Portrait lens ?

B

Brew

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I have a Nikkor 50mm 1.4 that would be pretty good I think. I also just picked up a 85 1.4 that would be good but may be a bit long.
 
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Hi, Havoc. I see this is your first post, so welcome to the Cafe! Please check in at the New Members forum, and tell us a little bit about yourself, so we can greet you properly.

Which lenses would you recommend for portrait work ?
That's kind of an open ended question, since there are so many varieties of portraits. Do you favor posed or candid, studio or outdoor, full body, half body or headshot, prime lenses or zooms?

For general purpose people picture work, a zoom offers the greatest flexibility. Nikon has a number of affordable consumer grade offerings (which means they're excellent in good light) which cover the conventional portrait ranges, including the 17-70mm, 24-85mm, and 24-120mm VR. If money is no object, check out pro glass, including the 17-55mm, 35-70mm, and 28-70mm.
 
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I switch between the 50/1.4 and 85/1.4 for portraits. Occasionally I'll go with the 180/2.8 for kids, pets, or headshots. I was lucky enough to find all 3 for cheaper than the cost of a used 70-200VR so that's a big reason why I went prime. Zooms are much more convenient especially for event photography but I just don't feel they have the extra pop that the primes have.
 
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I'm with Bruce. I like the 50 1.4. I've also had good luck with the Sigma 105 2.8. Here's a couple of examples of my kids...

Sigma
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Nikkor
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virtuamike said:
I switch between the 50/1.4 and 85/1.4 for portraits. Occasionally I'll go with the 180/2.8 for kids, pets, or headshots. I was lucky enough to find all 3 for cheaper than the cost of a used 70-200VR so that's a big reason why I went prime. Zooms are much more convenient especially for event photography but I just don't feel they have the extra pop that the primes have.
Mike

I was about to suggest you that you should sell the 3 and get the 70-200 VR :D

But I see your reasoning. I was going that route of primes before I flipped and got the 70-200.
 
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HAVOC said:
Which lenses would you recommend for portrait work ? Nikon and the Sigma alternatives please. Thanks.
Depends :)

I had a 50mm f/1.8 lens and found it too short for portraits. I have a 105mm micro nikkor and find it too long for portraits :).

I tend to use the 70mm of the 70-200 f/2.8 lens a lot for portraits these days.

I guess each one of us is different and you would know the idea lens :)
 
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Head and shoulders?....

Full body? Studio, natural light? Low light? the permutations are endless, but there is a lens out there waiting for you. The yardstick for many is the 85/1.4, but the 1.8 version is a close relative at substantially less money. Groups are led by the 28/1.4 - but it is more expensive than many cars. Try something like the 24/2.8 as an option. To cover the main varieties the wide to mid zooms are frequently better than good. Budget lens in this range (used) was suggested by Uncle Frank - the 35-70/2.8. This lens is rated as a peer to the primes it covers, and they include the sharpest primes in the nikkor range. The Sigma 105 is another sharp, and fairly light lens. Best of L with sorting out all the advice.
 
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I'd avoid the 50mm for shoulder-up portrait work, It distorts proportions despite the crop factor. Get an 85 1.8/1.4 depending on budget. It's the standard headshot/portrait lens.

virtuamike said:
I switch between the 50/1.4 and 85/1.4 for portraits. Occasionally I'll go with the 180/2.8 for kids, pets, or headshots. I was lucky enough to find all 3 for cheaper than the cost of a used 70-200VR so that's a big reason why I went prime. Zooms are much more convenient especially for event photography but I just don't feel they have the extra pop that the primes have.
Hey Mike have you shot with the 70-200 VR? It's like creamy goodness. Sharp and a bokeh to die for. It's the gold standard for Nikon zooms. At every focal length and aperture, it's very good.
 
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If you were looking for primes I would stay the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 and the 85mm f/1.4 are rock solid. If you wanted zooms I would say the 28-70mm f/2.8 and the 70-200mm f/2.8VR are the winners.
 
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How close do you want to be to your subject?

That's the question I find determines which lens I use for portraits. In film, I almost always used the 28-70 at 70mm or my 85mm 1.8. With digital, it all gets a lot more complex. I love the perspective of the 70 or 85mm lens (actually, I believe still that a 135mm lens is perfect, but those were staples of camera bags 30 years ago, not today.) But with the FOV crop, it puts me way too far away from the subject. I think I get much better pictures when I'm interacting with the subject; the lenses that put me there are my 17-35 at 35mm, or my 50mm 1.4. However, with both the perspective just doesn't feel right, so I find that I have to be careful with who I use them with.

That's the one thing that the FOV crop has done to me - it's pushed me back a bit from subjects. Sometimes that's fine. Sometimes it's awful.
 
B

bpetterson

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Well if your subject has a chubby face and you want to get a thinner face
use a 300mm.

Birger
 
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300mm for portraits is in fashion at the moment

Perhaps its all the corporate execs that they have to shoot, but a lot of the NY area magazine portrait shooters are now shooting with 300mm lenses. Some of them joke that it's so that the subject can't hit you when you tell them you need more than three minutes.

I struggle, though, thinking of a room in most offices where you could set up lights etc and have 300mm worth of shooting distance.
 
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Jonathan F. said:
I'd avoid the 50mm for shoulder-up portrait work, It distorts proportions despite the crop factor. Get an 85 1.8/1.4 depending on budget. It's the standard headshot/portrait lens.

virtuamike said:
I switch between the 50/1.4 and 85/1.4 for portraits. Occasionally I'll go with the 180/2.8 for kids, pets, or headshots. I was lucky enough to find all 3 for cheaper than the cost of a used 70-200VR so that's a big reason why I went prime. Zooms are much more convenient especially for event photography but I just don't feel they have the extra pop that the primes have.
Hey Mike have you shot with the 70-200 VR? It's like creamy goodness. Sharp and a bokeh to die for. It's the gold standard for Nikon zooms. At every focal length and aperture, it's very good.
Nope, haven't shot with the 70-200. I don't think I could give up the 85 though and I like the size of the 180. I'd only buy the 70-200 for the AF-S and VR, neither of which are really necessary for the shooting I do.

The 200/2 AF-S VR, now that's a lens I lust for.
 

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