Portrait Lens Advice

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by L. Wood, May 16, 2007.

  1. L. Wood

    L. Wood TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    May 10, 2007
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hello,
    I am new to the "forum" concept, but after reading thread after thread I am absolutely loving it! Anyway, I would greatly appreciate advice concerning my next lens purchase. I have been using a Nikon D200 with a 18-200 VR, which is a great travel lens but very poor for portraits. I have been working on fine-tuning my photography for about 3 years and am still trying to figure out my specialty. Thus, I have waited to purchase more lenses. Portraiture is quickly becoming one of my favorites, and now I would like to purchase a lens of great quality. I have researched for at least 3 months now and have come up with a few possibilities: 85 mm 1.4 and 70-200mm 2.8.
    Please let me know what you think of these two options and why one would be better than the other. Also, if you think another lens, not mentioned, would be better please let me know as well. I am willing to spend as much as $1600.
    Thankyou for your help!
     
  2. panocho

    panocho TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2005
    Messages:
    425
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Compostela, GZ
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    You're willing to spend a lot of money, indeed!
    Of those two, I'd prefer the 85mm. First, just because I like fixed focal distances. And that is a very nice one for portraits. Second, because it is faster, and you want fast lenses for portraits (so that you can have minimun DOF or shot with only available light more easily). I don't really think you could benefit on the zoom for portraits.

    Also, you can always go for MF older lenses, cheaper and very nice. That way you would save a lot of that money for future adquisitions. With a D200 you will have no problem of compatibility. For example, now comes to my mind a very nice E-series 100mm that would cost you nothing out of $1600.

    Anyway, and to sum up, I'd definitely go for a fixed focal distance, fast lens
     
  3. DSLR noob

    DSLR noob TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
    Messages:
    1,527
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    If the best protraiture you can find is what you seek, then fast prime. If you want a tad bit more versatility, a fast telephoto (2.8) is great, even if you cover that zoom range in the 18-200.
     
  4. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2007
    Messages:
    2,694
    Likes Received:
    61
    Location:
    Missouri
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I would get one of these two... not only are the AWSOME portrait lenses, you get the excellent 1:1 tack sharp macro as well...

    Nikon 105 VR

    or

    Nikon 105 2.8 Macro

    105 is perfect for portraits, prime focus, FAST lenses, Nikon quality and sharpness... what more could you want to slap onto that D200.

    BTW the 105 VR is my next lens, I have used one and love it.
     
  5. bluerangeriii

    bluerangeriii TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2007
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    i dont know much about nikon lenses, but speaking on a traditional stand point a good portrait lens is one a little bigger than a normal lens. i dont know how big the sensor on a nikon is but a normal lens for a 35mm is 50mm. figure out your normal lens and find one that is a little more to the telefoto side. and that makes a good traditional portrait lens.
     
  6. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    May 5, 2006
    Messages:
    1,292
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Frederick, MD
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I've used my 50mm 1.4 for some portraits and felt it worked fine. I'll have to try longer next time.
     
  7. celeron24

    celeron24 TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    May 16, 2007
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I've done a few portrait shoots for almost a year now, and I must say that the 85mm 1.4 is a must have in portrait photography. It gives you that lucid "bokeh" while also offering a very crisp sharpness of your subject. It truly is a great investment when you want to delve in portrait shots.




    alcoholism treatment
     
  8. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2003
    Messages:
    9,713
    Likes Received:
    203
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Very nice lens indeed but I really couldn't care about the VR lens :) I do find when I used this lens and lenses of the same focal length to be a bit hard on a D200. You really need some distance from the subject to use this one. I'd recommend the 85mm, but then you wouldn't get the macro.

    celeron24 welcome to TPF
     
  9. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,602
    Likes Received:
    137
    It's interesting to see how fashion has changed over the years. When I was a young buck "portrait" lenses were soft focus lenses. It would have been bad manners for a photographer to take crisp sharp image of a person and show all those human imperfections in the skin. The "portrait" lenses were designed with a bunch of chromatic aberration in them to soften the skin. Today we talk about tack sharp lenses for making portraits. 180 degree change in fashion.

    I'm not sure I have ever used a "portrait" focal length for a portrait but, in the 35mm days, the 105mm f2.5 Nikkor was considered the ideal focal length for portrait head shots. I tended to use longer lenses and medium format personally in those days but I think the 105 would work well with a DSLR but, as mentioned above, would require the photographer to step back a little.

    The idea of using a macro lens is actually pretty good. It is a little like stepping back to the old days. Macro lenses are corrected for close focus and tend to be a little soft when used at the subject distances of regular lenses. Might be the ideal choice. If I ever use the DSLR for a portrait I'll put the 60mm Micro Nikkor on it to try it out.
     
  10. L. Wood

    L. Wood TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    May 10, 2007
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    I totally understand about the softer lenses for portraits. However, if your image doesn't start with crisp detail, then you can not get it back. Photoshop and noiseware are great for the soft look. Anyway, I also agree with you on the medium format for portraits. Love medium format. My dream camera is a Mamiya with a digital back. I used a pentax med. format film camera for a while and I prefer the 4x5 negative. O.k. now to the point. With the longer lenses like the 85mm and 105mm, how far back are we talking??? 5 ft, 7ft? If it is too far back it makes shooting children more difficult. They require a lot of attention.
    Thanks for your input.
     
  11. DSLR noob

    DSLR noob TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
    Messages:
    1,527
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Haha, 105....... on a cropped DSLR............... I imagine like 20 feet or more. I need to stand about 12 feet away from people when I want a full body shot with my 50mm, but with portraits you DO want a long lens while standing far back.It is all about the angle of view. I say the 85 1.4 is perfect. then do the whole "look at the ducky" thing from 10 to 15 feet away for a facial portrait.
     
  12. L. Wood

    L. Wood TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    May 10, 2007
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the info on distance. That helps my decision!
     

Share This Page