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Lens Choice is Everything

I absolutely love my Sigma Art 35mm lens. I “see” the world at a 35mm focal length. Everywhere I look, whenever I imagine photos, it’s at 35mm. Unfortunately for my job shooting weddings, 35mm is not the best choice for one of the most important parts of the day; the family portraits. Wider angled lenses (lenses wider than 50mm) begin to distort lines and shapes, leaving things (in this case, faces) looking less than flattering.

The other downside to the wider angled lenses for portraits is that it shows more of the background. This is great for artistic portraits that intentionally are including carefully composed backgrounds, but when I’m working on family formals, all that matters is the person in the image. The background just needs to look pretty and be non-distracting. The more background showing, the more potential for distraction.

Take a look at this photo shot with my 35mm lens. Even with centering the couple in the frame, where the distortion is the least, there’s still distortion. Also, can we talk about how bad this background is? It’s horrendous! The light is harsh, there are weird shadows & lines, and all sorts of things taking your attention away from the couple. Clearly, this is a poor choice of lens for this situation.

A family portrait taken at 35mm. Note the distortion and distractions in the background
A family portrait taken at 35mm. Note the distortion and distractions in the background

 

Now take a look at the same couple, in the same location, but this time with my 85mm lens. All of a sudden, the portrait is now more harmonious. The distortions are gone and the background distractions of harsh light and lines have disappeared.

Portrait taken with an 85mm. Distortion and distractions minimized.
Portrait taken with an 85mm. Distortion and distractions minimized.

 

Between these two portraits, I know which one I’d like to purchase! So remember the next time you reach for your favorite lens, make sure to consider if it truly is the right lens for the job.

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