Rodney Campbell's Blog

Portraits with a 50mm f/1.4…

by on Nov.16, 2010, under Life, Photography

I’ve had this new Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lens for just a few days but as it happens my eldest daughter was in the annual school play which was performing both that night and the next (thursday and friday) and we also had our annual school camp over the weekend which provided ample opportunity to test out the new toy – in fact over the four days I’ve taken almost 750 shots with this lens alone. As I’m sort of the unofficial school photographer it was a perfect opportunity to try out candid childrens portraits, indoors ambient low light photography and some outdoors photos in interesting settings – the first two especially are essentially the prime reasons I bought the lens in the first place.

Here are a couple of my first portrait shots with the lens – interested to see what you think… having never owned or used an f/1.4 lens before obviously my temptation is to shoot everything at f/1.4 and have insanely shallow depth of field and creamy backgrounds. Whilst these three examples were all shot at or near f/1.4 I did take many other shots at other apertures (generally ranging from 1.4 to 5.6) I promise 🙂

As this was all candid photography and pretty fast paced (especially those during the play) I used auto focus for everything but I do generally manually select which focus point I use (so I can place it over the point of interest) – however I can see that I have to be much more careful with focus at f/1.4 and if I take more formal portraits with time available I’d probably use manual focus and take my time. f/1.4 has insanely narrow depth of field – I’ve discovered that for many shots even a mere few millimetres out means the difference between tack sharp eyes and tack sharp eyelashes or cheeks instead or even one eye perfectly in focus and not the other – which is nice if thats the effect you’re going for 🙁

NIKON D90 + 50.0 mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm, 1/100 sec at f / 1.4, ISO 200

NIKON D90 + 50.0 mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm, 1/4000 sec at f / 2.2, ISO 200

NIKON D90 + 50.0 mm f/1.4 @ 50 mm, 1/160 sec at f / 1.4, ISO 200

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