A recent shoot for Elle by fashion photographer Benjamin Kanarek and team caught our eye, not just because we liked it, but also because of the interesting choice of the Nikon 180mm F2.8 lens for the shoot, shot wide open.
All things being equal primes outperform zooms, and they tend to be smaller. They also compel a certain kind of discipline and way of seeing things since they provide only a single field of view. The 70-200 F2.8 lens, whether by Canon or Nikon, is a great lens that would serve a fashion photographer well. But as Benjamin Kanarek has shown in this shoot titled Rebel Couture that as always the photographer is the most important factor and many lenses are excellent enough to produce outstanding results.
Please note this image is copyrighted and reproduced with permission:
And there is an accompanying video:
For more information and pictures from the shoot see:
Link: Benjamin Kanarek’s Blog
Photography BENJAMIN KANAREK
Photography Direction by BENJAMIN KANAREK and FREDERIQUE RENAUT
Styling by COLINE PEYROT
Model LEA JULIAN @ ELITE PARIS
Makeup by MELANIE SERGEFF @ ATELIER68
Hair by AUDREY LAMBERT @ B AGENCY
Photographer Assistant BENOIT TREMBLAY
Stylist Assistant MORGANE KANAREK
Video Direction FREDERIQUE RENAUT
Digital ASHISH ARORA
A Special Thanks to the INTERCONTINENTAL LE GRAND HOTEL
“Start Giving It Up” by BRIGITTE MEUWSEN
featuring Dreadlox Holmes
© 2009 Havavision Records
Samyang makes these lenses and they get rebranded under names like Rokinon, Bower, and even Vivitar. While we have tagged this post with the term “Low Budget”, it’s still not a cheap lens, but relative to your other options for 135mm F2.0 it’s by far your cheapest option. If you need something cheaper and you shoot Canon or Sony, there are many old 135mm F2.8 lenses that can be had for around $100 on eBay and used on your Sony or Canon camera with an adapter.
For roughly $480 we are very impressed with the Nikon AF-S 85MM F1.8 G. On the Nikon D810, Nikon’s highest megapixel body, we prefer it to the much more expensive 1.4 G model (because of lateral chromatic aberration issues with the 1.4G). We also found the 1.8G to be slightly sharper than the 1.4 G model.
As always remember that the person behind the camera is far more important than the camera. A good photographer can produce outstanding results with cheap equipment, even more so in the last few years as the sensors used in digital cameras have gotten quite good all around.
Many people praised the Zeiss Otus 85mm for being one of the best lenses, if not the best lens, available for full frame digital cameras. And for $4,500 you would expect it to be quite good. I rented it but did not like it for portrait and fashion photography. There was just too much contrast. It’s an amazing lens for many other purposes.
The Zeiss Milvus 85mm is $1,800, available in Canon and Nikon mounts (can be adapted to Sony) and is manual focus like the Otus lens. For portrait and fashion shots this has become my favorite lens. It has a special quality to its rendering that I’m addicted to. The contrast is just right and the bokeh is supreme. It’s big, heavy, and hard to focus on Canon and Nikon cameras. But if you’re pushing the limits this is the lens you want. Otherwise go for something with auto-focus. It’s like they took the Otus but modified it into a portrait lens. Great for the studio where you have time and lots of control.
The Sony A7R II is expensive and has many shortcomings despite being much improved over the first A7R. For many types of photography it wouldn’t be my first choice. But for most fashion and portraiture shoots it’s more than adequate. It’s small, has amazing image quality (42-megapixels) and has some great lenses available for it (like the expensive but wonderful Zeiss Batis 85mm). Especially with travel restrictions getting smaller and lighter it’s much easier to carry this camera and a few lenses than the equivalent Nikon D810 or Canon 5DSR.
As an added bonus this camera shoots 4K video and lets you adapt older and unique lenses for use.
The Nikon D5500 can currently be had for $700. It’s an excellent camera with great image quality, dynamic range, features, and a small size for its class. It’s not full frame but its images keep up pretty well with full frame. I use this camera when I need to go small and light and as a back-up but many would be well served with it as their main camera.
We like to see affordable cameras that can produce great images and the D5500 meets that criteria. Lenses are a better investment than cameras so we recommend buying a cheap as camera as makes sense. When you’re getting paid for your photographs then you can worry about having the best of the best.
Grab a 35mm and a 50mm to go with this camera and you have two decent portrait lenses to shoot with.
To keep life simple and to avoid compatibility issues down the road we prefer to avoid third party brands of lenses whenever possible. But for some reason the 50mm choices for both Nikon and Canon are surprisingly poor. While the Sigma 50mm Art lens is no Zeiss Otus lens (which costs about 5 times more), it’s an excellent lens and clearly better than the native offerings from Canon and Nikon.
This video shows Sigma’s 50mm Art lens in use for shooting fashion pictures. It provides a glimpse of what to expect from this lens. But remember, both Canon and Nikon’s cheap 50mm F1.8 lenses cost only a fraction of the price of Sigma’s lens are more than fine to start out with. Learn the art and the trade before worrying about having the best and most expensive of gear.