Recommendations for a Portrait Lens, M42 or Nikon F Mount

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by ColdEye, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. ColdEye

    ColdEye Member

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    I am looking for a portrait lens. I have a Pentax Spotmatic and a Nikkormat FTn, so any lens that will fit them would be my target. I have 3 categories:

    1. It must have a nice bokeh, not super creamy, it must just be pleasing to the eyes and not distracting (for example the Helios 44 bokeh is kinda distracting).

    2. Nice sharpness. I will be printing these to 8x10 so the details must be clear (Nice details in the picture is a product of sharpness right?)

    3. This might be the hardest part, but it must be below $100. :tongue:

    The focal length that I am targeting for is 105mm, as I love that FL, but I am open to other FLs, like 85mm or 135mm. But as there are a ton of them, I don't really know what to pick. In the kit that I am building, the only lenses that I lack are a portrait lens and wide angle, and as I am going to do a portrait shoot soon, this is what I am looking for first. :D
     
  2. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    I am no expert, and have not tried a lot of lenses. But I have been pleased with the 100mm series E for Nikon. Fairly fast (2.8), good Bokeh (to me) and cheap. Or, they were. I just checked KEH and the bargain grade copy they have is $133. I seem to recall paying a lot less from KEH about 6 years back.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 2, 2011
  3. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    Here are my recommendations:

    1. Nikon 105mm f/2.5 (may not be able to find for less than $100)
    2. Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E (the best bang for the buck)
    3. Fujinon 135mm f/3.5 (has better bokeh than the 135mm Takumar)

    I own and use all three.
     
  4. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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  5. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    My favorites are...

    Nikon 105mm f/2.5 AIS (but, you're not gonna get one for under $100).
    Nikon 100mm f/2.8 series E (a less expensive compromise)
    Pentax SMC Takumar 135mm f/2.5 (not so easy to find anymore).

    there were a few exceptional third party lenses in the 90mm focal length too...though I cannot remember the good ones anymore.
     
  6. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    For less than $100?
     
  7. ColdEye

    ColdEye Member

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    I already have bought a macro lens (55/3.5) from a fellow member here in APUG. I guess the most viable option for me is a Nikkor 105mm Auto-P? Saw one for a nice price. Anyone here who has tried that lens?
     
  8. drumminor2nd

    drumminor2nd Member

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    Hunt down a non-AI Nikkor 105/2.5 lens. You can find it for under $100, or only slightly more. You have an FTn, so there's no need for a later lens.

    There are different versions of the lens, the older being better for portraits, but still a sharp monster. I have a late Non-AI lens of the newer design, and it kicks tail over pretty much anything I've ever used.

    At KEH.com right now:
    The old version

    The newer version

    They made a jagillion of them because, well, they had to keep up with demand for such an awesome lens. It wasn't until most news pros switched to Canon in the '90s when they dumped the old 105.
     
  9. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    I'd also suggest a non-AI Nikkor 105 2.5.

    In M42, Schacht 90mm 2.8 or Meyer 100mm 2.8 would fit your bill.
     
  10. CGW

    CGW Member

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    The Nikon E series lenses lack the prong that engages the Nikkormat's metering post. The 100/2.8 is a very sweet lens that punches way above its weight, as does the 75-150 zoom.

    There's also the superb old 85/1.8 NAI Nikkor. The 105/4 MicroNikkor is also nice.
     
  11. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    "The Nikon E series lenses lack the prong that engages the Nikkormat's metering post"

    Hadn't thought of that. Given the prices, I don't know if the 100/series E would make sense even if it did work with the ftn.
     
  12. erikg

    erikg Member

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    How about a Jupiter 9 in m42 mount? Hard to find a nicer bokeh, and they are easy to come by. I just got a nikkor 85 1.8, as mentioned that is pretty nice too.
     
  13. zk-cessnaguy

    zk-cessnaguy Member

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    85/1.9 and 135/2.5 Super Takumar/SMC etc.
     
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  15. BobD

    BobD Member

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    Any of the Nikkor 135mm lenses (3.5 or 2.8). The non-AI versions sell for less than $100 I believe. Also the Nikkor 80-200mm zooms can make good portrait lenses.

    If you really want a great bargain tele lens -- get a TX Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 with serial number starting 37...
     
  16. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Series E 100/2.8s seem to be going for around 75 bucks on the big auction site. The herd chasing 105/2.5s pass 'em up and pay way more. BTW the all black version usually goes for less than the 105/2.5 lookalike--same lens under the hood.
     
  17. jhw

    jhw Subscriber

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    Tair 11-a in M42...for 130$ or so, it keeps fine pace with a rather more expensive Nikon 135 DC I have; and bokeh as you described, not melted paint, but soft enough to disengage the eye.
     
  18. jochen

    jochen Member

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    Hello,
    Asahi Pentax had a nice 1.2,8/105 mm Super Takumar or SMC-Takumar, which should be not so expensive. The 1:2,5/135 was one of the best 135 mm lenses ever built but is much more expensive and hard to find in the latest and best SMC version. Pentax also had a rather seldom to find 1:2,8/120 mm lens which was a little bit soft wide open, especially for portraits.
     
  19. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    If you want cheap and excellent, look at the 135mm f/3.5 Nikkors. One of the sharpest lenses you'll find for so little money. I got my pre AI one in near-mint condition with the hood and original leather case for $50 locally. I got my AI one in outstanding condition for $76 shipped here on APUG. I liked the pre AI one so much that I shopped for an AI as soon as I got my Nikon digital camera. It is one of my main trio of lenses for both film and digital now. I happen to have a few recently shot digital pictures done with the AI at f/4, if you want me to send them to you. Just some snapshots at the park to try out the lens, but they show the sharpness and "bokeh."

    In the same vein, but closer to your desired FL, would be an 85mm f/1.8. But I am not sure what they go for, as I have not shopped for one recently.

    I can also recommend the Pentax thread mount 105mm f/2.8. Great lens IMO. I never owned one, but I "tested" one for about a month before the estate sales company I worked for sold it on E-Bay. It went for about $75 in near mint condition with caps and leather case. I got the rest of the kit (Spotmatic, 50mm f/1.4, and 35mm f/3.5), as we determined it wouldn't be worth the effort to photograph it and sell it. I always wished I had bought the 105 too.

    I prefer the 135mm FL to 85 and 100 for most subjects that I shoot with a medium telephoto, but we are all different.
     
  20. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I have a Hanimex branded 135mm f2.8 with a Nikon mount which is surprisingly good.


    Steve.
     
  21. eSPhotos

    eSPhotos Member

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    I think there are enough info for Nikkor so I won't repeat.

    For M42 I'd recommend Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 135mm f3.5 MC. You may just get it for $100 because I sold one of my mint cond for that.
    Sharp enough and has very pleasant buttery bokeh.
    Jupiter 9 as mentioned above is sharp stopped down but it also has that 'helios' like distracting bokeh you don't like.
     
  22. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    The portrait lens I would recommend is the 85mm f1.8 Nikkor.
     
  23. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I also have one of those. Mine was in a bunch of stuff including five other lenses, a couple of camera bodies and some expired film... all for £10.

    I gave most of the other stuff away but kept the Sonnar 135mm. I would also recommend this one for M42 but there are so many lenses made with this mount that there will be many other good ones too.


    Steve.
     
  24. erikg

    erikg Member

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    I wouldn't equate the Jupiter 9 bokeh with that of the Helios. J-9 is a Sonnar copy and to my eye has the smooth Sonnar bokeh, as does the J-3. However bokeh is in the eye of the beholder, so best to see for one's self.
     
  25. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    M42 - Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4
    M42 - Helios 58mm f/2 - stunningly beautiful portrait lens that changes character when you stop it down.
    M42 - Jupiter 9 85mm f/2 (more than $100 likely)

    Must have lens shade for all of these.
     
  26. ColdEye

    ColdEye Member

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    Thanks, the info here is amazing. now I can widen my search. Actually it's not that I don't like the bokeh pf the Helios 44 ( i actually use it quite a a lot), But for the look I am going for I want it to be "tame".