135 mm lens as a portrait lens?

rmprmp Posts: 470Member
I seem to remember, from many years ago, that the 135 mm was the "preferred" portrait lens. Today I searched of "best portrait lens" and the 135 was not in any of the lenses that came up. What happened?

What lens do you prefer for portraits, today? What type of portraits do you shoot?
Robert M. Poston: D4, D810, V3, 14-24 F2.8, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8, 80-400, 105 macro.

Comments

  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,729Member
    It was my favorite until I bought the 105 1.4 and 400 2.8. If I wanted a great reasonably price portrait lens, I would buy it.
  • rmprmp Posts: 470Member
    Do you also have the older 105 2.8 Macro?
    Robert M. Poston: D4, D810, V3, 14-24 F2.8, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8, 80-400, 105 macro.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,729Member
    No. I have a 60mm 2.8D and 200 4.0D macro.

    If you want to see what kinds of portraits I shoot, you can google WestEndFoto and you will find a variety of Flickr accounts.

    In my opinion, the best portrait lens shorter than 200mm that money can buy today is the new 105 1.4E. Check out the PhotographyLife review and Thom's review. I am seeing that on the D850.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,729Member
    The 135 has a special place in my heart though. The fact that it is still in Nikon's lineup is a testament to the lens.
  • paulrpaulr Posts: 1,108Member
    Would agree with WEF I had chance to use the Nikon 105 1.4E lens for a month on a D810 it was truly inspiring , sadly at a cost if I bought one.
    Camera, Lens and Tripod and a few other Bits
  • Vipmediastar_JZVipmediastar_JZ Posts: 1,708Member
    Most will recommend the 85mm or the 105mm. I have both and I prefer longer focal lengths. My recommendation would definitely be 105mm.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,729Member
    The 85 1.4G is no contest against the 105 1.4E, especially wide open, where it looks annoyingly soft compared to the 105. But it was a standard setter when it came out. Nikon has upped their game. Thom thinks it might be as sharp as the Otus, which I have not used (tried does not really count).
  • rmprmp Posts: 470Member
    I am looking at the 105 f1.4. I have the 105 2.8, so the price on the 105 1.4 makes me hesitant. The two seem redundant. That is why I was asking about the 135. A 135 the quality of the 105 would remove any hesitancy.
    Robert M. Poston: D4, D810, V3, 14-24 F2.8, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8, 80-400, 105 macro.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,729Member
    I would not hesitate. They can both do something the other cannot. When Nikon upgrades the 200 2.0G, I will not hesitate even though I own a 200 f4 Macro.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 2,973Member
    edited November 2017
    There was some discussion about the 135 f2DC on the old forum. There is a link to the old forum on the right. Once there you can search for discussions of that lens. You can try going to flickr and search for Nikon 135 f2 to examine some images taken with that lens. Also, there are some good reviews of the Sigma Art 135 f1.8 you can find on youtube. Finally, there is an old Nikon lens, the 180 f2.8 lens which some people think is a great portrait lens. Most people today just use a 70-200 f2.8 zoom which can be set to 105 or 135 or 180. The question is whether or not one of the prime lenses will give you a significant advantage which you will actually use. Maybe not, unless you like to shoot at f2, f1.8 or f1.4. Ultimate sharpness is often not desired in portraiture. I tend to shoot studio portraits from 85mm up to 135mm at f4 with zooms. My criteria are two: keep both eyes in focus and sharp enough to see the individual eyelashes. A zoom lets me change from full body to headshot without swapping lenses. That said, I just did a bunch of recent portraits at less than 85mm!
    For example: at 31mm on a D500 so it is really acting like a 46.5 mm lens _5007679
    At 44mm:on a D500 so it is really acting like a 66mm lens _5007643
    At 35mm on a D500 so it is really acting like a 52mm lens: _DON6554red_pp_pp
    And at 50mm on a D500 so it is really acting like a 75mm lens: _DON4023b_8x10
    This is the old 105 f2 DC lens shot at f5.6 on a D500 so it is really acting like a 157mm lens: _DON4615pp
    People are mostly using my photos on facebook or other web sites and not printing them larger than 8x10. I find the additional sharpness I can achieve with primes on an FX body is largely "wasted" effort. Unfortunately, I think that is all too true with photography today when we are realistic about how large our portraits will ever be printed.
    Post edited by donaldejose on
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 5,901Moderator
    Yes, IMHO 135 on full frame is superb for head and shoulder portraits so the 85/1.8 on DX is very good too as it is pretty close (127.5mm).
    Always learning.
  • Vipmediastar_JZVipmediastar_JZ Posts: 1,708Member
    with 105 2.8 1/2000 I wanted shallow DOF and he kept moving so the 1/2000 was the choice.

    Henry
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,729Member
    Some great images here.
  • rmprmp Posts: 470Member
    They were great images. Good info. Thanks.

    I have an individual hang-up about image sharpness and sometimes it blinds me to other issues. I completely forgot about the portrait-sharpness trade off- Too much sharpness can be a bad characteristic in a portrait - mentioned above. I will use my 2.8 zooms for now. Thanks for wakening me up to my own blindness.

    When the 135 upgrade comes out (if ever) I will buy it. Hopefully, it will be like the 105 1.4.
    Robert M. Poston: D4, D810, V3, 14-24 F2.8, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8, 80-400, 105 macro.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,729Member
    I don't buy into that tradeoff unless you don't have the ability to soften in post. You can make skin as soft as you want in post, but you can't make soft eyes sharper.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 2,973Member
    edited November 2017
    WEFoto: You are right about the ability to take imperfections out of skin but the inability to sharpen individual eyelashes if they were not individual lashes in the original image. I worship at the alter of maximum sharpness and f1.4 glass myself and lust after the lenses you have. But realistically I seldom need or use what a 200mm f2 or 105mm f1.4 lens offers. If I was shooting young models with perfect skin outside I would have more use for background bokeh. Working in a studio most of the time I just don't need f1.4 or even f2 and if I want more bokeh I can just move the model forward to increase the distance between the model and the background. Here is the 24 to 120mm f4 zoom shot at 110mm and f8 for photos at an event so I could work quickly using wide AF and not even needing to spot AF on an eye. Both eyes are sharp because of the f8 DOF without having to take the time to focus on one eye.
    DSC_7322
    This one was a bokeh test early one morning shot in my backyard at f2.8 and 200mm with the background foliage far in the background to provide "good bokeh." Since I had no subject at that time of the day I used myself so this is a self-portrait. To my eye it has both adequate sharpness in both eyes and adequate background bokeh to provide good subject separation from the background.
    OutsideBokehTest01
    Post edited by donaldejose on
  • vtc2002vtc2002 Posts: 364Member
    edited November 2017
    The perception that owning the sharpest lens will yield sharper images is only valid if you have the skills and knowledge to get the proper focus (either manually or with their cameras autofocusing system) and the best shot discipline.
    @Westendfoto I agree with you about post processing, it is easy to spot the soft images that have been over sharpened to make up for either poor skills or having used a soft lens.
    @rmp I took the advice of Pitchblack and bought the Sigma 85mm Art and it is significantly better than the Nikon 85 D or G. I bought the 135mm Art and it is sharper than the 135 DC. I have tried them on the 850 and still impressed with them. Both lens cost less than the Nikon 105 1.4. I have used the 105 1.4 at work and it is a good lens but I would classify it as a specialty lens and I agree with @donaldejose that most portraits are shot at f4 to 5.6. If you are looking to do something on the artsy side it is probably worth the price. Westendfoto is correct that it is a very sharp lens.

    Post edited by vtc2002 on
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 2,973Member
    edited November 2017
    This is an old "soft" lens, the Nikon 35-135mm f3.5-f4.5 shot at f5.6 and 112mm. Still sharp enough to show the various colors in the iris. Note how it has a very nice foal length range from 35mm for full body shots to 135mm for head shots. I do wish it was sharper and an f2.8 lens. Maybe Nikon will make that lens someday and stop starting every zoom at 24mm. Has this photo been over sharpened in post processing? I am just trying to provide various examples at various focal lengths, various f-stops and various subject to background distance for discussion in reference to rmp's question of 135mm for portraits and which lenses we each prefer and what types of portraits we each shoot. I have provided my examples and my experience. As for me lots of different focal lengths can be used, you don't need primes anymore, and a 135ish focal length offers increased compression which can be particularly beneficial when shooting outside to blur the background but not any real advantage inside.
    DSC_0937
    Post edited by donaldejose on
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 2,973Member
    edited November 2017
    vtc2002: I want to buy either the 85 or 135mm Art lenses you own, but only one, and thought the 85 would be more versatile but the 135 would be better glass for the same size, weight and price. Which one do you use most? Have you found focus error issues with either? Some reviewers are reporting these lenses don't hit focus all the time. Maybe it it best to just buy both and look at it as getting two lenses for the price of one 105 f1.4 from Nikon.
    Post edited by donaldejose on
  • vtc2002vtc2002 Posts: 364Member
    According to Lightroom I use the 85mm more than the 135mm but that is because I use the 85mm for group shots or full (or 3/4) body shots and had more of these assignments in the past 9 months. I use the 135mm for headshots and had fewer assignments.
    Concerning the focus, if you are in a studio the focus is fast and accurate. The 85mm is significantly faster than the Nikon 85mm D and has less chromatic aberrations (also better than the G version) especially the purple fringing. The 85 D and G tend to hunt for focus in contrasting scenes more than the Sigma but it will hunt some. I was very surprised by the 135mm. I have the 105 and 135mm DC lens and recommended them to people for years. I used both of them for headshots and the 105 occasionally for full body shots and loved the results. The Sigma 135mm results have been sharper and the resulting images are beautiful. I would be sure to buy them from B&H or Adorama in case you want to return them or I have heard that some lens have had issues (I think this is no longer a issue).
    The 105 1.4 is a great lens but there is not enough of a difference between it and the Sigma 135 for me to use it. I have used the Sigma 135 and 105 1.4 on the same assignment and for the same image and my client could not tell the difference between them nor could several of my colleagues.
  • rmprmp Posts: 470Member
    Thanks every one. I appreciate the details.
    Robert M. Poston: D4, D810, V3, 14-24 F2.8, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8, 80-400, 105 macro.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 2,973Member
  • bigeaterbigeater Posts: 34Member
    I've owned the 135 f/2 DC for a few years now and it is a magical lens for people, it just makes them look wonderful. That said, it has a ton of green and purple fringing but it's not really noticeable when shooting organic shapes such as the human face. Like the others have said, it's silly to try to shoot people at f/2 unless you're going for a very special look, even f/4 won't give you both eyes in focus.
    With today's high-resolution cameras, a 135mm lens really needs a tripod, mirror lockup, electronic first-curtain shutter, and whatever else you can think of to stabilize the camera. Or you can use very fast strobes....
    However, when you have everything jam up and jelly tight, nothing can match it for people, food, pets, and products. #nikonmagic
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 2,973Member
    bigeater: many reviews say the Sigma Art 135 f1.8 is much better than the Nikon 135 f2 DC. Have you watched any of those videos, read any of those reviews or made such a comparison yourself? I have the Nikon 105 f2 DC but if I was to purchase a 135 prime I would get the Sigma Art instead of the Nikon DC based upon the reviews and vtc2002s experience above. Just wondering if you have made the comparison and still think the Nikon is best? I wouldn't get the Nikon 105 f1.4 because I am not going to be shooting 105mm portraits at f1.4. The 135 may be shootable at f1.8 if the subject is far enough away from you (full body or half body shots) but not for headshots unless both eyes are in the very same focal plane.
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