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03-17-2015, 12:41 PM   #1
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Final thoughts (promise!) about portrait lens.

I finally limited my choices for portrait lens to two only.
One is SMC Pentax -DA 70mm f2.4 limited. As someone told in reviews that lens loves people and I agree. There is something really special about that lens. And the price if buying used is not too much.

Another is SMS Pentax DA* 50-135mm f2.8 ED [IF] SDM. Expensive, but with useful focal range and produces beautiful IQ.

So, which one would be wiser to buy?

03-17-2015, 12:48 PM   #2
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These two lenses are not in the same category thus it's difficult to answer you question. I assume your portraiture is of the candid sort, and not the controlled environment, studio kind. If we were to compare the DA 74mm and the DA* 50-135mm at 74mm the prime would be the obvious choice, but the fact that the zoom can be used in portraiture @ 120mm (It tends to be soft at 135) gives you a completely different look that the 74mm focal length cannot emulate. I'm really perplexed, I don't know what to say....
03-17-2015, 12:54 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Stavri Quote
I'm really perplexed, I don't know what to say....
That's the problem! I want them both, but can't spend so much (where is my winning lottery?).
03-17-2015, 12:57 PM   #4
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the 50-135 is fantastic, and more versatile i'd say than the 70, not much slower either.

if you can only have one i'd take the * zoom myself.

03-17-2015, 12:59 PM   #5
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I would choose the 50-135 purely based on flexibility. I think having a zoom is awfully handy to have when you are shooting portraits and the 50-135 is pretty sharp through the range.

03-17-2015, 01:01 PM - 1 Like   #6
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At one time, I had both lenses. A couple of thoughts having used both for portraiture. Both will produce very nice images. The zoom renders slightly warmer and the DA cooler in comparison. People who are more camera shy will be more at ease with the DA70 vs. DA*. versatility, size, sdm,WR are obvious other considerations. For me the zoom was wiser to keep but my +/- decision making will be different from yours.
03-17-2015, 01:03 PM   #7
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The Da* 50-135mm seems to be the wining choice and it's a great lens don't get me wrong. There's a caveat however that has to do with its AF ability in low light. The SDM is generally slow when compared to the screw drive, and it might give less keepers especially in low (indoor) light.

03-17-2015, 01:10 PM   #8
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It's a tough choice... The scenarios you intend on using the lens will make a difference. While the DA 70mm is a fixed lens, it is compact and doesn't stir up much attention. If you are wanting to subtly capture people's photos on the street, the 70 would help you to not stand out. If you are wanting to do candid portraits, you may even want something longer than 70mm though, but if you're going for the feel of the area, along with the person in it, I think 70mm is a good focal length on APS-C.

I took pictures in a church at an in-law's child's baptism this past weekend - I used my new (but used) off of the forum 50-135mm. With the hood mounted on it, and while trying to be as subtle as I could, people still assumed I was a professional, or at least hired to do the photos for it - it was pretty funny! :~) My point being, that if you're going for subtle or candid and proceed to point that at someone, it may not be so candid. All in all, I love the 50-135 so far! The price that I got mine at, I considered a steal, and right now they seem to be going between $500 and $600 used. Used for a DA70mm probably is around $375? So, in the end the cost may not be so big of a difference as you'd think... Also, at f/2.8 you won't be sacrificing much speed compared to the prime at f/2.4.

Before I had the 50-135, I pretty much only had eyes for primes, but the DA* zoom really impressed me. The focus will be slower than the 70mm, but also nearly silent in comparison.

What sort of portrait shooting are you wanting this lens for? In a controlled environment, if you enjoy a thin depth of field, it's really nice having a 50mm f/1.4 or 77mm f/1.8 around to get rid of distracting backgrounds!

Best of luck on your decision!

Quintin
03-17-2015, 01:17 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by aikilink Quote
It's a tough choice... The scenarios you intend on using the lens will make a difference. While the DA 70mm is a fixed lens, it is compact and doesn't stir up much attention. If you are wanting to subtly capture people's photos on the street, the 70 would help you to not stand out. If you are wanting to do candid portraits, you may even want something longer than 70mm though, but if you're going for the feel of the area, along with the person in it, I think 70mm is a good focal length on APS-C.

I took pictures in a church at an in-law's child's baptism this past weekend - I used my new (but used) off of the forum 50-135mm. With the hood mounted on it, and while trying to be as subtle as I could, people still assumed I was a professional, or at least hired to do the photos for it - it was pretty funny! :~) My point being, that if you're going for subtle or candid and proceed to point that at someone, it may not be so candid. All in all, I love the 50-135 so far! The price that I got mine at, I considered a steal, and right now they seem to be going between $500 and $600 used. Used for a DA70mm probably is around $375? So, in the end the cost may not be so big of a difference as you'd think... Also, at f/2.8 you won't be sacrificing much speed compared to the prime at f/2.4.

Before I had the 50-135, I pretty much only had eyes for primes, but the DA* zoom really impressed me. The focus will be slower than the 70mm, but also nearly silent in comparison.

What sort of portrait shooting are you wanting this lens for? In a controlled environment, if you enjoy a thin depth of field, it's really nice having a 50mm f/1.4 or 77mm f/1.8 around to get rid of distracting backgrounds!

Best of luck on your decision!
Quintin
My first outing with the DA* 50-135 on a K5iis with grip stirred a lot of attention. I got stopped by and older gentleman at one point and was asked about my camera and my decision to buy Pentax. I simply replied: it's the best camera for the money. The zoom is intimidating and looks the part, the pancake is unassuming and excellent. They fall under different styles and shooting philosophies. In the words of George W. Bush "You're the decider"
03-17-2015, 02:02 PM   #10
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I've got both. I feel more love for the DA70, but then I'm mainly a prime shooter. If you want small, and unassuming, the DA70 hard to beat (and is noticeably lighter than the 77). The 50-135 is also pretty nice. It's the best zoom I've ever used by far, and the weather sealing does come in handy if you live on the coast (which is the reason I bought it).

For low light performance and IQ, I'd tip my hat in the direction of the DA70. If you don't mind the large size, need weather sealing, and don't mind parting with some extra cash, then go for the 50-135. Its not the greatest lens in low light (I feel it basically wants a tripod, flash, or higher ISO when compared to an f2.8 prime), but it's rendering is pretty magical (even when it flares horribly in the worst lighting imagineable).

The biggest difference really, as people have said, is the way people around you react to your camera. It's hard not to notice that huge hood hanging off a huge lens!
03-17-2015, 02:25 PM   #11
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People seem to frequently confuse "candid" and "portrait", which are opposites. If you just mean "people photos" I'd take the zoom, otherwise the 70.
03-17-2015, 02:35 PM   #12
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Here's a bit of a 'use' question or two:

Do you plan to use your portrait lens outdoors or at random events where you need a zoom ? If yes - maybe the 50-135mm is best for you.

Eg. Outdoors at an event, indoors, or other places where you can't get the reach you're looking for, or possibly the revese.... 50mm vs. 70mm

Do you plan to primarily use this at a studio or location where you have time to compose/frame up the picture ? If yes - DA 70
03-17-2015, 03:15 PM   #13
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They're both wonderful lenses, MicroMacro.


The 50-135 gives you the type of pics a Canikon FF shooter attempts with their beloved 70-200.
03-17-2015, 05:12 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by robthebloke Quote
I've got both. I feel more love for the DA70, but then I'm mainly a prime shooter. If you want small, and unassuming, the DA70 hard to beat (and is noticeably lighter than the 77). The 50-135 is also pretty nice. It's the best zoom I've ever used by far, and the weather sealing does come in handy if you live on the coast (which is the reason I bought it).

For low light performance and IQ, I'd tip my hat in the direction of the DA70. If you don't mind the large size, need weather sealing, and don't mind parting with some extra cash, then go for the 50-135. Its not the greatest lens in low light (I feel it basically wants a tripod, flash, or higher ISO when compared to an f2.8 prime), but it's rendering is pretty magical (even when it flares horribly in the worst lighting imagineable).

The biggest difference really, as people have said, is the way people around you react to your camera. It's hard not to notice that huge hood hanging off a huge lens!
Like Rob, I have both. To be honest, the 50-135 hasn't seen alot of use since I got the 70. The size is the big plus for me. It definitely does not attract the attention that the zoom does.

davek
03-17-2015, 05:35 PM   #15
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After owning both those lenses, I would buy the FA77 instead and latter get the DA*60-250 if you needed a zoom.
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