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08-09-2010, 05:24 AM   #1
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Best choice for a long, prime portrait lens?

Hey guys, I'm looking to add a good prime to my collection. (I've got some real dogs I picked up used) Shooting my k100d I find the 55mm of the kit a bit short; same goes for the fast 50 that's floating around here somewhere. That thing also produces ungodly amounts of CA under f4, but that's for another time.

I originally had my heart set on the DA 70, but I tend to hold my cameras by the lens, and it seems a little small for that. So then I moved on to the 100mm macros, leaning towards the Sigma 105 because it's rumored to be better built than the Tamron, and is more easily available than the Pentax. My latest move is towards the Voigtlander 90mm, with a glancing interest in the 58mm.

The autofocus switch being on is generally an indication someone else has been using my camera, so I'm not too worried about that. The Voigtlander would mean continuing not having a true macro, but it's really the least interesting form of photography to me. I've seen fantastic macro shots, but I get bored setting them up myself.

How does the manual focus on the Sigma or one of the other macros compare to the Voigtlander? The stiff, 265 degree focus range sounds really appealing, seeing as my favorite film portrait lens is an old ae-1 mounted 135/1.8.

Finally, is there a lens I should be looking at that I'm missing? I'm resistant to going below 70mm, but quite willing to pass 100.

08-09-2010, 05:34 AM   #2
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Have you checked the FA 135mm and FA* 85mm in addition to the DFA 100mm macro and the others?

Those two are beasts at portrait shots- especially the 85mm at F2-2.8.

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08-09-2010, 05:45 AM   #3
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I have 85, 105, and 135mm primes that are great for portraits.

in my case they are all Manual focus, but I don't mind.

I have in K mount, the vivitar 85mmF1.4, and the SMC 105 F2.8 and 135F2.5

In screw mount I have a super takumar 85 F1.9, a Vernon Edonar 105mmF2.8 and a Tele-Lentar 135mm f2.8

the M42 lenses except the Takumar are preset lenses with 14 and 15 aperture blades respectively, and round apertures at all F stops. I wated something different than my SMC pentax lenses.

All are great for portraits, and I find the presets seem to offer better isolation between infocus and out of focus zones
08-09-2010, 06:05 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by m88k Quote
Hey guys, I'm looking to add a good prime to my collection...

...is there a lens I should be looking at that I'm missing? I'm resistant to going below 70mm, but quite willing to pass 100.
Shorter lengths are great for either closing in(intimate framing) or widerning the field. While longer ones are often prefered for convenience and allowing your typical subjects to relax a little more(candids etc).

Having said that, I've always found the 80-135 region to be a really nice place to start. These lengths provide are a great blend of DOF and sharpness as primes and there are some really nice options out there if you're willing to venture out into the MF side of things.

TBH. there are so many amazing portrait lens options out there, that it would most likely be impossible to list them all with any degree of usefulness. Though if I had to choose, here would be some of my top pics:

Jupiter-9 (Great price & performance)
SMC-A* 85mm 1.4 (Unsurpassed sharpness/color, somewhat rare, expensive)
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 (Great price/performance, AF)
Tair 11-2 133mm/f2.8 (Unsurpassed bokeh and rendering, though heavy)
Jupiter 37AM - 135mm - (Zeiss style bokeh, great price)

Are but a few jumping out at me atm.
PS. don't overlook or understimate the HELIOS line-up too(very powerful glass).

08-09-2010, 06:27 AM   #5
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no one has mentioned the FA 77mm ltd?

Still available brand new and not too hard to find second hand without the price tag of the FA* 85mm.
08-09-2010, 02:07 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by JayR Quote
no one has mentioned the FA 77mm ltd?

Still available brand new and not too hard to find second hand without the price tag of the FA* 85mm.
I'm not sure if the FA77's length is long enough for the OP's taste. he does prefer holding something up front.
08-09-2010, 02:16 PM   #7
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personally, I would suggest the Sigma 70/2.8 macro. very sharp lens and gives a lot of detail and has very good bokeh which can really be nice for portraiture. also it's not that expensive compared to the FA77 and FA*85. and is still cheaper than the DA70.

the only drawback is it's sluggish AF and has a bit of a weight into it and long. although I think you prefer something like that, right?
08-09-2010, 03:37 PM   #8
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If you can live with manual focus, here's a couple I would recommend the SMC Pentax-A* 85mm F1.4 and SMC Pentax-A* 135mm F1.8.

Unfortunately not always easy to get your hands on these days, also can be bit pricey, but worth every penny IMHO.

08-09-2010, 03:47 PM   #9
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The Vivitar S1 90mm f2.5 is an excellent portrait lens. So is the Super Takumar 85mm f1.9 or SMC f1.8.
08-09-2010, 04:09 PM   #10
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Rethought Rules

Thanks for all the quick replies. Pentaxor is probably right, the FA 77 does look small. Also, the reviews of the FA 135 say the focus ring is fiddly for manual use. Also, at 550, the 90mm Voigtlander is topping out the price range I'd want to play in.

So I'm after a reasonably sized, modest telephoto. Outside image quality, my most desired feature is solid manual focus. However, while I'm willing to throw autofocus out the window, I don't know that I want to deal with stop-down metering. I've done it before, with a couple of my lemons; it's easy enough, but that extra step is a good way to miss shots.

One of my big issues is there are no shops with a pentax collection worth noting I can find in my area. So I can't try out my options easily.

And I don't know, maybe the k100d autofocus has value, but between the kit and a cheap 70-300, my only af lenses, it's only useful for shooting from the hip, and even then just barely.
08-09-2010, 04:43 PM   #11
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I looked at the sigma 70, but found the 105 cheaper, which is how I ended up toying with the 100mm range.

I don't run into a lot of cliffs, so I pretty universally prefer longer reach. I was playing with the kit lens today, keeping it fully extended, and 55mm is just too short, thus I cross off the otherwise tempting Voigtlander 58. If the 90mm was that fast, I'd already have ordered.

Also, I have more trouble dropping serious cash on importing a used russian lens, or for that matter any of the lenses that seem to be priced based on their "legend".
08-09-2010, 04:44 PM   #12
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Presets are really no more
Difficult than regular K mounts. Does your comment imply you would prefer KA mount or AF over K mount
08-09-2010, 06:33 PM   #13
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A new 'portrait' lens arrived today. Cost me a whole ten bucks, one buck more than its near-twin. The spec? 135/2.8. The brand? Sears. That near-twin is a Focal, sold at K-Mart back in the day. These are both KR mount (the Ricoh pin is more like a ball bearing, quite harmless) and A-type, multicoated, solid, probably made by Tokina. The Sears weighs a little more than the Focal (400g vs 330g) because it has a "Macro Zone" ring that pushes the front element out a bit, knocking the close-focus from 1.5m to 0.75m. The Focal is good at 2.8 and sharp from f/4 up. The new Sears performs similarly. This is my first Sears prime; I have a few f/4 Sears zooms in the 70-210 neighborhood, in KR-A and M42 and Nikon mounts, each for US$9, that also perform quite well.

This Sears brings my tally of 135's up to 12. Of those, a Porst is fogged, and a Hanimex has sub-par IQ. The rest are good-to-very-good, from a Tak-B 135/2.5 (US$72, good with a hood) to the brilliant Jupiter-11 135/4 (US$38, slower but razor sharp). There's a saying that "It's hard to find a bad 135" and I believe it. And Sears-badged glass is seriously under-rated. But don't buy any 35s or 50s till I complete my collection, please.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Now that everyone else has made recommendations, I'll chime in. Any non-cruddy 135 makes a good long portrait lens. I prefer my Tak-B f/2.5, or the Focal-A if I'm in more of a hurry. A bit shorter, I like my Meyer Trioplan 100/2.8 (US$27, M42). My Vivitar 90/2.8 macro (US$3, M42) is brilliant but a bit heavy, as is the Jupiter-9 85/2 (US$70, M39). My slightly-modded lightweight Nikkor 85/2 (US$9) is a constant companion now; protruding 50mm from the body, it provides a little something to hang onto. And I also use enlarger lenses in the 90-105-140mm range, on bellows, but you probably don't want to hear about those.

Generally, 70-150mm is long-portrait territory, especially 85-135mm. Decent stuff can be had in the 85-105mm range, including brilliant macros, and if you avoid new AF glass they needn't cost too much. But good 135mm glass is still dirt cheap.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

A couple things about stop-down manual metering, The Green Button. For any non-AF shooting, it's good but not necessarily required. For M-type lenses that aren't wide open, yeah, it's mandatory, but not for A-types, or anything with an A-M switch or presets. And if you're shooting portraits, where you control light and position, punching The Green Button a few times per session won't make you lose shots. No, M-types aren't really for action shots in variably-lit environments. I suppose you'd want something else for dimly-lit action portraits.

Last edited by RioRico; 08-09-2010 at 06:38 PM.
08-09-2010, 08:11 PM   #14
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m88k, if that were the case, then a Tamron 90/2.8 II would serve you well. it is cheap and easy to find used for lesser amount. MF is better, plus no need to stop down meter and AF is good. I would guess you will be using this outdoors basing on the focal length. that is the shortest AF lens below 100mm that you can find for less money.
08-09-2010, 09:02 PM   #15
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I'm going to go ahead and suggest the Vivitar (samyang, and others) 85mm f1.4. Even wide open, this lens is reasonably sharp..



http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4012/4404878664_2d2acbeb2d_o.jpg

I do have the FA77 and it would be hard to beat but I don't carry my camera around by the lens .

If you're looking for a dual purpose lens, any of the 90-105 macros will do. Another you might want to track down is the Pentax A 100mm f4. I recently found one of these, haven't tried it on people yet but a fine lens it is.

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