Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digital SLR and Interchangeable Lens Cameras > Nikon Lenses

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Jul 17, 2009, 2:43 PM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 2
Default 85mm vs. 50mm

I have the d50 and am wanting to get a portrait lens. I will be doing indoor and outdoor shots. Will it really benefit me to spend the extra $$ on the 85mm? Or am I just as well off to buy the 50mm? Any help will be greatly appreciated!
dandcmartin is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Jul 17, 2009, 2:54 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
rjseeney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Taylor Mill, Kentucky
Posts: 2,398
Default

Both lenses may be a bit long for indoor portraits, especially the 85. For outdoor, either would be fine. The 50 is probably a little more versatile, the 85 probably a bit better quality wise.

What lenses do you currently own?? In all honesty, if you have a zoom in this range, you'll have more flexibility, although you won't have the large aperture (which isn't a big deal outdoors...typically it's too bright to shoot wide open with a f1.8 lens without ND filters).
rjseeney is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 17, 2009, 2:57 PM   #3
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

How much room do you have indoors?

I would go with the 85mm if you've got lots of room, and/or can stick with tighter head and shoulders type shots.

But, in tighter quarters indoors, the 85mm is a bit too long for much versatility (since it's giving you the same angle of view you'd have using a 128mm focal length on a 35mm camera when used on your D50, thanks to the camera's smaller APS-C size sensor).

I'd get both, and add a wider prime like a 28mm or 35mm if budget permits, or perhaps a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM, which tests nicely compared to competing lenses, keeping in mind that it wouldn't work properly without using a cropped mode on a full frame body (D3, D3x D700), since Sigma's DC series lenses are designed for smaller APS-C size sensors.

Then, you'd have more versatility for more conditions. ;-)

Or, go with a bright f/2.8 zoom for indoor use in tighter quarters (for example, a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8, or Tokina 16-50mm f/2.8). These 3 are also designed for APS-C size sensors.
JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 17, 2009, 3:04 PM   #4
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

One other thing you need to consider - if you're doing shallow-dof portraiture you really need to look at the bokeh both lenses produce. For example, in the Canon camp (I'm a canon user), while the 50mm 1.8 is a decent enough lens the bokeh isn't that great. So even if you expand your search to third party lenses I would caution you to look into that aspect of the lenses you consider. In many instances, people end up buying more expensive lenses (say 85mm1.8 in Canon) not because they need to shoot at f1.2 but because the bokeh is so much more pleasing at the apertures they DO shoot at.
JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 17, 2009, 3:16 PM   #5
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 2
Default

The bokeh is what is important to me. How do I find that out on these lenses? I'm confused on the "long" you guys are talking about. I'm new to this and thought I knew a lot about it, but these lens options are throwing me for a loop!
dandcmartin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 17, 2009, 3:25 PM   #6
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

Long means a longer focal length (for example, 85mm versus 50mm). The longer the focal length, the narrower your angle of view (more apparent magnification). The wider the focal length, the wider your angle of view (less apparent magnification).

As a general rule of thumb, you'll get better bokeh (for example, the quality of the out of focus highlights) from a longer lens (higher mm numbers) at wider aperture settings (smaller f/stop numbers). Your perspective will also change (more compressed background with a longer lens).
JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 17, 2009, 3:26 PM   #7
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

Jim, there's more to it than just that. Blade design comes into play as well. You could have 2 lenses, same aperture, same focal legth and get 2 entirely different results bokeh-wise.
JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jul 17, 2009, 3:28 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
rjseeney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Taylor Mill, Kentucky
Posts: 2,398
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by dandcmartin View Post
The bokeh is what is important to me. How do I find that out on these lenses? I'm confused on the "long" you guys are talking about. I'm new to this and thought I knew a lot about it, but these lens options are throwing me for a loop!
Long means telephoto. On film cameras, 50mm was considered normal (roughly what the eye sees). Anything greater than that is tele, shorter is wide. 85mm was considered the classic portrait focal length for film. However with the crop factor (the sensor of DSLR's is smaller than film, resulting in a different field of view for an equivalent focal length), the 85 functions like a 128mm which is really moderate telephoto,, and likely too long for indoor use. In other words, you won't have enough room to back up from your subject to frame properly. Now if you're in a gym, or ballroom, it could work fine. Thus for a DSLR, the 50mm is closer to the classic portrait length, although in smaller rooms, it too may be long. As JohnG mentioned, however the 50 is a bit lower in quality and in bokeh. If you've got the room, the 85 is the way to go. If not, the 50 would work pretty good, it just wouldn't be your best option. As Jim mentioned, one of the f2.8 zooms would give more flexibility (which is always good), but probably again at the expense of bokeh. There is always a compromise when making a choice like this.
rjseeney is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 8:13 PM.