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04-22-2014, 11:51 PM   #1
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Which 30-40mm?

Hello Everyone, I am getting into some Action portraits, and I would like to know which of these lenses I should go for:

DA 35mm 2.4
DA 35mm 2.8 MACRO
FA 31mm 1.8 Limited
FA 35mm 2.0
Sigma 35mm 1.4

I need the "normal" focal length because I need to get the full body in the shot, and most of the time the subjects will be in the air. I will also be shooting with high shutter speeds. what would you guys go for?

Thank you for your help!

04-22-2014, 11:57 PM   #2
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I'd say a flash unit to freeze the action. And for the lens, the one with the fastest focusing and shortest focus throw (skip the macro). Id go with the DA35/2.4
04-23-2014, 12:44 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by beales1986 Quote
I need the "normal" focal length because I need to get the full body in the shot, and most of the time the subjects will be in the air. I will also be shooting with high shutter speeds. what would you guys go for?
Can you give any more details on the type of action shot, and where you'll be positioned? For example, is it dance? And will it be indoors or at night?
04-23-2014, 01:21 AM   #4
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I used very successfully the FA31mm f1.8 to shoot active sports. I can recommend it, not to mention the superb IQ. My favorite AF prime.

I add that I have not tried the other lenses.

My 5 cents...

04-23-2014, 02:07 AM   #5
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I'm guessing from your profile that it may be dance.

The DA35/2.8 macro is probably out because of the focus throw of a macro, as previously mentioned. You could lose focus too often. The slower aperture is also a disadvantage. This is especially important for subject isolation, and for shooting in low light.

The FA35/2 should be eliminated too, because it's simply a more expensive DA35/2.4. I sold both FA35/2s I had, because the IQ between f/2.4 and f/2 was not good enough to use. But the DA35/2.4 is perfect, so I bought one recently. And you don't have to pay for the unusable range.



This leaves the DA35/2.4, FA31, and Sigma 35/1.4.

First of all, you need to consider upgrading your camera, unfortunately. This is to get better AF performance. At a minimum, sell your K-5 and get a K-5 II or IIs. You may want a Battery Grip too: Battery Grip For Pentax K7 K-7 DSRL D-BG4 - Newegg.com The II/IIs are generally good enough. The K-3 is even better, if it's in your budget.

The Sigma 35/1.4 is good if you like the appearance of the images it produces. Be aware that the AF is using an HSM motor built-in to the lens. It may or may not focus fast enough - I haven't heard a report on this one yet (as to whether the AF is fast enough for shooting action).

The two Pentax lenses will focus fast enough. The DA35/2.4 is the easy choice because it's cheaper. I usually prioritize lenses, but for this application I'd say upgrade the body and get this lens if necessary.



Be aware that the subject needs to come fairly close to you with any of these lenses. The FA*24/2, FA43/1.9 and even DA50/1.8 may be considerations also (but not the DA*55/1.4 - fantastic lens, but too slow in focusing).

Last edited by DSims; 04-23-2014 at 02:12 AM.
04-23-2014, 10:52 AM   #6
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Lol Yes I shoot alot of dance now, and yes mainly this is for dance, both on the stage and in the studio. I have a DBG-4 already, and some extra batteries. I normally shoot for fun but people are now asking me to shoot them and are willing to pay. I haven't used any of the above 35mm lenses. I also use an MZ-S on occasion, that is why I threw the 35FA in there. I have some remote flash strobes + backgrounds etc. @Dsims, how close is fairly close? I may need a wider angle if it is within 16ft. and are you really sure I need to upgrade the body?... I am all for that but my wife may have a word about that "you already have a good camera".....the FA*24mm, is that a good lens for this sort action portraits? I haven't used a variety of lenses yet so I don't know what the best ones for this application are, and scrolling through the user reviews most people are shooting thier puppy, some bugs in the backyard, or some old building/farms...... so I can't really tell which are good for this.

31mm would that be alright without buying a new body? s
04-23-2014, 11:30 AM   #7
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The K5 is very capable, but of course new bodies.....

Most of these will be "normal" view - pretty close to the magnification and field of view of your eye. There are advantages to this, with what you want to do, over tighter lenses. Past the 28-35mm range you're getting into wide angle, if this is useful to you.

I have a Sigma 28mm f1.8 macro which I really like as a "normal" view but capable of very close focus. I didn't think I'd use the 1.8 aperture but I do find it very useful indoors in dark settings. It focuses well. Consider their newer 30mm version.

It's a pretty wide price range you're considering. The 31mm is very well regarded, it's something I'd like to play with sometime though probably for my work the Sigma 28 is more useful. A big advantage to used lenses is you can sell again with no price loss for the good stuff.
04-23-2014, 01:12 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by beales1986 Quote
Lol Yes I shoot alot of dance now, and yes mainly this is for dance, both on the stage and in the studio. I have a DBG-4 already, and some extra batteries. I normally shoot for fun but people are now asking me to shoot them and are willing to pay. I haven't used any of the above 35mm lenses. I also use an MZ-S on occasion, that is why I threw the 35FA in there. I have some remote flash strobes + backgrounds etc. @Dsims, how close is fairly close? I may need a wider angle if it is within 16ft. and are you really sure I need to upgrade the body?... I am all for that but my wife may have a word about that "you already have a good camera".....the FA*24mm, is that a good lens for this sort action portraits? I haven't used a variety of lenses yet so I don't know what the best ones for this application are, and scrolling through the user reviews most people are shooting thier puppy, some bugs in the backyard, or some old building/farms...... so I can't really tell which are good for this.

31mm would that be alright without buying a new body? s
I believe the DA35/2.4 will still work on the MZ-S, even though it's not advertised as compatible. It's the same lens design with the same image circle. And the MZ-S can control the aperture without an aperture ring, correct?


There's no harm in trying to use the K-5 for action. It works better than previous bodies. But I found the K-5 IIs got me to the level of AF performance I wanted to be at. I miss more action shots with the K-5. With the K-5 in AF-C mode (which you should use) it's out of focus for longer intervals than with the K-5 IIs. The K-5 IIs maintains focus much or most of the time. But I still use both bodies at the same time, with a longer lens on one body and a shorter one on the other. My more important lens goes on the K-5 IIs, of course.



You have 2 major questions here: The AF question, and the Focal Length question. I'll try to summerize.

AF: The absolute best option here is often to change camera systems - typically to Canon, and possibly even to the new Fuji X-T1 (information is inconclusive so far). But switching to a new or 2nd system has disadvantages, obviously. Plus the best Pentax body costs about the same as the minimum body you'd want to get from these brands.

So the Pentax story is this: They're the opposite of Canon here. Their in-lens focusing motors are not optimized for action, like Canon's are (with the semi-exception of the DA*300). So in order to improve AF performance in the last 2 generations of bodies, Pentax has optimized the screw-drive AF instead. This was a smart move, since they continue to sell and update many new screw-drive lenses. But older lenses benefit just as much from this. They've hinted that they'll be improving in-lens motors next, but this could be a slow process that takes many years. So for best AF performance right now you need a K-3 or K-5 II or IIs with either a screw-drive lens, a DA*300 (not quite as fast) or a Sigma 70-200/2.8 OS HSM (about the same). If you're shooting in a really quiet environment the screw-drive AF noise could also be a factor, vs. the nearly silent in-lens motors. But fortunately Pentax produces some of the quieter shutters on the market, so that's not a big issue. It's difficult to gather information on whether any other 3rd-party in-lens motors focus fast enough, however, which is why I'm uncertain about the suitability of the Sigma 35/1.4 HSM. But its Focal Length is a good question too ...


FL: Most action shots are taken in the 70 to 600mm range. Indoors you can usually narrow that to around 70 to 300mm - with a possibility of 24 to 70mm on occasion. But rarely will a shot under 70mm be of a single performer, even indoors - that is, if you want him to fill the frame.

I think your best results will be with a FA*85/1.4, FA77/1.8, or DA70/2.4 (probably in that order). Then you can still get an inexpensive DA35/2.4 at the same time, to compare the focal lengths.

A cheaper alternative is to try a Tamron 28-75/2.8 instead. Ultimately I think the primes will do better, however. The Tamron will tend to yield a larger number of average shots, while the primes will tend to give you a smaller number of nicer-looking keepers. And all the primes I mentioned perform well at f/2.4 or wider (if they're cabable), whereas the Tamron will probably do better stopped down to f/3.5 or narrower. But the Tamron still does the job for some people.



In all cases, regardless of lens choice, if you find you're having too many focus problems with your K-5, then consider upgrading your body at that point.

There are a number of AF settings to consider, but I usually use a single, fixed AF point other than the center point (the center point focuses well but creates poor composition - drives me crazy sometimes when I look at a long series of center-point-focus action photos). I'm also often using the rear AF button now - and you may even want to turn off the half-shutter-press AF as well.


Last edited by DSims; 04-23-2014 at 01:41 PM.
04-24-2014, 12:02 AM   #9
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Thank you everyone for your input, I will mellow all of this over and then start shooting in May
04-24-2014, 12:09 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by beales1986 Quote
Hello Everyone, I am getting into some Action portraits, and I would like to know which of these lenses I should go for:

DA 35mm 2.4
DA 35mm 2.8 MACRO
FA 31mm 1.8 Limited
FA 35mm 2.0
Sigma 35mm 1.4

I need the "normal" focal length because I need to get the full body in the shot, and most of the time the subjects will be in the air. I will also be shooting with high shutter speeds. what would you guys go for?

Thank you for your help!
If money is not an issue, you should go for FA 31mm 1.8 Limited.
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