On 35mm I have tried and tried to get portraits from a 135mm focal-length that i really like. I know there are some photog's who have genuinely mastered this length, but i've just not gotten it and it's wickedly frustrating. I can't fault my gear - i have a great lens (Minolta MD Tele Rokkor-X 135mm f3.5), but somehow cannot find the sweet spot that others have exploited.... The 135mm is great for other things i've shot, but faces/features seem less 'natural' (for lack of better adjectives) - arrgghhhhhh.
I'm not shooting much 35mm anymore (or anything really - i'm in a rat stinkin' slump....), but if i was, i'd be seriously looking at a MC Rokkor-X 85mm f1.7.
I have made some great (to my amateur eyes) portraits with my 58mm f1.4 (and a few w/a 50mm), but it requires me to be rather close to fill the frame appropriately. I typically only do portraits of my family, but these focal lengths seem a shade wide. Additionally, there are times when a little distance would help without the "compression" (? - again, bumping into failed adjectives) the 135mm provides.
Though i'm not an accomplished photographer, i am aware of the different FOV each focal length provides (though haven't memorized them - i'm such a slacker....). The frustrating part of this is that simply 'foot-zooming' doesn't always settle the challenge of subject compression of the tele's or the detail expansion of the wides as it related to subject inclusion in the FOV.
David Lyga, thanks for starting this thread. Thanks also to all you more experienced photographers for your input.
This is the kind of gear question that i strongly prefer (over the 'which is better - Canon, Contax, Leica, Minolta, Nikon, Olympus or Pentax?' type threads), but see as often.