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
Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro lens – very very sharp but not fast enough (sold)
Early example with my old Nikon D700
Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm f2 T (on Leica M9)
Example standing further back. F2
Nikkor 35mm f1.4G – super sharp
Example on D800, high key Poland
Rollei Planar 50mm f1.8 (Great little lens)(Same as a Zeiss Planar 50mm with different badge)
Example on Nikon D800
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
Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 (on Leica M9)
Lensbaby Edge 80
Example – Kodak Portra 35mm film / Nikon FM
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
Zeiss Planar 80mm f2 T (on Contax 645 medium format film camera) (very sharp+shallow)
Example – film photography wedding portrait
Mamiya Sekor 110mm f2.8 (on Mamiya RZ67 ProII)(sharp yet shallow DOF)
Example – 6×7 medium format Kodak T-Max film
Zeiss Pancolar 80mm f1.8 (M42 mount)(Great for portraits)
Example up close on D800
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”.
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MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – UK Leica Wedding Photographer