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02-24-2014, 12:13 AM   #1
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Portrait Lens for K-x

i'm somewhat new to photography. I bought my first dslr last year the Pentax kx it came with the kit lens and also Tamron 28-300mm 2.5 or 3.5 (not sure). I'm looking for a good portrait lens for mostly kids and families. I have narrowed it down somewhat (I had a pretty long list of potentials considering this is my first time buyinga lens). The choices are Pentax da 50mm 1.8, tamron 90mm, and the random 28-75mm. I'm open to other suggestions too. These were just based on my research. Thank you

02-24-2014, 12:27 AM - 1 Like   #2
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The DA 50mm is a very good choice for a first prime lens, and it's great for portraits. It'll give you better bokeh than the kit lens and than the Tamron lenses you're considering.

We actually have a portrait lens guide here that you'll probably find helpful:
Beginner Portrait Lens Guide - Pentax Tutorial Videos - PentaxForums.com

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02-24-2014, 12:35 AM - 1 Like   #3
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I've got both the DA35 and the DA50. They're both worthwhile budget primes. You can look in the photo sharing and galleries and albums to see pictures people have posted with these lenses.
02-24-2014, 03:31 AM - 1 Like   #4
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Hey, welcome!
I would suggest the DA 50mm f1.8 - it is sharp, has fast AF, and allows very shallow DoF for that dreamy bokeh.
But! 50mm is the lower end of the portrait focal range. Sometimes, when you come really close for an intimate portrait, it might distort the face a little bit, making the person seem "rounder" (and women might not appreciate that!). Generally you want 55mm-135mm lenses for portraits - these keep the distortion very low and the face stays nice and proportional.
If you can live without the AF, think about the Samynag 85mm f1.4. Its a budget lens, but according to reviews it has amazing image quality, and its practically made for portraits. No AF, though, so you have to learn to focus by hand.
The Tamron macro 90mm might be a good choice, lots of people on this forum love it, but macro lenses are unforgivingly sharp and they might display the subject too clearly. For portraits, you generally don't want oversharpened photos (macro lenses tend to be super-sharp, more than non-macro lenses)

Just fyi, the current Pentax portrait primes are the DA* 55mm, DA 70mm ltd, and FA 77mm ltd., but these cost a bit. The DA* 50-135mm is also popular.

02-24-2014, 05:28 AM   #5
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I'd like to offer a different approach to this and thus recommend an old MF-lens. That is if you are used to AV-mode...

Something like a Helios 44-2 58mm should be available for about $20 and an original adapter to fit M42 lenses for about the same. Or an old pentax SMC 50mm that you could get for between $20-60 depending on what aperture you select.

This however means manual focus and aperture setting, takes some getting used to and might not be the easiest when shooting kids... But the amount of lens you get for the money is spectacular!

The FA lenses are also a consideration, you could get a FA50 F1.4 for about $200. This is rather soft wide open and quite suitable for portraits. Dunno what the FA50 f1.7 costs but t is according to others here a fantastic lens.

I would not go below 50mm for portrait. On aps-c I'd say 50-60mm would be the "standard portrait lens", on FF 85mm would be standard.

On aps-c the 85mm is quite limited so I would consider a macro lens instead, like the D FA 100mm, a fantasticly sharp lens (might want to use a soft filter for portraits). And since this lens is for macro photography you will have more uses for it.


Myself I have the following for portrait:


FA50 f1.4
Helios 44 f2
Sigma 85 f1.4
D FA 100 f2.8
SMC 135 f2.5

I'd say the D FA 100 gets the most use. Since I can keep some distance to the subject. Otherwise the FA50 or helios ties for second place. The bokeh of the helios is more pleasing to me, but the FA50 has more "oumpf!" and is easier to handle since aperture etc can be set automatically. The only time I use my 85mm is when I have some distance to the subject and there is poor lighting so I really need that aperture.
02-24-2014, 06:35 AM   #6
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FA 50 F.14
SIgma 35 f1.4 art
HD DA 70 LTD
EX DG 85mm f.14
DFA 100 f.28 WR
all that lenses are good for portrait, now it's up to you for budjet, but the cheapest one is DA 50 F.18
02-24-2014, 06:48 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by discharged Quote
I'd like to offer a different approach to this and thus recommend an old MF-lens. That is if you are used to AV-mode...
An old MF Pentax-A 35-105 is my go-to portrait lens. The focal length range is just right for portraits, IMO. It's also very sharp , with great colors and very nice bokeh.
02-24-2014, 10:18 AM   #8
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I was considering the Rokinon/Samyang 85mm but thought with the MF it would not allow the AV mode option. Im just worried about manual adjusting the aperture (I don't know how lol). So I want to be sure I can use the AV mode.

02-24-2014, 10:31 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by smileyz1gin Quote
So I want to be sure I can use the AV mode.
I'm pretty sure the Samang 85mm (as well as 15mm, 16mm, 24mm and 31mm) has an A button on the aperture ring, which means you can control the aperture via the camera. This also allows Av mode, P mode, etc. At least with my Samyang 14mm that's how it is.
Auto-aperture is not the same as AF (auto-focus)
02-24-2014, 10:48 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by GibbyTheMole Quote
An old MF Pentax-A 35-105 is my go-to portrait lens. The focal length range is just right for portraits, IMO. It's also very sharp , with great colors and very nice bokeh.
Ughh, im so torn on what to do. I have been researching and going back and forth on what lens to get for the last few weeks and I am getting so frustrated that I cannot make a decision.....
02-24-2014, 11:00 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by smileyz1gin Quote
Ughh, im so torn on what to do. I have been researching and going back and forth on what lens to get for the last few weeks and I am getting so frustrated that I cannot make a decision.....
I would just start with DA 50/1.8 and then move up or down the focal length path after you see the results of your personal shooting style and preference. Its cheap enough so that you wont break the bank....
02-24-2014, 11:44 AM - 1 Like   #12
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Yes, I would also suggest the DA 50mm f1.8 as a starting point. It doesn't cost much, comes new with warranty, and it gives you great low light performance and portrait options. After a while you will develop your style and figure out your needs and it will be easier to choose a lens. Keep in mind that a good lens allows a lot, but its the photographer that wields it The 50mm has no zoom, so its not flexible in that regard. You will figure out what you need as you go. If you just want to replace the kit lens, then think about the Tamron or the older Pentax lens that was mentioned above. No need to get stressed out over lenses
02-24-2014, 12:17 PM   #13
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Of the available new lenses, the DA 50 1.8 and DA 35 2.4 are the two that are good and affordable. I went with the 35 2.4 and it's about 53mm equivalent in full frame - which means that it's good for portraits as well. Probably not as good as a dedicated portrait lens but I've gotten some very good results from it.

I have heard that the Pentax-F 70-210 f/4-5.6 is awesome for portraits, because of the way it renders skin colors. I have the previous version, the A 70-210 f/4 and I think it's excellent for portraits as well. But my favorite is the A 135 f/2.8, I just love using that lens to shoot heads or heads/shoulders. You need some distance from your subject but the rewards are worth it... at least to me.
02-24-2014, 12:23 PM   #14
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Think about it this way, on a crop censor, a 35mm lens doesn't give the perspective of a 52mm lens, it gives you the perspective of a 35mm lens with the edges cut out on all sides. To avoid perspective distortion, I'd still advise longer than 50mm. I have a Pentax K 55 that is quite spectacular. If you don't mind manual focus, they can be had at around $50 for the f/2 version.
02-24-2014, 01:17 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Yes, I would also suggest the DA 50mm f1.8 as a starting point. It doesn't cost much, comes new with warranty, and it gives you great low light performance and portrait options. After a while you will develop your style and figure out your needs and it will be easier to choose a lens. Keep in mind that a good lens allows a lot, but its the photographer that wields it The 50mm has no zoom, so its not flexible in that regard. You will figure out what you need as you go. If you just want to replace the kit lens, then think about the Tamron or the older Pentax lens that was mentioned above. No need to get stressed out over lenses
I also have the 28-300 tamron lens.do you think that lens is okay with portraits and i'm just not working it right?
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