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02-28-2011, 07:58 AM   #1
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Best budget autofocus zoom for portraits?

Hello,

My wife loves taking portraits and is real good at it with the kit 50-200 lens.

I would like to get her something better, though.
I can spend ca. 200-250 USD for this. Maybe less spending would be better...

What can fit as long as:
- zoom
- autofocus
- for portraiture

Could it be the DA-L 55-300?
or
FA 28-105?
FA 70-200?
FA 100-300 f4.7-5.8?

Help me to choose or find a better one
thanks...

02-28-2011, 10:40 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by dylan73 Quote
Hello,

My wife loves taking portraits and is real good at it with the kit 50-200 lens.

I would like to get her something better, though.
I can spend ca. 200-250 USD for this. Maybe less spending would be better...

What can fit as long as:
- zoom
- autofocus
- for portraiture

Could it be the DA-L 55-300?
or
FA 28-105?
FA 70-200?
FA 100-300 f4.7-5.8?

Help me to choose or find a better one
thanks...
Try a used FA/F 50 1.7 or 1.4, there are several on the market for that price. The DA (L) 50-200 isn't a terrible portrait lens, but a used fast 50 is most likely your best bet.

Or get an older prime for like $40 on ebay and use live view fully zoomed in to focus. It makes focusing very easy so long as your subject stays still
02-28-2011, 10:42 AM   #3
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The 55-300 is a better lens than the 50-200, but there is nothing wrong with the 50-200 lens. What are you looking to improve on with a different lens?
02-28-2011, 01:04 PM   #4
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Being that she has a competent zoom, get her a 50mm f1.7 or 1.4 lens.

02-28-2011, 01:16 PM   #5
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MF being out of the question I'd go for a second hand Pentax 50mm. If that can be reconsidered there are cheaper options in slightly longer focal lengths as well; also a Tamron 28-75 1:2.8 would seem like worth checking out.
02-28-2011, 01:37 PM   #6
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Like others, I suggest a fast prime. Something between 50mm and 85mm would be appropriate. It it must be a zoom, perhaps the DA*50-135. It's f2.8 with decent bokeh, so would help isolate the subject used wide open. It's not cheap, but anything cheap will not be much better than the DA50-200 for portraits.
02-28-2011, 01:51 PM   #7
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for a zoom, I think you have to push your budget a bit more around $500 max. I would recommend the Tamron 28-75.
02-28-2011, 02:09 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pentaxor Quote
for a zoom, I think you have to push your budget a bit more around $500 max. I would recommend the Tamron 28-75.

If it has to be a zoom, then that makes sense. I'd still look for a prime, though.

02-28-2011, 02:49 PM   #9
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If you can find it, the F 35-135.

SMC Pentax-F 35-135mm F3.5-4.5 Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Reviews & Pentax Lens Database
02-28-2011, 03:27 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
If you can find it, the F 35-135
Second that, I had one, it was quite sharp. Unfortunately, the build quality on my copy was not very good (barrell wobbled something terrible, but still took good photos), so sold it.

There's a copy of the F 35-135 being sold on the marketplace right now:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photographic-equipment-sale/131987-sale-s...3-5-4-5-a.html

Last edited by selar; 02-28-2011 at 05:27 PM.
03-01-2011, 12:54 AM   #11
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The F 35-135 sounds interesting, thanks. But:
I read that it is really good at f5.6 at wide end and at f8 at telephoto end.

How does that compare to the abilities of others, like the 55-300?
Perhaps that is better at 4-5.6...?
03-01-2011, 07:21 PM   #12
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I know I said I recalled the F 35-135 as being very good, but I also recall that one of the reasons I sold it, apart from the barrell being wobbly, is that the DA 50-200 was equally good with more range. If you are not satisfied with DA 50-200 perhaps it is time to go to a prime, as others have suggested. But as your question is regarding best budget autofocus zoom for portraits, I consider the DA 50-200 (what you already have) as the best Pentax budget zoom for your purpose. I am sure that there are other manufacturers that make better budget zooms, but I have a thing for Pentax glass and will very rarely even think about a third party lens, unless its very special.
03-01-2011, 09:51 PM   #13
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OK, get that hate-mail ready:

I've just referred to a classic old (1961) Kodak booklet, STUDIO TECHNIQUES FOR PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY (Kodak Professional Data Book No. O-4). It barely mentions lenses. It merely suggests that for head-and-shoulders shots, use a lens whose focal length is 1.5 to 2 times the frame diagonal; for 3/4 portrait work, use a lens of focal length equal to the side plus the height of the frame. For a Pentax APS-C frame, that's 42-56mm for H&S, and 39mm for 3/4 portraits. I'll extrapolate that for tighter head shots, focal length should be around 3 times the focal length; for APS-C, that's 84mm.

THE REST OF THE BOOKLET IS ABOUT LIGHTING!! Oh, there are basics about poses, make-up, backgrounds, etc. But lighting is key. Broad lighting, short lighting, butterfly lighting, etc. Photography means "drawing with light" and light is what makes or breaks a picture. Anyone here remember the hierarchy of photographic elements? In descending order of importance:

1) photographer
2) subject
3) light
4) lens
5) camera

Kodak seems to flip numbers 2 and 3, ie, good lighting can improve even a lousy subject. Whatever the exact order, light is more important than lens. A cheap sharp old F35-70 or F35-105 fits that portrait range just right. For studio portraits, AF isn't even needed -- an A35-70 or A35-105 would be fine. Beyond that, invest in lights.

PS: And what do *I* use now? Sometimes an old Sears-Tokina 55-135/3.5 that cost me eight bucks, shipped. And sometimes a weird Industar-58/U 75/3.5 enlarger-projector lens, mounted with a fixed focus of about 1.5m. That sucker set me back US$21, shipped from Kiyev. You want sharp? They just don't come any sharper. But its big black horn is a bit scary. Use it to intimidate subjects, heh heh.

Last edited by RioRico; 03-01-2011 at 10:04 PM.
03-01-2011, 09:59 PM   #14
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A fast fifty and a decent flash, whether auto or manual - needs some know-how to get it to work, but for the price, you can't get better results.
03-01-2011, 10:01 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
OK, get that hate-mail ready:
You are not getting any hate mail from me as I couldnt agree more. The OP should invest his money on lighting as he already has a pretty good lens.
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