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What is a good portrait lens for home studio?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by PictureTaker, Apr 18, 2011.

  1. PictureTaker


    Mar 25, 2011
    atlanta ga
    I am not sure of the exact distance between the lens and the subject but I am thinking 10 - 15 feet or maybe 10 to subject and then a few to the background. I was looking at the 35 1.8 on a DX body because it would give me 52mm, about normal...at least in the olden days.

    I am guessing a 50mm would also work. 85mm seems to be pushing it.

    Was hoping for suggestions on a home studio. Thanks.
  2. sambo.


    Mar 20, 2011
    well, i use a 105mm on an FX body as my go-to portrait glass.

    an ~85mm on a DX body would be around the same'ish?
  3. kixsand


    Nov 13, 2009
    15 feet could be in the 85-105 range on DX if you're looking for headshot only.

    For 5 to 10 feet I would think a 50 mm lens would be ideal.
  4. JohnB_Sea


    Jan 13, 2009
    Seattle, WA
    I've used an 85 AFD 1.8 and 80-200 AFS 2.8. I have a 50 AFD 1.8 on the way, and have heard good things about it.
  5. Ronald M

    Ronald M

    Nov 10, 2008
    Full body? 50 mm

    head and shoulders, 85/105 from 5/6 feet.

    very tight head/face 135 at 5/6 feet.

    Cut by 1/3 for DX format. Above is FX or film.

    People need to be 5+ feet from background for you get nasty shadows on it.

    So the studio needs to be 15 feet long and 8 ft higher proper light placement. 12 ft high is better for standing subjects.

    For DX, a 35 1.8 and 60 2.8 are perfect. For FX, 60 and 105. If you go to far away with a long lens, features get compressed.

    Start with a single moonlight, umbrella, and reflector.
  6. PictureTaker


    Mar 25, 2011
    atlanta ga
    Thanks. I saw a 35 1.8 for sale on craigslist and was kind of skeptical because of the price, new or used. In other words it is on the cheaper side so I thought it might not be any good optically.
  7. bigshot


    Aug 17, 2008
    Hollywood, USA
    On DX, 50mm is perfect for me. I usually shoot chest up and the distance is 10-15 feet. I shot with a 105 once, but it was really too long.
  8. bigshot


    Aug 17, 2008
    Hollywood, USA
    Price has nothing to do with optical quality. One of Nikon's sharpest lenses is the 18-55 kit lens. Speed and focal length have more to do with price than optical quality.
  9. sako


    Feb 28, 2009
    New Zealand
    Well that's debatable but there are certainly sharp, cheaper Nikon lenses such as the 85 f/1.8. The higher priced Nikon pro lenses are better built and will handle heavy use better than a kit lens.
  10. It's always such a subjective question with no one right answer. Even something like perspective distortion can be used creatively so there are no rules other than those you impose on yourself.

    Having said that I can tell you that I've used a lot of lenses in the studio and for the work I do (crucially important when you're taking advice and suggestions), I've circled back around to using two zooms.. the Nikon 24-70mm and 70-200mm.

    I love primes and shoot with them quite often but when it comes down to working with clients of all types and having the most flexibility, the 2 zooms really do it, and the IQ is so great that I never feel that I'm giving up IQ by not using primes.

    If I did have to pick primes, I would say that the focal length's that do what I like are the 35mm, (I skip over 50mm), 85mm, 135mm and 200mm.

    That's what works best for me.
  11. bigshot


    Aug 17, 2008
    Hollywood, USA
    if speed isn't an issue, you can buy a dozen kit lenses for the same price as the pro zoom, and afford to throw a few away as they wear out.
  12. ArtScott


    Jul 11, 2009
    for portraits I use 2 lenses both zooms - 70-200 f2.8 and the 18-70...but my goto lens is the 70-200, whether in the studio or on location.....but i shot over 20+ yrs with only a 70-210f2.8.....I did everything with that one lens, portraits, weddings, wildlife, teams....
  13. Billy_M


    Apr 17, 2009
    Los Angeles
    I'm also interested in what lenses to use. i've been using a friend's 28-105mm for them.
  14. PictureTaker


    Mar 25, 2011
    atlanta ga
    I wish I could afford it !
  15. Tony Ad

    Tony Ad

    May 20, 2008
    Fairfax Station, VA
    Tony Admana
    I totally agree with TMR Design's comment that this is subjective and it all depends on the size of your studio. I recently did a senior prom shoot in a basement with 20X30 sq ft open space, the 50mm and 85mm was just right for it.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  16. PictureTaker


    Mar 25, 2011
    atlanta ga
    you have a big basement
  17. Rob_H


    Apr 10, 2009
    As others have said there's no one answer, and different people will prefer difference lenses for different reasons. In the studio I tend to use the 85 f1.8, 28-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8 however I prefer to use the later on a tripod.
  18. WillyS


    May 17, 2009
    Tokina 50-135 2.8
  19. krazyboi


    Jan 19, 2009
    DFW, texas
  20. PictureTaker


    Mar 25, 2011
    atlanta ga
    Why the 135?
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