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01-14-2012, 08:36 PM   #1
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Which Zeiss for portrait?

My current lens line-up is the following:
77mm FA Limited
35mm DA Limited Macro
50-135mm DA*
12-24mm DA*

I sold my Tamron 28-75mm and 50mm FA after being repeatedly disappointed with IQ. The 77mm is my absolute all time favorite lens for portraiture and studio work. Its superb IQ and sharpness just can't be beat. But 77mm is a little long in some circumstances... after I realized even the 28-75mm didn't satisfy me IQ wise, I knew I'd have to rely on primes. I

The obvious choice is the FA 31mm Limited. I've seen enough shots to know it would fill the hole perfectly. I was however wondering if there was a Zeiss lens I should check out? I've always wanted to own Zeiss glass and didn't have the money until now. I owned a Voigtlander 125mm APO Macro lens for a year before I regrettably sold it and find manual lens fun to use sometimes.

I'm also considering the FA 43mm for half body shots. I'd get the FA 31mm later for the full body shots I rarely do these days.


Last edited by FrancisK7; 01-14-2012 at 09:35 PM.
01-14-2012, 10:11 PM   #2
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I dont have a real answer for you, and I dont have Zeiss experience. If you are considering in the FA 43... You might to reconsider the DA 40mm. It is very sharp wide open. Cheaper than the 43mm, and it preforms nearly as well. I know its not as fast, and its getting close to the range you already have covered with the 35mm. Just thought I would throw that out there.
01-14-2012, 10:13 PM   #3
JVi
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Biotar 75 1.5. Had one and it was interesting to say the least.
01-14-2012, 10:31 PM   #4
hcc
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Two 'obvious' quality lenses for portrait are the Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 and Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4.

The users' reviews are very positive about both lenses:
Carl Zeiss 50mm f/2 ZK Makro-Planar T* Lens Reviews - Miscellaneous Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database
Voigtlander 58mm f1.4 Lens Reviews - Voigtlander Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database

Both are MF high quality glass. Their focal length would complement nicely your existing lenses.

I have the VL 58mm and I can recommend it very strongly. I tend to prefer to use my 85 mm lens for portrait but the VL58mm does a great job also. Personally I bought and use the VL58mm mainly for outdoor, in low light conditions or when the light si 'tricky' like foggy, smoggy, .... The VL excels in difficult situations, and the IQ is always outstanding in all conditions.

Hope that the comment may help.


Last edited by hcc; 01-15-2012 at 12:47 AM.
01-15-2012, 06:28 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by TigerLord Quote
My current lens line-up is the following:
77mm FA Limited
35mm DA Limited Macro
50-135mm DA*
12-24mm DA*

The obvious choice is the FA 31mm Limited. I've seen enough shots to know it would fill the hole perfectly. I was however wondering if there was a Zeiss lens I should check out? I've always wanted to own Zeiss glass and didn't have the money until now. I'd get the FA 31mm later for the full body shots I rarely do these days.

For head shot portraits and longer-range photography, the ZK 85/1.4 is excellent
(while the Voigtlaender Apo-Lanthar 90/3.5 is more compact, and better for close-ups).
But of course, those are even longer than the FA 77.

One Zeiss alternative to the FA31 would be the ZK 35/2.
I have one, and find it an excellent complement to the DA35 Macro.
The DA 35 Macro is more compact, and obviously does macro,
while the ZK 35/2 is better when the photons are scarce.
Both have their own special rendering qualities.

For around 50-58mm, I'd endorse hcc's comments.
01-15-2012, 08:06 AM   #6
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Morning, There are a few ways to use Zeiss lenses on Pentax bodies:
  • New Zeiss glass - Comes from Zeiss and for Pentax is the ZK model, which has been discontinued and you really need to look for it, along with its fairly pricy.
  • Old Zeiss glass - This comes by way of the old lenses for Contax. They are only available second hand, since Contax was discontinued in 2005. Depending on the focal length and the particular lens' condition, the price can range to 1/3 the price of new for essentially the same optical design. These are all manual - both focus and aperture. I have 2, the 28/2.8 and the 85/2.8. An adapter is not available, so a mount change is necessary. Parts and instructions are available from Leitax.com.
There is additional information here...The problem that you are going to have is in the availability of focal lengths - 50, 85, 100mm. If 77mm is too long, then 85 will be way too long. Will 50mm be more workable? This depends on your eye, and you as the photographer. Both the 85 and 50 are available in a couple of apertures. The 50 in f1.4 and in f1.7. The 85 is available in f1.4 (M42 mount from Leitax) and f2.8.This probably comes down to personal preference in terms of how fast a lens you desire. The 50 f1.4 is widely available for around $300-$400 in the MM version of the C/Y mount. The 85 f1.4 goes for around $600 to $700 and rather than a conversion to the K mount, it converts to the M42 mount (Leitax). The 85/1.4 is also a very large lens in diameter. The 85 f2.8 goes for around $300 and can be converted to the K mount.

Also, here is a comparison of the Contax CZ 28/2.8 with the Pentax FA 31 Limited...

Last edited by interested_observer; 01-15-2012 at 08:12 AM.
01-15-2012, 08:25 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by TigerLord Quote
My current lens line-up is the following:
77mm FA Limited
35mm DA Limited Macro
50-135mm DA*
12-24mm DA*

I sold my Tamron 28-75mm and 50mm FA after being repeatedly disappointed with IQ. The 77mm is my absolute all time favorite lens for portraiture and studio work. Its superb IQ and sharpness just can't be beat. But 77mm is a little long in some circumstances... after I realized even the 28-75mm didn't satisfy me IQ wise, I knew I'd have to rely on primes. I

The obvious choice is the FA 31mm Limited. I've seen enough shots to know it would fill the hole perfectly. I was however wondering if there was a Zeiss lens I should check out? I've always wanted to own Zeiss glass and didn't have the money until now. I owned a Voigtlander 125mm APO Macro lens for a year before I regrettably sold it and find manual lens fun to use sometimes.

I'm also considering the FA 43mm for half body shots. I'd get the FA 31mm later for the full body shots I rarely do these days.
I was in a very similar situation several years ago and found 60mm to be the next best step.
I found the HELIOS /Biotar 58mm to be a perfect solution.
01-15-2012, 09:55 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the great suggestions!

I suppose if I want AF my only choices are the FA31, FA43 or the DA55?

01-15-2012, 10:50 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by TigerLord Quote
Thanks for all the great suggestions!

I suppose if I want AF my only choices are the FA31, FA43 or the DA55?
Correct - I am just getting rid of my FA77 (anyone interested?) to get the DA55. Zeiss glass on pentax can be quite tricky. Not everybody is happy with Zeiss portarit lenses and your sensor is APS-C size, so the 85 and the 100 will feel too long - you said the 77 feels already too long.
With a dedicated screen manual focus is still an option - so look into a Voigtländer 58 or even the Zeiss 2/50 Macro - in my opinion 50 mm lenses will feel to short for portraits.

I think thw DA55 will make you happy for now and a large aperture DA3x mm could fill the other gap in the future. The FA31 was designed as a retrofocus wide angle lens, not really as a normal angle lens.
01-15-2012, 11:19 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
Old Zeiss glass - This comes by way of the old lenses for Contax.
Let us not forget Carl Zeiss Jena (CZJ). The East German M42 Zeiss are excellent lenses and well worth purchasing if and when you find one.


Steve
01-15-2012, 11:20 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by TigerLord Quote
Thanks for all the great suggestions!

I suppose if I want AF my only choices are the FA31, FA43 or the DA55?
...or FA 50/1.4...


Steve
01-15-2012, 11:31 AM   #12
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I've got both the Voigtlander 58/1.4 and Zeiss 35/2 ZK. For one-person portraits the VL is incredible, but for groups I prefer the more normal 35mm angle of the Zeiss. As for IQ, the Zeiss is perfectly tack sharp at f/2, and is even at it's best CA wise at f/2, which makes it fantastic for shallow DOF work. The VL is very hard to get in perfect focus at 1.4, but if you nail it the shots are sharp and have incredible character. At 2.8 and above it will cut a rift in space-time it's so sharp. I usually compromise at f/2 for portraits. In all cases the color rendition is superb.

Given that you have the DA35 already, I'd recommend the VL, it's fantastic!

Edit: BTW, both new Zeiss and Voigtlanders are made by Cosina in the same factory in Japan, so they share very similar (excellent) build quality.
01-15-2012, 11:41 AM   #13
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Do you find an AF adapter would be useful to help focusing with the VL?
01-15-2012, 12:16 PM   #14
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If by "AF adapter" you mean Catch in Focus (CIF), yes. CIF is great and it works very well with MF lenses incl. the Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4, Zeiss 85mm f1.4 and others. Speakig from my own experience off course.

However with great MF lenses like the CZ and VL, their focus ring is very sensitive and you do not really need CIF. The AF focus confirmation (Green hexagon in the view finder) is often good enough.Most often I use my CZ and VL lenses with simply the AF confirmation + Hi continuous shooting, rather than CIF.

Hope that the comment may help.
01-15-2012, 12:18 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
If by "AF adapter" you mean Catch in Focus (CIF), yes. CIF is great and it works very well with MF lenses incl. the Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4, Zeiss 85mm f1.4 and others. Speakig from my own experience off course.

However with great MF lenses like the CZ and VL, their focus ring is very sensitive and you do not really need CIF. The AF focus confirmation (Green hexagon in the view finder) is often good enough.Most often I use my CZ and VL lenses with simply the AF confirmation + Hi continuous shooting, rather than CIF.

Hope that the comment may help.
Thanks!

Is there a place somewhere the VL can be acquired new or are they rare? BH doesn't even have it listed, which is never a good sign for availability.
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