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in your opinion... portrait lens
Old 08-20-2007, 10:21 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I shoot a Nikon d80 and getting a d200 this week.
I love my sigma 24 to 70 2.8 and my 28 to 70 2.8 (back up)
I also have a sigma fixed 105 2.8 but can not use it indoors. I have to be to far away for the subject.
However I have noticed my images are not quite as sharp as some of the other photogs on this site. So I'm looking for a new lens.
Nikon shooters, what would you recommend in a mid lenth portrait lens. I want a lens that I can use outdoors in open spaces and indoors and smaller spaces. Or do I go with two fixed lenses? and which ones?

Please reply!!!! thanks Mike
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Re: in your opinion... portrait lens
Old 08-20-2007, 11:04 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm not a Nikon shooter but, personally, i prefer a fast, prime lens for portrait work. I use an 85mm, f/1.8 for this sort of stuff but I'd rather be using a 135mm prime. Problem is, I don't have one. Back when I was shooting film, with Canon FD glass, my 135 (I think it was a 2.8) was always my lens of choice for that work. I'm intent on purchasing Canon's 135mm f/2 "L" prime at some point.
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Re: in your opinion... portrait lens
Old 08-20-2007, 12:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Before buying new lens and in particular fixed focal length lens, you might want to be very sure that your lack of the sharpness you want is really a problem with the lens. Often it is not. There are two things that often cause problems:

1. Camera shake. Shooting at shutter speeds that are a bit too low for the given focal length. For example, shooting at 75mm at a shutterspeed of 1/50th. To test whether this is the problem, shoot some tests on a tripod with each of your lens of the same subject matter (something with detail that you focus on) and then check in Photoshop at 100% that the item focused on is sharp (but you have to keep in mind the next point #2).

2. Not sharpening the photo appropriately in your post processing workflow. Digital images are inherently soft, and need sharpening. The camera will apply some level of sharpness based on settings you choose, but often you will need extra post processing sharpening.

3. Shooting technique. Often people will not focus properly or will focus in a way that does not really make the area focused on as sharp as it could be. An example is the widely used focus, do a focus lock, then recompose and then shoot, method. This will often not work, especially at wider apertures. For example, you are shooting at f4, and you focus on the eyes, lock the focus and then recompose the shot. The eyes will likely be soft because you have changed the distance from the sensor plane by doing the re-composition of the shot.

So you need to be sure you really have a lens problem before you move onto more expensive lens.

You might post an example of one or more of your shots that have the problem (post large example and leave the metadata intact).

Cheers,
rfs
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Re: in your opinion... portrait lens
Old 08-20-2007, 12:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks guys!
As alway the two of you come through for us newbies to modeling work!
I will do the focus test and see if it is me or the lens!

Thanks again
Mike
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Re: in your opinion... portrait lens
Old 08-20-2007, 01:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R_Fredrick_Smith View Post
For example, you are shooting at f4, and you focus on the eyes, lock the focus and then recompose the shot. The eyes will likely be soft because you have changed the distance from the sensor plane by doing the re-composition of the shot.
Cheers,
rfs
RFS, v good point. What is the best way to go around this problom.

1. Zoom out or move back to take a large area and then crop.
2. Increase DOF

Thanks.
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Re: in your opinion... portrait lens
Old 08-20-2007, 02:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Connor O'Connor View Post
RFS, v good point. What is the best way to go around this problom.

1. Zoom out or move back to take a large area and then crop.
2. Increase DOF

Thanks.
Both ideas will work. Usually you don't see the focus, lock, recompose problem as much in studio work because we tend to be shooting stopped well down and the added DOF increases the area in focus.

But you can also slightly adjust the camera position. You do the focus, lock, and then recompose and then slightly move the camera forward or backward as needed to re-establish the original distance of the eyes (for example) to the sensor plane. Obviously since this a a guess work type of thing, you sort of have to acquire the knack by experience and practice and you need a very good understanding of the DOF range that you are working with.

The other method that is possible with most modern cameras is to use a different focus point. Most cameras have multiple focus points (mine has 9). You just compose the shot first and then you use the focus point that falls closest to the eyes (if that is your focus point). That avoids the whole problem.

Cheers,
rfs
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Re: in your opinion... portrait lens
Old 08-20-2007, 08:13 PM   #7 (permalink)
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For the money and excellent sharpness, go with the 85 1.8D IMO. You can spend a lot more for the 85 1.4D but for studio lighting you're not going to be at 1.4 much anyway, right.

This assumes it really is a lens issue and not as other posts have suggested.
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Re: in your opinion... portrait lens
Old 08-20-2007, 08:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Hi. I also just bought my Nikon D80 3 weeks ago. So far I have the 18-55 kit lens and the 50mm f/1.8 D(which I love). I like the sharpness the 50mm provides. From what I seen on this forum and others, it seems to be a nice lens for full body portraits. However, I want to go longer.

Recently I've been looking at the 105mm f/2.5 AIS, and the 135mm f/2.8 AIS. Even though they're both manual focus lenses, I liked the sharpness they provided, and the low price.

Since I'm also new to this, y'alls input would be appreciated.
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Re: in your opinion... portrait lens
Old 08-20-2007, 11:46 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Nikon 28-200G. It is small, light, cheap and very sharp! You do not need speed in the studio! I have used mine for year and love it! If I had only one lens for all my photography, this would be it. -Jim
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Re: in your opinion... portrait lens
Old 08-21-2007, 02:10 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsaxman View Post
Hi. I also just bought my Nikon D80 3 weeks ago. So far I have the 18-55 kit lens and the 50mm f/1.8 D(which I love). I like the sharpness the 50mm provides. From what I seen on this forum and others, it seems to be a nice lens for full body portraits. However, I want to go longer.

Recently I've been looking at the 105mm f/2.5 AIS, and the 135mm f/2.8 AIS. Even though they're both manual focus lenses, I liked the sharpness they provided, and the low price.

Since I'm also new to this, y'alls input would be appreciated.
I'd stay away from manual focus lenses on the less than 100% viewfinders on Nikon consumer digital bodies. They do not have any aides on the focusing screen and unless you have very good eyesight, you're bound to have soft images.

As far as sharp Nikkor lenses are concerned, I prefer the following:

50mm f/1.4D AF
85mm f/1.4D IF AF
180mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF
17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-S
28-70mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-S
70-200mm F/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR

But I'm an equipment nerd with more $ than sense...

I would say that 75% of my work is done with the 28-70mm zoom. Nearly all of my headshots are made with the 70-200mm VR. The rest of the lenses are 'special purpose' and used as needed for low light or groups. The majority of my images are made from f/4 to f/8 with an occasional fashion image done at f/11.

A recent headshot with the 70-200mm VR


Something similar but very different (again with the 70-200mm VR)


How about the 28-70mm


The amazing 180mm f/2.8 prime shot on film with natural light


Truth be told you can get sharp images with just about any lens. Get the focus spot on and your handholding (or tripod) technique right, and you'll get excellent images.
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