Anyone Else Have Difficulty Settling on a Portrait Lens for 35mm?
Every few years I seem to go a little (more) nuts and go on a quest for a "good" portrait lens for my Nikon cameras. For other focal lengths, I don't have this problem. My 50 is a non ai H 50 2.0, and my 135 is a Canon FD 135 2.5. But a good 85-105 seems to elude me. So far it's like this:
Nikon non ai 85 1.8: really nice lens w/ great build quality and feel. Soft at f1.8, sharpened right up at the next f stop. But the diaphragm blades gave ugly octagonal shapes if you had a busy background.
Bower (Rokinon/Samyang, etc) asph 85 1.4: Beautiful piece of glass, and a great value w/ smooooth bokeh! Hard to say why this didn't work, but it didn't. Had a somewhat digital/clean look when you were stopped down.
Nikon ai 85 2.0: Very light and compact for an 85 and very good build quality. Inconsistent bokeh though. Sometimes it's smooth as can be, stopped down it can give those strange Nikon octagonal dealies. Ruined a few shots on my first roll, but maybe you can be careful and avoid those situations? Soft at f2, sharper at f2.8, never as sharp as the 85 1.8, but it has a marvelous way of blurring out things on portraits. Seems to be a very low contrast lens. If I worked on the printing I think I could make good portraits, but it is not so hot as a walk around lens.
Nikon 105 2.5 (both the early and late designs): I've owned both designs and found them way too sharp for portraits. Maybe I could use the old vaseline on the UV filter. I just don't want to see every pore on a person's face, and it can't do that thing where you only get the front of the face in focus. It always gets the whole head sharp, even at 2.5.
Leica R 90 2.8 Elmarit w/ an adapter: Build quality, IQ, and coatings all speak of a lens in a different league. Quite difficult to find a clean example, and getting one cleaned is not cheap. The last 2 samples were a little inconsistent when used as a walk about lens. Truthfully, I want something cheaper too.
Anyone else have this problem? Maybe it's me, but since I manage to get what I want at other focal lengths, maybe it's not. Should I just have a dedicated portrait lens and forget about using it for other stuff? Perhaps that's the fix.
Last edited by momus; 10-15-2013 at 10:10 AM. Click to view previous post history.