Photographer: Scott Schuman, a.k.a The Sartorialist
Specialty: Street/Fashion Photography
Favored Camera/Lens Brand: Canon
Scott Schuman, who runs the astoundingly popular Sartorialist blog, is one of the biggest names in fashion photography today. Starting out photographing pretty people in unconventionally-fashionable outfits on the streets of New York City, Scott has moved on to shooting ad campaigns and editorials for names like DKNY, Gant, GQ, Vogue Paris, and Interview.
Here’s an amazing video of Scott in action:
So what does Scott use to capture the latest styles on the streets?
Scott’s camera is the $2,600 Canon 5D Mark II. (read on for cheaper alternatives!) While most reports indicate that Scott’s primary lens is the $1,600 Canon 50mm f/1.2, examining EXIF data on his images tell us that Scott is a huge fan of the even-more expensive 85mm f/1.2.
The benefit of a fast medium-telephoto prime lens like the 85mm f/1.2 is that you can achieve a very shallow depth-of-field, which helps you isolate the subject and obscure background distractions. Prime lenses also tend to be cheaper and sharper than zoom lenses.
If you look at Scott’s photos you’ll see a sharp fashionista in front of a soft, blurry background. That’s where that 85mm lens comes in. Thankfully, you don’t need to spend $2,000 on a lens to get the same look.
So how can you get the Sartorialist look without spending the huge bucks?
Well, if you have a full-frame camera like a Canon 5D or 1DS series camera, you can pick up Canon’s 85mm f/1.8, which is an incredible value for $399. It’s literally a fifth the price of the f/1.2 version, but it’s just as sharp and actually focuses much, much faster. So you’re getting faster focusing, and 90% of the optical performance, for 20% of the price. Nikon shooters should check out their equivalent model.
And if you’re shooting a crop-sensor camera like a Canon Rebel, 40D/50D/60D, or 7D, check out the 50mm f/1.8 (just $110!) or f/1.4 ($379). On those cameras, these lenses will be equivalent to an 80mm lens, which pretty much matches the 85mm lens Scott favors.
Now if you’re interested in shoot Sartorialist-style street fashion and don’t own a camera at all, I’d check out the Canon Rebel T1i. That kit’s enough to get you started, though it would help to grab a 50mm f/1.8 lens to get the dreamy, shallow-depth of field look present in Scott’s images.