Nikon Manual Focus Telephoto Lens Question

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by William Markey, Apr 1, 2010.

  1. William Markey

    William Markey Member

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    I just purchased an almost-new (less than 10 rolls taken) Nikon F3HP yesterday - one of my dream cameras. Along with the camera, I purchased a 105 f/2.8 Micro AIS Nikkor and a 28-85 f/3.5 - 4.5 Nikkor.

    Since I shoot mostly wanna-be models and portraits, I'd like add a bit longer lens. For those of you with experience with the 180 f2.8 and/or the 300 f/4.5...which would give me a better bokeh and nicer over-all photograph?

    Thanks for your opinions and your help!
     
  2. Randy_Va

    Randy_Va Member

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    I have a 105 1.8 AI lens, and at 2.8 the depth of field is pretty thin. The online DOF calculator tells me that I have 6 inches at 2.8 from 10 feet, but it feels more like 3 in practice. And when I shoot at 1.8 I almost never get the results I expected.

    I am also thinking about a slightly longer lens, once my moratorium on purchases is lifted.
     
  3. MFstooges

    MFstooges Member

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    I can't comment on the 300 f4.5 however I will avoid focal length above 200mm since it will give you too much distance to direct your model.
     
  4. fotch

    fotch Member

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    A longer lens distorts the image and usually not the best for a portrait unless you want the telephoto effect.

    JMHO
     
  5. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    I have experience with the 180mm f/2.8 ED, the 300mm f/4.5 and the 200mm f/4.0 (AI & AIS).

    The 300mm is an ok, but not stellar lens. Also much harder to use handheld in practice.

    The 180mm is a classic: great bokeh.

    The 200mm is nearly as good as the the 180mm from f/5.6 on. One of Nikon's most underrated lenses.

    For your use, the 180mm could be better for wide open shots and a more out of focus background.
    The 200mm is much lighter and cheaper, and will give you practically the same quality, obviously without the effects of f/2.8 (it is actually nearly a f/4.5 in practice).
     
  6. William Markey

    William Markey Member

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    Thanks everyone! It is as I thought. I will buy the 180mm f/2.8 then! Looks like a sweet lens.
     
  7. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I have the same lens (and love it!). If you have 6 inches of depth of field, then you have 2 inches in front of the focal plane and 4 inches behind it. Even if you are focused perfectly, that's still pretty shallow.
     
  8. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    I have the 180mm f/2.8 and love it. Absolutely a fantastic lens. However, it is a little long for typical "portrait" shots. You need lots of room to be able to use it effectively.
     
  9. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    The 200/4 is awfully good too. I used an ancient non-AI one for a few years and the images were amazing. Newer ones were even better. Cheap and lightweight, too.
     
  10. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    With the 300mm length I have owned both the standard 300 4.5 and the Nikkor ED 300 4.5. The standard one isn’t that flash, not bad, but I wouldn’t go berserk about it. The ED 300, which is the first 300 with ED glass and not to be confused with the IF version that most people know, is quite good, but you cannot hand hold easily unless you are using quite fast shutter speed. 72mm filter ring, built in lens hood and rotating tripod collar.

    The closest focusing distance is around 4 metres and workable headshots are around the 6 metre mark, once you wish to go for a bust shot then you will be around 7-8 metres away. I did some interesting full-length figure work with the 300 and I used a non-amplified dustbin type megaphone to give instructions, the model was that far away.

    The Nikkor ED 180 2.8 is a very nice lens, you will be working around 3-4 metres away for a bust shot, tripod is handy as it’s a heavy lens if it’s a long session, but that is your call. This is about the longest lens that seems to work reasonably well for me with portraiture. 72mm filter ring, built in lens hood.

    The Nikkor 105 2.5 is nothing short of brilliant; I have taken so many different portraits with this lens that are so good, that even if I never used it for anything else, it would be my best Nikkor lens. However it is brilliant at virtually anything I point it at if this focal length is anywhere near the correct length for what I’m shooting. Tight head shots in the vertical format are very nice around the 1.5 – 2 metre distance and as you pull back to get more of the subject in, it stays the same, brilliant. The best Nikkor lens I have ever used and the best one I own. 52mm filter ring, it has a built in lens hood.

    The Nikkor 85 1.4 is not as good at portraiture as the 105, but it is better that the slower 85 f/2, which I have used and find soft. This softness is apparently intended by having lower contrast especially for portraiture. Sort of to reduce wrinkles and blemishes. I wouldn’t say it was a bad lens, but it’s obvious design intentions were apparent whenever I used one, I didn’t like it.

    Back to the 85 1.4, this lens is really something else, however for portrait work I find that I’m getting a bit too close to a model when doing a vertical head shot. It is bitingly sharp, but at a cost of nice out of focus backgrounds that only the 105 and to a lesser extent, the 180 have. 72mm filter ring, no built in lens hood but the Nikon HN-20 lens hood is designed for it and you need it. This lens has floating elements meaning you can focus quite close and quite far (infinity) with quite good contrast. However when used really tight and running at the minimum focusing distance, there is light falloff in the corners, about ½ a stop. Not a problem in the darkroom, but a bit iffy with slide film.

    The 135 mm length in Nikon and Nikkor build isn’t too flash. The 135 f/2 is fast, but doesn’t seem to work too well wide open at all and you find yourself closing the aperture down a couple of stops, I had one for about 2 years and really tried to like it, but in the end it didn’t work for me. 72mm filter ring, built in lens hood.

    The 105 2.8 Micro Nikkor has floating elements to allow super close up photography, but I don’t think it is terrific as a portrait lens, mind you it is pretty damn good, but compared to it’s far simpler 105 2.5 cousin it isn’t in the same league. 52mm filter ring and requires the lens hood supplied with it to be used. A good friend of mine has one of these and we sometimes swap lenses so I’m still aware of how it compares to the standard 105.

    If I had to suggest which lens, or lenses to think about for portraiture, I would suggest the 105 2.5 as the best by a long shot, it is just right. Then either the 180 2.8 or 85 1.4 depending upon which style of portraiture you favour, or how much room you have behind you. :D

    Mick.
     
  11. macrorie

    macrorie Member

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    If you have the opportunity, try a 50-135mm 3.5 AIS zoom. It is a great lens, although not as fast as some of the others under discussion. You might like the flexibility of variable focal lengths in that range in one lens during a shooting session.
     
  12. Sim2

    Sim2 Member

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    Hallo,
    I believe that Nikon used to produce two DC (distortion control) lenses - 105 & 135mm I think. They had a seperate "focusing" ring that would alter the amount of background blur. They were designed primarily for portraits and could get the background blur of a 300mm with the 105mm lens. Might be worth investigating? Or have a look at a secondhand 200mm F2.0 - a cracker :tongue:.
    Sim2
     
  13. William Markey

    William Markey Member

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    Mick - that is exactly the description of the different lenses that I needed! Thanks so much (and thanks to everyone else too!). I will now turn my attention to the 105 2.5 and expand from there.
     
  14. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    Honestly, if it's portraits you're going to be doing, I'd make the effort to get at least a 105 2.5 (I have it and it's terrific) or a wider aperture version. Or an 85 1.8 or 1.4 -- worth the money, if you're going to be charging money for your work.

    Close enough that you can have a rapport with your model, but far enough to get the right perspective. 300 is a nice lens but not suited for portraiture both in terms of perspective and how much more difficult it will be to communicate with your subjects.
     
  15. budrichard

    budrichard Member

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    Lenses of vastly different focal length are usually not chosen because of 'Bokeh' or whatever but are chosen based on what one needs to accomplish. A 180mm and 300mm have vastly different uses. When you get over 200mm, the lens is usually used for Sporting Events or Nature Photography.
    Evaluate what you are going to use the lens to accomplish and then select the correct focal length and aperture. Nikon has produced Nikkor lenses to accomplish just about anything you can think of.-Dick
     
  16. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    I use the 105mm f/2.8 and the105mm f/2.5 as a portrait lenses. I also use the 180mm f/2.8 for head shots and tight face shots. I have never needed a longer focal length for portraits.
     
  17. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser

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    In Japan 300mm is a popular focal length for portraits. Don't quite know why, but Japanese paintings often have a very flattened perspective and so 300mm perspective may be seen as a natural for portraits.
     
  18. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I was in the audience recently for a short demonstration (aimed at beginners) of head and shoulder portrait techniques. The photographer used a 200mm lens on a (APS-C I believe) digital SLR. By my calculations, that is equivalent to using a 300mm or longer telephoto on a 35mm camera, or a 500mm lens on a 6x4.5/6x6 camera.

    The camera to subject working distance was really long, and in my experience, really unusual.

    The photographer is a local pro, and appears to be both busy, and successful.

    He really depends heavily on his radio frequency flash triggers.