Portrait lenses (and a late-night rant)

Started Apr 5, 2012 | Discussions thread
SNRatio
Regular MemberPosts: 339
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Re: Portrait lenses (and a late-night rant)
In reply to David Whysong, Apr 8, 2012

David Whysong wrote:

I have an 85/1.4D which is on my camera about 95% of the time. But I suspect I'll want something a bit longer and sharper on a D800.

For portrait use, you may wait for the patented AF-S 135/1.8G VR, then. Or use a zoom.

I'm not completely pleased with the quality of Nikon's portrait lenses (85s and the DC lenses) primarily because of the significant chromatic aberrations, but I'm also not sure that there are significantly better choices. I really don't understand why Nikon didn't bother to put some ED glass in the new 85G lenses; I'd certainly expect it in a lens that costs as much as the 1.4G.

You have clearly not tested the new 85/1.8G, and I suspect not a good copy of the old 85/1.8 AF-D either. CAs are small. But the bokeh and the general rendering may not be to your taste. Doubt if more ED glass would help for that, though.

So, I'm thinking about either the Nikon 105/2.8 or Sigma 150/2.8 macros, for portrait use. Optically they are far superior to any of the standard portrait lenses, and the VR would be useful. The only disadvantage is focus speed, which is a consideration.

The Bugma (150/2.8 macro) is a great lens for portraiting spiders etc. IMO it's a bit to "clinical" for normal human portraiture use, that may have to do with the transmission characteristics too.

Am I missing any other good options?

You might try out old AI-S lenses, like the 85/1.4, 105/1.8, 105/2.5. Personally, I like the 105/1.8 a lot, just a pity that it's not very good fully open.

For dual use as macro lenses, you might try out the Nikkor AF-S 60/2.8G and the Tamron 90/2.8. Myself, I would have tried out the DC lenses, but I understand that you don't like them. The best, inexpensive all-round alternative today, I think is the new 85/1.8G. Not the simplest to handle for portraiture, but it can give very good results.

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