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Best Nikon portrait lens for Nikon D100

Dear friends,

Im looking for the best outdoors portrait lens available, for the Nikon D100. Is the 85 mm 1.8 as effective in a digital camera?

What lens would be good for full body portraiture?

I also plan to buy a 80-400 VR, or a 80-200. Will I be able to shot sharp portraits with those ones, with a great quality result, and have them also for other uses?

Please give me other lenses that you consider very good for portraits, used in a D100.

Thanks a lot ;)

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2/5/2006 10:36:59 AM

Bob Fately   Didn't someone ask this same question a month ago? Oh well, here I go again:

The "traditional" portrait lens on a 35MM film camera is one in the 85-135MM focal length. This is because, for a head-and-shoulders type shot, these lenses offer the nicest perspective as well as give the shooter a nice bit of working space to the subject. In addition, these prome lenses are often made fast enough (f1.4, f1.8) that at full open aperture their depth of field is shallow so any distracting backgrounds are blurred out.

With the 1.5 "crop factor" of the D100, this means that you might want to look into the 50MM lens (which effectively behaves like a 75MM lens) as well as the 85MM you mention (which of course is like a 127MM lens). Either of these would probably suit you well for head-and-shoulder shots.

The longer zooms you mention can. of course, also be used for portraits, though they would involve you're being a bit further away from the subject at the longer focal lengths. Also, as they are physically heavier, they are less condusive to your comfort - that is, holding that 80-400 in front of your eye gets tiring after a bit. The 80-200 f2.8 (if that's the one you are referring to) is just as heavy. These are both outstanding lenses in their own rights, but they are not the typical first choice for portraits.

That is, the 85 f1.8 will be both faster (i.e. - shallower DOF) and lighter (thus, more comfortable to use) if you plan to have the typical "conversational" style of working with the subjects.

As for "full body" work - you'd need a wider angle lens to enable you to physically be close to the subject and capture their entire body. I mean, you could get their full body at 400MM too - from 30 or more feet away - so that might not make a lot of sense.

Again, DOF is a consideration - with wide angle lenses DOF is already greater than with telephotos at the same f stop. Perhaps a 24 or 28MM f 2.8 lens would make sense for you - or somethign even wider if you like. The reason wide and ultra-wide lenses are used less often for portraits is simply because of perspective distortion.

That is, say you want to fill the frame with a person's face. WIth the 85 MM lens you can stand about 8-10 feet away and do just that. Using a 20MM lens, though, you'd have to stand just a foot or so away to fill the frame with their face.

Here's where that perspective comes in: from 8 feet away (with the 85MM lens) - the tip of their nose is exactly 8 feet distant, and their cheekbone is 8 feet 2 inches other words, almost the same distance from your camera, so they look okay.

Now stand 1 foot away with the 20MM lens - their nose is 1 foot and their cheek is 1 foot 2 inches - the ration of 14/12 inches is much grater than the ratio of distances when you were at 8 feet. So the nose looks much larger through the wide angle lens - since you are just that much closer to the subject.

So. If you stand back and get their whole body, a good wide angle lens might be just fine. But it's so much a matter of personal taste and style that I would not presume to tell you what to get there.

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2/6/2006 1:19:22 PM

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