Favorite head/shoulders portrait lens?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mark4583|1, Aug 26, 2021.

  1. Whats your favorite head/shoulder portrait lens in either F or Z mount and why?
  2. I like the 50mm F1.8D Nikkor on a D300. It's already a 75mm equiv. and with a little cropping it mimics the POV of a 105mm. Oh, and it cost about $130 brand new.
    SCL likes this.
  3. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Don't do many portraits anymore, but when I did, the 85 and 105 primes were excellent. Still have the lenses and a modern equivalent. Will need to revisit the genre. A lot of it is about comfort of the subject and photographer in re: working distance. That factor varies considerably across societies.
    robert_bowring likes this.
  4. I have an older manual focus 85/2 and the 105/2.5 which is excellent. I also like the 135/2 which has its own look. The 85/1.8 D is good too but that focal length is just a bit short for me.

    Rick H.
  5. If I have enough backspace in a studio, then 135mm1.8 Sigma Art. It's pretty long for full length indoor portraits. I might use my Tamron 90mm macro.

    Outdoors , Sigma 135mm 1.8, no contest....:)
  6. I have a Nikkor 85/1.8 pre-AI that I like for head shots, but must admit that it is so much easier to use eye-tracking AF with my Z6II + 24-70/4 (@70) that I will probably never use the 85 again for that purpose.
    The 24-70/4S is probably a bit too clinical for head shots but convenience wins - and I don't do it that often anyway.
  7. I'll use almost any lens for a portrait, but I like my old 85mm f/1.4D and DC 135mm f2D. I choose between them based on how much room I've got and the person I'm photographing.
    luis triguez likes this.
  8. I am enjoying eye focus with a 105/1.4G and Z system for this application. But, there a a number of great choices in the Nikon system. The 85/1.8G may be the best AF bang for buck lens for this application.

    I have had better AF accuracy results with the 105/2DC vs the 135DC (sold), but my 105DC is looking a little softer at 45MP, not that you need that much MP for portraits. The 105/2.5 gauss and 105/1.8 AIS do well stopped down just a tad. I have not tried my older 85/1.8 manual focus in a while, but I liked it a lot on film. 135/2.8 and 180/2.8 lenses are good choices, also. I would not choose my 105/2.8AFS micro for portraits, given the choice.
  9. It's distance, not focal length, that matters for perspective. For a typical head and shoulders I'd want maybe my 105, but it's not AF, so I'd probably go with 70. Any problems with "too sharp" or a desire for some flare can easily be dealt with in post. Last one I did was with the 24-70/4S. ESIF says I was set to 47mm but my distance was a bit greater than the usual head and shoulder shot as I needed some surrounding environmental stuff in the shot.
    NHSN likes this.
  10. AF-S 85 mm f/1.4G. Beautiful images, easy to use, precise focusing, compact and yet high quality.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2021
  11. I haven't done much portraiture in the last few years. I always enjoyed the Ai 105/2.5 for the task - but accurately manual focusing that lens on a DSLR isn't easy for me. I quite liked both the AF-D 80-200/2.8 and the 70-200/2.8 VR for the task (none of which I own anymore). I used the AF-D 85/1.8 and the AF-S 85/1.8 occasionally - didn't like either and traded for the Tamron 90/2.8 (which I haven't tried for portraits yet). My goto for some time had been the original Sigma 150/2.8, now replaced by the OS version; the lack of CA and the quality of the OOF rendering are the main factors when using either Sigma lens. I mostly do portraiture outdoors, so the working distance is not an issue. On occasion, I use the 300/4 PF - especially for candid shots.
  12. My copy is uber sharp at 5.6, but really quite nice at 2.8 or 4.

    I had to get the OS replaced earlier this year and re-chipped for 'recent' Nikon bodies, but it's my goto long macro or tight portrait.
  13. For a 'loose' head and shoulders the 85mm Z, for tighter portraits anywhere between 100-135 with a zoom - preferably 105 with a prime.
  14. Well, from the Nikon world, I still prefer my Nikkor-P 105mm f/2.5. This one is pre-AI
    Gary Naka, bgelfand and sjmurray like this.
  15. On 35mm I preferred my Nikkor-P 105mm f/2.5 pre AI. I actually had it AI'd by John White. Works great on my digital APS cameras, but a bit long on that size sensor. I often use a 50mm when shooting prime.
    bgelfand and luis triguez like this.
  16. me too!
    sjmurray and bgelfand like this.
  17. I, too, had my 105 f2.5, which I bought for use on my FTn, AI'ed by John White for use on my F100 and now on my D750. He does an outstanding job.
    luis triguez and sjmurray like this.
  18. Probably my most used for portraits is the 105VR.
    Easy to use, sharp, good AF, very versatile lens. Probably not for connoisseurs but the one that works for me.
    In the closet I have 85 1.4, 70-200 2.8, other 105mm versions... etc., AF and manual focus. I always take the 105VR.
  19. How much studio space do you got?
    Mostly the practicality of the situation dictates the lens.
    105mm is nice, but in a small domestic room your back will be pressed against a wall (or further) . So 85mm is maybe more comfortable to work with. Or 50mm in a room crammed with furniture.

    And with 'standard' zoom lenses being so good these days, I tend to just step back to whatever's a comfortable distance and zoom to fill the frame. Or nearly - it's good to leave a little cropping space or some scene-setting background.
    Erik-Christensen likes this.

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