50mm 1.4 or 85mm 1.8 fashion photography

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by vic_canberra, Sep 2, 2011.

  1. hello,
    i have a dx camera and i need a suggestion
    i have a 50mm 1.8 nikon afd
    and i love to know whic is the better choice
    i still have to keep my 50mm 1.8 or sold it for a 50mm 1,4
    OR it is a better choice
    if i will buy a 85mm ?
    please help me
  2. Come on Purple, get a grip of yourself. How do you expect to succeed in a hyper-competitive field like fashion, which demands a strong element of individualility, when you can't make your own mind up about which lens you want to use?
    Make a choice based on your own vision, style and preference.
  3. oh rodeo, i am only a newcomer i'm starting now on this field
    i'm leaving my country and before i leave i want to buy a new lens
    50mm is fine
    but maybe i prefer something more tele like 85
  4. I`m not sure if Purple is talking about the pro stage, maybe just about his/her own portraiture approach...
    It is always interesting to have means available for different needs; both focal lenghts seems reasonable for portrait photography. The working distance will tell you which one you need.
    I don`t know which other lenses you have; to your question, personallly, I`d keep the 50/1.8, adding the 85 to the bag. Neither of this lenses will give you other than good sharpness and subject isolation, at the expense of a harsh bokeh which can also be a negligible issue, depending on each own.
    Edit: in comparison to your 50/1.8, the 85mm lens will give you a 70% longer working distance, a bit higher background compression and practically the same depth of field in your subjects. Only you know if all this suit yourself.
  5. yes jose angel i'm a girl who is not a pro
    on october i will go to england and i needed a suggestion
    for the best lenses set to carry with me
    i was thinking about 85mm beacause in london there are a lot of park and i can use there without any space problem
  6. In this case my choice use to be either 1.) a standard type zoom for versatility or 2.) a standard focal lenght prime for lightness.
    I`m currently using FX, so the equivalent in DX could be a 16-85 zoom or a 35/1.8DX.

    Longer primes are nice, but you will be very limited on the viewing angle; it could be an awkward exercise, even outdoors. Indoors, still more limiting, depending on your photography... If you are aware of it and accept it, all is right.

    Another solution could be to carry with a second prime, maybe a moderately wide lens like a 24/2.8AF/AFD. The issue here is the pain of lens switching; the benefit, faster lenses. Which camera? You need to have an AF motorized camera with this lenses.
  7. Is the 85mm bokeh considered harsh? I did not know that.
    Depending on how you feel with your 50mm you might as well consider a 35mm lens. The 1.8DX version has a good reputation. In my opinion the 85mm can't be a little tricky on DX but again, that depends a lot on how you feel with such narrow angles.
    You'd be hard pressed to tell the IQ of the 50mm 1.8 from the one of the 1.4.
  8. Is the 85mm bokeh considered harsh? I did not know that.​
    The 85mm f/1.8 AF-D is. The f/1.4 lenses, not so much. That said, many find the f/1.8 to be pretty sharp even wide open (although others don't, for some reason). If you've the budget, the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 is probably a better budget option than the 85mm f/1.4 AF-D; the AF-S is much sharper wide open, but silly money. If you can get the subject to hold still (it's manual focus), the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 is pretty good at the same price as the Nikkor f/1.8.
    You'd be hard pressed to tell the IQ of the 50mm 1.8 from the one of the 1.4.​
    The 50mm f/1.8 AF-D is not at all sharp off-centre wide open, and the bokeh is iffy. The AF-S version is much better - close to the f/1.4s - but obviously costs more. The 50mm Sigma is worth a look too, if you're considering the f/1.4 50mms.

    My feeling is: you already have a 50mm lens, which is very good if stopped down a bit. Better to get an 85mm and then have two primes than to get a better 50mm and then only have one. But I don't own any premium 50mm (just the f/1.8 AF-D), because I'm not happy with the optics of any of them, so others may feel differently. Chances are an 85mm will do a better job of losing - and selecting - the background than a 50mm. Of course, if you want the background, use the 50mm you've got and stop down. Good luck.
  9. When you make photos now with the 50mm, what do you find missing? What makes you believe you need another lens?
    You're looking for a solution without a problem, it seems.
    (and yes, the 85 f/1.8 bokeh is called harsh by some, and it is harsh compared to the supersmooth 85 f/1.4 lenses. But for bokeh, I'll take the 85 f/1.8 over the AF-D 50 f/1.8 any day - the 85 is miles better)
  10. Honestly? I would take both of them. The new 50 1.8 AF-S is a bit better than the AF-D. Costs around $200. I really like the 85 1.8 (as a cheaper alternative for 85 1.4. Costing $500?) for fashion. Now I wouldn't be bothered about the bokeh so much because the shoot is indoors I am presuming, a studio with a barrage of backgrounds and light sources etc.Ramp is a slightly different ball game where bokeh may come to play.
    Now it is important to know that these two are distinctly different purpose focal lengths. 85 gives you a bit of a distance from the subject and hence movement space. 50 is a lot closer and a standard human eye perspective.
    Both are nice lenses to have. 85 mm is a lot sharper than 50 1.8.
  11. 50mm 1.8 that i have it not too bad but it has got too much softness when i do face portrait
    and i don't like this kind of effect
    for portrait i don't like also 35mm 1.8 effect
  12. Portrait Photography

    by Philip Greenspun
    i'm reading this article and i find it very interisting
  13. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    That doesn't have much to do with fashion photography. Exactly what is it you are going to be shooting?
  14. and yes, the 85 f/1.8 bokeh is called harsh by some, and it is harsh compared to the supersmooth 85 f/1.4 lenses
    Ok, but then the 85 f/1.4 lenses' bokeh is harsh compared to that of the 200 f/2. And so on.
    Don't get me wrong, I just don't think it makes much sense to consider the 85 1.8 bokeh to be harsh in the same way we consider the 50mm D lenses to be so.
  15. Well, my sentence was unfortunate. I should have not mentioned the word bokeh...
    From what I recall, bokeh wise the 85/1.8 is very close to the 50/1.4, which is certainly above the 50/1.8. When I wrote "harsh" I was surely thinking on the 50/1.8, but (unfortunately) I included the 85mm lens in the same package. Currently, I only have a f1.4 version, which I rarely used since the digital era.
    Anyway, I believe Purple should obviate the bokeh parameter.
  16. "50mm 1.8 that i have it not too bad but it has got too much softness when i do face portrait... "​
    Shoot then that portrait at f4 and you will see "too much face sharpness"... ! :)
  17. Purple - in the other thread you started you mentioned that the 50 f/1.8 AF-D was soft at apertures near wide open. You're right - it is. The 85mm AF-D is better, as is the AF-S version of the 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 (but not the AF-D f/1.4, so much). Are all these as sharp wide-open as a 200 f/2? No, but the pre-AF-S 50mm lenses are definitely less sharp (or contrasty) wide open than the newer ones and the 85mm. You also have to get the focal plane in the right place, of course.

    Emilio - the 85mm f/1.8 is particularly known (at least in the reviews I've seen) for having more objectionable bokeh than one might have expected - I suspect as a design trade-off for being so sharp (in good samples) at large apertures, since smooth bokeh tends to come with residual spherical aberrations (which is exactly what the DC lenses exploit). By contrast, the 85mm f/1.4 AF-D has lovely bokeh, but sharp (wide open) it isn't. The sample images I've seen were enough to make me buy a Samyang instead, and to live with a Tamron 90mm macro until the Samyang was announced - although I wouldn't necessarily expect everyone else to make the same choices. In an absolute sense, it's a lovely lens, but it's not the best choice if you want smooth bokeh, and that's one common target in portrait primes. I'm not sure that the 85mm f/1.8 lenses have harsh bokeh compared with the 200 f/2; they certainly have more LoCA in it, which is why I own a 200mm and no Nikon 85mm lenses, and the 200 f/2 can make the background go away more, but I'm not sure it's a harshness thing. The same is true of the DC lenses compared with the 200mm - the 200 f/2 just has very nice bokeh without being quite so compromised in other areas (but it costs a fortune and weighs a ton...)

    For what it's worth, the Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4 seems to have similar characteristics to the 85mm f/1.8: it's significantly sharper than the corresponding AF-D version when used wide open, but the bokeh isn't as nice. Photozone show samples these days. Most people, rightly, don't care - but if the reason you're buying a fast lens is to lose the background, this is enough of a disadvantage that Sigma are able to charge more for their 50mm than the on-brand version. I'm waiting for Nikon to compete with Canon's f/1.2 autofocus lenses.

    Purple: I second Jeff's question - if you let us know a bit more about what you're shooting, we might be able to help more. There's a difference between shooting with models in a studio with controlled lights, capturing models on a catwalk, and candids in the park.
  18. Purple. Perhaps my original reply was a bit harsh, but it's a harsh commercial world out there. Even so, your original question was a bit like asking "Which do I prefer, barbecue sauce or tomato ketchup? Help me decide." And it's no clearer now what you're trying to do with the lenses or why you need to choose between them.
    Given that an 85mm lens gives results quite different from a 50mm one, it should be obvious to you which one is more suitable for the type of pictures YOU want to take. So is it barbecue or ketchup you prefer? Or are you just trolling us?
  19. i used to do portrait outdoor
    not in a studio
    for example in a park or in the streets
    i'm searching for a lens that is ok
    wide open.
    The photo that i take are similar to
    in the streets
  20. but i also take photos of face portrait
    for example face and a little piece of shoulder or only face and
    i dont like 50mm effect
  21. Purple, as an avid Vogue, W, and Paper reader, I can say that you're probably barking up the wrong tree. Studio stuff is usually done at f/8-f/16, usually with longer lenses. Admitted it's with a different camera, but you don't want a shallow DOF for fashion, as it will cause some of the clothing to be out of focus. Remember that the fashion industry is all about selling clothing - not taking pretty pictures of girls.
    On a DX sensor, I would go for the 50 indoors, and the 85 outdoors. The 85 will give you a shallow enough DOF to blur the background and keep all the clothing in focus at around f/4 or so. Indoors, you're probably using backdrops, so the DOF is much less relevant.
    As far as being unique ... nope. It's really not - not by a long shot. The best you can hope to be is a trend-setter. Right now one of the most popular looks is on-camera flash, which was all lifted from Terry Richardson. Craig McDean is an extremely well-respected photographer, but he shoots in a style that is very similar to about a million other people. Annie Leibovitz is one of the only 'unique' photographers in the industry, and she only gets to be unique because she's Annie-freaking-Leibovitz.
    If you want to get hired, focus on what's hot, and not what's unique. Once you have some business, then you can be unique. If you try to be offbeat and 'stylish' right out of the gate, you'll have an extremely hard time finding people that will take a chance and hire you. Remember: the goal of fashion photography is to make the clothing look sexy and trendy. To do that, you basically need to follow the trends.
  22. purple purple, you seem to know exactly what you are looking for. If you know you want to do face portraits, then definitely go for the 85mm. I own this lens and can say that it is quite sharp, even wide open, and the bokeh is smooth. You can replace the 50mm later, at this point in time, getting an 85mm can extend your possibilities rather than rehash what you already have.
    If you are looking to upgrade your 50mm, I don't think the 50mm f/1.4 AF-D is a good choice. I believe that both of the AF-S models, 1.8 and 1.4, are improvements over the AF-D models in sharpness and bokeh. I'd go for the 50mm f/1.8 AF-S before the f/1.4 AF-D; heck, it's cheaper too.
  23. No disrespect intended to the previous posters & Purple herself...but by judging your picture...I would be more concerned about a good composition book/seminar to improve my vision. If I were you I would consider either an 85/1.8 or 85/2 (cheap options) or a Sigma 50-150mm. They are not that expensive, yet they are quite good. Do not be mislead by tricky discussions about equipment as all the equipment has positives & shortcomings...it is the development of your vision that really counts. Any of the recommendations of the above posters are respectable, but they only work for them, they might not work for you. I strongly recommend you to hire/rent the lens of your choice to check if it fits your style. Sigma or Nikon...1.8 or 1.4...who cares???...it is your vision that matters. [By the way: the 50-15o will give you flexibility and comfort when making fashion portraiture]
  24. "...the better choice " It depends how far you are from your subjects. If 50mm doesn't give you the reach you need or the perspective you want to get the shots you want, the 85mm will be a better choice. I suggest you keep your 50mm f1.8 and add the 85mm f1.8. if you can afford to have both. They are both small and light.
    Harsh backgrounds can produce harsh bokeh with any fast aperture lens. There are many factors that come into play. For many shooting situations, the 85mm f1.8 delivers extreme sharpness and pleasing boheh. I am very please with my lens.
  25. thank yout o zach, vin, arnulfo and elliot
    you have explain your opionion neatly
    this is means so much to me
    i'm a newcomer but i'm going to learn more from photographers with more experience than me
  26. Purple -
    What you are asking about are two different tools in your tool box. I still don't know which camera you are using so I'll have to use my own equipment as an example.
    I shoot a D700, (FX), so if you are on DX please understand that what I describe as wide will be normal; what I describe as normal will be a short tele, and what I describe as a short tele will be moderately longer.
    I do not shoot fashion, but I do shoot portraits. As has been mentioned, there is a different philosophy when shooting fashion than there is when shooting portraits.
    Fashion shoots want a larger depth of field than portraits and you have pretty models to take photos of... but they are there to make the clothing look good...which is also your job as a fashion photographer.
    Portraiture is about bringing out the subject's personality and beauty in a photograph. It's about the person, not what the person is wearing. You [usually] want to isolate the subject and not let the environment become a distraction.
    With both fashion and portraiture you want to make sure you have the right tools for the job. For me, there are many tools in my tool box and I choose the tool that will most easily help me create my vision. I have five lenses I use for portraiture. I use four of the five for events and weddings and two of the five for sports...all of my lenses have multiple uses.
    For portraits I use the following:
    35mm f/1.4 - moderately wide fast prime for environmental portraiture and studio work.
    24-70mm f/2.8 - for difficult situations where I don't have freedom of movement or I have a moving subject that requires the use of a zoom lens, (toddlers and children).
    70-200mm f/2.8 - for shoots that require some working distance from my subject and head/shoulders shots.
    85mm f/1.4 - My initial go-to lens for portraits. Short telephoto length gives me good working distance and wide maximum aperture gives beautiful subject isolation. Add to that moderate vignetting, soft corners, and sharp center and you get the ultimate portrait lens.
    105mm f/2 DC - Specialty lens that I use for babies and women.
    Lots of tools in the toolbox.
    Now to my point...
    It seems like right now you have one tool...and it's not a very flexible tool. I'd suggest a new tool for your toolbox. If you want the 85mm f/1.8, then go get it. I'd recommend a mid-zoom for flexibility over the 85mm...especially if you're going to shoot fashion. You'll have limited room to move and if you need more or less length then you'll have that flexibility. You need to analyze your shooting and figure out what lens will suit your needs. Just because an 85mm is one of the "classic" portrait focal lengths and many portrait photographers highly recommend this lens, it might not be the right tool for your toolbox at this time.
    Hope this helps

  27. richard snow
    thank you
    really comprehensive
    and really clear
  28. To work a bit further from what Richard wrote: you stated you do not like the effect of the 50mm lens. I can fully understand that if you are using a DX camera. There is something about that combination that completely does not work for me, and I can explain you why I do not like it. But, that's my explanation, and yours could be different.
    What I'd urge you to do: explain why exactly you do not like the 50mm look, apart from the fact that it is soft wide open. Understanding why the 50mm isn't the right tool for your work will make you understand which other tool you do need.
    This is why I said earlier: you are looking for a solution without a problem. Define clearly what you want and need in this new lens (*), and then for us it becomes much easier to guide you towards other lenses. It would help if we'd also know which camera you are using. At present, do you have any other lenses than the 50mm? If yes, which? If you give us more information, we can give much clearer answers.
    (*) OK, one requirement is clear: not soft while wide open - and sorry to say, but the cheaper lenses basically never are that good wide open. However, the 50mm f/1.8D is very sharp from f/2.8, and that still leaves quite a lot of background blur. Whatever lens you get, you have to work to understand the strengths and weakness of the lens. At a budget, though, you'll have to understand that there will be compromises.
    Just to be clear for the other bit of earlier discussion: I never meant to imply there is much wrong with the 85 f/1.8D. No idea where that idea came from; I quite like mine and never recommended against it, and I value it much higher than the 50 f/1.8D. I do think the 85 f/1.4 (D and G) are better portrait lenses (and at three times the money, they'd better be). But that's not saying the f/1.8 is a lousy lens in any way. Anyway, just to clear that up.
  29. If after reading all of this, you've decided that you really like portrait photography, some excellent suggestions have been made, and I want to repeat again that there is no better portrait lens than the 85 f/1.8 for the money, assuming that your indoor spaces are large enough for you to back up a bit.
    If, after reading about the differences, you've decided that you really are into fashion, I'd recommend the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 as your 'one lens.' I owned the 85 f/1.4D and the 50 f/1.4G, and was extremely happy with them both. But as I moved more towards fashion, and usually had an entire body - or sometimes props or even a whole room to photograph - I found that I was usually shooting at f/5.6 or smaller, and at those apertures the 28-75 was just as good as the 50 or 85. If I had to shoot a whole scene I might need f/11 or f/16, and the 28-75 is actually better at f/16 than those primes, as it has ever-so-slightly less diffraction. After several months of working this way, I ended up selling my 50 and 85, even though they were technically better lenses, because they weren't better for what I was doing.
    I suspect this difference in diffraction is why many FX photographers have switched from the 85 to the newer 105 Micro for fashion work.
  30. Well, as others have said, a lot depends on your vision. Back in the day when I had tons of film gear, my all-time favorite portrait lens was an 85 1.4 Carl Zeiss that I used with Contax bodies. The only lens that came close was a 75mm Summicron as I had a couple of Leica rangefinders at that time. I've owned several copies of the 85 1.8, none were that great, my lowly 50 1.8 AF-D has produced better results. Owned two 85 1.4 AF-D's, good, but not Zeiss like. A lot of this will depend on both your vision and the ability to try out different gear. Think about, if possible, renting some lenses you may consider buying first. Good luck and let us know what happens.
  31. i would maybe add the 35/1.8 to your current kit. small, light, sharp and cheap. and good for indoor photos.
  32. I love the AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D on a DX body, and it has nearly as beautiful bokeh as the much higher-priced f/1.4G version (I own both). The bokeh on both the AF 50mm f/1.4D, and AF-S 50mm f/1.4G, is tight, circle-ey, and ugly, in my opinion.
    AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D @ f/1.8 on a DX body.
  33. [​IMG]
    AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G @ f/1.4 on an FX body.
  34. [Note: the images above are not directly comparable--in the first image, the background is much further away than in the second image, plus, I'm focused a little closer in the first image. Both factors, a more distant background, and a closer focusing distance, decrease depth-of-field].
  35. [​IMG]
    AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D @ f/1.4 on a DX body.
  36. I said:
    I'm focused a little closer in the first image . . .​
    Correction: I was probably focused a bit farther on the first image--I forgot the 1.5x crop factor for DX! However, the "longer" 127.5mm-equivalent DX focal length of the 85mm f/1.8 did also help to lessen the apparent depth-of-field.
  37. I'm using 50mm f/1.4 & Nikon on D700 now. And I'm thinking to buy another lense for portraiture, also. I'd like to use 35mm lense if I were in Lodon's park. Because 35mm can present more information of the environment, and short the distance with model.

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