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04-16-2012, 09:53 PM   #1
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Pentax 55-300 as portrait lens?

Would this be a good autofocus lens for portraits since it is so sharp? --Say at 55mm & f4 on up to maybe 80mm.

I have several lovely affordable manual fast 50's for when I need a quicker lens. Maybe if I get this 55-300 I won't need to also get a pentax-f 50 1.7?

Will f4 give enough softness and shallow depth of field for nice portraits? or does it need to be softer? Indoors, I'd be using off camera flashes triggered by the K-X. It would be the primary light source and ambient light would be nuked. I wouldn't be mixing ambient with the flashes.


Last edited by geekette; 04-16-2012 at 10:03 PM.
04-16-2012, 09:57 PM   #2
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Apart from having less flexibility with DOF, I'm sure it would work fine for portraits. Zooming with your feet might help you with that

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04-16-2012, 10:23 PM   #3
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I've never used a 55-300 for indoor portrait shots, but for outdoor, I've liked the results that it gives. Really nice images and as long as you can position the subject far away from things in the background, you can get some great bokeh.
04-16-2012, 10:37 PM   #4
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I don't really take my DAL 55 - 300 out that much, but I decided to take it out earlier. And here's what I got

K7 This was at 93mm F4 at 1/40sec, it was just starting to get dark, Light was crappy. ISO was 1250

Jpeg, Cropped and I did messed with the colors and exposure a lil bit on PP, but I'm pretty happy with what I got. ISO 1250 on a k7? and to think that the shutter was 1/40 at 93mm.


The DA/DAL 55-300 is indeed a sleeper lens.

04-16-2012, 11:08 PM   #5
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I do not have this lens, but if the img quality at wide open is good, then this can be a good substitute of 50-135 as potrait lens
it still remain f4 at100mm, f4.5 before 200mm..not bad..can still get pretty decent bokeh.
04-17-2012, 12:31 AM   #6
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why not?
At 200-300mm f8 it has beautiful bokeh for a half body portrait.
04-17-2012, 07:44 AM   #7
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I think it'll be good for most portraits.
04-17-2012, 07:50 AM   #8
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Portraits can be shot at any focal length, any distance. The 'right' portrait lens depends on 1) what you mean by 'portrait', 2) what effects you want to achieve, 3) comfortable working distance(s) for you and your subject(s), and 4) budget.

1) Are your portraits formal sittings or stealthy streetshots or informal snaps or what? General guidelines: On APS-C, shoot context portraits at 15-24mm; full-body at 24-40mm; 3/4-1/2 body at 40-60mm; head+shoulders or close headshots at 60-90mm; further headshots at 90-150mm.

2) Do you want thin-DOF soft romantic shots? Use a fast lens. Do you want sharp detail? Use as slower|macro lens. My personal preference for H&S and headshots is around 80/3.5 for best modeling of human features. My old M42 Sears-Tokina 55-135/3.5 (US$8) is my favorite people zoom. A Vivitar-LU 75/3.5 enlarger lens (US$7) on extension is my favorite H&S 'prime'. My Jupiter-9 85/2 ($more$) sees a fair amount of use too.

3) If you and/or subjects are uncomfortable with being too close, use a longer lens.

4) The modern equivalent of my afore-mentioned 55-135/3.5 is the DA*50-135/2.8 that only costs 100x as much. Ouch. We usually don't want zooms that are slow on the long end, not for portraiture -- not enough DOF control. But fast zooms aren't cheap. How much can you spend?

Portraits from full-body to far-headshot are best shot in the 35-135mm range. Preferred apertures are in the f/2-f/4 range. Fitting those parameters to a new AF zoom requires a large budget. Older MF zooms or a set of primes may be more cost-effective -- unless you NEED autofocus. Hay, it's only money!

04-17-2012, 08:05 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by hoanpham Quote
why not?
At 200-300mm f8 it has beautiful bokeh for a half body portrait.
Yes, I like it on the long end for excellent subject isolation.
04-17-2012, 09:10 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by kaiserz Quote
I don't really take my DAL 55 - 300 out that much, but I decided to take it out earlier. And here's what I got

K7 This was at 93mm F4 at 1/40sec, it was just starting to get dark, Light was crappy. ISO was 1250

Jpeg, Cropped and I did messed with the colors and exposure a lil bit on PP, but I'm pretty happy with what I got. ISO 1250 on a k7? and to think that the shutter was 1/40 at 93mm.


The DA/DAL 55-300 is indeed a sleeper lens.
I use my 55-300 mostly outdoors in the woods for wild life etc.., Got some great natural Granddaughter shots over Easter, For the first time I used Raw files and the pictures turned out great, especially the 5 X 7's.
10-20-2012, 04:31 AM   #11
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I use mine all the time for portraits:







I usually use it from 100mm on up, at f8 for portraits. It's very sharp and I really like the bokeh. The 55-300, along with my Pentax-A 35-105 are my "go to" portrait lenses.
10-20-2012, 07:24 AM   #12
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If you have the room, the 55-300 is a very nice lens. It really shines if you can sufficiently separate your subject from the foreground and background.
The shots below aren't portraits, but you can likely visualize portraits from them-

Here is a far subject with an otherwise distracting foreground-


And here is a close subject with an otherwise distracting background-
10-22-2012, 04:21 AM   #13
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I use it for portraits of my wife and kids all the time, even indoors.

Its also my birding lens, aircraft lens, and outdoor sports lens. I wouldn't be without it.
10-26-2012, 08:10 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by GibbyTheMole Quote
I use mine all the time for portraits:
Nice photos, Gibby. Pretty blue eyes!

Geekette, I have a few good portrait shots from my 55-300, though just a few because I don't typically take a lot of portrait shots.

Regarding the other advice, what you have to remember here is that RioRico owns just about every lens ever made for any camera system!
10-27-2012, 01:23 AM   #15
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You may find these interesting:

Comparison Of Tele To Wide Portraits | Orms Connect
Untitled Document

Do note that the focal lengths referred to here relate to a 35mm camera - in other words, what we now call Full Frame. So for APS-C you have to divide by 1.5.

Another point is that the perspective is set by distance to subject, rather than the focal length. For their recommended 100mm focal length for a head/shoulders shot (at Full Frame), this means you have to be about 3 feet from your subject, which you may feel is rather close. More than this, you would maintain this same distance for half-body and full-body shots, so you'd need to reduce focal length to accommodate the required framing (rather than move away from your subject). Except you wouldn't actually do this, because you'd end up using too short a focal length and you'd end up with lens distortion affecting the image - so you'd move away a bit (I'd suggest about 28mm absolute minimum focal length for APS-C).

For head/shoulders shots, you'll find you need an aperture no wider than about f4 (and this is regardless of the focal lenth of your lens, by the way) if you want all your subject's features to be in focus (and that assumes you're perfectly focused). For less intimate portraits, you're OK with much wider apertures, of course.

For more info on DOF:

A Flexible Depth of Field Calculator

This has simple and advanced versions (because DOF isn't cut-and-dried - it has rather arbitrary criteria).

Have fun!
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