Can one really justify a 135mm 1.8 in addition to an 85mm 1.4 for portra...

jeffery163

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I do have the Zeiss 50mm 1.4 and the Sony GM 85 1.4 for portraits. I also have the Samyang 75mm 1.8 for portraits while traveling. In addition, I do have the Tamron 70-180 2.8

I’ve always been interested in a 135mm 1.8 lens. However, I am not a professional. I just take pictures for fun and from time to time. Mostly while traveling. I only shoot portraits, don’t do action photography, neither sports nor running dogs.

Let’s face it: Is there any real justification for a 135mm 1.8 lens in addition to the 85 1.4 (or also 70-180 2.8) beside simply wanting it for the sake of whatever?

Maybe there are people who have tried both and decided to stick with the 85mm 1.4 only, because it’s capable enough of doing the job? Maybe it’s the other way around.

In other words: What can a 135mm 1.8 do what a 85mm 1.4 is absolutely incapable of?

I’d be really happy if you could help me out with your experiences etc.
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PakkyT

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Well first off, are you talking about micro four thirds? Or are you talking about 35mm format (or something else)? I ask because 135mm on m43 is pretty long for a lot of things. That said, I always did enjoy shooting with my old OM 135/2.8 on my 4/3rds sensor.
 

bargainguy

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Decidedly a non-MFT question, but we are an equal opportunity format forum, so here goes.

What are you looking for in a fast 135 that you're not getting with a fast 85? Both lenses should already excel at subject isolation.

Only reason I can think of is increased magnification. So you want, say, a tight headshot instead of a shoulder-up portrait without changing your working distance to the subject.

Other than that, I can't see much use for a fast 135 on top of a fast 85 for portraits.
 

oldracer

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For tight portraits, my old Nikon 105 FF was about right; normal perspective. 135 FF gave a flattened and abnormal look. 200 was awful.
 
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I bought an Olympus 135mm f/3.5 on the day before lockdown because I wanted to be able to continue to shoot people. On M43 a 135 is just too long. It did it's job of keeping me away from subjects but it really was TOO far. A 75-85mm is going to be plenty long enough.
 

oldracer

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I bought an Olympus 135mm f/3.5 on the day before lockdown because I wanted to be able to continue to shoot people. On M43 a 135 is just too long. It did it's job of keeping me away from subjects but it really was TOO far. A 75-85mm is going to be plenty long enough.
The conventional approach is to use a focal length that gives approximately the same perspective as you would get just standing and looking at your subject(s). Not wanting to be conventional is fine, but I think it is helpful to understand the rules you've decided to break. Here's the mother lode: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perspective_distortion_(photography)

So, for portraits where you're taking full body or 3/4 body, the conventional FF focal length is 85-90mm. For head shots and, especially tight head shots, you don't want to move in too close or you'll get the big noses. So, for those, the conventional focal length is a little longer: 100-105mm. That's my personal style, so the 105 was my favorite.

Go shorter, get closer, and you get the big nose effect. Go longer, get farther away, and you get a very flat perspective. Nothing wrong with those if that's what you want. I have had fun with big noses from time to time, but the too-long focal lengths have never done any good for me.
 

exakta

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I'm with oldracer about the perspective and working distance for portraits, I used a 100/2.8 with my OM-1 for years. I make do in m43 these days with a 45/1.8.
 

mawz

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The 135/1.8 will allow you to get much more subject/background separation than an 85/1.4 can, it's approximately equivalent to an 85mm f1.12 in terms of DoF, and of course you have the advantages of shallow DoF with more perspective compression at the same framing.

That means you generally can get both enough DoF to get a full head in focus while still blowing the background out of focus on the 135, it's much more difficult to do that with an 85mm. This is why some portrait shooters LOVE 200/2's and 300/2.8's.

Plus 135's can more easily replace a 70-200 for general shooting, as they're right in the middle of the range. They make pretty good single-prime tele kits, although to be honest if that's what you're after the Batis 135/2.8 is a better option than any of the 1.8's (it's heavy for an f2.8 and quite expensive, but optically the best 135mm in FE mount and still much smaller and lighter than any f1.8 option). Note the 135/2.8 will deliver DoF performance approximately equal to an 85/1.8
 
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