Reader question

Time for a reader question. Today, one of my readers asks: “What lens should I use to shoot nudes?”

A very difficult question to answer satisfactorily, because “it depends”. How large is your space? What are you shooting, what style? And it it detail? Or headshots? Well, if they are nude perhaps a little more than headshots, but presumably not always full body shots like this:

That, by the way, was shot with a 45mm tilt-shift lens.

When I get a question like this, I try to do some objective analysis. So just now I looked at my statistics, which is very easy to do in Lightroom, and I see the following. Out of many thousands of images, I have used the following lenses:

  1. 100 Macro f/2.8: 0% of shots (just 5 shots out of thousands)
  2. Tilt-Shift f/2.8 45:  1%
  3. 70-200 f/2.8:  1%
  4. 35mm f/1.4:  3%
  5. 16-35 f/2.8:  5%
  6. 50mm f/1.2 : 9%
  7. 24-70 f/2.8: 82%

So as you see, I probably shoot in small spaces (yes, usually); I do not often need to shoot in very low light (correct; I use flash); and I often need the convenience of a zoom lens. The 24-70 fast zoom, therefore, is my top used lens. It’s not that I prefer it, I prefer primes; but when shooting outside a controlled area like a studio, a zoom is the easiest option, often enough.

But your circumstances may differ, so I cannot say what you should use. It’s entirely up to you: as you see, you can use anything. Just use it well. Do not, for instance, use a 16mm lens when doing close-ups, unless you want distorted body parts. And do not shoot at f/1.4 if you want the entire person to be in focus. And do not use a 200mm lens in a tiny room. And so on.

You’ll see, it doesn’t really matter. Whatever you feel like using, and the “normal” portrait recommendations apply.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *