So, a few shots from a series of portraits to demonstrate the ability of the Canon EF 35 mm prime lens. I buy from B&H Video (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/12119-USA/Canon_2507A002_Wide_Angle_EF_35mm.html). I'm not making any money from B&H, in fact, they don't know my blog exists (along with the rest of the world), but my endorsement of B&H is due to the price, selection, speed, professionalism and customs/brokerage-fee arrangements that make every order the best bang for my bucks. Very happy with B&H. Anyways, on to the lens.
This is a $300.00 lens, a simple, auto-focus prime lens which has a large base aperture of f/2, which simply means:
- The aperture at its widest setting of f/2, allows colossal amounts of light to flood into the lens;
- The more light, the easier to shoot in low-light without a flash or a tripod;
- The wider the base aperture, the greater the background blur, or bokeh:
- A prime lens has very few moving parts; a prime lens is light, fast (allows a great deal of light into the camera when the aperture is wide open) and since there are fewer elements (glass lenses inside the lens barrel), there is less distortion and images tend to be tack-sharp and color rich compared to equivalent-value zoom lenses.
In the remaining photos, to dampen down the bright sun, I put a Singh-Ray warming polarizing filter and a Singh-Ray 4-stop neutral density filter (http://singh-ray.com/polarizers.html). The warming polarizing filter knocks out the harshness and glare of the day while dampening the light by 1.3 stops, and the neutral density (ND) filter reduces the amount of light entering the camera an additional four stops ( one stop up or down is to double or half the amount of light, so four stops decreases the incoming light considerably). The benefit of a neutral density filter is that while it decreases the amount of light entering the camera, it will not affect the color of the light entering the camera. The point of using these filters (stacked on a Cokin P-sized filter holder) is to control the glare (the polarizing filter) and to control the brightness (ND filter).
I use a lot of Singh-Ray filters. More than any other filter I've used, they make your raw material--the photo before Photo Shop or any post production--so much better than photos I take without filters. This allows you to control the amount, type, color and harshness of light entering the camera, so that you have a more manageable image to work from. Case in point, the first photo in this series shows how washed-out the sky in the background looks without filters of any kind when shooting on a bright sunny day. The model is not as color saturated either, nor is the background foliage. The addition of a polarizing filter goes a great distance to taming that washed out look, and the neutral density filter allows you to shoot with the aperture wide open for maximum background blur, creating a sharp separation of your subject from the background, without over exposing the image.
Before I put the neutral density filter to work, I had my ISO setting at its lowest point to make the camera less light sensitive, so that I could shoot with the aperture fairly wide to have background bokeh and separation of the model from the background. In an attempt to decrease the incoming light and control over-exposure, I had my shutter speed at 1/250. That's the fastest I can shoot when using a flash (I used the off-camera flash on the flash-stand for all of these shots). The sync speed of a Canon camera and flash is 1/250th of a second (the flash and the shutter speed are synchronized), so if you're using fill-flash on a bright day, you can't speed up your shutter past 1/250th of a second to control exposure. As I was using a close-to wide open aperture for maximum background bokeh, and I couldn't reduce the ISO any lower or speed up the shutter to control over-exposure, the answer was to stack a 4-stop ND filter on the lens with the polarizing filter, reduce the incoming light by 5.3 stops, and shoot away.
Notice how in the remaining photos, the sky is a rich blue, the model's coloring and tan is more apparent, as are the background colors and the shadowing and contrasts of the model's physique. This is due to shooting with a nice prime lens that creates a razor sharp image with creamy background bokeh, in combination with on-lens filters that serve to improve and control the existing light.
So, I hope you like the shots. While I hope one day to be able to afford the pro-level "L" series Canon 35 mm prime lens, I cannot deny the effectiveness of this simple, $300.00 auto focus mini miracle.