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I have a canon 400D - which lens would be the ideal for portrait work ?
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Suprisingly one the best options is the Canon 50mm f/1.8, Taking the crop factor into account, Its around 75mm.
Its sharp, Light, Not expensive ( well under £100 )
If you have money to spare, There is the Canon 24 - 70mm f2.8, But that makes a big hole in £1000.....
Some like using the 70 - 200mm range, But it really depends on how much space you have for indoor work.
The old rule of thumb for a portrait lens used to be 90mm, But that was based on a Full Frame 35mm, Hence you can get away with shorter lens on a crop digital.....
Wot 'e said... (Love ya Vince!! )
85mm was always viewed as the 'perfect' portrait focal-length in 35mm FILM terms (Full-Frame in digital terms).
At 85mm the lens presents facial detail as the eye perceives the face in real life with (virtually) no 'pin-cushion' or 'barrel' distortion.
50mm on a crop-sensor is so close as to be of no significance.
I would agree with all of the above but another one to consider is the Sigma 50mm f2.8 macro, Its about £250 but does give you a reasonably good macro lense (although 50mm can be a bit close for insects) should you ever want to try out macro photography.
Also being part of Sigmas EX range it does come with a 3 year warranty.
Any lens with a fast aperture and a focal length of 50mm to 135mm or so will be perfect for portraits. The more money you spend the better but even cheap lenses like the Canon 50mm f/1.8 is excellent and razor-sharp.
Go for prime glass if you can as the quality will be better.
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