My Favorite Focal Length Lenses for Shooting Beauty

Studio Beauty

In my last article I discussed which focal lengths I prefer for shooting Studio Fashion and my reasons.

Beauty photography like Fashion is really a very subjective matter and the focal length one chooses will have a major effect on the final perspective rendition of the image.  However in saying that, I have often been one to create controversy in my choices that more often than not break with convention.

My choice for most Beauty shoots is from 40-70mm in APSC reduced format sensors or around 50-105mm in full frame full 35mm sensor camera’s. As of late I have been using my FA 50mm f1.4 and DA 70mm f2.4 Limited Pentax lenses for most of my beauty stuff and on the rare occassion my DA* 16-50 f 2.8 Pentax zoom at the longer end for shots that I find it necessary to benefit by the versatility of a zoom lens.

I really like the perspective this focal length produces and am not presently a big fan of “THAT COMPRESSED” long telephoto look that was so popular throughout the 80’s & 90’s.  But hey things change and perhaps one day i’ll do a beauty shoot with my Tamron SP 500mm Mirror Lens.

So the next time someone tells you that you NEED a certain focal length to get a Beauty of Fashion shot, think twice and consider this…A good kit zoom lens, shot at optimal aperture i.e. 2 stops down from wide open, will do quite well for most applications.

If you are not using flash, it would be preferable to get a fixed focal length lens as optimal sharpness in most cases is around f3.5 to f4.0, which most kit lens are not capable of matching. You would need to stop down to around f6.3 to f8.0 to accomplish similar sharpness.  Flash renders images in a manner where they seem sharper, due to the augmented perception of  contrast.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to share them with me here.

Tagged with 
About Benjamin Kanarek
Fashion and Beauty Photographer. Some of the magazines I have shot for include: VOGUE (China, Portugal, Brazil, Italia, Paris and South America & Mexico editions), RG VOGUE Brazil, Harper’s BAZAAR (China, en Español & Latin America, Hong Kong, Italy editions), L’Officiel Paris, ELLE (Spain, Portugal and Greece editions), Madame Figaro (France), Cosmopolitan (France and Italy editions), Glamour (France), Votre Beauté, Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode, New York Daily News, Fashion District News, New York Times Magazine, W (British edition), WWD, Fashion Magazine (Canada), Flare (Canada), Oyster, Tank, WestEast…