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05-22-2013, 03:35 PM   #1
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Portrait Lens Dilemma. Advice needed!

Believe me when I say I looked for hours for a straight answer on this and looked through tons of sample shots without getting any closer to the answer that I am looking for.

For starters, I am primarily a landscape photographer and all of my lens purchases have kept that in mind. As such, I am generally not searching for lenses with a narrow DOV.

Well, it just so happens that I have had several requests from friends to do wedding/couples shoots. I will primarily be doing full body shots and need to keep the DOF to a minimum in order to isolate the subjects from the background. My choice would have been much easier if the couples were looking for closer up shots, but after reviewing the example shots that they sent me, this is not the case. Unfortunately, none of my lenses are capable of doing this (I own a Sigma 10-20, Sigma 17-70, Pentax DA 15, and Tamron 70-200 2.8). The closest would be the Tamron, but in order to get a full body shot I must be so far away that I am nearly focused at infinity anyway which does not help with creating a creamy background.

I know there will not be one perfect lens, but my question is this: Which lens would allow full body shots with a relatively narrow DOV and minimal distortion that is often associated with closer lenses?

My three main options are:

1. Pentax FA 77. Currently my Tamron at 2.8 cannot create enough background blur, so I am unsure if 1.8 would be enough to help me out here?

2. Pentax FA 43. Because I can get closer to the subject while keeping the aperature at 1.9, I may be able to isolate them fairly well. Unfortunately, this is generally considered a shorter focal length for portraits so I was unsure if distortion would be an issue?

3. Pentax DA 55 1.4. This seems the most appropriate currently, but it is also the most expensive of the three. Would any of the other more afforadable 50mm Pentax lenses perform as well as this?

I know I am being nitpicky, but I am on a budget so I am really looking to get the most bang for my buck. Having never tested these lenses and having limited exposure to portrait photography, I really need some advice here. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

05-22-2013, 03:48 PM   #2
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You could try the Samyang 85/1.4. It has a solid reputation, creates a good bokeh, and is not going to break the bank. The downside is that on APS-C its a bit long and its manual focus. If you want full body shots then the 43 limited is going to be the best bet IMHO among the ones you listed.
05-22-2013, 04:06 PM   #3
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I wonder if the FA43 is a little long for full body shots. How much room will you have? Maybe set your Sigma 17-70 around that focal length, and try to take some indoor pictures. See how far back you need to stand. Just a thought, I have no wedding photo experience.
05-22-2013, 04:09 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies!

I guess I should have mentioned this...but I will be shooting outside meaning I will have plenty of room to play with longer lenses if necessary. I am not shooting the actual wedding, just some pics of them before the wedding. They already have the location picked out.

05-22-2013, 04:12 PM   #5
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My experience and budget are limited, so I vouch highly for the 'cheaper' Limiteds: DA40 for intimate settings, DA70 for larger events. Both are excellent and not FA-expensive. In your case the Sigma 17-70 would serve you well, but some times the LBA beast must be fed!
05-22-2013, 04:23 PM - 1 Like   #6
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Try moving your subjects further away from the background, it's free!
05-22-2013, 04:29 PM   #7
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Do you have to have AF? If not, there is no better suggestion than to get a good fast 50 for less that $50 USD. Seriously! Enabling the ubiquitous and cheap 50mm standard lens for general portrait use is possibly the most valuable spin-off from using a cropped APS-C sensor.


Steve

(...owns the FA 77/1.8 Limited and the Jupiter-9 85/2, but prefers the M 50/1.7 for portraits...)
05-22-2013, 04:43 PM   #8
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Of the lens choices you posted all are probably a bit long for full body portraits. The 43 would work okay for individual portraits, but with couples I'd suggest wider. The FA 35/2 would work well and the FA* 24 is great on APS-C sensors. However if you shoot a lot of landscapes, the FA 43 performs very well here too.

05-22-2013, 04:43 PM   #9
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What size room will you be in?

How far do you want to be from your subject?

Using a 50mm lens:
In a 20' studio, at 8' camera to subject distance, your diagonal on the image is 4.6 feet. This allows a nice head and shoulders portrait with a little background above the head and some space for cropping. To get a full body shot, a distance of 15' will give you an 8.6' diagonal. That gives head and foot room in the image and some space for cropping. You still have 5' of space behind the camera and subject for backgrounds, hair lights, and breathing room.

I can't see how any lens longer than 50mm can be used in a 20' room for portraits. It is just trigonometry of the subject to camera distance and the focal length. You need to go 35mm if you have less than 15 feet of working room!
05-22-2013, 04:46 PM   #10
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If a lens is too long or short meanly depends on how much you want into the frame and how intimate a photo looks.

55mm would be 85mm equivelant and that is considered the standard for the clasic portraits, this mean you can get a wider lens for full body and still keep the "distortion" the same.
So 43mm should work well enough maybe even 30mm might do the trick depending on what you're looking for.

Like tanzer said, you can use the 17-70 to homeing the focal length you need/want, then simply buy the widest aperture you can get, it's as simple as that
05-22-2013, 04:47 PM   #11
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I've done full body on an APS-C camera with 50mm/f2.8 lens at f2.8 and I was not satisfied with the amount of OOF. The distance needed standing back was too much creating more DOF. And the background objects were a good distance away too. The background would have to be really far as maxfield suggest and that's, no doubt, not going to be practical. Docrwm's suggestion is good if you like a little more telephoto look. I've tried that too with my 85/1.4 on a APS-C. Not too bad.

A 50mm f1.4 lens would be much better but now you need a lens that performs well at f1.4 for quality results. A FF camera is much better at this, of course. So you need to experiment with what you have.
05-22-2013, 05:37 PM   #12
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I like the FA limiteds (a lot), but I reckon the DA*55 might be most useful for you. Not only is it a very capable portrait lens, it would also be a useful addition to your landscape stable. It is weatherproof, has amazing resolution, it's sharp across the field and has minimal field distortion. It makes an excellent lens for multi-image stitches.
05-22-2013, 05:41 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Do you have to have AF? If not, there is no better suggestion than to get a good fast 50 for less that $50 USD. Seriously! Enabling the ubiquitous and cheap 50mm standard lens for general portrait use is possibly the most valuable spin-off from using a cropped APS-C sensor.

Steve

(...owns the FA 77/1.8 Limited and the Jupiter-9 85/2, but prefers the M 50/1.7 for portraits...)
I agree with Steve. If you're going to go manual you could do worse, and more expensive at the same time, than a 50 1.4 or 1.7.
05-22-2013, 05:59 PM   #14
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Thanks everyone! Some great suggestions here. I am going to go experiment with my 17-70 right now to get an idea of what each focal length would feel/look like.
05-22-2013, 06:18 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by turff Quote
Thanks everyone! Some great suggestions here. I am going to go experiment with my 17-70 right now to get an idea of what each focal length would feel/look like.
Good!
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