Best lens for D800??

Started 3 months ago | Questions
OP ColleenOlympus New Member • Posts: 14
Re: Best lens for D800??

haha I can't wait to try out the D800 then! Thanks for the lens advice

Mark Scott Abeln
Mark Scott Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 16,370
Can you please...?
1

Can you please upload a few examples of your existing images that you consider low resolution with distortion?

Among many serious photographers, resolution and distortion simply aren’t problems with modern cameras. There may be something else going on that we can help with.

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

Thank you for your advice! From what you have explained I think I will go for an 85mm, and I'll look into both Nikon and Sigma Art. With the Nikon you mentioned the 85mmf/1.8 - would you recommend that over the Nikon 85mmf/1.4? Or did you just use the f1.8 as an example because it's a bit more affordable?

I have invested in a tripod and I will look into studio LED panel lights next - maybe something like the NiceFoto Bi-Color LED Video light 3200-6500 CRI 95 LED Panel 200W.
I really appreciate you taking the time to give such helpful advice!

wilberforce_1 Forum Member • Posts: 68
Re: Best lens for D800??
1

I am not quite following why many in this thread are recommending 85mm or 135mm lenses for "portrait (full figure)" photos: I interpreted this to mean full-body shots. And I would think that "dancers" implies multiple bodies with arms outstretched? I would think this very challenging to fit in the frame with a 135mm lens, unless the room is very spacious.  Maybe I am missing something here.

85mm and 135mm are classic "portrait" lenses, but usually only in the sense that "portrait" means head shots, or maybe half-body shots. If this is actually what you want to take photos of, then yes, 85mm or 135mm would be much better than 50mm.

Before you buy a certain focal length, I would suggest see what range of focal lengths you have used with your micro four thirds OMD, and double it to get the equivalent focal length for the D800. (MFT has a "crop factor" of 2.0 compared to full-frame.)

I do agree with others that the Nikon 50mm lenses are not as sharp as other substantially more expensive lenses such as Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art.

For 85mm the Nikon 85mm f1.8 is a good lens. So is the Nikon 85mm f1.4 for considerably more cost, but I am not sure you will get the benefit of the 1.4 wider aperture: this gives even less depth of field, in order to make the background an out-of-focus creamy blur, which makes the subject stand out from the background. But for your purpose, shallow depth of field (provided by the wider apertures like f1.4) is probably the last thing you want. I think you want every part of your subject to be sharply in focus (as you are only using the photos to do detailed painting from), for which you will have to use a smaller aperture (larger f-stop number). So I doubt you will be able to use the very wide apertures (f1.4) and "creamy" backgrounds that you are paying substantially more for. However, if you have the money to spend, and maybe want to get into true portrait photography in the future, the f1.4 lenses are the "professional" lenses and are wonderfully engineered.

It is good you are getting a wide range of opinions. Goes to show there is not a simple answer that works for all cases/people.

Mark Scott Abeln
Mark Scott Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 16,370
Re: Best lens for D800??

wilberforce_1 wrote:

I am not quite following why many in this thread are recommending 85mm or 135mm lenses for "portrait (full figure)" photos: I interpreted this to mean full-body shots. And I would think that "dancers" implies multiple bodies with arms outstretched? I would think this very challenging to fit in the frame with a 135mm lens, unless the room is very spacious. Maybe I am missing something here.

I agree, and think that a fast zoom may be better.

But I also am curious as to what the OP considers “low resolution” and “distorted” about the images from the Olympus. Something else might be going on.

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

Thanks for the further advice, I've checked my previous photos and on average the focal length used was 15 - 20mm on the micro 4/3 camera. So from what you have said and I double it, this means the 50mm would be more suitable? And yes - you were right in your interpretation of meaning full body shots, though I would also be taking some head and shoulders shots, and you're also right in that I want everything to be in sharp focus if possible.
Thanks again!

nicodimus22
nicodimus22 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,311
Re: Best lens for D800??

ColleenOlympus wrote:

Thanks for the further advice, I've checked my previous photos and on average the focal length used was 15 - 20mm on the micro 4/3 camera. So from what you have said and I double it, this means the 50mm would be more suitable?

15-20mm on MFT is equivalent to 30-40mm on FF.

So, perhaps you should consider a 35mm prime?

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wilberforce_1 Forum Member • Posts: 68
Re: Best lens for D800??

ColleenOlympus wrote:

Thanks for the further advice, I've checked my previous photos and on average the focal length used was 15 - 20mm on the micro 4/3 camera. So from what you have said and I double it, this means the 50mm would be more suitable? And yes - you were right in your interpretation of meaning full body shots, though I would also be taking some head and shoulders shots, and you're also right in that I want everything to be in sharp focus if possible.
Thanks again!

Yes, 15-20 on MFT, is equivalent to 30-40 on full-frame. The closest prime is then 35mm. However, 35mm is NOT ideal for portraiture - it gives too much perspective distortion - noses look too big, faces too rounded, part of bodies near the edges get stretched out. 35mm is good for what is called "environmental portraiture" which is a photo of a person including their surrounding environment - like a woodworker in their workshop.

If at all possible, you need to back up enough to make 50mm work, else the perspective distortion will be noticeable. Also, shorter focal length lenses usually have more lens distortion as well.

In order to make 85mm work, you will need to back up at least twice as far as you have been doing.

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

I see, ok thank you!

I think I will try to buy the Sigma 50mm 1.4 after all of that, thanks to everyone for your help!

wilberforce_1 Forum Member • Posts: 68
Re: Best lens for D800??

ColleenOlympus wrote:

I see, ok thank you!

I think I will try to buy the Sigma 50mm 1.4 after all of that, thanks to everyone for your help!

That is a fantastic lens - have fun:

https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sigma-50mm-f1-4-dg-hsm/6

Let us know how it works out, or if you still have difficulty getting the results you need.

I am Bowie Forum Member • Posts: 71
Zoom lenses
1

ColleenOlympus wrote:

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.

Camera you asked about - hard pass on the D800 with that many actuations. In Oz, $700-800AUD can get you a low actuation D610. Shooting dancers in low light was mentioned; the D610 has great ISO handling for that and more than enough MP even after cropping.

Lens: Prior replies mention primes between 35 and 85mm. For a beginner (no use of any post production apps) I’d recommend not diving into getting a prime right off the bat. You mentioned to that you now mostly in the 35-50mm FX range. On the cheap, you can find your own sweet spot for primes will you are learning by getting a number of older mid-range zoom lens that are plenty sharp for your purposes and these 2 below are examples that sell between 300-400AUD:

1) Nikon 35-70mm F2.8 AF-D: this was a pro lens in its time and its built like a tank.
2) Nikon 24-85mm G AF-S: Sharp and will get you to the 85mm point

IMO, you are learning and buying expensive lens like the Sigma 50mm ART as your first dive FX lens is like buying a 5000AUD Miele Oven Range when you are learning to cook. Buy a highly capable zoom in the range you believe you need and try it out for a few months. After you gather large sample of your best photos, you can tally up what the best range for a prime lens is.

Post Production App: From the usage youve described, youll need to use one of these apps. The subscription based apps (Lightroom) are more sophisticated - but costly considering an inexpensive and simple standalone app like Adobe Photoshop could work for your needs.

Distortion/Sharpness: I dont think distortion is an issue with the subjects you describe. As a beginner, lack of sharpness can mostly be attributed to improper focus and/or improper settings. Heres a youtube on sharpness/ISO in low light: https://youtu.be/40tes65Ljco .  The part about using lower ISO and adjusting in post is important to achieve the sharpness you mentioned.

Sorry to long, but getting a decent inexpensive zoom and a post prod app will save you half your budget while you are learning - after you get good, spend on the prime that you see suits your actual needs.

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David5833 Senior Member • Posts: 1,630
Re: Best lens for D800??

ColleenOlympus wrote:

... With the Nikon you mentioned the 85mmf/1.8 - would you recommend that over the Nikon 85mmf/1.4? Or did you just use the f1.8 as an example because it's a bit more affordable?

For your  intended uses, I don't think you would benefit enough to justify the cost difference.

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Stujomo
Stujomo Senior Member • Posts: 1,779
Re: Best lens for D800??

ColleenOlympus wrote:

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!

The 50mm f1.8G is fine for full length if you stop it down a bit. Even with the 36mp of the D800 not many pixels are on the face when shooting a full length portrait.

Here is one it's not really full length but it is the D800 and 50mm f1.8G

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Stujomo
Stujomo Senior Member • Posts: 1,779
Re: Best lens for D800??

Here I found 2 more shots when I was comparing M4/3 with FF.

M4/3 Panasonic GM1 with 25mm  F1.8 Olympus lens.

D800 50mm F1.8G

You can see from these just how much more you may get with the D800.

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Slideshow Bob Senior Member • Posts: 1,769
You could do a lot worse than the Sigma 40mm Art N/T

No Text here. Absolutely nothing.

nicodimus22
nicodimus22 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,311
Re: Best lens for D800??
2

wilberforce_1 wrote:

ColleenOlympus wrote:

Thanks for the further advice, I've checked my previous photos and on average the focal length used was 15 - 20mm on the micro 4/3 camera. So from what you have said and I double it, this means the 50mm would be more suitable? And yes - you were right in your interpretation of meaning full body shots, though I would also be taking some head and shoulders shots, and you're also right in that I want everything to be in sharp focus if possible.
Thanks again!

35mm is NOT ideal for portraiture - it gives too much perspective distortion - noses look too big, faces too rounded, part of bodies near the edges get stretched out.

This is only the case if you shove the lens into the face of the subject. If you back up a bit, almost all facial distortion goes away.

https://photographylife.com/does-focal-length-distort-subjects

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Stujomo
Stujomo Senior Member • Posts: 1,779
Re: Best lens for D800??

nicodimus22 wrote:

wilberforce_1 wrote:

ColleenOlympus wrote:

Thanks for the further advice, I've checked my previous photos and on average the focal length used was 15 - 20mm on the micro 4/3 camera. So from what you have said and I double it, this means the 50mm would be more suitable? And yes - you were right in your interpretation of meaning full body shots, though I would also be taking some head and shoulders shots, and you're also right in that I want everything to be in sharp focus if possible.
Thanks again!

35mm is NOT ideal for portraiture - it gives too much perspective distortion - noses look too big, faces too rounded, part of bodies near the edges get stretched out.

This is only the case if you shove the lens into the face of the subject. If you back up a bit, almost all facial distortion goes away.

https://photographylife.com/does-focal-length-distort-subjects

Yep camera to subject distance is what cause the perspective distortions what we typically get shooting close up portraits with a wide lens.

Most lenses though do distort a little, barrel and pincushion distortion are very common but they are often not even noticeable when shooting portraits. It's usually when you switch the correction on and off that it shows in portraits.

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PHXAZCRAIG
PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 17,254
Re: Best lens for D800??

ColleenOlympus wrote:

Thank you for your advice! From what you have explained I think I will go for an 85mm, and I'll look into both Nikon and Sigma Art. With the Nikon you mentioned the 85mmf/1.8 - would you recommend that over the Nikon 85mmf/1.4? Or did you just use the f1.8 as an example because it's a bit more affordable?

My experience with 85mm lenses has been colored by my income levels.

'Back in the day', meaning around 1993, I had my first Nikon camera, a 50mm f1.8 prime and a 28-85 zoom.   I wanted more, and better, lenses.   One I had my eye on was the Nikon 85F1.8 AF.  I found a used one in a local shop for about $300.   But it took months to save the money for the lens, and in the end I traded my father's old 1951 Nikon rangefinder for the bulk of the trade.   Beautiful lens - still have it - and I got wonderful shots of my kids growing up with it.

Fast forward to the day when I bought a D800e and needed to upgrade a number of lenses as well.   By this time I was self-employed, making a bit of money, and not married to a woman who tried to control my camera spending.   I bought the 85f1.8g for about $400 new, I think.   Loved it, and it was clearly better than the older AF/AF-D lenses wide open.  (Typical, the older designed-for-film lenses usually are much software wide open than their replacements.)

A year later I had the money for another lens, and I bought the 50F1.4g ($100 off sale) just to have my first F1.4 lens.  And I was disappointed with the performance wide open, though I liked it elsewhere.  I still use this lens a lot, but rarely at F1.4.

After getting one F1.4 lens, I wanted more.  Bought the Sigma ART 35 F1.4 - $900 or so, but sharp even at F1.4.    And then I bought the 85F1.4g, after reading a lot of positive comments about it.

And I loved it instantly.  Not as good as the ART wide open, but close, and much better than the 50.   It's entirely usable wide open, so I use it at any aperture from F1.4 to F16.

I have to say that the first time I looked at the 85F1.4g shots on the back of the camera, I liked them enough that I've never mounted the F1.8g again.

The quality that appeals to most people with these fast lenses is the rendering not of the subject, but of the background and out-of-focus areas.    A lens designed for 'bokeh' (like the 58mm f1.4 lens) trades smooth transitions in out-of-focus areas for ultimate sharpness in the focused areas.    This can give the background a rather pleasant creamy effect.

However - if you are going to paint the scene from a picture, your backgrounds are going to be whatever they are going to be.   I can't see painting so accurately that you actually render the differences between the 1.4g and the 1.8g.   In your situation, you could have the harshest backgrounds on the planet, but make up for them when painting them.

Which is an argument in favor of the 1.8g and saving money.   Remember, you could buy two lenses for the price of the f1.4g if you get the f1.8g and another lens.

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carl_g
carl_g Regular Member • Posts: 291
Re: Best lens for D800??

I’d look at a used Nikon 105mm f/1.4 considered to be one of the best portrait lenses out there.

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

wow that's quite a difference - thanks for sharing that!

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