I get ALOT of emails about lenses and what people ‘should’ buy.
It’s a very generic question and one that cannot be answered by technicality alone.
So here is a simple test, hopefully explaining focal lengths and the effect on the subject. Working distances vary of course but you will get the gist.
Metering left unchanged in camera.
All iso 64, handheld.
only tweak was to the 58 which was the brightest of the lot (one of it’s best qualities too).
Images are a good approximations from the little dolly (10cm in height) with slight crops to make them all the same.
Working distance from 20cm to 3 metres. AWB on all and unadjusted. No sharpening added just pure RAW to Jpeg conversion.
Each file is downsized to 4Mb but no downsampling (d810).
35mm f1.4, 1/1250
58mm f1.4. 1/2500th
85mm f1.4, 1/3200th
105mm f2.8, 1/640th at f3
200mm f2, 1/2000th
Sharpness 200, 105 (but at f3), 85, 35, 58
CA (from most to least) 85, 35, 58 and 105 equal (but at 105 at f3) then 200 almost non existant.
Smoothest bokeh overall 58, 85, 200, 35 then 105 by a long way.
Most 3D transition rendering 58, 35 (because of perspective), 85, 105, 200 (because there is no 3d it just flattens out).
Focus speed (fast to slowest) 200, 35, 58, 85 then 105
Most fun lens 58
This test serves only the purpose of taking the same composed shot at different focal lengths. Working distance is key here as the 35 was only 20 cms’s away and the 200 about 3 metres away.
If you can get in ‘close’ to your subject, it’s a no brainer, the 35 is the most versatile here. If pure flat and assymetrical bokeh is what you like, then the 85 is superb.
The 58 rendering is sooo sweet, the highlight being it’s transition from centre frame to corners is not uniform, thus giving the most 3D rendering of the bunch.
The 105, as you can see is no match for it’s faster brothers, however, for it’s specific purpose, it of course, kills the others.
The 200 is ‘special’ in that it gives the most cinematic image, the 200mm focal length flattens everything out, it annihilates the background to a blur of colour and it handles CA magnificently.
If I were to purchase them all again for Wedding work, I would go this way… (keeping in mind the 14-24 is a given)
35 and 85
35, 58, 105
the 200 is a pure exotic, nikon’s finest technically, but because of weight and size, it is used sparingly, but when it is used for those super shots at locations, it is unbeatable.
So if you are after or about to start on your journey in the High End Prime/Prime Exotic world…
First question you should ask is ‘What do I predominately shoot?’
Answers will flow from there.