The Nikon 85mm f/1.4 needs no further introduction, it is one of the best portrait lens in Nikon’s line up. The 85mm has updated to AF-S recently which has lived up to the expectation of the classical 85mm D. The sharpness and quality bokeh that it produces are aspects that it exiles. It is currently prices at $1699 (B&H), a reasonable price compare to the Nikon 24mm f/1.4 priced at $2099 (B&H) which is now my favorite portrait lens. You can read about it and see some samples here.
If you want something cheaper, you have option to choose the older version of this lens (Nikon 85mm f/1.4 D) which is optically very similar, priced at $1229 (B&H), but without some of the fancy features like M/A over ride, AF-S. An even cheaper alternative is the 85mm f/1.8, it is not in the same class but priced at $489 (B&H).
I enjoy using prime lenses, they are smaller to work with and has one less aspect to look after without the zoom. The focus is not super fast compare to the 24-70mm f/2.8, but it performs well overall.
85mm is the typical focal length used for portraits. The angle of view it gives create nice isolation of the subject while some background is still included. If you want to include more of the background, choose the 24mm f/1.4 (read more here) which give more emphasis to the background. For more isolation of your subject, pick the 70-200mm f/2.8 and use it at 200mm (read more here and here). With the 85mm at f/1.4, you can pretty much throw everything out of focus, creating creamy bokeh to emphasize your subject. The below image is one such example. Here are a few images taken while travelling in Macau. Check out the beautiful bokeh that it is famous for. Enjoy !
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