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10-28-2013, 08:24 AM   #16
Na Horuk's Avatar

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Classic focal length for portraiture was 85mm to 135mm, which on crop cameras translates to 55mm to 85mm. There is a huge difference between the two - more background blur, different space compression, longer required distance between subject and photographer (which can affect your flash setup). These are things to consider when thinking about focal length.

In terms of quality.. The Pentax DA* 55mm is practically made for portraits, not only because of focal length and aperture, but also how it renders skin tones. Same goes for the FA 77mm ltd (and its counterpart, DA 70mm, but the 70 has a more modern rendering). Older Pentax 85mm lenses would also work great.

Zeiss is great, but it is expensive, doesnt have AF and much automation, it might even be hard to find it in k mount. Voigtlander is a great alternative. Samyang is an even cheaper alternative, but it apparently has surprisingly great IQ (though, there are reports of stiff focus rings, things that probably will never happen with the luxury Zeiss brand)

Feel free to use the sample photo feature on this forum, which searches photos uploaded by users:
Pentax Camera & Lens Sample Photo Search Engine -
So you can see what the Pentax lenses are capable of. The main advantages of Pentax lenses is that they have AF and other automation, they come in K mount, and usually wont cost as much as Zeiss glass.
Of course, if you are just trying to burn some money, I doubt any of the lenses mentioned in this thread will disappoint you. If you are planning a specific use (like studio photography), then you need to take into account those parameters.

Last edited by Na Horuk; 10-28-2013 at 08:55 AM.
10-28-2013, 08:50 AM   #17
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Zeiss lenses are very sharp, but a lot of them have ugly bokeh in my opinion. Sharpness isn't terribly important in portraiture, and I often end up turning down my clarity slider, and/or slightly blurring the skin in post. What about the Pentax FA 77? It's a great portrait lens, but I must admit, I don't like the working distance on APS-C as much as I do on film.
10-28-2013, 08:55 AM   #18

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I've got a Pentax 70mm F 2.4 Limited. It knocks my socks off with clarity, bokeh, etc. A great portrait lens, IMHO.
10-28-2013, 08:59 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
Then there's the DA*50-135: pretty much a one stop shop unless you regularly want one eye in focus and the other not.
I second that comment. I have a hard time taking the 50-135 off my k5. It covers it all for portraits.

10-28-2013, 09:02 AM   #20

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QuoteOriginally posted by Mehlsack Quote
damn too much possible choices......

i tought using a good manuel lens would stop me from just doing so much snapshots, but forces me to work harder on the picture, hopefully improving my skills.
I used to think that....back in the film days.

In this digital age, I find I take many more photographs and with the instant review on the monitor....I can see where I need to improve...or want to make a change.... and therefore can make adjustments on the spot.

From 1968 to 2007....all I used were manual lenses . I still have some fine manual lenses...Takumar, Pentax, Leitz and in medium format ... Zeiss and Mamiya-Sekor.

But since '07...I'm a big fan of auto allows me to concentrate on the important stuff such as composition and technique, without the additional duty of manually focusing.
10-28-2013, 09:06 AM   #21

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I had a Zeiss 85/1.4 ZK. I did not like it on an APS-C. It was too long on a crop sensor for me most of the time. But good outside when you needed some reach and wanted to be less conspicuous by hiding in the distance.

I like breaking the usual portrait rules and focal lengths everyone always gives on forums.
10-28-2013, 09:16 AM   #22
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Any good fast 50 will do. Get yourself a Pentax-A 50/1.7. If you are willing to do the stop-down metering the Pentax-Am 50/1.7 is cheaper and better build. For APS-C, around 50mm is the sweet spot for reasonable working distance with flattering perspective.

10-28-2013, 09:30 AM   #23
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I really like the FA43 as a portrait lens, if you dont mind working a little closer:

10-28-2013, 09:36 AM   #24
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The DA* 50-135 is my favorite all round lens, but I'll be the first to chime in the DA 100mm WR Macro just for the sake of it. It's might sharp wide open and I'm always happy with portrait images taken with it.
10-28-2013, 10:05 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by maxfield_photo Quote
What about the Pentax FA 77? It's a great portrait lens, but I must admit, I don't like the working distance on APS-C as much as I do on film.

That's why i'm thinking of selling my 77. As good as it is, it's just too long for my K5. One of the reasons i'd love a FF Pentax.
10-28-2013, 10:08 AM   #26
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Everything seems to be covered above, and you probably can't go wrong with any of them depending on your style.

Think seriously about the 50-135 zoom for flexibility or a more rapid approach to your picture taking.
The FA's will provide a more "analogue" feel which I think is more "natural" but someone will disagree.
The DA70 is decent just more, um, clinical. And it's not that fast. But it's safer.

Nobody has promoted the FA50/1.4 so I will. At f/2 it's superb. 1.8 really quite good. Soft below that but then again, depending on your needs. And cheap.
10-28-2013, 03:58 PM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by hoopsontoast Quote
I really like the FA43 as a portrait lens, if you dont mind working a little closer:
+1, the FA43 is my favorite for portraits.

Also I just realized that the DA35/2.4 can give very interesting results as well:

10-29-2013, 04:34 AM   #28
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For portrait I am using 50/1.8 DA, Sigma 105/2.8 , Pentax M 135/3.5 and 200/2.8 DA*
10-29-2013, 06:28 AM   #29
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I also use the M 135/3.5 and the M 100/2.8. I love the way the M series lenses render and feel on a camera.
10-29-2013, 06:51 AM   #30
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I have a few lenses, but 80% of my images are shot with the 77mm Limited. I love how small it is. Most of the shot on my website are shot with 77mm Limited

Last edited by pdo; 10-29-2013 at 06:56 AM. Reason: error

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