Portrait Bokeh, lens choice

BritneyDean

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Hello.

I'm fairly new to photography.
i have a Nikon D5200

I am saving up for a new lens, I am after one which I can take portraits with, and would like to have some nice bokeh in them.

What kind of lens would you suggest?

Someone I was talking to in a chatroom said they'd go for a 50mm with 1.4f
Is this about the general thing I should go for? Because I read elseware someone else liked to use 100mm + and was using 2.8f and geting good bokeh. a little confused as i've only got my standard kit lens to go by :eek:

any help appreciated :) Thanks!
 

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cgipson1

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The most popular focal lengths for portraiture are traditionally 85mm to 135mm usually with apertures ranging from F1.2, F14, F1.8, and F2. These are most popular on full frame sensor bodies, as they are a little long on a crop sensor body. Some people use even up to 200mm and beyond if they have need and room to do so.

On a crop body.. I would recommend a 50mm (either a 1.4 or a 1.8). The 1.4 will typically be better quality, and have a better quality of Bokeh. If you will be shooting primarily outdoors, then a 85mm 1.8 or 1.4 would do well for you.

I would not recommend less than 50mm due to the enhanced perspective distortion that occurs with wide angle lenses.... most unflattering to subjects. Perspective Distortion Effects Planned or Accidental

Are you familiar with the FOV differences in a crop body, vs a full frame body?
 

KmH

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People often use the term bokeh when what they are actually talking about is the camera/lens settings approach known as 'selective focus' which is accomplished by having a shallow depth-of-field (DoF) which blurs the background helping to separate a subject from the background.

Bokeh is not adjustable, but DoF is - Understanding Depth of Field in Photography
Understanding Camera Lenses

Lens quality would also be a consideration for doing portraiture - Camera Lens Quality: MTF, Resolution & Contrast

Inexpensive 50 mm f/1.8 prime lenses (Nifty-Fifty) are often recommended because they are inexpensive, though they are only mediocre portrait lenses.
Part of the reason for their mediocrity is the limited number of, and poorly shaped lens aperture blades they have which deliver unpleasant effects in a blurred background.
Lenses having 9, curved, rounded edge lens aperture blades generally deliver the best 'bokeh'.
Nikon's 85mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor Lens is nicknamed the 'Cream Machine' because of the very smooth bokeh the lens delivers.

Indeed, the aesthetic quality of a blurred background, not the blur itself, is what the word bokeh refers to.
http://www.dpreview.com/lensreviews/canon_50_1p8_ii_c16/5

From the Conclusions - Cons - summary of the above review:
Harsh and distracting bokeh due to pentagonal aperture
 
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goodguy

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If you are just a person taking portraits of family and friend and don't plan on going pro then the 50mm 1.8G is enough.
I use my 50mm 1.8G for my portraits and I am super happy with it but that's me.
The 50mm 1.8G is a super sharp lens and cost only 200$.
The 50mm 1.4 is actually slightly less sharp then the 1.8G and you really wouldn't see the difference in the bokeh between the 1.4 and 1.8
The 50mm 1.4 cost twice then the 1.8 lens.
The 50mm lens is also a fantastic all around lens for night photography and general use.

The 85mm is indeed better for portrait but its much more limited for general use and cost much more.
So if you see yourself specialising in portrait shots then get the 85mm, if you are like me and portrait is just something you do from time to time then the 50mm is more then enough.

Here is a review

 
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cgipson1

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If you are just a person taking portraits of family and friend and don't plan on going pro then the 50mm 1.8G is enough.
I use my 50mm 1.8G for my portraits and I am super happy with it but that's me.
The 50mm 1.8G is a super sharp lens and cost only 200$.
The 50mm 1.4 is actually slightly less sharp then the 1.8G and you really wouldn't see the difference in the bokeh between the 1.4 and 1.8
The 50mm 1.4 cost twice then the 1.8 lens.
The 50mm lens is also a fantastic all around lens for night photography and general use.

The 85mm is indeed better for portrait but its much more limited for general use and cost much more.
So if you see yourself specialising in portrait shots then get the 85mm, if you are like me and portrait is just something you do from time to time then the 50mm is more then enough.

Here is a review


But you didn't mention the Sigma 50mm 1.4.. which is Very Sharp, and has creamy smooth bokeh!
 
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frommrstomommy

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I have a 50 1.8g and love it. 1.4 wasn't worth double the price for me. I suggest doing a search on flickr or something similar and look at shots taken with the 5200 and different lenses you're looking at.
 

goodguy

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But you didn't mention the Sigma 50mm 1.4. which is Very Sharp, and has creamy smooth bokeh!
Well this lens cost 400$ which is very close to the Nikon and is exactly double the value of the Nikon 50mm 1.8G
To me it looks like a lot of money for just little extra light.
 

Derrel

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If you want a new Nikkor 50mm lens, buy the 50mm f/1.8 AF-S G model; it WILL autofocus on your D5200. It's a sharp 50mm lens with aspherical elements, and is much better than older "Nifty Fifty" models from both Canon, and Nikon.

The Nikon 85mm f/1.8 AF-S G series lens is also good.

I am assuming by "bokeh" what you mean is a deeply out of focus background, where everything behind the person is blurred. If you want what a true expert calls "good bokeh", you will need to get in to lenses that cost a LOT MORE money. The 85/1.8 AF-S G has only average bokeh from an "expert's" point of view, but it is VERY sharp across the frame, and it will do selective focus splendidly; It is an excellent lens at wide f/stops like f/2.2 and f/2.5 and f/2.8 and f/3.5.
 

cgipson1

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But you didn't mention the Sigma 50mm 1.4. which is Very Sharp, and has creamy smooth bokeh!
Well this lens cost 400$ which is very close to the Nikon and is exactly double the value of the Nikon 50mm 1.8G
To me it looks like a lot of money for just little extra light.

It is a lot more than just a little light... the quality of the bokeh is what makes a good lens like this worthwhile. For serious portraiture, that is important.
 

goodguy

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But you didn't mention the Sigma 50mm 1.4. which is Very Sharp, and has creamy smooth bokeh!
Well this lens cost 400$ which is very close to the Nikon and is exactly double the value of the Nikon 50mm 1.8G
To me it looks like a lot of money for just little extra light.

It is a lot more than just a little light... the quality of the bokeh is what makes a good lens like this worthwhile. For serious portraiture, that is important.

Serious portrait should go with the 85mm anyways.
As I said the 50mm is really a very good portrait lens but not as good as the 85mm, the advantage is that it is also a very good all around lens and there the bokeh is less important.
Anyways the bokeh on my 1.8G is gorgeous, enough for a hobbyist, for 200$ I think its perfect and not worth investing double for a little extra.
 

kundalini

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I have the 50mm f/1.8 and rarely use it for anything, but ain't gonna sell it either.

For portraits, my favorite is probably the 85mm f/1.8. I also use the 24-70mm f/2.8 (at the long end), 105mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8. For a wider shot, environmental style, I like the 35mm f/2.0.
 

DGMPhotography

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Hahahahha!!! "Bokehlicious," I'm so glad that term exists.

Also, KmH, I saw that comment coming from a mile away! :p Considering he's a newer photographer, there's a chance he did mean dof instead of bokeh, but it's also possible he actually meant bokeh - he didn't specify.

My opinion, max out your capabilities with your current lens before getting a new one. The kit lens can get a shallow dof at 55mm f/5.6 if you're close to your subject. When you are getting a new lens, I'd say nifty fifty, but I wouldn't be able to tell you from experience because I'm currently in the process of trying to get one myself.
 

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