Advice for portrait lenses

Started Mar 14, 2014 | Discussions thread
scott_mcleod Senior Member • Posts: 1,033
Re: Advice for portrait lenses

sapralot wrote:

After using a D90 for more than five years I finally made the switchover to full frame - and I have absolutely no regrets about picking the D610. But having an FX body is only half the story, now I need to get some appropriate lenses, too. And since I love to shoot portraits, I plan to restrict myself to two, at a max three tele respectively standard primes. Maybe you can give me a word of advice?

Disclaimer: I no longer shoot Nikon but having owned a D700 and had experience with several of the lenses you are interested in, I thought I'd add my 0.02...

50mm: The Nikon 50/1.4 G seems to be a good deal, especially considering that I like to work with a shallow DOF. Or should I wait for the Sigma Art 50/1.4 DG? And what about the Zeiss ZF.2 Planar 50/1.4?

The 50/1.4G was my main lens on the D700. I found it to be excellent, though it was not as much better than the 1.4D than I expected (superior in the corners but not night-and-day). The AF was, how can I put it... deliberate. Definitely slower than the D, but not having to keep your hands away from the focus ring was nice. I also found it to be very accurate once a small AFMA was dialled in. Not having a front element that moved in and out of the lens body made it feel more robust than the D. Focus shift did not seem to be much of a problem.

I have not used either of the ZF 50mm lenses. The Art 50 weight is not specified yet but it's physically larger than the 660g 35/1.4 Art and appears to have more glass in it so I'd expect it to be upward of 700g (maybe 800). This is big and heavy for a 50 but to put it in perspective it's similar to the Canon 135/2 L which balances superbly on a FF body.

85mm: I currently own a Nikon 85/1.8. Would it pay off to exchange it for the G version? (The 85/1.4 G might be a terrific lens, but I'm afraid I can't afford it.) Would it make sense to get 85/1.2 AI?

I had the 85/1.8D and sold it due to problems with focus shift around f/4 or so. Wide open or stopped right down it was fine. The 85/1.8G & 1.4G came out too late for me to try; they both get stellar reviews and if I'd kept the D700 I probably would have caved and bought one or the other.

105/135mm: I love to take head shots with the 85mm mounted to my D90, hence I would prefer 135mm over 105mm. But the Nikon 135/2.0 D is rather high priced and the Zeiss ZF.2 135/2.0 is VERY high priced. Would a Nikon 135/2.8 AI do the job, too? What about the 105/2.8 AI, the 105/1.8 AI?

I too found 135EFOV to be very nice (i.e. 85mm on crop or 135 on FF). The Nikon 135DC is just spectacular - marred only by some purple fringing wide-open. I know it's pricey but you really ought to try it if you can (I used LensRentals). The Zeiss 135 is, as you say, very expensive. The ZF 100/2 Makro-Planar is overshadowed but the new 135 but it is really something. I can't remember another occasion when I put a lens on a camera for the first time, looked through the VF and actually said "Wow!". I did a double-take at the front of the lens almost as a reflex reaction to see what was in there! Hard to go wrong with this one, and even though it's only a 1:2 macro the close-focus is worth having.

In general: Is it a good idea to put legacy (AI/S) lenses on a D610? Won't I lose a lot of it's value?

Not sure what you mean by this. MF legacy lenses are sought after for video shooters (especially F-mount as they can also be used on Canon) so if you bought used in excellent condition you may not lose much at all.

I really appreciate your help!


Good luck with whatever you choose!


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