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12-21-2015, 03:17 AM   #1
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Ultimate portrait lens

I'm considering buying an ultimate portrait lens for my K3 and possible upgrade to FF in 2016.

Currently I have a Pentax SMC-M 50mm F1.7, the Pentax DA 17-70mm F4, the Tamron 17-50mm F2.8, the Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 and the DA 18-55 F3.5-5.6, all of which have at one time done duty as a portrait lens.

I'm really looking for a prime though now as I want to squeeze every last atom of Bokeh and clarity out of the K3. I suspect there are thus only 2 real contenders and would value opinions on which is the greatest:

Pentax FA* 85mm F1.4 if I can find a mint one secondhand
Pentax FA 77mm F1.8 new

I would really value views on which would be the most sensible purchase. My gut feel says the 85mm F1.4 is probably the greatest portrait lens Pentax ever made, but they are stratospherically expensive secondhand and at the end of the day you're still buying something many years old with no warranty. How much real world difference is there between these two big guns of the portrait world?

jonlg

12-21-2015, 03:43 AM - 1 Like   #2
HYS
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I've found my DA 70/2.4 Ltd. to be excellent. And sometimes D FA 100/2.8 Macro WR serves very well.
12-21-2015, 03:49 AM   #3
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Actually just bought a D FA 100mm F2.8 which should arrive this week so will give it a try, although I wondered if the focal length will simply be too long especially on APSC. You've certainly given me pause for thought!

J
12-21-2015, 03:57 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by jonlg Quote
Pentax FA* 85mm F1.4 if I can find a mint one secondhand
Pentax FA 77mm F1.8 new
Excellent lenses for the job especially if FF is on you mind. The 100/2.8 macro is also excellent, but perhaps a little too clinical.

I think your choice will come down to two variables:

1) money in hand; and
2) weight/ portability.

The FA*85/1.4 is definitely a big chunk of glass. It easily outweighs the relatively tiny FA77/1.8.

The difference in aperture is really not here or there. You will enjoy the 1.4 in really low light, but is that going to be a regular necessity?

I went for the FA*85/1.4 over the FA77/1.8 because I could (good price) and weight doesn't concern me. I think it the better lens, but the recent best lens comp suggests otherwise (FA77/1.8 won the comp). Anyway, either way, you are not going to be disappointed.

12-21-2015, 03:59 AM   #5
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There are more options if you don't insist on AF...


- A* 135 f1.8
- M 85 f2
- Sigma 85 f1.4
- Samyang 85 f1.4
- Samyang 135 f2
- Tokina 90 f2.5
- Helios-40 85 f1.5
- Jupiter-9 85 f2
- CZ 85 f1.4
- CZ 100 f2
- Porst 135 f1.8
- Soligor 100 f2
- Soligor 135 f1.8


Most of them with very nice bokeh.
12-21-2015, 04:14 AM   #6
HYS
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QuoteOriginally posted by jonlg Quote
Actually just bought a D FA 100mm F2.8 which should arrive this week so will give it a try, although I wondered if the focal length will simply be too long especially on APSC. You've certainly given me pause for thought!

J
Yes, the focal length is a little longer. But in some situations this is just OK.
Again, 70 Ltd. is very sharp and very pleasant. The micro gradation of the limiteds 31, 43 and 70 is outstanding.
12-21-2015, 04:32 AM   #7
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I own both the 85 and the 77. A detailed analysis would reveal subtle differences but they are both wonderful portrait lenses. But which one is the "ultimate"? The 77 has fewer optical flaws and is probably the better lens technically but, for me, the 85 is THE ultimate lens. It balances perfectly on the k-3 and is a joy to use. The images have a special character, hard to define. Wide open it is sharp in the centre but quite soft at the edges and corners. For tight portraits this produces beautiful bokeh and backgrounds just melt away. It is a matter of preference, but if I could only keep one it would be the 85. Good luck whatever you decide.
12-21-2015, 08:29 AM   #8
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I own several portrait lenses (11 at last count), but five lenses stand out.
1. FA*85
2. Voigtlander 58mm Nokton
3. DA*55
4. FA77
5. FA43

It depends on the subject and location and ultimately personal preference.
The FA*85 is the grand-daddy, some say only rivalled by the A*85 (which is clinically sharp).
The VL-58 has unrivalled colour and character. It is a manual focus lens.
The DA*55 is handy and truly suited to the APSC format - the smaller brother of the FA*85.
The FA77 is an all-rounder and versatile, easy on the weight and size.
The FA43 is a moody lens but when you get it right, its fabulous.

Normally I always have one of these in my bags - I have 2, one with the K3 the other with the K5iis.
The last couple of weeks I have been hanging out with the FA*85, so here are a few shots.

Untitled

Untitled

hope this helps.

12-21-2015, 08:32 AM - 1 Like   #9
sTi
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The obvious answer is the current dedicated Pentax lens for portraits, the DA*55/1.4
Better bokeh than the 70/2.4 IMO, sharper than the 77/1.8 and less aberrations at the same aperture. However, the 77/1.8 might have a tad smoother bokeh, but both are outstanding in this respect; the DA 55/1.4 bokeh is a bit nervous at f/1.4, but from f/1.8 on it is very smooth.
12-21-2015, 09:15 AM   #10
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What is your budget?

For me, I didn't and won't have expendable income so I've compromised with getting the 35mm f2.4 and 50mm f1.8.

My 35mm f1.4 is fantastic for the price and use it extensively. I've owned the 50mm f1.8 but haven't even used it yet in the 8 months I've owned it simply because I have the 55mm f1.4 which is my bread and butter lens. I also have the FA 50mm f1.4 too (which is also fantastic) so essentially I got the 50mm f1.8 for dirt cheap when I bought my K-3 but hasn't found a way into my rotation. Your thread alone is making me want to use it though

With that said - my 55mm f1.4 is awesome and creates dreamy pictures. Only complain is "slow autofocus" in case you wanted to use it for things other than portraits.
12-21-2015, 09:53 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by HYS Quote
I've found my DA 70/2.4 Ltd. to be excellent. And sometimes D FA 100/2.8 Macro WR serves very well.
I agree too. Both cover the FF sensor and have stellar performance in image quality.
12-21-2015, 09:55 AM   #12
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Re Ultimate protrait lens

I have both the FA 77 Ltd and FA* 85. Both are excellent, you really can't go wrong with either. Having said that, when weight or portability are not considerations, I reach for the FA* 85.
12-21-2015, 10:22 AM - 1 Like   #13
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I use *55 together with FA77 because they together are excellent combination specially for stage and "heavy" portrait work. Usually I work with 2 pcs. K3-II with this lens.
And very important, both of them (*55 + FA77) are very close in color rendering, and optical quality.

Examples you may see there:

Държавен БАЛЕТ НА ЛЕД на Санкт Петербург с две постановки в НДК
Спектакъл "Пепеляшка" на Московския театър за класически балет
12-21-2015, 10:39 AM   #14
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Well I found that the da*55 is technically the best lens. The fa*85 I found was the lens that would surprise you more and thus giving you better images (just with some lens flaws maybe). I think having them both is the smart way.
12-21-2015, 10:44 AM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by jonlg Quote
although I wondered if the focal length will simply be too long especially on APSC.
Yes, possibly. Depends on how much space you have, of course, but it is fairly long. The other problem this lens has is that.. it is brutally sharp and renders clinically perfect photos. This means any blemishes, zits, will be visible on the person's face. For portraiture you often want a lens with character, not necessarily super sharp and corrected. But give it a try! Its definitely an amazing lens, I love my copy!
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