Discussion Shared from LinkedIn – Can Lenses Be To Sharp For Portraits?

LinkedIn – BridesView Group

Discussion – Can Lenses Be To Sharp For Portraits?

LinkedIn Original Discussion Thread

I just replied to the above thread and I thought you may find the topic of interest and the details below of potential use.  Here was my reply:

“As for sharp lenses for portraiture, I specialise in female portraits and have used some of the best and sharpest lenses for Nikon, Leica and medium format Contax 645, Mamiya RZ67 and more.

A point was raised above Can a lens be too sharp for a flattering portrait? Answer Yes I think so. I aim to get my photos correct in camera so rarely airbrush a pimple unless a one off special photo. If you pose and light them well initially you can normally cover most of the imperfections. I also do not have time to remove every wrinkle. I cringe when I see a pore free texture free airbrushed portrait. They can look awful if done badly.

So back on topic.. lenses being too sharp. Yes they can. Even though I work with the majority of models aged 17yrs to 30yrs some of the lenses I have used will make a face unflattering unless the model has porcelain skin when I can then go all out for sharpness.

List of lenses that can be too sharp for portraits:
Samyang 85mm f1.4 @f1.4 (sharper than Nikon 85mm f1.4D BTW at f1.4)(Great lens!)
Example standing further back, Ukraine
Innocence?
Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro lens – very very sharp but not fast enough (sold)
Early example with my old Nikon D700
Magdalena (2)
Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm f2 T (on Leica M9)
Example standing further back. F2
Leica M9 - B&W Film Look
Nikkor 35mm f1.4G – super sharp
Example on D800, high key Poland
Aga (2) SOOC with D800
Rollei Planar 50mm f1.8 (Great little lens)(Same as a Zeiss Planar 50mm with different badge)
Example on Nikon D800
Katie, as shot

Lenses for non-perfect skin:
Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-s (fantastic lens that gives a dreamy look shot at f1.2 but still sharp)
Example on Nikon D800
Alice SOOC
Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 (on Leica M9)
Example
Leica M9 B&W Portrait
Lensbaby Edge 80
Example – Kodak Portra 35mm film / Nikon FM
Film Photography Fashion

Lenses that do it all:
Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s (sharp at f2 yet flattering as shallow DOF)
Example on Nikon FM – 35mm Film photography
Film is NOT Dead - Model Photogaphy
Zeiss Planar 80mm f2 T (on Contax 645 medium format film camera) (very sharp+shallow)
Example – film photography wedding portrait
Contax 645 Wedding Portrait
Mamiya Sekor 110mm f2.8 (on Mamiya RZ67 ProII)(sharp yet shallow DOF)
Example – 6×7 medium format Kodak T-Max film
Film Fashion Photography
Zeiss Pancolar 80mm f1.8 (M42 mount)(Great for portraits)
Example up close on D800
Katie with CZ Pancolar 80/1.8

If you want to see more examples see my blog or Flickr. Many examples of each combination and 99% of the photos on there have not been airbrushed so what you see is what the lens provides”.

Join me – LinkedIn

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – UK Leica Wedding Photographer

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About matthewosbornephotography

Coventry, UK studio based Model and Wedding Photographer offering both Medium Format Film and Digital Images. 1-2-1 Photography and Lighting Tuition also available.
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