Can a specialist portrait lens stand up to 6x6 or 6x7?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by raymondc, Sep 7, 2006.

  1. Hi, I have a 85 1.8 lens and want to do portraits with it. Compared to that
    lens I want one that is sharper and with more limited depth. Would the 85 1.4
    help much or is a longer lens required?

    I have looked into the 200/2 but its a expensive lens, how does it compare to if
    one headed to 6x6 or 6x7 MF?

    I want it to be sharp so that in normal length framing I get limited depth and I
    want it sharp enough that you are able to see skin pores and individual strands
    of hair and eyebrows.

    Print size is probably gonna be A4 most common but I want detail and bokeh.

  2. First, what camera are you using the 85 f1.8 on? What film if not using digital? What lighting conditions?

    I had a Nikkor 85 f1.8 (I believe it was an H) that I used on my F. The depth of field at anything between 1.8 and 4 was very limited. I made a series of family portraits using this lens and Ilford Pan-F under some fairly subdued but bright lighting conditions with the lens wide open. Despite the limited depth of field every line, pore and blemish were painfully sharp in 8X10 prints. Back then I had never heard of bokeh but the out of focus areas were very smooth partly due to fairly tight framing, partly due to the lack of highlights in the background and mostly due to the distance between the subject and background (more than 30 feet). I have not used the 85 f1.4 or 200 f2. Currently I have an old 105 f2.5 that is real nice but does not have the limited depth of field of the 85 f1.8.

    As far as the 85 f1.8 (or any 35mm) compared to 6X6 or 6x7 it really depends on technique. Someone with really good technique and processes with the right film and good lighting (and luck) can do better with a 35mm than a haphazard opertaor with a medium format camera. All things being equal a really good medium format shooter will get better quality than a good 35mm shooter but the difference will not be much in an A4 size.
  3. Ray,<br>
    You&#146;ve left far too much out of your question. Nikon has
    made 85/1.8 and 1.4 Nikkors in manual focus and auto focus. Which
    lenses are you talking about? On the right film the 85/1.8 Nikkor-H.C
    is impressive.<br>
    200/2.0 is long for 24x36mm portraiture but very appropriate for
    fashion on 35mm or DX, which format?<br>
    A lot depends on who prints the negatives and how. In a
    conventional darkroom 6x6 or 6x7 blows away 35mm where each
    camera is loaded with the same film. A Hasselblad 500CM with a
    180/4.0 Sonnar captures astonishing detail on most any film. Not
    too many know what is possible in a darkroom as their experience
    is limited mediocre labs or worse.<br>
    I don&#146;t know how to compare 6x6 or 6x7 to the Nikon D2Xs.
    The D2Xs would be more appropriate to my style. Having only 12 or
    10 shots before changing backs isn&#146;t something I&#146;m not
    likely to adjust easily to now. <br>
    Nikon does not make a lens comparable to the 105/2.5 Nikkor or
    180/4.0 Sonnar for DX. What films are left in 35mm and 120?<br>
    Loose ends all over.<br>
    Dave Hartman.
  4. For the money of a D2X and a 200mm f2.0 you get a 6x7 and a lens that beats the smaller format any time if we are talking about film, especially in BW.

    If we talk digital then a MF back cost as much as a nice little car :p And you want to have a camera and a lens to go with the back. What exactly is your $$ horizon?

    If you take an F3 with the 85 f1.4 MF in ex+ condition you can drive a sexy european roadster and have models for portrait for free ^^.
  5. You asked "I have looked into the 200/2 but its a expensive lens, how does it compare to if
    one headed to 6x6 or 6x7 MF?"

    In my opinion and experience... if you're good and the lighting is good... no comparison...
    medium format will be king for this.
  6. <...I want one that is sharper and with more limited depth.> Avail yourself of all the 105/2 DC has to offer as it fits your needs to a 'T'. The DC feature will deliver the minimal DOF you're seeking...the out-of-focus is buttery-smooth...absolutely first-rate lens explicitly designed for portraiture. There is also a 135/2 DC. (DC denotes 'De-focus Control' and permits manipulation of DOF in front of or behind focus plane and is quite effective.) Stunning results!
  7. In 35mm format, an 85/1.8 lens has very shallow DOF wide open. At portrait distances and filling the frame, I doubt you will be shooting at f/1.8 anyway. At A4 enlargement size, using good film, lighting, and technique, it will be difficult to see the difference between 35mm and medium format. If you want to go beyond A4 size, MF/LF is the only way to go if you want extreme detail. For the price of the 200/2 or 85/1.4 lenses, you can easily get a full MF outfit that will deliver the quality you are looking for.
  8. Thanks guys,

    The lens is a Nikon 85mm f.1.8 D AF lens, the camera is a D70 and F100 loaded with Fuji NPS or Portra NC (160's) or usually Provia 100F. Lighting conditions is bright sunlight outside or indoors with a neutral color wall or wallpaper or a photographic background be it pull down or cloth. Mostly it would be used outside with good lighting. Mostly used on digital because of its convenience. I did a passport photograph for my father the other day, on ISO 200, f/2.8 I got a shutter of 1/500. When I do portraits like these its going to be in this sort of lighting unless I am indoors.

    My budget is I don't want to invest in a expensive body because medium format provides more bang for dollar and I enjoy shooting film, however if a nice lens is there I may make an investment that I can keep it for yrs to come and just swap the body upgrades overtime; if it carries on I may replace 35mm gear with 120 gears (6x6 or 6x7), learning a new system is also an incentive. I also find that I don't shoot much so a roll of MF with less shots per roll is ok, processing is same and printing less shots would be less (from where I am).

    At this moment looking at your comments and of MF and the 200/2 price. How does this sound, keep my 85/1.8 lens and get a DC lens and ignore the 200/2 and head towards MF? I have looked at the Hassleblad 503CW 6x6 or the Mamiya RB67.
  9. I had an RB67 ProS camera with three lenses. If you don't mind shooting with a tripod it's a fantastic camera. I got beautiful 16x20 enlargements with it, and could have enlarged much more if I wanted to. Shooting with Fuji NPH the detail just went on and on. But handholding with the RB67 takes some pretty strong arms if you're going to shoot for more than a few minutes. I always plopped it down on a tripod.

    The Hasselblad really shines for hand-held use. I had a 500CM for a short time and really enjoyed it as a walking around camera. The 80mm Planar is a very very sharp and contrasty lens and I loved using it. The prints I made from the 500CM were just incredible.

    I no longer shoot MF film unless I want to load the old Rolleicord III and go out, which I haven't done in more than a year.

    Seattle, WA
  10. Thanks for that, yeah a MF or LF is something I like to do in the future and would be on tripod, I want to do it slow.

    I found the 85 1.8 D AF lens is sometimes too sharp for portraits. Was on tripod between f.2.8 and f.4 at ISO 200 on Nikon D70 with shutter of 1/500 for SB-800 with diffuser (straight, non bouncing).

    I did a passport in great sunlight and found I can see pores, hair lines, moles, the whole thing. Looked disgusting. I was shooting landscape than portrait so had to crop and also in JPG Normal by accident but exposure and WB was spot on still I got the goosebumps when viewed it on my comptuer, I didn't had to do curves or extra sharpening.

    Maybe I would get a DC solely for the DC feature.

    How do pple control it so ugly skin is not shown. Other than make-up, shoot wide open and using soft filters?

  11. Creating a pleasing portrait normally needs that you should find or create appropriate lighting. Is "great sunlight" direct, full sunlight? If so, that's rather harsh light for a portrait, as you found out. You might want to get a book on portrait photography, especially one that discusses lighting.
  12. Ray I would tend to agree with Lilly...the 105 or 135 DC lenses are excellent portrait lenses but so is the 85 1.4 and the 28-70 AF-S zoom
  13. &#147;Ray I would tend to agree with Lilly...the 105 or 135 DC lenses are excellent portrait lenses but so is the 85 1.4 and the 28-70 AF-S zoom&#148; --Michael DeCorso


    The 105mm and 135mm focal lengths are relatively long lenses on a Nikon D70 which Ray mentions above. If this is the camera he is using then the 105/2.0D DC and 135/2.0D DC are not good portrait lenses. The 135/2.0 give an angle of view on DX like that of a 205mm lens on 24x36mm.

    Consider that an 80mm lens is a super wide angle lens on 8x10, wide on 4x5, short normal on 6x7, normal on 6x6, short telephoto on 24x36mm, medium-shot telephoto on 16x24 (DX) and a telephoto lens on P&S digital formats.

    There is no magic in a particular focal length. You need to chose a working distance first, usually about 2m (6~7 ft) for formal portraits and candids. The distance from the subject to the lens determines the perspective. The focal length does not. A particular focal length might be said to suggest a working distance and therefor perspective but the focal length does not determine perspective.

    The focal length of a lens determines the image magnification, the useable image circle determines the format or formats that a particular lens will cover. The image magnification and format dimensions determine what will be included and excluded from the image, the angular view, the crop.

    The 105mm and 135mm focal lengths are short for 6x6 and 6x7, good for 24x36mm and long for 16x24mm. You can&#146;t give useful recommendations for a lens focal length without considering the format.


    Dave Hartman.

    Postscript: since I still shoot film in 35mm I'd love to own the 105/2.0D DC and 135/2.0D DC also they are great lenses for DX but fall more into a fashion or PJ catagory.
  14. &#147;You might want to get a book on portrait photography, especially one that discusses lighting.&#148; --Michael Briggs

    This is an equipment form so we mostly talk about equipment here but light is the essence of vision and photography. It&#146;s importance should not be over-looked. The word photography means essentially &#147;light writing&#148; or the process of writing with light. A book is an excellent suggestion. The right lens with the wrong light will not lead to expressing your goal or vision.

    Seeing light and selecting or creating light is essential to quality photography.


    Dave Hartman.
  15. I believe that the original question referred to both a F100 and a D70. While the 105 and 135 will be a bit long for portraits with the D70 the 85 and 28-70 AF-S zoom would work rather well with the D70 and the F100. A few steps back with the 105 on the D70 will serve the needs posted especially with the defocus control on the 105mm ... when using the F100 the options are greater.

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