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Thread: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 or Tamron 90mm f/2.8

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    PhotoByTrace's Avatar
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    Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 or Tamron 90mm f/2.8

    Hi all,
    Seeking some advice. I am looking for a fast mid-range lens for sport type photography; in particular to shoot dogs in motion. I currently have two lenses in my kit the Nikkor 18-200mm and the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 coupled with the D90. Neither of the lenses are exactly fulfilling my needs for this particular type of shooting. The zoom lens is wonderful in that it allows me to get in close and fill the frame, but I will very quickly run out of light to get the shutter speeds I need. The 50mm allows me to keep the shutter quick but is a little too far away and I'm losing pixels to cropping.
    I can't afford the 70-200mm f/2.8.
    I also enjoy nature photography and have been using the zoom lens for close-ups, but am hoping that the mid-range may also suit for that purpose; though it isn't my primary reason for this lens. But it does explain how I ended up looking at both the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro. I've read that both are good for portraits (though the only portraiture I do is outdoors with dogs). Primarily I am concerned that being a macro lens the Tamron may be slow to autofocus for motion shots, so am seeking feedback on that.
    Would also appreciate it if there are any other lenses that I have overlooked that might be more suitable or at least worth a look.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Cheers
    Trace

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 or Tamron 90mm f/2.8

    Although I like my Tamron 90mm f/2.8 IS lens for macros and portraiture; I don't consider the auto focus fast enough and this is not the lens that I would choose for fast moving subjects.

    Additionally, when shooting my dogs in action, I prefer a zoom lens because of its versatility. The distance between you and playing dogs will vary quickly and greatly.

    I use the Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS which has become my favorite lens. Although it is still an expensive lens, the price is considerably cheaper than either of the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS siblings. It is also a LOT lighter in weight.

    If you have enough light, the 70-200mm f/4L non-IS has fast autofocus and excellent imagery. It is also one of the least expensive L quality lenses.

    Perhaps another member would comment on the Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS and 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS lenses for action photography. Also, please provide insight into the new Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC lens which is getting rave reviews. One of these lenses might do the job for the OP but, I don't comment on gear that I have not personally used.

    Any of the three lenses mentioned above has their brand of camera motion compensation (VC or IS). I consider this feature very important in long lenses. Granted, for fast moving subjects, you will keep your shutter speed high enough to stop action and that will compensate for camera movement. But, I don't think that you would want a lens ONLY for shooting your dogs. Camera motion compensation (VC or IS) can make your lens a LOT more versatile.

    I use my 70-200mm f/4L IS lens 4-6x more often than I could ever use the non-IS model I owned previously because I can hand hold this lens in lower light levels and am not a slave to bright light.

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 or Tamron 90mm f/2.8

    Sorry, I posted the above message twice by mistake...

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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 or Tamron 90mm f/2.8

    I have the Nikkor 85mm f1.8 and it is a fine lens for the money but interestingly it doesn't get anywhere near as much use as my Nikkor 24-85mm f2.8-f4, which is now my walk around lens, and has macro capability. The latter is obviously a bit slower aperture wise but is faster focusing on my D2Xs.
    I also have the 180mm f2.8 which is amazingly sharp but a bit slow to focus. If you need the extra reach then you could look at the 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR. Yes it is slow with a maximum f4.5 aperture but the autofocus speed isn't bad and the VR capability helps a great deal. It is great value for money.
    Hope this helps.

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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 or Tamron 90mm f/2.8

    Thanks folks for your replies! Much appreciated! I haven't been looking at the various 70-300s as they are predominately in the f/4-5.6 range and at most I will only get one stop more than my current 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 lens which does a sufficient job on bright days. I think this would be the same for the 24-85. Ideally looking for at least two more stops to be able to keep the shutter in the realms I'm looking for.
    Thanks Richard for
    Although I like my Tamron 90mm f/2.8 IS lens for macros and portraiture; I don't consider the auto focus fast enough and this is not the lens that I would choose for fast moving subjects.
    That was kind of what I had feared, so thank you for verifying that for me. I will take it off my list. And yes, I too prefer the zoom for the dogs playing, but much of what I want to take will be from late afternoon in natural lighting and into the evening (agility under lights), so I'm afraid on my budget I won't be able to afford the aperture I'm looking for on a zoom. And yes, certainly the weight comes into consideration also.
    Thanks for taking to time to respond and comment; much appreciated!

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 or Tamron 90mm f/2.8

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoByTrace View Post
    ~ I too prefer the zoom for the dogs playing, but much of what I want to take will be from late afternoon in natural lighting and into the evening (agility under lights), so I'm afraid on my budget I won't be able to afford the aperture I'm looking for on a zoom. And yes, certainly the weight comes into consideration also.
    Raise the iso and buy Neat Image*, which at about $30, is a lot cheaper and lighter than a fast lens
    ... although it doesn't give the narrow DoF if that's a requirement

    Hi Trace,

    Flippant answer and may be inappropriate, but worth a thought perhaps.

    My other concern is that 50 to 85mm doesn't seem like a lot of difference in figures, you could do as well cropping the fifty you have. I'd suggest the 105mm Micro-Nikkor with IS, but it is; heavy, expensive and a stop slower than your aim

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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 or Tamron 90mm f/2.8

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Raise the iso and buy Neat Image*, which at about $30, is a lot cheaper and lighter than a fast lens
    ... although it doesn't give the narrow DoF if that's a requirement
    LOL! Well, yes, except I'm already using Nik's Define and ISO 800-1600


    My other concern is that 50 to 85mm doesn't seem like a lot of difference in figures, you could do as well cropping the fifty you have. I'd suggest the 105mm Micro-Nikkor with IS, but it is; heavy, expensive and a stop slower than your aim
    Thanks Dave for your suggestion. 105mm was actually the range I started looking within, but found most of that range was designed for macro so I still had the concern it might be too slow on Auto focus to achieve what I'm after. I've read the Nikkor has focus lock, which may help with this, but I haven't had experience with it, so would appreciate feedback. I could probably stretch to a 2nd hand purchase of one of these I also looked at the 105mmDC but it does seem to be purpose built for portraits, and somewhat dearer again, so not sure.
    Thanks for your suggestions!

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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 or Tamron 90mm f/2.8

    I use the 70-300mm for college football and it works well in that venue. Lots of movement and it captures it well.
    For more info. on Nikon lenses check out kenrockwell.com
    Phil

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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 or Tamron 90mm f/2.8

    Thanks all for your feedback. I checked out the reviews of the Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR more closely at by Thom and Ken Rockwell, as well as Amazon, it would seem this is the lens I'm looking for, in terms of fast focussing as a tele lens as well as 1:1 macro capabilities and fast aperture. I'll need to find one to try though weight-wise. And if all okay I now need to save a little more and keep an eye on 2nd hand listings
    Thanks for all your help and advice!
    Last edited by PhotoByTrace; 30th May 2011 at 01:06 AM.

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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 or Tamron 90mm f/2.8

    Thanks Phil, The 70-300mm has pretty much the same aperture ratos as my 18-200mm and I don't really need the extra length at the tele end when coupled with my D90 and its DX format sensor. College football is fortunate to have much better lighting than the fields I'm frequenting . Thanks for the feedback though.

  11. #11

    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 or Tamron 90mm f/2.8

    Let me add a small correction to one of your posts- if you are using a 3.5-5.6 variable lens then you are only going to get 2/3 of a stop of more light if you go to a 2.8 lens and only 1/3 less of light from a f/4 lens. All things being equal, not zooming- here is your problem. Going w/ a fixed f/4 zoom non-variable lens is probably your best and least solution at the moment. But wait... there are more things to think about...

    Here is what I can share with you specific to your subject and environment. Dogs need to be shot at a minimum of SS 1/250th if they are moving toward or away from you, and a SS of 1/500th if moving across your path.

    I am going to make some assumptions- if I get them wrong, forgive me... and correct me and I will answer specifics. You will find that shooting a lot of frames, analyzing what is wrong or what you want differently and how you will get what you want is the about the only real way to gain a specific answer.

    In my experience agility courses are inherently dimly lit, very spotty lighting so not evenly illuminated.
    If you zoom in, you are now probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 5.6 at 500 w/ 800-1600 ISO, probably still way under-lit. If you push to ISO 1600 you are most likely experiencing a great deal of noise from the D-90.

    Here are some things to think about- if you use a 2.8 lens and hope to capture a fast moving subject you better be darn good, you have such a shallow DOF. Dogs move in an erratic motion- back and forth, to and from- not a good action f/stop. 2.8 is more of a portrait DOF, not for action. I don't know how good the D-90's auto focus or continuous focus is, so that is something you can answer. I shoot w/ a D700 and D3s and I miss shots all the time, so don't feel bad. This stuff is happening so fast, I mean 500th of a second and changing direction are not the easiest of things to capture dead on.

    So now you stop down to f/4 or 5.6, 8 or 11 to get crisp focus and SS of 1/250, 1/500 or more to stop action and push ISO to 1600. Feeling the ughhhh feeling in your stomach yet, it is quite a conundrum, you need more light. No matter what lens you choose you have to make a choice of light, dof/focus, ISO/noise...

    Your other environment you wrote is "from late afternoon in natural lighting and into the evening". Depending on what you hope to capture this is where the 2.8 or 4 can work, unless it is a lot of action, then again you are dealing w/ fast SS. This is where you have to choose your location, or again add flash.

    Most photographers I have spoken to when I ask a question tell me, you don't need this, you don't need that. But I don't find that they don't photograph what I do and don't really know, or want to give me an answer that will not cause "too" much pain, which I appreciate, but does not really give the "correct" answer.

    You are not going to like me very much after this- you have have some choices; upgrade your body that has better low-light ISO capabilities, add flash/strobe, or change your environment.

    Here are some shots from yesterday- these are raw and not color corrected so don't judge them off color but rather focus, dof, sharpness and clarity of the subject. Most of these are shot at SS 1/5000th w/ ISO 400. I am in an experimental mode right now trying to create a more film look w/ digital- but these of course were shot in broad daylight which of course is completely opposite conditions.

    http://lttlphotography.photoshelter....000b6Vz7AwatoY
    password is "tiegan"
    You can click on them to enlarge for a better view.

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    Re: Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 or Tamron 90mm f/2.8

    Quote Originally Posted by dougstroud View Post
    Let me add a small correction to one of your posts- if you are using a 3.5-5.6 variable lens then you are only going to get 2/3 of a stop of more light if you go to a 2.8 lens and only 1/3 less of light from a f/4 lens. All things being equal, not zooming- here is your problem. Going w/ a fixed f/4 zoom non-variable lens is probably your best and least solution at the moment. But wait... there are more things to think about...
    Hi Doug, thanks for such a detailed response, I appreciate you sharing your expertise and experiences.
    Presently at around 100mm on my zoom lens I'm at f/5. I prefer to work at 1/500 shutter at minimum for agility photos for the reasons you outlined. At agility the dogs are usually working 15-30meters (50-100feet) away, but their path is usually stable and reasonably predictable. On the 50mm this makes for a very small dog in the viewfinder, but at f/2 it is still giving me a dof around 7-15metres. But I've been getting better results with my focus on the zoom for agility, partly for the variable nature of the zoom, but also moreso I think simply because there is more dog to see in my viewfinder. With the dog around 20m from me, on the zoom lens I'm at f/5 at around 100mm mark so that dof shortens to 7metres and at 200mm (f/5.6) it quickly shortens to around 2m. And of course the closer the dog gets, the shorter that dof. I've been doing okay at getting crisp shots at 180mm in bright daylight with the vr (and usually 1/1000-2000) but then there is usually quite a bit of dog in the viewfinder to help find that face for focus.

    Unfortunately Nikon does not have a fixed f/4 zoom lens; there are the variable lenses all in around the f/3.5-5.6 range or the f/2.8 fixed aperture heavy expensive fella. I've used a friend's canon 70-200 f/4 and yes, a lovely lens. If I went to the f/2.8 at 105mm the dof would be only 4 metres with dog 20 metres away, but again much narrower as they get closer. So yes, I'm seeing what you are saying, requires very good accuracy and there would be (and already is) a hell of lot of throw away shots in between the good ones. The one saving grace with agility is that the movement of the dogs is usually more predictable than when they are simply playing.
    You are not going to like me very much after this- you have have some choices; upgrade your body that has better low-light ISO capabilities, add flash/strobe, or change your environment.
    In terms of the bad news, I don't think flash to freeze the motion is going to be an option for the dogs I've thought about that already, and after going together with a friend who shoots motorsports at night and seeing how that set up works, I think the flash will be too distracting for a dog working, or at least I don't want to be the first to try it and find that is the case and have upset handlers. Unfortunately I'm not in a position to change bodies at this point. If and when I have enough $$ together to go to a full-frame then I guess it'll make the outputs from this style of shooting more rewarding and the frustration factor will be lessened. And in the mean time I'm going to just have to keep practicing and refining my skills until the frustration gets too much . But I hear your word of caution about paying out for the fixed length lens, to find I may end up needing to use it in the same aperture range of the lens I already own without the advantage of changing length.

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