Recently I purchased a SMC Takumar 105/2.8 lens with the hope of using it in portrait photos. And it works great for that, I’m happy to report. But it also left me wondering how my other lenses and cameras work in portraiture. So I pulled together some good representative examples.
My ‘real’ portrait lens (until I buy an 85mm, I guess). It allows me to stand a reasonable distance from someone and still capture a photo that isolates their face. The 2.8 minimum aperture allows me to fuzz the background. Though the bokeh that all the kids love is pretty indistinct. No bubbles or swirls that I’ve noticed.
The first example is a posed portrait, where I could really dial in the focus as my patient partner waited for me.
And this one is a more candid portrait where I tried to capture a friend laughing. As a result it’s a little softer, but I think it showcases the person and the emotion.
I’ve done very little portrait work with the 50 Macro, but it’s a decent choice for well-lit and staged portraits. Thanks to its focus and narrow DOF It would be tough to use with a moving subject. Not a lens to use for bokeh-filled portraits in my experience.
The ‘normal’ lens for my camera. The wide open aperture combined with the yellow tint that can appear thanks to the radioactive glass (yay, thorium) can make it a pleasing portrait lens. I don’t get as close as I do with the 105mm or the Macro, but I can still get results I like.
Not a lens I’d typically use for portraiture of a human. But in the case of this wide-faced Bob’s Big Boy statue the 35mm is exactly what I needed. I don’t get any background isolation at f8, though. I wish I’d tried this shot more wide open.
Moskva V, 105mm
With a 6×9 negative the Moskva’s 105mm lens ends up with an effective focal length of 45mm. Combine that with a minimum focus distance of 1.5 meters (5 feet) and it’s not a good camera for traditional close-up portraiture of a single person. I think it would be good for groups of 2-4, though.
I’ve noticed that the Moskva doesn’t really have an infinite focus. Might be something out of alignment. But with a shot at f22 I would expect the background to be sharper here.
Same location, but with a wide-open aperture to show off the Moskva’s swirly backgrounds. Makes me a little dizzy, to be honest.
Voigtlander Bessa 66, 75mm/f4.5
Similar to the Moskva, the Bessa 66’s 75mm lens becomes a 41mm lens when you take the 6×6 negative into account. Its minimum focal distance is about 1 meter (3.5 feet), so it’s not great for close up work either. As with the Moskva the background gets very swirly when you shoot wide open.
I have very few portrait examples with this camera. And this out-of-focus shot is probably the best one. Because the Bessa 66 is not a coupled rangefinder you have to estimate your focus without any visual feedback. This is extra hard when working with an open aperture and the resulting lost of depth-of-field.