Do I really need prime portrait lens?

Started May 2, 2013 | Discussions
Tepacca
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Do I really need prime portrait lens?
May 2, 2013

I have Nikon 70-200mm f4 VR
Will primes like Nikon 105mm DC or Nikon 85mm 1.4 produce a much better results for portraits? I do not think these would be sharper but will bokeh be that different to justify buyung a new lens?

Thanks

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Boschje
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Re: Do I really need prime portrait lens?
In reply to Tepacca, May 2, 2013

I have Nikon 70-200mm f4 VR
Will primes like Nikon 105mm DC or Nikon 85mm 1.4 produce a much better results for portraits? I do not think these would be sharper but will bokeh be that different to justify buyung a new lens?

Thanks

It all comes down what your own "demands" are but in my case: Yes you need a dedicated prime lens, I have the 85 F/1.4 myself.

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RichyjV
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Re: Do I really need prime portrait lens?
In reply to Tepacca, May 2, 2013

It depends where you shoot your portraits. If you are always lit well in a studio then you wouldn't really *need* a prime, you are right that your 70-200 f4 is a very sharp lens so it depends on light and your output. Some people prefer zooms even in studio shooting. However if you are ever shooting in low light then a prime would be vastly superior; it doesn't have to be f1.4: f1.8 or f2 is fine as well. So does an 85mm 1.4 take *better* shots than the 70-200f4? well yes it does by a (smallish) margin at 85mm, if you check your metadata and find of your last 10000 shots that many were around 85mm then that would seem like a sensible move. For me, mine are all over the place in focal length (but I do use primes too), so it all depends on what you are shooting and where and what effect you want. There is no such thing as a perfect portrait focal length, its whatever you can make work.

These are great lenses you are talking about, but people were taking great portrait shots years before any of these were around, so (if the fast-for-low-light isn't a dealbreaker) the main limiting factor as always is the photographer.

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slimandy
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Re: Do I really need prime portrait lens?
In reply to Tepacca, May 2, 2013

No you don't need one.

But you would be better off with one.

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Bjorn_L
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Re: Do I really need prime portrait lens?
In reply to Tepacca, May 2, 2013

Tepacca wrote:

I have Nikon 70-200mm f4 VR
Will primes like Nikon 105mm DC or Nikon 85mm 1.4 produce a much better results for portraits? I do not think these would be sharper but will bokeh be that different to justify buyung a new lens?

Thanks

As the others have said only you can answer the question on what you need since it will be your money you send to address this.

That said, I wold find an f/4 lens to be too slow for my only portrait option.  I have a 70-200 f/2-8 which is my main portrait lens and an 85mm f/1.8 as well.  Which one I use depends on what my goals are.  For me, I find 100-200mm range at f/2.8 to most often give me the look I am after.  Most of the time I go to 200mm since that gives me better subject isolation.  Consider a 1.8g lens as they are not very expensive and so you risk less if you end up not using it as much.

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LCohen777
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Re: Do I really need prime portrait lens?
In reply to Bjorn_L, May 3, 2013

Yes, primes are better.  The 105mm DC is tack sharp with great bokeh and built like a tank.

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Cytokine
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Re: Do I really need prime portrait lens?
In reply to Tepacca, May 3, 2013

I think in your situation I would either:

a) upgrade to the 70-200 VR f2.8.

b) Enjoy the lightness of the f4, which will have pretty good bokeh at the long end, and buy a used 85mm 1.4D  or a new 1.8G. .....When you can afford it go for the 200mm macro, this allows you to be further away from the subject and stop you blocking out light, and scaring off small creatures.

The 85 1.4d seems to come with a free impressionist painter that creates the most amazing backgrounds and bokeh, that will surprise and delight you.

Don't be talked into some brand that cost $300. The raw glass in the Nikon cost more than that before it was ground polished and coated. The Sigma 85 1.4 looks good on paper but it is an optical design closer to the canon 1.2L Mk2  which costs over $2000 done properly and is good, but the Sigma looks horrible on the samples I have seen. (too harsh).

I think one of the Nikon 85 1.4's will teach you allot about depth of field, and amazing blur and bokeh, and allow great portraits and just about anything else.

Here is a hand held snap shot of some flowers in windy conditions taken hand-held in failing light.

The 85's are so much fun! and will open a new world of photography to enjoy.

John

Nikon 85mm 1.4D @ f2.8

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Art Jacks
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Re: Do I really need prime portrait lens?
In reply to Tepacca, May 3, 2013

I may be out of step but I  describe my lens by their focal length rather than the popular perception of what the should be used for, if the shot requires a 85 I will use the 85 no matter what the subject is, I do not approach a shot with the ' I am taking a portrait therefore I need to fit a telephoto lens etc ' I am fortunate to own ( as an amateur ) the 85 1.4 G Nikon lens, this lens I find is used for many of my landscape images, my 35 1.4 G is often used for workplace type portrait  shots, both are producing stunning technical quality images, the artistic quality is open to discussion

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Tepacca
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Re: Do I really need prime portrait lens?
In reply to Art Jacks, May 3, 2013

I agree with you that these 2 primes will allow to make grate pictures in terms if IQ. But my question was whether one with 70-200 f4 zoom will feel the beed for 85mm 1.8 (or 1.4)z

Do you have such a zoom?

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Leonard Shepherd
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Re: Do I really need prime portrait lens?
In reply to Tepacca, May 5, 2013

It depends - partly on whether or not you can afford an extra specialist portrait lens.

The 70-200 f4 has comfortably better image magnification in close focus and excellent wide open f4 optical quality particularly at 200mm.

Nikon's MTF show the 105 DC as quite sharp wide open and somewhat lacking on fine detail rendition, which can help with skin past it's best. The DC enables you to soften foreground, or background, or the entire image (but not at apertures smaller than f5.6) using the DC function.

The 85mm f1.4 wide open is similar to the 105 DC except the corners fall off a bit at f1.4.

You do not have depth of field options wider than f4 with the zoom, but it has VR.

Nikon, unlike Canon, do not give f8 figures to help with comparisons at the same aperture.

If you can afford "the best of both worlds" you should have two lenses.

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Leonard Shepherd
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Skytalker
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Re: Do I really need prime portrait lens?
In reply to Leonard Shepherd, May 5, 2013

I have both the 85 1.4D and the 70-200 F/2.8. I found I mostly shoot portrait with the 70-200 since it pleases me more. The focal length I like is 150-200mm.

The statement that one would need a prime for a potrait is obsolete.

Try to shoot with your 70-200 f/4 and have a look at the results. If not happy you can always buy a 85 f/1.8.

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JVPhotography
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Re: Do I really need prime portrait lens?
In reply to Tepacca, May 6, 2013

Yes, the 105 DC renders tone, skin, sharpness, bokeh differently than anything else. It's a special lens.

If you can deal with the focus, (+20 af tune ) it will likely be one of those lenses you never sell. I won't sell mine until I can't shoot anymore. The images it renders are so lovely, there is nothing you can buy to trade up but there are a lot of lenses you can buy to trade down.

Tepacca wrote:

I have Nikon 70-200mm f4 VR
Will primes like Nikon 105mm DC or Nikon 85mm 1.4 produce a much better results for portraits? I do not think these would be sharper but will bokeh be that different to justify buyung a new lens?

Thanks

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QWK SVT
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Re: Do I really need prime portrait lens?
In reply to Tepacca, May 6, 2013

Tepacca wrote:

I have Nikon 70-200mm f4 VR
Will primes like Nikon 105mm DC or Nikon 85mm 1.4 produce a much better results for portraits? I do not think these would be sharper but will bokeh be that different to justify buyung a new lens?

Thanks

The zoom will never open up more than F4, and the prime will never cover the range of the zoom...  Different tools, for different results.  The prime is also far less conspicuous; less intimidating for many not used to a large lens pointed at them...

Personally, I have the 70-200VR2, and still use the prime ALL the time.  In fact, my sigma 85 F/1.4 is virtually always attached to one body, or another.  I sue the 70-200 for moving targets, or events...  The 85 for anytime I can get my subect to hold still for a couple seconds.  When you want to really narrow your focus to just the sujects, eyes, nothing else will do (this was wide open on a D700)!

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