, also throwing the exposure? ...Maybe it would be simpler to ask how far away are you when you test shoot the card, and does the card fill the frame?


Excellent question; you're thinking this through, which is good.

Yes, you need to nearly fill the frame for best results. As I mentioned, I normally use a flash meter in incident mode when setting up for a portrait session, but when I do use a gray card I set my cameras for their smallest metering areas (Spot on the 7D, and Partial on the 20D). That way even if the card doesn't completely fill the frame it will get a good reading.

My old card is 8 X 10 inches, and my newer SpyderCheckr is a little bigger including its hard shell -- both just a bit bigger than the average person's head -- and so when using a portrait lens I can almost fill the frame from the actual camera-to-subject distance; that's required to get an accurate exposure. Due to the short distances compared to the sun, changing the flash-to-subject distance will have a large impact on the exposure levels.

If the flash were on a light stand, triggered by remote or by a long cord, I could move in with the camera as long as the light wasn't moved, and still get an accurate reading as long as I didn't shade the card with my body or the camera.

lighthawk wrote:
...I would prefer to have people feel comfortable which is why I am a bit shy about whipping out a 70-200 w hood + RRS WPF bracket/430ex with lightsphere (even though I do use most of this stuff in other applications). It might be easier to plop it all on a tripod and use the remote, and tell them to look at the birdie! I would like to be more comfortable shooting subjects/models with a more direct eye contact style.


If you're comfortable (or at least look comfortable, even if you're faking it) your "clients" will be more comfortable. Practice as much as you can before the event so that you're comfortable with your gear, and be calm but commanding in your approach. Be like Ron Howard directing actors on a set; let them know that you know how to make them look good; show them that they can trust you and your judgement.

From what you've already written, I know you'll do fine.

P.S. -- I almost always use a tripod for formal portraits. I'll stand behind the camera with a cable release in hand, and always look the subject in the eye when I'm ready to shoot. That way, when the subject is looking at me, he/she is looking nearly at the lens. I think that makes the final print more appealing. The "gazing into the distance" look hasn't appealed to me since the '70s, when it was all the rage (and I didn't really like it that much even then).

For a corporate/society roster, it's best if everyone is posed as nearly the same as you can get, and a straight-on head shot with either Butterfly/Paramount lighting or low-ratio Split lighting will flatter most subjects. With one light, Butterfly lighting is the easiest. ...Unless they're wearing hats.

http://www.portraitlighting.net/patternsb.htm

Here are a couple of pictures of my current gray target:















Jan 12, 2012 at 07:35 AM
akin_t
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p.1 #16 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


Honestly, I'm probably in the minority here, but I think gray cards are a waste of time and money.

If you're shooting in manual, you can use your camera's light meter and review your exposures until you get it right.

White Balance controls on cameras these days are quite accurate, and if you shoot RAW, it's a moot point anyway.

So, those of you advocating the use of gray cards ... Why exactly? Is it just a thing of nostalgia, because I cannot think of one functional reason to do so. I mean, photography has changed, no need to cling to obsolete tools.



Jan 12, 2012 at 05:07 PM
BrianO
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p.1 #17 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


akin_t wrote:
Honestly, I'm probably in the minority here, but I think gray cards are a waste of time and money. ...So, those of you advocating the use of gray cards ... Why exactly? Is it just a thing of nostalgia, because I cannot think of one functional reason to do so. I mean, photography has changed, no need to cling to obsolete tools.


It's not "a nostalgia thing." Photography hasn't changed; the recording medium may have changed, but it's still "writing with light."

Yes, you can shoot multiple test shots, review your LCD and histogram, make guesses about your results, adjust your exposure, take more test shots, etc., but they'd only be guesses since people and other subjects come in different shades. If you're trying to get a standardized, accurate exposure for multiple subjects, using a standardized tool makes it faster and easier. Since time is money, for some of us it's worth it.

If they're not for you, that's fine, but don't disparage those of us who do use them by saying we're "clinging to obsolete tools."

akin_t wrote:
...If you're shooting in manual, you can use your camera's light meter and review your exposures until you get it right.


Camera light meters don't work with flash. Maybe you meant "histogram."



Jan 12, 2012 at 05:51 PM
akin_t
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p.1 #18 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


BrianO wrote:
It's not "a nostalgia thing." Photography hasn't changed; the recording medium may have changed, but it's still "writing with light."

Yes, you can shoot multiple test shots, review your LCD and histogram, make guesses about your results, adjust your exposure, take more test shots, etc., but they'd only be guesses since people and other subjects come in different shades. If you're trying to get a standardized, accurate exposure for multiple subjects, using a standardized tool makes it faster and easier. Since time is money, for some of us it's worth it.

If they're not for you, that's fine, but don't disparage those
...Show more

Well I wasn't aware the OP intended flash. Either way, you can rely on your light meter (in conjunction with a desired metering mode) and achieve a desired exposure.

I am not buying the whole standardized tool thing ... After all, it's the photographer that determines what sort of exposure he wants at the end of the day. Even after using a gray card and achieving that textbook exposure, he or she might choose to under or over expose a little.

So what time/money has been saved really? If you're shooting batch shots, you only have to set your exposure once anyway.

I'm not disparaging anyone for doing anything ... I'm just trying to understand why the gray card gets so much love ... and frankly speaking, everyone I've asked this question has just given me weak justifications.

Edit: Oh and when I said photography has changed ... I was referring to the fact that technology has made it easier to get certain tasks done.

I mean, some people still use focus screens while some think auto focus works well enough. Some people still bother to use gray cards to set White balance while some just shoot in RAW and worry about it in post. I know the essence of photography is still the same, but the way pictures are taken today are very different.



Jan 12, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Andre Goli
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p.1 #19 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


this is the opposite.... the gray card or the color one is a huge gain of time.. you just have to take one picture on your gray card, and the whole wb, exposition, etc.... is done in a matter of one sec when you come back home....
That's the best invention for studio or repetive shots... Before that era, I had to work for hours for weddings and studio works... Flash, strobe, or not at all...
Great addition for Lightroom...
Waste of time ? Not sure what you mean...

As someone mentioned, a setup with a strobe and a hair filed at the back would be my choice for stunned pictures... Add a ND8 Filter on your lens and the DOF will be even smaller for a better effect...
My personal choice in your case : 5D+70-200mm



Jan 12, 2012 at 06:37 PM
akin_t
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p.1 #20 · portraits- 5D+50 1.8 vs. 7D+17-55


Andre Goli wrote:
this is the opposite.... the gray card or the color one is a huge gain of time.. you just have to take one picture on your gray card, and the whole wb, exposition, etc.... is done in a matter of one sec when you come back home....
That's the best invention for studio or repetive shots... Before that era, I had to work for hours for weddings and studio works... Flash, strobe, or not at all...
Great addition for Lightroom...
Waste of time ? Not sure what you mean...

As someone mentioned, a setup with a strobe and a hair filed at the
...Show more

So let's walk through this ...

You put your camera in an automatic metering mode (obviously) and automatic White Balance.
You then expose for the gray card (this should yield a 'correct' (0 EV) exposure and White Balance)
Now you dial in the Exif of the gray card shot while your camera is in M
And when you get home, you sync White Balance with your gray card shot.

Correct me if this is wrong, but this is how I understand people shoot with gray cards.

Now how is this any different from ...

You put your camera in M and set a metering mode of your choice
Use the camera's light meter and adjust shooting settings accordingly till you get the 'correct' (0 EV) exposure.
And when you go home, you sync White Balance with any neutral color in the frame.

... I am not seeing what magic the gray card is performing. Built in light meters solve the 'correct' exposure problem and even with the gray card, you still have to sync White Balance anyway.

I know conventionally I've been taught "Oh gray cards! They're awesome! They do this and that!" But I've been told the same thing about several accessories that I can honestly live without.



Jan 12, 2012 at 06:53 PM
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