D800 Portrait Lens Battle!

Started Sep 30, 2013 | Discussions thread
OP Shotcents Veteran Member • Posts: 4,472
Re: D800 Portrait Lens Battle!

When trying to decide between a macro lens and a non-macro lens, I humbly suggest you take a long look at WHAT you shoot in terms of subject distance. The 85/1.8G is biased slightly towards moderate and long focus distances, while still performing quite well at short to short/moderate focus distances. The macro lenses are all quite sharp (any brand) in the closer to moderate ranges, but they generally don't do as well at longer distances.

I definitely agree with the OP in that the Nikon 105/2.8G VR isn't that impressive - it's the first 105mm lens from Nikon where I think they "missed the mark", which is surprising given Nikon has a history of making really nice 105mm lenses. Not that one however; it's very good, but far from great.

I tend to look at the 85/1.8G to be one of the great values in terms of all purpose lenses - extremely sharp, if properly focused it does NOT have the CA problems some talk of here, and quite good at almost every task thrown at it. But by the nature of it being more of an all-purpose lens, that also means that a given lens designed more "to task" might "beat" it (but only slightly) at some things. In general for real life use, assuming proper test protocol and focusing, you won't get much sharper than an 85/1.8G across a very wide variety of focus distances without spending a lot of money. Hence, it's recommended for that all-purpose sort of thing. For a portrait specialist, I'd consider the 85/1.4G instead. I'm not sure for portraiture you would be concerned about having the sharpest lens on the block anyway to be honest.

No way I'd consider the Zeiss 85/1.4; while I like some Zeiss lenses and own their great 21/2.8, the 85/1.4 of theirs is a dog.


Obviously I concur with a lot of the above. My 85mm 1.8G does not have a lot of CA, far from it. I actually had two copies of the 105vr. The first was "unsharp" to the point of me selling it fast. The second copy was better, but still not great. I find this to be one of the most overhyped lenses of all time. My 70-200 VRII is MUCH better, but my new Tamron 90 VC beats the pro zoom, so that's all I have to say about that.

As far as sharpness for portraits? I'll take all I can get! Detail gives me PP latitude for paid work. Using a program like Portrait Professional with sharper images at the start gives a better result in the end. I look at detail the same way I view DR...I want as much as possible.

Here's a before/after from the D800 and Tamron 90 VC 2.8 Macro...

Guess which one she likes best?!

Anyway...these are all good lenses and I'm pleased with my current kit. I'll probably buy the Sigma 35 1.4 and call it a day until the D900 is released.


 Shotcents's gear list:Shotcents's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P7700 Nikon D800 Nikon D5200 Nikon D5300 Nikon Df +11 more
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