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Photography Question 
Beth Williams

Nikkor Portrait Lens

I have a Nikon N80 and I want to buy the best Nikkor lens for portraits. I don't know if I should get a fixed lens or a zoom. Please help - any information will be appreciated. I want the lens that will produce the sharpest, clearest photos possible.

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4/25/2001 7:50:26 PM

Tim V. Dinh   For portraits you generally want to put a soft filter on anyway, so you might not need a really sharp lens. I would recommend you use a telephoto lens so that it can throw all the background out of focus. A good Nikon telephoto zoom len would be the 70-300mm 4-5.6, but if you want a faster len, try 50mm 1.4.

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5/2/2001 8:11:30 PM

Chuck    Beth, I don't know if I'm too late in answering your question. Tim has a good thought, and here is another alternative. If you want a lens that will give the "sharpest clearest photos possible", you might also consider an 85mm F1.8 fixed focal length lens, which keeps you in close with your subject, and at f8 or f11, you'll get those sharp pictures, and at f2 you can really blow out the background. Some people use a 90mm or a 105mm macro for portraits. Anyway, some more thoughts for you to mull over.

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5/10/2001 5:21:14 PM

Ted    Hi Beth

I have the 28-105 Nikon lens and it is excellent. It's not a pro lens but is very popular. I would strongly suggest the 85mm 1.8 AF Nikon lens. I rented one about a year ago and the results are stunning. It is about as close to perfect as you can get. It costs about the same as the 28-105 but in my comparisons the 85mm was super sharp. It will not distort the subjects nose for example I did not believe it until I saw it for myself. The 105mm AF Nikon lens is more expensive than the 85mm and is also one of the best (I've never tried it) I will probably get the 85mm as soon as I have the $$$
Good luck

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5/10/2001 5:23:33 PM

Dale    Dear Beth,

In response to your question about selecting an ideal lens for portraits, generally speaking, a fixed focal length lens will always produce a sharper image, than compared to a zoom lens. Although, the newer Nikkor zoom lenses such as the 80-200mm f/2.8D IF-ED (product number 1993) will give a fixed focal length lens a good run for its money. This particular lens was recently introduced, and what gives it such good optical performance is that it contains five ED glass elements for minimized chromatic aberration.

From a practicality standpoint, zoom lenses are more useful in being able to handle a wider variety of different photographic situations.

As far as a fixed focal length lens for portraits, I would go with a Nikkor 105mm f/2D (product number 1932) lens.

Keep in mind that in order to obtain the sharpest, clearest photos possible, you must always use a tripod whenever possible. One of the most common reasons for fuzzy pictures is due to camera shake. Furthermore, you want to make sure that you select a good quality portrait film such as the Kodak Portra 160NC, or the Fuji NPS 160 film. Also, utilizing a good pro lab (K&K Color Lab, Portland, Oregon) for processing is critical to having the best results. It is quite sad, but many people will invest thousands of dollars in buying a quality camera and lenses, and use good quality film, only to go to their local drug store for processing and wonder why the pictures weren't so hot.

Have fun,

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5/10/2001 10:30:02 PM

  You may also wnat to try Nikon's DC lenses (Defocus Control) they are made just for portrait / background shooting. But I also agree the 85mm 1.8 is a very good deal; I know I love my 85mm...

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5/24/2001 11:35:39 PM

Seymour Shotz   If you don't mind spending less, try Nikon's excellent manual focus 75-150 Series E. This lens gets top marks in every review. The constant 3.5 max aperture gives nice blown out backgrounds and good bokeh. I have both the 75-150 and the 28-105 and I would give the edge in sharpness to the 75-150. You should be able to pick one up for around $100 US.

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2/28/2003 2:07:59 PM

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