D800 Portrait Lens Battle!

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

Now I'm working on a detailed shootout between the Tamron 90 VC and the Nikon 85 1.8G....but here's a quick comparison on Bokeh!

At close range the Tamron 90 VC (like all Macro lenses) is forced off the 2.8 and operates in the 3.2-3.5 range instead. So I set the Nikon 85 1.8G accordingly to make the bokeh battle fair.

Not a huge difference, but I do think the Tamron has the edge. On a different note, you might think the Tamron 90 VC has a warmer rendering, but it's actually more color accurate to the scene. The Nikon is cooler.

With the Nikon wide open at 1.8 it's FAR superior! With a background that is not far behind the subject the 1.8 is really creating excellent subject isolation. And for the record the 1.8G is VERY sharp even wide open, very impressive. Oddly the Nikon is warmer here, too warm in fact. The Tamron really did not color shift as much.

And of course the Tamron has it's own unique ability in being able to focus MUCH closer than the Nikon and create super-creamy bokeh. Applications for this type of shooting are more limited of course.

Two outstanding lenses with specific strengths and few weaknesses.

Robert

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clarnibass Senior Member • Posts: 2,044
Re: D800 Portrait Lens Battle!

They all look sharp. The colours are a little different but... I'm colourblind

It looks like the Tamron is in the middle on the WB scale, the 85mm is cooler and the 70-200mm is warmer.

I don't think I'd get one because it's shraper than the others. I'd get the 70-200mm f/2.8 if I wanted a zoom in that range with an f/2.8 aperture. I'd get the Tamron if I wanted a 90mm f/2.8 lens with macro. I'd get the 85mm f/1.8 if I wanted this FL with a larger aperture. Simple

clarnibass Senior Member • Posts: 2,044
Re: D800 Portrait Lens Battle!

Here again they both look just fine.

Looks like the camera was in the same position, so some extra blur for the Tamron is a result of the higher magnification. In addition, if you notice the Tamron is at f/3.2 but the Nikon is at f/3.5, adding more to the background blur in the Tamron photo.

Of course if background blur is the issue then a fair comparison is what each lens can do, like your bigger aperture example with the 85mm, where it "wins" IMO (i.e. it's more blurry).

There are many different situations. If the apertures are the same and the distances are the same, which is likely to happen sometimes, then I guess the Tamron "wins". If you can choose any aperture then even at the same distance the 85mm "wins". If you can choose distance to match magnification and choose aperture, the 85mm "wins". I don't consider macro to be a comparison when considering the 85mm lens anyway.

Basically both are good and depends what each person want.

Kabe Luna
Kabe Luna Veteran Member • Posts: 9,493
Re: D800 Portrait Lens Battle!

Personally, I find 70-200/2.8 zooms (all of them) too unwieldy for portraiture, and in the case of the Nikon not superior to primes in the range at the same apertures. I prefer 85mm and 135mm primes for portraits.

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Kali108 Regular Member • Posts: 420
Re: D800 Portrait Lens Battle!

Kabe Luna wrote:

Personally, I find 70-200/2.8 zooms (all of them) too unwieldy for portraiture, and in the case of the Nikon not superior to primes in the range at the same apertures. I prefer 85mm and 135mm primes for portraits.

I agree 100%.

Shotcents
OP Shotcents Veteran Member • Posts: 4,472
Re: D800 Portrait Lens Battle!

Kabe Luna wrote:

Personally, I find 70-200/2.8 zooms (all of them) too unwieldy for portraiture, and in the case of the Nikon not superior to primes in the range at the same apertures. I prefer 85mm and 135mm primes for portraits.

As I also own primes for portraits, I'm in partial agreement.

However, the 70-200 zoom is superior to the primes when shooting candids and in situations where the variable focal length returns a shot the prime wouldn't have been able to match. I own various versions of these lenses because they all have specific strengths. The 70-200 with it's VR, ultra sharp optics at 2.8, great bokeh and fast AF makes it the king of versatility IF you can handle the weight. I understand not everyone can or wants to. I'm 6'3, so it feels like a little lens to me!

I wouldn't be without the 85mm or the 70-200. I'm hanging on for a 135mm update...the 135mm F2 AF-S VR.

Until then only the 70-200 can steal me certain shots....

Robert

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Mariner77 New Member • Posts: 6
Re: D800 Portrait Lens Battle!

I couldn't find enough portrait photos for tamron 90mm vc, but there are a lot for 85mm 1.8g at f2.8 on the net. Those portrait distance photos' bokeh look very good for me. If Tamrons bokeh at f2.8 is even in same bokeh quality and sharper images (it is easy to me it softer than reverse), that wil be great choice with vc and macro bonus for me.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/92131819@N04/8858282642

http://www.flickr.com/photos/98027853@N00/221621257

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8434252@N06/1934636097

Shotcents
OP Shotcents Veteran Member • Posts: 4,472
Re: D800 Portrait Lens Battle!

Mariner77 wrote:

I couldn't find enough portrait photos for tamron 90mm vc, but there are a lot for 85mm 1.8g at f2.8 on the net. Those portrait distance photos' bokeh look very good for me. If Tamrons bokeh at f2.8 is even in same bokeh quality and sharper images (it is easy to me it softer than reverse), that wil be great choice with vc and macro bonus for me.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/92131819@N04/8858282642

http://www.flickr.com/photos/98027853@N00/221621257

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8434252@N06/1934636097

I'll try to add some portrait samples today and tomorrow, but thus far it appears to be a stellar addition to my kit.

At distance the Tamron is the optically better lens. I'm certain of it. Add the VC and fast AF and it's game over. But that does not impact the 85mm G lenses as they are much faster and obviously great for shallow DOF and low light with tons of sharpness.

So my portrait/candid kit is the 85mm 1.8G, Tamron 90 VC 2.8, 70-200 VRII. I will also use the 50mm 1.4 and Tamron 70-300 VC at times.

I really bought the Tamron for jewelry jobs, so this portrait ability is a bonus I wasn't really counting on.

Robert

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Stacey_K
Stacey_K Veteran Member • Posts: 8,707
Re: D800 Portrait Lens Battle!

clarnibass wrote:

Shotcents wrote:

As for the Tamron: It's sharper, focuses much closer, has a bit more reach, has VC, bokeh is probably better (still looking!), and the AF is very fast and more acurate. It's a different tool, but it can do a lot of what the 1.8G can do and some of it clearly better due to close focus and VC.

All nice advantages but the slow f/2.8 aperture kills it for me for any non-macro use. I found that the f/1.8 aperture is exactly the right one for me. The f/1.4 lenses are not worth their price to me, a poor value. The f/2.8 lenses are far too slow for what I want.

I use the f1.8G almost exclusively at f2 so have to agree that anything slower or faster isn't going to interest me. 85mm at f1.4 would have to be super shallow DOF, not what I am looking for. Plus as you said, huge lenses intimidate non-professional models. The 85 1.8g is actually pushing that as it is in my experience.

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Stacey

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Stacey_K
Stacey_K Veteran Member • Posts: 8,707
Re: D800 Portrait Lens Battle!

clarnibass wrote:

Shotcents wrote:

But I'm curious, what are you shooting that makes 2.8 pro glass too slow? I also own faster primes, but they have their limitations as well, which is why I also own a lens like the 70-200 VRII.

I guess I'll try to compare the non-VC vs. VC myself and see if there's a difference signfiicant enough for me. I just wanted to know there is a difference, or else I woudln't even bother trying the new model.

I think this newer model also has a larger working distance due to IF.

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Stacey

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spbStan
spbStan Senior Member • Posts: 1,943
Re: D800 Portrait Lens Battle!

"Portraits" is such an open ended pursuit that many lens fit the bill for some people, and in some light and some subjects. All the mentioned lenses are capable of getting the best portrait a shooter ever got. But that list is too short when the broad range of portrait styles are considered. I have tried the Tamron 90 and was impressed with it but not enough to buy one. Like you, I shoot with the 70-200 more than any other for the "look" and it is the first lens I try with a subject. An advantage is being able to get further away so it gets more candid nature expressions, contrary to the statements that it is intimidating.

The next lens I use a lot is the 85 1.4 but it is a little short for my preferred style. I have used the 85 1.8G a lot and think it is excellent with bokeh not far behind the 1.4 or the 70-200, but sharper than both.  I also like the 135 DC and would be interested in an updated version.

For closer work, I have a number of 50mm options but the one used most is the Sigma 50 1.4. It is not so good in the corners on FX but the center has a look that is really appealing. I also have the Nikon 1.4G and 1.8G and my newest lenses is factory new 50 1.2 MF. I did not realize they still made it when I found a deal who got 3 in. It is beautifully made, feels great in the hand but it just is not that good for the price or generally compared to the 1.8G at 1.8.

I have done some portraits with my 24 1.4, wide open for an interesting perspective that worked well, although I would not generally reach for a wide angle for people shots closer than 10 feet away and centered.

I tend to think more highly of the 85 1.8G than many of the posters here, it is not only a bargain but has less CA than the 1.4 and fast enough. Most of this is academic however, few portraits that came out really well depend on sharpness for their appeal.  One of my favorite head shots(favorite of the subject and print large on canvas over their fireplace) was shot with a 18-105 at 105, and a D90 with studio lighting.  Lighting trumps all in appealing portraits.

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Stan
St Petersburg Russia

PhotoKaz
PhotoKaz Contributing Member • Posts: 612
Re: D800 Portrait Lens Battle!

Why are you comparing the 70-200 at 200?  One of the reasons I picked up the 85 is to take shots of my kids indoors.  200mm isn't a very useful focal length inside.

Shotcents wrote:

Okay....first of all. The 70-200 VRII is TACK SHARP wide open. There is VERY little difference at F4. You need a good copy and it should be carefully AF tuned if you're looking for every bit of resolution the lens is capable of.

Let's compare the 70-200 VRII wide open at 2.8 at 200mm vs. the 85mm G lens at 2.8 and the Tamron 90 VC Macro which was forced at 3.2. The master shot looked like this....

And the crops (I changed distance to make the framing same-sized)....

My assessment....The Nikon 70-200 VRII wide open at 2.8 has less false color than the 85mm 1.8G.

Since the 85 has no image stablization the VC and VR lenses had a advantage there. In reality the 1.8G is a TINY bit sharper than the 70-200 VRII at 2.8. But I'm posting these crops because there are showing PRACTICAL results, typical of shooting handheld. As I expected, the Tamron 90 VC is best here. Sharpness and color are perfect. The only advantage left for the 85mm is it's considerably superior low light capability.

But I hope this puts to rest any questions about the VRII, which is as sharp as anything wide open for all practical concerns and at 200mm to boot! Yes, the Tamron 90 is sharpest, but it's not enough for any sane person to say the VRII needs to be stopped down to F4. If you believe that then you need to replace your VRII or make adjustments!

Cheers,

Robert

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Shotcents
OP Shotcents Veteran Member • Posts: 4,472
Re: D800 Portrait Lens Battle!

PhotoKaz wrote:

Why are you comparing the 70-200 at 200? One of the reasons I picked up the 85 is to take shots of my kids indoors. 200mm isn't a very useful focal length inside.

\

I did it at 200mm at close focus, which is actually about 140mm due to focus breathing. But I mainly did it to disprove any nonsense that the 70-200 VRII is not tack sharp wide open at 2.8. In fact stopping it down to F4 is such a slight improvement that you need to pixel peep to see it at all.

The 70-200 VRII is hugely versatile indoors, especially for candids of kids. I can get into spots and pick up moments, intimate and otherwise, that the 85mm cannot.

And of course the 70-200 VRII does 85mm beautifully as well. Understand, I'm not knocking one lens beneath the other. I own the 85mm and it's a GREAT optic. I'm just pointing out that when doing a variety of portraits in various situations a variety of lens is a big help.

I might break these lenses down like this...

70-200 VRII ..... Versatility champ, best lens for candids. Heavy and expensive.

85mm 1.8G ..... low light champ and ideal for studio work as well due to faster glass. Light, no VR.

Tamron 90 VC ..... Close focus and sharpness champ. Slower glass at close distances, but had VC.

Tamron 70-300 VC ..... Ideal for outdoor candids in reasonable lighting conditions. Big lens that is superior to the Nikon version. Punches above it's weight

All 4 can work wonders and in spite of the FL overlap, they are very different tools.

Cheers,

Robert

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Mariner77 New Member • Posts: 6
Re: D800 Portrait Lens Battle!
1

I just got my tamron after reading this thread. Tamron really made me suprised. It's Autofocus and vc are excellent so far. Nikon must do something for near future for its lenses, because my idea is about 3rd party lenses is already changed.

Shotcents
OP Shotcents Veteran Member • Posts: 4,472
Re: D800 Portrait Lens Battle!

Nice shots!

I did some shooting yesterday (portraits) and I grabbed ONE lens and it was the Tamron 90 VC over my usual 70-200 VRII or 85mm. It really is a killer optic.

Robert

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