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  1. #1

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    Nikon Manual Focus Telephoto Lens Question

    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. #2
    Randy_Va's Avatar
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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. #3

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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. #4
    fotch's Avatar
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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
    Items for sale or trade at www.Camera35.com

  5. #5
    Rol_Lei Nut's Avatar
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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).
    M6, SL, SL2, R5, P6x7, SL3003, SL35-E, F, F2, FM, FE-2, Varex IIa

  6. #6

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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. #7
    eddym's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randy_Va View Post
    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.
    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.
    Eddy McDonald
    www.fotoartes.com
    Eschew defenestration!

  8. #8
    BradS's Avatar
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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. #9
    PhotoJim's Avatar
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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.
    Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

    A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.

    Favourite film: do I need to pick only one?

  10. #10
    Mick Fagan's Avatar
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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 isnít that flash, not bad, but I wouldnít 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 itís a heavy lens if itís 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 Iím shooting. Tight head shots in the vertical format are very nice around the 1.5 Ė 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 wouldnít say it was a bad lens, but itís obvious design intentions were apparent whenever I used one, I didnít like it.

    Back to the 85 1.4, this lens is really something else, however for portrait work I find that Iím 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 Ĺ a stop. Not a problem in the darkroom, but a bit iffy with slide film.

    The 135 mm length in Nikon and Nikkor build isnít too flash. The 135 f/2 is fast, but doesnít 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 didnít 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 donít think it is terrific as a portrait lens, mind you it is pretty damn good, but compared to itís far simpler 105 2.5 cousin it isnít 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 Iím 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.

    Mick.

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