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01-01-2012, 02:40 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by reivax Quote
But I think the 35-70 would be a good one too.
The F35-70 is a fine agile, sharp, small lens, one of my favorites, and quite cheap. It is great for people- and place-shooting. But it is NOT great for subject isolation.

There's a problem with finding budget lenses for headshot portraiture. Used fast Fifties and 135s are cheap and good. Good fast lenses in-between aren't so cheap. The best off-the-shelf options are probably the various 90/2.8 macros. The cheapest options take a small hit on IQ: put a decent 1.5x tele adapter on a Fast Fifty to make it a Fast 75-85 with thin DOF. Or put a +1 dioptre closeup adapter on a slow 100 to pull in the focus distance to 50-100cm, also with thin DOF. Or for great cheap sharpness and IQ but thicker DOF, use a 75/3.5 enlarger lens on tubes or helicoid. Those are the only bargains I can think of.

01-01-2012, 03:28 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
135 is starting to get kind of long for portraits
I will add my voice to the chorus. 70-85mm is pretty much the upper limit for APS-C unless you prefer a much longer working distance.

My suggestion for portrait is a manual focus fast 50. Yes, manual focus. AF is too easily fooled. Fast aperture for limiting DOF. 50mm for FOV.


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01-01-2012, 03:36 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
Good fast lenses in-between aren't so cheap.
So true, unless, of course, one is willing to suffer with the clumsiness of a Jupiter-9. There is also the Samyang/Bower/Vivitar 85/1.4 option (several fans of that lens on this site) at under $300 USD. Decent performance, decent price, "A" contacts...what more could you want?


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01-01-2012, 03:55 PM   #19
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Wow. After reading what everyone is recommending, it seems as though a prime is going to be the best choice. It is amazing to see how expensive primes are (even the older ones). I figured I might be able to find an 85mm for around $100 and I couldn't find one.

I have a FA 50 1.4. It seems like a lot of people already recommend that for portraits. I'm assuming I should probably just stick with that. I love that lens. It gives me great results, I just wanted to get the most optimal results. I looked into the teleconverters that RioRico recommended and those are pretty expensive too.

I guess my priorities just shifted from finding a good portrait lens (seems as though I already have one) to finding a good walk-around lens. I really feel like I'm missing out on IQ with the DAL kit lens.

I love the way a simple question never leads to a simple answer. I think that's part of what makes photography so intriguing.

Thanks again everyone.

01-01-2012, 04:04 PM   #20
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The DA 55-300 is suprisingly good for portraits, particularly with subjects relatively well separated from backgrounds, e.g.



It is sharp wide open, and is capable of f/4.5 at around 135mm, a very handy aperture to be able to use for single portraits. I don't find 135mm too long for portraits, indeed the above shot was at about 190mm. I have often used a Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 lens at 200mm for portraits and the results do impress me.

Nevertheless, if you have the ability to work with some distance from the subject, the 135mm will do at least as well as the 55-300 at f/4.5 but focus accuracy is paramount. I would prefer another lens altogether for portraits, but between the two I'm in favour of the DA 55-300 at focal lengths under 200mm.
01-01-2012, 04:26 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by reivax Quote
I figured I might be able to find an 85mm for around $100 and I couldn't find one.
Those now only appear by sheer luck. I got a Nikkor 85/2 and a Vivitar-Komine 90/2.8 macro dirt cheap -- by luck. I got a Jupiter-9 85/2 fairly cheap -- but no more.

QuoteQuote:
I have a FA 50 1.4. It seems like a lot of people already recommend that for portraits. I'm assuming I should probably just stick with that. I love that lens. It gives me great results, I just wanted to get the most optimal results. I looked into the teleconverters that RioRico recommended and those are pretty expensive too.
I didn't recommend a TC. I mean a 1.5x tele adapter that screws onto the lens' front thread. My Sony VCL-1546A was under five bucks shipped, just a couple months ago. It turns my FA50/1.4 into a 75/1.4, with just a slight loss of IQ, a fair price for the very thin DOF. Similar glass from Olympus, Panasonic and Kowa are considered good. Cheap no-name strap-ons aren't.

QuoteQuote:
I guess my priorities just shifted from finding a good portrait lens (seems as though I already have one) to finding a good walk-around lens. I really feel like I'm missing out on IQ with the DAL kit lens.
The DA55-300 is considered good for its range. I haven't tried it but it's well liked. For a fine budget walkaround, look at the F35-70/3.5-4.5. It really is a little treat.

QuoteQuote:
I love the way a simple question never leads to a simple answer. I think that's part of what makes photography so intriguing.
Many non-trivial aspects here, all interconnected in interesting ways. I phrase it as: Every photograph is a problem to be solved, with many variables, and there exists a near-infinite set of solutions. Cheers!
01-01-2012, 04:59 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
I didn't recommend a TC. I mean a 1.5x tele adapter that screws onto the lens' front thread. My Sony VCL-1546A was under five bucks shipped, just a couple months ago. It turns my FA50/1.4 into a 75/1.4, with just a slight loss of IQ, a fair price for the very thin DOF. Similar glass from Olympus, Panasonic and Kowa are considered good. Cheap no-name strap-ons aren't.
Not sure if I'm searching something incorrectly, but every time I do a search for "tele adapter" the only results that appear are tele converters. I did this both on ebay and google.


QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
The DA55-300 is considered good for its range. I haven't tried it but it's well liked. For a fine budget walkaround, look at the F35-70/3.5-4.5. It really is a little treat.
I have thought about that lens. Do you feel that the IQ from the f35-70 is worth it over the range from the F 35-105 or either: F 35-135 or FA 28-105?
01-01-2012, 05:46 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by reivax Quote
Do you feel that the IQ from the f35-70 is worth it over the range from the F 35-105 or either: F 35-135 or FA 28-105?
The more important question is whether or not any of these zooms are an upgrade over the 55-300 in the common ranges. You already have a FA50/1.4 and none of them will come close to that one at 50mm's. And I doubt any of the zooms that you mentioned are a significant improvement over the 55-300 that you currently have.

01-01-2012, 06:11 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by reivax Quote
Not sure if I'm searching something incorrectly, but every time I do a search for "tele adapter" the only results that appear are tele converters. I did this both on ebay and google.
I just searched eBay CAMERAS for "tele* 1.5x" and found some fairly cheap prospects by Kenko, Kalt, Ambico. I'd avoid Phoenix, Ace, Spectralstar, and small (~37mm) clip-ons. Now, I am about to reveal a secret: I use PicClick.Com for bulk searches, in this case searching LENSES for '1.5x' under US$20, and I see this: Nice Old Olympus IS/L Lens A-200 H.Q. Converter 1.5X 49mm Camera Lens. It looks like a good prospect. And it looks like '1.5x' is the magic word.

QuoteQuote:
I have thought about that lens. Do you feel that the IQ from the f35-70 is worth it over the range from the F 35-105 or either: F 35-135 or FA 28-105?
I haven't used those longer lenses so I can't say. I just know that the F35-75 is agile (fastest AF around), sharp (like a bag of primes), tiny (the smallest zoom Pentax ever made, almost as small as the FA50/1.4), and has better IQ than any of my other zooms that share its range (including various by Pentax, Tamron, and Tokina). It sells for around US$50 solo and can usually be had for less if attached to a SF-1 or other AF film camera from the early 1990s.

Last edited by RioRico; 01-01-2012 at 06:37 PM.
01-01-2012, 06:14 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by abacus07 Quote
The more important question is whether or not any of these zooms are an upgrade over the 55-300 in the common ranges. You already have a FA50/1.4 and none of them will come close to that one at 50mm's. And I doubt any of the zooms that you mentioned are a significant improvement over the 55-300 that you currently have.
I'm not looking to replace my FA50 1.4 or the 55-300. I have no problems with the way those perform.

I'd like to replace my DAL 18-55. I feel like I could do better with something else.
01-01-2012, 06:51 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by reivax Quote
I'd like to replace my DAL 18-55.
No offense, but can you see how your initial post and the subject you chose sent us on a wild goose chase here? In this case (and I assume we're still talking about an inexpensive lens for portrait use), you should probably be looking at a fast-ish 35mm prime, such as the DA 35 f/2.4. However, while it will outperform the kit lens at 35mm for portrait use, it is obviously not capable of replacing it in terms of versatility. Also, you should ask yourself how often you are in a situation where you have the 50/1.4 mounted for a portrait and you wish you had something wider instead. For me, that almost never happens.

Last edited by Ikarus; 01-01-2012 at 07:22 PM.
01-01-2012, 08:19 PM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ikarus Quote
No offense, but can you see how your initial post and the subject you chose sent us on a wild goose chase here? In this case (and I assume we're still talking about an inexpensive lens for portrait use), you should probably be looking at a fast-ish 35mm prime, such as the DA 35 f/2.4. However, while it will outperform the kit lens at 35mm for portrait use, it is obviously not capable of replacing it in terms of versatility. Also, you should ask yourself how often you are in a situation where you have the 50/1.4 mounted for a portrait and you wish you had something wider instead. For me, that almost never happens.
None taken. My initial interest was in purchasing something that I could use specifically for portrait photography but after reading everything that everyone had to say, I realized that I just don't have the money right now to do that.

Since someone mentioned the FA50 1.4 as a good choice for portrait photography, I decided that I will do the best I can with that one. After decided that, I moved on to my second most pressing issue, replacing my kit lens. I probably should have started a new thread for that purpose, but I was worried about starting a new thread just for that.

I do have to agree with you. I'm usually not in a position where I would need something wider.

My interest with a good zoom lens comes from a baby shower a friend of mine asked me to shoot for him. Since the lighting was so bad (it was indoors and in the evening) I decided to only shoot with the FA50 and I kept finding myself wanting to make holes in the wall so that I could back up just a little bit more. In that situation, I would have loved something wider. I probably should have used my kit lens, but was worried about the image quality not being good enough. I was using a flash, so maybe it wouldn't have been such an issue now that I think about it. So much to learn, so much to learn.

I do want to thank all of you for all of your help and I apologize if I did lead anyone on a wild goose chase. The information I've gathered from this thread will serve me in getting another lens or two in the future. The only thing I worry about is that one or two will quickly turn into ten or twenty. That really doesn't sound too bad to me, but I think my wife could have a problem with that.
01-02-2012, 12:02 AM   #28
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DA16-45 is the best cheap kit lens replacement you can propably get if you wan a zoom.
Or else the DAL35 is indeed a neat lens, Sigma 30 isn't that expensive either if you want something faster and seondhand 28 and 24mm are the ones to look for.
01-02-2012, 09:09 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
DA16-45 is the best cheap kit lens replacement you can propably get if you wan a zoom.
Or else the DAL35 is indeed a neat lens, Sigma 30 isn't that expensive either if you want something faster and seondhand 28 and 24mm are the ones to look for.
As far as zooms go I think the Sigma 24-70 or Tamron 28-75 would be better options for someone looking to take portraits. Better zoom range (for portraits) and they are a stop faster. This (Tamron) is the zoom that's on my wish list but it's not a priority right now.

QuoteQuote:
My interest with a good zoom lens comes from a baby shower a friend of mine asked me to shoot for him. Since the lighting was so bad (it was indoors and in the evening) I decided to only shoot with the FA50 and I kept finding myself wanting to make holes in the wall so that I could back up just a little bit more. In that situation, I would have loved something wider. I probably should have used my kit lens, but was worried about the image quality not being good enough. I was using a flash, so maybe it wouldn't have been such an issue now that I think about it. So much to learn, so much to learn.
How exactly is the kit lens failing you? It's actually a very good lens but a lot of people dismiss w/o knowing why and want to buy something different for the sake of buying something different. The big issue with the kit lens is that it's slow and there can be a lot of distortion at 18mm. The options that you listed earlier aren't much faster though. In the end it's fairly priced and if you want to upgrade it will cost you about $300. Most zooms that cost <100USD will be a lateral change.
01-02-2012, 09:53 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by abacus07 Quote
How exactly is the kit lens failing you? It's actually a very good lens but a lot of people dismiss w/o knowing why and want to buy something different for the sake of buying something different. The big issue with the kit lens is that it's slow and there can be a lot of distortion at 18mm. The options that you listed earlier aren't much faster though. In the end it's fairly priced and if you want to upgrade it will cost you about $300. Most zooms that cost <100USD will be a lateral change.
That's pretty good to know. I thought I had read somewhere once that the DAL produces very close to, if not the same, image quality as the DA 18-55 ii.

I've never been able to find a test that would prove this. Anyone know if a test has been done?

In regards to the interest of the F35-105 and the F35-135. I am considering those as a replacement to the 18-55 because they offer more range. I've never found myself needing to take pictures below 35mm. I'm sure eventually I will, so I plan on keeping the DAL for those times.

My hope is that the F series lenses offer better image quality than the 18-55 (that would be a nice bonus). I mostly shoot outdoors so the fact that they're not too fast isn't too much of a problem. I know that for something indoors I would ideally want something faster but I also know that's going to cost a whole lot more.
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