Best Portrait Lens?

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Donald

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I switched to Sony from Canon years ago, but I have never found a portrait lens to compare to my old Canon 85mm f1.2... have the Sony 85mm f1.4 and the Batis 85mm f1.8... they are good, but in my humble opinion, not as good. Has anyone found an alternative?

For what it’s worth, I tried using the Canon with an adapter, but focussing was slow, so I sold it.
 
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keithinmelbourne

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The Canon 85L was slow on a Canon! If you want an exceptional portrait lens for your Sony try the 135 GM.
 

Jmartinayers

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I think finding the right portrait lens all depends on the conditions you will use it in. The best portrait lens used on a beach might not be the one you would use in a studio.
 

garuda

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The Canon 85L was slow on a Canon! If you want an exceptional portrait lens for your Sony try the 135 GM.
Keith, I have been considering Sonys new 135 after two Sony reps touted its performance over the 85 1.4 however can't find an owner to bear out its superiority over the 1.4 or 1.8. If you have owner experience, why is 135 better than 85s?
 

keithinmelbourne

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I’m not saying that 135 is a better focal length than the 85. Obviously, you need more room to operate the 135, but the results can be stunning. I used to have the 85L and 135L and got some of my best results from both. Since receiving my 135 GM, we have been in lockdown here, so I haven’t been able to use it for portraits. Hopefully, that situation will change this week. Here are a couple of shots that may give you an idea of how this lens performs.
42F6D121-820E-4F7B-BFF7-A864D6648BD9.jpeg
AD9C8852-5377-423D-B924-F17821CDEE53.jpeg
 
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keithinmelbourne

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I should also add that both the 135 and 85 FLs are flattering portrait lengths. I have the Sony 85 f1.8 and it is excellent. It’s not the same as the 85L, which was quite creamy, but as with any lens it will come down to your vision and what you’re trying to achieve. I used to have Canon’s 85 f1.8, as well as the 85L and, honestly, I got just as many good portraits from the 1.8, often because it was easier to carry around, and easier and faster to focus. Shooting at the widest aperture doesn’t necessarily give the best results, and when you stop down to f2.8 or lower most lenses equal out. As to the 135, you have the benefit of compression and just the right amount of control over depth of field, simply because you’re operating from a distance. An 85 at f1.2 can often be hit or miss.
 

garuda

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Keith, great looking pics, sharp & crisp. And thanks for 135 feedback. I'm also on the fence with another issue before dropping $2k. The f1.8 spec and GM build imply high quality. But even with portraits, I prefer f2.8-5.6 settings for greater DoF. I like ears, hair, etc in focus at cost of bokeh. So for me, is it worth $2k for the occasional f1.8 portrait? That's my dilemma. But if do pull the $2k trigger, it'll likely be the 135 GM vs f1.4 lens partly based on your comments. Thanks for pics and feedback! Mike
 
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keithinmelbourne

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I would recommend that you buy a used Sony 85 f1.8 or even a 55 f1.8. Both are very good lenses. I imagine you would get most portrait use from the 85.
 

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