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12-11-2011, 11:39 AM   #1
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What is the Best Focal Length for a Portrait Lens?

I would like to know what the best focal length is for a portrait lens and am very interested in what people's options are on the best Pentax portrait lenses old and new.

Thank you!

12-11-2011, 11:41 AM   #2
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I've used a Sigma 28mm and have been very pleased with it's performance. I love my Pentax 55mm, but it's a bit long for my tastes in that respect.
12-11-2011, 11:49 AM   #3
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the 50mm-70mm range has been pretty good for me on the APS-C format.
12-11-2011, 12:08 PM   #4
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It is dependent on what type of portraits you would like to create. If you'd like to shoot portraits that emphasize the subject's environment (environmental portraiture), a wider lens would be useful. If you prefer to isolate your subject, longer focal lengths are helpful. I like the M85 f2 a lot, but it can be difficult to focus on moving subjects.

If you look through the lens sample database on this site, you should be able to find out which lenses you prefer.

12-11-2011, 12:09 PM   #5
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I enjoy the "Pentax A 50mm 1.4", stopped down just a bit. It does require a large room if you are shooting indoors and want distance to the background, lighting and such.
12-11-2011, 12:34 PM   #6
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Assuming you mean the head and shoulder shots, the most common focal lengths range from ~80mm to ~130mm on FF with a relatively fast lens. For APS-C format that would include anything from 50mm to around 85mm.

This is not a hard and fast rule. You can use pretty much anything you feel comfortable with as long as it's not too wide. Luckily there are a lot of options. They include the 55mm f/1.4, 77mm f/1.8, the 70mm f/2.4 the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 to name a few. And that's not even counting all the older lenses.

I use a 70mm f/2.4 or my Vivitar 85mm f/1.4 for those kind of shots.
12-11-2011, 12:45 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Drom Quote
What is the Best Focal Length for a Portrait Lens?
THE BEST IS THE ONE THAT WORKS THE BEST FOR YOU!

This topic has been discussed a ga'zillion times here and on other forums and it ends up being pages upon pages upon pages of posts with always the same posts, the same posts being the users (the person posting the reply) current high dollar lenses in their bags.

What lenses are not good for portrait work:

UWA lenses are generally not good
Mirror lenses
Long primes are generally not good

For me, I like my 85 1.4 and the DA*50~135...





.
12-11-2011, 12:46 PM   #8
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Original Poster
Thank you everyone. Sorry I didn't specify. I am interested in having one that would be good for head shots. Most of the lenses I will collect will be for wildlife images, because that is my primary interest, but I want to have one lens that will be great for images of people.

12-11-2011, 12:54 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Drom Quote
but I want to have one lens that will be great for images of people
I suggest the DA*50~135mm -> Pentax-DA* 50-135mm F2.8 ED [IF] SDM Reviews - DA Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

Very good lens; incredible IQ, stunning bokeh, relatively fast...
12-11-2011, 01:01 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Drom Quote
Thank you everyone. Sorry I didn't specify. I am interested in having one that would be good for head shots. Most of the lenses I will collect will be for wildlife images, because that is my primary interest, but I want to have one lens that will be great for images of people.
With only one the suggested 50-135mm is a good choice I think.

I use different lenses and maybe DA*55 is my best one. Also use Da40mm and FA*85mm (getting on the long side starting to compress the image, but a fantastic lens).

Made some portraits at a demonstration yesterday with FA*85mm:


Also used DA*55 and that is a great performer.
12-11-2011, 01:11 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by joe.penn Quote
THE BEST IS THE ONE THAT WORKS THE BEST FOR YOU!

This topic has been discussed a ga'zillion times here and on other forums and it ends up being pages upon pages upon pages of posts with always the same posts, the same posts being the users (the person posting the reply) current high dollar lenses in their bags.

What lenses are not good for portrait work:

UWA lenses are generally not good
Mirror lenses
Long primes are generally not good

For me, I like my 85 1.4 and the DA*50~135...





.
That's half the fun of these types of questions!
12-11-2011, 02:04 PM   #12
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I use Sigma 30mm 1.4, DA40mm ltd, FA50mm 1.4, DA70mm ltd and Rokinon 85mm 1.4 as portrait lenses.
12-11-2011, 02:13 PM   #13
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I was going to spew my usual rant about DEFINE PORTRAIT and ANY LENS CAN BE USED but now I see you DID define portrait as HEADSHOT so I can give an abridged response re: APS-C cameras. Whew.

My favorite formal portraiture zoom is an old M42 Sears-Tokina 55-135/3.5. Great head+shoulders primes include almost any Fast Fifty. Great headshot primes include almost anything in the 70-110mm range, including enlarger lenses on extension. For a little more working distance (depending on comfort levels of shooter and subject) go up to 120-135-150mm. The only Pentax lenses I have that fit the bill include K50/1.2; FA50/1.4; M50/1.7; SuperTak 50/1.4, 55/1.8, 105/2.8, and various M and SuperTak 135s in f/2.5-3.5.

If the background is back a bit or darkened, my favorite is a Vivitar-LU 75/3.5 enlarger lens on macro tubes. Cost: under US$15 total.

Last edited by RioRico; 12-11-2011 at 02:38 PM.
12-11-2011, 02:16 PM   #14
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For headshots, I would go with something in the 85-120 range. Subject isolation is key for this type of shot.
12-11-2011, 02:30 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Drom Quote
I would like to know what the best focal length is for a portrait lens and am very interested in what people's options are on the best Pentax portrait lenses old and new.

Thank you!
Apart from your OP question, here are some threads that should keep you busy for a while:

portrait lens - Search Results - PentaxForums.com

JP
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