Trying to decide on portrait lenses....

Gavjenks

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It also all depends where you're shooting.

If you are in a cramped space PLUS the background is varied and exact background inclusion matters, then the zoom will be needed. This is probably fairly rare for a brand new portrait beginner, because this would typically happen in for example a wedding chapel, or a fancy mansion, or a really elaborate studio with nice prop furniture all set up etc. and you don't want to move it. The zoom will allow you to include whatever subject and background combo you want without running into walls.

More likely scenarios for beginners though are going to be a small space like an apartment, but with a featureless or textured backdrop (in which case primes are fine, because subject/background relationship doesn't matter aside from defocus control), OR outdoors (where you and your subject both have plenty of room to move around, giving you easy control of background inclusion in any combo). Primes should be fine for this.
 
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BanditPhotographyNW

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Just as an update....I pulled the trigger on the 70-200 f2.8. After carefully considering a mix of the advise here and many countless technical comparisons online as well as looking at an infinite number of photos from all the listed models of lens, my findings are this. The 70-200 while possibly slightly less sharp is much more efficient and functional as far as range and speed. The 2 primes which would have ended up being the Nikon 85mm (which I still want) and the 135mm f2 DC (rather than Sigma 150mm) these are also amazing choices, in fact most of my current lenses are primes I have 1 zoom and its the Tokina 11-16 for my d7100 otherwise I have a tokina 100mm macro a Nikon 35mm f1.8 and a Nikon 300mm F4.....so I think this 70-200 will be a nice addition to my kit and fill a rather large gap in focal range. Thank you all for your help with this.
 

kathyt

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You need something >4 for portraits IMO. I could not survive with my 70-200 f4 as my sole provider. Well....I could, but I would be really sad. Primes rock.
 

table1349

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Again...that's why I suggested in Post #2 that you buy the 70-200mm f/4 AF-S Nikkor zoom lens.

Derrel, FYI, YOU didn't suggest squat in Post #2. Post #2 was my post. YOU didn't come in until Post #3.:lol:
 

Derrel

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Thank goodness, you made a good choice, buying a really GOOD zoom lens. Again...there's a real reason the 70-200mm zoom lens has become the go-to lens for professional photographers in many different types of fields. As far as claims made above of primes being sharper than zooms...can't be by that much...and as far as the comments that a zoom must be virtue of it being a zoom, be "inferior" to prime lenses...uh...wow...

Look at Nikon's 14-24mm zoom...it's a better wide-angle lens than any wide-angle lens Canon has ever been able to make...and...it's a zoom lens...

Here...look at Canon's 14mm f/2.8 prime's pathetic performance, compared side-by-side vs a Nikon zoom...

Nikon 14-24mm G Test v Canon 14mm L II

Prime lenses are nice, no doubt. I grew up using primes, and still own a lot of very fine primes. But the quality of zoom lenses today is excellent. Getting the right framing, and the right "look" is much more important in portraiture than squeezing out the last few line pairs per millimeter, so that you can later retouch away all the detail. "Sharpness" is vastly,vastly overrated in lenses used for portraiture. Lens drawing style, bokeh, micro-contrast, focusing speed, focusing dependability,handling and balance,color rendering, all those things are important. Primes are what they are; they produce the same look,over and over,and over,and over,and over,and over, shot after shot after shot after shot. Gets pretty dull after a while.
 

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