I am a new Nikonian and have a D700. I never did portrait shots before. I want to invest in one good lens for this porpose. these lens are suggested to me: 50mm f1.4G, 50mm f1.4D, 85mm f1.4 D IF. Can soneone give me advices on what lens I should buy and possiby the differences of these lens? Money is not the big issue but there is no need to buy an expensive lens when others can produce the same quality. thank you
#1. "RE: what lens should i choose?" | In response to Reply # 0khollister Registered since 29th Jun 2004Fri 02-Jan-09 03:07 PM
What lenses do you have now? When folks talk of a "portrait lens" they are usually referring to a focal length in the range of 85 to 135mm (full frame angle of view here). The reason is that has tended to give a natural, flattering perspective to faces. In addition, certain lenses have image rendering characteristics (this is often referred to as how a lens "draws") that render tonal variations and contrast in way that flatter skin. The current AF lenses in this category are the 85/1.4 and the 105 & 135 f/2 DC lenses. In the manual focus era, the 105/2.5, 105/1.8 & 135/2 had similar reputations. I still use the 105/2.5 & 135/2 with my D700. The 105/2.5 is a classic for portraits that can be had very reasonably used if MF is OK with you. Otherwise the 85/1.4 would be my pick. The 105/2 DC is probably a superior lens for this purpose, but they suffer from considerable QC problems and often need to be sent back to Nikon for adjustment. This stems from their unique ability to alter the in focus to out of focus transition via knobs on the lens - they are quite complicated lenses.
However, if you have a zoom or prime that is anywhere from 85 up to 200mm, try that first. A 50mm is good for full length portraits, but it would no be my first choice for head & shoulder shots. There is a lot more to creating good portraits than the lens. If you have never done this before, don't run out & buy a $1000 lens thinking it will make you an expert. The lighting and posing is far more important.
#2. "RE: what lens should i choose?" | In response to Reply # 1Fri 02-Jan-09 04:15 PM
Thanks alot for your response.
I have the 24-120mm lens that comes with the D700. someone said that it is a soft lens, so I do not think it is good for portrait.
I also plan to get a light kit but can not decide whether the umbrella or the box type.
If I understand you correctly, the 50mm is the choice for full length portrait ( there are two 50mm lens, which one do you prefer)and the 85mm for head and shoulder shot, right?
#3. "RE: what lens should i choose?" | In response to Reply # 2nikolaj1972 Registered since 13th Sep 2007Fri 02-Jan-09 05:03 PM | edited Fri 02-Jan-09 05:06 PM by nikolaj1972
Try to search nikonian for 85 1.4 or 50 1.4 then you get plenty of advises.Google is not bad either.
You might want consider the sigma 50 1.4 which is better than the nikon 50 1.4 (D or G).
As for 50 or 85 mm , try you zoom and see how close you like to be to the model.
#4. "RE: what lens should i choose?" | In response to Reply # 2KnightPhoto Nikonian since 18th Dec 2006Sun 04-Jan-09 02:15 PM | edited Sun 04-Jan-09 02:22 PM by KnightPhoto
Nick, I would also be interested to hear what you find on choosing umbrellas vs. soft boxes light kit. Let us know what you found out and how you will choose. It's an area I would like to understand more...
With regards to lenses I have the 135mm f2 and 70-200 for portraits currently and one day I would like to add an 85mm. The following gallery has a mix of 70-200 and 135mm and by clicking on the 'EXIF Info' button you can see which was used:
The above images were done in natural light with a gold/white reflector and a small cheap stand. So far that has been a great investment. If you want to save some money you could also look at buying used lenses (here at Nikonians or adorama.com or keh.com) and maybe the 90mm Tamron macro lenses which have a very good reputation (but I have not tried them).
Best regards, SteveK
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#10. "RE: what lens should i choose?" | In response to Reply # 2hwdx347 Basic MemberFri 09-Jan-09 07:15 PM | edited Fri 09-Jan-09 07:17 PM by hwdx347
Try using your 24-120 set at around 70 for portraits on a DX and around 105 on yout FX. A lens that is a little soft is usually a good idea for portraits as it tends to hide skin problems.
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#5. "RE: what lens should i choose?" | In response to Reply # 0
I used to use a 105mm f2.8 for portraits and it did a good job, but I recently purchased a 70-200 f2.8 VR lens and the quality of the photographs are amazing! It is a little pricey, but the versitility is worth the extra money.
#6. "RE: what lens should i choose?" | In response to Reply # 5Wed 07-Jan-09 02:03 PM
It will take a while to dicide between box and umbrella types.
With regarding the lens for portrait, It seems to me everybody has a different opinion. if the lens they own give a good picture then that is the lens for portrait shots. Eventhough you have to like what you see it is still subjective. To achieve a good qiality portrait everything has to be right such as: the lens, the light, background, technique... since it is a pricy investment I have to start with the right lens. I came across articles posted by kenrockwell on google and I think his opinion makes alot of sense eventhough I have no experience on this subject. basically He said the camera has to be 15ft away in order to get a proper portrait shot. He suggests the 50mm f/1.4 for the full body portrait (Nikon also says this in the desvription of the lens), 100mm for sitting portrait and 300mm or longer for head and shoulder shot.
I hope that more professional Nikonians will get in this discusssion.
#7. "RE: what lens should i choose?" | In response to Reply # 6MichaelAlan Registered since 25th Sep 2008Fri 09-Jan-09 01:19 PM | edited Fri 09-Jan-09 01:20 PM by MichaelAlan
If portraits are your thing AND you have a full frame sensor then you can get by with two lenses.
I would recommend anything in the 70mm and up focal lengths to prevent any barrel distortion that may cause your subjects to look wider than what they are. The more telephoto you go, the more accurate their shape looks.
I personally prefer the 85mm f/1.8 prime lens for one subject shots. I focus on the eyes at f/1.8 and let the background blow out of focus.
Otherwise, I shoot the 24-70mm f/2.8 for single and group shots to give me widness (take the barrel distortion into account and I leave room on the left and right)
I also use the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS for one subject and it really looks well to blur the background wide open.
I would only recommend the 50mm lens if you have a crop body like a D90 or D300 and so on... Otherwise, it is too wide IMHO.
#8. "RE: what lens should i choose?" | In response to Reply # 7Aphex Registered since 30th Oct 2005Fri 09-Jan-09 05:29 PM
Perspective is important when choosing a focal length. I prefer 50mm for full body and 85mm for head and shoulders/headshots (perhaps a 135mm in the future for the latter). That is somewhat traditional, but I feel it works best for me.
A longer focal length means you have to stand further away, which means flatter perspective and more distance to the model. And when shooting portraits, good contact, both verbal and non-verbal, with your model is essential.
#9. "RE: what lens should i choose?" | In response to Reply # 0
Portrait with a FX sensor, 85 e 105 are the sure bets.
The 85/1.4 AFD should be on everyone bag...unfortunately good glass is not cheap.
You may want to try the Creamy 105/2.5 AIS or the 1.8 AIS too(the later always at 1.8 or 2 max. It's so sharp that brings "things" that no one sees... or like to see on portraits).
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#11. "RE: what lens should i choose?" | In response to Reply # 9echo rider Registered since 13th May 2004Fri 09-Jan-09 07:58 PM
I recently took some nice portraits with the 50mm 1.8 Nikkor on my D300. But if and when I go to FX, I'll use my 105 2.8. I have used the 105 before, but unless you have enough room to get far back, it is hard with a DX camera. It's good for head and shoulders, though.
Since you have a FX, any of those 85 and up as suggested above will be good. Just get a fast glass as you can afford to make good backgrounds.
#12. "RE: what lens should i choose?" | In response to Reply # 11Sat 10-Jan-09 02:45 AM
I would like to thank for all helpful responses. I am still gathering ideas on the lens for head and shoulder shots. I want to stay with Nikon lens only.
Today I've just received the 50mm f/1.4 from Adorama (the best place to shop online). I choose this lens for the full body portrait for the following reasons:
- Nikon's suggestion and alot of people like it too.
- Reasonable cost ($291 for the lens and cleaning kit, lens cap leash, tiffen filter. I also bought a Nikon filter for $30. free shipping).
I took a few shots. It is excellent.
Here is my thought regarding the lens for the sitting portrait and the head&shoulder shot:
-In studio with a controlled blured background: I can use a cheap 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6($110 to $450)on a tripod to get nice head&shoulder shot. If I use the 70-200mm f/2.8 ($1600) or 80-200mm f/2.8($900), I also get nice shots too. The differences are the backround will be even more blured and a tripod may not be needed. These lenses can take sitting portrait shots too.
-For outdoors shots I have to use the fast lens.
-As some people suggested, a 85mm f1.4 or f1.8 can be used indoor/outdoor and for both sitting and head&shouler shots. I stiil think a long lens can give more correct head and shoulder shots.
I think I have 2 options:
1/ get a cheap 70-300mm and a 85mm.
2/ just get a 70-200mm or 80-200mm fast lens.
Please let me know whether my thought is correct or not.
Thank you all.