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12-21-2011, 04:32 PM   #1
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I know its been asked before but F 50mm / DAL 35mm f2.4 / 16-45mm

I currently own a Pentax-F 50mm f1.7 which I get on with but have a job coming up soon shooting portraits from table to table. I don't know if the 50mm will be too long a focal length and maybe either selling it to fund a 35mm f2.4 or just buying one out right?

Does anything one how much distortion the 35mm gives when shooting portraits fairly close up or even better if they have any images like this they could share ?

My last quandrum is do I really need a 35mm as I have that focal length covered by my 16-45mm and wide open at f4 its sharp ??

Thanks in advance

12-21-2011, 05:00 PM   #2
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The general rule is that "normal" lenses, generally thought to be 50mm, but between 42 and 60mm give no distortion. Shorter lenses will show a greater depth of field and separate objects more. Longer lenses will have a shallower depth of field and flatten an image.

35mm, especially when shot close up will accentuate noses, making them appear larger. Very unflattering. Most portrait photographers use something in the 70-135mm range. I've had very good luck with my F1.7 50mm. The 50 gives an equivalent focal length of 75mm. which works well for half-length closeups or full body portraits from farther away. This was shot from between 4-5 feet away.

As to whether you need a 35, probably not if you're happy with your current lens. With current cameras, f4 should give you pretty good low light performance. Usually when shooting at that focal length, greater depth of field is preferred over a shallower one, unless you're doing macro work. I wouldn't buy a 35 for portraits.

That said, the newest 2.4 is a good lens and very light. I use mine for street photography. For portraits, save your money up for a longer lens. The Pentax 70mm pancake is very good. The Sigma 85mm 1.4 is superb, though pricey. The Pentax 50-135 is also excellent and worth saving for. If you're willing to shoot manual, the Rokinon 85mm 1.4 is also good and not much more than the Pentax 35mm 2.4.

Last edited by mysticcowboy; 12-21-2011 at 05:19 PM.
12-21-2011, 05:16 PM   #3
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Not clear as you said portraits from table to table. Are they to be portraits in the traditional sense of half-length as shown above or are they to be more candid's of those at the table?
12-21-2011, 06:21 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gareth Quote
My last quandrum is do I really need a 35mm as I have that focal length covered by my 16-45mm and wide open at f4 its sharp ??
If you have a flash (or 2) then I'd've thought the 16-45-f4 would be of more use for 'roving group portraits' at an event myself...

I love my FA50-1.4 but in the setting you describe it'd be my Tamron-17-50-f2.8 bolted on my camera with a flash on a light stand bouncing of the ceiling and another with an assistant providing 'fill'...

12-21-2011, 07:52 PM   #5
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I'd stick with the 16-45. If you had nothing I would suggest the Tamron 28-75.
12-21-2011, 08:45 PM   #6
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I was going to repeat an oversimplified list of focal lengths and body parts, disclaiming that they also depend on your and subjects' comfort levels, size of shooting space, etc. But that's formulaic. Best to use a trial superzoom (maybe a cheap 28-200, manual-focus even) to establish for yourself just what focal lengths work best at what distances FOR YOU.

IMHO with zooms on APS-C cameras, 16-45mm is more for whole people, and 50-135mm is more for partial people and faces. My favorite people-shooter is an old M42 Sears-Tokina 55-135/3.5.

Back in the day, I shot many (un)official portraits in various formats. I might shoot 135/HF (half frame, APS-C size) and 135/FF and 6x6 and 6x9 all in the same day -- and I preferred a lens around 80/3.5 for all those formats, often shot from almost the same distance. Why? Because IMHO that gives the best modeling of features, neither too round nor too flat, and keeps the whole head in focus.

My choice of prime headshot lenses now: Vivitar-LU 75/3.5 enlarger lens on focusing helicoid. A Vivitar-Komine 90/2.8 macro lens. The Jupiter-9 85/2 for softer shots. Ya, 70-90m is a good range.
12-22-2011, 10:57 AM   #7
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Sorry been a while replying! I had an op a few days ago and still now very demobilised which is starting to annoy the hell out of me!
I've been asked to photograph guests at a sit down meal. I own a K20 and a K5. My lens collection is a F 50mm, a 16-45mm and a Tammy 70-200mm f2.8. I did have the D FA 100mm but sold that to fund the K5. On the K5 I was going to use the 70-200mm for candids as the K5 has good noise control and using that lens I'll no doubt have up the ISO a bit but on the K20 I was unsure to use the 50mm, 16-45mm or buy a 35mm. I think from what I've read I'll use the 16-45mm and pocket the 50mm, changing lenses on the fly
12-23-2011, 05:35 AM   #8
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Just buy the DA35/2.4 or FA35/2 and keep your F50. It's nice combo to have (35+50). And it will work well for portraits. Ideally on 2 bodies

12-24-2011, 03:27 AM   #9
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I have all three. LBA strikes. In myy defence, I got all three for great prices- DA 16-45 for 180 USD used, caps and hood and box, FA50 1.4 for 8000 rupees used, which is around 150 USD, and the DA 35 for 67 pounds from amazon uk brand new last week.
12-24-2011, 03:50 AM   #10
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I shot singles and groups of students at our meetings for fun.

I started with a 50mm and found it too narrow, got a 40mm and nice for couples but still too narrow. Finally got a 16-45 and now shoot singles and groups without any special maneuvering or restrictions and the results are always good and for everybody's enjoyment.
12-24-2011, 05:44 AM   #11
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I always find these discussions of the "right focal length for portraits" confusing.

QuoteOriginally posted by Gareth Quote
Does anything one how much distortion the 35mm gives when shooting portraits fairly close up
Why would it give any more distortion "fairly close up" than any other focal length -- that is, if "fairly close up" was the same distance? The apparent distortion of features, which isn't a quality of the lens, it's simply a fact of perspective, is caused by being close to the subject, not by any quality of the lens, surely? (we can observe the same distortion without a camera at all, simply with our eyes -- the closer we are to the subject, the greater the apparent relative difference in size of objects closer to us and objects further back. Get further away, and things appear progressively "flatter.")

The reason to have a longer lens for portraits, it seems to me, is so that you can get the framing of the subject(s) you want without having to be so close that distortion becomes unflattering. So if you were thinking of framing people with the 35mm as you would with the 50mm, then of course you'll see more distortion, since you're decreasing the distance to the subject. But you can get essentially the same framing by cropping a shot taken with a lens that's allegedly "too wide for portraits" and it will show the same modeling of the features as a longer lens shot from the same distance, no? The advantage of the longer lens in that situation is avoiding cropping, not avoiding distortion. The DAL 35 is quite sharp; cropping shouldn't be a problem, unless you're making huge prints... ?

But that's academic, since you already have the 16-45. I don't see the need for the 35, unless you simply want something lighter and a little faster than the zoom on your camera.

I would keep the F 50 1.7 for when you want more options in regard to narrowing the D0F. (I have that lens -- the AF with mine is so excruciatingly loud that I avoid using it to shoot people )
12-25-2011, 12:05 AM   #12
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Are you shooting individuals at the party or the whole table? If it's a mix then use the 16-45. And keep the F50 handy for individuals if you want a narrower DOF. Imo the DA35/2.4 doesn't offer much for you. It's faster than the zoom but it's better to use the K5's ISO to take a faster pic. And the F50/1.7 will take a much better head/torso shot because it's longer.

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