Portrait lens for Nikon

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The 105mm f/2.5 is the ticket, I would say. Legendary lens and for good reason. If you want something a little faster and can swing a little more (though still not tons on the used market), there's also the 105mm f/1.8. I've owned the f/2.5 version and played with the f/1.8 version. Had I the cash, I'd probably go for the f/1.8. Either one is a solid choice, though.
 

ann

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second the 105. It is one of my favorites.
 

Stan. L-B

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Agree about the Nikkor 105mm, used it for he past 25 years with good reward. Also use the Nikkor 180mm f 2.8 which is just as rewarding for certain types of portraiture.
 
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Juraj Kovacik

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thank for your opinions. It looks Nikkor 105 is winner. I have to check second hands, these 85 or 180 version could be interesting not only for portrait pictures. jk
 

Nige

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I have a 85/2 and two 105/2.5's (one with inbuilt hood, and one without)

the 85/2 gets a bad rap sometimes but it seems sharp enough for me (in the same league as the 105) when stopped down a little (f4 - f5.6)

If you're working inside, the amount of room you have versus how much of the person you want to capture (headshot, upper boddy) and how close you are comfortable working all weigh into which one to pick. IMO of course!
 

vazquez

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Nikon has many excellent lens for this kind of subject, the 85, 105, 135 and
180mm focal lengths all are superb but the 105mm f/2.5 has the best size,
wheight and performance relationship followed by the 85mm f/2, or the
135mm f/3.5 in my opinion. I love, also, the old 85mm f/1.8, the 135mm f/2.8 and
the 180mm f/2.5 but they are bulkier and not so "portable" like the first ones.
 

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Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 AIS has my vote. Tack sharp and dual purpose. I use a yellow-green filter for hiding blemishes. If you want to do color portraiture, you may want to use a soft filter (I never have and do not know anything about them).
 

Grain

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Hello JK

A few comments on the suggestions and lenses I have owned/still own
180/2.8 - a superb lens, can be used as a portrait but a little long for general portrait work.

135/AFDC - yes I know it's AF but it can be used manually. The defocus works well, but I no longer have this super lens and changed to the 105/f2 AFDC - what a stunner! The out of focus areas are jaw-dropping. I used to have a 105/1.8 as well, but favour the AFDC.

85 may be too short for some (but not for me), I used to have the 1.8 which was a beautiful lens, but now have the superb f/1.4. A classic Nikon lens and the equal of the Contax 85/1.4 I used to own. Actually better in that it focuses nearer than the Contax.

I really should not have two portrait lenses, but the 85/1.4 and 105/2/AFDC are so so good, I don't really want to part with either.

If I had to take just one portrait lens to a desert island I guess it would be the 85/1.4 , because of the extra stop.
 

bobfowler

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Even though I really like my late version, pre-Ai 85mm f/1.8 Nikkor and the 105mm f/2.5, if I were looking for a "portrait" length lens for Nikon now I would get the 50-135mm f/3.5 Nikkor zoom. It is a little slower than the others, but it's a great people catcher.
 
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Juraj Kovacik

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there is a little problem - I don't believe to zoom lenses. Maybe it is only prejudice, by I think they can't be so sahrp as a simple lenses. JK
 

JohnArs

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I also vote for the f2 105 AFDC in Color Foto a german mag it got a 10 from 10 possible points re sharpness on a MTF test machine!
Not many lenses got thad till now!
Its a killer lens!
 

glbeas

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Forgive me if I sound like I'm knocking sharp glass, I'm not, I love it as much as anyone. Doesn't an overly sharp lens work against you when making portraits? I've read over and again about using those old style soft lenses for making beautiful portraits and it would seem absolute sharpness need not be at the top of the list for a good portrait lens.
 
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Juraj Kovacik

Juraj Kovacik

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I think I understand your point but personally I vote for sharpness. Thank all for your advices, going to check Ebay, that f2 105 AFDC lens is something I really wasn't thinking about. Thank again. JK
 

Paladin

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second that notion

Sharpness is never out of style and it is so easy to add a little diffusion when printing if needed, but you can't add sharpness without losing something else or investing absurd amounts of work.

for portrait lenses i never did get the hang of the 95-110 range. i love my af 85/1.8 and use it manually on an elderly nikkormat most of the time. the non-rotating front element and the rear focus makes it very easy to work with and with the addition of a simple extension tube it makes a good lens for copy and macro work. the other old mare in my stable is the 135/2.8. mine is one of the last non-AI models and was ai'd by nikon 20 or so years ago. i'm not sure which i like more, but i am pretty sure the 135 is more likely to still be in service when i die.

2cents@large.
 

benjiboy

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Juraj Kovacik said:
I'm going to buy new lens for my FM3a, mechanical, without AF, something around 105 mm. any advice? thanks. JK
Hi Juraj,
Portraiture has been my special interest for many years and I own both the 85mm f1.8 Nikkor and the 105mm f2.5 Nikkor and if I had to choose between them for purely portraits it would have to be the 85mm,It's difficult to explain, Its the perspective it produces on the human face,and the placticity of the image it makes that is so pleasing. The 105mm is capable of taking excellent portraits, and is probably more useful for general photography Because It's a worthwhile twice the magnification of the standard 50mm lens
 
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I like the following lens combination:

80/2.0, 105/2.5, 135/2.0 and 180/2.8. The are all wonderful. The 135 is very nice because of the 2. which allows you to throw backgrounds out of focus.
 

k_jupiter

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I will weigh in with another vote for the 105mm 2.5. A great lens that I have used for close to 20 years. I always wanted the 85mm but never could justify having two lens that close together. That changed when I aquired an 85mm Jupiter lens (42mm screwmount). Amazing what the slight change of focal length will do. Of course I had to buy a Fuji screwmount camera to use it, but is now my favorite portrait lens in 35mm.

As far as sharpness. That is what DOF gives you. Make those eyes dead on tack sharp and let the wide open aperture let the rest of the portrait fall away into softness.

Maybe you should look at a Mamiya 645 (or an RB67!) with something like a 135mm lens on it if you are going to do a lot of portraits?

tim in san jose
 

Claire Senft

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I also believe the 105mm Micro Nikkor. Good for portaits and you also get a fine macro lens.
 
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