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Help on choosing a prime lens ... and camera body
I plan on stepping up to a DSLR in the next week or so and have been trying to find out what camera and prime lens would be best for me and my budget ....

I currently have a Canon G7, so I don't want a zoom lens or anything as I will just use my P&S for those type of shots ... I'm really just interested in portrait photos, especially ones with good blur, and I would like to shoot indoors ....

In terms of my budget ... hmmm, well I can't afford any of the high priced lenses over $1000, nor the ones over $500 .

I've basically been thinking about the following:.

Digital Rebel XT (maybe Xti) paired with one of the lenses belowCanon EF 28mm f/1.8 USMCanon EF 35mm f/2Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USMCanon EF 85mm f/1.8.

OR.

Nikon D80 paired with one of the lenses belowNikon 50mm f/1.4D AF NikkorNikon 50mm f/1.8D AF NikkorNikon 35mm f/2D.

Suggestions please? Thanks For The Memories!..

Comments (19)

In either case, unless you are specifically interested in portrait photography, I would go for the 35mm lens because it is a better general purpose lens..

Go into a camera store and try out any DSLR (1.5 or 1.5x crop factor) with a zoom lens that covers the range 35-85mm. Try framing shots at the different focal lengths to see the differences between them. A 50mm or 85mm lens is quite limiting except for portraits.Chris R..

Comment #1

Lilbigkahuna wrote:.

I plan on stepping up to a DSLR in the next week or so and have beentrying to find out what camera and prime lens would be best for meand my budget ....

I currently have a Canon G7, so I don't want a zoom lens or anythingas I will just use my P&S for those type of shots ... I'm really justinterested in portrait photos, especially ones with good blur, and Iwould like to shoot indoors ....

In terms of my budget ... hmmm, well I can't afford any of the highpriced lenses over $1000, nor the ones over $500 .

I've basically been thinking about the following:.

Digital Rebel XT (maybe Xti) paired with one of the lenses belowCanon EF 28mm f/1.8 USMCanon EF 35mm f/2Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USMCanon EF 85mm f/1.8.

OR.

Nikon D80 paired with one of the lenses belowNikon 50mm f/1.4D AF NikkorNikon 50mm f/1.8D AF NikkorNikon 35mm f/2D.

Suggestions please? Thanks For The Memories!.

For portraits, a 50mm lens is ideal on a crop body like those you have listed. The f/1.4 might be a little better, but the f/1.8 version is fine if you're on a budget..

I'd get the kit instead of the body only. For the little extra the kit costs, you get a very versatile lens. If you go with Canon, you should consider the Xsi. It sounds like a great camera, and comes with the much-improved IS lens. The D80 is also great...

Comment #2

Greg Nut wrote:.

For portraits, a 50mm lens is ideal on a crop body like those youhave listed. The f/1.4 might be a little better, but the f/1.8version is fine if you're on a budget..

I would beg to differ. 50mm is a little too short. To avoid problems with perspective you want a lens that will fill the frame of the type of subject you want at about 12 feet. In the 35mm film terms that would be a lens in the range 85-135. In cropped DSLR terms that is:.

On a Canon53-85mm.

On a Nikon or any other DSLR57-90mm.

A 50mm on my Nikon D80 will give me a full length head to toe shot at 12 feet with a some space to spare. For a trunk to head shot you would definetly need an 85mm at that distance..

If you get much nearer than 12 foot then you begin to distort people's features. Noses get bigger. Foreheads get longer. Ears shrink..

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #3

Either body with a 50mm f/1.4. The wides are too wide and the 85mm too long (on these bodies) for tight spaces.Simonhttp://www.simonstanmore.com..

Comment #4

I suggest you also consider Pentax. They have a very strong fixed focal length lens lineup in the wide angle to portrait range of lengths. The "limited" series of primes is excellent, on par with the best lenses available..

For portraits sometimes I prefer a shorter length, a FA 43 limited. Other times the FA 77mm limited. I also have a DA 21mm limited. The three make a nice small, unobtrusive travel kit. The build and image quality of the lenses is top notch..

Here's the list of currently available Pentax limited fixed focal lengths you may be interested in..

FA 77 mm LimitedFA 43 mm LimitedFA 31 mm Limited.

Pancake (physically very small, but slower maximum aperture)DA 70 mm LimitedDA 40 mm LimitedDA 21 mm Limited.

Search the Pentax SLR forum on this site or stop in and ask some questions..

PS: there are many other primes available that are wider or longer. I confined the list above to those with Limited moniker, the premium lenses...

Comment #5

Mrxdimension wrote:.

I suggest you also consider Pentax..

Quoted for truth .

The Pentax-FA 50mm f1.4 is a no brainer for portraits and is under $200 from places like B&H..

Bazz...

Comment #6

Re>I'm really just interested in portrait photos,<.

How much of a person fits into a "portrait"?.

Once you tell us your concept of a portrait, we can suggest a lens..

And the advice to get the Canon kit lens is an excellent one..

BAK..

Comment #7

BAK wrote:.

Re>I'm really just interested in portrait photos,.

How much of a person fits into a "portrait"?.

Once you tell us your concept of a portrait, we can suggest a lens..

Very true..

And the advice to get the Canon kit lens is an excellent one..

I would agree if you left out the "Canon" part. I think all the new kit lenses are sufficient for what they are and cost. They are inexpensive and cover a nice range of possibilities for a small amount of money when purchased with a body. I wouldn't consider any kit lens an optimum portrait lens. I don't think that was the intent of the post...

Comment #8

Hi everyone, thanks so much for the info, quite helpful and now I can spend more time doing research .

Also, are kit lenses fast enough for low light conditions and do they give enough blur? Oh and in terms of portraits I would like to do mainly head shots, maybe top of the head down to the chest kind of pictures (not so much full body shots) ... does this change the recommendations of a 50mm lens?.

Well about to go check out the pentax forums and do more digging around, THANKS AGAIN to everyone!Thanks For The Memories!..

Comment #9

Lilbigkahuna wrote:.

Also, are kit lenses fast enough for low light conditions and do theygive enough blur?.

I would not count on a kit zoom lens as being a good choice to specialize in portraits. The kit lenses are versatile and inexpensive. A jack of all trades but masters of none..

Oh and in terms of portraits I would like to domainly head shots, maybe top of the head down to the chest kind ofpictures (not so much full body shots) ... does this change therecommendations of a 50mm lens?.

Given your definition of a portrait a 40mm to 50mm is a good general choice for informal portraits indoors or out on an aps-c sensor. For a group shot something wider is useful. For a head shot something more in the 70 - 80 mm range is better..

When you look at Pentax consider the DA40 ltd, FA43 ltd, or 50.. I don't think it can be explained by looking at numbers but the ltd lenses have a certain look that is not simple to define with metrics. I further submit, budget toward the lens rather than the body..

Consider a K100d super with the 40 ltd or 43 ltd when you look at Pentax. The K100d super has only "6mp", it is also sufficient for 8x10" enlargements, good at high ISO for low light, and since it will probably discontinued soon it's inexpensive. The next body up is the brand new K200d..

Personally 70+ percent of my shots are with the 43 ltd or 21 ltd. The 43 handles a bit better and is a faster lens but the 40 renders images in a similar fashion..

Well about to go check out the pentax forums and do more diggingaround, THANKS AGAIN to everyone!.

Good Hunting...

Comment #10

Lilbigkahuna wrote:.

Hi everyone, thanks so much for the info, quite helpful and now I canspend more time doing research .

The best part of buying gear is gawking at it before you hand over the cash .

Also, are kit lenses fast enough for low light conditions and do theygive enough blur? Oh and in terms of portraits I would like to do.

No, they're way too slow..

Mainly head shots, maybe top of the head down to the chest kind ofpictures (not so much full body shots) ... does this change therecommendations of a 50mm lens?.

Depends on how close you plan to get of course..

You can get a headshot with 7mm fisheye if you put the lens a few millimeters from the nose, or with a 600mm if you step back a hundred meters or so..

Personally I never liked the 50mm, and rarely use them..

My kit (not mainly selected for portraits, but useful for them) consists of a 20 f/2.8, 35 f/2, 70 f/2.8, and 105 f/2.8, a mix of Nikkors and Sigma EX lenses..

Mainly for landscapes I am considering something shorter, but that'll have to wait until my bank account cools down from purchasing a second DSLR last week .

If your budget stretches that far you should probably consider the 35 f/2 Nikkor and 70 f/2.8 Sigma, or the 50 f/1.8 and 85 f1/.8 Nikkors (or their Canon equivalents).That'll give you versatility combined with excellent optics..

At a later date you can always expand that to include a 20 or 24mm lens and maybe a 105 or 135/150mm..

Whether you go Canon or Nikon depends heavily on personal preference..

Both brands make good gear, but the ergonomics and user interface logic are quite different..

For me Canon just doesn't work, I don't like the feel of their cameras in my hand and the controls don't seem well laid out or logically placed to me. Your mileage may vary..

I deliberately leave out Pentax, Olympus, etc. because the availability of lenses and other items for them is rather poor (at least here), making it hard if not impossible to get what you need if and when you need it (I can get most Nikon or Canon gear in days, would have to wait weeks or months for pretty much any Pentax gear)...

Comment #11

I would suggest Nikon D40 or D80 or Pentax 10D with Cosina/Voigtlandrer 58/1.4 MF lens...

Comment #12

Hi and thanks again to everyone that posted a reply ... also, sorry for writing back so late but i've been sick and under the weather the past few days.

I have a new updated question  ... the body for the Canon Xti is like $500 now at CircuitCity compared to the body of the Nikon D80 ... while I LOVE the feel of the Nikon D80, do you all think the feel alone would justify the price difference? ... I'm more concerned with the quality of the pictures and that D80 feel seems almost like a luxury, am I missing something else between the two cameras?.

Oh and the Pentax sounds great, for those that recommended it earlier; however, I realized I HAVE to buy the camera from CircuitCity as that's where I have my credit card, not to mention no interest no payments for a nice chunk of time  ... otherwise, I think I would have been sold on the Pentax.

But yeah, D80 for an extra $200+ just over feel?Thanks For The Memories!..

Comment #13

I have the XTi and other bodies, several lenses, 2 L lenses included, but if ALL I had was the XTi and the 50mm 1.4, I'd still be ecstatically happy.Flickr: Photos from outlawyer81..

Comment #14

K100D Super, K10D or K20D with one or more of the following.

FA35/2FA43/1.9FA50/1.4.

There are also the Pancake lenses:DA21, DA40, DA70 to consider as well..

All will be stabilized with any current Pentax body...

Comment #15

If you like the feel of the D80 the best, and it has the features/function you need, and you can afford it... get the D80. Handling is very important...

Comment #16

Lilbigkahuna wrote:.

But yeah, D80 for an extra $200+ just over feel?.

It is not just feel. The D80 has:Vastly superior viewfinderWireless flash built inSpot metering.

And the kit lens with the 400D/XTI is very weak (The new IS lens is much better. The review on this site and many others says so.).

I chose a D80 over a 400D and have no regrets..

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #17

The Rebel Xti is like $522 so I think I can spend about $400 on a nice lens as opposed to getting the Nikon D80 and the kit lens for about a $1000 (even though the kit lens is supposedly VERY nice).

Any suggestions on which lens to get with the Rebel Xti?.

I'm debating between the Canon 85mm f/1.8 and the Canon 100mm f/2.0 ... what to choose between the two? or additional suggestions?.

Thanks For The Memories!..

Comment #18

IMHO, Pentax and Nikon do skin tones and shading a lot better than C. Pentax has the best primes..

Also, my favorite portrait lens is my Pentax F50/1.7 @ F2.8, I get the right depth of field. It produces a very sharp image and is incredibly life like in rendering. Bokeh is fantastic..

Other fantastic portrait lenses to consider would be the FA43 Ltd, FA50, DA70 ltd or FA77 ltd. The limited lenses are amongst the absolute best lenses ever for cameras and are a lot less expensive than real Zeiss and Leica...

Comment #19

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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