Steve –

I have a friend in Australia with a Nikon 50mm F1.4. This is an old lens but in great condition as I used it a few times when I used to go to his place. Would this lens be good for portrait photography, taking photos of people?


Charles –

This is an excellent question.  Allow me to briefly answer. 

  1. The older Nikkor lenses are fine lenses. Each model varies as to exactly how good it is, but most of the 50mm F1.4s were fine lenses.
  2. When you put a 50mm on a APC-S body (your D80) “effectively” makes it a 75mm which is a decent portrait focal length.  However, the other characteristics of a lens, color, contrast, sharpness, out of focus character (bokeh) will probably not be the same level of quality as a portrait lens.  You could try it and see if you’re happy with the results, but I suspect you’d be much happier with a modern 85mm F1.8 Nikkor.. you can find them used for a few hundred.
  3. Keep in mind, this might be a manual focus lens.  This isn’t a problem if you’re used to manual focusing, or are willing to learn manual focusing techniques.
  4. For portrait uses, your money would probably be better spent on a purpose designed portrait lens.

I hope this helps.



Hi Steve,

Thanks for getting back to me. I look forward to seeing my 'Wat's Up' images on In Focus. This is exciting I must say.

I could see that you needed a submission. By the way, it is my pleasure to contribute.

Perhaps my question can be used as a reader's question for In Focus?

I think that many guys with less experience, find 'Photo Shop' both complicated and somewhat confusing to use.

I understand about altering images, so please use your professional eye to select the best 8 or 10 shots and ditch the rest.

I hope all is well with you Steve...




Hi Dave –

I just arrived back in Bangkok this evening and have been answering emails.

Yes.. you are right.  People ‘think’ they need Photoshop because Photoshop has always been ‘the’ tool for images.  The truth is there are many good imaging programs for the “point and shooter”, and most point and shoots come with decent software these days for free if the person bothers to install and check it out.

For free.. Google and check out GIMP at  It’s a decent, free program.  I don’t use it, but I know many who do.

Lightroom is awesome.  However, it does require a decent computer because it uses system resources.  If you have a halfway modern computer you should be okay to run Lightroom.

Adobe took the most common tools (and then some) photographers used from Photoshop, put them in a slick new photographer friendly interface, and named it Lightroom.  The result is a very easy to use photo management and image processing software package which is easy enough for rank beginners, and feature laden enough for professionals.  Download their 30 day trial and give it a whirl.



Hello Steve

I've been reading about Lightroom 2.  Is it better than Photoshop CS2?  Should I just stay with Photoshop CS2 or use Lightroom 2, or upgrade to Photoshop CS3?



Hello Charles –

This is a common question and a good one.  “Better” depends on what you want to do with your images.

Photoshop has more tools and you can do more things with images than with Lightroom.  It’s also triple the price for a basic version.

Lightroom is much better for image management, and most image adjustments photographers are interested in.  Lightroom is purpose designed for photographers and using it you can do 99% of the things you’d do in Photoshop, but with a much faster and easier workflow.  Lightroom also offers image management features, slideshows, a great print manager, and the ability to upload flash or HTML galleries directly on to your own site.  I love Lightroom and it’s what I teach to 99% of my clients.  I also teach Photoshop, but most seem very happy with Lightroom.  Personally, I use Lightroom for about 98% of my image processing needs, and Photoshop for that 2% where layers and masking are required.

I hope this helps.


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