Best lens for D800??

Started 2 months ago | Questions thread
PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 17,086
Re: Best lens for D800??

ColleenOlympus wrote:

Thanks, I appreciate the advice!
Could you explain the advantage of getting the Nikon 85F1.8/F1.4 over the Nikon 50 F1.8? I have been recommended both now, but I'm a bit unsure which one to go for now!

Well, the 50mm is a classic starter lens, but I think what it has going for it mostly is cheap price.  Around $200 new, used to be around $125 for decades.   The Nikon versions (pretty much all of them) have generally been average at best in the class.  I like my 50f1.4g, but it's not a good performer wide open at all, unlike my Sigma ART 35F1.4.   The ART prime lenses have very high optical performance even wide open, but are both heavy and expensive.

The 85F1.8g (and the version before it) have long been considered excellent performers, particularly for the price, which is around $400.   The f1.4g is 3x the cost, goes to F1.4 (credibly, unlike the 50f1.4g), and has a really nice rendering that is better than the 1.8.

Primes of 50mm and longer typically don't have much distortion to start with, unlike wider focal lengths.  Optics are all going to be pretty good, with differences showing up mostly wide open.  Working distance is a big differentiator - you need a lot more room for a 130mm portrait lens than a 50mm.

50mm versus 85mm - aside from working distance, you get into the concept of perspective and what focal lengths are considered best for human portraiture.  85mm is considered a short, but good, focal length for portraits.  105 is too, but you do need more space to use it, and even more for 135.    The 200mm F2 is considered an awesome, but impractical, portrait lens.

If I were shooting primarily people, I'd choose the 85mm lens unless I'm trying to fit in a group in a tight area.

But ... the 85's have their flaws.  I think they are designed to shoot people, and as such do not have the flexibility of a shorter lens or one that focuses much closer.  (Not such a great lens for pictures of watches or coins).   F16 as a limit is fine for portraits as most of the time you're not close to that f stop.  But being able to go to F22 or more can be useful to achieve slower shutter speeds (blur motion) or depth of field.

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Phoenix Arizona Craig
"In theory, practice and theory are the same. In practice, they're not."

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