Before I begin on what lenses should be used for beauty shooting, let me just point out that I am a Nikon shooter. I started out in 1980 with my dad’s old Canon AE-1 but pretty quickly jumped to a Nikon in about two years. I like the feeling of a Nikon in my hands, but they both are great SLR cameras. I won’t bash Canon because they have great cameras and lenses. But Nikon is my SLR camera system. And I pretty much can guarantee it always will be. And I’m a fairly passionate Nikon enthusiast. I won’t get on forums and fight with other tech freaks on the ol’ Nikon Vs. Canon debate. But I stand pretty firm on them being my SLR, and now DSLR, camera of choice! That said, I only will use Nikkor lenses! I will not put a lesser quality lens on my camera. It is my belief, and from experience, that the camera has little to do with image. But the lens has everything to do with it. Nikkor lenses are top quality lens. And I won’t sacrifice my image quality for a less expensive solution. Also I will admit that I am a huge advocate of fixed lens because of the quality of the glass. I’m not a fan of zoom lens, even though Nikon makes some great ones, and I’ve used them from time to time. However, I don’t own any zoom lenses. I’ve only rented them on the occasion I have felt I needed to “zoom” back and forth. For instance, when I shot a band walking across the street earlier in the year and I had to shoot them 300 times walking back and forth across that street, it was easier for me to capture that with a zoom lens.
For shooting beauty, I choose from the telephoto lenses. One is the 105mm F2 AF DC-Nikkor 1:2 D lens. I’ll use that if I want a bit more in the frame, like her shoulders, part of her arms up around her face, that sort of thing. Actor’s head shots look nice with a 105mm because they’re not “too” tight. If I want something tighter I use the 135mm F2D AF DC-Nikkor 1:2 D lens. I also use, and love, my 85mm F1.4D IF lens. I love this lens because it’s super fast and it allows me to shoot with less light, as you all know I love to do! But I admit I use the 85mm mostly with 3/4 and full length fashion shoots.
Sticking with the telephoto family of lenses is best to do when shooting beauty, head shots and portraits. Anything under an 85mm, like even a standard 50mm lens or the wider 35mm, can tend to distort the face, as I discussed in the previous post on shooting fashion with wide angle lenses. Shooting fashion in a great environment with a wide angle lens is great! But shooting up close on a face with a wide angle lens will make her features look distorted. Her nose, which is usually closest to the lens, will look overly large and unusual on her face.
On the photograph on the top of Ksenia, I shot her with a 135mm Nikkor lens at about f11. I wanted to get in tight on her, so I chose the longer lens. The shot below of Diana, I shot this with a 105mm because originally I wanted to see more of her shoulders, which I did shoot but ended up cropping out in the end.