60mm micro as a 'casual' portrait lens

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mervyn_wilmington, Dec 30, 2013.

  1. I know that to some extent this has been exercised before, but I would appreciate opinions on my situation.
    I have a D700 with several prime and zoom lenses. None, however, for various reasons really suit portrait use.
    I have the 60mm lens and wondered about buying a dx body, perhaps a D200 - they are now very inexpensive - and it would double as a spare body, rather than buying a very expensive portrait lens for the D700.
    Is there any sense in this approach?
  2. No, not really. While the FOV changes with a DX body, the focal length of the lens doesn't. 60mm is 60mm on both cameras. Effectively, you could accomplish the same thing now with your D700 body just by shooting in DX more. There is little difference, certainly not a significant difference, in resolution from a DX crop of a D700 to the full frame of the D200.
    Your best choice may be to find a good deal on an 85mm lens since it appears you want to shoot in the 90mm range. With the release of the 85mm AF-S lens, there are many of the D versions (or pre-D) available for about the same cost as a used D200.
  3. A 85mm f/1.8G would make a simpler solution indeed - that lens is not very expensive and pretty excellent. Or for even far less money, if you can do without AF, a 105mm f/2.5 which is an outstanding portrait lens and not expensive at all, or the Samyang 85mm f/1.4. Portrait lenses do not need to be very expensive at all.
    Getting a DX body just for portraits, to use it with a lens that was never really designed for portraits doesn't sound a very sensible approach to me.
  4. Many thanks for these speedy replies.
    A highly reputable dealer has the 85mm f1.8 at a very good price. It is non D. However, I have four other af lenses that are non D. They perform fine, even with flash.
    Should I be tempted?
  5. What's lacking in your existing lenses for portraiture? What's your personal concept of portraiture? Without more info and some context, you'll mostly get replies suggesting that you buy the repliers' personal favorite lenses, which may not suit your needs.
  6. The 60mm micro is a favorite for fashion photographers. Besides being optically excellent (especially the AF-s), it has nearly zero distortion.
    At "portrait length" the 85/1.8G is the deal of the decade. Is this what you meant by "non-D"? [A non-D could be any lens from history, AI, AI-s, AF.] Optical quality tops the charts. But for character, the 105/2 DC and 135/2 DC have a more refined look.
  7. I have an old AF 85mm f/1.8 lens (also non-D), and it is very good on the D700. If the new AF-S version is out of your budget range, and you can get this older lens for much cheaper, I would highly recommend it. However, the AF-S version is even better in every way (except that the focus ring does not have a hard stop at infinity, which should be irrelevant for portraits), especially between f/1.8-2.8, so my older lens is not getting any use now. I have not had too much luck with portraits using macro lenses in general.
  8. "Should I be tempted?" Yes, of course! You will love it!!!
  9. another option is the tamron 90 macro, which has a rep as an excellent portrait lens, down to the soft focus glow at 2.8 , which sharpens up nicely at f/4. but unless you need two macros, get an 85/1.8 and shoot it at f/2.2.
  10. The Tamron SP 90mm macro has already been suggested, but I have to disagree that it has any discernible 'glow' at f/2.8 - IME it's as sharp wide open as you could expect any lens to be. Nikon's first version of 105mm f/2.8 AF macro can also be got quite cheaply. It's a perfectly good lens that seems to get an undeserved bad press for no good reason that I can see.
    If you don't need AF, then there are quite a few affordable portrait lens options out there.
    Bargain portrait lens of the century IMHO would have to be Nikon's Series E 75-150mm f/3.5 zoom. This neat little zoom covers all the standard portrait focal lengths, and has great bokeh while being sharp as a pin. Focuses to 1 metre and goes for peanuts.
    Then there's the classic Ai-S 105mm f/2.5 Nikkor, closely followed by the Ai-S 85mm f/2. Personally I prefer the f/1.8 105mm Ai-S Nikkor, but this is a bit harder to find and more expensive.
    Samyang's 85mm f/1.4 AE would top the bill; except that it's an IF design that gets shorter with close focusing. The result being that its closest focus doesn't really provide enough magnification for tight head shots. This is a real shame because otherwise it's an impeccible lens optically.
  11. The old 105mm f/2.5 Ai is still an outstanding portrait lens and is relatively inexpensive.
  12. I think either the 60mm AF-S or the 85mm f/1.8G are good lenses for half body or in the case of the 85mm, head and shoulders portraits;
    for full body I like 45mm or even 35mm. That is on FX. I don't see there much point in getting a DX body for this purpose; FX with its
    larger viewfinder image is nicer for portraiture.

    If you need a backup camera, i would buy one that is of the same format as the primary body; otherwise it will not serve exactly the
    purpose of a backup but is something else. If you're set on buying a DX camera I would get something newer, such as D7100 or used
    D300/D90 rather than the D200.
  13. Agree completely with RJ on the 75-150/3.5 Series E. It has a very special character. It'd be great at any price, but it also happens to be the biggest bargain in the used lens market. Also agree on the 85/2 AI. I don't know why that 85/2 gets a bad rap sometimes. I liked it a lot.
  14. Many thanks for the many comments/advice.
    I have had the 75-150 lens for the best part of 30 years. It is superb. I still remember the first time I used it. I also have a Tamron 90mm (manual). The difficulty is that now in my 70s my eyes and fingers simply do not work quickly enough for manual lenses for casual portraits: catching the moment. Over Christmas I was photographing our grandchildren 'running around'. Manual focus would have been no use to me. I was mainly using a f2.8 35-70 - an old lens but still performs very well. I felt I needed something a little longer and, perhaps, faster. At one stage I resorted to using a Panasonic Lumix. In good conditions it performs rather well, but then there is that thing called shutter delay. Not very good with active children!
    I suppose I had the D200 in mind because of those 'silly' thoughts about trying the better cameras of yesteryear. Perhaps that is why I have so many film cameras stored...
  15. The Nikon 85mm f1.4 AIS is a great portrait lens. Not so easy to manual focus on my D800 though.
    85mm 1.4 AIS at F2
  16. Mervyn, I'm in the same position as you. Grandchildren won't hold still enough for me to manual focus.
    For portraits on DX, I like a 50. Your 60mm should do just fine. I second the suggestion to try it on your D700 in DX mode. I think that will be at least as good as a D200, a camera I used and enjoyed in its time. With the D700, I can see no reason to have a D200.
    I also second the suggestion for the 85mm f/1.8 G; this is a great lens, reasonably priced, and is perfect on an FX body for portraits and grandchildren. I use mine on a D600.
  17. Sebastian - I'm very grateful for your advice - and that from others.
    I should have tried the 60mm over Christmas, but I was feeling a bit under the weather and my brain was working rather slow. Our present grandchildren are over 200 miles away so it is not a matter of just popping down the road for another try! However, we are 'expecting' a grandchild locally this year, not that I won't see the others before then.
    I'm looking at the 85mm 1.8. There are three possibilities at the moment. A pre D at £199 (first class dealer with good warranty); a new 'D' at £299; a new G at £415. I shall have a think. Money an issue to some extent!
  18. Mervyn.
    I just got the new D for Christmas and love it so far. Crystal clear and sharp and it handles color beautifully. I am especially happy with it as a head and shoulders portrait lens.
  19. Owen: Do you mean the new "G"? Or do you mean a new-old "D"?
  20. I've bought a Tokina 100mm f2.8 AT X Pro. I'd looked at one of these a few months ago. The one I've bought is mint at a truly good price - from a dealership I often buy from. Two weeks' approval and 6 months' guarantee. Obviously a bit slower than others, but with the macro benefit. It has many really good reviews both expert and user.
    A quick whizz suggests it will do what I need...

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