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07-15-2015, 05:52 AM   #1
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Which general portrait lens?

Hi I am asking this forum's advice as I cannot decide on a short tele/portrait prime lens. Currently ditching the last of my Nikon gear and restocking in Pentax K mount.

I am between the:
  • Tamron 90 1:2.8 SP AF di macro (pro: macro, AF, aperture ring)
  • Pentax M 85 1:2 (pro: small size, fast aperture, aperture ring)
  • Pentax DFA 100 1:2.8 macro (pro: small size, macro, AF, WR)
I hear great things about all of them and cannot decide. I am erring towards the first two as they have aperture rings (which makes them adaptable to other mounts). They both can be had for about €250. Macro and AF are not crucially important to me, sharp images and nice contrast are. WR would be nice as I spend a lot of time near water, and can be had on the 100, but quite a bit dearer. To be used primarily on K5 and possibly m43.

I must add, the 77 Limited is beyond my budget so can't go there

07-15-2015, 06:03 AM   #2
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Samyang 85mm f1.4 is a favourite, as well. But it is Manual focus and can be difficult to focus (Samyang is also sold as Rokinon, Bower, Walimex, and others). Good image quality, lots of bokeh, good focal length.

I have the DFA 100mm, but I am not sure macro lenses are that great for portraiture. They are super sharp (so they show all blemishes, zits), they have a very "clinical" look to them (not much lens character). So they are great for macro, for product photography, for stock photos, but not perfectly suited for artsy photos. Lenses like DA* 55mm, M 85mm, FA 77mm ltd, and FA 85mm are made for portraiture, so they render skin tones nicely, they have good bokeh, nice contrasts, etc. Different priorities.

That said, I generally recommend the DFA 100mm to anyone, because I think its one of the best quality lenses at that price point. Really good lens, true macro, WR, QS..

Last edited by Na Horuk; 07-15-2015 at 06:09 AM.
07-15-2015, 06:15 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Samyang 85mm f1.4 is a favourite, as well. But it is Manual focus and can be difficult to focus (Samyang is also sold as Rokinon, Bower, Walimex, and others). Good image quality, lots of bokeh, good focal length.

I have the DFA 100mm, but I am not sure macro lenses are that great for portraiture. They are super sharp (so they show all blemishes, zits), they have a very "clinical" look to them (not much lens character). So they are great for macro, for product photography, for stock photos, but not perfectly suited for artsy photos. Lenses like DA* 55mm, M 85mm, FA 77mm ltd, and FA 85mm are made for portraiture, so they render skin tones nicely, they have good bokeh, nice contrasts, etc. Different priorities.

That said, I generally recommend the DFA 100mm to anyone, because I think its one of the best quality lenses at that price point. Really good lens, true macro, WR, QS..
Ok so now the list got more complicated:

Tamron 90 1:2.8 SP AF di macro (pro: macro, AF, aperture ring)
Pentax M 85 1:2 (pro: small size, fast aperture, aperture ring)
Pentax DFA 100 1:2.8 macro (pro: small size, macro, AF, WR)
Samyang 85 1:1.4 (pro: aperture ring, fast aperture)

07-15-2015, 07:06 AM   #4
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What lens do you have now?

07-15-2015, 08:01 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by micromacro Quote
What lens do you have now?
Just a 50-200. (which is probably going back to the shop as I find it too soft after 100)
07-15-2015, 08:05 AM - 1 Like   #6
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If budget is a temporary constraint, and AF is a must the DFA100WR is the best value for money. Now if AF is not a must, I must go with the Samyang 85/1.4
07-15-2015, 08:09 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by drypenn Quote
If budget is a temporary constraint, and AF is a must the DFA100WR is the best value for money. Now if AF is not a must, I must go with the Samyang 85/1.4
To throw a further spanner in the works, the shop I bought the 50-200 has a DFA 100 (non-WR) going for €300. I presume it's optically the same as the WR... Could do a swap and pay difference with them. It means losing the AF but it has an aperture ring.
07-15-2015, 08:17 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by plooksta Quote
Could do a swap and pay difference with them. It means losing the AF but it has an aperture ring.
I'd say get the non-WR DFA. Same optics, but no WR, but it does have aperture ring and that can be really useful. I miss it on my DFA WR. At 300, its a steal. You basically get a pro lens for the cost of a consumer zoom. Even the Samyang is above 200, and its MF only (and Samyang sometimes has QC issues). Just make sure the lens is in good working order, best if you can get extended warranty with it.

Ignore the different ratings for aberration and stuff, the optics are the same, same coatings, I really can't believe there is a noticeable difference in the image quality. Just barrel.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/lensreviews/SMC-Pentax-DFA-100mm-F2.8-Macro-Lens.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/lensreviews/SMC-Pentax-DFA-Weather-Resistant-100...acro-Lens.html


Last edited by Na Horuk; 07-15-2015 at 08:28 AM.
07-15-2015, 08:35 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
I'd say get the non-WR DFA. Same optics, but no WR, but it does have aperture ring and that can be really useful. I miss it on my DFA WR. At 300, its a steal. You basically get a pro lens for the cost of a consumer zoom. Even the Samyang is above 200, and its MF only (and Samyang sometimes has QC issues). Just make sure the lens is in good working order, best if you can get extended warranty with it.

Ignore the different ratings for aberration and stuff, the optics are the same, same coatings, I really can't believe there is a noticeable difference in the image quality. Just barrel.
SMC Pentax-D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro Reviews - D FA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
SMC Pentax-D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro WR Reviews - D FA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
Thanks a lot for your help. I must add it's a used piece so hence the low price. THey have the Samyang new for 370. I guess I'll have to go and try them on...
07-15-2015, 08:42 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by plooksta Quote
Pentax DFA 100 1:2.8 macro (pro: small size, macro, AF, WR)
I think this one is very good, it's always welcome to have AF and WR 100mm will produce smooth bokeh while keeping what in focus pin sharp !
The more I play with MF lens, the more I appreciate the AF ^^ at f1.4 or f2 I had many hard times manual focusing !
07-15-2015, 08:44 AM   #11
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Go for the DFA100 wr. The Tamron is a thad sharper, but changig fro MF to AF is almost useless.
07-15-2015, 09:53 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by plooksta Quote
Pentax DFA 100 1:2.8 macro (pro: small size, macro, AF, WR)
QuoteOriginally posted by plooksta Quote
Tamron 90 1:2.8 SP AF di macro (pro: macro, AF, aperture ring)
The focus throw on those is very long, which is fantastic for precision but takes longer to adjust (even in MF). consider that. Otherwise they compare well optically.

I'd say a DA70 could be a nice choice, or even a 50mm depending on the amount of space you have. I often use the DA40 in my home studio, I find even 50 a bit tight. When I have lots of room I use the DFA100 macro WR.
07-15-2015, 10:30 AM   #13
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Just one more thing. If you don't mind manual and want to save some more money, you can vet a nice Pentax SMC 55mm f1.8. Compact, smooth bokeh, sharp enough for portraits, and it doesn't need as much space. With 100mm you will need a good amount of distance between you and the subject, so if you want to take portraits in small rooms, that might be difficult. With APSC sensor cameras, 55mm is enough for portraiture.
07-15-2015, 11:24 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by plooksta Quote
Hi I am asking this forum's advice as I cannot decide on a short tele/portrait prime lens. Currently ditching the last of my Nikon gear and restocking in Pentax K mount.

I am between the:
  • Tamron 90 1:2.8 SP AF di macro (pro: macro, AF, aperture ring)
  • Pentax M 85 1:2 (pro: small size, fast aperture, aperture ring)
  • Pentax DFA 100 1:2.8 macro (pro: small size, macro, AF, WR)
I hear great things about all of them and cannot decide. I am erring towards the first two as they have aperture rings (which makes them adaptable to other mounts). They both can be had for about €250. Macro and AF are not crucially important to me, sharp images and nice contrast are. WR would be nice as I spend a lot of time near water, and can be had on the 100, but quite a bit dearer. To be used primarily on K5 and possibly m43.

I must add, the 77 Limited is beyond my budget so can't go there
For what's it worth, the SIgma 70mm F2.8 is incredibly sharp, reasonably priced and well thought of in the Pentax Community.
My experience with the Sigma 70mm F2.8 has left me a fan. Check it out in online reviews and make your own decision.

Sorry to add additional confusion into the conversation ....
07-15-2015, 11:41 AM   #15
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The DFA100 is an excellent lens, one of my favourites, but you need quite a lot of space for portrait use. 300 sounds good for a good condition used one, though.

Even an 85 requires some distance.

That said, all the lenses mentioned in this thread would serve you well. 50-100mm and reasonably fast will give good results - there are few bad lenses in that terrain.

Oh, and sorry for not being helpful
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