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08-29-2011, 08:43 AM   #16
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Location: Limbo, California
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My favourite portrait-people zoom is an old M42 Sears-Tokina 55-135/3.5 that cost me eight bucks shipped. Its modern counterpart would be the DA*50-135/2.8 which unfortunately costs about 100x that price. Ouch. But while that's a good people range, from full-body to headshots, it's not a good general-purpose focal range. IMHO the best and most flexible walkaround lens is the DA18-250, mentioned above, probably about half the cost of the *50-135. But it's not a great portraiture lens. Oh bother...

What's a good portrait lens? That depends on how you define 'portrait'! For formal shoots in controlled conditions, AF and AE aren't really necessary, so my Sears-Tokina does fine. For impromptu and street shoots, AF really helps; and speed is always good. But fast new AF zooms ain't cheap. As a craft vendor in Guatemala asked me, "How much you wanna pay?"

As mentioned above, the kit DA18-55 is fine within its range and limitations -- but not for much portraiture, nor beach shoots. The DA18-250 or (more limited range) DA55-300 would be good for beach shots, but not portraits. A common low-cost portrait solution is a set of fast manual primes: 55/1.8 or 58/2, 85/2, 105/2.8, 135/2.8, stuff like that. Some of these are still quite inexpensive (and some ain't!) but they have qualities that zooms can't match. And macros in the 90-105mm range are popular for headshots.

My recommendation: Think about how much you need AF, and how much you can spend. You may need multiple lenses. Welcome to LBA!

Last edited by RioRico; 08-29-2011 at 08:52 AM.

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