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05-14-2010, 06:27 PM   #1
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Portrait lens

I purchased my Kx kit 2 months ago and have the 18-55 and 55-300 lenses with it. I know that the kit lenses are not always the highest quality, but so far have no complaints. I was wondering if someone could give me some suggestions as far as a good quality lens that I could use for portraits.

Thanks in advance.

05-14-2010, 07:03 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by birdman59 Quote
I purchased my Kx kit 2 months ago and have the 18-55 and 55-300 lenses with it. I know that the kit lenses are not always the highest quality, but so far have no complaints. I was wondering if someone could give me some suggestions as far as a good quality lens that I could use for portraits.

Thanks in advance.
Auto or manual focus? New or used? What's your budget? You need to narrow the choices down. There's no point in someone recommending an FA 77mm Ltd if you want to spend $200.
05-14-2010, 07:29 PM   #3
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That's why I asked for some suggestions. As I said, I just bought the thing 2 months ago. Pretend I am a newbie and let me know what I can expect to spend for auto focus vs manual.

Seriously, even a newbie should expect that a $200 and a $500 lens may have some quality differences.

Thanks for answering.
05-14-2010, 07:30 PM   #4
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FA 77mm Ltd.



05-14-2010, 07:59 PM   #5
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I have three suggestions. (while the FA 77 is legndary there are other choices)

1. Check out the DA 70 limited. I've owned one and it's really good for portraits too.
2 & 3. if you want to go cheaper two options in the manual focus relm are the Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4 or the Vivitar(or other name like Bower) 85mm f1.4 lens. These two are a little harder to use but both can be used quite well for portrait work with some practice. Both cost around $350 at B&H or Adorama as I recall. I have both and like the Nokton the best.
05-14-2010, 08:03 PM   #6
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The 50mm focal length is a bit short, but very workable, and should be a dime a dozen.
Any of them will serve you well, with the A series or newer being easier to use.
In the Studio these days, I find myself going to the DA*55/1.4 as my short lens, and either the 70mm LTD or 77mmLTD depending on my mood.
There isn't much to say between the two, so either one would be a good choice.
If Pentax ever comes out with a 135 format camera and you buy it, the 77 will be useful, the 70 not so much.
05-14-2010, 08:15 PM   #7
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Although I don't have one not quite yet, but I recommend Zeiss 85/1.4, based on many of printed pics, and also based on my experience with 50/1.4. My god, they are awesome.
05-14-2010, 08:17 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by birdman59 Quote
That's why I asked for some suggestions. As I said, I just bought the thing 2 months ago. Pretend I am a newbie and let me know what I can expect to spend for auto focus vs manual.

Seriously, even a newbie should expect that a $200 and a $500 lens may have some quality differences.

Thanks for answering.
That's not how it works around here. You don't get good help with this kind of nasty attitude. He was trying to help you by suggesting some criteria.

Check the lens review section if you just want to browse through random lenses.

05-14-2010, 09:02 PM - 1 Like   #9
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There have been other earlier threads on the topic and you received already solid suggestions.

Many see the 50mm focal length with large aperture (small f) atypical of a portrait lens. The large aperture allows you to work indoor and outdoor including in lw light conditions. In that categrory, there are a range of interesting length including:
- the older Pentax 50mm f1.7,
- the FA 50mm f1.4 {Pentax SMC-FA 50mm f/1.4 - Review / Lab Test Report},
- the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.4 {Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f/1.4 SL II - Review / Test Report}
- the Carl Zeiss 50mm f1.4 {Zeiss Planar ZF T* 50mm f/1.4 - Review / Lab Test Report}.

The list is not exhaustive. The above lenses are some well-respected lenses in their own category and price range, and they are available in Pentax K-mount. I added the URL of the independent review by Photozpone.de beside.

The Carl Zeiss is the basic reference: i.e., a 'Rolls Royce', but expensive. The Nokton 58mm is very well respected, excellent image quality, and within your price range. For the same price as the Nokton, the FA50mm has AF, but the image quality is s par below. The older Pentax lenses are still good values, but can only be found 2nd hand.

Since you already have 2 kit lenses, both AF, I would encourage your to expand your photographic techniques by selecting a MF fast prime lens, like the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.4 (or the Carl Zeiss if you can afford).

I add that I bought the Nokton for outdoor low light shooting. The lens si very rugged and well-suited ofor outdoor. But I love the lens and it found to use it much more than initially thought.

Hope that the comment help...
05-14-2010, 11:55 PM   #10
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FA 77 limited.

05-15-2010, 02:26 AM   #11
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i would look here before you choose something:
Pentax Lens Tests

The most affordable autofocus portrait lenses would be the FA50 or the DA70 Limited. I would personally go for the DA70 if i had the money.

If manual focus is an option then you have a hard task in front of you. You have the whole assortment of 50 years of lens production, from m42 to the newest Voigtländer or Carl Zeiss manual focus lenses.
05-15-2010, 06:19 AM   #12
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DA70 is a great bag-for-buck portrait lens, FA77 probably better but more expensive. I'd also throw the soon to be released Sigma 85 f1.4 into the mix, on specs alone it should be a great lens.
05-15-2010, 11:50 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
There have been other earlier threads on the topic and you received already solid suggestions.

Many see the 50mm focal length with large aperture (small f) atypical of a portrait lens. The large aperture allows you to work indoor and outdoor including in lw light conditions. In that categrory, there are a range of interesting length including:
- the older Pentax 50mm f1.7,
- the FA 50mm f1.4 {Pentax SMC-FA 50mm f/1.4 - Review / Lab Test Report},
- the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.4 {Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f/1.4 SL II - Review / Test Report}
- the Carl Zeiss 50mm f1.4 {Zeiss Planar ZF T* 50mm f/1.4 - Review / Lab Test Report}.

The list is not exhaustive. The above lenses are some well-respected lenses in their own category and price range, and they are available in Pentax K-mount. I added the URL of the independent review by Photozpone.de beside.

The Carl Zeiss is the basic reference: i.e., a 'Rolls Royce', but expensive. The Nokton 58mm is very well respected, excellent image quality, and within your price range. For the same price as the Nokton, the FA50mm has AF, but the image quality is s par below. The older Pentax lenses are still good values, but can only be found 2nd hand.

Since you already have 2 kit lenses, both AF, I would encourage your to expand your photographic techniques by selecting a MF fast prime lens, like the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.4 (or the Carl Zeiss if you can afford).

I add that I bought the Nokton for outdoor low light shooting. The lens si very rugged and well-suited ofor outdoor. But I love the lens and it found to use it much more than initially thought.

Hope that the comment help...
Thanks for the info and the links...

I have been a Minolta film shooter in th 70s and 80s, but life happened and took me away for a while. I caught the bug again and chose Pentax Kx as my first DSlr. I am familiar with Zeiss lenses as they have been aound for a long time and have a solid reputation for superior quality.
Not familiar with Nokton...will have to investigate. Anyone with photos from these lenses could you link or post a couple??

Thanks to all who replied. I'll check out your suggestions and try to make my best educated guess...
05-15-2010, 01:10 PM   #14
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I have owned 77 for three times, 2 black and 1 silver. It is a great lens, but after a while, you will totally want to sell it.
Now I use FA 43, DA*55 or Super-Takumar 55 for potrait.
Actually you will find most of master pieces of potrait taken by 50mm standard lens.
FA 77 and FA*85 are two greatest auto-focus lens of Pentax, but they are too long that you cannot communicate with your model well. Only if you deal with a comercial work, then 85 and 135 is a great choice, otherwise, for casual shoot, 50mm and 55mm is a best choice.
As this is your first LBA, I recommend you 50/2.8 Macro.
05-15-2010, 03:11 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Before you go shopping, put the 55-300 on the KX and set it for a given focal length (55, 70, 85, 100). Shoot. See what focal length you tend to use, and which you feel are limiting.

The 55-300 isn't really a 'portrait' lens, but I find that results are quite decent even wide open, and you can shoot at F4 thru right about 100mm.

I used this method when I acquired my 10-20, by noting that I almost always shot my 18-55 at 18, or 55. Now I just leave it at home.
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