50mm f1.8, is this good portrait lens for D7200?

nukuEX2nukuEX2 Posts: 178Member
edited October 2015 in Nikon Lenses
I'm looking into this lens cause I have gotten an inquiry for the headshot / portraiture job offer and as some of you guys may know I only own 40mm micro nikkor f2.8. I have employed this lens as a general purpose walk-around and macro photography as it was intended for. My question is did anyone use 50mm as a portrait lens on the DX body and how is the result? Is there any alternative to this lens?

Looking forward to hear from you guys.
Post edited by nukuEX2 on
D7200, 40mm Micro Nikkor f2.8, Lowepro AW Hatchback 16,
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Comments

  • Rx4PhotoRx4Photo Posts: 1,200Member
    In a word, Yes. The 50mm on DX will render an effective focal length that a 75mm would on full frame. Moreover, the fact that your widest aperture is 1.8 could allow you to create some beautifully soft backgrounds if you're standing close enough to your subject. That said, I would'nt necessarily always try to shoot it at f/1.8 or even f/2.0 because you'll wind up having one eye in focus and the other possibly out of focus - creative, yes, but not always what the client wants to see.

    This lens on a DX camera also allows you to stay fairly close to your subject during portrait photography, and I think that's important in order to maintain good communication between the two of you. Yes, the 85mm f/1.8 would probably be a better choice (effective focal length as a 127mm on FX) but you'd have to stand further away depending on the result you're looking for.

    This type of question usually brings up questions about your budget. How much would you like to spend? I'm thinking if you're asking about the 50mm f/1.8 then I won't even go in the direction of the more expensive alternatives.

    All that said, the word portraiture is relative. In very tight spots I've successfullly used my 35mm lens for portraiture as well - and it's still portraiture. If you continue doing portraits you'll likely want to consider the 85mm f/1.8.
    D800 | D7000 | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 70-200mm f/2.8 | 35mm f/1.8G | 85mm f/1.4G | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM | Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar ZF.2 | Flash controllers: Phottix Odin TTL

  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,348Moderator
    @nukuEX2: There is a thread currently on the front page which covers this subject. I appreciate that the search hasn't worked in the past, but it is actually on the front page right now. I will move your question there.
    Always learning.
  • RyukyuRyukyu Posts: 30Member
    I would say yes for environmental portraits, no for headshots.
    The 50mm on DX still has the same characteristics of a 50mm lens on FX with the exception of field of view. In other words, if you're in tight on your subject, you will get some distortion. If you're doing full body hots then you're probably OK with it.
  • safyresafyre Posts: 113Member
    If you're doing headshots, get an 85mm f/1.8.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,368Member
    edited October 2015
    Ryukyu and safyre are correct. When doing headshots I find about 135mm on FX most pleasing to the shape of the head. This translates to about 85 or 105 mm on DX. Since you like macro why not buy a 105 macro lens for double duty? Nikon's costs about $1,000. For about $400 you can get the equally great/sharp Tokina 100mm f2.8 AT-X D pro macro lens. The Nikon 85mm f1.8 is a really great/sharp lens and costs about $500. Either one of these would be better than getting a 50mm lens which is so close to your current 40mm lens. You might as well have the additional versatility. By the way, I often shoot portraits with a zoom lens so I can quickly crop from half body shot to head shot. I use either my old 80-200 mm f2.8 (about $500 used) or my new 70-200 mm f4 (about $1,500). Both are excellent lenses. I find I usually shoot at f4 to keep both eyes sharp so I am not using f1.4 or f1.8 or f2. I handle bokeh by using a painted muslin backdrop which is indistinct to begin with so it blurs nicely at f4. I also use white or black roll paper as a backdrop. For outdoor portraits I handle bokeh at f4 by keeping the background far behind my subject.
    Post edited by donaldejose on
  • esquiloesquilo Posts: 71Member
    I think the AF-S 50 mm f/1.8 is ideal for portraits. The aspherical element gives it a much better bokeh than the older AF 50 mm f/1.8.

    image
    Headshot from 1.5 meters, f/2
    Nikon D7100 with Sigma 10-20 mm, Nikon 16-85 mm, Nikon 70-300 mm, Sigma 150-500 mm, Nikon 28 mm f/1.8G and Nikon 50 mm f/1.8G.
    Nikon1 J3 with 10-30 mm and 10 mm f/2.8
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,348Moderator
    Really you need to post your 50mm 1.5 metre shot along side an identical pose 135mm shot framed to look the same - then you see the difference. We have no way of knowing if that models nose is that size and shape without something to compare it to, although it looks a little dragged forward to me.
    Always learning.
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,348Moderator
    Here is an old shot of mine shot with the 50/1.4 which looks OK to most viewers (Msmoto excepted) but is actually quite distorted by the short lens/close proximity of the shot:

    untitled
    Always learning.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,368Member
    edited October 2015
    spraynpray is correct. If you don't have enough mm the model's nose is enlarged. When you see 50mm alongside 85mm, 105mm, 135mm and 200mm you can see the difference.

    You have to calculate DX equivalents for these FX lenses and realize he isn't just shooting headshots but I believe the author is correct.
    https://fstoppers.com/bts/which-ultimate-nikon-portrait-lens-200mm-135mm-or-
    85mm-61832

    If you want to use a 50mm on DX (75mm fx equivalent) just shoot at least half body area and then crop it down to headshot size in post processing. The distortion comes from standing too close to the subject and when you back up to get at least a half body in the viewfinder you will remove most of the distortion.
    Post edited by donaldejose on
  • RyukyuRyukyu Posts: 30Member
    Really you need to post your 50mm 1.5 metre shot along side an identical pose 135mm shot framed to look the same - then you see the difference. We have no way of knowing if that models nose is that size and shape without something to compare it to, although it looks a little dragged forward to me.
    Here's an example of what spraynpray is talking about.
  • tcole1983tcole1983 Posts: 981Member
    Funny how some say this lens can only shoot full body or this one for head shots. I have used my 105 F2.8 for all of the above and it works awesome. Of course it requires room to use it...which is usually outside, but still it is my go to portrait lens when I have the room. Inside my 17-55 goes on and is usually pegged at 55. I do see what spray is saying though...you can get some different looks when having to be a certain distance from a person and trying to just get a head shot.
    D5200, D5000, S31, 18-55 VR, 17-55 F2.8, 35 F1.8G, 105 F2.8 VR, 300 F4 AF-S (Previously owned 18-200 VRI, Tokina 12-24 F4 II)
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,433Member
    Even 100mm is too short, but is acceptable if you can't do a comparison.

    To me, 85mm is full body. Less than full body, I want longer.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,368Member
    edited October 2015
    "I have used my 105 F2.8 for all of the above" Sure, you could also use 50mm for all of the above as long as you stood as far away from the subject as you did when using the 105mm and cropped in post processing to get the same size person in the final image. 24mp gives you a lot of cropping room. The thing you have to remember is to not fill the frame with a 50mm and make your headshot in post processing.
    Post edited by donaldejose on
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,433Member
    "I have used my 105 F2.8 for all of the above" Sure, you could also use 50mm for all of the above as long as you stood as far away from the subject as you did when using the 105mm and cropped in post processing to get the same size person in the final image. 24mp gives you a lot of cropping room. The thing you have to remember is to not fill the frame with a 50mm and make your headshot in post processing.
    Which is fine from the "perspective" perspective. But you may end up with a 5 megapixel image.
  • KnockKnockKnockKnock Posts: 394Member
    x2 I would usually shoot 2-3m away with a 50 on DX and crop from chest up. For me (my wife is nearly 50) capturing more pixels mostly gives you skin imperfections. I actually like the softness shooting wide open gives portraits.
    D7100, D60, 35mm f/1.8 DX, 50mm f/1.4, 18-105mm DX, 18-55mm VR II, Sony RX-100 ii
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,368Member
    edited October 2015
    I have an old nikon 35 to 135mm lens which is not so sharp and my wife thinks it is perfect for portraits because it is not so sharp! She requests it. About $50 on ebay! http://www.ebay.com/itm/NIKON-AF-35-135mm-f-3-5-4-5-Camera-Lens-Used-Excellent-From-Japan-NO-74-/231708217600?hash=item35f2e2d100 It will auto focus on a D7200 and would equal a 50 to 200 mm zoom when used with a DX body like the D7200. This would be a very inexpensive way to see the difference focal length makes. Another old AF lens which is sharper than the 35-135 is the 28 to 85 which equates to 40 to 130mm. About $50 on ebay. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-AF-NIKKOR-28-85mm-F3-5-4-5-Wide-Angle-Lens-Very-Good-From-Japan-79-/121772343900?hash=item1c5a32825c
    Post edited by donaldejose on
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    You can also put Vaseline on a filter on an expensive lens :-)
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    edited October 2015
    You know, the more I think about it, DX has a pretty good advantage here. The 105mm f/2 would be a great head-shot lens at an equiv of ~160mm, and the inherent additional DoF would make sure everything is in focus, and the Defocus Control would allow you to manage that anyway, to get a really thin slice of focus if that's what you want. What say you FX fetishists?

    Edit: I should also mention the weight advantage. The 105mm and D7x00 combo is easily hand-held all day.
    Post edited by Ironheart on
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,433Member
    Gaussian blur in Photoshop is better. There is nothing that bugs me more than soft eyes.
  • tcole1983tcole1983 Posts: 981Member
    "I have used my 105 F2.8 for all of the above" Sure, you could also use 50mm for all of the above as long as you stood as far away from the subject as you did when using the 105mm and cropped in post processing to get the same size person in the final image. 24mp gives you a lot of cropping room. The thing you have to remember is to not fill the frame with a 50mm and make your headshot in post processing.
    Of course you can change the perspective in that manner, but you lose the full value of whatever megapixel camera you are shooting. I have always been very pleased with wide open shots with the 105...they always turn out just right...the DOF is good and gets the person all in focus, but leaves a nice blurred background with nice bokeh. Little to no distortion. Shooting with my 17-55 I just don't love it. It can be done and I have shot some portraits with it, but it doesn't wow me the same way and I feel like I have to work harder to make the pictures turn out well.
    D5200, D5000, S31, 18-55 VR, 17-55 F2.8, 35 F1.8G, 105 F2.8 VR, 300 F4 AF-S (Previously owned 18-200 VRI, Tokina 12-24 F4 II)
  • esquiloesquilo Posts: 71Member
    Really you need to post your 50mm 1.5 metre shot along side an identical pose 135mm shot framed to look the same - then you see the difference. We have no way of knowing if that models nose is that size and shape without something to compare it to, although it looks a little dragged forward to me.
    If you wait until monday I'll show you the same woman shot at 500 mm from about 30 meter. It has a lot of noise but it will give you something to compare.
    Nikon D7100 with Sigma 10-20 mm, Nikon 16-85 mm, Nikon 70-300 mm, Sigma 150-500 mm, Nikon 28 mm f/1.8G and Nikon 50 mm f/1.8G.
    Nikon1 J3 with 10-30 mm and 10 mm f/2.8
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,368Member
    The eyes have it for me. I agree with WestEndFoto on shooting portraits in a manner which makes both eyes sharp. f1.4 doesn't do that unless the subject is perfectly parallel to the sensor. f1.8 and f2 doesn't do it either. I find f4 about the best depth of field for portraits when the face is at various angles and I am trying to keep both eyes reasonably sharp. So for me it is f4 and somewhere between 100mm and 200mm for head and shoulders shots to achieve two sharp eyes and best facial perspective. I do have a 105 f2 DC lens and it is fine on FX for torso shots or on DX for head and shoulder shots. But I do notice it is softer than the 85mm f1.8. However, some softness can be a plus in portraiture. Ironheart is correct about that lens on a DX body. Great combination! tcole1983 is also correct about the 105 macro. It works well on both FX and DX and of course is great for macro. There are many great combinations. I just would say a 50mm on FX or DX is not the best portrait lens if you are shooting heads and shoulders portraits. If you are shooting full body standing or sitting portraits a 50mm lens is a good choice. Finally, if you have many people to shoot and want to do both head/shoulders, torso and full body shots you cannot beat the speed of a zoom compared to constantly switching lenses. In that situation I tend to use my 24-120 f4 at f4 so I can quickly adjust when three more people jump in and say "take some group shots," So there can be many good choices for a portrait lens. Can there be bad choices? Yes, anything above 300mm or below 35mm will be a bad choice. Can there be a bad distance? Yes, stay at least 6 feet away from your subject. Can there be a bad f-stop? Well, wider open will produce better bokeh around the subject but stopping down can be better for an environmental portrait in which you want to show the subject in his/her surroundings. Can there be a bad shutter speed? Yes, generally you will need above about 125th of a second to stop blur from subject movement but you may want to show motion with a slower shutter such as when shooting a dancer. Can there be a bad ISO? Generally stay as low as you can unless you want to mute the colors and let the noise emulate film grain for an old fashioned look. The bottom line is that there are many choices. Just make them thoughtfully.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    Great post @donaldejose It highlights how many good choices we have to produce a professional portrait.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,433Member
    Well done too. The only thing I would add is that I often shoot wide open and then ensure that the closest eye is sharp. However, I also shoot portraits at 5.6 or 8.0. Depends on my artistic objective. But both eyes or the closest eye - I want to see detail in the retina.
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