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For what you're describing I'm reaching for the Zeiss 100/f2.0 Makro-Planar every time, but it isn't cheap, and it's manual focus. But amazing as a portrait lens in every single way. One of the most incredible optics ever. Apparently the new 135/f2 is even more impressive, but it's also hard to find even new, and likely more costly.
On a budget, give the 105/f2.5 AIS Nikkor a go. Isn't up to the Zeiss build standard, but optically it's a gem and a relative bargain cost-wise.
For autofocus lenses, the 85 Nikkors - particularly the f1.4's - are good, and if you don't mind using a macro, the 150 Sigma EX and the 105VR Nikkor are both great optically, if not quite where the Zeiss is for bokkeh.
Edited on Oct 06, 2013 at 07:59 PM · View previous versions