Portrait lens for Nikon

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by chriscorbin, Sep 10, 2007.

  1. chriscorbin macrumors 6502

    chriscorbin

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2007
    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    #1
    I am starting to take portraits for a couple of high school seniors and i have been getting away with my D50 kit lens, but its time to upgrade i think, my budget is around $400-$450(its a new lens or a ipod touch!) and it will be mostly for portraits, brand is not an issue for me, I care about quality not who makes it, let me know if it would be better to wait and buy a more expensive lens, but if i have to wait it will be a LONG time before i have money again, I would like a f/2.8 if thats possible.

    I was looking at this
     
  2. alecmcmahon macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 18, 2007
    Location:
    Woodbridge, NJ
    #2
  3. DaBooch macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2007
    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    #3
    Absolutely. That's what I use, and it's an incredibly cheap lens. It's a prime, so you're probably going to get better image quality than a Sigma zoom. Seriously, just pick up a 50mm f/1.8 and spend some money on a good tripod or flash.
     
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #4
    I have both the 50mm f/1.4 and the 85mm f/1.8 Both are excellent for your usage. The 85mm gives you more distance and is best for head and shoulders shots the 50mm would be best for full length shots. The 85 is well within your budget and there are good used examples of this lens available.

    There is absolutely no reason to need a zoom lens in portrait work. You have a cooperative subject so you can reframe by moving the camera or subject

    I also have an older manual focus 105mm f/2.5 lens. This is a real classic. The lens has a "look" that is not equaled and you can buy a very good late model for under $100.
    It does not meter with my D50 but in a studio you can take a couple test shots and use the histogram to nail the exposure. This is the lens that has the built in lens hood. Get the newer "AIS" version. It has the better optical coatings. This lens is actually "free" because you can always sell it for what you paid.

    What you look for in a lens fr portraits is not just "sharpness" (which you may not even want.) but how it renders color, it's contrast or "snap" and very important, how it renders the out of focus background. Most zooms instroduce bad artifacts to the out of focus parts of the image. Some primes do too. You want a lens that makes it look soft without any halos, double images or what not.
     
  5. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #5
    Yep, I'd get the 85 mm f/1.8 or 50 mm f/1.8. Actually, I'd take the 50 mm f1.8 and save some money for that iPod Touch. ;)

    I have that Sigma 24-70 mm f2.8, and it's a nice lens, but I would't say it's a portrait lens. There's nothing wrong for using it as one, but get a 50 mm f1.8 instead.
     
  6. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Location:
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    #6
    The biggest selling point for the 50mm f/1.8 is the price. I think the 35mm f/2 (a bit north of $300) is a better & more flexible portrait lens on a DX camera though.
     
  7. Mark Scheuern macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Location:
    Michigan
    #7
    And another vote for the 50 mm f/1.8. You can't go wrong for the money.
     
  8. DAC47 macrumors 6502

    DAC47

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2007
    Location:
    Cardiff
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #9
    He didn't ask for the most bang per buck. He has a small part time business doing portraits and needs low cost equipment. What matters most here is
    Camera to subject distance for the shots he needs. This distance defines the "perspective" and sense of depth. It's an artistic choice. Classic formal portraits use a medium telephoto. The more modern "in your face" advertising style uses a shorter lens and short camera to subject distance. He may very well want an 85mm lens even if it cost double the 50mm price. Good 85mm lenses are avalable still under the $400 budget. the other thing is the "look" of the out of focus parts of the image and color and contrast

    If "bang per buck" is the goal. There is no way anything can beat that 105mm f/2.5 lens. They are easy to get for $100 but with a crop body camera this will put you some distance from your subject, good or bad, it depends.

    I do agree the 50mm lens as the first lens most people should buy.
     
  10. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #10
    I have both the Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 and Canon 50mm f/1.8. The Sigma is not at all an ideal portrait lens, as it's a bit soft at f/2.8 at 70mm. Like others have said, if you're really just dealing with posed subjects, as prime or primes is the way to go. What lenses do you already have? Getting the 50 f/1.8 and 85 f/1.8 would be a great move. Those two lenses are virtually impossible to beat in terms of price and performance.

    (I'd recommend the Sigma, by the way, but as an "event" lens, not a portrait lens.)
     
  11. MacIllini macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2006
    Location:
    West Coast
    #11
    i have a Canon 50mm f/1.8 too. great portrait pics, lens only cost me $78
     
  12. chriscorbin thread starter macrumors 6502

    chriscorbin

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2007
    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    #12
    I have decided to first get the 50mm f/1.8 Nikon lens
    and i will buy the sigma the next time i get paid
    while everyone is looking at the thread though can anyone recommend a good camera bag, something that can hold: at least 3 lenses not very tall, a SB-600 flash, a Wireless trigger, extra batteries, a charger, and of course a D50(hopefully a D300 soon!) I know thats a lot, but better to pack heavy then leave something behind and need it!

    PS a pace to put a tripod would be nice
     
  13. jlcharles macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wenonah, NJ
  14. JDN macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    Lund Sweden {London England}
    #14
    I am correct in thinking if i wanted to use that nikon 50mm f/1.8 with my D40x it would be manual focus only aren't i?
     
  15. arsiegal macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2007
    Location:
    Dallas via Hua Hin, Thailand
    #15
    Go with Nikon Lenses

    I own a D200 and I use Nikon lenses only. I use a Nikon Nikor 50mm lens for shooting portraits to everything. Right now I'm Thailand for four months shooting digital and my 50mm 1.4 lens is working great. I recommend this lens and it's pretty reasonably cheap if your on a budget.
     
  16. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #16
    1. What about your current lens isn't working?
    2. If it's not a horrid IQ problem, are you better off spending your money on lighting? Flashes with stands and modifiers are likely to be a better portrait investment if you don't already have multiple light sources.
     
  17. chriscorbin thread starter macrumors 6502

    chriscorbin

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2007
    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    #17
    1. AF on my D50 Kit lens of whatever reason decides not to focus in anything but the brightest settings, i work with strobes in a darker room, so this is a problem. i would like sharper images and my kit lens just does not deliver

    2. Don't worry i made that investment as soon as I learned how to properly use studio lighting, I have practiced with it often, I already own 3 lights with stands and 3 umbrellas, and soon a softbox
     
  18. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #18
    If you depend of autofocus, this is a good reason to go for the f/1.4 lens. The AF system needs light to be accurate. The AF is always done with the lens wide open and the fast lens will provide more light to the AF sensor (The is lens stopped down to the requested f-stop only for the exposure.) Also with the smaller DOF at f/1.4 the AF is more sensitive andf the lens does not need to "hunt" through as long a range to find focus. So the AF will work in a darkened room better with an f/1.4 lens than with the f/3.5 (or whatever) kit lens.

    The Nikon 18-55 lens is not "soft". I think it actually has better resolution than the 6MP sensor can record. Aany softness is from the "anti-alias" filter installed on the CCD sensor. You can prove this by putting the 18-55 on a D200 and seeing it you capture more detail.

    I think what you describe is from trying to use AF in a situation where it does not work well.

    The best work I've done is with a manual focus camera and my Norman lights. These lights have built-in quartz modeling lights that let me see exacly how the flash will look and provide enough light to focus. A good light system with the modeling feature are almost required for studio work. Buy used lights. They last literally forever and never go obsolete.
     
  19. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #19
    I'd probably look at (a) An IR light to assist with focus, or (b) ensuring that I was at leaast at 24mm as a first step. If the AF assist is working correctly, then I'd look at a new lens...
     
  20. beloved84 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2006
    #20
    get the 18-50mm f/2.8 forget about the one that goes to 70mm.
     
  21. mangoman macrumors 6502a

    mangoman

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2002
    Location:
    Third Floor
    #21
    Yup. Agreed. Have one on my D50 right now. It's my everyday lens, and it's made me a better photographer since I can't get lazy with a zoom. Forces me to compose, and the speed of that little lens is great, too. Oh, and for $125? Can't beat it.
     
  22. liveexpo macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    #22
    If your camera allows it, shoot RAW, then sharpen 20 points in PS. More often than not its the in-camera processing that softens an image, or takes detail away. My way of thinking is to not let the camera do any processing itself. I use my Mac and CS2 for that.
     
  23. gwuMACaddict macrumors 68040

    gwuMACaddict

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Location:
    washington dc
    #23
    Softness

    Make sure that you have your camera set up correctly. The D50 defaults to automatic sharpening/ contrast/ saturation/ etc.

    In my experience, this had a tendency to result in soft, boring pictures. The camera (and kit lens) rocks when set up correctly.

    Make sure the camera settings are set the way you want them- Auto can be dangerous.
     
  24. chriscorbin thread starter macrumors 6502

    chriscorbin

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2007
    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    #24
    agreed auto is EVIL
     

Share This Page