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04-04-2011, 06:40 PM   #1
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prime lenses for street, portraits, medium closeups etc.

Hi everyone,

Just received my 12-24mm and DA* 16-50mm.
The 12-24mm seems great, but the beautiful 16-50mm is too heavy - I'm only 5''1 around 100lbs, carrying it is like a workout for me! It's embarrassing, I know I guess I could work out those biceps to live up to the 16-50mm, but I have another idea in mind - I want to try out some of those lightweight, super sharp primes!

So, any recommendations? I'm a beginner, but have been improving quickly with the 18-55mm and am starting to use the camera for business purposes.
1. The 12-24mm will be for landscapes, got that covered.
2. So I'm looking for a prime that will reside on my K7 most of the time for street and portraits
3. And possibly another prime for some close-up shots as well (for my online handicrafts/artworks shop), extreme telephoto (bug legs, flower stems etc.) is not necessary, but 50mm was not enough.

I'm very OCD about IQ.
(I'd also like to start learning film for street photography, if that's relevant at all.)

Thanks! Any tips about learning to work with primes are also appreciated. You guys are great and this is one of my favorite forums!

04-04-2011, 07:26 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by ardentartichoke Quote
Hi everyone,

Just received my 12-24mm and DA* 16-50mm.
The 12-24mm seems great, but the beautiful 16-50mm is too heavy - I'm only 5''1 around 100lbs, carrying it is like a workout for me! It's embarrassing, I know I guess I could work out those biceps to live up to the 16-50mm, but I have another idea in mind - I want to try out some of those lightweight, super sharp primes!

So, any recommendations? I'm a beginner, but have been improving quickly with the 18-55mm and am starting to use the camera for business purposes.
1. The 12-24mm will be for landscapes, got that covered.
2. So I'm looking for a prime that will reside on my K7 most of the time for street and portraits
3. And possibly another prime for some close-up shots as well (for my online handicrafts/artworks shop), extreme telephoto (bug legs, flower stems etc.) is not necessary, but 50mm was not enough.

I'm very OCD about IQ.
(I'd also like to start learning film for street photography, if that's relevant at all.)

Thanks! Any tips about learning to work with primes are also appreciated. You guys are great and this is one of my favorite forums!
I thought you had already used the 16-50?
04-04-2011, 07:31 PM   #3
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Try:

The DA L 35 f2.4 (best bang for the buck)
DA 35 Macro (macro, ultimate flexibility)
DA 40 Pancake (super small, fastest AF, ultra contrast)

My personal fav is the 40 due to focal length (but I actually ended up selling it in favor of a 50).

In the end though, any of these make for good general purpose lenses and/or head and shoulders portraits (not headshots though, without cropping).
04-04-2011, 07:32 PM   #4
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Since you are fanatical about IQ and want to shoot film as well as digital, then I think that the obvious choices are either the FA 31/1.8 or the FA 43/1.9 Limiteds. These are FF lenses, so you can figure out the focal length equivalents on APS-C. As you may already know, the FA Limiteds are legendary for their speed, sharpness at all apertures and uniquely beautiful rendering. I have all three in the series (the other is the FA 77/1.8,) and I can attest to their superb quality.

As far as learning to shoot with primes, I think that the best exercise is to limit yourself to a single lens for a period of time, so that you will train your brain to see at that particular focal length. After a while, you begin to compose and frame photos very naturally and without even thinking of any other focal lengths.

Now about shooting with film: Are you sure that you want to experience the tedium of scanning slides or negatives? If you have never had the pleasure of this activity, I would say that it is one that you can well afford to miss. Also, the quality of any entry level DSLR is better than what you can get with 35mm film. My advice is to take a pass on it, but the choice is yours.

Rob

04-04-2011, 07:36 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by DogLover Quote
I thought you had already used the 16-50?
Hi it's you again! No, I ordered it over the weekend. You don't remember that you were one of the people who convinced me to get it?

Last edited by ardentartichoke; 04-04-2011 at 07:47 PM.
04-04-2011, 07:39 PM   #6
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I agree with Robgo2. The FA31mm is definitely a prime lens to consider. It is fast (f1.8), wide enough for street photography and close enough for portrait. It is my favorite prime lens for the K-7. The IQ is outstanding and the lens speed is a blessing with the K-7.

For close-up portrait I prefer around the 50-60mm focal length range personally.

However you would not get wrong with the FA limited. I know that there is alot of debat on DA Ltd vs FA Ltd, but the reputation is the FA Ltd is a long-lasting success story. For example, the A31mm has the highest score in the in-depth reviews of this Forum.

Food for throughts....
04-04-2011, 07:44 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by ardentartichoke Quote
Hi it's you again! No, I ordered it over the weekend. You don't remember that you were one of the people who convinced me to get it?
Yeah, I do. But I could have sworn that you said you had used it before and really loved it. I guess you had just meant that you looked at images taken with it. As zooms go, it's really not that big, but if it's still too big, then you should stick to primes if IQ is really important to you. When you said 50mm is not enough, did you mean that it wasn't long enough? If so, then the only primes that are not big and heavy choices are the 70, 77, and 100. All are good.
04-04-2011, 08:07 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
However you would not get wrong with the FA limited. I know that there is alot of debat on DA Ltd vs FA Ltd, but the reputation is the FA Ltd is a long-lasting success story. For example, the A31mm has the highest score in the in-depth reviews of this Forum.

Food for throughts....
Right now I only have enough money and time for digital and for improving general photography skills, but film is definitely something I want to try in the future, there's something about the quality of film that Photoshop can't seem to help acquire! That said, I would be open to non-Pentax film cameras when I do get a filmcam, so I don't necessarily have to get the film-compatible FAs now, right? But should I still stick to FA Ltd over DA Ltd because as hcc said, FA just has a better history in general? Those low f numbers are indeed very attractive...

And what about FA 50mm vs. DA* 55mm?

DogLover, yes I only looked at sample photos, sorry for the miscommunication. With regards to the 16-50mm's size - my hands started to shake after 20min of holding it, works better for me than dumbbells.. That's not my main issue though, if I really set my mind on it I would just work those muscles for the 16-50mm! But now I just want to try some primes.. also want something less conspicuous for street and traveling. As Rob said I also want to stick to a focal length and practice my composition skills.

QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
Try:

My personal fav is the 40 due to focal length (but I actually ended up selling it in favor of a 50).
Paperbag, why did you swap the 40 for the 50, merely for the focal length or something else? It seems like a decision that I have to make now.

04-04-2011, 08:16 PM   #9
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My 43mm Ltd is plenty small light with amazing IQ. If you want wider, I'm sure the FA31, or the DA21 would do fine as well.
04-04-2011, 10:15 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ardentartichoke Quote
3. And possibly another prime for some close-up shots as well (for my online handicrafts/artworks shop), extreme telephoto (bug legs, flower stems etc.) is not necessary, but 50mm was not enough.
Note that telephoto has nothing to do with ability to take pictures of bug legs and flower stems. You are thinking of "macro". That can be done with long focal lengths *or* short. It's just that with short focal lengths, you'll be shooting from close up. Think microscope as opposed to telescope and you have the right idea. If the 50 you had wasn't working for this purpose, it would be because it couldn't focus close enough, not because it isn't long enough.

With that in mind, the DA35 seems the natural choice to me - makes a good general purpose prime but also does macro.
04-04-2011, 10:44 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by ardentartichoke Quote
Paperbag, why did you swap the 40 for the 50, merely for the focal length or something else? It seems like a decision that I have to make now.
I had a bunch of lenses, and sold almost all of them. The few I kept were *all* compromises aside from the DA 15, which has no real rival (well, I could go with the 16-45, but I like the DA 15's side for indoors).

Why the 50 then? Well, the 40 is fast enough about 90% of the time, and a better focal length, but I found myself swapping for the K55 for lower dof every once and a while, and I began wanting an autofocus portrait lens. So I replaced my preferred focal length with one that was much more flexible for the dollar. The IQ of the 40 was great... but so is the 50, and it gave me a lot of DOF control, at the minor cost (to me) of a slightly long focal length.

The major advantage of the 40, in all honesty, is not IQ (unless you really care about corner sharpness). If you stop them both down to f 4 they are both insanely sharp. The difference is convenience / size / usability. I don't think I'll ever use an easier to handle lens than the DA 40.

The 50 *is* too narrow for a lot of impromptu shots that the 40 would be better for, but my current strategy is to suck it up and use the kit lens in those sorts of situations.

For you, though, the DA 35 Macro would be a good investment.
04-05-2011, 12:06 AM   #12
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How big are those handycraft 'things'? If you're talking subjects that are around 1cm big and you want them to fill the frame (photo), you need a lens that can do close to 1:1 magnification (macro). You can obviously do with 1:2 or 1:3 and crop non-relevant parts away.

If your handycraft 'stuff' is bigger, it matters less. The Limiteds do between approx. 1:7 and 1:8

And I'm (still) wondering why you bought the 16-50 while it's shorter and magnifies less than the 18-55 (unable to zoom in was one of your major complaints about the lens). IQ yes, but the best lens in the world will not work if you can't achieve the results you want.

Good luck in the decisions.
04-05-2011, 03:23 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by ardentartichoke Quote
Right now I only have enough money and time for digital and for improving general photography skills, but film is definitely something I want to try in the future, there's something about the quality of film that Photoshop can't seem to help acquire! That said, I would be open to non-Pentax film cameras when I do get a filmcam, so I don't necessarily have to get the film-compatible FAs now, right? But should I still stick to FA Ltd over DA Ltd because as hcc said, FA just has a better history in general? Those low f numbers are indeed very attractive...
I guess that you are one of those people who has to learn from his own experience. Fine, but as one who shot and scanned film for five years, I prefer digital without any hesitation, both for process and results. Now perhaps you see yourself as a darkroom person, eschewing the magic of digital manipulation. That is a whole different ballgame and one that some people find enjoyable. It can produce excellent results but cannot compare to the power and ease of digital editing.

Returning to your possible lens choices, I still recommend either the 31 or 43 Limited, if they are within your budget. They are both gorgeous and will hold their value over the years.

Rob
04-05-2011, 06:27 AM   #14
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May I mention manual focus lenses (MFLs)? They generally cost less. With some astute eBaying, a set of great glass can be acquired for rather little money. For portraits and 'scapes, AF isn't really needed. Ditto for macro. For street shooting, a cheap 21/3.8 set to f/11 and prefocused to 2m for DOF from 1m to infinity, does wonders. Et cetera -- the list of candidate lenses is nearly infinite. And once you start putting ultra-sharp ultra-cheap enlarger lenses on bellows, you are doomed.
04-05-2011, 06:38 AM   #15
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I'll add a plus one on the FA31 or 43 for the street shooting walkabout. I would lean to the 31 myself it's an almost perfect length for that type of thing (In my bag nmy favourite is the 28 i use for that).
Moving on to Macro the DFA50 f2.8 is going to give you good macro and be capable as a street lens as well (50 is the other length i like for street, but it is more street portraiture)
If you can go to 2 lenses then the DFA100 is a top notch macro (and will have other uses as well like portraits) and the 31 would be a good pair)

If you are really serious about prime shooting I would buy the 3 FA ltds and a DFA100 and get rid of the 16-50 since the 12-24 covers the WA/UWA for you


Edit - Of course as Rico point out the MF option is another route. there are some seriously good old lenses out there - my street lens is the M 28 f3.5, not the fastest but razor sharp. for the price of the Fa31ltd you could have an entire range of top notch MF primes, with change for a film body to use with them )
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