Best lens for D800??

Started 2 months ago | Questions thread
David5833 Senior Member • Posts: 1,572
Re: Best lens for D800??

ColleenOlympus wrote:

ok thanks for the advice.
It's for realism painting - I zoom in on a large screen beside my easel to get the detail.
I'm hoping to keep in in the price range of $1500 - but I'm quite happy to buy second hand, so if there are more expensive ones at retail price that you would recommend - let me know as maybe I can find it for resale. Thanks!

For the kind of detail at high magnification you are probably seeking (pores, hairs, skin blemishes, etc.) it is going to have to be a really top quality lens. If you are hoping to get such fine detail it is going to be hard in low light without studio lights and I would not recommend the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 or the Nikon 50mm f/1.4. In my experience, neither is very good at wider apertures until you stop down to about f/4 or narrower. Your best bet for a relatively affordable fast 50mm lens is probably the Sigma Art 50mm. You can make a head and shoulders portrait from about a meter away with a 50mm lens on an FX camera. With an 85mm lens, you can be about 2 meters away. The farther away you are, the less foreshortening (perspective effect) you will see. The Nikon 85mm f/1.8 lens is decent and relatively affordable and you can probably find a good used one. The Sigma Art 85mm f/1.4 would be better but less affordable. For a full length portrait with a 50mm lens you will need to be about 4 meters away; with 85mm, about 7 meters.

For indoor portraits you would benefit from studio lights and a tripod. For outdoor full length portraits, you almost certainly also will need a really high resolving lens.  Also, keep in mind that there is a difference between realism and may not see fine details with your eyes at distance.

You may be asking a lot of any consumer grade lens to capture the kind of detail you probably want. An alternative with a less than spectacular kit might be to take several shots close up for reference images of textures and work from those where needed. You could probably even do that with your M4/3 rig, maybe even with the lenses you already have. The Olympus 60mm macro lens would be a good one for close up textures and you can usually find good used ones.

DPReview has a section of "Sample Images" and you can browse various cameras and/or lenses to see what to expect from fairly expert users. There are almost always some portraits in the samples for each lens. You might be able to download the raw files and enlarge the images.

 David5833's gear list:David5833's gear list
Canon G9 X II Nikon D810 Olympus OM-D E-M10 II Nikon D7500 Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4D ED-IF +12 more
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