Family Portrait Lenses

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by tonyia_karwanski, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. I shoot with a Nikon D3000, which I have had for over a year. I learned all the basics and have been using manual to shoot everything. However, up to this point I have only been using the kit lens (18-55mm 3.5-5.6). I would like to add some new glass. I already know that I want a 50mm 1.8 AF-S. I think this would be great for normal single person portraits. But I would like some feed back on family portrait lenses. Im thinking 8 people. I would also like some feedback on a nice landscape lens. Please keep in mind that I am a full time student, single mom on a budget...I cannot afford a $5,000 lens. So please dont suggest lenses that cost more than my car, lol. Thanks in advance for all who help.
  2. Hi Tonyia, to fill the frame of a 50mm lens you have to get in very close to the subject, If i were you I would think about the new 85mm 1.8 that Nikon has just announced, it's around $499. I use the 16-85mm for all my landscape work, I don't find myself wanting to go any wider that's not to say you won't.
  3. You can use *any* lens for a portrait lens. I've seen very creative shots with every focal length from 14mm - 300mm. But for a basic, use-anywhere, fast lens, that can also be used for family portraits, I'd suggest the 35mm f/1.8G DX. It's around $200-$250, so it won't break the bank.
    For landscape work, I'll suggest you use your 18-55mm unless you need wider. I'd bet that, without looking at EXIF data, you couldn't tell the difference between a $1300 17-55mm f/2.8 and your 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 "kit" lens when stopped down to f/8 or f/11. I'd only go with a better lens if you've determined that you need wider than 18mm regularly.
  4. +1 for Richard's recommendation.
    I have the 35mm f/1.8G DX and an older version of the 50mm (the 50mm F/1.8 D). Both give lovely sharp images; the opportunity to use a very shallow depth of field; and a much brighter viewfinder image compared to the kit lens. Both are great value for money IMO.
    Having said that, for a group of 8 you will have to stand back a bit even with the 35mm. Suggest you try your zoom set at 35mm to see if you are comfortable with the working distance.
    Do think about investing in a decent flash if you don't already have one. The SB700 I got for Christmas has taken my portraits to a whole new level :) Knowing what I know now; I'd definitely buy the flash before a new lens.
    Hope this helps a bit.
  5. Ah I missed the group of eight information. Chris what flash did you have before the sb700, I keep eying it up?
  6. pge


    The 50g that you would like to buy, and the 35g that has been suggested are both good ideas. However reading your post the focal lenth of your present lens seems to fit your needs, you just seem to want a better lens. If this is the case you could consider an 18-70mm on the used market. They were originally over $400 but as they were a common kit lens they can be picked up in great shape for around $200. Your lens could maybe fetch half of that so it is not that costly an upgrade.
  7. I think the lenses you have will work fine. Honestly. No, to go to my little speech! (Shun, close your eyes :) ) You are new to photography and are thinking of actual portraits, not just snapshots. Take a look at the professional portrait shots you paid for in the past. What is it that gives them the "pro" look? Part of it might be the lens (shallow depth of field,) but more likely it's the use of........FLASH! Instead of spending $500 on a new lens I don't think you need, how about spending $500 on a pair of small flash and a pair of inexpensive lightstands and a couple of inexpensive umbrellas? And, look online for advice on how to use them. This will give you FAR more satisfaction and come closer to what I think you're wanting than buying another lens. You have a lens, it's lighting you don't have. Go look at those pro portraits and think about this. It's the lights that will give you the most bang for your buck.
    Kent in SD
  8. to fit 8 people in the frame, you need a wide-angle lens. the 18-55 will suffice but you'd get best results stopping down a bit to at least 5.6 or f/8 and using flash. a used sb-600 would do the trick. for portraits on DX, i'm going to recommend a tamron 28-75/2.8 over the 85/1.8. the additional 20mm you gain over the 18-55 at the long end is right in the middle of the critical portrait range, whereas an 85 might be a little long for some shots on DX. additionally, you also get constant 2.8 throughout the entire zoom range, which an 85 wont do for you. also, FWIW, the 18-70 isnt significantly better than the 18-55 in terms of IQ.
  9. Simon
    Before the SB700 my flash popped up on the camera! I was using a reflector for portraits.
    Actually, that's not completely true. I have a box of cheap old flashes in the loft from the 90s. I used to collect them from the rubbish dump where I worked for a time. I keep thinking I'll use them to light backgrounds one day!
  10. +1 for what Eric recommended: Tamron 28-75/2.8 is a nice lens. Usually people recommend it for FX users but it seems that it covers well what you need: groups and portraits.
  11. Don't go TOO wide, though, as you'll distort people at the edges.
    I wouldn't go wider than 24mm on DX for that if I could help it, and your 18-55 with a good flash should be fine.
    The 35mm f1.8 is a GREAT prime for DX cameras.
  12. The lens you have is fine for family portraits. You should possibly be more concerned about lighting and composition. A tripod might be more valuable to you than a new lens. (And perhaps a flash if you find yourself shooting in poor light. And a book on how to use a flash effectively so that the pictures look like they were shot with natural light.)

    The right focal length and aperture you may need is dependent more on how much room you have between you and your subject, and the desired look of the image. For example, do you want the background in focus, slightly blurred or very blurred. A 600mm lens can be used to take a portrait of 8 people if you position yourself far back enough.
    You need to perhaps figure out why you want a new lens (what you want it to do differently than the current one you have). What is your current lens not doing for you?
  13. Hi Tonyia. I, too, am a bit new to all this stuff and purchased my first DX camera last year (D5100). The purchase included both the 18-55 and the 55-200 kit lenses. I was looking to get my first prime and after reading the many posts on here from the folks that are in the know, I purchased the 50, 1.8. The reviews on here on both the 50 & 35 were excellent as well as the Tamron that was mentioned. The 50, 1.8 was around $200 and I have been very happy with it. I already had the SB800 flash. We just had our first great grandchild last June and her portraits are hanging on nearly every wall!! Hope this helps.
  14. Thank You all for such prompt and in depth responses! I do have a tripod, and light stands, I have 2 umbrellas. I have been running continuous 5500k's. I havent tried out flash (besides the pop up on my camera). I do plan on also buying a few softboxes, if anyone has any thoughts on that? I just built a home studio that will be ready to use this month, so I am trying to get some of the equipment that will be most useful to me. I appreciate all of your responses. Maybe if you could, would you include some Links to some of your equipment suggestions, or tuts on use? Thanks!!
  15. As others have suggested, lighting is critical. I've been researching portrait lighting for my own needs and have concluded that a flash based system is the one for me. I have an SB800 and an SB600. This is sufficient for a two light setup - main and fill. For this sort of group, you are probably looking at using each light as a main light at a 30 to 45 degree angle (need to experiment to avoid central hotspot or hole).
    In terms of lenses, an eight person group if side by side will occupy around 4 meters, give or take. A 24mm lens on DX would give you a working distance of about 4 meters (24mm is a 'magic' focal length on DX in this respect). For a 35mm lens, you'd need a working distance of about 6 meters. (Peter's advice about not going wider than 24mm is sound). To these you would need to add the distance from the group to the backdrop and some working distance behind the camera. Your kit lens at 24mm and f8 would give you an enormous depth of field. Even a 24mm at f2.8 would give you 3.7m DoF. Therefore, the quality of the background will be important as it will be in focus!
    I conclude, therefore, that your existing lens at 24mm f8 will be fine for this purpose and that any money you spend should be on ensuring you get the lighting right.
  16. Hi Tonyia,
    For group portraits shallow DOF really doesn't apply, so your 18-55 is a FINE choice. Lighting is the key here. Unless you can shoot where there's a lot of soft cross lighting, you should use some kind of diffused flash. An old trick I use when I have only one flash and no umbrella is to bounce the flash high over my shoulder at a white ceiling/wall corner. That's a cheap and easy starting point. For more lighting information, especially with speedlights, you really should be reading David Hobby's "" website.
    For landscape, I use a Sigma 10-20 F4-5.6. It's a solid performer and very well made. Thom Hogan reviewed it a while back. Again, shallow DOF is not an issue as it's landscape and you're usually shooting at f8 or f11, so spending more for a faster lens is pointless. FWIW - These days a lot of photographers are shooting landscapes in portrait position on a tripod with several overlapping exposures and stitching them into a bazillion megapixel photo. If you choose THAT route, your 18-55 is still a FINE choice. :) See? This might cost you even less that you thought!!
    Hope that input helps, and good luck!
  17. Yes.. 35mm 1.8 on a D3000 would be nice.
  18. Hi everyone, Im back to ask a follow up question about the speedlights that most of you have suggested.... I am ready to purchase some speedlights and have tried to do some research on using them on the D3000, and this is where I run into some confusion. I know that my regular flash wont trigger the Sb-700's off camera. Do I need the SU-800? If I get the SC-28 TTL and attach it to one SB-700 will that SB-700 trigger another SB? Or do I really need the SU to have 2 off camera strobes? Also my studio is very small 154sq ft do I need 2 strobes for such a small space? I am new to the whole strobe situation, as I mentioned previously I have only used 2 continuous umbrella lights before. Thanks for all you help!
  19. Also, I wanted to ask if the Bower SFD926N Nikon i-TTL Power Zoom Flash is acceptable instead of an SB, as they are about half the price...

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