View Full Version : Best portraiture lens for DX?

22-12-2010, 1:11am
Hi chaps, I'm after your informed opinions once again. Lets say that I were to hypothetically pick up a D7000, what in your opinions would be the best lens one could use for portraiture with this cam?

Would the 24-70mm f2.8 be the best option as it would be on a FF body, or is there a DX equivalent in the Nikon or other brand's lineup (say a high quality 18-55mm) that I haven't yet come across?

I @ M
22-12-2010, 1:16am
I would advise against a zoom lens for portraits ( either head and shoulders or full length ) and suggest that you look at a couple of prime lenses instead.

Have a think about the 35mm F/1.8, the 50mm F/1.4 and an 85mm F/1.8 or 1.4 depending on the style of portraiture that you want to do.

22-12-2010, 1:23am
Interesting, I hadn't even considered the option of primes. I guess they're more cost effective and possibly may even produce a sharper image at that focal length than a high quality zoom.

I @ M
22-12-2010, 7:30am
$ wise you can still spend obscene amounts of money on top quality prime lenses.
Prime lenses no longer offer a clear cut image quality advantage over zoom lenses the way they once may have and certainly something like the 24-70 Nikkor will rival just about every equivalent prime Nikkor lens in those focal ranges but the prime lenses will give you ( generally ) a wider maximum aperture to help with blurring out backgrounds, aid low light focussing and lower ISO ability.
The other point about prime lenses is that they make you slow down and consider your composition more carefully by making you "zoom with your feet" and adopt different angles rather than staying in one place and simply twisting the zoom ring.

22-12-2010, 2:28pm
I guess where you shoot will play a part too. I have a thing for primes (I have the 24mm, the 50mm and the 105mm macro). They all have their uses - the 24mm for indoors and other tight spaces, the 50mm can sometimes still be used indoors and is great for low light situations (I shoot weddings so it's good for dark churches) and the 105mm gives me tack sharp images but needs the space. However, I have friends that swear by the 24-70 and use it constantly.

22-12-2010, 2:33pm
I would happily recommend the 85mm f1.8. I have used it on my D300 and D80 and have been happy with the results. If you got $$$ to burn get the 85mm f1.4.

22-12-2010, 2:38pm
I use a sigma 30mm f1.4 and love it, but for portraits, the sigma 50mm f1.4. Under $500 and stupid fast

22-12-2010, 2:40pm
You can use any lens for portraits, it really depends on what sort of portraits and where you are taking them , ie lighting and distance to subject

I regularly use my 24-70, I think it's a fantastic portrait lens, so is my 70-200 and so is my 50 1.4

I used to have a 85 1.4 which was fantastic for studio head & shoulders work etc

So, look at what sort of portraits before what lens

22-12-2010, 4:30pm
While Primes are fantastic, remember it also means you have more to carry, and will be changing the lens alot more. If you are in situations which require fast and dynamic adjustment and limited space to adjust your actual position then a whole swathe of primes is probably not going to be the answer. If you have time then its probably not going to be a problem.

I currently use a 24-70 (which ends up being used like 4 different primes....a 24, a 35, a 50 and sometimes a 70...I don't intentionally do it but it seems I am naturally drawn to those focal lengths, but the quick adjustment is invaluable in situations where I have to change length rapidly...like key moments in a wedding when I am close to the altar), have a 50 1.8 (which eventually will be a 1.4), and a 105 2.8 Macro. If I really want to go tight a 70-300 VR does the job. But Kiwi is right. It depends on the situation...if I was in a studio an 85 1.4 would be great.

The other thing is by the time you buy a 24 F1.4, 35 F1.4, 50 F1.4, 85 F1.4 and a 105 2.8 your wallet is going to be considerably lighter...quality primes are great, but again its specific conditions that you might want those (the bokeh, DOF, to make you think more about your composition, allows lower light usage). Really need to be more specific to go any further than that.

23-12-2010, 2:50am
Thanks for the info guys. Whilst I don't particularly want to be lugging around a set of primes for every occasion, I've also decided that I'm not quite ready to drop ~$2k on a 24-70mm. So with this in mind, I went out and bought a 35mm f1.8 and an 50mm f1.8 prime today. The plan is to use these to shoot portraits for a couple of months whilst I decide if it's going to be worth spending some big bucks on the nice fast zoom lens. If I do end up buying the 24-70, the primes will also be used on holidays and for street shooting I guess.

Have a Merry Christmas all and thanks again for the advice!

23-12-2010, 3:39am
Good choice in both of those lenses. The 24-70 is a big step and you really want to have the need before taking it. The 50 F1.8 is a great lens, and my favourite choice for the lens I whack on my camera when I can't be bothered to cart the rest (unless I am in a wide mood)...the 50 is also fantastic in how it isn't particularly conspicious as well. Even if you get a 24-70 you will probably still find yourself using it, especially if you shoot low light. The 35 F1.8 is something I really like but haven't had that much of a chance to play with as I don't really want a dedicated DX lens. In terms of coping with the crop factor the focal length is much closer to what we see with the human eye and so will be very enjoyable from that point of view.

Good luck and have fun with them...either way the lenses will take photos, and provided you get the key ingredients of photography right probably good ones.