The Best Portrait Lenses?

Started Mar 19, 2013 | Discussions thread
RBFresno Forum Pro • Posts: 12,598
Re: Best Portrait Lenses? My 2 Favorites

I've owned some and only tried the others, but feel free to add your opinion as I want one more.

70-200 VR1 & VRII - These two are the versatility kings. Either are capable of beautiful results. Some will prefer the VR1 as it has less focus breathing, but then the VRII image quality is simply amazing with it's 3D rendering and endless sharpness/contrast combined with lovely bokeh.

85mm 1.8G & 1.4G - I'm in the happy camp of actually preferring the 1.8G. It makes a more honest and less dreamy portrait to my eyes. Stopped down slightly I found the 1.8 held a sharpness edge. The 1.4 is the bokeh king, but it never quite catches the snap of the 1.8. In the end I see them as being for different tastes irrespective of price.

105 DC - Still a great lens, but not enough interest in the 105mm over my 70-200 VRII to get me to buy.

135 DC - I though I'd buy one of these and then I tried one. It was very good, but it was not as good as the VRII optically. I have friends who swear by it, but it wasn't for me.

Sigma 50mm 1.4 - The best 50mm I've used, yet it's silly size makes me grab my Nikon 50mm 1.8G more often.

300mm F4 - Really an unsung hero for portraits with some distance, especially for candids. Bring out the VR version and we'll be happier.

300mm 2.8 - Any of the versions are great. I've not been able to pull the trigger on one because I'm cheap about lenses I know I won't use much.

Your favorites???



The best portrait lens is usually the one that is being used by the best photographer working w with the best model, lighting, and make up

However, my two personal favorites are the 200VR (when I have the room to use it!) and the Zeiss 100/2.

Nikon D3 ,Nikkor 200mm f/2G IF-ED AF-S VR ,SB-900
1/400s f/2.5 at 200.0mm iso200

Nikon D3 ,Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 2/100 ZF
1/50s f/22.0 at 100.0mm iso200

I have the Zeiss 135 on order, and am hoping that it will be a nice portrait lens as well!

Best regards,


 RBFresno's gear list:RBFresno's gear list
Nikon D2H Nikon D4 Nikon AF DX Fisheye-Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR +14 more
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