85-90MM portrait or stick with zoom and 50MM for travel?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by john_watson, Dec 7, 2010.

  1. My wife and I are headed for Cambodia and Laos, where I hope to photograph people as well as temples, landscapes, etc. We own D7000 and D90 bodies, 12-24 Tokina, 18-200 Nikon, 18-105 kt zoom, 70-300 Nikon and a 50MM 1,8.
    I have 3 questions
    1. Would a portrait lens ( eg.90Mm) produce noticeable better and more striking results than either the 50MM or 18-105 zoom? I like the idea of being a bit farther away than I would be with the 50MM. But, I am not anxious to carry more than I have to.
    2. How might a micro lens like the Tamron 90MM 2.8 compare with the Nikon 85MM 1,8 or 1,4 for portraits? If it were close, having micro capability would be a nice bonus--but not primary goal.
    3. if you about $500 to spend on a lens of this type and could buy new or used--what would you buy?

    Thanks in advance for your help
  2. 1. Yes, if you learn how to use it. It will provide more and better-quality isolation of the subject from the background, and just overall better quality.
    2. Macro lenses don't do well as portrait lenses for me. The Tamron has a great reputation for macro.
    3. For that price, I would get a Nikon 85mm f/1.8. (For full disclosure, although mine has served me very well, I have just replaced it with the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 AF-D. But the 1.4 is over your budget and heavier.)
  3. The AF 85mm f/1.8D is a very good lens for portrait, and it is light and inexpensive. Mine has done well on D80, D300, and D700.
  4. 85 1.8 AF has been an important lens for me since it first came out. I have used it for all types of photography and it works very nicely with the 5T and/or 6T double element close up diopters. It's light, bright and fast to work with.
  5. I Have thought about the 85 1.8 myself but with the crop factor (I also have a D90) its more like a 130mm. I have the 50mm 1.8 which is great for portraits and a Sigma 105mm which was great for portraits on my F75 but not so great on the D90 given the crop factor. Im also considering something a bit longer than 50mm and personally have been considering a Sigma 70mm macro or a second hand Nikon 35-70mm F2.8.
  6. Simple.
    If you have the budget and room in your bag and don't mind carrying one more lens, get an 85mm f1.8 used. If you don't use it, sell it when you get home for basically what you paid for it. If you like it, keep it.
  7. 1. I will throw in another vote for the Nikon 85 1.8. I personally find the 50mm slightly on the short side for portraits (even on a DX body). The large aperture will allow you to take pictures in lower light and throw the background more out of focus than the 18-105 zoom does. I have the 85/1.8, and it is a really good lens.
    2. I do not know the Tamron lens, I imagine being a macro it should be quite sharp and can't really have bad image quality, however I would advise against using a dedicated macro lens for portraits. I have tried it and it didn't work for me. The focus throw is quite short and optimized for small distances. Generally there will be a fair bit of hunting on auto focus and almost impossible or at least very inaccurate manual focus in the typical portrait working distances.
    3. The 85/1.8 is a pretty obvious choice I think. If you can get it used in good condition, it can be had cheap, otherwise even a new one is within your budget of $500. The 85/1.4 is out of that range, even used.
    Finally, if you are concerned about carrying too much weight, you should consider leaving one of your zooms behind. I understand that there will be two of you taking pictures, but still, at least one of the 18-200, 18-105 and 70-300 is redundant in my opinion, since you have yet another wide angle zoom and a 50mm prime too. If you add another 85mm, you can safely leave one of the zooms at home.
  8. Another vote for the 85mm. I own the 85mm and I owned the 18-105 and the 50mm 1.8.
    The 85mm si great for portraits shot at 2.8, razor sharp. Another issue to consider is that in South East Asia people is very friendly but you can not put your camera in their faces. Therfore the 130mm on DX of the 85mm are perfect for head shots with great bokeh and 3D imaging.
    The 18-105 is a good all in purpose ens but you get what you pay and for portraits it delivers poor results in terms of bokeh and colors.
  9. Thanks all, I am going to buy a 85MM 1.8. There seem to be few bargains, EBAY prices are about the same as KEH, you don't save much over buying new.
    I am leaning towards a gray market lens, which saves me about 10% Or, about what you pay for a good used one
    Does this make sense?

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