Best lens for D800??

Started 2 months ago | Questions
ColleenOlympus New Member • Posts: 14
Best lens for D800??

Hi, I'm thinking of purchasing a secondhand Nikon D800 & would really appreciate some advice on what lens/lenses to get for it.

I will be using it mostly to take portrait (full figure) photos of people  - these will be reference photos to paint from so I require absolutely no distortion. I will mostly be shooting indoors.

Secondly I also need to photograph some active shots (of dancers/performers) - again these are for reference photos to paint from so I really need no distortion. Capturing high res detail is really important.

Does anyone have a suggestion about what lens I will need - or I'm guessing I will need 2 lenses for such different subject matter??

One other thing... the D800 that I'm considering buying has a high shutter count of 174,000 - so it's quite a low price. So you think it has a bit of life left in it or is that a bad buy?

Thanks in advance!

ANSWER:
This question has not been answered yet.
Nikon D800
If you believe there are incorrect tags, please send us this post using our feedback form.
T O Shooter Forum Pro • Posts: 11,004
Re: Best lens for D800??
2

What's a low price?

Do you have any photography experience?

What's your budget for lenses?

As a start

EDIT:  Seems like this is a slow process for you. You asked for help in the Olympus forum 5 months ago with your only other post here on DPR.  You also didn't reply to anyone's reply, so it'll be hard to help someone who does not reply.

-- hide signature --

A Canon G5 and a bit of Nikon gear.
---------------------------
All cameras are so good nowadays, that the good stuff is kinda "given" or "expected". It is the limitations that get to you when you use them in real world situations. Windsurfer LA

 T O Shooter's gear list:T O Shooter's gear list
Canon PowerShot G5 Nikon D4S Nikon D500 Nikon D850 +5 more
OP ColleenOlympus New Member • Posts: 14
Re: Best lens for D800??

Thank you for your reply. In answer to your questions -

The low price is $700AUD
Photography experience - very basic
Budget - I will try to source secondhand, so up to about $2000
Apologies for not replying on the previous thread - I hadn't seen the replies - but this time I have set my settings to be notified when I get any responses.

wilberforce_1 Forum Member • Posts: 57
Re: Best lens for D800??
1

It is very difficult, and perhaps impossible, to find a lens with "absolutely no distortion."

A more practical approach is to get a lens that has low distortion that has a "simple" distortion profile that is easily corrected - then apply Lightroom's lens distortion correction (which is specific for each lens brand and model) to a RAW photo, and this provides a virtually distortion-free photo.

Usually very low distortion is needed for architectural, not people, photos, where any distortion is immediately obvious in the straight architectural lines in the photo.

The other thing to realize is that aside from lens distortion, there is also perspective distortion, where objects (or body parts) closer to the lens appear larger than objects (or body parts) further from the lens. This is most obvious for short focal length lenses where noses (closer to the lens) appear larger, and faces appear more rounded. To minimize perspective distortion, you need as long a focal length as possible, in order to take the photo from as far away as possible - but of course you run into practical limitations with how far you can get from your subject.

In many cases the perspective distortion, which is unavoidable, dominates over any slight lens distortion (such as barrel or pin-cushion distortion).

I suggest pick your focal length first based on size and distance of subject, with the aim of trying to be as far away as practical (to minimize perspective distortion), and if you cannot control the distance, then pick a zoom lens (for example if the dancers are moving such that the distance is constantly changing). The lens distortion is a relatively small factor, as it usually can be almost completely corrected in post. Also, longer focal length lenses generally have much less lens distortion that short focal length lenses.

On the other hand, if you have an artistic goal of including, or exaggerating, perspective distortion, then of course you need to pick a closer distance and accordingly a shorter focal length lens.

Just some thoughts, not trying to avoid answering your question.

But not knowing anything else, one suggestion would be a Nikkor 50 mm f1.8G. Bright for indoor shots, good length for full-length portraits, distortion easily corrected in Lightroom, and very low cost. This will give you a very good idea of where you need to go from there. Nikkor 85mm F1.8G might also work, but you will need to be about 30 ft away for a full-body shot.

PHXAZCRAIG
PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 17,085
Re: Best lens for D800??
1

There are lots of choices, and with your requirement of 'no distortion', they are pretty much all primes.   It is important to know what working distance you will have.

My first thought, and it's well within a tight budget, is a Nikon 85F1.8.   F1.4 much more expensive, but a nicer lens in some ways, and faster.   These two are definitely designed as portrait lenses.  They don't focus particularly closely, and only stop down to F16.  They have pretty low distortion, and both have autofocus.

If you have to have tighter working distances, there are some specialty lenses (58mm, 40mm), and some cheap 50mm options.   But in the 35 and 50mm range, I'd recommend Sigma ART lenses as something to look closely at if they are in your budget.

175,000 exposures - should be midway through the lifetime?

-- hide signature --

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

 PHXAZCRAIG's gear list:PHXAZCRAIG's gear list
Nikon D80 Nikon D200 Nikon D300 Nikon D700 Nikon 1 V1 +37 more
OP ColleenOlympus New Member • Posts: 14
Re: Best lens for D800??

Thank you for that explanation about distortion - that makes a lot of sense. I didn't think of there being the 2 types of distortion involved in what I was seeing as the problem. Also I didn't realise there was post production corrections that I could apply - so thank you for that I will try that out if I come across any issues with that. 
In regards to perspective distortion, to stand back far enough for a full figure portrait - will the 50mm be ok to capture full detail? I'm really only a beginner so I'm sorry if this is a bit of a silly question!

Thanks again!

wilberforce_1 Forum Member • Posts: 57
Re: Best lens for D800??

ColleenOlympus wrote:

Thank you for that explanation about distortion - that makes a lot of sense. I didn't think of there being the 2 types of distortion involved in what I was seeing as the problem. Also I didn't realise there was post production corrections that I could apply - so thank you for that I will try that out if I come across any issues with that.
In regards to perspective distortion, to stand back far enough for a full figure portrait - will the 50mm be ok to capture full detail? I'm really only a beginner so I'm sorry if this is a bit of a silly question!

Thanks again!

You should get fantastic detail with the 50mm on the D800 if your subject fills the frame and, most importantly, it is in focus. Remember, a full-frame camera, combined with a wide aperture lens, will have a very shallow depth of field. This means that parts of your subject that are only slightly closer or further than the focus point will be out of focus, if a wide aperture is used ( which is desirable for low light). Think carefully about whether you want a full-frame camera. This simply may be a case of trying it out to see if you get the results you expect.

What have you tried using so far? A smartphone camera is a starting point, for example, but is the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Something in between might be more suitable.

OP ColleenOlympus New Member • Posts: 14
Re: Best lens for D800??

Thank you. Previously I have had a micro 4/3 camera - the Olympus OMD EM5 with the 12-50mm kit lens, but I found that I couldn't get the resolution I needed. So I was hoping that going from a 17mp to a 36mp camera would help resolve that a bit.
Do you recommend the 50mm over the 85mm? would that help with the depth of field at all or is that only the aperture that alters that?
Thanks again!

wilberforce_1 Forum Member • Posts: 57
Re: Best lens for D800??

ColleenOlympus wrote:

Thank you. Previously I have had a micro 4/3 camera - the Olympus OMD EM5 with the 12-50mm kit lens, but I found that I couldn't get the resolution I needed. So I was hoping that going from a 17mp to a 36mp camera would help resolve that a bit.
Do you recommend the 50mm over the 85mm? would that help with the depth of field at all or is that only the aperture that alters that?
Thanks again!

So I am wondering whether your issue is noise, not resolution. 17mp is not bad. I used 12mp for many years (Nikon D90) with no real sense that was too low resolution.

Your kit lens does not have a wide aperture, and the camera may be boosting the ISO, and thus getting a lot of noise. I guess we need to see a sample photo to see really what the problem is, along with the exposure parameters (shutter speed, ISO, aperture, focal length). A better solution may be to get a wide aperture prime lens for your OMD; you can probably judge best yourself what focal length you need.

Depth of field is a function of a lot of things, some of which have counteracting effects. For example longer focal length means shallower depth of field, but longer distance means greater depth of field. 50mm is a good starting point for full-body portraits using a full-frame camera.

An equivalent prime lens for your OMD MFT would be a 25mm f1.8. I suggest give that a try.

Sorry all of this does not have easy answers.

David5833 Senior Member • Posts: 1,572
Re: Best lens for D800??

I wouldn't buy a camera with 174K clicks without knowing the cost to replace the shutter assembly. I would guess it to be at least 500 AUD but you should probably check with Nikon. You might get lucky and never have to replace it as long for as you own it, but I would be prepared to replace it at any time after 100K.

Without knowing more about your painting style (hyperrealism? loose watercolor?) and your process (10 x 15cm reference prints? life-size projections?) it is hard to make practical recommendations for lenses or even cameras within your budget constraints.

 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
incoherent1 Contributing Member • Posts: 566
Re: Best lens for D800??

wilberforce_1 wrote:

It is very difficult, and perhaps impossible, to find a lens with "absolutely no distortion."

A more practical approach is to get a lens that has low distortion that has a "simple" distortion profile that is easily corrected - then apply Lightroom's lens distortion correction (which is specific for each lens brand and model) to a RAW photo, and this provides a virtually distortion-free photo.

Usually very low distortion is needed for architectural, not people, photos, where any distortion is immediately obvious in the straight architectural lines in the photo.

The other thing to realize is that aside from lens distortion, there is also perspective distortion, where objects (or body parts) closer to the lens appear larger than objects (or body parts) further from the lens. This is most obvious for short focal length lenses where noses (closer to the lens) appear larger, and faces appear more rounded. To minimize perspective distortion, you need as long a focal length as possible, in order to take the photo from as far away as possible - but of course you run into practical limitations with how far you can get from your subject.

In many cases the perspective distortion, which is unavoidable, dominates over any slight lens distortion (such as barrel or pin-cushion distortion).

I suggest pick your focal length first based on size and distance of subject, with the aim of trying to be as far away as practical (to minimize perspective distortion), and if you cannot control the distance, then pick a zoom lens (for example if the dancers are moving such that the distance is constantly changing). The lens distortion is a relatively small factor, as it usually can be almost completely corrected in post. Also, longer focal length lenses generally have much less lens distortion that short focal length lenses.

On the other hand, if you have an artistic goal of including, or exaggerating, perspective distortion, then of course you need to pick a closer distance and accordingly a shorter focal length lens.

Just some thoughts, not trying to avoid answering your question.

But not knowing anything else, one suggestion would be a Nikkor 50 mm f1.8G. Bright for indoor shots, good length for full-length portraits, distortion easily corrected in Lightroom, and very low cost. This will give you a very good idea of where you need to go from there. Nikkor 85mm F1.8G might also work, but you will need to be about 30 ft away for a full-body shot.

This comment leads me to think of the Sigma 135mm Art for the specified use. Low distortion and high resolution royalty. I love my personal experience with it on D810, and it is reviewed well:

https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2017/04/lensrentals-reviews-the-new-sigma-135mm-f1-8-art-series-lens/

The focal length will push you back from the subject far enough to minimize perspective distortion and may be advantageous for dance if you are forced to be back at distance from the subject.

 incoherent1's gear list:incoherent1's gear list
Nikon D810 Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm F2.8G IF-ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm F4G ED VR Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | A Nikon 200-500mm F5.6E ED VR +1 more
OP ColleenOlympus New Member • Posts: 14
Re: Best lens for D800??

Thank you - I really appreciate you taking the time to explain these things - and I understand there's no simple answer!
You're right - I did have an issue with noise with the Olympus, it didn't seem to go so well in low light and I'm sure a wider aperture would have helped that a lot . But even in locations where there was lots of light and no noise, I didn't seem to get the detail that I needed. It was great for regular photographs, but because I'm using them as reference photos to paint from - I zoom right in on them on screen and the resolution wasn't there.
I think I will most likely get the 50mm f1.4, as you previously mentioned - and I'll try to be more aware of perspective distortion in regards to where I'm standing in relation to the sitter.
Thanks again for the advice - it's been a huge help!

OP ColleenOlympus New Member • Posts: 14
Re: Best lens for D800??

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!

OP ColleenOlympus New Member • Posts: 14
Re: Best lens for D800??

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!

T O Shooter Forum Pro • Posts: 11,004
Re: Best lens for D800??

T O Shooter wrote:

What's a low price?

Do you have any photography experience?

What's your budget for lenses?

As a start

EDIT: Seems like this is a slow process for you. You asked for help in the Olympus forum 5 months ago with your only other post here on DPR. You also didn't reply to anyone's reply, so it'll be hard to help someone who does not reply.

I think Wilberforce and others have given you some good information.  If the 12-50 Olympus covered the focal lengths you need, then in D800 format you would be looking for something in the range of 24-100 (I know nothing about m 4/3; Googled it so confirm) I'd suggest you look at the EXIF information of the images you previously shot for focal length shot at, and if your situation has remained the same, you have a good starting point for what you need.

I'm guessing? that m 4/3 is worse, worse being a relative term, than Dx for DOF, so you may not want or need the expensive of f 1.4 lenses. Wide open, they will give a very shallow depth of in focus on 35mm format. No point in wasting your budget on something not required. If it turns out that you shoot a lot around 25mm in m 4/3, a 50 1.8G Nikon is likely one of the cheapest lenses you can buy, so easy on the budget.  If you need something longer, a 70-200 2.8 Nikkor might make a good addition. I like the flexibility of zooms, so I'll recommend zooms.

-- hide signature --

A Canon G5 and a bit of Nikon gear.
---------------------------
All cameras are so good nowadays, that the good stuff is kinda "given" or "expected". It is the limitations that get to you when you use them in real world situations. Windsurfer LA

 T O Shooter's gear list:T O Shooter's gear list
Canon PowerShot G5 Nikon D4S Nikon D500 Nikon D850 +5 more
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 hyperrealism...you 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
Janoch
Janoch Veteran Member • Posts: 4,584
Re: Best lens for D800??

ColleenOlympus wrote... I found that I couldn't get the resolution I needed. So I was hoping that going from a 17mp to a 36mp camera would help resolve that a bit.

"A bit"?

Try download some of dpReview's test photos - and hold on to your socks!

Instead of a fixed length portrait lens... if you have the courage, perhaps check out the old 28-70mm f/2.8. I'm surprisingly pleased with how very pleasing portraits are with this lens.

Way more versatile than fixed and with seriously good resolution.

Just make sure to find trusted dealer with a noiseless motor...

Oh! and it will help you grow some muscles!

 Janoch's gear list:Janoch's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8 ED-IF Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG Macro Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm F4G ED VR +1 more
jan1970 Regular Member • Posts: 122
Re: Best lens for D800??

Hi,

Regarding taking fotos from dancers:

Most likely you need to go for primes 1.x, another point is the number of fps.

Some photographers adjust everything manually and wait for the moment to catch.

For this style the D800 is ok.

Other photographers shoot in small series and use one of the sports camera like D4, D5, etc.

For this style the D800 is not made for.

Enjoy!

 jan1970's gear list:jan1970's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 Sony RX100 III Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V Nikon D800 Nikon D7100 +11 more
PHXAZCRAIG
PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 17,085
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.

-- hide signature --

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

 PHXAZCRAIG's gear list:PHXAZCRAIG's gear list
Nikon D80 Nikon D200 Nikon D300 Nikon D700 Nikon 1 V1 +37 more
OP ColleenOlympus New Member • Posts: 14
Re: Best lens for D800??

ah I see - thank you!

Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads