Images and words by Jerred Zegelis
Fall is arguably the best time of the year to get outside and capture images of people. The light seems softer during Autumn, but maybe that’s just the result of a chillier weather and the bright greens of the world slowly fading into oranges, reds and yellow.
The question I am asked quite often while I teach classes at Rockbrook camera is: what’s a great portrait lens to use?
Of course giving a single answer to this question is impossible because interesting portraits can be made with any lens out there, but for me personally, I have a few suggestions:
- Use a telephoto focal length above 60mm or so. Seventy five millimeters to 130mm lenses are great. This “tighter” focal point isolates your subject, and then you can use your feet to move a bit and include more or less of the background.
- The lens should have a wide aperture. Using a wide apertures is what allows the photographer to isolate the subject from the background, creating a pleasing blur effect that makes the subject stand out.
- The focus should be fairly fast. People, especially young ones, can move around quite a bit, so having a lens that can keep up with them can be important.
One of the lenses I used last year that comes to mind is the 90mm f/2.8 Contemporary lens from Sigma.
This lens fits all of the criteria above with the added bonus of being less inexpensive than other lenses in this category within the Sony lens lineup.
I took five minutes out of the day to quickly take portraits of some of the Rockbrook sales staff, shown here.
Each shot was taken with the Sony Alpha A7 IV at ISO 100, the aperture was wide open at f/2.8 and the shutter remained at 1/500. All it took was to find a shaded spot on a sunny day, and then have fun with the subject.
I find two things stand out while using this lens and reviewing the images.
First, it’s sharpness is just about perfect for a portrait lens.
I had eye-detection autofocus enabled on these photographs, and in each one, the eye is perfectly in focus. What’s special is that the transition between in-focus areas and out-of focus areas is pleasing to the eye. It makes for a softer image, one with a more natural feel.
Secondly, the speed of the lens keeps up with the fantastic Sony autofocus.
The lens was silent all the way through shooting, but each shot was focused exactly where I’d expect it to be.
So if you’re looking for a lens that can do some amazing things for you this fall, this would be a fantastic candidate!