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01-20-2011, 01:37 PM   #1
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100mm Macro WR for Portraits?

I already have the FA50mm 1.4 and I usually enjoy the results I get from it. I am shopping for a longer portrait (head & shoulders) lens and I have narrowed it down to 2 choices:

D FA 100mm WR Macro
- circular bokeh
-it would be nice to have a macro lens for hiking
-maybe a bit too long for portraits? (especially indoor)
-slower focusing

FA 77mm
-excellent reputation
-pixie dust!
-no quick shift

I have read every 77mm vs 70mm thread, and I really do want both. But at this time I would choose the 77 over the 70 so I'd like to keep that lens out of the runnings for now.

I am leaning towards the 100 macro, as it would be a very useful lens. My concern is that it might be difficult for portrait work, though I don't mind manually focusing if I have to.

I'm just looking to hear user experiences and see more portraits from the 100mm macro before I decide.

Thanks!


Last edited by cmmurray; 01-20-2011 at 02:12 PM.
01-20-2011, 02:04 PM   #2
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I haven't shot a portrait since my studio class 50 years ago, but allow me to chime in with my 2 bits worth. A portrait lens used to be thought of as 70-100 with 85 probably the all around favorite. This was because of the nature of the distortion in those lenses. If you think in the old 35mm lenses 50-55 mm was thought of as closest to the way things actually look to the human eye. That shouldn't change with the smaller sensor. Photographers used to go with the 85's on their 645's as well. Really long zooms flatten reality. Really wide angle lenses accentuate distances along the horizontal axis moving away from the camera. So your 100 is at the top of that although I can think of a few guys who preferred the 105mm lenses, so definitely still in the ball park. After that , it's all about your style. I know I've heard before , with the C sensor 50 is the new 70, but I'm guessing you still don't want to be shooting portraits with a 50. And I'm guessing a 100 would still work. But given the size of the sensor I would think the 70 to 85 range would probably be easier to work with, functionally.

The above post is completely theoretical, and I haven't thought about it long enough to be sure I'm right. Let's hope some working portrait guys jump in here. This might get things started for you though. Examples are always nice.
01-20-2011, 02:13 PM   #3
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The lenses don't distort. It's the camera to subject distance which makes one FL more optimum than another for portraits.

85 was so optimum for FF because it let you get back enough without the heavy flattening of longer lenses. A 50 at the same distance would result in the same, more or less, facial features and contours, but filling a much smaller percentage of the frame.

This is what I've learned here about this, and I'm open to debate on this issue. But when I first heard it, it was a real revelation.
01-20-2011, 02:18 PM   #4
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Would you consider the Tamron SP 90mm f2.8 Di Macro as a third option?

Of course, it would satisfy the macro option you like and the focal length is nearly right in the middle of the Pentax 100mm and 77mm. The image quality is quite good - check Photozone.de for a comparison with the Pentax 100mm macro, as I believe the Tamron beats it in terms of border and corner sharpness.

Plus, the Tamron has a "clutch" quick-shift system. It takes some getting used to if you've never used it before, but that's easy enough.

I got mine during rebate season, and I've been very happy with it.

01-20-2011, 02:27 PM - 1 Like   #5
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The last thing on my mind when I bought the 100mm macro was portraits, but I found out by accident it is one of the best portrait lenses, for head shots at least. Besides the great bokeh and a better working distance, it gives the best and smoothest flesh tone of any lens I own.
01-20-2011, 02:30 PM   #6
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QuoteQuote:
The last thing on my mind when I bought the 100mm macro was portraits, but I found out by accident it is one of the best portrait lenses, for head shots at least. Besides the great bokeh and a better working distance, it gives the best and smoothest flesh tone of any lens I own.
Now there's some information for you.
01-20-2011, 02:33 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ron Kruger Quote
The last thing on my mind when I bought the 100mm macro was portraits, but I found out by accident it is one of the best portrait lenses, for head shots at least. Besides the great bokeh and a better working distance, it gives the best and smoothest flesh tone of any lens I own.
+1. This is true of both the 100WR and FA100/macro. Both take great head shots (IMO). Even against great glass like the FA77 and FA*85, the 100WR holds it's own.
01-20-2011, 02:38 PM   #8
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I would consider the 90mm tamron but I like the WR feature of the pentax. (I'm also a sucker for metal lenses). How does the IQ compare?

01-20-2011, 02:41 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by dgaies Quote
+1. This is true of both the 100WR and FA100/macro. Both take great head shots (IMO). Even against great glass like the FA77 and FA*85, the 100WR holds it's own.
What Ron and Daniel said.
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01-20-2011, 02:41 PM   #10
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QuoteQuote:
The lenses don't distort.
QuoteQuote:
the heavy flattening of longer lenses
I guess that heavy flattening isn't distortion.. Ok so, what's your word for it?
01-20-2011, 02:41 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ron Kruger Quote
The last thing on my mind when I bought the 100mm macro was portraits, but I found out by accident it is one of the best portrait lenses, for head shots at least. Besides the great bokeh and a better working distance, it gives the best and smoothest flesh tone of any lens I own.
I'm sold!
01-20-2011, 02:46 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by cmmurray Quote
I would consider the 90mm tamron but I like the WR feature of the pentax. (I'm also a sucker for metal lenses). How does the IQ compare?
I owned the Tamron 90/macro before buying the 100WR. IQ is excellent on both, you can't really go wrong with either in terms of IQ. The 100WR is more compact, better built (feel like a DA limited) and WR. Also, the quick-shift feature of the 100WR is nice to have. The clutch on the Tamron works ok, but you still have to flip the body switch too, which makes it a bit more cumbersome.
01-20-2011, 02:49 PM - 1 Like   #13
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Long ago, when photography was my job, I shot numerous (un)official portraits using film cameras of various formats: 135/HF (half-frame, same as APS-C), 135/FF, 6x6cm, and 6x9cm. In each format, my favorite lens was 80-85mm, although I also shot portraits (then and now) with anything between 50-110mm, and almost any other focal length at times.

Don't worry about how various FL's 'crop' on each frame size: 75-90mm gives a nice roundness. 50mm and shorter starts to introduce perspective distortion if too close; 120 and longer flattens the features. That's not necessarily bad, as some features *need* flattening, or you just might want that effect, or that distance. Depending on subject+distance+light, I may use almost anything between 60-110, especially enlarger or projector lenses on bellows or a fixed-distance mount. I shot on-street portraits a couple days ago with a very vintage Enna Tele-Sandmar (Argus) 100/4.5 with good results. Next time I may use a B135/2.5 or a Vivitar-Komine 90/2.8 macro for facials, and a F35-70 for body shots. Whatever.

Another consideration: AF isn't necessary for non-impromptu portraits (snapshots) where you control lights, angles, distance, etc. That's why I'll use a 75/3.5 enlarger lens on bellows. For street shots, I may use Catch-In-Focus, or just pre-focus at a desired distance.

So you can't go wrong with anything in the 75-90 range. You also won't be sorry using a 100mm. Then there's the sharpness issue: macros are very sharp, and many 'portrait' lenses aren't, but you can soften an image in PP. If it was me, I'd go for the 100 WR as more of a general purpose tool. 100mm works well for on APS-C headshots from around 2m, not terribly far even indoors.

But here's a test: Borrow or rent something that covers 35-135mm. Use a live or dummy model and try some test shots at different FL's and distances. Remember that a shorter FL needs the background further away to keep it from intruding. Determine your comfort zone.
01-20-2011, 02:58 PM   #14
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Heres a good example. A kid is a small object but i think the DOF and FOV can be good enough for portraits like this.


Is this how my son looks to me?

Well, thats up to me and not to you

But in this (my) case with my son, i feel better picturing him with shorter lenses like.....

...with the DA 40.
Bordering on being to close, but its still good because children tend to look just as cute in 40mm as in 100mm


I guess this is a good example of what focal lenghts do to faces. Look at his nose and eyes in both pictures (dont look at the cheeks though ). I spend a lot of time being very close to his face so naturaly i feel that the 40 mm picture feels more like home.

But still..... the D-FA 100 WR is an great lens wich can do anything. Macro, nature tele, portraits. It would be the best bang for the buck IMO.

Last edited by the swede; 01-20-2011 at 03:16 PM.
01-20-2011, 03:29 PM   #15
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I have the FA77 & FA100/2.8 Macro. On both film and digital, I have found the macro produce sharper portraits and better bokeh in any situations. The problem with the FA77 is that the border really suffers on digital until f4 and PF can be a surprise sometimes. Also, it has bright-ring bokeh while the macro is neutral. On the -ve side, the macro is rather heavy at 600g and manual focus is not as nice. I reckon the latest 100WR should be much nicer though but it's based on the DFA optics so its characteristics might be different. BTW, I think the 100 is still alright for indoor unless you try to do full length portrait.
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