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Thread: Portrait lens help

  1. #1

    Portrait lens help

    I have a Nikon D5000 w/ the kit lens (AF-S Nikkor 18-55) right now and am looking at getting another lens. I am new to photography but am mostly interested in taking portrait photography of kids & families. I like close-ups and full length shots. I can't afford top of the line, but also don't want to spend any amount of money if it isn't going to be good quality-so I guess you can say I am trying to get the most bang for the buck! Any suggestions on what would be the next best lens to get?

  2. #2

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    Sahil Jain

    Re: Portrait lens help

    I am thinking of buying a 50mm f1.8. Its the cheapest lens and has some real good reviews. I read that its good for portraits too. Its under $100. I too would like to see what others have to say!

  3. #3
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Portrait lens help

    Hi Brenny,

    Quote Originally Posted by brenny130 View Post
    I like close-ups and full length shots. I can't afford top of the line, but also don't want to spend any amount of money if it isn't going to be good quality-so I guess you can say I am trying to get the most bang for the buck! Any suggestions on what would be the next best lens to get?
    Given the lens you have and its focal length range, I'd be inclined to go for something a little longer, as well as faster.

    The kit lens will do groups and full length adequately since I'd guess the shallow DoF of a faster lens won't be quite so essential for those.

    Since you are a D5000 owner like me, in order to have auto-focus, you need to make sure you only buy an "AF-S" lens - I'd suggest that while cheaper manual focus lenses might be attractive financially, many s/h ones - while good IQ lenses, won't even allow the D5000 to light meter. Check out the D5000 owners manual.

    If you want candid close ups of the kids while they're occupied (and without distracting them) I'd suggest the 105mm f2.8 VR AF-S Macro (about 600).
    If you really don't want macro then sadly there really isn't an alternative in Nikon's own range that is AF-S. Going third party might disappoint on image quality. Going to the Nikon "AF" lens range will (I think) retain metering, but despite the name, on a D5000 (or D3000, D40, D60) mean manual focusing because those lenses only AF on a D70, D80, D90 or better.

    Sadly, I think the 50mm f1.8 is one of those "AF" lenses that won't AF on a D5000, with kids, this might be an issue. There is a 50mm f1.4 which is AF-S, but I don't think that has the same good write ups as the lens Sahil mentioned, but it is about 235 and is still likely to be better IQ than the kit lens. There's a 400 60mm f2.8 Macro AF-S lens also.

    If you think 105mm (plus crop factor giving 150mm equivalent) is too long (I doubt it myself), there is the AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR, but at f3.5, your not gaining (much) speed.

    If money isn't tight, there's always the 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR NIKKOR, but it's no lightweight, and at 1,680, not cheap for use around kids.

    All links and prices are UK based, sorry if that's not where you are, but they'll give an idea.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 9th May 2010 at 12:34 AM. Reason: added to

  4. #4
    pwnage101's Avatar
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    Re: Portrait lens help

    i was seriously considering the d5000 body, but instead got a used d80 for one reason: auto focus on the 50mm f1.8D. It will provide metering on your d5000 since it is marked with AF-D, but not auto focus. sorry!

  5. #5
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Portrait lens help

    I would look into the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VR lens. The image quality and the versatility of this lens will outdo your kit glass by a wide margin. You could sell the kit or keep it for back-up.

    I always recommend basing a lens system on a mid-range zoom which has a constant f/2.8 aperture and has image stabilization.

    I use a Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS as my primary lens and I absolutely love the focal length as well as the constant f/2.8 aperture as well as the image stabilization whih makes this a great low light glass. The 17-50mm Tamron would serve you as well on your Nikon.

  6. #6
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    Re: Portrait lens help

    I cannot comment on your exact lens because I'm a Canon shooter. However, the equivalent lens on the Canon was the best value I've ever found on the body. The image quality and bokey were great. I was so pleased with it that I upgraded to the more expensive 1.4 not so much for the Aperture size but for the faster focus via Canon's USM (Ultra-Sonic Motor) since I chase a lot of moving kids. Although I have nicer lenses since then that I have added to my bag, this lens purchase was the best bang for the buck that I have found ever since. You get used to the 'foot zoom' aspect of it. For me, the 50mm F/1.8 wasn't the most versatile lens that I have, but for the price I paid it definitely worth every penny.

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