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10-15-2012, 10:52 AM   #1
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Can you help with my lens list?

I'm a new portrait photographer, I've used Pentax for many years, using my Mom's k1000 in high school. I'd like to buy some new lenses and have a list of what I want, I think, can you help me determine which one to get first? If I should change my mind on any?

I have a 50mm 1.2 and I love it for newborn shoots. I'm having a terrible time getting it to be tack sharp, especially for anyone I'm not right up on. I don't know what I'm doing wrong! The 50mm 1.8 seems to be the closest with AF. I love what the 50mm 1.2 can do, I hate that I'm having such a hard time making it happen. I've attached 3 pictures to demonstrate, two newborn and one Senior. There has been some sharpening on her eyes, and softening of skin and sharpening on the first newborn. The second newborn is my son when he was a newborn, I'd just gotten the camera and there's no sharpening.

Anyhow, my list is

50mm 1.8
77mm 1.8 or 70mm 2.4
85mm 1.4 (Rokinon, there's no way I can afford the pentax one)

Thanks for your help!

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10-15-2012, 11:13 AM   #2
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try the FA 50 f/1.4 instead of the DA f/1.8. The 77mm 1.8 or 70mm 2.4 are both amazing portrait lenses but they do have pretty long minimum focusing distances so it might not be as convenient for newborn shots.
10-15-2012, 11:17 AM   #3
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Thanks, I'm pretty well planning to only use 50mm lenses for newborns! Is the difference in the 1.4 worth the cost difference? I'm on a very limited budget, unfortunately.
10-15-2012, 11:19 AM   #4
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I can't give you first hand info about your list but from from the reviews and user experience, you would not go wrong with your list.
I would give you advice to get focusing screen for you manual lenses and always wait for focus confirm (green hexagon).

Good luck!

10-15-2012, 11:25 AM   #5
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There are FA 50 f/1.4's being offered for sale on the PF Marketplace that come close to the same price as a brand-new DA 50 f/1.8. And there are several F 50 f/1.7 for even cheaper than that. So if it's a budget issue, you might consider one of these used older 50's rather than the new DA 50.

On a limited budget, you would not be getting the DA 70 or FA 77 any time soon, but it might be nice to save up for one of these.
10-15-2012, 11:48 AM   #6
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I've never heard of a focusing screen! I only ever see a red dot, am I missing something?
10-15-2012, 12:18 PM   #7
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Would help to determine the fuzzy photo's if you could post the exif's for the photo's,they seem to be blocked at least for me.I use the A50 f2 with pretty good results.
10-15-2012, 12:27 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by April.H Quote
I only ever see a red dot, am I missing something?
Yes, the red dot just let's you know which focus point the camera is going to work with.
One you have the red dot,
you have to focus manually (with the f/1.2)
or let the camera focus (with AF)
until you get the green hexagon to confirm the focus.

Even then, the green hexagon confirmation is only approximate,
and may not be good enough at f/1.2.
In that case, you're better to try "focus bracketing."
Focus as best you can,
then take three or five photos
in a range moving from a little bit too short
to a little bit too far, including where you think the right focus is.
Hopefully then, you get a keeper in your series.

10-15-2012, 12:32 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by April.H Quote
I've never heard of a focusing screen! I only ever see a red dot, am I missing something?
The focusing screen is a piece of ground glass that sits below the pentaprism in the viewfinder. It's the first thing light passes through after being reflected by the mirror. Depending on which camera you have, you can change out the focusing screen for one that helps you more accurately judge manual focus. So you could keep using the lens you already like, and hopefully get more consistent results.
10-15-2012, 12:35 PM   #10
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Take a look at Focusing Screen and Katzeye. I have katzeye with Optibrite and it's split screen, like old focusing screens you can see on film cameras.
Focusing screens are great help for manual focus lenses. Green hexagon appears in the bottom left corner of the camera viewfinder every time when focus is achieved.
I don't know what camera model you have?
10-15-2012, 12:45 PM   #11
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Pentax Forum pictures by Aprilharmonphotography - Photobucket to view the images if you aren't able to see them here. I'll have to figure out what I did wrong posting.

I googled and ebayed the focusing screen. I'm not sure what causes such huge price differences. They're anywhere from $15 all the way to $200! I'd love to be able to use the 50mm all the time, I think it does a beautiful job. Then I could maybe skip buying another 50, unless anyone has a recommendation as to why it's worth going ahead and getting an AF one.

I've been "focus bracketing" sometimes, I've never seen the green hexagon, makes me feel like an idiot but I've gotten a lot of tack sharp images, and of course some fuzzy infuriating ones too. I'll have to do some more playing with it. Does it work on old film lenses or only newer ones?
10-15-2012, 12:45 PM   #12
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I have the K-r
10-15-2012, 12:47 PM   #13
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I have the K version of the 50/1.2. Try focusing through Live View. It's likely your focusing screen isn't perfectly aligned - I have the same problem on my K-5. If you get better results with Live View that's the problem.

None of the other 50's is as good as what you have. If Live View doesn't improve results send the lens in to CRIS or Eric for repair. I paid about $50-60 when I sent my FA20 in, and it came back performing just like it should. I couldn't even describe the problem well, but I told them it was just 'wrong somehow.'

If you need a lens while you send it in, get either the bargain A50/1.7 or A100/2.8, or the FA43, the DA*55, or the FA77/1.8 (which is almost as good as the FA*85/1.4 I now have). All of these are completely worth the cost. The ones in between are not, IMO. There have been some good prices here for the Ltds recently.

The FA43, DA*55, and A50/1.2 are all roughly equal, but noticeably different in character. The FA43 has the ultimate color and sharpness, but must be stopped down to at least between f/2.2 and f/2.8. The DA*55 has the ultimate sharpness near wide-open, and can be shot at f/1.6 or 1.8. Backgrounds are usually beautiful, but occasionally harsh. The 50/1.2s have the ultimate smooth backgrounds and often don't appear quite sharp wide open. The FA77 can be shot wide open at f1.8. IMO you want the DA*55 or FA77.

Last edited by DSims; 10-15-2012 at 06:10 PM.
10-15-2012, 12:54 PM   #14
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I found the green hexagon, I'm ridiculously excited about it! Thanks so much for that help!

It must be the focusing screen, it's better through live view. Can I adjust the focusing screen or would it need to be sent in? Thanks for your advice, I'll look at those lenses. Now that I have some idea how to make my 50mm work like I want it to, different focusing and getting a screen, I'll likely just drop the other 50s out of the running.
10-15-2012, 01:07 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by April.H Quote
I googled and ebayed the focusing screen. I'm not sure what causes such huge price differences. They're anywhere from $15 all the way to $200! I'd love to be able to use the 50mm all the time, I think it does a beautiful job. Then I could maybe skip buying another 50, unless anyone has a recommendation as to why it's worth going ahead and getting an AF one.
Getting a focusing screen may be a good idea, but it's a pain in the rear to install. It took me 2 hours to get it aligned properly on my K-x, and I got some dirt specks on it in the process. But it did help my focusing. And of course, if it isn't aligned properly with the correct number of spacers (trial and error between those in the kit and your original one) you'll be right back where you started. Again, try Live View first to see if it gives you relatively consistent results. I believe you can also use the AF fine adjustment in the menu to make the focus indicator go on at the right time, even if it looks a little fuzzy in the misaligned viewfinder. But this is an imperfect solution.

BTW, I think the DA*55 would yield smooth backgrounds around your newborn shots. I've used it and love it, but can't justify getting it unless I sell my FA43.

If you haven't already done so, go to the PPG and carefully study the shots for all the lenses we discussed. It will clearly show you the character of each lens. http://www.pentaxphotogallery.com/photos/gallery/query?camera=&lens=3750

Last edited by DSims; 10-15-2012 at 01:12 PM.
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