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07-14-2008, 11:53 AM   #1
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Pentax or Zeiss? portrait lens

Hi, first post, been lurking around for some time reading reviews and so on.

I'm planning on buying a lens, mainly for portraits and low light situations.

Narrowed it down to 3 options (there might be others of course):
Pentax limited 77mm
Pentax FA 85mm f/1.4
Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4

I'm not sure if autofocus is of big importance, therefore I'm also considering the zeiss lens.
Do any of you have any experience with these lenses? I've heard pentax 85mm is legendary, and hard to get (seen it on ebay). Ever had the chance to compare them?

07-14-2008, 11:58 AM   #2
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what camera is this going to be on?

also is this studio/tripod work

or do you expect to be running around in dark places.

do you expect to use flash?
07-14-2008, 12:10 PM   #3
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sorry, it's supposed to be on a k10d first and foremost, that may change in the future of course.

I'm not planning a studio setup, but I might use a flash and sometimes a tripod (rather not). I prefer natural light when it's available. Other uses might be concerts and other stage arrangments, and other low light situations.

(I'm also going to buy the 50mm f/1.4 or f/1.2 for general indoor low lighting photography)
07-14-2008, 03:56 PM   #4
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Sean Carpenter (member name 'Carpents' on here) had a big 85mm shoot-out. I'm at work and don't have the link but FWIW, the Pentax A*85 won the MTF race. That said, the Zeiss (ZF to be specific, and indeed most 85's) all put up stellar numbers. In reality the lenses will each have their own look though. It was mentioned and I've indeed seen in samples that the Zeiss has a 'dreamy' quality wide open a f1.4, which is were the A*85 excelled past the Zeiss on pure MTF results. Whether or not this is right for your tastes though is like asking which wine is best for red meat - you'll get a lot of subjective opinions.

As Gooshin has pointed out - it might simply be easier to identify which lens is going to be the more useful tool based on your needs and budget.

I've mentioned in a similar thread earlier though - if you're not in a rush - I have a T*85 ZK on order at the moment. I'll be sharing my thoughts about it here once I get it.

07-14-2008, 05:05 PM   #5
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pirate! (so weird calling you "pirate", hehe)

what camera was used to test the lens?

reason i asked the OP what camera he has is that if its a K100D i doubt he will tell between all 3 of them since all the lenses overshadow the sensor by more than a good margin

now, the K20D, ohh geeze.
07-14-2008, 05:09 PM   #6
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I like the K105mm F2.8 for portraits, BUT on a DSLR it needs a bigger studio. Photos are very flattering for head and shoulder shots, but focal length and crop factor make you move back quite a bit.

I wonder if the 77 and 85 mm lenses do the same.

Except for the F2.8 apature as opposed to something faster that limits DOF, what about a Tamron 28-75, or is it too sharp?
07-14-2008, 05:16 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gooshin Quote
pirate! (so weird calling you "pirate", hehe)

what camera was used to test the lens?

reason i asked the OP what camera he has is that if its a K100D i doubt he will tell between all 3 of them since all the lenses overshadow the sensor by more than a good margin

now, the K20D, ohh geeze.
I just looked on his public profile, and he has a K10D
Which will be perfect for any of those lenses.
07-14-2008, 06:09 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gooshin Quote
pirate! (so weird calling you "pirate", hehe)

what camera was used to test the lens?

reason i asked the OP what camera he has is that if its a K100D i doubt he will tell between all 3 of them since all the lenses overshadow the sensor by more than a good margin

now, the K20D, ohh geeze.
Especially with the exclamation marks too eh? haha. aarrr.

Yeah thats true re:MTF and sensor. Though the 'look' would still permeate. I'm fairly taken with old German bokeh. The only thing I can sort of identify is a red-green color seperation (like CA, but (for me) in a visually pleasing way) and a motion quality (swirly) more particular to some Zeisses and the whole mixture bleeds over the in-focus plane at 1.4. Must give the MTF program fits (and a lowered result) but it looks great to me.

I should warn anyone I recommend something to that I've gone from worshipping MTF results to virtually ignoring them though and I shoot correspondingly. My latest batch of uploads requires one to actually look over the image to find the (somewhat) in-focus plane, lol. I should probably take my K20 back and use something a lot cheaper, hehe.

I see the Zeiss 85 like a vintage muscle car - terrible mileage but so much fun to drive. One could certainly find more versatility from the DA*50-135 for most situations (including portraiture) or even the FA50/1.4 for stronger seperation if one didn't have a specific idea of what they wanted already in mind.

07-14-2008, 07:49 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by thePiRaTE!! Quote
Sean Carpenter (member name 'Carpents' on here) had a big 85mm shoot-out. I'm at work and don't have the link but FWIW, the Pentax A*85 won the MTF race.
Hi,
I went through Sean's PBase galleries and was unable to find the 85mm shootout, though I remember something along those lines where he compared the Jupiter-9 to an 85mm Super Takumar. Do you have a URL?

Steve
07-14-2008, 08:42 PM   #10
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this site may have some comparisons you may be interested in
16-9: Lens Test Archive and Reviews

although the A*85 vs Canon 85L seems incomplete
07-15-2008, 01:26 AM   #11
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thanks

i really want some f/1.4 lenses, so I'm aiming for a 85mm and a 50mm.

The pentax lens is generally at least 300 USD (used) more expensive, than a new Zeiss lens. At the moment it looks like zeiss is a strong contender, if the manual focus ring is ok I guess I won't need autofocus..?

I'm a bit worried to pay 1300 USD for a used lens on ebay, unless it's REALLY good
07-15-2008, 04:34 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Inghard Quote
I'm not planning a studio setup, but I might use a flash and sometimes a tripod (rather not). I prefer natural light when it's available. Other uses might be concerts and other stage arrangments, and other low light situations.
If you are not using a tripod and are using these lenses wide open then you want auto-focus I'd say. Because otherwise it's going to be very difficult to nail focus manually, what with yourself and the subject moving around.

85mm might have been a good length on a film camera, but on the K10D it's going to be pretty long for casual or studio portraiture. For that reason (and the price) I'd prefer the FA77. I've also used an FA77 successfully sitting in the fifth row from a theatre stage. But if you're further back it may not be long enough. I've got a 105mm I'd favour in those situations.

The only thing wrong with the FA77 is that it does not have the Quick Shift Focus system that would allow quick adjustments to "focus bracket" shots.
07-15-2008, 05:01 AM   #13
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^I'm going for the 50mm f/1.4 also, so short and long portraits are more or less covered if I buy a 85mm/77mm.

I've already got the DA* 16-50, but sometimes I feel don't get "close" enough. It's also nice to have a faster lens.

You're right, autofocus might come in handy. It's really hard to decide right now..!
07-15-2008, 09:28 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Hi,
I went through Sean's PBase galleries and was unable to find the 85mm shootout, though I remember something along those lines where he compared the Jupiter-9 to an 85mm Super Takumar. Do you have a URL?

Steve
I'm having a heck of a time finding the chart he made... all I can say is I've seen it! Does anyone else recall it? From about a year ago.
07-15-2008, 02:48 PM   #15
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Sean is building up his website for professional purpose. So I think he might have pulled down some of this shots.
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