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Do I need an 85mm lens
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May 19, 2024 09:31:34   #
Longshadow wrote:
MY thoughts: the zoom covers it, save the "low light" ability of the dedicated 85.
For my shooting I don't need the low light ability.
That's why my 18-200 lives on my camera.
(I also have an 25, 35, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175, ..... in the zoom.)

It depends on your requirements and desires.

Agree. 100%.

May 19, 2024 09:41:49   #
Longshadow wrote:
So, what make a "portrait lens" a portrait lens, and "preferred" for portraits?

I have many lenses, of course I have the 50 and the 105. I don't know what it is about the 85 (Nikon) that I have but it is a perfect lens. Great contrast, great color and sharp even at the edges. It is sharp wide open, it is an amazing lens but, mostly I do landscape. When photographer friends have tried my 85 they have gone out and purchased one. Wide open it gives beautiful creamy, dreamy bokeh, in low light it provides a bright image. I enjoy capturing flowers, the 85 is great for that.

I have zooms that cover the 50, 85 and 105 lengths but it isn't the same. For the 50 I will often not bother taking the 24-70 off and just use it for 50, my 50 is 1.4 so is good and bright but quality wise no better than the 24-70 (Tamron version). I seldom use the 105 for anything other than macro. 105 is good for compressing the background but mostly I don't want the background in portraiture to be in focus so the 105 is just not needed either. I wish I could express it better.

I don't think anybody "NEEDS" an 85 but it is sure nice to have.

While it is a great lens it is for a specific purpose and not general use lens at least not for me. I take it with me when traveling just for taking people but mostly I won't get it out of the bag.

May 19, 2024 09:45:32   #
imagextrordinair Loc: nowhere
Thomas902 wrote:
"I have the Nikon 105mm F2.8 and the Nikon 70-200mm F2.8 and was wondering what advantage there would be to owning a Nikon 85mm..."

Following the wisdom of your Signature edict
"You are known by what you show, not by what you throw"

Please see the following aggregate sample imagery taken with Nikkor portrait primes...
Hope this helps you winnow through the chaff grandpaw...

btw, many Agency Models; Makeup Artist and Hairstyles in my market have shared with me that it's not the kit that matters but instead the visual statement latent within... I concur... Wishing you much success on your journey.
" i I have the Nikon 105mm F2.8 and the Nikon... (show quote)

With your showcase of flash portrait work, your F stop is most likely not wide open at f/1.8. For angle of view, each image could have a direct comment on how the 85 prime has value, is different from other primes and cannot be replicated with a zoom action lens.

May 19, 2024 09:46:21   #
lamiaceae Loc: San Luis Obispo County, CA
grandpaw wrote:
I have the Nikon 105mm F2.8 and the Nikon 70-200mm F2.8 and was wondering what advantage there would be to owning a Nikon 85mm F1.8 lens. I have several other lenses but have never owned an 85mm so I was wondering what advantage there would be to owning one. Your thoughts on this would be appreciated.

Need? No. But a 85mm is ideal for head & shoulders portraits on a FF or 35mm Film camera. I don't have one either. I have zoom lenses that cover 85mm, and 55mm for APS-C or 105mm for FF.

May 19, 2024 09:56:24   #
dbrugger25 Loc: Raleigh, NC
User ID wrote:
I believe that I know. 85 is the journalists portrait grabber. Their "normal" may be a 35 so that 85 is quite a step up (vs when your normal is a 50). 85 is short and fast enuf for quick reportage style handheld "portraits", even in crappy light.

85mm is acoarst a Nikon FL. With Leica its 90. Note that I called it a "portrait grabber". Its not really a studio lens ... and anywho studio cameras are generally bigger. 85 and 90mm decend from rangfinder 35mm film kits. With RFs, the mechanical accuracy limited 105 and 135 lenses to slower max apperture, so 85 and 90 could be about a full stop faster than those longer lenses.

Thaz the deal in rather broad strokes. Broad strokes !! I now step aside so as to not get trampled as a herd of nit pickers rushes in.
I believe that I know. 85 is the journalists portr... (show quote)

I would think that journalists would prefer zoom lenses because of the unpredictability of the situations they cover.

May 19, 2024 10:24:38   #
imagemeister Loc: mid east Florida
Back in the film era - before quality/fast zooms - the 85 1.8 had great relevancy - today, not so much 8-(

The 85 f1.9 Super Takumar was the FIRST lens I bought for my Pentax Spotmatic in 1969 ...

May 19, 2024 10:26:48   #
grandpaw wrote:
I have the Nikon 105mm F2.8 and the Nikon 70-200mm F2.8 and was wondering what advantage there would be to owning a Nikon 85mm F1,8 lens. I have several other lenses but have never owned an 85mm so I was wondering what advantage there would be to owning one. Your thoughts on this would be appreciated.

IMO he only reason to add a 85mm f1.8 is if you must have 1.8 (which I doubt) and if the weight difference (lighter) is a factor. I would just use the 105 f2.8.

May 19, 2024 10:47:15   #
larryepage Loc: North Texas area
Grandpaw has told us that he has decided for now not to buy an 85mm lens. That sounds like a wise choice right now. I believe that lenses should be purchased with a purpose in mind. I just bought a 70-200 f/4 zoom despite having a 70-200 f/2.8 which I have owned for years and with which I am very well pleased. The reason is that I shoot high school robotics competitions, and the f/2.8 is just too big and too heavy to deal with all day long in the crowded environment. And no, I have no plans or intentions to get rid of the big lens.

Lenses are much more than just their focal length. They are even much more than their focal length and maximum aperture. There may come a time when Grandpaw's shooting lets him know that he needs an 85mm lens. That will be the time for him to buy one, whether it's on sale or not.

May 19, 2024 12:56:58   #
When I was shooting film I had a fast 85mm and it was perfect for portraits, formal and informal...esp limited light (d'oh) and dreamy looks. Get one!

May 19, 2024 13:04:28   #
keywest305 Loc: Baltimore Md.
I had the 85 1.4 the 105 1.4e and the 135 f/2. I thought the 105 was real good for a portrait buy out out the 3 the 135 f/2 df was phenomenal....imo

May 19, 2024 13:47:35   #
There is one other reason that the 85/ 90 historically was a highly favored lens. It was easier to get a really good one. In terms of lens design a good short telephoto is easier to design and build, than many other lenses. Their relatively simple optical formula allowed fewer elements, fewer air to glass surfaces and wonderful contrast.
So that accounts for some of the historical mystique that seems to hold on.
With Modern glass, modern coatings and computer design that is no longer true. Premium Zooms can be as good as primes so there fewer reasons to NEED a prime other than the fastest possible aperture. Even there, lenses like Canon's 28-70 f/2 & 24-105 f/2.8 make it tough to NEED an 85
In my earlier days, I was certainly formed by the number of photojournalists who carried 2 Nikons one with the wonderful 35mm f/2 and the other with the 105 /f 2.5. I still own mine.

May 19, 2024 13:51:29   #
Manchester Brat Loc: Manchester, Connecticut
I have many Nikon lenses and the 85 mm is the best and most highly rated of all those I have bought. Great for Portraits.

May 19, 2024 16:17:54   #
Timmers Loc: San Antonio Texas.
I have the Leica 8.5cm F1.5 lens from 1932, only produced for the German Military (used at the Munich Olympics in 1936 then not 'seen' again until after the war when E. Leitz put it back into production in the Early 1950s. This is the lens all the other lens makers model their 85mm fast lens on.

This lens from the early 1930s worked on the early Leica range finder cameras (IIIa, IIIb, and IIIc) and focused perfectly wide open (the f1.5 making is but 1/3 of a stop from the more traditional 1.4 lens designation). In modern digital gear I could find no digital camera that could track the lens wide open untill the Sony 7a body. I now use the lens to do images. To give you a sense of the critical quality of the lens (and to the Leica pre M series cameras), shooting wide open the lens will close focus on the iris of the eye and the eyelashes will begin to just slip slightly out of focus.

The image shown here is with the 8.5CM lens from 1933, in a Leica IIIc body using Tri-X in Germany in 1968 of a fellow class amte Lexi, hand held at f 2.8 in natural light.

Lexi, 1968, high school, Tri-X film with the Leica Summarex 8.5cm f1.5 lens on a Leica IIIc.
Lexi, 1968, high school, Tri-X film with the Leica...

Leica, Leica Summarex 8.5cm f1.5 lens (1933).
Leica, Leica Summarex 8.5cm f1.5 lens (1933)....

May 19, 2024 17:52:32   #
TriX Loc: Raleigh, NC
You’d have to pry my 85 f1.8 from my cold dead hands. Went to my youngest son’s wedding with a bag full of lenses in the trunk. We had a paid pro, but I wanted my own shots. Mounted both my preferred 70-200 f2.8 and the 24-70 f2.8, but after checking the ambient lighting, I realized that to shoot at a reasonable shutter speed, I’d be in the ISO 3200 and up range. Grabbed the 85 f1.8 which allowed 1/125 @f2 and ISO 1600. Glad I did - so much smaller and lighter. Shot the entire wedding, and the bride’s mother preferred many of my shots to the pro. With the exception of my 135 f2L, the 85 is my most used prime (and it’s a bargain in terms of acuity vs price).

May 19, 2024 18:25:40   #
User ID
Jeffcs wrote:
It’s about compression and Boca light gathering capability it has a look only fast primes produce
There is a definite difference in look from a 85f1.4 vs a zoom at 85(f2.8-f5.6) what ever your zoom produces

Side by side the pix CAN look different. But neither versions objectively better than the other. A personal preference would depend upon various brain washing programs, aka "traditions". If you can see some degree of difference, but really have no preference, major congrats on an unwashed brain !

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