FAQ Fridays: Favorite lenses

Hi Everyone, welcome back to another segment of FAQ Fridays… where you submit your photography questions and we try to answer them. This week we have another video segment for you. yays! The video features a question we are asked a lot. Hope you guys enjoy this video.


Which lenses do you guys normally use on your portrait sessions?


When we pack for our portrait sessions, we usually take our three trusty prime lenses. Why do we prefer prime lenses over zooms? Watch the video below and we’ll walk you through the exact lenses we use and how we use them.



In case you prefer written text explanations over video.. here is a recap:

  • We prefer prime lenses (single focal length, no zoom) because they are lightweight and unobtrusive. Lug around high quality zoom lenses for a day and you’ll quickly start to think about primes. Prime lenses typically have larger apertures (f/1.4 – f/2) than zoom lenses (f/2.8 or above) .. this will generally give you better performance in dim-lit conditions.
  • Nikon 35mm f/2.0D – a wide angle lens, but not too wide. Just wide enough to capture your subject and their surrounding environment without too much distortion. 35mm is a great walk-around lens for both full-frame sensor FX cameras (D700, D3) and crop-frame DX cameras (every other Nikon DSLR: D40,D3100, D5000, D90, D7000, D300.. etc.) If you have a DX camera, you can get the newer 35mm f/1.8G DX… it was made specifically for DX crop-framed sensor cameras. Confused with DX or FX? Read this DX wiki entry and this FX wiki entry.
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.8D & Nikon 50mm f/1.4G – great overall lens. middle ground focal length makes it very versatile. Good lens for portraits (head/shoulder, 3/4 body, full body).
  • Nikon 85mm f/1.4D – truly a legendary magical lens. The longer 85mm focal length gives you more subject to background separation. It’s excellent optics will render out of focus backgrounds to smooth cream cheese. Great lens to isolate a particular feature in your frame. Nikon just recently updated this lens to the 85mm f/1.4G.

For more lens suggestions make sure you take a look at our photography gear page. Also, most people do not realize that they can rent pro lenses to try them out before spending a huge chunk of change on them. =)

If you have questions or comments about this week’s segment… feel free to ask in the comments section below.

What is FAQ Fridays?
FAQ Fridays is an ongoing weekly feature on this site where WE answer questions submitted by you. We hope this new segment will help with many of your photography challenges. As always, you can ask questions in the comments section if it relates to that certain post.

Here is a list of: all previous FAQ Fridays posts

If you have specific questions that do not relate directly… then feel free to submit your questions by using the FAQ Fridays Submission Form page.

Alternatively, you can email your questions to: faq -at- prettygeeky.com (note: email broken up to prevent spam bots).

  • Viola said:

    Kay, your so funny and cute! I love that hand movement thing you did at the end...lol.

  • cynthia said:

    the cream machine is awesome, but wowzer! it cost more than my camera! i'll just stick with the 50mm.....for now.....

    also, i have a question tiny about the 35mm, it tent to back focus alot on my pictures, and i can't figure out how to set it right......can you guys help me how to set it right?

  • cynthia said:

    omg....i meant tiny question hahaha

  • tyger said:

    Here's a good read on front/back focusing problems. It has a print-out chart that can help you pin point your focusing problems. You can perform a few tests with different lenses to to isolate the problem (just one lens? or camera body is back focusing on all lenses?). As far as correcting, it would depend on your camera body. D300, D700 bodies have the ability to make micro-adjustments for a particular lens.

    If your 35mm is indeed back focusing, hopefully it is within the warranty period. You can send the lens to Nikon Service and have them check and calibrate the lens.

    Hope this helps, luckily all my lenses have not had any focusing problems. ;/

  • bao bai said:

    Omggggg!!!!!!! I love this so much!!!!! Great, great help! I want the 35mm, I have to get it soon.;) And Kay your so gorgeous and cute...I absolutely love this. Please do it more often. We love PG!

  • cynthia said:

    wow, it's a lot more complicated than i thought for me to fix it.....i was hoping there was a function in my D90 to reset it, but looks like i'll have to have it checked out somehow, but thanks a bunch for ur help! u guys are awesome!