Portraits and Lenses and Bears (oh my!)

Now that I have three lenses for my Nikon D800, I decided it would be fun to try them out in a "portrait" setting. Now, since I didn't have a readily available model that would hold the same pose for a number of shots and lens swaps, I decided to use a trusty articulated teddy bear.

For my, now, annual Niece and Nephew Christmas shoot I had my new camera and my new 24-120mm f/4 Nikkor lens. This lens is a really nice, all-around, lens for travel and fun photography, but it isn't really suited for a portrait lens. Why? It's too slow. The f/4 constant aperture is nice, but it means that the depth of field is larger, the lighting needs to be brighter, and so on. Nevertheless, it's a very good lens and forms the basis of my playing with my new 85mm f/1.8 G and my 105mm f/2.8 G Micro lenses. The observant will note that these two lenses were, in fact, on my Wish List and are now in my hot little hands.

First, the 24-120mm shot at 85mm with an aperture of f/4:

24-120mm at 85mm and f/4
Compare the above to the 85mm f/1.8 shot at f/1.8:

85mm and f/1.8
Now compare with the 85mm f/1.8 shot at f/4:

85mm and f/4
Now, the 24-120mm shot at 105mm with an aperture of f/4:
24-120mm at 105mm and f/4
Compare that with the 105mm f/2.8 shot at f/3 (the 105mm Micro's maximum aperture depends on the focus distance. In this case, I was closer than 10 feet, so f/2.8 wasn't available):

105mm and f/3
Now, the 105mm at f/4:

105mm and f/4
Now, for a slightly more useful side-by-side comparison of the above 85mm shots:

Unfortunately, I had a slight movement in the camera body when lens switching and the zoom focal length isn't exact on 85mm (there's some variance that the camera can report). At any rate, you can see the depth of field and bokeh characteristics of f/4 versus f/1.8 is dramatic. You can also see that the two lenses, at the same aperture of f/4 are pretty similar, but if you look closely at the bokeh circles, the 85mm lens is much nicer, as the 24-120mm has some fairly sharp halos in comparison, especially when scaled down as these shots are.

It's pretty clear, to me at least, that the 85mm and 105mm prime lenses are going to produce nicer portrait shots. Perhaps I should be looking at the AF DC-Nikkor 135mm f/2D too...


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