In my last blog post, I wrote about cameras I own and have owned, plus tips I wish I knew as a beginner photographer. This post is all about the portrait lenses I have experience with, plus money saving knowledge...
Firstly, I use fixed focal length/prime lenses for portraits, instead of zoom lenses that could have both, for instance a, 35mm and 50mm focal length in one lens. Why? Bokeh. Bokeh is the blurry background behind a subject in focus. I love that creamy background, but zoom lenses typically don't open as wide, which means it's harder to achieve the creamy bokeh I like. I prefer a fixed lens over a zoom lens, BUT, I don't shoot sports, or the moon, I shoot portraits. If I did, I'd own a zoom too, simple as that.
Prime lenses I currently own:
Up until today, my main lens has been a Nikon 50mm 1.4g. It has been living on my camera body. Plus, I've been keeping a 50mm 1.8g, in my bag as a backup portrait lens. But, I've been wanting to pick up a 35mm lens again, so I've been shopping and researching. Well, I ended up purchasing 2 lenses, a Nikon 50mm 1.4d and a Nikon 35mm f/2d because I was able to get both of them for the price of the lens that's been living on my camera!
The 2 lens models (50mm 1.4d and 35mm f/2) are technically older lens models, but they're still in production, so they must still be good if they're still making them after all this time. The lenses I bought, in particular are rated excellent, used lenses, so to me, it's like buying a used 2016 Toyota 4runner, with 1000 miles on it, vs a brand new 2017 and being just as happy with it, all while having less of a payment.
So, why am I looking into switching to "technically" older lenses?
The first prime lens I bought 5+ years ago was a G version lens. I was told it was a great lens that would work on the entry level camera, I had at the time, which is true, it paired well but I didn't understand why! Now I do... And now that I have the knowledge, I can tell you that you can probably save money and still own great lenses (as long as you have the right camera)! Of course, I recommend used lenses from a trusted source, with a warranty, just like I do with cameras, but there *can* be even more savings; The first prime I ever bought was a 50mm 1.8g. It's a good lens. The G basically means that the lens has a built in motor for autofocus. But, the entry level camera I had then, did not have an autofocus motor.
Nikon's D lenses don't have autofocus motors built into them, so you have to have a camera with an autofocus motor, if you want the autofocus option. The camera body I use now DOES have an autofocus motor, so I don't *need* to buy a pricier lens with a motor anymore. The camera I had before this one (Nikon D7000) also had an autofocus motor, but I didn't even know! I was so naive about my lens knowledge that I kept spending more on the G versions, based solely on a camera body I had, 3 camera bodies ago! Naive! Don't be like I was! The 50mm 1.4d lens seems to be just as good, or maybe even better than the 50mm 1.4g, it's been in production since the 80's and it's still in production!
Here are some, straight out of camera comparisons between the two 50mm lenses:
The d version is looking slightly darker in this comparison, but it's probably not a deal breaker for me, or my bank account lol. And, it makes me want to do more darker color comparisons with the two lenses.
For the outdoor shot, the G version seems to be a slightly darker exposure. Interesting.
To me, the two lenses don't show a huge difference in speed, sharpness, color, or bokeh, unless you're comparing side by side, like I'm doing. And, if choosing the D version is going to save me money, that's a win! EDIT: After using the D version for at least a handful of sessions, the only real gripe I can think of, is the noise it makes when using it in autofocus. Since I'm not a newborn photographer, trying to be as quiet as I can, that doesn't matter to me! :)
Why is this a money saving tip again, y'all? Because G versions cost more than D versions. So, if you're looking at a 50mm 1.8g, but you REALLY want a 1.4 lens, I'll bet you could get the 1.4d for about the same as the 1.8g and be happy with it! Just make sure it'll work for your camera. You're welcome. :)
Lenses I've owned, but sold:
•The kit lens for the entry level D3100. Don't buy the kit lens, just don't. Save that money for something good.
•Nikon 35mm 1.8g for DX. Reason for selling: DX means crop sensor camera. If I were to put it on my full frame DSLR, it would be just like going back to shooting with a crop sensor again.
•Nikon 85mm 1.8g. Reason for selling: When I owned this lens, it was when I owned a crop sensor camera, which turned the lens into a 127.5mm lens. I had to stand REALLY far away from my subjects!
The lenses I use today (2019...I'm editing this):
Nikon 85mm 1.8g... I bought it again!
Nikon 50mm 1.4d... Yep, I still use this!
Sigma ART 35mm 1.4, for Nikon... this lens totally lives on my camera!
I also have a few zooms that aren't good in low light and are only for playing around.
Yes, I got rid of one of some lenses I wrote about, but this post should totally be relevant to any Nikon user, on a budget!
Here's a really great website that lists all nikon lenses and what their serial numbers tell you. It might come in handy if you buy any used lenses: http://www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/lenses.html#50fast
To follow my recent work, like me on Facebook and check out my Pinterest page. You can also follow my Instagram, by searching, @hollybutlerphotography.
Thanks for looking!!
Click here to see what DSLR camera bodies I recommend, plus ebay tips and tricks.
Click here to see more about prime lenses and their role in getting you sharp subjects and creamy bokeh.