• Chris Gampat says:

    Hey Dan,

    Thanks so much for this piece. I completely agree with you on the choice of lenses. I have two questions though:

    1. Why not the 135mm?
    2. Will you do an update or another posting on a set for Canon and Sony shooters?

    Once again, great work. 85mm F/1.8 lenses focus really fast.

    -Chris Gampat
    Editor in Chief
    The Phoblographer

  • Dan Bailey says:

    Chris- Thanks for your comment. My reason for leaving out the 135mm is that I’ve never owned one, whereas I’ve owned 4 lenses in the 85-105mm range, 6 if you count my 80-200mm and the 70-210mm that I used to have. The 135mm lens also gives great short to mid telephoto results, but on a DX or crop sensor body, it starts to get a little bit long for standard portrait length. That said, it probably just comes down to personal preference.

    I’ve actually included a number of Canon lens choices in that range, and I can probably come up with a list of applicable Sony lenses as well to edit in when I get a chance.

  • Alex Suarez says:

    The old manual Nikkor 105mm ƒ/2.5 is one of my all-time faves. It has the creamiest bokeh. I shot a lot of Kodachrome over the years with that lens. I still have it, but don’t use it much these day as I have to rely more on auto-focus now.

  • “The quintessential across the street lens” I think you nailed it there!
    The 85mm 1.8 is an essential bit of my kit. I do a lot of long-distance motorcycle travel where space and weight is at an absolute premium. I love how *compact* that lens is. I found it perfect for portraiture and low light situations. I shot Panamanian cockfights lit by bare bulbs, inside Mayan ruins hand-held. That 85 and a 28mm 2.8 were a surprisingly flexible kit with a crop sensor body. You can find it for around $200 used, it’s a bargain. It’s not mentioned much in the “latest is greatest” photo industry, thanks for giving it the spotlight Dan!

  • Dan Bailey says:

    Anthony, thanks for your comment. I agree, even though those two lenses are not “Hot items,” they’re awesome tools to have in the camera bag. Rock solid performers and definitely lightweight, which is obviously great for motorcycle touring, bike touring, hiking, skiing, running… And now that I think about it, my very first wide angle was that Nikon 28mm f2.8 manual lens. That one got stolen too, along with my first 105mm.

  • Dan Bailey says:

    Alex, I loved both of my manual Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 lenses. My second 105 was one of those illegal imports where it was made for SE Asia, and then shipped back to the US with the Nikkor name scratched off the lens. I found it at a used shop and it was a great piece of glass until that one got stolen too.

  • […] favorite images were made with that lens. Although I’ve mentioned it here on the blog, (See What Can You Do With a Short Telephoto Lens and 4 More Reasons Why I Love my 85mm f/1.8 lens.) but this is the first time I’ve done a […]

  • Larry Miller says:

    I use this lens as part of a three lens setup. (28F2, 50F1.4 & 85AF1.8D). Love those fast lenses! The 85 is very, very sharp. No complaints whatsoever. All three have the SIC on the elements. Another plus.

  • […] a recent post, I enthusiastically extolled the creative and practical benefits of using short telephoto lenses. Basically, they’re light, fast, compact, sharp and great for shooting a variety of outdoor […]

  • >


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    Terry Bourk

    I have read you new book “Behind the Landscape.” I could not “put it down” meaning that I kept at it because each photo you presented/analyzed was interesting and informative. I am trying to develop an eye for composition (both the scene and the light).

    Thank you! The examples you present and the suggestions are very helpful. Purple Mountains, McKinley River and Wonder Lake are fascinating.

    Roger Sinclair

    You have done it again! Another triumph.

    Your generosity to share, the clarity of thought and concise explanation thereof is brilliant. Perhaps I should also mention the beautiful photos and the talent necessary to produce them.

    Thank you, Dan.