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50mm 1.4 v 85mm 1.4 on D500

Discussion in 'Nikon Chat' started by Brian_VIP, May 10, 2017.

  1. Brian_VIP

    Brian_VIP Member

    I would be grateful for advice about which lens is most suitable for portraits with my D500 which is Dx. The 50mm is considerably less expensive than the 85mm.
  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Depends on what portraits you want to take! Both have their places as does a 35 mm on a crop sensor camera.
  3. Brian_VIP

    Brian_VIP Member

    Thanks. Will the perspective and bokeh better with the 85mm
  4. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    More important is your working space, the longer the focal length the more space you need. I know reviews go on and on about bokeh but that is as much to do with the background as it is the lens. Broadly speaking the more aperture blades the smoother the rendition of out of focus highlights. I associate these more with outdoor scenes than formal studio portraiture.
    Learning likes this.
  5. Brian_VIP

    Brian_VIP Member

    Thank you Pete that is very helpful.
  6. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    It depends on what you are seeking.

    The conventional idea of a portrait lens used to be around 85mm on a 35mm (FX frame size), on a DX this is getting quite long, near enough the old favourite 135mm. A 50mm comes close to 85mm on a DX camera, an effective 75mm. As you say the 50mm is a much more affordable option than an 85mm, my suggestion is that you don't actually need the f1.4 version of either lens, the f1.8s will do what you want at a much more reasonable price, so you could in fact buy both. The f1.4 versions are more costly for a number of reasons, you are unlikely to find any real-world difference in optical performance.

    Bokeh is not really a characteristic of focal length, it is more a matter of the optical design and aperture shape of the lens.
    Brian_VIP likes this.
  7. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    Do you need f1.4? If you do, then are you comparing like quality at f1.4 50mm and 85mm lenses. Nikon's 50mm f1.4 is perfectly adequate but is not in the same class as their 85mm. Arguably Sigma's Art series 50mm f1.4 is the sensible AF benchmark 50mm f1.4 for Nikon.
    Personally I would use my 16-80 unless I had made a special effort to take a very old 50mm f1.4 AF or almost equally old 85mm f1.8 AF. I suspect the the advantage of the primes is purely psychological rather than technical. I like both eyes in focus and don't mind that the ears are still discernable as ears.
    Brian_VIP likes this.
  8. Brian_VIP

    Brian_VIP Member

    Thank you everybody for your help. I have decided to try a Sigma 85mm 1.4 EX DG
    ajm057 likes this.
  9. ajm057

    ajm057 Member

    Yes for headshots AND yes for wider portraits if you have space -- remembering that a D500 gives you an "effective" focal length 1.5 times the FX/35mm focal length of the lens.
    85mm x 1.5 = 128mm
    50mm x 1.5 - 75mm

    Peter Hurley one of the world's best headshot photographers when shooting 35mm/FX bodies uses a Canon 100/2.8 (macro) -135/2 at f/5.6 - f/6.3 from about 6-9 feet and lit very bright in 4 panel constant light (wescott flex) . He seems to frame the shot so that the eyes are 1/3rd of the way up the top half of the frame (so on the 2/3rd line) and shoots from a position level with the mid point of the ears, so just below the eyes - even if this crops out the top of the head. see http://www.popphoto.com/how-to/2015/04/tips-pro-peter-hurley-high-end-headshot-photography#page-7

    Portraits tend to include more than just a headshot -- they often include part or all of the subject and a subject in an environment/setting, Your focal length needs to be selected by your setting; working distance AND the style of shot you want to obtain -- folk take portraits with everything from 24mm (equivalent) - typically shot from a very low angle where the model and scene are wanted in the image - through to a 300mm/2.8 where compression on the shot is very important. Longer lenses provide more compression to the image -- making the subject appear thinner - and more separation from the background. Focal lengths 100-150mm have become the vogue. Many pros use a 70-200/2.8 for headshots and portraits. You need space to work with a longer focal length lens.
  10. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    According to whom?
  11. Fishboy

    Fishboy Well-Known Member

    I suspect that the people who pay him $1000 per headshot, $4000 per portrait or $1000 per person for groups say that sort of thing to cheer themselves up as they look at the empty holes in their bank accounts where the money used to be....

    Cheers, Jeff
  12. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Sheep as they say are made for shearing :rolleyes:
  13. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    Popular Photo for one...:D
  14. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Of course - and where can I get a copy of that particular magazine? :cool:
  15. jimmbowden

    jimmbowden New Member

    I will suggest going for Nikon lens only for the quality unlike Sigma, which is built for all. In Nikon lens, you will get a specifically built gear for its own DSLR.
  16. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    Let me start by saying that I use FX bodies so I will refer to lenses in a way that may require some translation for a DX user. I have taken portraits with a 105 DC and an 85, neither is the latest technology indeed both were bought for use with an F5. The 105 DC produces more pleasing shots in some circumstances, mainly due to the defocus image control, but does need lots of room, I wouldn't use it a small room for instance. The 85 is more flexible in that it produces good results in smaller spaces and allows group shots where space allows.

    The equivalent lenses would be around 60mm for the 85 and something like 75mm for the 105, there is nothing that has the defocus image control. Neither focal length is available as a prime lens, there is a Nikon 58 f1.4 which may be a good compromise, otherwise that leaves the choice between 50 and 85. The 50, when used on a DX body, is pretty close to the 85 in angle of view terms and is likely to get more use unless you are taking portraits on a regular basis and can guarantee sufficient space. The 85 on DX is closer to a 135 on FX and that too can produce some very pleasing results except that it requires even more room.

    If you really want an 85 you could consider the 85 f1.8 which is only 1/3 stop slower than the f1.4 but considerably cheaper.
  17. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    The Sigma fast primes are quality products, not to be compared with lenses such as the 75-300.
  18. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    Absolutely, a friend of mine recently bought a Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art fro his D610 because when he compared tests shots he made against those from the Nikon and Zeiss stables the Sigma was the best of the 3...
  19. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    I don't think there was any suggestion that they aren't. I would however concur with the suggestion of sticking with Nikon lenses simply because they are likely to be fully compatible with future Nikon bodies, the same cannot be said of any third party lens that contains electronics. I say this having been on the wrong end of this compatibility issue. I know Sigma do at least acknowledge this possibility and offer a means of updating their lenses.

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