#1. "RE: "low-end" and the "high-end" ???" In response to Reply # 0 Thu 28-Feb-08 07:36 PM by MotoMannequin
The answer depends on the context of the question.
If "low-end" is referring to focal length, portraits are traditionally shot with lenses ranging from about 70mm to about 135mm. "Low end" might mean lenses at the 70-85mm focal range. Note that on Nikon's DX-sized sensor, this range shifts down to something like 50mm-90mm because of the smaller sensor cropping the image, so the 50mm lens is at the low end, and 85mm is at the high end.
"Low end" could also refer to quality, where the ~$350 85mm f/1.8D is a low-end lens, and the ~$1000 85mm f/1.4D is a high-end lens. Both are excellent, but the 1.4 is legendary.
#3. "RE: "low-end" and the "high-end" ???" In response to Reply # 2 Fri 29-Feb-08 03:56 PM by MotoMannequin
>so, generally speaking, "Low end" means lenses at >the 70-85mm focal range?
On a 35mm film camera, yes.
Nikon DSLRs (except the D3) however use a sensor that's smaller than 35mm film, so compared to 35mm you get a cropped view, which changes the game. A 50mm lens on a DX camera gives you about the same angle of view as a 75mm lens on a 35mm camera (multiply by 1.52). So, on a DX camera, 50mm-60mm (equivalent to 75mm-90mm) is your approximate low end.
Worth noting, the focal length equivalence is in term of angle of view, not depth of field. The longer lenses in the 35mm format inherently have shallower depth of field which is a big advantage for that format when going for blurred background in portraiture.
If you're in a D40/D40x/D60 and looking for an AF portrait lens, then good options are the new Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 AF-S or the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM. If you don't need AF but you're on a budget, then the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D, 50mm f/1.4D or 85mm f/1.8D are perfect starting points.