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01-09-2012, 06:17 AM   #1
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Need tip on a good portrait lens


I am a bit new to photography but I am looking into getting a portrait lens for my Pentax K-X. What I need is a good lens to take pictures of people. It should work well both outside and indoors. I want a lens that can really capture peoples faces. I know that sounds kinda stupid..

Anyway, are there any recommended lenses out there for photographing people?


01-09-2012, 06:27 AM   #2
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All lenses can capture a face. All lenses can produce a good outcome. Is there any specific you are looking for?

DA*50-135 is a good start.
01-09-2012, 06:29 AM   #3
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I'm sure you will get lots of suggestions. To narrow it down, how much do you want to spend, and is it just for face shots or do you want to do full body as well?

I use a Tamron 28-75/2.8 most of the time, but for really sharp face shots when I have time to focus, I use an M42 Takumar 85/1.8.
01-09-2012, 06:31 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nico_ Quote
I want a lens that can really capture peoples faces. I know that sounds kinda stupid..
Not at all -- portraiture ranges from full body and "environmental" shots to tight closeups, and this calls for a range of focal lengths. So if you intend to mainly do the latter you may want to look at a longer FL, to allow you to get that tight shot without getting the camera right in the subject's face.

For a K-x, with its APS-C "crop sensor", the usually recommended FLs for portraiture range from about 50mm to about 100mm. If you're thinking of a prime (fixed FL) lens, 50mm is a little short for closeups but it is a good choice for general portraiture, and also one where you'll have more and cheaper (especially if you're willing to consider manual focus lenses) choices. A zoom can work, if it's fast enough to give you shallow depth of field (DOF) when you want it, which for portraiture may turn out to be most of the time. f/2.8 is about as fast as zooms generally come, and such zooms tend to be on the expensive side. This is also important for shooting indoors when you want to use available light instead of flash.

If you have the budget for it, the DA* 55 is a great general-purpose portrait lens, as evidenced by many shots here on the forums.

01-09-2012, 07:43 AM   #5
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It is genraly considred that a focal lengh of 85mm is the ideal for head and shoulder shots and 100mm for head shots gives a good perspective. Full lengh shots, then
60mm is poss the ideal. These lenses allow allso a comfortable working distance from your subject. These are in 35mm terms though. So if you would like a lens to cover all these aspects on an apsc camera you are looking at a range covering around 40 to 70mm.
That gives you a few options. I would personly opt for the Tamron 28 - 75 which has already been mentioned. The pentax 50 - 135 F2.8 is a first class lens and superb too,
but you may find you may have not enough room behind you if you need full lengh shots since the 50mm end = 75mm. Obviously, this wont often be a problem if working outside,
and you can always use your kit lens for the wider veiw bits. Fast lenses are obviously better, but thats already been explained to you, so no need to go into that.
01-09-2012, 08:41 AM   #6
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Another vote here for the DA* 50-135, it has become my "walk around" lens. Occasionally I have to use something wider, and every time I do, I can't help but thinking about all the image quality I'm losing by not using this lens. I'll usually look for another way I can frame the shot so I don't have to switch.

There are some other great lenses that won't set you back as far as the 50-135 though. The FA 50 1.7 is nice, discontinued now, but there are plenty floating around on the used market. The DA 40 and 70 limited, or the FA 43 limited are all very good. I haven't tried the DA* 55, but I hear it's fantastic, especially in low light.
01-09-2012, 08:44 AM   #7
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People can be shot with any focal length. Pictures featuring faces are maybe best in the 50-135mm range. 50-60mm is thought good for 1/2-body shots; 70-90mm for standard face shots; 135mm for tighter or further facials. Shots of full bodies or groups may need a wider lens, like a 17-70. Those are the focal lengths to be thinking of. For details, see the lens review database here.
01-09-2012, 11:03 AM   #8
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I use my Tamron 90mm macro for head shots.

01-09-2012, 11:45 AM   #9
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I'd say any decent 50 will do the trick for you. And there are many decent and better 50s in K mount land...

01-09-2012, 11:46 AM   #10
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Besides focal length, consider other factors that make some lenses better for portraits than others. The distance you prefer to be from your subject is important. It'll affect which focal lengths work best, and some lenses might not focus closely enough. It also affects how you interact with a subject, and sometimes how intimidated the subject is by your big staring lens. Distance also affects depth of field. Flare performance is important, especially if you'll be outside and trying creative shots. Otherwise you have to avoid some lighting situations. Something that works with your flash is important indoors. A consistent performer helps by keeping your mind on composition, not the lens.

Since you're a bit new to photography, I'd look at a zoom lens. It'll give you more options quickly. The Tamron 28-75/2.8 is a good choice and not too expensive. It should be a capable performer.

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