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Thread: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

  1. #1
    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Evening all!

    I've spent most of my shooting life avoiding two things: studio lighting and portraits. The only portraits I ever do are friends and family and then in a casual sort of a way.

    However I had a gig recently (I posted here for advice) to take an official portrait of the Archbishop of Canterbury so I had to think about what kit to use.

    In the end, after taking advice here, I abandoned the M8 and took the more formal of my two shots (a seated 3/4s body and head shot) with the Phamiya/P45+/80D combo on a cubed up Gitzo 3541LS at F5.6 and 1/40th ISO200. And Lo! It was sharp and technically good enough.

    I also took a less formal one on a 5DII with 24-105 at ISO1000 and though it is technically less good (still not bad) it is the one they eventually preferred though I believe they are intending to use both.

    So I learned a lot from this process. I walked the course first, set up carefully, prepared for the worst (which happened: terrible storm clouds cutting two or three stops off my light) and got few surprises.

    It all got me thinking though: I'd like to get really really good at portraits and as part of that process I'd like to get really good at the studio side of things. So I bought some interesting kit and fixed me up a studio and started a project to shoot everyone who visits me.

    The glass options I have on the Phamiya are the 80D or an older 150mm F3.5 and they are both very sharp. I started shotting tethered but it does make the subjects rather static so I now use mainly the 80D cos it has AF so i don't have to tether. However, the closer you get the more risk there is of distortion so a longer lens would be better. It needs to be cost-effective, have reliable AF and be thoroughly recommended by people who do a lot of studio based flash work!

    BTW I really really like some of the work of Dan Winters. So much studio work looks, to me, over-lit, shiny and unreal whereas his stuff often has a renaissance glow to it that I will now try very hard to copy. Any hints?

    Best

    Tim

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    The Hasselblad 110mm f/2 is really phenomenal and should work nicely on the Phase. It is manual focus only though. What kind of lens are you looking for?
    Carsten - Website

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Gotta be AF Carsten: you can't MF, even with studio lights to allow smaller apertures, reliably enough in my experience, unless you make your subject so static that they look static. I use 2 Bowens Gemini 500W lights and will probably add a third so I could get a 750 as the key light and use tighter apertures but in practice I'm aware of diffraction issues/

    Ideal lens would be an older lens that has AF, some character, is available second hand and is longer than 80mm and up to 150mm...

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    What aperture would you use?
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    I think the common consensus is the new Mamiya 150mm 2.8 AF D is REALLY sharp, as sharp as the manual 120 macro. But it's new and lots of money,

    The beauty of the whole mamiya 645 system is that there are a lot of users out there, maybe buy the AF 150mm 3.5 and try it, I'm very happy with mine and I've moved from an H2 to mamiya.

    Try Ebay or KEH or Adorama and if you don't like it pop it on ebay it will sell, in fact I see less and less Mamiya 645 stuff out there now, prices are not dropping.

    A good clean 150mm 3.5 AF should cost from $250 to $300.

    hope this helps.
    Last edited by dogstarnyc; 5th August 2009 at 12:35.

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    I'd need to experiment with DOF on the particular lens. I am finding that with the 80D even at F9 and three metres away I am still getting the tip of the nose OOF when the eye is perfectly focussed.

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    I love the 105-210 f4.5! My most used lens, and it is crazy sharp!

    Next up is the 80mm D...everything else is used less than 5% of the time!

    -PL

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    It all got me thinking though: I'd like to get really really good at portraits and as part of that process I'd like to get really good at the studio side of things. So I bought some interesting kit and fixed me up a studio and started a project to shoot everyone who visits me.
    Hi Tim
    Have you seen David Bailey's 'democracy'?

    Just this guy you know

  9. #9
    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Hi Tim
    Have you seen David Bailey's 'democracy'?
    I have now! Thanks for pointing it out: my series is remarkably similar but clothed. Everyone gets the same lighting and a black background, no time to tweak their hair and only a few frames shot... the great leveller!

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Quote Originally Posted by lovep View Post
    I love the 105-210 f4.5! My most used lens, and it is crazy sharp!

    Next up is the 80mm D...everything else is used less than 5% of the time!

    -PL
    Thanks - I sort of think that's too long for my purposes. DOF is at a premium as it is!


    Best

    T

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Quote Originally Posted by dogstarnyc View Post
    ....maybe buy the AF 150mm 3.5 and try it, I'm very happy with mine and I've moved from an H2 to mamiya.

    Try Ebay or KEH or Adorama and if you don't like it pop it on ebay it will sell, in fact I see less and less Mamiya 645 stuff out there now, prices are not dropping.

    A good clean 150mm 3.5 AF should cost from $250 to $300.

    hope this helps.
    Thanks, I'll take a look: I like the non AF version I have though out of the studio it is rather prone to CA...

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Tim:

    For portraits, the 105-210 at f11 up is going to be an excellent performer, and it's pretty cheap on the used market. Warning, there is some variability in performance, so be prepared to trial a few copies -- and while it's very good, don't expect performance equal to your 80 or 150 primes.

    The other excellent option -- and my first choice -- would be the 75-150D...

    If you want a softer effect, Mamiya makes a manual 145 soft focus lens for the 645. It is stellar for that type of portraiture, though is all manual and has a relatively steep learning curve to exploit it to maximum potential.

    Lighting. Sounds like what you are after is possibly a modified (as in not overly harsh) "Rembrandt" style lighting. This is relatively easy to do with 2 strobes or one strobe a good reflector -- just google it.
    Jack
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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Tim:

    For portraits, the 105-210 at f11 up is going to be an excellent performer, and it's pretty cheap on the used market. Warning, there is some variability in performance, so be prepared to trial a few copies -- and while it's very good, don't expect performance equal to your 80 or 150 primes.

    The other excellent option -- and my first choice -- would be the 75-150D...

    If you want a softer effect, Mamiya makes a manual 145 soft focus lens for the 645. It is stellar for that type of portraiture, though is all manual and has a relatively steep learning curve to exploit it to maximum potential.

    Lighting. Sounds like what you are after is possibly a modified (as in not overly harsh) "Rembrandt" style lighting. This is relatively easy to do with 2 strobes or one strobe a good reflector -- just google it.
    Thanks on the lenses Jack - I am inclined towards either a 75-150 because it would also be useful out of the studio.

    On the lighting, I've just about gotten to grips with the Rembrandt already and it's very nice indeed. But have you seen Dan Winters' work? Especially his Di Caprio but pretty much any of them. The internet is full of people guessing how he does it!

    http://www.danwintersphoto.com/two.html

    Best

    Tim

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    They are not all the same -- small changes to the positioning of the heads can make a huge difference in the final look. His DiCaprio is a modified Rembrandt with a background light -- you can accomplish that on location with two heads and a good reflector. His Tim Burton has a lower, closer, glancing angle to the main head, and the fill reflector moved further away. His Bono moved the main more frontally...
    Jack
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    If you like the 150/3.5, the MF 150/2.8 A (ULD glass) is very sharp with better CA control (used on FF DSLR in my case). Mint or NIB out of HK/PRC ebay dealer - $250 ish

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    If you like the 150/3.5, the MF 150/2.8 A (ULD glass) is very sharp with better CA control (used on FF DSLR in my case). Mint or NIB out of HK/PRC ebay dealer - $250 ish
    It's great value but I really need AF...

  17. #17
    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    They are not all the same -- small changes to the positioning of the heads can make a huge difference in the final look. His DiCaprio is a modified Rembrandt with a background light -- you can accomplish that on location with two heads and a good reflector.
    The modification is the head scratcher though: the light is unusual in that it has surprisingly soft edges for such rapid falloff. Seems to be a trademark of his and people are guessing a trillion ways of doing it, mainly involving scrimming, honeycombs, flags, you name it!

    There was an article about his work in a magazine here last week and the printed reproductions were quite something!

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    But have you seen Dan Winters' work? Especially his Di Caprio but pretty much any of them. The internet is full of people guessing how he does it!
    It looks like a lot of them have a soft box above and to the side of the camera, and a spot about the level of the camera, to the other side, to highlight something in the face. Probably also a light behind the subject. Interesting look. Maybe it is the combination of the soft box for the general light and the spot for the centre of the face which gives the falloff?
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    I'd first suspect a silver Mola on the main head
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    You mean these:

    http://www.mola-light.com/

    How do they look different? I have never seen one.
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Carsten:

    Yes, a Mola or other high-end "beauty dish" (ie Profoto, Elinchrom, Hensel) produces light like no other modifier -- focused centers with soft edges -- and the silver ones are more specular than the white ones... And the images from the danwinters portfolio above look like silver main dishes to me. The advantage to the Mola line specifically is they offer a few different shapes for different amounts of hot/feathered falloff -- compare the Seti to the Demi...
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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    I think you might have nailed it here Jack... those dishes look like one of them might have been responsible... I wondered if the Bowens Softlight version might be any use but I guess not.

    The Mola seems hard to find in the uk... as are most good things!

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    I don't have any personal experience with the Bowens modifiers, sorry...
    Jack
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    On the Dan Winters photos, I'd agree with Jack small 22" - 28" silver beauty dish (not sure if its a mola only because mola's tend to have a particular circular wave catch light but, it could be), with a secondary light on the eyes for shrinking the pupils allowing for the color of the iris to shine through.

    - Marq

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Carsten

    Just noticed your AF requirement. On the Mola, if you hit Mola's website (they're located in Toronto - as a Canuck, it was nice to buy Canadian for once), they list their UK dealer - though there is only one IIRC.

    Have a Mola Demi (white) sitting here waiting for it's Elinchrom speedring - couldn't resist the temptation ;> The order process was simple and quick, looks like solid kit.

    I went with the stock perforated reflector and held off on the optional (and more fragile) opal glass version as have the larger Elinchrom silver and translucent reflectors from my midi-octa if I decide the perforated units doesn't do it for me as it were.

    Good luck with the lens hunt.

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Pinch the pennies.

    The Mamiya 75-150mm d series is a winner in studio and out. Worth every penny.

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    I have a Mola Demi with Grid and a softy diffuser. Just awesome, don't leave home without it. I use the Phase 150 2.8 D my screamer lens but sometimes WAY to sharp. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    That new 150 sounds like a killer. Have the 22" Kacey grid and softy as well (quickie SB in a hurry)- not that I've been able to try any of it yet - come on UPS..

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    I only tried the Mamiya 2.8/150 D once, but the results are razor sharp and colors and contrast are just perfect. And the lens is pretty light for the aperture

    Also the 75-150 I tried during the last workshop delivered perfect results under all conditions I was running into. And this is the perfect travel landscape, portrait and everything lens.

    These 2 lenses are my fix starters for a Phase System

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    All the sample shots you are referencing are static. Why the push for AF? Even if the lens is AF for other applications, it's often better to manually focus portraits and control the DOF fall off yourself ... if needed, try a Mamiya flip magnifier or see if Brightscreen offers one for the Mamiya 645.

    As an aside, my favorite studio Portrait set up is the Mamiya RZ Pro-II with just about any 645 digital back and the 180 short barrel on the T/S adapter, or for retina slicing sharpness the 210 APO ... all of which are available for the price of a dinner for two at Mc Donald's. But I digress.

    The Mammy 150/2.8 would be stellar if you have the room ... but my first choice for portraits in any 645 that'll take it, is the Zeiss 110/2 ... wide open there's nothing quite like it, and stopped down its a razor blade.

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    All the sample shots you are referencing are static. Why the push for AF? Even if the lens is AF for other applications, it's often better to manually focus portraits and control the DOF fall off yourself ... if needed, try a Mamiya flip magnifier or see if Brightscreen offers one for the Mamiya 645.

    As an aside, my favorite studio Portrait set up is the Mamiya RZ Pro-II with just about any 645 digital back and the 180 short barrel on the T/S adapter, or for retina slicing sharpness the 210 APO ... all of which are available for the price of a dinner for two at Mc Donald's. But I digress.

    The Mammy 150/2.8 would be stellar if you have the room ... but my first choice for portraits in any 645 that'll take it, is the Zeiss 110/2 ... wide open there's nothing quite like it, and stopped down its a razor blade.
    Thanks - that's very useful!

    I have tried shooting an old MF 150 3.5 tethered for focussing but I'm afraid that even at F11 if the subject moves their head more than a fraction, focus is lost. This little chap stayed nicely still and the results are very sharp (and this one was focussed untethered just off the camera LCD) but the sharpness hit-rate drops dramatically and the frames with the best expressions are generally those with the worst focus when I shoot this way...




  32. #32
    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Quote Originally Posted by ptomsu View Post
    I only tried the Mamiya 2.8/150 D once, but the results are razor sharp and colors and contrast are just perfect. And the lens is pretty light for the aperture

    Also the 75-150 I tried during the last workshop delivered perfect results under all conditions I was running into. And this is the perfect travel landscape, portrait and everything lens.

    These 2 lenses are my fix starters for a Phase System
    I have the chance to get a 75-150 nice and cheap, new. I may just go for it!

    Thanks!

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    I have the chance to get a 75-150 nice and cheap, new. I may just go for it!

    Thanks!
    Go for it! This is a stellar lens as long as you do not use it wider open than F8 - in my experience!

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    You mean these:

    http://www.mola-light.com/

    How do they look different? I have never seen one.
    That's it. They're basically beauty dishes and can be used with or without a diffuser. The larger ones can get heavy and they are very cumbersome for location shooting... pretty much a studio item. They have a well deserved reputation for putting out some very special light. I have a 28" white (vs silver) version although it's really closer to cream color than white. Here's a link to a view of the inside.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...uty_Dish_.html

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    tashley,

    Nailing focus with MF gear, in studio with typically nothing more than the modeling light to assist, is not the easiest thing in the world. I find that sometimes AF helps and other times it hurts. My experience is that certain lenses are easier to manually focus, e.g. my Rollei 110 f/2 (and the Hassy version as well) because the image in the viewfinder seems to have more "pop" when it's focused properly. Another consideration is to make absolutely sure that your kit is properly focusing, although from the above shot it seems to be. I shoot a ruler at a 45 degree angle to determine this. I recently had to shim my Hasselblad adapter plate to obtain this and if you've ever seen the thickness of a shim you will appreciate how critically fine this difference can be. Several well regarded photographers consider 110mm to be an ideal focal length for portraits with MF. I've mentioned in other threads that the difference between a perfectly focused shot and one that's just the tiniest bit off can be quite dramatic with MF and, like you, find that I don't always nail the focus on the shot with the best facial expression. Take lots of shots

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Slightly OT Question - do Phamiya bodies have a focus confirmation indicator and, if so, is it normally accurate?

    MF or 35mm, I agree lens 'pop'. Some lenses within brands (and uncorrelated to price) due to how they handle _____(insert believed reason here, say micro-contrast, etc.)___ have a very clear 'pop' in VF when in focus, making them a pleasure to work with - others can be much more of a struggle. Can also be the right Karma kicking-in between lens and focus screen of choice.

    That said, pop or no pop, if the subject is shifting around and DoF is skinny, nice strong C-mode center-point AF (my typical usage) is a godsend.

    OP - will be curious as to which way you go and your post-purchase thoughts.

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    Slightly OT Question - do Phamiya bodies have a focus confirmation indicator and, if so, is it normally accurate?
    They do, and it works with any lens you can put on the system (e.g. Phase D, Mamiya D, Mamiya AF, Mamiya N, Mamiya C, Pentax 6, Hassy 500, Hassy 200, etc etc).

    It is very accurate. Like any "focus confirmation" system it will indicate proper focus for a very small, but physically measurable distance, so if you're shooting absolutely wide open then you should aim for the middle of that indicated range. We're talking mm of lens movement here, so for anything above around f/4 it's a moot point.

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Yes and Yes there is a green light confirm. Doing portraits is tough with a 150 lens or longer the DOF is very narrow and the critical focus area very thin. It's tougher than the equivalent of 35mm lenses because obviously your F11 is a lot less DOF on the MF side of the house. It takes some care. One issue is AF which when doing a portrait the focus spot for AF does not hit the eye normally but more like someone's cheeks or chin. So AF in those spots maybe a 1/2 inch off from critical to someone's eyelashes for example. I normally switch to manual focusing and go from there, now folks not going to brag but I am damn good at focusing and I still miss it sometimes. It's very hard takes a load of patience and a subject that sits still. Now that is a big issue when doing kids. I just shot these quickly for a friend in NY and had only one box light and a kid that was RUNNING all around and moving at every turn. Makes it really tough to shoot but even if not critical focus on the eye it still can be a winner. This little girl tested every day of my 35 years of experience. She may have won the battle but ultimately you can win the war if you just have the patience but any AF system would have a hard time with this stuff because it is not always hitting the spot you want, It can't think at all and usually misses what you want. So manual focusing is truly the only way to go but it tests every nerve you have in your abilities. Bottom line is your going to miss and i don't care how good you are but you can keep it to a minimum. This young girl pretty much buried me with all her movement but with some time and patience I got a few kickers.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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  39. #39
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    BTW shot with the 150 Phase D lens and at F11 which at this range maybe the bare minimum for aperture as you can see the falloff very quickly here when I am fairly close
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Great shots of a beautiful little girl Guy. Makes me feel better to hear that you don't nail it every time

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    I have the chance to get a 75-150 nice and cheap, new. I may just go for it!

    Thanks!
    Tim,

    Just so you are aware, there is an old all-manual 75-150 zoom, so if it is really cheap, beware that it may not be the AF-D version...
    Jack
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Quote Originally Posted by David K View Post
    Great shots of a beautiful little girl Guy. Makes me feel better to hear that you don't nail it every time
    Seriously David this is tough work and really easy to get frustrated . Just let me say it is normal.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Actually I have been thinking of going with a older 210mm Mamiya lens just because it maybe a little softer shooting. The issue is the 150mm is so sharp it picks up way more than we want with portraits and air brushing becomes a nightmare. Now i like the longer lenses with portraits but that is me . It does make it tougher to shoot though and backing off to the 110mm Hassy will make that DOF a little easier on focusing. Depends on what you like and your style as well.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Guy and Doug - thanks very much. Very nice shots as well Guy.

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    I also find the 150 3.5 almost too sharp, which makes me think maybe i should just try to stop it down to until my flash heads tun out of power - the diffraction might soften things up a bit? And help with DOF and therefore MF...

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Tim not sure you want to play around with the diffraction stuff but I am not sure about this either. It maybe have a bad effect, certainly maybe worth a test.

    Certainly F16 on the longer glass has not been a issue after that I never tried
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    On diffraction, I think you'll need f32 before you really start to see it smooth features, and then I suspect you won't like the effect all that much -- diffraction is not the same as diffusion, clumpier kind of. Hard to explain, but it generally isn't pleasant..
    Jack
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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    Thanks Chaps, I'll go to F16 and see what happens...

    Meanwhile I'm looking into the Molas. Lordy is the cost of this stuff all racking up! Maybe I should just go back to ambient light!

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    The Mola is a very nice light Tim with like three options to use a single dish. Alone, with Grid and than softie or not with grid. I do a lot of Mola , softie and grid. Reason why is i still get some directional light without to much spill with the grid and softie together . Now of course i lose about 2 stops that way also. Seriously I find a 1200 watt primary or main head to be a good balance between aperture and ISO . Most cases F11 at ISO 100 with some distance between subject and head but obviously you can move that in or out as needed and frankly ISO 200 is never a issue with your P45+ or my P30+ . So you do have some elbow room on ISO as well. I would say though a 600 watt is minimum on a main with MF anything less than you will get is some trouble with getting the light too close to subject. As much as folks say you need a load of light for MF , I find that is only partially true. In reality about a stop or two more than 35mm unless you are doing something that needs a ton of DOF than I find helicon focus a great cheat to gain DOF without more light added.

    As you may have noticed whatever gets the solution done even cheating than you just need to figure out the back end solutions. Photography is problem solving
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Best studio portrait lens for Phamiya?

    I have the white demi mola and the grid.
    It is probably the nicest dish I have ever used.
    so... I am thinking about a silver one and maybe also a euro.
    You are right, it feeds the gear purchasing cycle.
    As for power, I find that 1100 WS is about all I usually need. I am tempted to get one 2400 WS pack, but that would be a studio only option unless I went for some sort of generator setup.
    Ambient light is pretty useful, but I usually end up somewhere around f/4 in MF. the DOF can work for or against you depending on the shot, but it works pretty well especially when as a tripod is used.
    I am pathetic in MF hand-held at anything under 1/125, so in that territory I haul out the dslr with IS and hand-hold down to about 1/20.
    -bob

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