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Cheap, third party portrait lenses.
Old 08-11-2018   #1
Steve M.
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Cheap, third party portrait lenses.

Anyone else using budget lenses for portraits? It's hard to find a bad 135 lens.

I'm using a manual focus Makinon Macro 135 2.8 on a Nikon N8008s. The shots are on the soft side, which is exactly what I wanted, and the bokeh is really good. There's not much contrast and too much grain, which may be the result of the lab's developing and low rez scans, so next time I'll use a yellow filter and develop it myself. Film was TMY2 400 shot at 320.







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Old 08-11-2018   #2
xayraa33
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The original 105mm f2.5 Nikkor for the F cameras is pretty legendary as a portrait lens, and they don't go for a lot of money.
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Old 08-11-2018   #3
Roger Hicks
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Any old cheap zoom, pre-1980 or so. Add a teleconverter for still more softness and narrowing of depth of field.

Liked the first shot.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-11-2018   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xayraa33 View Post
The original 105mm f2.5 Nikkor for the F cameras is pretty legendary as a portrait lens, and they don't go for a lot of money.
Seconded. I saw one in a local antique shop recently for $75. Passed on it because I already had one.
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Old 08-11-2018   #5
peterm1
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f you want something very cheap, in the $20-$39 range it is possible to sometimes pick up old M42 lenses by independent makers of the 1960s and 1970s (Vivitar, Soligor etc) that work well as portrait lenses. Many can be found on eBay for similar prices plus postage. The same goes for some K mount lenses. But this is a bit hit and miss as I find the optical qualities tend to diverge quite a bit depending upon brand etc. But I have found a variety of lenses sold under different names which look like old sonnar designs by better known manufacturers. And I like sonnar lenses for portraits.

If willing to spend a bit more ($60-$100)though, perhaps one of my favorites would have to be a Pentax Super Takumar (or SMC Takumar) 105mm f2.8. Its an excellent lens for portraits if you want something a tad longer. The previously mentioned Nikkor of this focal length tends to be somewhat more expensive because of its pre-eminence and desirability.

Occasionally old German glass can also be found cheaply especially and will serve well especially if its to be mounted on a mirrorless. I have a nice Schneider 105mm that I picked up for under $100 Australian because its in the obsolete Exakta mount. With adapters it works fine on a mirrorless and in fact is quite sharp enough to be used for general work (though a little hard to focus due to its long focus throw).

Examples below:
Cafe Study 29 by Life in Shadows, on Flickr
Cafe Study 27 by Life in Shadows, on Flickr
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Old 08-11-2018   #6
Steve M.
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The Makinon 135 2.8 ran me $35, so that's on the money. Your Takumar is a good portrait lens Peter. Hard to judge the bokeh by those pics though.

I bought a Nikon mount Soligor 135 2.8 at the same timeas the Makinon and it turned out to have too much DOF even wide open and was too sharp. Great build quality though. Bokeh was sub optimal.

I don't care for the Nikkor 105 2.5 for portraits. Way too sharp, and my samples always showed lots of CA.

Here's one more from the roll. This is the perfect portrait lens for my tastes. The photos have a really old look to them, and the more I look at the grain the more I like it. This was the first time I've used TMY2 400. It's quite different than Tri-X, my regular film. What surprises me is that the background was a bunch of very busy trees, and things got smoothed out as well as the R 90 Summicron I once owned.

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Old 08-11-2018   #7
Bill Clark
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I always bought the best, whatever that is, lenses as I considered them a long term investment. Camara bodies wear out, become obsolete, but I made sure the lenses I owned would work on an upgraded body. I also felt I had a better chance of no failure with quality lenses.
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Old 08-11-2018   #8
Deardorff38
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I'm not a huge fan of long lenses for portraits. As far as buying 'the best', no woman over 40 is going to thank you for an portrait taken with a super sharp lens. One of my favourites as mentioned is the 50mm 1.4 Super Takumar. In fact i bought a black Spotmatic just to get this lens. I also get very nice results with a Rolleinar 1 on a Rolleiflex. If i had to use something longer..i'd look at an 85 1.4.
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Old 08-11-2018   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
The Makinon 135 2.8 ran me $35, so that's on the money. Your Takumar is a good portrait lens Peter. Hard to judge the bokeh by those pics though.

I bought a Nikon mount Soligor 135 2.8 at the same timeas the Makinon and it turned out to have too much DOF even wide open and was too sharp. Great build quality though. Bokeh was sub optimal.

I don't care for the Nikkor 105 2.5 for portraits. Way too sharp, and my samples always showed lots of CA.

Here's one more from the roll. This is the perfect portrait lens for my tastes. The photos have a really old look to them, and the more I look at the grain the more I like it. This was the first time I've used TMY2 400. It's quite different than Tri-X, my regular film. What surprises me is that the background was a bunch of very busy trees, and things got smoothed out as well as the R 90 Summicron I once owned.

Great portrait!

Nowadays, it is common knowledge that 135mm is a useless focal length, with 85-105mm ideal for portrait and 180-200mm for telephoto work! But I have always preferred 135mm for portrait work. I like a tight portrait taken at f/2.8 with a 135mm lens better than another one taken wide open with an expensive 85mm F/1.2 lens!

Cheers!

Abbazz
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Old 08-12-2018   #10
JP Owens
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Second that. I have always preceded a 135 over the 85 or 105 for portraits. Often used some kind of softening filter, though.
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Old 08-12-2018   #11
peterm1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JP Owens View Post
Second that. I have always preceded a 135 over the 85 or 105 for portraits. Often used some kind of softening filter, though.
I almost always prefer a longer lens for just about any shooting. Anything in the range 85-135mm is good in my book.
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Old 08-12-2018   #12
leicapixie
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I was doing heaps of portraits in fashion.
The Nikon 105 mm f2.5 at maximum aperture or one down is soft.
The Nikkor lens is based on a Sonnar as the 150 mm on Hasselblad..
Add a Softnar and beautiful softness.
The Hasselblad Sonnar with "Softnar" yields stunning soft skin and textured fabric!
I have bought hazy and damaged lenses for $2 which in spite of the way they seemed,
were darn sharp, useless for my needs.
So going cheap (in today's market) no guarantee of "softness".

Some lenses used professionally..
Mamiya C series 180mm f4.5 seriously way too sharp.
Had a diffuser permanently fitted to front element of "taking" lens.
Leitz Hektor 135mm for Leica-M.; a really soft and pathetic lens (3 models !!)
Leitz Tele-Elmarit 90mm f2.8 in M mount, a really nice lens, lil soft at full aperture.
Canon A series, Canon FD 35~105mm constant f3.5, soft at 105 but distortion.
Pentax Takumar 105mm f2.8, bitingly sharp.
Using the Pentax Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 and cropping gives soft at full and one down.
Simple solution is a soft filter :-).
I wrote about Name brands which in today's market are cheap!
Even the Zeiss lenses if you look around and at Camera sales held in various locations.

Last edited by leicapixie : 08-12-2018 at 02:19. Reason: left out a few lines..
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Old 08-12-2018   #13
kshapero
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My legendary Nikkor 105/2.5 Ai lens has been my Portrait go to lens for 30 years. My recent "close up" portrait lens is the superb Voigt Nokton 58/1.4 for Nikon. (Super sharp). Both great lenses.
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Old 08-12-2018   #14
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East German zeisses are dirt cheap

Everyone made a decent 135, and they go for peanuts - helps that they're unpopular
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Old 08-12-2018   #15
Steve M.
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I toned the grain down and softened the clothing. My Noiseware has limited settings, so unfortunately too much grain was removed. The original is below it for reference. Now that I took the grain out, I'm beginning to prefer the version WITH the grain! It's always something. This TMY2 400 has potential. Looking forward to developing it in Rodinal and Mic-X.



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Old 08-12-2018   #16
Roger Hicks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
Anyone else using budget lenses for portraits? It's hard to find a bad 135 lens.. . .
Dear Steve,

Of course you have to define "bad". My 135/1.8 Porst would win no prizes for... well.... anything much except mood, especially at full aperture.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-12-2018   #17
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I am waiting on a factory AI'd Nikkor QC 200 f4 (Q - 4 elements, C multicoated) I picked up for $38. Thing looks to be a tank. Has a built-in lens hood.

-- Oh. Sorry. Forgot this was about cheap 3rd-party lenses. My bad. Was looking at a "Kenlock" (never heard of them...) but went with the Nikkor instead.
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Old 08-12-2018   #18
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About 9 months ago I bought a 3rd party 135mm f3.5 Titar lens. These lenses were sold under the name Titar, Titon, Cosinon etc and were almost certainly made by one of the larger makers and sold under a wide variety of marketing names. I seem to remember I had found that it was a sonnar design (though I have not confirmed this) and I was going through a "sonnar love" stage.

I shot it a couple of times then put it away (I just have too many lenses to use all of them all of the time) but this thread reminds me I should get it out once more for more extensive testing.

Optically, I recall it to be pretty sharp and contrasty though I would rate its build quality a bit below 1st rank lenses like Takumars. I would certainly not say it was badly made though - it was and is competent. I wonder just how many of today's lenses will still be going strong in 50 years. They often seem to come up in eBay so I suppose they were pretty common. I think it cost me $35 Australian which was tempting as the lady who was selling it (it belonged to her dad) lived not far away in my city.

This thread off the internet shows both what it looks like (also picture from thread, below) and what it is capable of:

https://www.mu-43.com/threads/titar-...2-mount.87596/

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Old 08-13-2018   #19
jamin-b
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kshapero View Post
My legendary Nikkor 105/2.5 Ai lens has been my Portrait go to lens for 30 years. My recent "close up" portrait lens is the superb Voigt Nokton 58/1.4 for Nikon. (Super sharp). Both great lenses.
Hear, hear! The Nikkor-Q 135mm 2.8 (pre-AI) is also a jewel.
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Old 08-13-2018   #20
narsuitus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
Anyone else using budget lenses for portraits?

28-200mm Tamron by Narsuitus, on Flickr

I received this lens as a gift from a colleague who was abandoning film for digital. Its excellent performance as a portrait lens impressed me.
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Old 08-13-2018   #21
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28-200mm Tamron by Narsuitus, on Flickr

I received this lens as a gift from a colleague who was abandoning film for digital. Its excellent performance as a portrait lens impressed me.
I agree - I got one of these for around 40 USD for use on a Leica SL as a cheap all-around lens, and it is surprisingly good. I think it's model 171D. Mine has a 72mm filter thread, collapses for transport, and is very light weight.
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