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Portrait Zoom Lens on a budget

bangalicious 10 1.3k 5 England
16 Dec 2010 1:52PM
Another lens queston! Sorry if this has been repeated. Did a quick search on the forums but couldnt find the info i am looking for.
I am going to treat myself to a home studio kit and lens so I can have a dabble in studio photography as a Christmas present. Lighting is all sorted. Going for the Elemental Genesis Mark II equipment, using it in my garage.
Now I would like a lens. I currently have a 50mm 1.8 which I know i will be using a lot of the time, but wanted to expand on my focal range and maybe get a Zoom. What would you suggest? I already have the 18-135 kit lens, will this be adequate assuming my lighting is right? I just dont think it is generally as sharp as I would like. I have read a few reviews of the 85mm 1.8, would I get any use from it as I currently have the 50mm. Would you even recommend the Zoom?
Find me a lens. Nikon fit. Budget is about 400.

Thanks for advice and help in advance.


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bangalicious 10 1.3k 5 England
16 Dec 2010 2:15PM
Ive just found this:

Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 XR Di-II LD ASP IF

Would this be adequate; gives the opportunity for groups and full length portraits?
richard00 11 504 1
16 Dec 2010 2:46PM
The tamron is a very good lens. Sharp as the L lens on a canon, AF good enough for sport. A good lens for groups - but all comes down to how near/far you can get from the subject as to whether the focal length is suitable for you.
bangalicious 10 1.3k 5 England
16 Dec 2010 2:49PM
Also Found the 28-75 F2.8 which has pretty good reviews and is in my price range. Any one had any experience with either mentioned above lenses?

Quote:The tamron is a very good lens...

Thanks for your comment Richard, I will be half of the double garage; so have quite a bit of room. Just a home studio 2 light set up.

FatHandedChap 12 1.3k England
16 Dec 2010 5:03PM
Depends on the style of portrait you want to take. A lot of mine were head and shoulder or half length. Used a Sigma 50-150 and a Sigma 105 for most of my studio shots.
Snapper Plus
13 4.3k 3 United States Outlying Islands
16 Dec 2010 5:25PM

Quote:Also Found the 28-75 F2.8 which has pretty good reviews and is in my price range. Any one had any experience with either mentioned above lenses?

Assuming you still have the D80 from your last PF shot? I wouldn't worry too much about the sharpness of your 18-135 as lenses can be just too sharp for portraits at times. Smile As far as the Tamron 28-75 is concerned, I've had one for a few years now and had bought a Nikon 35-70 f2,8 to replace it as it was meant to be a better lens. When I compared the 2 with shots taken after each other, I couldn't see the Tamron as being inferior and so I held on to it. Even though I don't use my Nikon gear much nowadays, it is a lens I would still hold on to as it covers a useful range on both full frame and as a longer lens on a 1.5x crop
Grampy 8 507 71 England
17 Dec 2010 9:10AM
You seem worried that your lens will not be sharp enough, the reverse is more probable,most people don't want to see the faults in their skin.
Traditionaly portrait lenses are a little soft , so to make a standard lens into a proper portrait lens, stretch a very and I mean very good black nylon stocking over the lens ,hold it in place with an elastic band. This technique was used by portrait photographers in the 60s and before, the effect can be changed by stretching more or less, I always use a black Dior stocking , by using a lighter color one can get some amazing high key effects without overexposing the image. A decent pair will cost a lot but also lasts a lifetime.
Grampy 8 507 71 England
17 Dec 2010 9:12AM
I add , this is probably the only time one would send the wife to buy a piece of equipment, unless you are so inclined Wink
bangalicious 10 1.3k 5 England
17 Dec 2010 9:34AM
Thanks for the comments all. Snapper, thanks for the advice reference the 28-75. Need to make a decision between the 28-75 and the 17-50. Im thinking i shall go the 17-50 route to cover me focal range wise.

My aim is to have a go at at sorts of studio work, including full lenght, 3/4 lenght, head and shoulders and facial portraits.

Phill, interesting technique, I will be sure to give it a go and see what effects I can get.


User_Removed 8 4.6k 1 Scotland
17 Dec 2010 4:31PM
A couple of things to remember, one of which has been touched on above.

1. Traditionally, soft-focus lenses were favoured for portraiture. No need nowadays, of course, as you can soften images in post-processing, but it does suggest that any of your existing lenses will be plenty sharp. One way to find out - take a head and shoulders shot at perfect exposure and focussing on the eyes. Then crop the image to give as large as you can get the eyes without going larger than 1:1. If the eyes are still sharp, your lenses are fine. I wouldn't recommend the old pro's trick of smearing vaseline on the lens to soften the focus, although it undoubtedly worked.

2. Again traditionally, longer focus lenses are favoured for portraiture - for a very good reason. Wide angle lenses make noses and chins stick out! Longer focus do the reverse and flatter the subject. 50mm is great for a crop frame camera and certainly don't go wider than 30mm. On full-frame, 80mm is ideal and 50mm the widest you would want to use. A couple of years ago at a wedding that I was a guest at, I saw a so-called "professional" using a 10-20mm on a Canon 40D. Being curious, I asked the newly-wed bride how her photographs had turned out and, needless to say, she was four-lettering furious at the result of the "bride and groom shots" although the larger groups were not so obviously nasty.

So, what I am really saying is that your prime lens and the upper range of your existing zoom should be pretty good for starters.
ianrobinson Plus
8 1.2k 8 United Kingdom
17 Dec 2010 11:19PM
well i have the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 and that works extremely well for me and gives me enough range to do portraits and landscapes as this is what i like best.
Paul Morgan 17 19.1k 6 England
18 Dec 2010 2:00AM
Get the sharpest lens you can afford, its true that once soft lenses were once often favoured for portraits, but you can always soften in photoshop.

The lenses you already have are quite capable, if it was me I`d be wanting to add something wider than what I already had. So either something like a Sigma 10-20 or maybe a Tamron 10-24mm.

Nothing wrong in shooting portraits wide Smile

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