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08-29-2011, 02:42 PM   #1
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Best portrait lens of all time?

I am a relatively new Pentax user and I need some advice on which portrait lens is the best in Pentax history...

I am a prime user and I most often have a manual focus lens on the front of my K-5 (M42, M, K...), but, my favourite portrait lens is a Helios 44 (58mm). Unfortunately, this Russian beauty mounts upside down and won't quite make infinity. I am used to using this quirky little devil, but I have a quite important assignment coming up and I was just wondering if there might be a little easier lens in the Pentax world...

I should say that I am an experienced photographer, but way inexperienced with Pentax glass.

Any suggestions?

08-29-2011, 02:45 PM   #2
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The FA 77 Limited is pretty darn good. Its a much better lens than I am a photographer for sure! You also hear folks rave about the Pentax K 135mm. I have its non-SMC brother, the Takumar Bayonet 135mm (still f/2.5 like the Pentax K version), and it is also quite good.
08-29-2011, 02:48 PM   #3
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I'm sorry, you said the Helios focuses not into infinity? Have you tried another body, or another adapter?

If you liked the Helios, you would also like the 50's Takumars
08-29-2011, 02:54 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by minahasa Quote
I'm sorry, you said the Helios focuses not into infinity? Have you tried another body, or another adapter?

If you liked the Helios, you would also like the 50's Takumars
No, it won't quite make it... it won't on my Olympus gear either... I may try shopping a new M39-42 adapter... Thanks!

08-29-2011, 03:08 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by ronpyke Quote
No, it won't quite make it... it won't on my Olympus gear either... I may try shopping a new M39-42 adapter... Thanks!
What kind of Helios 44 you have? Not in the M42 mount? If you have a M39 lens, using M39- M42 adapter and attaching another M42-K adapter (or direct M39-K adapter) will not always give you infinity. Some M39 lens are just designed different.

I had trouble with my 3rd party M42-K adapter once, but then I got the original Asahi and everything as it suppose to be
08-29-2011, 03:13 PM   #6
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best portrait lens of all time?
This will boil down to FA77ltd, A*85/1.4 with FA*85/1.4 and DA*55/1.4 as possible contenders...
08-29-2011, 03:15 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by minahasa Quote
What kind of Helios 44 you have? Not in the M42 mount? If you have a M39 lens, using M39- M42 adapter and attaching another M42-K adapter (or direct M49-K adapter) will not always give you infinity.

I had trouble with my 3rd party M42-K adapter once, but then I got the original Asahi and everything as it suppose to be
I have a Pentax original M42 adapter.

The lens is a first series Helios 44, M39 mount, so, I must use an M39 - M42 adapter ring on the lens to get it to fit...
08-29-2011, 03:17 PM   #8
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A sample at 'infinity' can be seen here

08-29-2011, 03:26 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by ronpyke Quote
I have a Pentax original M42 adapter.

The lens is a first series Helios 44, M39 mount, so, I must use an M39 - M42 adapter ring on the lens to get it to fit...
The silver version I presume?
M39 flange distance is 28.80 mm, whereas the M42/K is 45.46 mm. Different design for different camera and usage. This is a problem that can't be fixed by adapter alone Have tried the M42 Helioses? I have a feeling that they will give quite the same performance as the M39 one. Easily acquired and quite cheap, and will save you from a lot of trouble

Last edited by minahasa; 08-29-2011 at 03:36 PM.
08-29-2011, 03:57 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by minahasa Quote
The silver version I presume?
M39 flange distance is 28.80 mm, whereas the M42/K is 45.46 mm.
Canon & Leica M39 are 28mm.

Zenit M39 is 45.46mm.
08-29-2011, 04:08 PM   #11
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IMO for Pentax at least,
Overall: Pentax-FA* 85mm F1.4 [IF] Reviews - FA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
Currently available: Pentax-FA 77mm F1.8 Limited Reviews - FA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

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08-29-2011, 04:17 PM   #12
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on 35mm film/sensors the FA*85mm f/1.4 is arguably the best on APS-C the 50mm f/1.2 because of it's sheer speed.
08-29-2011, 04:21 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Canon & Leica M39 are 28mm.

Zenit M39 is 45.46mm.
Yes, I'm referring to LTM.
Helios 4 M39 is possible to become useful on K mount cameras, if using correct lens and correct adapter(s) a bad combo will screw infinity, in all that will be more sweat than getting a correct Helios 4 M42

As for the Original Poster, those lenses suggested by others in this thread are really worth looking. But, since you said that you feel Helios is good enough, I say you are into something that is Pentax' strength: Price/Performance. IMHO AF lenses delivers what you paid for, while MF lenses delivers more.. but you already knows that

Last edited by minahasa; 08-29-2011 at 04:34 PM.
08-29-2011, 04:48 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by minahasa Quote
The silver version I presume?
M39 flange distance is 28.80 mm, whereas the M42/K is 45.46 mm. Different design for different camera and usage. This is a problem that can't be fixed by adapter alone Have tried the M42 Helioses? I have a feeling that they will give quite the same performance as the M39 one. Easily acquired and quite cheap, and will save you from a lot of trouble
Helios lenses that came in M39 mount were not for Leica cameras, so they did not have a 28.80 mm registration distance. They were designed for Zenit SLRs from that time period (before they switched to the M42 mount), and their registration distance was 45.2 mm. That makes it so that they don't quite manage infinity on a Pentax K mount. The difference being so slight makes it so that sometimes it is possible to recalibrate them to focus to infinity on a K mount.
08-29-2011, 06:07 PM   #15
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