I've certainly used it for that purpose, usually at 70mm. It's quite good at that, in fact. As good as the 85/f1.4? Probably not, but a Porsche 911 is slower than a Ferrari F40 - while still being quite fast nonetheless.
I probably wouldn't use the 35/f1.8 for a head-and-shoulders portrait as then I'd be pretty close and perhaps inducing some perspective distortion.
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!
It is pretty much so generally agreed that the 70mm-105mm range on an FX format camera will give you the preferred field of view for portraits. Obviously, there are exceptions, circumstances, and personal preferences that apply. Since you are using a D7000 that would equate to a similar field of view on your DX camera to about 50mm-70mm. So, the answer is IMO that your 50mm and your 24-70 are ideal portrait lenses. As for your 35mm 1.8, there are certainly instances where this would also be a great choice. I use my 50mm, which has an equivalent field of view on my FX bodies, for many protraits. But, I would never use a 35mm lens on an FX body to take portraits of my wife if I expected to have a nice home-cooked meal that evening.
Keep in mind that a couple of the prior posters are using FX cameras, and I'm not sure whether or not they looked at the fact that you are using a DX body when they gave you their opinions. It definitely makes a difference.
I have the 35mm f1.8 which I use for portraits but I am not pleased with it overall. I will probably sell it and get a zoom instead. My primary dislike is not having the ability to do in camera framing and cropping which is a hold over from the film days. Switching lenses during a shoot to get in closer is too much of an interruption.
Short answer - obviously yes. Longer answer - this zoom is a very good for portraits. Not everybody can afford or does enough portrait work to justify owning a specialist portrait lens in addition to the zoom. When shooting wedding groups the 24-70 is the lens I use most. For a one to one portrait in a studio my first choice would be my preferred portrait lens - which is the 105 DC. Digressing I often use the 70-200 for small groups in restaurants etc because the longer zoom gives me greater framing flexibility. With unlimited budget no one lens is ideal for every portrait situation. With a limited budget the 24-70 is an excellent first choice for many.
Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.
Sat 18-Jun-11 07:33 AM | edited Sat 18-Jun-11 07:41 AM by Len Shepherd
>>For a one to one portrait in a studio my first choice would be >>my preferred portrait lens - which is the 105 DC. > >For clarity, is that on FX or DX? This is an interesting related to the topic question. When I started doing studio portraits 33 years ago DX did not exist, and medium format Bronica mirrors had huge vibration making sharp pictures impracticable in tungsten studio light of the era. I used an 85mm on an "FX" Olympus film body - for "natural head and shoulders" facial perspective - and a working distance of about 10 feet for head and shoulders portraits. "About 10 feet" can be important. Getting closer than about 6 feet with a wide angle can be invading what the sitter regards as personal space, interfering with a good photographer and sitter rapport. Wide angles can also make noses look too big. 15 feet away (105mm on DX) is starting to get a little impersonal. FX (including film bodies) has been around a long time, 85mm is about about right for traditional portraiture with this format. Nikon responded over the decades to 10 feet being about right, with legendary FX portrait lenses like the 105 f2.5, the DC lenses from the 1990's and more recently the 85mm G. You should be able to work out from this in a studio my 105 DC is on an FX body. For portrait on DX my suggestions are either the 60mm macro G (good enough for the D3x brochure portraits) or the 24-70 - though neither has a DC feature. Edit - going back in time to an era when I was almost as young as the good looking girls some good work was possible with manual focus, a tripod, and tungsten photofloods. The picture below is from the archives
I use this lens quite often for informal/candid portraits, usually at some events. The fact that it zooms comes in very handy at those occasions, since one oftentimes wants to switch quickly between head shots and group shots.
The maximum aperture of f/2.8 is slower than primes (which are usually between f/1.4 and f/2), but this is usually not an issue. the faster primes provide less DOF (more subject isolation) but the DOF at f/1.4 can be so shallow that only one eye is in focus, which is not everybody's cup of tea. Something between f/2.8 and f/4 usually works very well for portraits so then the speed of the 24-70 is not an issue. And as for low light shooting, I have used f/2.8 inside dimly lit churches, with the high ISO capability of today's cameras it's not a problem, either.
I also have a few primes like 85/1.4 and 135/2. For formal portraits when I don't need the zoom these come in handy. Also due to the longer focal length they can work better for head shots, when used on FX. Since you use DX, this won't be an issue though. Another advantage of the 85/1.4 or 85/1.8 would be the much smaller weight and size, which can be important when traveling. Just some things to consider.
But anyway the image quality of the 24-70 is superb. Here is an example from a recent event.
I bought this lens as the beginning of my landscape kit but it remains on my camera pretty much all of the time. Have photographed parties as well as events at work with it and am very impressed with the lens and it's image quality when taking portraits. Camera is a D300. Great piece of glass to own. Very versatile.
I recently sold my 24-70 because I just wasn't using it for portraits or much of anything else. I use an 85mm f1.4 with my D700 and 50mm f1.4 with my D90 for portraits. The 24-70 will work just fine as long as f2.8 gives the depth of field desired. The bokeh isn't in the same class as the two lenses I use but is really quite nice.
IMHO, the 24-70 is a good happy-snap lens, not one to use for portraiture at all. You can use it and call it that, but it really is a small travel lens. On the DX cameras, more often than not, I have heard that the a 60mm or 85mm are the ones to use. On an FX camera, the equivalents are effectively 90mm and 125mm lenses (so, a 100mm or a 135mm). As a comparison during the film days, when I was using my FM, I had a 135mm lens for a portrait lens and my 50mm f/1.4 for everything else but landscape.
I have two D700 bodies, and one has the 24-70mm f2.8 attached almost permanently. I don't do formal portraits -- instead, I do quite a few what I term "informal portraits." If I need a nice head and shoulders perspective, the 24-70mm at the long end is my choice. If I am looking to isolate individuals' faces or even faces and hands, as in a musician, I find my self going to my 80-200mm f2.8. I have and sometime use a 50mm f1.4, but while that might suffice for a full-length informal portrait, it is a bit short for my style of "collecting faces" from a crowd. In that much of what I do is for a newspaper, I find the flexibility of the zoom lens to outweigh concerns about bokeh -- but that's based on what I do and is a matter for personal choice.