“I was wondering what your thoughts were on what kind of lens would make a good portrait lens. I am not looking to spend a lot of money. If the lenses I have now will do just as good as something that I would buy inexpensively, then I would not really want to buy anything else. I currently have the standard kit lens (18-55mm) and the 28-105mm EF Zoom lens.” – Chad
Because I’m not the privileged photographer who has had the opportunity to try out every lens Canon has to offer, I will simply speak from experience and what I’ve heard from others.
I absolutely love using the 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens for portraiture. It’s an expensive lens, but the quality, bokeh, and DOF at the higher focal lengths is phenomenal. However, I find myself closer to my subject than I would prefer. Therefore, I would tend to say go for something a little longer, though I wouldn’t sacrifice the f/2.8. Because I find myself in low light often, the IS is extremely helpful in bailing me out of such situations.
I hear the 50mm f/1.8 lens is a superb portrait lens. Because it’s a fixed lens, it decreases flexibility, but it’s cheap and there’s not a lot of glass in the way for producing beautiful pictures.
Keep in mind that the best portrait is the one with least distortion. A wide angle lens distorts an image in a way that causes the nose to appear big and the ears pinched. A telephoto lens distorts an image in a way that compresses space resulting in unflattering appearance. The least distortion is found somewhere between 50mm and 100mm.
So, next time you’re asked to take a portrait, grab your camera, take into consideration your camera’s crop factor (if it isn’t full frame) and choose a lens that will best capture your subject without distortion.
Hope that helps!