Advice for portrait lenses

Started Mar 14, 2014 | Discussions thread
raymondg Contributing Member • Posts: 752
Re: My Experience

The 4 lenses that I own that I use for FX portraits are Nikon 85 f1.4D, Nikon 28-70 f2.8, Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VRI and the Zeiss 135 f2 Sonar APO. I use these on my D3, D800E and D700 and these comments are purely my personal opinions.

All work well but each has its own strengths and weaknesses.

The 85 f1.4 is my 'GOTO' lens in most studio or controlled situations. I know the G version is supposed to be superb but I still find the rendering of the D very pleasing to my eye and not worth the update. Great in the studio, outdoors and event work. It is also an awesome low light lens.

The 70-200 f2.8 I use when the shoot is less controlled and I can choose the focal length to suit. It is also great for concerts and to get a bit further away from the subject to eliminate facial distortion. Compared with the VRII version I don't mind the vignetting at all, in fact I like it. I also prefer to have the greater reach (VRII Breathing issue) at closer distances for portraits. This lens is also great for candids and street portraits but not very subtle.

The 28-70 f2.8 is tack sharp and great for event style work, group portraits or full body shoots. Again the 24-70 would be superior but I just don't see the value when this lens still produces the goods for me. Vignetting again is not an issue for me. Of the set, this is probably my least used lens.

Finally, the Zeiss 135 f2.0 APO Sonar. I absolutely love this lens. It is a dream to use. Very smooth manual focus and extraordinarily sharp. It also renders beautifully. BUT… I use this lens a lot for baby/infant photos and the number of keepers is low. This is due to the fact that while the focus is smooth and precise when you are working with large apertures you need to be spot on with the focus  and kids have a habit of never staying still. If you are using it for general portraiture, no problems. If you use it on kids it will provide outstanding results if you have the time and patience or the gift of prescience. Personally, I find it worth the perseverance.

While I also have the Zeiss 50mm Makro Planar and the Nikon 105 f2.8 VR Micro I do not like using these for portraits. The 50mm introduces facial distortion (50mm produces distortion like wide angles but less so) and I just don't like the 'feel' and handling of the 105mm in portraits.

Trust this helps a little.



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Kodak DCS420 Nikon D1H Nikon D3 Nikon D3X Nikon D800E +12 more
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