85mm vs 135mm for best portrait lens?

1 month 3 weeks ago #649102 by Todd Floyd
For portrait work, which would you consider as a better focal length option?

85mm was my first pick, however I ran into another photographer this weekend who after the discussion came up on portrait lenses, highly recommended 135mm.  I'm hoping I can get some more opinions on this.  I'm going to hold off till I get proper distance between these two choices.  

Thanks guys and gals.  


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1 month 3 weeks ago #649103 by garyrhook

Todd Floyd wrote: For portrait work, which would you consider as a better focal length option?


Yes.

Truism: longer is better. Because of geometry (i.e. less facial distortion). A longer focal length gives you better bokeh in the background, and thus separation. Which many like.

There are photographers that use a 24mm lens and do full body shots. It depends upon your vision.

You can't go wrong with an 85. An 135 might require you to back up a lot.


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1 month 3 weeks ago #649105 by Nikon Shooter
With FX gear, anything over 85 will be just fine and
will support your efforts and ambitions.

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1 month 3 weeks ago #649110 by Kenya See
85mm is one my favorite focal lengths.  Do you plan on doing anything else with the lens?  Regardless my vote will be the 85mm.  


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1 month 3 weeks ago #649121 by Troponin

garyrhook wrote:

Todd Floyd wrote: For portrait work, which would you consider as a better focal length option?


Yes.

Truism: longer is better. Because of geometry (i.e. less facial distortion). A longer focal length gives you better bokeh in the background, and thus separation. Which many like.

There are photographers that use a 24mm lens and do full body shots. It depends upon your vision.

You can't go wrong with an 85. An 135 might require you to back up a lot.


^^^This. 

I believe the 135mm will give a slightly more flattering look, but the trade off is size, weight, and working distance. 135mm can get a little tight in some places, and sometimes it helps to use a monopod or tripod with it. With the 85mm, I rarely feel the need for a tripod (I don't shoot in a studio) I am regurgitating what most say about the 135mm when I did my research. These are the reasons I settled on the 85mm. 

Without a doubt, the 135mm is way nice looking though. 


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1 month 3 weeks ago #649128 by fmw
There is no best portrait lens.  There are only best lenses for specific subjects and the environment included with the subject.  I have used everything from 24mm to 300mm to make portraits but I don't shoot portraits the way you probably do.

If you are conflicted about which focal length to use, then consider a zoom lens.


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1 month 3 weeks ago #649132 by Todd Floyd
Well, I'm now seeing this will be a tough decision to make.  When factoring in about size, that's a big point for me.  Ideally I'm after something small(er).  After all I do have the 70-200mm already.  I'm going to have to sleep on this.  

Now in terms of 135mm focal length prime compare that to 135mm focus distance on my 70-200mm, these will be close correct?  


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1 month 3 weeks ago #649134 by Nikon Shooter
I use the 70~200 for portrait too… great tool!

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1 month 3 weeks ago #649142 by fmw

Todd Floyd wrote:
Now in terms of 135mm focal length prime compare that to 135mm focus distance on my 70-200mm, these will be close correct?  


Close enough.


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1 month 3 weeks ago #649143 by Todd Floyd
Seeing that we are talking portraits, which lens do you find you are using most for your portrait work?  Again I originally was going with the 85mm because I know other wedding and portrait photographer who carry two cameras, have a 85mm on one camera and 70-200mm on their other cameras when shooting gigs.  

What about you?  What's your go to lens for photographing people? 


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1 month 3 weeks ago - 1 month 3 weeks ago #649148 by Nikon Shooter
People? … what a trap question!

People can be anywhere at anytime. I don't over think it.
If the lens on the camera is not adequate, I will adapt to
the situation and just change it. In a restricted portrait si-
tuation — in studio or on location — I will generally go for
a short tele prime or zoom.



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1 month 3 weeks ago #649162 by garyrhook

Todd Floyd wrote: Seeing that we are talking portraits, which lens do you find you are using most for your portrait work?  Again I originally was going with the 85mm because I know other wedding and portrait photographer who carry two cameras, have a 85mm on one camera and 70-200mm on their other cameras when shooting gigs.  

What about you?  What's your go to lens for photographing people? 


Are you asking about portraits, or weddings? They're not the same thing.

If you need to cameras for a wedding, folks that use zooms will have a 70-200 on one, and a 24-70 on the other. That covers almost everything you'll need at a wedding. Prime users might carry a 50 f/1.x and maybe a 135 or some such. The only advantage is that the glass is faster, but harder to work with, IMO. And you zoom with your feet.

If you're talking about portraits, however, you already have the 70-200. As for "is it close", it's exactly the same. 135mm at f/2.8 on any lens is going to produce identical results. A 135 prime simply means the option of a wider aperture, which comes with its own problems re: focusing.

If you want smaller and lightweight, the 85 f/1.8 would be the right choice. But again, that focal length is covered by the zoom, so it goes to the geometry of your situation.

There's no single answer.

I've used 75mm, 85mm, 105mm, 135mm, and 200mm. The 85 is the most fun (I own two).


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1 month 3 weeks ago #649216 by Cory J
Put me down for the 85mm 


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1 month 3 weeks ago #649242 by James F
This should be helpful



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1 month 3 weeks ago #649262 by Todd Floyd
Super helpful, and that video was great!  I think I'm going to stick with the 85mm.  I think that is the best fit.   


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