What (prime) lens for portraits?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Annaa, Dec 28, 2015.

  1. Annaa

    Annaa TPF Noob!

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    I'm currently on the hunt for a new prime lens to use mainly for portraits. It will replace my Nikkor 35/1,8 and be a complement to a 28-75/2,8 and a 70-200/2,8. The 35/1,8 I find too wide for portraits, plus I barely use it since switching to FX since it's a DX lens. I'm using a Nikon D600.

    After doing some research I have basically narrowed it down to these, but I'm open for any suggestions:

    - Sigma 50/1,4 ART
    - Nikon 135/2 DC
    - Nikon 105/2 DC
    - Nikon 85/1,8
    - Nikon 85/1,4
    - Sigma 85/1,4

    Of course I've heard amazing things about the Sigma 50/1,4 ART - but I have a feeling that 50mm might again be too wide for portraits? I wish there was an 85mm ART already... :)

    The 135/2 and 105/2 both sound amazing but I'd have to buy them used because of the price tag, which isn't really a problem - I just struggle to find them for sale very often. I'd love to hear any opinions on these two in particular, since their prices are still kind of up there even when looking to buy used.

    Is the Nikon 85/1,4 worth the extra $$$ compared to the 85/1,8? I've heard mixed reviews on this. The Sigma 85/1,4 looks like a great option to the Nikon version but again, I'd have to buy used and I don't often find them for sale here.

    Any thoughts or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


     
  2. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    Given the shopping list, I'd opt for the 105 DC. But that's just me.

    Open the whole store up, and I'll take my Tair 135/2.8 11A any day.
     
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  3. jaomul

    jaomul Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If you can track down a nikon 85mm f1.4d you'll be happy
     
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  4. Vtec44

    Vtec44 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The 50mm f1.4 is very versatile. I have the Nikon G version and I use it most of the time, even over my 85 f1.4G.
     
  5. AKUK

    AKUK No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Just to add to the pondering, I use the 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro Nikkor for portraits and have always been very happy with the image quality, focus speed and accuracy from it and may also be worth consideration too.

    It's certainly difficult to choose from the list you have produced. All are very sharp and offering the ability to shoot shallow too. I'm also a bit of a sucker for bokeh and the 135 f/2 DC would definitely get my vote in that respect.
     
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Agreed on that. I still use the old 1.4 AF-D for most portraits where I want an 85mm lens. I shot mostly with flash, usually at f/7.1 or f/8. This was shot with a cheap e-Bay 24 x 24-inch softbox (60 x 60 cm) at f/7.1 at 1/50 second at ISO 100 on 24MP Nikon FX; it's very sharp, yet the out of focus areas render very smoothly.

    D3X_1784_Star '15_1904x.jpg


    This on-line comparison article of three Nikon 85mm lenses and the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 makes a strong case for the Nikon 85/1.8-G as the best all-around and overall performance leader, and the best value. If you look at the comparison photos closely, it seems to me that the 1.8 model out-performs the other two 1.4 lenses by a little bit, and is much better than Nikon's old 1.8 AF-D. Nikon 85mm comparison review | Cameralabs

    As to 85mm versus 105mm, indoors the slightly wider field of view of the 85mm lens is handy. In smaller rooms, the 85mm gets the nod much of the time. When there is not a lot of room to back the camera up, that shorter focal length means being able to make shorts that the 105mm or longer lenses simply can not make, due to distance restrictions. The shot above was a good example...I was in a small, crowded room, and really could not get very far away, so I shot with the 85mm lens, and cropped into the head area and a bit off the right hand side to get this final image aspect ratio.

    I use an 85 more than the 105 or 135 DC lenses.All three of the old AF-D lenses have a sense of three-dimensionality to their renderings. The new 85/ 1.8 -G model has a much sharper across-the-frame image, and its image is "harder", and more "clinical" than the AF-D 1.4 is.
     
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  7. goodguy

    goodguy Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I am going to be a smart ass and ask you why not go with a 70-200mm 2.8 lens ?

    So many pro's use this lens as their portrait lens
    I own it and shoot all my portraits with it, its really an awesome portrait lens which brings a whole lot of flexibility to your shoot.
    Only drawback is its weight.

    As for answering your question which prime lens from your list, tough one, the 105mm and 135mm are complex lenses, you need to know how to work with them.
    85mm lenses are not complex and do a good job, while my heart tells me go with the 135mm my brain tells me 85mm is simpler to use.

    I had a good talk with Derrel about the 85mm 1.8 the "D" model vs the "G" model and we both came to the conclusion that the Nikon 85mm 1.8G is the lens to get more then any other 85mm lens considering its value and what it does.
    I actually used to own this lens and loved it but I stoped using it for portrait once I bought my Tamron 70-200mm 2.8 lens. Now I am thinking of getting it back because from time to time it will be nice to use it instead of the heavy 70-200mm but I am now having second thoughts about it, the flexibility of the 70-200mm lenses out weight its weight issue.

    So if your mind is set to get a prime lens for portrait I would get the Nikon 85mm 1.8G

    Good luck
     
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  8. Annaa

    Annaa TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for your feedback, much appreciated! I'll definitely check out more comparisons of the 85mm's. The one you linked is great.

    As for the focal length, I only do portraits outdoors so the 105mm or 135mm wouldn't really be an issue since I'm not limited in space or room. Should've mentioned that. The reason I'm drawn to the 135/105 is because longer focal length = renders the blurry background better and gives nicer bokeh. I'm all about the short depth of field :)
     
  9. Annaa

    Annaa TPF Noob!

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    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I actually already have a 70.200/2.8 but I find it too heavy and hard to handle for most portrait sessions. That's why I'm looking for something a bit smaller. I'll definitely check out more reviews on the 85/1,8, thanks!
     
  10. Annaa

    Annaa TPF Noob!

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    I originally looked at the 105/2.8 Micro but later dismissed it after hearing mixed reviews on it. Maybe I was too quick to judge - I'll do a bit more research. Thanks!
     
  11. goodguy

    goodguy Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I see we are facing the same weight issue, yes these 70-200mm do get heavy really fast but for me its a price I pay happily.

    I will get a Nikon 85mm 1.8G sooner or later but not in the near future.
    50mm is not really a focal range you want to use in head shots but it can come in handy if you shoot half body or full body, you really dont need f1.4 for that, the Nikon 50mm 1.8G is actually sharper and unless you really need to shoot at f1.4 then the cheaper slower lens will be sharper and leave money in your pocket.

    I think owning Nikon 50mm 1.8G and Nikon 85mm 1.8G is not too expensive and wort having both weather you own the 70-200mm 2.8 or not.
     
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  12. Solarflare

    Solarflare No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well ... just for the record, my vote from that list would go to the AF 135mm f2 DC. The 105mm DC would be basically just as good, just not as much Bokeh (just because it has less focal length at same maximum aperture).

    About 85mm f1.4, thanks to the new Milvus line theres cheap Zeiss manual focus Planar 1.4/85mm ZF and ZF.2 around now. Yes, "only" manual focus, but the optics are great and the lens is all metal, and everybody wants to sell them now.

    Portrait Macro lenses, well thats AFAICS the Tokina 100mm f2.8. Sadly no image stabilization, though, and it needs an autofocus motor in the camera (just like the DC lenses).
     

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