Quote Originally Posted by Allan Swindles View Post
Just an observation here folks, as a retired professional portrait photographer. I always found that double the standard focal length was good for head and shoulder portraits and for a tight head shot I would choose a 3x mag. but it does depend on the final size of the image and the viewing distance, as has already been indicated, but also the effect you are trying to achieve. A tight head shot enlarged to say 30"x40" might look good at distance, but closer, well? Times have changed over the years. In the UK, the BBC as I recall, would never shoot a close portrait with a wide angle lens. Not so these days, anything goes. I think they excuse it as reportage and the public have been seduced to it. It does not however, mean it's good photography.
While I understand your background, and respect it and your opinion, your comment about using wide angle lenses for portraiture seem a little like they are universally not good, just because you said so.
My experience is nowhere near as impressive as yours, but I would still like to interject that some of my own most successful portraits, close-ups or full figure, have been with wide angle to normal lenses. The shorter focal length has leant an intimacy to the photographs that I find rewarding, and an interesting point of view that I think doesn't subscribe to convention, but instead highlights a strong emotional connection.

My question to you is: What, exactly, makes the longer focal length 'better'? I'd seriously like to hear your view of things; perhaps I can learn something I didn't know, or it will be interesting discussion.