A portrait lens question

Started Jan 25, 2013 | Discussions thread
Luke Kaven Veteran Member • Posts: 5,705
Re: A portrait lens question

Kiril Karaatanasov wrote:


The goal is to shoot nice portraits of people. Portraits of all sorts and shapes - head and shoulders, half, 3/4, full body. I intend to use small flashes (I have 2 YN 58s and a Sony 58 and radios) also.

My question if for a lens advice.

I bought an 85/1.8G - very nice lens. I want a bit more control on DoF when shooting full length portraits. So what would be your advice? (I do not trust Sigma, so not an option I would risk on). The following lens seem interesting

135/2 DC - I have seen superb shots with Canon 135L and Sony/Zeiss 135/1.8. Does this old Nikon lens stand close to those? Should I invest the hefty price or wait for rumored 138/1.8. I fear the price tag of 135/1.8 - The Sony/Zeiss price tag on those lenses made me choose Nikon over A99

80-200/2.8 ED AF-D - I can get this lens for what seems to me good price. I saw some samples at Thom Hogan's site though that show quite pronounced softness at f2.8. Is it any good for portraiture wide open?

I thought about 85/1.4 lenses and may be will get one if I find it at decent price. 105/2 seems too close to 85/1.8 in terms of DoF and I am not sure the focal length difference is going to be that important.

Are there other lenses to consider? What is your experience with the 135/2 and 80-200?

I care not about AF speed, AF itself is important (manual lenses distract me too much), DoF control is important, AF accuracy is critical (I am not sure if there is variability in nikon line up), price is important. Overall the line up I envision is 2 or 3 lenses - 50, 85 and something longer. The longer lens is what I am trying to identify now.

For the half, 3/4, full length portraits, you might look into the 60mm f/2.8 AF-s micro.  It's a popular lens for fashion shooting in this format.  It is very sharp, and has essentially zero distortion, which is very important.  I would not use the 50mm for this kind of thing unless I had to.

I use the 135/2 and it's a favorite.  It is its own animal.  It has a special optical beauty in rendering, and a way to tailor the out-of-focus areas.  It is indeed a very beautiful lens.  It becomes a 115mm lens at shortest focus distance.  It is best when used a stop down.  No AF-D lens today is going to autofocus as well as the AF-S, but they do autofocus just fine.  At its present price, it's a bargain now.  The anticipated 135/1.8 AF-s is certain to be a $2k+ lens.

If you want a zoom, you might look into the first generation 70-200/2.8 AF-s.  The zoom is important mainly if you need to be able to switch focal lengths without having time to switch lenses.  The 70-200 is optically superior -- very much so wide open -- but does not quite have the bokeh of a good prime like the 180/2.8 AF-D.

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