Best portrait lenses
The reason why I would prefer a zoom is - my main usage is event coverage. Zoom does help. You don't always get the space, or can't always get close (spoils the photo).
I have the 80-200 and will use it almost always for controlled situation (studio, posed photos), but it's too long on DX and too heavy to carry around.
Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 comes to mind. It would be nice if I can get similar colors and bokeh at a lower price. Is Sigma/Tamron equivalent up to the task? I can deal with a slow lens but I cannot compromise on colors and bokeh.
What are the best portrait lenses. I want great colors and bokeh. 85mm 1.4 is on my list, but I am exploring other options.
Pick your poison: 85mm f/1.4 AF-D, 105mm f/2 DC, or the 135mm f/2 DC.
Nothing else quite compares with the results provide by those lenses.
It would be fab if it is a fast zoom and even better if a 3rd party option is there. Never hurts to save money.
Zoom lenses provide a range of functionality that can be almost a necessity. That is particularly true if you do "people pictures" more than just "portraits". If your idea of a portrait does not include a studio, or worse yet if it does not include setting up a posed subject at all... then a zoom lens has significant benefit.
There are a wide range of third party lenses that almost make the grade. (My idea of a walk around lens on a D3S is a Tamron 24-135mm, but I'm not kidding myself about its limitations either. It is barely acceptable in terms of bokeh, for example, for portraits.)
If you want good and need cheap... take a look at an old Nikkor Series E 75-150mm f/3.5 zoom. Great bokeh, but it is also manual focus and therefore slow to use.
If the best is what you need, an 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-D is inexpensive, a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR is perfect on a DX body, and the 70-200mm f/2.8G VRII is perfect for an FX body.