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04-30-2012, 12:24 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by StephenHampshire Quote
The SMC-M 55 f1.8 is a superb lens, as for flash, old "Auto thyristor" flashes, such as the Vivitar 283, but also a lot of other cheapo ones (just check trigger voltages) will work well incuding in bounce, and you can use cheap optical triggers for multiflash too!

For a more expensive but not quite bank busting solution, the DA70 Ltd is superb. In film days I liked both 90mm and 105mm focal lengths, so it is no surprise that I like the 55 and 70 on APS-c
I agree there are work arounds for flash (If you have used manual flash in the past it's no big deal just a matter of control), though OP has stated a preference for AF at this point which is limiting on the selection end - pretty much the tammie zoom or the FA50 1.4, every other lens suited to portrait is above that with MF (though used copies may crop up on the DA70 in the range if you are lucky)

I think the DA*55 and the FA77 are an deal portrait pair if you have the cash (the FA pixie dust is tough to beat) but both are well beyond $500 no matter how lucky you are in the used market

If you can get back far enough from your subject (10 feet or so versus 5-6 feet with a 50) the DFA 100 2.8 will give you good results wide open (the longer FL making up for the slower aperture to some degree)
bonus it gives you macro as well

04-30-2012, 12:37 PM   #17
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For a really cheap solution, get a 1.4 50, then lap on a 1.5x teleconverter in front.
I got a 1.5 Vivitar for $5 and splurged on a 2x Olympus for $25 at a swap meet.
You lose the light, but still keep the DOF.
Sure the outcome is a little bit softer, but unless you want to shoot like Dragan, the whole getup can cost < $100 (depending on your 50mm of choice, if you already have one, your cost is $5).

I was thinking of the Samyang, but my justification is, while learning to do portraits, and until I find my groove and more money, go cheap until I can afford the 77
04-30-2012, 12:57 PM   #18

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I have a Pentax 70mm F 2.4 Limited. Wonderful lens, wonderful bokeh.
04-30-2012, 01:31 PM   #19

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I'll endorse lesmore49's assessment of the DA70,
but the April Fool's Day price rises
seem to have moved that lens out of the $500 range now.

The apparently forthcoming DA 50/1.8 may be a good option if you can wait:

04-30-2012, 03:27 PM   #20
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Under $500 and AF it's tough to beat a FA 50 f/1.4. It's a fantastic lens. Some will say it's too short for portraits, I find it great though. I struggle with teh usability of the FA77 on digital, but on film it's a perfect focal length.
04-30-2012, 05:23 PM   #21
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FA50 will deffo do the job... You may find a used F50-1.7 cheaper tho...
If MF is ok with you - M50-1.4 I recently got one attached to an MX for 60ish and won another for 40ish on ebay...
04-30-2012, 05:28 PM   #22
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I'm currently enjoying a new/old copy of the Sigma 50mm f/2.8 macro. I don't do much human portraiture but the cat and I had fun recently .
The EX DG has been in the Marketplace from a few owners recently for $250 or less; that's where I got mine.
04-30-2012, 06:23 PM   #23
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I agree the Pentax FA 50 1.4 or 1.7 would be a great choice and well in the 500.00 range, but also, maybe a secondhand Sigma 70mm macro or even a Tamron 90mm macro would give a good portrait as well as giving you another use, Macro photos. The longer FL of the 90mm and 2.8 would give a fairly shallow DoF for portraits. Again you could find these in under the 500.00 mark, as you can also find the DFA100/2.8 (not the WR version) and Its a sharp lens.

04-30-2012, 06:42 PM   #24
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No one mentioned the Nokton 58mm 1.4....a superbly crafted and excellent lens....near 85mm in 35 mm terms, and a jewel at its low price.

[IMG] [/IMG]

It will even do Squirrel portraits at F 1.4....and catch a tiny mosquito buzzing his ear!
[IMG] [/IMG]

Of course, it is MF, but focuses fast and easy with just a little practice.

04-30-2012, 07:22 PM   #25
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As others have said, the FA50/1.4 is a fine affordable portrait option. A decent hood will help.
04-30-2012, 07:40 PM   #26
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Save up for a bit and get the DA 70mm.

The DA 70 is sharp straight from max aperture, small, fast and accurate focusing, and you can get a used copy for under $500. It's a lens you will keep as long as you stay with Pentax.

Manual focusing is a pain in the ass for portraits.

Right now I use the following lenses on photo shoots:

Tamron 17-50mm
FA 43mm
DA 70mm
Vivitar 85mm (which gets barely any use)
05-01-2012, 07:19 AM   #27
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Original Poster
Thanks everyone.... there are just so many choices :-s I can see I need to do a lot more research!
I noticed that quite a few of you mentioned buying second-hand (used) lenses.... how is everyone's experience with that? I was always a bit worried about buying second-hand incase something was wrong with the lens and I wouldn't have a come-back with the seller.
05-01-2012, 07:46 AM   #28
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I assume by 'portrait' you mean head+shoulders (H&S) and headshots. Portraits can be shot with any lens, any focal length -- but different sorts of portraits emerge, eh? As for used lenses -- I literally have hundreds of them. Lenses usually outlast cameras.

For much portraiture, AF isn't needed. My favorite people-shooting zoom is an old M42 Sears-Tokina 55-135/3.5 that cost me all of US$8 shipped. The modern version is the DA*50-135 which costs 100x as much. Ouch. For 3/4-body to H&S shots I'll use the FA50/1.4 or M50/1.7 or SuperTakumar 55/1.8. For headshots I may use a 75/3.5 enlarger lens on focusing helicoid, or the Jupiter-9 85/2, or the SuperTakumar 105/2.8, or whatever.

Different lenses, faster or slower, shorter or longer, will give different effects. The best focal length may depend on how comfortable you and subjects are with distance -- if y'all are shy, use a 135/2.8. If I was shooting portraits at a mafiya funeral, I'd use a 1000mm mirror from about a block away, eh?
05-01-2012, 09:55 AM   #29
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Not sure on the exchange rate but... Could one purchase a used DA*55-1.4 for $500?

Not sure if it's been mentioned but it was designed as a portrait lens for apsc...
05-01-2012, 10:11 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by DaveHolmes Quote
Not sure on the exchange rate but... Could one purchase a used DA*55-1.4 for $500?

Not sure if it's been mentioned but it was designed as a portrait lens for apsc...
I've never seen one that cheap myself. cheapest new in Canada is 749, list is 899. before tax.
us price is now 799.95 @ BH photo - not sure the old price
Average price in the review section is 626 with a couple of people paying $500

It would have been the top suggestion from me if it was in the price zone. I find 55 a near perfect classic portrait length on apsc

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