People lenses

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Nwcid, Mar 7, 2018.

  1. Nwcid

    Nwcid No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2018
    Messages:
    201
    Likes Received:
    105
    Location:
    PNW
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I recently posted with the topic of "people help" as I have not really done any dedicated people photography or portraits. It looks like I will be doing more in the future and would like some input on lens selection. The lenses I current have are listed in my signature line.

    I have often heard good things about the 85mm class. While it is not overly expensive, it can be depending on how much I plan on using it. Right now I am looking at a 24-70 2.8, likely soon after a 70-200 2.8 and hopefully a full frame body (D850) also within the next few months.

    So how much "better" is an 85 1.4/1.8 vs 24-70 2.8?

    If I was going to get an 85mm it looks like I have 3 main choices (in price order), Nikon 1.8, Tamron VC 1.8 and Nikon 1.4.
    Is there any real advantage to going to either of the more expensive ones? I am a person that if there is something "better" and I can reasonably afford it, I would rather "buy once, cry once".

    I have considered a 50mm on and off, but they seem to get such mixed reviews. I know there are ton of different ones on the market, but they seem to have narrow scope of "great" uses.


     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Messages:
    42,360
    Likes Received:
    13,051
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    The 85 isn't "better" than the 24-70, it's different! 70mm is traditionally the very widest end of the portrait focal-length spectrum (in terms of single/couple's portraits; groups are a different animal altogether). My workhorse lens is the 85,1.4D. By all accounts the new 85 1.8 AF-S is a stellar lens, but there's something about the rendering and colour from 'D' series glass that I can't get around. The 85 accounts for about 70% of my portrait work, with the remainder being somewhere between 85 and 135, usually shot with my 70-200, which, while it can be a dandy portrait lens, I find just too darn cumbersome for studio work.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Destin

    Destin Been spending a lot of time on here!

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2010
    Messages:
    3,527
    Likes Received:
    1,069
    Location:
    Western New York
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    For outdoor shooting, a 70-200 is probably a very good starting point. It’s versatile and can give a range of different looks.

    The 85mm lenses have a look all their own, but can be limiting if that’s all you have to shoot portraits with.

    FWIW; I used to shoot all my portrait work with a 70-200. Then I picked up the sigma 135 1.8, and it became my primary outdoor portrait lens almost overnight. But I still keep the 70-200 nearby in case I need a wider or longer focal length.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2012
    Messages:
    16,786
    Likes Received:
    4,229
    Location:
    Iowa
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    In short, any perceived difference may be due to fewer elements in the prime as opposed to the zoom. Glass will kill the light, so less glass means better light transmission. Most primes have a simpler design that requires fewer elements and zooms are more complicated and require more elements.

    You should be able (with some practice) to see the difference yourself. Take a close look at photographs made by each lens and compare things like color rendering, depth perception, and micro contrast, for instance. If you see a difference, then you will know which lens to choose.

    You should also compare different makes of lens under the same criteria. Try to eliminate as many variables as you can, such as; look at photos made with the same body, under the same general conditions, and of a similar subject.

    This is going to take some practice on your part in order to see minute differences, so give it some time.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2009
    Messages:
    41,589
    Likes Received:
    15,788
    Location:
    USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I agree with Designer's comments. I personally think that MOST 24-70/2.8 lenses have subs-par rendering and bokeh....just not "pretty" imagers. No matter what brand! Nikon,Canon,Tamron...ugh...they are designed for utility and convenience,and for events.

    I've owned a bunch of 85's in Nikon brand. For my money, the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 AF-D is the prettiest imager of _ANY_ company's 85mm. The Zeiss is harsh and ugly, Canon's 1.2 has a lot of longitudinal CA and is a bit harsh, the Nikkor is old-school, Japanese design elegance in a lens optimized for portraiture. Yes, it has fall-off and corner softness from 1.4 to f/4, but it also has beautiful character, has delicious,creamy bokeh,and a beautiful way of "drawing" the scene. It makes very "pretty" pictures! Right off the memory card, or on-film.

    The 85mm f/1.8 AF-S G is bitingly sharp, and is good at wide f/stops, meaning sharp and crisp. The 85/1.4 AF-S G is as sharp, as good, but costs much more. WHY the G-series 1.8 is as good, or better, than the G-series 1.4 is a mystery to me. To me, the f/1.8 G-series I have is sterile...crisp,clean, but its images look....sterile. But hey, it's $400,plentiful, and new.

    NEW lenses from theird-party companies like Tamron and Sigma are often designed to perform well on test charts, so they can differentiate between very tiny, closely-paced lines. But test charts are not what we photograph. Case in point: I saw about 20 shots done in Australia, with the Tamron 85mm f/1.8 VC lens,and OMG....the lens has horrible, nervous, jittery bokeh on out of focus elements. The rocks and the foliage in the backgrounds were simply God-awful, and these were pro-level shots of swimwear models, with MUA, and hair, wardrobe, good light,etc,great location, but the VC 85/1.8's images looked....like cr@p. Everything that was out of focus had a vibrate-y, nervous, chain-link-fence-like shimmer... I was like...WTF...what a simply _awful_ lens drawing/rendering character for an 85mm lens!

    When you buy a lens for people, you want to SEE what its people pictures actually LOOK like. Check out the Pixel-Peepers website. Sharpness is NOT the criteria to judge by...that's the tack the third-party makers have started focusing in on, since it's so easy to make a sharp lens, yet difficult to design a lens that has the absolute best, right mix of characteristics. That's why the 85mm f/1.4 AF-D Nikkor and the Canon 135mm f/2 L-USM are legendary lenses; they each have that "something special".
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
    • Like Like x 2
  6. DanOstergren

    DanOstergren Been spending a lot of time on here!

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2013
    Messages:
    3,337
    Likes Received:
    2,803
    Location:
    Portland OR
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    For traditional portraits, 85mm is great. It's my go-to lens. 50mm is also great. Don't listen to anyone who tells you it's a bad portrait focal length, because they are wrong. Some distortion does not make for a bad portrait.

    24-70 f/2.8 is also great. You honestly can't go wrong with any of your options.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
  7. beagle100

    beagle100 No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2015
    Messages:
    1,941
    Likes Received:
    497
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    "traditional portraits" --- longer is better for people
    like this portrait photographer
    ljholloway photography
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2009
    Messages:
    41,589
    Likes Received:
    15,788
    Location:
    USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    She uses a 200mm f/2 lens quite often; that is a lens type that I've owned, and both the Canon and Nikon models in this focal length and speed are _extraordinary_ imagers. Why? Because the lenses are very large, physically. The larger the lens, the wider the aperture, in actual millimeters, at every single f/stop value. The wider the aperture, in physical measurement, the greater the amount of background blurring that can be obtained. These lenses were NOT made with a high telephoto factor (meaning,not short, not 'miniaturized'), and were not made to be small, but are LARGE lenses, with huge front elements, and a weight of around seven pounds or so. The optics are of the absolutely highest,highest possible performance: some of the best lenses of the modern era...this is super-telephoto photography, using a lens that was $4,000 17 years ago, and is now approaching $6,000. Building a LARGE lens, a non-miniaturized design that is, makes grinding to perfection very easy, compared to making small lens elements that must be ground and polished to extreme degrees of precision; we're seeing this now, in the HUGE 50mm and 35mm lenses coming to market....BIG,honking 50's...Zeiss did this back in the 1950's, making each lens as large as it needed to be; today, many people want a smaller,lighter lens, but there are advantages to a BIG lens that's not made with physical miniaturization as a high design parameter.

    When you compare photos like Lisa Holloway's to those shot with pedestrian lenses, like say a 70-200/2.8 or an 80-200/2.8, they are nice, but it's not all her talent, and not all her gorgeous post-processing: the lens itself puts a visual impression on every image it makes; this is difficult to describe, but it's true, and the Canon and Nikon 200mm f/2 super-tele lenses make even relatively simple shots look, well, "different". In some ways, 300mm f/2.8 prime lenses do the same thing. And to an extent, Nikon's new 105mm f/1.4 G-series does the same thing as the 200mm f/2 models do. Extraordinarily high "lens impression".

    There's a certain "visual impression" that some lenses put on their images. Reasons for that vary. But suffice it to say, some of the 1990's prime lens designs from Nikon have very lovely image drawing characteristics. Nikon's 85/1.4 AF-D, 105 AF-D Defocus Control, 135/2 AF-D Defocus Control are the three best 1990's-era examples. Canon's 135/2 L-USM is another GORGEOUS imager.

    As Beagle said, "longer is better for people".... but we could easily say, "The 200mm f/2 lens that weighs seven pounds is one of the finest people lenses ever built."
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  9. Nwcid

    Nwcid No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2018
    Messages:
    201
    Likes Received:
    105
    Location:
    PNW
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    For the pictures I shot and was asking questions about in the "people help"thread, the lens I used was my 70-300 VR. It is a f 4.5-5.6, and I was shooting wide open most all of the time trying to get some bokeh. I tried using distance between the subject and background to aid me. The one of the big problems with my picture is the subject in most was very soft.

    I guess my assumption of why my pictures were soft, had to do with the distance I needed to be away from the subject to full frame them at 70mm. That is why I was asking about the 24-70 2.8 vs a 70-200 2.8.

    The reality now sounds like my current lens is an "old cheap one". I know they can be had now, for under $600.
     
  10. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2013
    Messages:
    11,920
    Likes Received:
    4,769
    Location:
    NoVA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    ugh they blocked flickr here, I was going to post a 70-200 shot that represents exactly why these crazy expensive superior rendering prime lens are worth it...
     
  11. Nwcid

    Nwcid No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2018
    Messages:
    201
    Likes Received:
    105
    Location:
    PNW
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Well after doing a ton of reading here and other online sources, coming up with tons and tons of options I made a decision last night. Like most others I work on a budget.

    I purchased a Tamron 85mm 1.8 VC and a Nikon 50mm 1.8g
     
    • Like Like x 2
  12. Destin

    Destin Been spending a lot of time on here!

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2010
    Messages:
    3,527
    Likes Received:
    1,069
    Location:
    Western New York
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit


    You’ll get great results from both of them, no doubt.

    There really was no bad decision to make here.
     
    • Like Like x 1

Share This Page