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Top Portrait Lenses?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by adio3x, Sep 5, 2008.

  1. adio3x


    Aug 26, 2007
    One of my really good friends has been modeling for a good chunk of her life, and recently asked me to shoot her. On my end I have no experience shooting humans lol. I did a shoot with my 18-200VR but I'm wanting a more sharper lense.

    My typical shoot will be outside. Full body shots, half body, and some closeups. Im using a DX format camera, I dont plan on upgrading any time soon, maybe in 3-4 years when I get out of college lol. I was told to go look at the 24-70 or the 70-200, but i haven't seen much portrait samples from either lenses. What do you recommend?
  2. 70-200 in my opinion makes the best portrait lens. Yeah the 85 1.8/1.4 is made for portraiture but, the 70-200 is far more diverse in what you can do. I'd go the 70-200 route.
  3. Phillip Ino

    Phillip Ino

    Nov 26, 2007
    85mm 1.4 :smile:. Don't listen to what Jonathan just said :biggrin:
  4. The 85 1.4 is the bokeh king, but I'll tell you this...every head shot photographer in LA uses a 70-200 variant. Remember the 85 1.4 will give you bokeh, but shooting a headshot at 200mm will also work in blowing out backgrounds due to focal distance. Plus you can still use the 70-200 for other things like sports, weddings, etc. It's the jack of all trade lens. Though, in my opinion the best headshots are done with a 300 2.8. :wink:

    I've tried the 85 and I don't really like it. If they do an AFS version I may take another look. I find the 70-200 VR has a look more consistent with richer, warmer Nikon colors currently available on newer lenses. The 85 is more consistent with the cooler colors of that series.
  5. aos111


    Mar 9, 2008
    little rock ar
    Another vote for the 85 f1.4 (cheaper on the college budget than the 70-200vr)

  6. 85mm 1.8 for the college-minded student! Affordable and can be had for less than $350.
  7. wbeem


    Feb 11, 2007
    Sanford, FL
    William Beem
    I have the 28-70 and the 70-200mm VR. I probably use the 28-70 more, mostly due to limited working distance in some situations. If you have room to stand farther away from your subject, you can fit the 70-200 and change the nature of your subject. It compresses things a bit with the larger focal length and I think it has good bokeh.

    Of course, you could always get REALLY close and use your fisheye.
  8. Phillip Ino

    Phillip Ino

    Nov 26, 2007
    I know, I'm just messin' around. I wish I could say that I have shot with a 70-200 before, but I haven't. Perhaps They'll replace it and I'll get me one of those :biggrin:
  9. On a budget, I'd recommend the Tamron 90 2.8 macro. Put the switch on limited, and you got yourself a macro and portrait lens in one. Tamron has those rebates too. I like lenses that you can use for other applications. The only lens that I own that is useless (work-wise) is the 16 fisheye, but everyone needs their own fun lens! :wink:
  10. Not all portraiture is about great bokeh. As a matter of fact there's a whole world of portraiture that is all about great depth of field so it depends on what you are going for and preferred depth of field. The 85mm f/1.4 is a brilliant lens but if you don't need or want shallow depth of field then there are many other excellent choices, including much of the older AI and AI-S manual focus glass.

    I do agree that the 70-200mm is great and gives you quite a range for normal and long lens portraiture where you want that wonderful compression.
  11. What about the 17-55? I use that all the time on my D200
  12. Hi John,

    I'm sure it's a great performer. The only thing I can say about it is that I wouldn't do portraiture at anything below about 24mm on a crop due to distortion, but if you're shooting from 24-55mm then I can't imagine it being anything less than fantastic.
  13. yeah, I don't use it at the wide end for people.
  14. Since you're going to be shooting outdoors, the selective focus properties of a fast lens can help you blur distracting backgrounds and give a 3D impression to your composition. You might consider the Sigma 30/1.4, Nikon 35/2, 50/1.4, 85/1.4, 85/1.8, 105/2, and 135/2, and 180/2.8.

    You final choice of a portrait lens should be a matter of perspective :wink:. Jonathan is a working paparazzo, and those guys make their money by taking candid photographs of celebrities, usually from a distance. But portraiture usually involves communication and close cooperation between the subject and the photographer, so the long working distance of a telephoto can actually be a liability.

    I have plenty of lenses in my kit to choose from, but I normally rely on my 35/2 and 85/1.4 for my portrait work. And if I had to give up all but one of my lenses, the choice would be easy. The 85/1.4 would be my keeper.
  15. lovemy8514

    lovemy8514 Guest

    On a serious budget: 85mm f/1.8
    Have a larger budget? The 85mm f/1.4 is my favorite, but the 70-200mm is also fantastic. The 70-200mm, as said above, would be more versatile.
  16. AviSys


    Mar 31, 2008
    Placitas, NM
    I disagree with the concept of being close to the subject for "communication." I think that closeness can be intimidating, even making the subject think more about your equipment than what he or she could be thinking about.

    BACK OFF! (I wish I had the crazy image from the bumper sticker)

    You can still think and communicate at a distance -- let the subject have her space.

    70-200, 80-200 can be perfect. You have all options, although for perspective, I wouldn't go closer than 100mm equivalent.
  17. I don't do portraits but I would agree with this plus I have read that long teles will smash in the face, so to speak.
  18. Sorry you disagree, Avi, but if you zoom your 70-200 to 85mm and set up for a head and shoulder shot, I think you'll find it's a reasonable working distance... provided you're not using a lens that's the size of a bazooka - lol.

    Then try a full body shot at 200mm and you'll need a walkie talkie to communicate with your subject.

    Bottom line, this isn't an issue where you need to agree. It's a matter of individual style. I'm very satisfied with the results I get with the 85's FOV on a DX body.

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  19. jhpate


    Jul 14, 2007
    texarkana, texas
    nice shot Frank.
  20. CraigH


    Mar 21, 2008
    Orlando, Florida
    I really like the idea of two primes. I use a 35 f2 and a 85 f1.4 and really like the combination. The 35mm makes a great full length or group lens. You can really move around and catch some great perspectives without stretching a nose. LOL.

    Of course the 85 f1.4 is wonderful for those tight shots. Back off and you can get a lot more.

    Sometimes that wide perspective can be fun, even 10.5mm wide.

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