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A good Portrait lens - Advice Please

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by TaffyTim, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. Looking at gettinga lens to do some portraits without spending silly money.

    considering the following for some sharp results, any help?

    1. 35mm F2 AF
    2. 50mm 1.8 AF
    3. 60mm 2.8D AF (Too sharp?)
    4. 85mm 1.8 AFD

    many thanks,

  2. LDB415


    Apr 26, 2008
    Some consider the 35 a little too short as you have less working room. In some cases that could be a good thing though. The 60 would give you macro capability also making it more versatile for the money. The 50 and 85 give you more speed as well as the 50 being really inexpensive.

    I would probably rank them 3 for the added macro capability (2,4) depending on working distance expected with 1 last so I don't have to crowd the subject too much.
  3. Everyone has preferences about focal length for portraiture. Personally, for anything less than full length I don't find 35mm (on a crop body) to be all that useful.
    When I do 2/3, 1/2, head and shoulder or head shots I prefer between 50 and 105 and that varies based on the shot and field of view desired.

    For me, 35mm is just about the ideal focal length for full length portraiture and candids. It suits my shooting style and preferred distance from the subject.

    I love primes but have found my 35-70mm f/2.8D to be so very flexible for just about all my studio and location work. Ultimately I think I would like to add 2 primes to my kit for portraiture and they are the Sigma 30mm for street, candid and full length shots, and an 85mm f/1.4 for the tight shots, head shots and those that I want to render those dreamy blurred backgrounds.
  4. Ewout_vB


    Feb 6, 2008
    Atlanta, GA
    If you don't already have the 50 f/1.8D or another low light lens -- it's great for the money!
  5. This is another one of those subjective things. I would rather have a lens that is 'too sharp' than one that is soft or slightly unsharp. Having the sharp image also gives you the ability to soften it slightly without artifacts, whereas sharpening can add artifacts and distort or add noise.

    That's just me. Bring on the sharpest glass possible. :biggrin:
  6. Ewout_vB


    Feb 6, 2008
    Atlanta, GA
    I completely agree with that statement :wink:.
  7. I agree with Robert's advise; however, I would suggest that you specifically consider the 105mm DC F2 lens. Not sure what format you have, but I'm making the comment based upon FX/FF. I like this lens for portraits as long as you have the room to use it. It is fast, sharp, and you have control over adding defocus into it, which really means you are introducing either under or over corrected spherical aberration. The effect is quite nice. Also, it does soften the "in-focus" region slightly which is often just what is desired for many women ... they just seem to hate to see the pores in their skin! :smile: FWIW, I have also successfully use this lens in doing shoots in outdoor settings. Having the DC feature allowed me more flexibility.

  8. Thanks Barry. I hear endlessly great things being said about the 105mm DC f/2. If you have images posted somewhere that were shot with that lens I would love to see some.
  9. Nick7


    May 12, 2006
    Sorry to go off at a tangent TaffyTim, but in reply to Robert's request - http://www.flickr.com/photos/59091368@N00/sets/72157603704040806/ shows some general shots with the 105 DC on my D80. I love the lens but it's over TaffyTim's prefered budget and, although a lot of people dismiss it on DX because of the focal length, I don't find it a problem at all.

    In TaffyTim's position, I'd go for the 50 1.8 because it's so cheap, and take things from there.

  10. If you do not mind using manual focus lenses, please consider 105mm F2.5 AIS. Very reputable lens with great image quality without affecting your wallet when bought used!!!
  11. Billy Ng

    Billy Ng

    Jan 22, 2007
    Hartsdale, NY
    Considering that the price is the same as the 35mm f/2 - you might consider upgrading that 50 1.8 option to the 50 1.4 variant. I'm a 95% portrait shooter and my 50mm 1.4 is my favorite adult lens. For kids I prefer the 35mm and my 20mm to some degree, but the 50mm on a crop body is just about the "standard" portrait focal length.

    You really need to consider the focal compression/distortion that you want to achieve while making this decision. For instance, I also tend to use my 70-200 @ 200mm quite often because the focal compression it offers at that length is pleasing to me for portraits and adds a "candid" feel to everything, even if it isn't a candid photo.

    The difference between 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm isn't just cost .. there is a different look and a different feel between those focal lengths as well and that, more than anything, should dictate which one you chose.
  12. Spot on Billy!! Well said and well written. I agree 100%. When I'm shooting portraiture I select the focal length based on the shot and what I'm trying to achieve. The concept of the 'candid' feel from the compression of a long lens is so absolutely true and that is one of the qualities I love about long lens portraiture.
  13. Nuteshack

    Nuteshack Guest

    start with the 50 1.8 and go from there ....;-)
  14. paulskimcb


    Feb 12, 2007
    Agree with Nute.

    I find the 35 f/2 to be a great walk-around lens, but also feel that it is not the most flattering for portraits.

    If your top priority is portraiture, I would get the 50 f/1.8, followed by (when you can afford it) the 85 f/1.8.

  15. I also agree but 35mm is very nice for full length portraiture on a crop body.
  16. Steinar


    Aug 16, 2007
    "Looking at gettinga lens to do some portraits without spending silly money."

    No hesitation: Nikon 35-70 f/2.8 and Grays of Westminster in UK still have it from new - maybe only short time, and it is not expensive.

    Eventually look at some of the threads here and se all the happy owners.
  17. RichNY

    RichNY Guest

    My favorite portraits are all shot much wider. Take a look at Arnold Newman's work (Godfather of Environmental Portraits) and you will see that the vast majority of his images are made from 16mm-30mm (35 mm equivalent).

  18. Nuteshack

    Nuteshack Guest

    that's a goodn`.....:Love:
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