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10-21-2010, 08:36 AM   #1
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Wanted: Good value indoor portrait lens

Hi guys.

I am new DSLR owner. My current equipment is Pentax K-X, 18-55mm, 55-300, Pentax-A 50 f1.7.

I love my 50mm f1.7 but it is hard to take photos indoors since it is not wide enough. So, i am looking for fast wider lens for indoor portraits. I don't want to spend fortune, so used and manual focus is totally fine. Preferably primes but sharp zooms also fine.

Any suggestions?

I found good deal for Pentax-M 35mm f2.8 but it has such bad reviews that i hesitant buying it. Anyone has any input on this lens?


Last edited by Black_ronin; 10-21-2010 at 08:42 AM.
10-21-2010, 09:02 AM   #2
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Um...normally a portrait lens is somewhere in the 70-100mm range. You say you want to go wider than 50mm that seems contradictory because wider will - as least so I believe - give you very unflattering portraits. So do you want a fast indoor lens for portraiture or a wider angle lens for indoor work?
10-21-2010, 09:06 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by blackcloudbrew Quote
Um...normally a portrait lens is somewhere in the 70-100mm range. You say you want to go wider than 50mm that seems contradictory because wider will - as least so I believe - give you very unflattering portraits. So do you want a fast indoor lens for portraiture or a wider angle lens for indoor work?
Yeah...a 50 can even do torso (waist up) in even the smallest of rooms.

Maybe your definition of portrait is different than the rest of us.

Do you mean full body shots?
10-21-2010, 09:11 AM - 1 Like   #4
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The new DA-L 35mm f2.4 should be out real soon, if not already, for about $200. It's getting rave reviews from everyone who bought it with their K-5's. Check out franks thread here:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/118765-da-35mm...ny-photos.html


Last edited by chalion; 10-21-2010 at 09:12 AM. Reason: needed to get thread link
10-21-2010, 09:17 AM - 1 Like   #5
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If you are considering 35mm (and presumably with your 18-55mm you have found the kind of focal length you want), then the obvious suggestion is the new DA L 35mm f/2.4 that became available a week or so ago. Early results sound good, and at around $200 it's relatively cheap for a new, auto-focus prime lens.
10-21-2010, 10:04 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
Yeah...a 50 can even do torso (waist up) in even the smallest of rooms.

Maybe your definition of portrait is different than the rest of us.

Do you mean full body shots?
Sorry for not clear enough definition - i mean full body shots or group of people. I don't know how would you call such style. My apartment is too small for this type of photos with 50mm =(

QuoteOriginally posted by chalion:
The new DA-L 35mm f2.4 should be out real soon, if not already, for about $200. It's getting rave reviews from everyone who bought it with their K-5's. Check out franks thread here:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/p...ny-photos.html
QuoteOriginally posted by Brangdon:
If you are considering 35mm (and presumably with your 18-55mm you have found the kind of focal length you want), then the obvious suggestion is the new DA L 35mm f/2.4 that became available a week or so ago. Early results sound good, and at around $200 it's relatively cheap for a new, auto-focus prime lens.
Awesome info, Chalion and Brangdon! Both repped.

$200 is in higher end of my budget but for a great prime i think it worth it. How many years warranty does Pentax offer on new lenses? I hope prices will go down little bit in couple month so i can get myself great Christmas gift. =)

What about old manual focus lenses? There aren't any to consider?
10-21-2010, 10:12 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by blackcloudbrew Quote
Um...normally a portrait lens is somewhere in the 70-100mm range. You say you want to go wider than 50mm that seems contradictory because wider will - as least so I believe - give you very unflattering portraits. So do you want a fast indoor lens for portraiture or a wider angle lens for indoor work?
Wider angle lens for indoor work. It's going to be mostly people.
10-21-2010, 10:14 AM   #8
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Have a look at the lens database here, Comprehensive Pentax Lens Listings - Pentax Lens Review Database, especially the M series Primes and the A series Primes. Some of them have high ratings. It seems to me there isn't much choice below 20mm, but there are some between 20mm and 50mm.

10-21-2010, 10:28 AM   #9
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Warning. MATH involved!

What type of portraits and what working distance?

The reason I ask , is that fundamentally, for distances beyond 10X focal length

Image size - subject size * focal length / subject to lens distance

as a result, and considering for digital, you have a horizontal frame or maximum image height of 16mm and for vertical frame 24mm and your p4resent 50mm lens

1) consider an average (well a little taller than average) subject of 2 meters, for a full body shot, and vertical frame, using your 50mm you need 4.1 meters working distance or about 13 feet. This is a worst case,

2) Head and shoulders shots, typically need about ,5 meters subject height and therefore 1/4 the working distance with the 50 mm lens or just over 3 feet.

3) seated shots, probably need 6-9 feet.

except for a very tall person and a full body shot, where I can see 13 feet being problematic, because you also want some background separation, I don't see an issue with the distances.

in fact, I live in a small house and my living room is still 17 feet end to end so I could get away with the 50mm if I had to.

Edit note:

After re reading the posts, you are concerned about space for full body shots, but look again at the spacings you need. For a group, I would not attempt it in your small appartment any way, because it would be too cramped. Better in that case you go to them, but for single portraits, even in a 10 x 10 room the diagonal is 14 feet. Note using the corner may also be a lighting advantage because the walls will act as fill reflectors cutting down on shadows. By changing the reflectiveness or color of one side wall, you could also generate some dramatic differences in lighting.
10-21-2010, 11:02 AM   #10
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You want a true normal focal length, and on ASP-C that is 28mm (on FF it is approximately 43mm, hence the FA 43 LTD).

Luckily the A 28mm 2.8 lens is a real bargain and under-rated. I love it for indoors.

My favorite portrait lens is the K 55 1.8, but it is really best for posed head-and-shoulders work. For full body, the A 28mm 2.8 is a nice focal length. Needs to be stopped down to f4 for good sharpness, but at that aperture is simply blows the kit lens away. F2.8 is usable but a gamble w.r.t critical sharpness.

I find it a little more forgiving than 35mm, however, the 35mm 2.4 would likely be a good choice as well, if you are willing to stand a little further back. The 28mm should also cost at least 1/2 as much (don't buy the 28mm for over 100, a good deal would be in the 50-80 range). All you need to do is manual focus.
10-21-2010, 11:07 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
You want a true normal focal length, and on ASP-C that is 28mm (on FF it is approximately 43mm, hence the FA 43 LTD).

Luckily the A 28mm 2.8 lens is a real bargain and under-rated. I love it for indoors.

My favorite portrait lens is the K 55 1.8, but it is really best for posed head-and-shoulders work. For full body, the A 28mm 2.8 is a nice focal length. Needs to be stopped down to f4 for good sharpness, but at that aperture is simply blows the kit lens away. F2.8 is usable but a gamble w.r.t critical sharpness.

I find it a little more forgiving than 35mm, however, the 35mm 2.4 would likely be a good choice as well, if you are willing to stand a little further back. The 28mm should also cost at least 1/2 as much (don't buy the 28mm for over 100, a good deal would be in the 50-80 range). All you need to do is manual focus.
not to start a fight here, but we have beaten this to death many times. there is no such thing as a "true normal" each definition, i.e. the diagonal of the frame, or what ever other arguments there are that take it between 43mm and 57-58mm for a 35mm frame are simply different opinions.
10-21-2010, 11:09 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
What type of portraits and what working distance?

The reason I ask , is that fundamentally, for distances beyond 10X focal length

Image size - subject size * focal length / subject to lens distance

as a result, and considering for digital, you have a horizontal frame or maximum image height of 16mm and for vertical frame 24mm and your p4resent 50mm lens

1) consider an average (well a little taller than average) subject of 2 meters, for a full body shot, and vertical frame, using your 50mm you need 4.1 meters working distance or about 13 feet. This is a worst case,

2) Head and shoulders shots, typically need about ,5 meters subject height and therefore 1/4 the working distance with the 50 mm lens or just over 3 feet.

3) seated shots, probably need 6-9 feet.

except for a very tall person and a full body shot, where I can see 13 feet being problematic, because you also want some background separation, I don't see an issue with the distances.

in fact, I live in a small house and my living room is still 17 feet end to end so I could get away with the 50mm if I had to.

Edit note:

After re reading the posts, you are concerned about space for full body shots, but look again at the spacings you need. For a group, I would not attempt it in your small appartment any way, because it would be too cramped. Better in that case you go to them, but for single portraits, even in a 10 x 10 room the diagonal is 14 feet. Note using the corner may also be a lighting advantage because the walls will act as fill reflectors cutting down on shadows. By changing the reflectiveness or color of one side wall, you could also generate some dramatic differences in lighting.
Thanks, Lowell. Small apartment maybe much smaller then small house. Maybe portraiture wasn't appropriate word. Think of it as a snaps of people in small/crowded places where you can't have 4m of working distance between lens and ob object.

Also, don't forget that in real life 4.1 is just not enough cause your object is not flat and attached to wall. And there is a person behind lens too which also not flat and attached to wall. So, even with 4.1m distance you need much more working space which i just don't have.
10-21-2010, 11:21 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
You want a true normal focal length, and on ASP-C that is 28mm (on FF it is approximately 43mm, hence the FA 43 LTD).

Luckily the A 28mm 2.8 lens is a real bargain and under-rated. I love it for indoors.

My favorite portrait lens is the K 55 1.8, but it is really best for posed head-and-shoulders work. For full body, the A 28mm 2.8 is a nice focal length. Needs to be stopped down to f4 for good sharpness, but at that aperture is simply blows the kit lens away. F2.8 is usable but a gamble w.r.t critical sharpness.

I find it a little more forgiving than 35mm, however, the 35mm 2.4 would likely be a good choice as well, if you are willing to stand a little further back. The 28mm should also cost at least 1/2 as much (don't buy the 28mm for over 100, a good deal would be in the 50-80 range). All you need to do is manual focus.
Thanks, Paperbag. I was checking A 28mm f2.8 but people complain about softness at wide open. I just need fast sharp lens for indoor work. If i had to stop down to f4 I will loose advantage of fast lens.

Can you say anything about M 35mm f2.8? I found a deal on it for $45 but it has such a bad reviews.
10-21-2010, 11:23 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
Luckily the A 28mm 2.8 lens is a real bargain and under-rated. I love it for indoors.
28mm makes a lot of sense. It's noticeably wider than a 35mm, lower in cost and definitely still a normal lens (no wide angle perspective). A lot easier to handle than an A 50mm too, due to more depth of field.
10-21-2010, 11:31 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
not to start a fight here, but we have beaten this to death many times. there is no such thing as a "true normal" each definition, i.e. the diagonal of the frame, or what ever other arguments there are that take it between 43mm and 57-58mm for a 35mm frame are simply different opinions.
Lowell, in my personal case i think it would be appropriate to use "true normal" definition. When I look at 50mm photos they don't look the same way as if i was looking at that person without lens.

Consider situation: you take photo of your friends sitting across you in couch. When you look at photo you wanna feel the same way as you were when you took photo. When you zoom it is hard to guess how far you were from them that day.

I am not sure if i am clear enough. I just want to feel that i know how far/close i was to people when i took this photo. And i want that distance the same as if i was looking at them without lens. It's hard to explain for me, sorry.
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