Advice for portrait lenses

Started 7 months ago | Discussions thread
Luke Kaven
Veteran MemberPosts: 5,253
Like?
Lists
In reply to sapralot, 7 months ago

Ok.

Here are lenses that I like for portraiture that are inexpensive, but perform without compromise.

105/2.5 AIs - Wonderful bokeh, great rendering. Contrast very low wide open, needs to be stopped down to f/4 or so.

75-150/3.5 E - The cult classic. And a bargain price. Wonderfully rounded way of painting, very smooth for portraiture.

85/1.8g - Optically very clean, with good bokeh. Excellent price/performance.  The 85/1.4g is a bit better, but not significantly, and not at all in the inexpensive category.

Here are lenses that I like for portraiture in most every situation.

135/2 DC - As good as few portrait lenses ever were.  Bokeh from heaven.  Sharp across the frame by f/3.2.  Breathes a little bit, so at closest focus distance, it is about 115mm.  A nearly perfect portrait length.

180/2.8D ED-IF - Wonderful lightweight telephoto, sharp wide open, with superb bokeh.  Perfect for frame-busting portraits.  Good flare resistance.  Also breathes a little bit, so at closest focus distance, it is about 150mm.

Lenses I would like to add next:

105/2 DC - At least as good as the 135/2 DC.

60/2.8 AF-s micro - Clean, no geometric distortion, very usable perspective especially for fashion.

Lenses I dislike:

24-70/2.8g - Optically, this is a great lens.  While it is sharp wide open, it has hideous eyeball-slicing bokeh.  And the pincushion distortion at 70mm is too much.  This is a good lens for events, or for studio work, stopped down to f/8.

50mm anything - Unflattering perspective and distortion exaggerates the parts of people's faces that they very much do not want to have exaggerated.

85/1.8D - Sorry, not even a contender.  Blown away by 85/1.8g.

In answer to your final question: All of the very good AI lenses can resolve out to the limits of the D800 sensor.  Even my 28/2AI can resolve pixel-level detail on the D800, but with a special character.  The high spatial frequencies (the fine detail) are present, but rolled-off somewhat.  This is partly the intent.  The aesthetics of these lenses have something to do with rendering the middle frequencies prominently.  I've always liked this look, and I still do.  There are lenses that are sharper, but suffer from being antiseptic.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Post (hide subjects)Posted by
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark post MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow