Nikon 85mm f/1.8 for occasional portrait use

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Westside guy, May 27, 2010.

  1. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
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    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    #1
    Hi,

    I don't shoot a lot of portraits, and I don't really aspire to do so. However I seem to end up shooting just enough that it might be nice to pick up a lens more suited to that purpose. I know Nikon's rumored to have a 85mm f/1.4 update in the works; but I don't really want to drop $1200 or more on a lens that's only going to see sporadic use.

    So I was curious to hear from people who've shot people using the current f/1.8 version of Nikon's 85mm lens - do you give it a thumbs up or down?

    Whatever I end up with will be used on my Nikon D700. I'm not looking to be a photographer by trade - I'm a web developer. While most any decent lens will work well enough for the web, it's not uncommon for students to ask me for the photos I've taken so they can use them for other purposes. Really my main interest is having a larger aperture for a) subject isolation and b) shorter shutter speeds in so-so light, since I prefer to shoot them outdoors whenever the weather cooperates.

    Thanks for any feedback or alternate suggestions you might have!
     
  2. jmdfd415 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    #2
    the nikon 85mm 1.8d is an amazing lens I absolutly love mine! I use it for much more than just portraits. Since it has the 1.8 aperture it comes in really handy during concerts and helps get pictures of the drummer which is usually not the easiest thing to do. I would def recommend it. It is very sharp, focuses fast, and the bokeh is very nice!
     
  3. seedster2 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Location:
    NYC
    #3
    I have an 85mm 1.4 for sale at much less than 1200 if you're interested;)

    I have heard great things about the f1.8. While it won't produce the same bokeh, for your purposes it should be just fine.
     
  4. Westside guy thread starter macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #4
    Thanks, guys, for the feedback - I appreciate it!

    I think if I were inclined to spend the money on the 1.4 (new or used), I'd probably seriously consider the 105 f/2 DC instead. As a matter of fact, I kind of wish I hadn't thought about that... :D
     
  5. MikeinJapan macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Location:
    Tokyo
    #5
    I am not sure if it is any help but I use the Canon 50mm 1/4 a lot and it is fantastic. I think 50mm is a great lens for portraits. My friends use the Nikon one (I am not sure of the f stop) but it is on par with mine.
     
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #6
    On a crop frame body . I use the 50mm f/1/4 indoors the 85mm outdoors.
    The 85mm works well for outdoor portraits but is to long to use indoors

    On a full frame body the 85mm works well indoors and is the ideal length unless you have a large indoor space. I have an old, manual focus 135m and a 105 also. The 105 is the perfect outdoor portrait lens for use with a full frame body
     
  7. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    #7
    Do you have a macro lens at all, or aspire to do any macro photography? If so, and you feel like you could give up 1.5 stops to get a f2.8 lens, you could combine your "sporadic" portrait lens purchase with something with macro functionality. Just a thought.
     
  8. Westside guy thread starter macrumors 601

    Westside guy

    Joined:
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    #8
    A lot of people love the 50. When I was using a crop camera I actually used a 35 f/2 for portraits, since it was more or less a "normal" lens (like the 50 is on full frame) - but the more I shot, the more I felt it was the wrong focal length for that purpose (for me). I have no complaints about the lens itself.

    I should probably take a long lens, set it to 105 and see how that "feels". My 70-180 is not a portrait lens by any stretch; but it'd let me judge the focal length. But when I do shoot portraits, I really prefer being outside - and not being a pro means I don't have a studio anyway, just an office.

    The downside is if I get too excited about the 105mm focal length... that's less than the 85 f/1.4 but more than the 85 f/1.8. :D But there sure are a lot of people that love the Nikon 105 and put it in the same class as the 85 f/1.4.

    I do have a macro lens - the Micro-Nikkor 70-180. That was a good thought, though. I've noted that a number of people do exactly this. FWIW I love that lens to death, despite it being old, slow, heavy, and non-VR.
     
  9. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #9
    Another possibility is that, if (or when?) an updated 85 1.4 is announced, many people will be selling off their old 85 1.4s in anticipation for the upgrade. If you will only be seeing sporadic usage out of yours, you could likely pick up a used 1.4 AF-D when everyone is tripping over themselves to get rid of theirs, and probably score a favorable price on an excellent lens. As you will not use it too often, it may not be necessary to have the latest version of the equipment- particularly this lens as the current one has proven its quality and worth many times over.

    Ruahrc
     
  10. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

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    #10
  11. Westside guy thread starter macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #11
    That's all true, and I have thought about it. The main issue is when, exactly, Nikon is going to release the VR 85mm. It's supposedly "imminent"... but off and on it's been reported that way for the past couple years!

    Even so, the non-VR 85mm f/1.4 will probably not drop to less than the 105mm DC f/2.

    Until Nikon releases a VR version of the 70-180, you'll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands. :D
     
  12. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

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    Oct 6, 2008
    #12
    Hah. Well, I am sure you contacted Nikon and asked them to make it for you, they'd probably just refer you to the 70-200 VR2 (despite the fact it's not a macro lens).
     
  13. RainMeister macrumors member

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    Sep 16, 2008
    #13
    Though I am a Canon user, I have an 85mm f/1.8 lens that I bought for use taking volleyball, portrait and other indoor photos. I've used it very infrequently, as I preferred using a 70-200 f/2.8IS. While the 85mm was fully capable of being used wide open, I often found the depth of field to be too shallow for portraits, causing the ears to be out of focus, so I typically closed down to about f/2.8 anyway. I also preferred the flexibility of the zoom. Why not get a fast tele-zoom instead?
     
  14. Westside guy thread starter macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #14
    Thanks again to everyone for your thoughts, opinions, and advice.

    After all that... I ended up not buying either 85mm option. :p I had some Google ad money that'd built up, plus when Father's Day rolled around my wife said "well there's always camera equipment you're wanting to buy, so go ahead". After playing around with my existing lenses at 85mm and 105mm for portrait-ish shots to get a feel for the focal lengths, in the end I decided to order the Nikkor AF DC 105mm f/2. I'm looking forward to its arrival!
     
  15. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    Oregon coast
    #15
    Good choice. A much more interesting lens, IMO. Give us a field report when you put it to the test.
     
  16. Westside guy thread starter macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #16
    Will do. I'm really looking forward to experimenting with the *Defocus Control*, but I've heard it takes some time to get a handle on that. However the lens is supposed to have amazing bokeh even without touching that ring.
     
  17. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

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    May 5, 2007
    #17
    I hope you mean Defocus Control!
     
  18. carlgo macrumors 68000

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    Dec 29, 2006
    #18
    Nice choice. I am waiting for the elusive 14-400mm macro DC 1.2 that is made by Leica and is small, light and cheap. I hate changing lenses.
     
  19. Westside guy thread starter macrumors 601

    Westside guy

    Joined:
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    #19
    No, it's a new funhouse lens from Nikon. :D

    (My brain must've been on cruise control in my previous post - thanks for catching that)
     

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