Tag Archives: mikaila storrs

A Portrait Shoot with the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8

A fast 85mm has long been a favorite among the portrait photographer’s toolbox. Slightly telephoto, this particular focal length lightly compresses the image so that models are comfortably nestled within the background. From a design perspective, large apertures like f/1.8 or even f/1.2 remain cost effective and practical because at longer focal lengths, glass elements necessarily become prohibitively expensive and oversized. Lastly, the 85mm’s working distance lets you stay close enough to the model yet provide a lot more depth-of-field (and bokeh) than your fast 50mm or 35mm.

ilovehatephoto.com_websize_DSC01740-5
15 y/o Mikaila Storrs (left) and 19 y/o Peyton Lake (right) at Newport Beach. Makeup and hair by Jordan Takeda.

So what do we look for when choosing a 85mm portrait lens? Three things spring to mind. First, it has to be easy to handle because the last thing you’d want is a lens encumbering you after the models are made up and the studio is paid for. Try shooting with an EF 85mm f/1.2 all day and you’ll see what I mean.

Next, of course, is image quality but that is often a broad and nebulous term, and 85mms, in general, have been great performers. More specifically, a defining feature of the 85mm is its ability to throw the background out of focus, isolating the subject in a cocoon of soft blurriness. So a good portrait lens should have its own character.

ilovehatephoto.com_websize_DSC01541
The girls riding and looking back in a Surrey, a four wheeled bicycle contraption available for rent all along the sunny coast of California.

Finally, since for large aperture primes we’ll be working with a narrow depth-of-field, fast and accurate autofocus is absolutely essential, much more so than for shorter focal lengths. I defy you to eye-focus with a manual lens, on a non-split prism focusing screen, at variable light and working distances. You just can’t do it, consistently, so professionals rely on quality AF at longer focal lengths.

So for this hands-on review, we are using the latest and greatest from Zeiss, their Batis 85mm f/1.8. We briefly looked at its technical specs when we first laid our hands on it, so rather than doing that again here, we’re going to jump straight into the good stuff. We called up Peyton and Mikaila, they drove to Newport Beach from Hollywood and San Diego respectively, and we rented a few bikes along the beach boardwalk. A fun Sunday afternoon in California.

Continue reading A Portrait Shoot with the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8

5 Reasons You Should Try Digital Holga Portraits

Remember when life wasn’t so complicated, when there wasn’t a million things to remember, and when photography wasn’t a serious hobby but just . . . for fun? Holga remembers.

holga pinhole 25mm f8 lens
A featherweight at 38g. A bargain at $15.

There is freedom in simplicity. You can pour over MTF graphs online and ridiculous DxO Mark scores, or you can do-it-yourself and experiment with something deliciously old school.

As I’ve mentioned recently, I’m in love with this $15-25 plastic Holga lens. We took it out to the LA Arts District, Venice Beach, and Santa Monica Pier for several model test shoots.

The Holga lens is available for a variety of focal lengths and mounts. We used a 25mm f/8 for our Sony A7, but other versions are available as follows:

5. The Lovely 35mm Film Look

peyton lake 02
Peyton Lake rocking her AC DCs in the back of a 325i. Makeup by Jordan Takeda. Image processed with the Terry Style Clean preset for Adobe Lightroom.

Digital is clean, precise, and sterile. Film has a texture to it, or as Patrick Bateman might say, “the tasteful thickness of it.” But the problem with 35mm film is the time, expense, and effort of dealing with a physical media, not to mention, the way we consume photography has long changed from printed photo to digital websites.

Continue reading 5 Reasons You Should Try Digital Holga Portraits