Best Portrait Lenses for Nikon D300?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by josephbraun, Nov 22, 2008.

  1. Hi,

    What's the best portrait lens for the D300? I will be shooting on location and in a small-ish studio. Any ideas?
  2. Nikon AF 85mmf/1.4 or AF-S 105mm f/2.8 VR
  3. it depends on what you consider portraits... If you are looking for head and shoulder shots, the 85 1.4 is the one to get in my opinion.

    If you are going to zoom out, zoom in, and want full body, whole family, etc, I would recommend the 24-70 f/2.8... the 17-55 2.8 dx lens is a nice alternative, but I prefer the longer focal lengths for family portraits...
  4. The 24-70 certainly would give great flexibility, but if the price is too much, consider the 85 as already noted. If price is a major factor, you could also get by with a 50mm 1.4, depending upon what type of portraits you're after (head & shoulders, full body, etc.).
  5. A 50mm lens becomes a 75mm on the D300. You can't beat the 50mm f1.4 for price or quality. Will work very close to the 85mm f1.4 I use on my D700.
  6. Well, if a 50/1.4, then it has to be the Sigma. A bit big, a bit heavy, a bit expensive, but excellent quality and a
    bokeh that's so far unmatched. I can't imagine that the new Nikon will be any better.

    Another excellent portrait lens is the Sigma 70/2.8 Macro. It's extremely sharp, usable wide open, without any
    apparent defects.

    I own and love both.
  7. I shoot my daughter's head shots with my 70-200mm VR f/2.8 wide open. That's what I was advised to do on DPR by professional guys who shoot portraits. But now that I also have the 24-70mm f/2.8 I will probably also experiment with it.

    What I like with the 70-200VR f/2.8 is that it allows me to stand a little further away when I have a subject that's not all that comfortable with me up close. That worked very well for my daughter's boyfriend when he needed head shots as well.


    Lil :)
  8. 105mm f/2D AF DC? Or 135mm f/2D AF DC?
  9. As you can see, there is no one right lens. My 28/70 works very well as does my 70-200 along with my 85 f1.4, My Voigtlander 58 f1.4 SLII is a perfect mate to the 85 f1.4 and I'm finding out that the Tokina 100mm f2.8 macro that I got is a pip.
    It depends on many factors. Subject, (full length, waist, chest or head) room and focal length to achieve the desired effect. large diaphragm if isolation is wanted.

    Just about anything can step up to the plate and do the job. The 28/105 f3.5-4.5D does a wonderful job.

    My suggestion is to start simple and gain experience, then you will know what you need.

    Cheers, Don
  10. In a 'smallish' studio, if you are looking for just head/shoulder shots, the 85mm is very good on a the D300. Personally, I use the Nikon 85mm f/1.8 lens (about $370)--which, if money is tight, is quite a bit of savings over the f/1.4 lens at over $900. You can decide if the $550 or so difference is worth the partial stop difference. If you are using studio lights I doubt that you'll be opening your lens all the way to start with, and if you do, the DOF will be quite shallow.

    If you are looking to go for full body coverage, I found the flexibility of the 17-55mm f/2.8 to be quite good. It goes for around $1200 (new).

  11. I appreciate the feedback, guys. Before I posted, I was leaning towards buying the 85mm f/1.4 and the 50mm f/1.8. I will
    eventually go to FX to I have to think ahead, you know. Thanks.
  12. Just to add another tangent here, I use the Nikon AF 24-85mm f/2.8-4 D Macro on a D70s and find it to be a very high quality, extremely
    versatile lens, not very expensive, about $550 US, and FX. I plan on moving up to the D300 and looking forward to higher ISO.
  13. For what it's worth, the 85mm f/1.4 is the preferred portrait lens for both DX and FX sensors. The newest versions are a little expensive but the quality speaks for itself. There are older 85mm lenses would work as well, especially on the D300, of course some are manual lenses.

    I use the 50mm f/1.4 and the micro 105mm f/2.8 and have had zero quality complaints from any client for quality. In my opinion, the crop factor offered by the D300 and others with the APS-C sensors, give great lattitude in choices of lenses for portraits. Like I said though, most of this is my opinion, a lot depends on your own tastes and how you use the lenses and lighting.
  14. For 300 or any:
    Not sure why zooms come into the picture for best resolving power. Almost all in the optics industry will agree.
    Its been known that fixed focal length lenses are best and optimized for its given mag. Zooms are compromises and granted cheaper if thats what you are lookng for.
  15. Of course, primes are better given similar technology and design aims. But most of Nikon's short to medium
    primes were designed primarily with 35mm film in mind, and the D300 sensor demands are quite different. Therefore
    there may be some modern zooms which are better than the primes at portrait focal lengths. The 70-200 certainly
    is excellent at 70-105mm in the center of the image; I found it better than the 105 DC at f/2.8 on my D200.
    However, with the gradual return to the 24x36 format, the old prime lenses again gain ground in this focal length
    range. (In the WA end, the Nikon zooms are actually better than most of their prime wide angles on either FX or
    DX. But this will eventually change.)

    I consider the 85/1.4 my favorite for portraits, but there are many other lenses which are really good also.
  16. I really liked the 85 F1.4 on my film bodies which are equivalent to the FX bodies. Because I needed a portrait lens for my D200/D300, I purchased a Sigma 50-150 F2.8. It's designed for DX sensors and is crackling sharp. That's equivalent to a 75-225 on a DX body such as the D300. There are threads where users are hoping that Nikon would produce a 50-150 AFS VR.
  17. For $100, start with the 50/1.8 AF-D and see if that fills your needs.
  18. My studio is also very small. That's why I use the Nikon 24-85 f/2.8-4 D on my D200.
    For samples see
  19. Dave, at the risk of digression, that old conventional wisdom regarding primes and zooms hasn't been true across the board for some time. Compare test data for the 24/2.8D AF Nikkor and 24-70/2.8G AF-S Nikkor. While it's debatable whether the 24/2.8D AF Nikkor was ever a stellar example of a prime, it serves as a good example of why the old "primes are always better than zooms" CW is obsolete. On paper, at least, the 24-70/2.8G AF-S even rivals the 50/1.8D AF Nikkor.

    I was a prime lens snob for many years. I still favor a tiny handful of Nikkor primes. But zooms are too good nowadays to dismiss so casually with old conventional wisdom. Even budget priced variable aperture zooms are astonishingly good and often beat yesteryear's better, pricier zooms.
  20. I have a Nikon 50/1.8 that I picked up used for 50 bucks and I'm very happy with it. I'm also looking at getting
    a 105 micro-nikkor in the near future, not necessarily for portraits, but I don't see why it wouldn't also make a
    nice portrait lens for head shots.

    Anyone have experience with the 105 Micro-Nikkor? I've read that it is very sharp, and although I have used some
    of the old 105 manual micros, I haven't had a chance to play with the new 105 w/ the VR.
  21. I'm very happy with my 85/1,8. Sharp , small and with less CA than 85/1,4.
  22. I use both the 24-70 f2.8 and the 70-200 f2.8 VR for portrait work. To get a sense of what those lens can do take a look at
    my more recent pictures in my studio and location portrait galleries. More images can be seen on my other site..

    I have a 50mm f1.4 and a 105 VR f2.8 (Once in a while I will use the 105) and never the 50.

    I would add that until the last month, the pictures came from a D200... they now are from a D700.
  23. The 85mm 1.8 is an amazing portrait lens. It's the best I've seen yet, I wish I owned one.

    I have a 50mm 1.4 that is also very very good, but the brokeh isn't on par w/ the 85mm.

    I've taken some nice portraits w/ a 28mm 2.8D as well.
  24. Well Lex,
    From the above users, those primes are leading the pack.
    I have the the zooms and keep snapping them off for the 85 1.4 just cant beat that lens. I must have 10 choices in my bag but can't give up the choice for that 85 1.4 my zooms stay at home when I do portraits or any need for 127.5mm for the 300 chip format.
    I just cant agree that the zooms are equivelant or even close, I just cant, nope I cant.
    Zooms are in the bag.......unless I am on the street for quick shots and field size adjustments.
  25. The new 70-200 f2.8 VRII is fantastic as well as the 85mm f1.4. Two new lens for me and they are excellent.

Share This Page