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08-28-2010, 05:14 AM   #1
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Looking for a long portrait lens.

I'm looking for a lens to do full length portraits. At the moment I've been looking at the Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 and the Pentax 200mm f2.8.

This will give me a DOF of 0.17m (7") which I figure will nicely cover a face.

From what I've seen the Tamron is sharper wide open but the edge performance is not as good. The Pentax seems to be more even, which would be very good for off center performance. Bokeh seems good on both with the Pentax a little better (especially at f4 and f5.6).

My problem is no-one seems to like the prime or use it. Can anyone point me to some full body portraits with the Pentax?



The above is based on a height of 1.7m at the focal plane I need to stand 7.9m away (or 7m if I get a 180mm MF Lens).

I've been using a 105mm f2.8 lens but it just don't do what I want. I also have a 50mm f1.4 and I don't like the

08-28-2010, 06:43 AM   #2
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I've used an 80-200 for portraits, which worked very well, but I always found myself in the lower end of the range, if not at exactly 80mm.

Perhaps you should also consider the FA77mm? It'll give you a boost in image quality over the other lenses. The 105 probably didn't work since it couldn't open up wide enough.

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08-28-2010, 07:08 AM   #3
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you're going to be far away from your subjects mate, and personally that really isn't how I like to work. I often do a lot of my full length portraits with the FA31mm f/1.8 due to it's very high corner sharpness. The FA 31 Limited does have distortion, though it is well under the visually noticeable level (I measured 0.7%). However, I find that crouching down and keeping the focus plane parallel with the subject helps hide any distortion a lens may have.

The Pentax 200mm f/2.8 is an exceptional performer it's edge resolution easily matches it's central resolution at f/4. However, I really don't like it's bokeh. The reason is the fact that the DA*200mm f/2.8 is not apochromatic. It has very strong green/magenta highlighting around specular highlights. I recommend that you learn to work with your 50mm f/1.4 before you buy what is essentially a 300mm f/4.2 prime. Pentax 50mm lenses are extremely good for the money, and they all perform identically at f/4.*

personally, I think you're approaching full length portraiture the wrong way. why are you choosing to use such a long lens?

*though later generations of Pentax 50mm lenses do make small improvements on this with the SMCP-A 50mm f/1.4 I consider to be one of the best.

Last edited by Digitalis; 08-28-2010 at 07:20 AM.
08-28-2010, 08:09 AM   #4
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are you sure you want 200mm?

200 mm will give you a real issue with respect to space.

considering image size = subject size x focal length / distance for a full body shot and assuming an average person of 1.7 meters in height you would need to be at a distance of 14 meters or 47 feet to fill the tall dimension of the frame. I am not sure how you calculated your distance but you should check the numbers again, I think you are out by a factor of 2.

that is a long way away!

perhaps an 85mm F1.4 would be a better option?

just my $0.02

edit note, your distance seems to be more based upon the circle diameter of a full frame (i.e. film) camera than an ASP-C sensor with a vertical height of 24mm.

as for bokeh, I personally prefer a preset lens, with a round at all apertures diaphram. these lenses seem to give better separation of foreground against background.

At least that is what I have seen with my 105mm and 135mm presets.

Last edited by Lowell Goudge; 08-28-2010 at 08:17 AM.
08-28-2010, 11:17 AM   #5
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I have to agree with what Lowell said regarding the distance you'll need all the time when using a very long lens for portraits.

Another thing to bear in mind when using a very long lens for portraits, is that they can compress facial features a little too much if used for a tight head shot.

For example, they can make the ears appear to be closer to the front of the face than they actually are, and this might make your shot look weird.

I used a 300mm mirror lens on my 35mm camera for a tightly framed portrait once, and I didn't like the result.

Just something to think about.


Last edited by Mike Bokeh; 08-28-2010 at 11:24 AM.
08-28-2010, 04:42 PM   #6
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Just out of curiosity (and I'll not try to talk you out of a long lens) have you used your DA50-200 for portraits? Is that what led you to think of 200mm as suitable for portraits?

Then again, there are portraits and there are portraits. Some demand sharpness, some demand softness, and some just don't matter. For inexpensive sharpness, the cheap manual classic M42 Vivtar Series 1 Version 1 70-210/3.5 is unbeatable. For VERY inexpensive softness (but not so long) a Sima (that's right, SIMA not SIGMA) soft-focus 100/2 appears on the bay occasionally. (I just missed one a couple days ago. Bother.)

EDIT: I wonder if any soft 200mm's are around? Let's see, if I put a Raynox DCR-150 on a bellows with 150mm of extension, that should make it a 150/3 (stuck wide open!) and suitable for soft portraits.

Last edited by RioRico; 08-28-2010 at 07:32 PM.
08-28-2010, 05:34 PM   #7
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I don't do "formal" portraits but do like to grab candid close-ups and I like to use longer lenses for that kind of shooting. The FA 77mm is wonderful but too short in some situations. The Sigma 70-200mm is also very good but can be a bit imposing. The FA 135 f2.8 is another good choice: superb IQ and nicely compact.
08-28-2010, 05:57 PM   #8
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At a recent course I did, which included renowned portrait photographer David Oliver, he was using a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens for his portrait work. But then - I realised he was also using a full-frame camera (Nikon D3s), so the equivalent lens for me would be my Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8

That is a great portrait lens if a zoom is what you're after for compositional reasons.

If a prime would do the job, then I agree with others that the 77mm Ltd is excellent.

Another old favourite for portraits is the Tamron SP90mm Macro.

But my pick would be that Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8

08-28-2010, 06:43 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Derridale Quote
But my pick would be that Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8
Agreed. This would be an excellent choice as a long portrait lens. In addition to having a more useful focal length range on a crop sensor (IMO), it's also considerably smaller and lighter than the 70-200/2.8 lenses. IQ is fantastic as well.
08-28-2010, 06:56 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by dgaies Quote
Agreed. This would be an excellent choice as a long portrait lens. In addition to having a more useful focal length range on a crop sensor (IMO), it's also considerably smaller and lighter than the 70-200/2.8 lenses. IQ is fantastic as well.
citing his DOF concerns, I think he would be better served by a FA*85mm f/1.4 or FA77mm f/1.8 limited - the voigtlander 58mm f/1.4 might also be worth looking into, especially since he mentioned the need for high corner sharpness.
08-28-2010, 07:38 PM   #11
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This is funny.
OP, who is no dummy, asked for one thing, a pointer to full-body pics taken with a specific lens. (I can't help there.)
Most answers are on the order of, OH NO, USE THIS LENS INSTEAD!
Once again, I got up onto my usual weird-cheap-lens hobbyhorse.
We're all behaving as usual.
I'm waiting for Ira to tout a Takumar.
08-29-2010, 04:46 AM   #12
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Ricorico this has nothing to do with ignoring the OP and his question. The OP had an error in his working distance calculation that really impacts the whole discussion. Aside form that and as others have noted the excessive flattening of a subjects face with a long tele, people have offered lenses they believe are more suitable

If the OP is also concerned about bokeh then really he does need to possibly look at old glass as well

I too am waiting for Ira to comment here, but the real issue still stands, many of us feel 200mm is too long. Perhaps 135mm would be better
08-29-2010, 09:24 AM   #13
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Well, count me in as another thinking that 200mm for a full body portrait is too long, unless you've got a huge studio. From that perspective, I'd say go with the 70-200 so you can go a little wider.

Someone mentioned the 50-135, and that's probably my most used lens for portraits.
08-29-2010, 10:32 AM   #14
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I stopped touting Taks because I realized it was getting obnoxious, but as the OP indicated formal portraits, why in the world would you need or want AF or auto metering anyway? Plus, longer than 100 for facials AND full body? Plus a ZOOM for set-up work?

If you can afford an expensive and modern 70, great. That's the longest I think you would ever need, although I'm just talking from book learning here.

But for a few hundred less, at 75 bucks, I would go for a 50 1.4 Super or Super MC Tak.

So I guess I'm back to touting Taks, huh?
08-29-2010, 11:27 AM   #15
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the OP needs to clarify his concerns. as mentioned, he doesn't like the 50mm which he never mentioned why, and also he didn't like the 100mm for reasons that I don't know why it doesn't cut it.

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