Best lenses to use in a studio
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Mishu01
Registered: Nov 20, 2009
Total Posts: 2373
Country: Romania

Hello FMers! I need your help in an important topic for me. At this time I'm quite advanced in rehabilitating an old building with the main purpose to have there a studio. The size of the studio, excluding the office, dressing room and other auxiliary areas is 27 x 15 ft. I already made my mind about lights and modifiers. What I need to decide is what lenses I will use in this studio.

I have a great kit including many lenses but I am open to work a bit around if I need to have the best. I know that almost every lens will work well in studio but I am not looking for good but for great. So my question is: if starting to build a kit from scratch, exclusively for studio work, what are the greatest lenses to consider? I am open for AF and MF glass, Nikon, Zeiss and any other 3rd party manufacturer. What would you use in a studio if the budget is generous? So I'm not looking for the most practical kit, nor for the best bang for the buck... but for the best IQ wise solution. My only requirement is to keep the size of the kit reasonable, do not give me a list of 25 lenses.

I need to mention that at least in the beginning I will use a combo of D800 / D600 bodies. And the main target are people: individuals and families (groups).

Please be free to chime in and give me your expertise! Thanks in advance!



Two23
Registered: Oct 28, 2009
Total Posts: 3444
Country: United States

Nikon 24mm f1.4, Sigma 35mm f1.5, Sigma 85mm, Nikon 24-70mm f2.8, Nikon 70-200mm f2.8. I wouldn't buy a whole lot of lenses. Seems to me that in that smaller space you won't really need anything really long. In a studio, why not just skip Nikon entirely and look for a used Hassy digital and three Zeiss lenses? If you are shooting with good lights you really don't need high ISO etc. I'd go with medium format for sure.


Kent in SD



Mishu01
Registered: Nov 20, 2009
Total Posts: 2373
Country: Romania

Thanks Kent! I have 24/1.4 and Sigma 85/1.4. Sigma 35/1.4 is already pre-ordered. I also have and like very much the new Nikon 70-200/4 - a lens that's crazy sharp and with better handling for me so I most probably will skip f/2.8 version. In 24-70 area I may prefer to use primes... Let see first what other people think.

Regarding medium format... that's too much for me. I'm too old to learn a new system and I have too much good stuff in the dark side to even think to change boats. I really love Nikon system and definitely I'll stay here. Also D800 and even D600 are very capable cameras.



Mark_L
Registered: Sep 28, 2010
Total Posts: 2397
Country: United Kingdom

Nikon 200mm f/2 or Sigma 180mm f/2.8 macro
Zeiss 135mm f/2
Zeiss 100mm f/2 macro
Sigma or Nikon 85mm f/1.4 makes no difference
Zeiss 50mm f/2

Depending on what types of people pics you are shooting 70-200 f/4 may be nice, I like it for faster paced shooting where it gives the flexibility in framing tighter shots rather than changing lenses all the time

Wides in a studio shot look weird to me imo. In reality, at studio apertures like f/8 and f/11 any good lens will do a great job and it would be hard to pick between them since you are already into diffraction.



Mishu01
Registered: Nov 20, 2009
Total Posts: 2373
Country: Romania

Mark, good to see you coming in. Thanks a lot!

From your suggested list I already have Zeiss 50/2 and 100/2, also Sigma 85/1.4 which I picked after testing Nikon 85/1.4 G.

While I recognize that the new Zeiss 135/2 must be a stellar lens I wonder how much I can gain over the 100/2 I already have... The FOV is not that much different.... but I must admit that it is a very tempting lens to get.

Nikon 200/2 is still a dream lens for me... Maybe one day but not now Interesting suggestion about Sigma 180/2.8 macro. Why not the ol' good glass Nikon 180/2.8 AF-D ?

I also wonder if having already Zeiss 100/2 does not make more sense to skip 135/2 and 180/200 using Sigma 150/2.8, a lens that I have and I love very much. This Sigma is a spectacular lens for portraiture and the progression 50 - 85 - 100 - 150 with 70-200/4 at hand when necessary to stretch seems to be a good plan.

Anyhow I feel that a 35mm can have its own applications for groups of people or for special effects when you want the distorted perspective. So I'll probably keep the Sigma 35 on the list.



James R
Registered: Feb 25, 2006
Total Posts: 5108
Country: United States

I'd add an 85 1.4 or 1.8 and the 70-200 zoom to your kit. I like the 85 for many types of portraits, rather than shooting the 70-200, due to its close focus--I'm relating it to the 70-200 2.8, the f/4 version should be closer.



Danner
Registered: Nov 19, 2012
Total Posts: 154
Country: United States

A 60mm Micro should be on your short list.



Mishu01
Registered: Nov 20, 2009
Total Posts: 2373
Country: Romania

James R wrote:
I'd add an 85 1.4 or 1.8 and the 70-200 zoom to your kit. I like the 85 for many types of portraits, rather than shooting the 70-200, due to its close focus--I'm relating it to the 70-200 2.8, the f/4 version should be closer.


85/1.4 Sigma is there... there is little chance someone to convince me to replace it with other lens

While I know that 70-200/2.8 VRII is a stellar lens I am amazed by the sharpness of f4 version even wide open. Also the new f4 zoom really offers 200mm at the long end, not suffering by focus breathing.

Danner wrote:
A 60mm Micro should be on your short list.


This is really an interesting point of view. I have some friends that are using this lens for portraiture and speaks great about it... but how important is to add it if I already have stellar performers for 50mm and 85mm? It is not too close to 50 / 85?



Mark_L
Registered: Sep 28, 2010
Total Posts: 2397
Country: United Kingdom

Mishu01 wrote:
Mark, good to see you coming in. Thanks a lot!

From your suggested list I already have Zeiss 50/2 and 100/2, also Sigma 85/1.4 which I picked after testing Nikon 85/1.4 G.

While I recognize that the new Zeiss 135/2 must be a stellar lens I wonder how much I can gain over the 100/2 I already have... The FOV is not that much different.... but I must admit that it is a very tempting lens to get.

Nikon 200/2 is still a dream lens for me... Maybe one day but not now Interesting suggestion about Sigma 180/2.8 macro. Why not the ol' good glass Nikon 180/2.8 AF-D ?

I also wonder if having already Zeiss 100/2 does not make more sense to skip 135/2 and 180/200 using Sigma 150/2.8, a lens that I have and I love very much. This Sigma is a spectacular lens for portraiture and the progression 50 - 85 - 100 - 150 with 70-200/4 at hand when necessary to stretch seems to be a good plan.

Anyhow I feel that a 35mm can have its own applications for groups of people or for special effects when you want the distorted perspective. So I'll probably keep the Sigma 35 on the list.


On specific prime lengths I guess it is quite personal and also style dependant, if you shoot a lot of tight shots a 180 or 200mm prime may make sense, if not you can leave that to the 70-200 like you say. Ive never really got on with the 100/105ish length since its a nor here nor there length for me and I'd be happy with 85/135/200.

Id definitely look at the sigma 180mm, it is just out and though I have not used it (yet) the tests are pretty impressive, certainly a step up from the aging nikon 180mm and perhaps even the sigma 150mm.

I can't fathom a 60mm macro if you have a zeiss 50mm f/2



Danner
Registered: Nov 19, 2012
Total Posts: 154
Country: United States

The micro for close-ups, low distortion, copy work, sharp all around the aperture dial affordable, etc., etc.



NathanHamler
Registered: Sep 25, 2009
Total Posts: 2326
Country: United States

One lens, 70-200, end of story. I shot some headshots with my vr1 (before i sold it), at 100mm on a d7000, f6.3, the files were so sharp they could almost kill you.

Maybe pick up a 28-70 or 24-70 if you need wider for a few people, or if you cant back up enough at 70mm, but on FX that shouldnt be too hard...

Like someone else said, a studio is one environment where basically any lens will excel...



BenV
Registered: Jan 01, 2008
Total Posts: 8003
Country: United States

seems like a 24-70/70-200 combo would be perfect,they do great in these type of situations



James R
Registered: Feb 25, 2006
Total Posts: 5108
Country: United States

Mishu01 wrote:
James R wrote:
I'd add an 85 1.4 or 1.8 and the 70-200 zoom to your kit. I like the 85 for many types of portraits, rather than shooting the 70-200, due to its close focus--I'm relating it to the 70-200 2.8, the f/4 version should be closer.


85/1.4 Sigma is there... there is little chance someone to convince me to replace it with other lens



And I wouldn't try, hence no reference to Nikon.



Gregg Heckler
Registered: Aug 07, 2005
Total Posts: 1808
Country: United States

If you want the best then the Nikkor 24-70 2.8, 70-200VR, and 85G 1.4. The 105VR would be nice addition also.



keithf
Registered: Aug 24, 2005
Total Posts: 101
Country: Canada

This is what I have. D300, D2x would be 28-70 F2.8, 85 F1.4 and 105 DC. I really like the 28-70 F2.8 with the crop camera in studio.

Now, D700 with 28-70 F2.8, 70-200 VR, 85 F1.4, 105 DC.



Mishu01
Registered: Nov 20, 2009
Total Posts: 2373
Country: Romania


Good to see more people bringing their input. Thank You All!

Mark_L wrote:

Id definitely look at the sigma 180mm, it is just out and though I have not used it (yet) the tests are pretty impressive, certainly a step up from the aging nikon 180mm and perhaps even the sigma 150mm.



I will! Sigma seems to change the game lately and this may be a winning ticket. I can try it and I will decide if it's better than 150/2.8 or not. Then I'll know for sure which one to keep!

Danner wrote:
The micro for close-ups, low distortion, copy work, sharp all around the aperture dial affordable, etc., etc.


I'll remember your advice if I'll look for this type of work. At this time I'm focused 100% on shooting people.

NathanHamler wrote:
One lens, 70-200, end of story. I shot some headshots with my vr1 (before i sold it), at 100mm on a d7000, f6.3, the files were so sharp they could almost kill you.



I know that most people will prefer this way but as of me I'd rather work with two bodies and two primes. I'll use the zoom only when I know for sure that I need to be super-fast.

BenV wrote:
seems like a 24-70/70-200 combo would be perfect,they do great in these type of situations


I see that this is most popular option. :P

James R wrote:
Mishu01 wrote:
85/1.4 Sigma is there... there is little chance someone to convince me to replace it with other lens

And I wouldn't try, hence no reference to Nikon.


Good!

Gregg Heckler wrote:
If you want the best then the Nikkor 24-70 2.8, 70-200VR, and 85G 1.4. The 105VR would be nice addition also.


Definitely it seems that I am in a minority preferring primes instead heavy zooms



Mishu01
Registered: Nov 20, 2009
Total Posts: 2373
Country: Romania

keithf wrote:
This is what I have. D300, D2x would be 28-70 F2.8, 85 F1.4 and 105 DC. I really like the 28-70 F2.8 with the crop camera in studio.

Now, D700 with 28-70 F2.8, 70-200 VR, 85 F1.4, 105 DC.


I really can't believe how popular are these crappy f2.8 zooms from Nikon :P

Seriously now, how is the 105DC in studio? Since I'm already sold to Zeiss 100/2 I have zero interest for it but maybe 135/2 DC could be of some interest. If I know right the two DC lenses are quite similar in IQ.



mikereid27
Registered: Jan 01, 2013
Total Posts: 38
Country: United States

Great topic, I found it extremely useful and enlightening as well.



Mishu01
Registered: Nov 20, 2009
Total Posts: 2373
Country: Romania

Thanks Mike!



zesto
Registered: Jun 26, 2010
Total Posts: 329
Country: New Zealand

Danner wrote:
The micro for close-ups, low distortion, copy work, sharp all around the aperture dial affordable, etc., etc.


The 60 f/2.8 G Micro is a superb lens. However the Zeiss 50/2 is a macro lens also and is one stop faster - doesn't go to 1:1 though.



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