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11-25-2013, 06:52 AM   #1
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Wider Portrait Lens

Hey everyone,

I am in the market for a wider portrait lens. I have used the Sigma 30 1.4 and I liked it a lot. I have a Tamron 17-50 that I use along with my DA 55 and my Tamron 70-200, but I have grown very discontent with the 17-50 compared to the others. So I am looking for a wide prime for portraits. I also have the Pentax A 28 2.8 and it isn't bad, but it isn't super sharp like the FA 55, and requires quite a bit of post processing to make look like a portrait lens.
I know that the FA 31 and the Sigma 35 are the ticket, but I cannot afford either (a shame!)

So I am looking into buying an FA*24 that doesn't have many reviews. I am looking for a wider prime for portraits that doesn't have a lot of distortion. The FA*24 is praised for its low distortion, and excellent contrast and bokeh. It's criticism is softer corners (not as bad as the Sigma 30 1.4 though). Softer corners don't bother me, so the Sigma 30 and the FA 24 seem to be the two I am considering.

Has anyone used the DA 21 3.2 for portraits? It's distortion is high, and it's not a low light lens, but I don't know if it would be great for portraits. I'm sure the 9 blade ones will be much more versatile, but that is a little high on the price end too. What are your thoughts?
Any FA*24 owners that have done portraits? Any other suggestions.

The rules are $500 and under
Wider than 35mm (it is replacing a 17-50 zoom)

11-25-2013, 07:10 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by zbrueningsen Quote
I have used the Sigma 30 1.4 .. Tamron 17-50... along with my DA 55 and my Tamron 70-200
No offense, but I think you have a portrait lens gold mine

Can I ask why you need a wider angle for portraits? Will you be taking them in such a constrained space? I tend to avoid portraiture with anything wider than 35mm (I have DA 35mm) because of the distortions. It might work for photos of the whole person, but just face? Mmh, not my cup of tea. Especially women tend to complain that "it makes them look fatter." Unless you want to make funny, dramatic portraits, in which case you want to go even wider.

Oh btw, maybe look into the Samyang 24mm f1.4? I don't have any experience with it, but it is wide and fast, MF only, not too expensive (it comes up on sale every once in a while)
11-25-2013, 07:30 AM   #3
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The first and main question you should ask yourself is how do you understand a portrait.

If you understand it as a headshot, 21mm is a wrong choice.

Considering Sigma 35mm, It is probably the best 35 a money can buy. I hope for some sweet deals on this lens on Black Friday, so I recommend to wait a little and maybe save a little too

Last edited by Apapukas; 11-25-2013 at 07:40 AM.
11-25-2013, 07:43 AM   #4
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Portrait - professional people photography. That is how I define it. Also, as you can see by the other lenses (the DA 55 and Tamron 70-200) I have the closer up stuff covered. My concern is confined spaces and I would like to take "scenic portraits" occasionally. With families with a lot of landscape in it. The DA 21 would do well there, but I think its distortion is probably too much. The FA 24 was appropriate for a full frame and film upgrade. Quite frankly, if I could get a wider DA 55 I would love it Now I am leaning Sigma 30 1.4

11-25-2013, 07:49 AM   #5
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For "scenic portraits" 21 is pretty good IMO. 21 is my probably my most used lens and I never had problems with distortions.
11-25-2013, 07:50 AM   #6
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And one other thing - I do not own the Sigma 30 anymore.
11-25-2013, 08:51 AM   #7
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Although I'm selling mine, the 21mm is a good wide portraiture lens. Inside it works really well when you are shooting tight, with reasonable close focus. Outside, its an excellent zone focus lens, allows for great candid shooting. There is definately distortion and it needs correction if you are framing your subject with straight lines of some kind, so you need to leave enough room for correcting the image.
11-25-2013, 09:31 AM   #8
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The FA* 24 is a really good choice for environmental portraits IMHO. Very nice rendering and sharper in the centre than a DA21, although the edges are certainly softer. I find the eqv focal length of 35mm is a really useful one. There are some samples from my old FA*24 on flickr here:

smc PENTAX-FA* 24mm F2 AL[IF] at f/2.0 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


Last edited by weinelm; 11-25-2013 at 10:19 AM.
11-25-2013, 10:00 AM   #9
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I just took a series of portraits of a young family using my DA 12-24 at 24mm. The aperture was f/6.7 and 100% on Lightroom looks very good corner to corner. Here's the bottom right corner full resolution JPEG from my K10D. Prime focus point was on the flash meter placed mid way on the center sofa cushion. I've added two stops in Lightroom so that you can more easily see the floor, which is very dark, and the fall off from the umbrellas is quite noticeable. The sofa is an eight footer, three cushion. Lighting is from two cheap studio flashes (Adorama) and the built in on the camera used for a trigger. X sync.
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11-25-2013, 12:13 PM   #10
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I like the FA* 24 quite a bit. I own both it and the FA 31 Limited. Both have their strengths, but the only time I use the FA* 24 is when I need its wider view. Also, I do like how the FA* 24's sharpness characteristics tends to draw viewer focus to the center of the photograph (which is good for portraits). The center on the FA* 24 is quite obviously sharper than the edges. Some view it as a weakness, I view it as something you can use artistically. However, the FA 31 Limited is superior in all other ways. I'd almost recommend waiting if you're able to.
11-25-2013, 09:04 PM   #11
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Thanks for the FA* points guys. I think I am going that way. I will tell you all about it when I get it! The FA 31 is a little out of my price range until I get a few more weddings booked.
11-25-2013, 09:12 PM   #12
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Either of you gentlemen parting with your FA* for under $500?
11-26-2013, 09:37 AM   #13
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No, I bought mine from KEH in Ex+ condition for $595. I thought that was fair. They are a little higher now. I would also warn you to be careful of perspective distortion. It's not too bad with the FA* 24, but with a wide lens you do have to be careful or you end up with people with longer than possible arms or huge noses.
11-27-2013, 05:59 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by weinelm Quote
The FA* 24 is a really good choice for environmental portraits IMHO. Very nice rendering and sharper in the centre than a DA21, although the edges are certainly softer. I find the eqv focal length of 35mm is a really useful one. There are some samples from my old FA*24 on flickr here:

smc PENTAX-FA* 24mm F2 AL[IF] at f/2.0 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Got to agree with weinelm on the FA*24 - I think it's a superb lens and he has shown what it is capable of with those Flickr photos (although it's clear that he know how to compose well) - the cow photo is superb, makes me smile every time I look at it !
11-27-2013, 06:13 AM   #15
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Portraits with the DA21. Impromptu with available light only. Where it shines is showing context. The first one is wide open at f/3.2



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