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01-11-2014, 12:53 AM   #1
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Portrait photography dilema, Pentax Q vs K-5 with 16-50mm

So, I have just begun my long journey into portrait photography, and was wondering if it was possible to do fairly decent professional portraits with the Pentax Q with the 01 prime, or if would be more useful to use the K-5 with the 16-50mm which I currently have on order? Also, I do know the DOF of the Q will be much wider with any lens with an equivalent aperture compared with the K-5, but also know that some good PP could enhance the DOF greatly.

Also of note, I do currently have a few lenses with relatively large apertures, such as a 'Access 35-70 f2.5-3.5' which I find is a very useable lens and also the standard 'SMC Pentax-M 50mm f2' which I nicked of my fathers K1000. I feel I am fairly competent with manual focus, but obviously there are disadvantages, and always room for improvement.

Anyway, thanks for any and all feed back!

01-11-2014, 01:11 AM   #2
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I remember seeing a person using the q for some amazing portrait work but I remember that person as having pretty exceptional skills. I would think the k5 with the 16-50 or the 50f2 would be your best bet if you want to fuzz out the background. Ive been able to do that with the Q but I have had to have the subject pretty close to the camera which with the background relatively far away. Thing is if this is your first time out with the k5, I might be hesitant to use something I am not familiar with.
01-11-2014, 01:23 AM   #3
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Thanks for the swift reply!
So, I have had the K-5 for close to 8 months now, but I honestly haven't really bought any 'new' lenses per say, only pre-owned since I got a AF Sigma Telephoto, so I am fairly comfortable with the camera by now. The Q on the other hand, I have only had for a few weeks, but find that it is very useful for exploring camera angles that I just wouldn't feel comfortable using my K-5 for, so I guess the use for the K-5 is considerable. unfortunately, I haven't yet got the 16-50, so I only have the kit lens for my K-5 for comparison, but feel that it can be a little overcomplicated for portraits, generally because I play with the zoom ring a bit to much.
Another questionI have is how the M 50 would compare to the 01 Prime on the Q?
01-11-2014, 01:34 AM   #4
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Not sure the 16-50 is the best portrait lens. The 50-135 has a better reputation there. I would think you would be shooting at close to 50mm all the time.

With the 50-135 you have some room left on the zoom. I also like the da 70mm if you want a prime.

Just my thoughts, ymmv!

01-11-2014, 02:04 AM - 1 Like   #5
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You can make a good portrait with just about any camera if you know what you are trying to achieve, are knowledgeable about posing, have good rapport with the subject, see and use the direction of light, make an accurate exposure, edit and present well: Concept, Capture, Edit, Presentation.

The Q and 01 Prime is okay for half to full length portraits with careful selection of backgrounds. The K-5 and 16-50 on the long end offers a lot more flexibility, including the ability to isolate a subject with shallow DoF.

My two most used portrait lenses are a well worn Tamron 28-75 ( that I would buy again tomorrow if I lost mine) and a 5 year old DA*50-135 which is my choice if I have room. I also have a DA 17-70 which I have no hesitation to use. Its been my "Santa Claus" lens the past two years and made plenty of parents happy. Here are examples from each:

Last edited by Brooke Meyer; 12-03-2014 at 09:18 PM.
01-11-2014, 02:39 AM   #6
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Well, I would agree with the 50-135 being a great choice for portraiture, but unfortunately I also enjoy taking landscape photos, something that is better suited to a wide-angle lens than a short telephoto, as personally I find using a telephoto for landscaping takes both more discipline and planning. On the otherhand, I do currently find myself using the long end of my 35-70 quite a lot for taking natural portraits of people, especially seeing that the f3.5 aperture allows for both a shallow depth of field, and a slightly less sharp image.
When it comes to lighting, I only currently have a homemade light box made of a polystyrene box, and my on board flash, so using available light is quite important to me currently. Also, I and now using both Adobe Lightroom 4 and Nik Efex for my PP, so hopefully this combination will last me quite awhile.
Personally, picking up some autofocus primes is a little out of reach, due to the relatively steep pricing of the DA* lens, so maybe in a few months I will consider picking up a Limited or Sigma Art lens. So, thanks for all the help, and I would really value some more opinions on the matter!
01-11-2014, 02:47 AM   #7
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Also, here's an example of my use of the Access as a portrait lens.

Last edited by Joshua A; 09-16-2014 at 06:46 AM.
01-11-2014, 05:38 AM   #8
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I think the Access is giving the DoF you are looking for but, presumably wide open and the sharpness is consequently slightly off the boil. Have you tried your 50mm f2 at f2.8?

01-11-2014, 07:48 AM   #9
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Cheap lenses usually do everything OK, nothing very well. It's time to step up to more specialized lenses. You have a huge collection of cheaper lenses. I'd sell all of that and get a much smaller kit of great glass. Make sure each lens you buy has a purpose, and that it's suited to that purpose.

You already have the 16-50 on order, and it's a crackerjack lens for environmental portraits and landscapes (and rain). You do need a longer portrait lens, though. Others have suggested the 50-135, but I'd make a vote for the Tamron 70-200. It has wonderful rendering at all apertures (except right at 200 wide open). The only downside is it's big and doesn't feel as well made as Pentax glass. It's also cheaper than the 50-135, and has no SDM to fail. For rendering, it has no equal, it really takes stunning photos.

One more comment, the 50/f2 is miles behind either the 1.7 or 1.4. If you want something amazing, get one of those two and ditch the f2.
01-11-2014, 09:38 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Brooke Meyer Quote
You can make a good portrait with just about any camera if you know what you are trying to achieve, are knowledgeable about posing, have good rapport with the subject, see and use the direction of light, make an accurate exposure, edit and present well: Concept, Capture, Edit, Presentation.

The Q and 01 Prime is okay for half to full length portraits with careful selection of backgrounds. The K-5 and 16-50 on the long end offers a lot more flexibility, including the ability to isolate a subject with shallow DoF.

My two most used portrait lenses are a well worn Tamron 28-75 ( that I would buy again tomorrow if I lost mine) and a 5 year old DA*50-135 which is my choice if I have room. I also have a DA 17-70 which I have no hesitation to use. Its been my "Santa Claus" lens the past two years and made plenty of parents happy. Here are examples from each:
Nice photos Brooke! Really like 1 &2.

Regarding the fast 50's - the f2 is pretty good, but I'd have to agree the 1.7 or 1.4 are vastly superior. if you want AF get the 50 1.8 - it's cheap but really good.
01-11-2014, 05:56 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Joshua A Quote
Well, I would agree with the 50-135 being a great choice for portraiture, but unfortunately I also enjoy taking landscape photos, something that is better suited to a wide-angle lens than a short telephoto, as personally I find using a telephoto for landscaping takes both more discipline and planning. On the otherhand, I do currently find myself using the long end of my 35-70 quite a lot for taking natural portraits of people, especially seeing that the f3.5 aperture allows for both a shallow depth of field, and a slightly less sharp image.
When it comes to lighting, I only currently have a homemade light box made of a polystyrene box, and my on board flash, so using available light is quite important to me currently. Also, I and now using both Adobe Lightroom 4 and Nik Efex for my PP, so hopefully this combination will last me quite awhile.
Personally, picking up some autofocus primes is a little out of reach, due to the relatively steep pricing of the DA* lens, so maybe in a few months I will consider picking up a Limited or Sigma Art lens. So, thanks for all the help, and I would really value some more opinions on the matter!
A used Tamron 28-75 is about $325 USD. Has a minimum focus of 12", very versatile for landscape and portrait. I've made and sold both with that lens. If I could only have one lens, that would be it. Pentax 50-135's have been going for about $750 USD at KEH.

You don't need a ton of lighting gear. A window with a sheer curtain (aka softbox) will do wonders. No curtain? That why I have a shower curtain liner and a few suction cups in my lighting bag. Add a homemade reflector ( sheet of 20x30 white foamboard) and you're in business. I have a couple of collapsible 4'x6" reflectors I got on sale for about $60 a piece including stands & case. I make my own head shot backgrounds (okay my wife sews the seams) from fleece fabric, about $18 for 5"x9". Cut a 2"x2" to 5 ft., drill a whole in the middle for the spigot on a light stand, drape the cloth over and you're in business.

You can do a lot with a manual flash ( Yongnou 560 for about $60) on camera and flagged with $1 piece of black foam (aka the "black foamy thing"). Neil's site has what you need to learn. You can go off camera with a $20 to $30 wireless trigger set like a PT04. Shoot through umbrellas and a bracket don't cost much.

Another poster made a great suggestion. Sell the stuff you really don't need but may seem comforting because you have a lot of stuff and get 1 good one.

Landscapes, get a good used tripod and a wired remote release, get used to 2 sec MLU which turns off SR on your K-5.

Invest you're time in learning, there's a lot of free info out there. It'll pay back more than any equipment you can buy.

Last edited by Brooke Meyer; 01-11-2014 at 05:58 PM. Reason: Correct grammar
01-11-2014, 06:51 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Joshua A Quote
professional portraits
Most people don't know the Pentax name. Using the tiny Q might not instill the greatest confidence in the buying public. Of course the final product is the thing.
01-12-2014, 03:13 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Joshua A Quote
So, I have just begun my long journey into portrait photography, and was wondering if it was possible to do fairly decent professional portraits with the Pentax Q with the 01 prime, or if would be more useful to use the K-5 with the 16-50mm which I currently have on order? Also, I do know the DOF of the Q will be much wider with any lens with an equivalent aperture compared with the K-5, but also know that some good PP could enhance the DOF greatly.

Also of note, I do currently have a few lenses with relatively large apertures, such as a 'Access 35-70 f2.5-3.5' which I find is a very useable lens and also the standard 'SMC Pentax-M 50mm f2' which I nicked of my fathers K1000. I feel I am fairly competent with manual focus, but obviously there are disadvantages, and always room for improvement.

Anyway, thanks for any and all feed back!
Use Q to test the composition. Take several shots that you may or may not use later.

But use Pentax K-mount DSLR to take an actual shot, and don't stop at one; take several in each and every portrait situation. Always bring at least two different lenses, one of shorter one of longer focal length, with different rendering qualities too, to capture two different temperaments about one person. Because no person is so simple to be explained with one statement.

Remember that there is no best lens for portraits, nor best focal length portraits are created either in front of the camera, or in the back of it. The lens is finally, irrelevant.
01-12-2014, 08:44 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Joshua A Quote
know that some good PP could enhance the DOF greatly.
Unfortunately, the Q will not exactly look professional to your client/subject.

And unless you have a Lytro camera and its software, you cannot adjust DOF in post.
01-12-2014, 02:02 PM   #15
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That question is a bit like asking "I have just begun my long journey into carpentry, and was wondering if it was possible to do fairly decent professional construction with the claw hammer, or if would be more useful to use the 3lb framing hammer which I currently have on order?"

What type of c̶a̶r̶p̶e̶n̶t̶r̶y̶ portraiture are you going to do? Answer that question first, then pick the tool for the job.
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