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10-01-2016, 02:03 PM   #1
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Choosing a portrait lens

So, I have the K1 and I don't have a proper portrait lens ( have 35mm, 50mm, and 14mm ). I have done extensive research on the subject, and can't come to a decision. Money won't be a huge factor if kept under $1000. I am also the kind of person who would rather spend a little more, have a product that I am not going to sell for an upgrade because I became unhappy with it.

Legendary 77mm 1.8 $700-900
Roki/Samyang 135mm 2.0 $500 easy-budget but amazing sharpness (no AF)
Sigma 85mm 1.4 $750
Samyang 85mm 1.4 which is the cheapest lens like this for less than $300.

AF isn't a huge deal for me. I have generally used 14-50mm primes for much of my hobby, and I have in fact gotten some great pictures with them but I want something that is the GO TO body/head/shoulders lens. I've seen a lot of people's opinions about the 77 being the best lens money can buy for the K-mount. Options are limited for FF lens with Pentax, and I want to the 77 REALLY worth the extra 2-300 dollars (AF not being a factor) over say the new Roki/Samyang 135mm, etc.

I am at a stop with where to go on this one.

I know a lot of you will say "well it's all just what you want and are looking for, etc" - but I want you to tell me what you prefer, and WHY.

Thanks guys.

10-01-2016, 02:45 PM   #2
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I don't have a K-1, however I do have another full format camera that I use alongside my Pentax cameras.

I have the Samyang 85/1.4 and I'm very happy with it. That said, my camera has an EVF with focus peaking, which makes MF an absolute breeze. If you intend shooting at wide apertures (say, f/1.4 - 2.8) then you may find MF on the K-1 requires practice to get focus spot on, and you'll still run a greater risk of some near misses. On that basis, given the lenses you've listed, I'd be more inclined to suggest an AF lens such as the Pentax FA77 or Sigma 85/1.4.

I prefer 85mm over 135mm for general portraiture... I just find it more versatile, though I'm far from experienced in this type of photography. But, if you have plenty of space to work with, or if you're concentrating on head and shoulders portraiture, you may be fine with it.

I'm sure you'll get more qualified advice and opinions than I can offer, but thought I'd chip in
10-01-2016, 03:21 PM   #3
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If you are comfortable with manual focus I would suggest the tokina/vivitar series 1 90mm 2.5 or the Pentax 85mm 1.8. Either of these lenses could be had for ~300$. The tokina/vivitar I think is a better option than the Samyang especially since using a 1.4 on a full frame without focus peaking or evf will prove to be a challenge.

If auto focus is what you prefer I think the 77mm 1.8 is the best option.

My two cents as an amateur.

10-01-2016, 03:32 PM   #4
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Portrait lens

My 77MM arrived in the mail on Thursday from MCBAIN Camera in Edmonton Alberta (no provincial sales tax as we have in British Columbia). My K1 for most part sports the 31MM and is a great combo. I used our tenant's dog to try out the 77MM and I am blown away by the rendering of this lens! I have used Pentax gear for almost 40 years and have never been happy with lenses from other makers of K mount lenses. The 77 is pricey but if I could keep only the 31 and 77 out of my kit of 25+ lenses they are the two I could not live without.

10-01-2016, 04:25 PM   #5
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Get the 77/1.8 and you will never regret it - My favorite lens and magnificent on the K-1
10-01-2016, 06:16 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
I prefer 85mm over 135mm for general portraiture
+1 on that. 135 requires too much distance from your subject.
10-01-2016, 06:54 PM   #7
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All the lenses are good, and they each have a purpose. The 77 is great and so close to the 85, so either can work well. The 135mm is good if you have the room to back up or if you want to do head shots. All three will compress perspective a bit, flattening the image down so you do not have lateral distortions associated with one part of the body being closer to the lens than another. So maybe get both the Sanyang 85 AND 135!

10-01-2016, 07:09 PM   #8
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The FA77 is compact, beautiful, tactile, and laden with pixie dust. It's also not so intimidating for your subjects if they're a little camera shy.
It was the first premium lens I bought, and will be the last one I part with.

The fast 85's are just too big for me for marginal gains - I had an FA*85 for a while. I'd rather lug my DFA*70-200 around for the convenience of the zoom.

10-01-2016, 07:17 PM   #9
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F 85mm F2.8 Soft
10-01-2016, 09:07 PM   #10
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I appreciate all thoughts- and for those lurking, post away!

I'm a newer Pentax user, first having a K50, and now a K1. I really do love some of the Pentax quirks, and I mean that in a good way!
10-01-2016, 09:13 PM   #11
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I have read much praise of the FA 100 2.8 Macro used to shoot portraits. I would have gotten one but since I shoot weddings I opted for the 50-135 since I still use APSC. My father has the Samyang 85 1.4 he uses on his K3 and loves it.
10-02-2016, 08:57 AM   #12

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Let tell things appart. There some 77-85mm lenses you speak of and some 135mm lens. Saying you need only one is like saying out of the 3 lens you already have, 14, 35 and 50 you could has well shoot everything with the 35.

The focal length is very different and the usage different too. The 135mm are better if you are a bit far from your subject, want more perspective compression and will have more subject separation. They will be more for headshots and head and shoulders.
The 77-85 will require you to be more near to the subject for an headshot or head and shoulder. The focal length might be see even a bit short to hide the features of some people. They be much more practical on the opposite for a larger portrait and indoor when there isn't much space.

All the lenses you speak of are great but honestly the FA77 is small/light and will get the job done for the 77-85 range just fine. You'll be far less noticed, your subject will not be afraid of your gear and you'll be also much faster to focus. A click and that's done. Except if you plan to shots with profesionnals, people will be uncomfortable if you are too long or use too big lenses. This can affect your picture MUCH more than a theoretically bit better corner performance in the bokeh area...

But honestly that only cover 1 part of portraiture photography. The key aspect of it, like any other practice of photography is that there no a single ultimate lens. Even if FA77 is fantastic and will never let you down it is a 77mm lens. At time the best field of view for that portrait may require more a 35 or 50mm (like somebody in its environement) and you are already covered there or a 135/200mm (like if you are a bit distant or prefer tight portraits).

There a reason that the workhorse for many pro are zoom like 70-200 because this way they can adapt very fast to the situation. On FF a 70-200 would cover most type of portraiture and with the lenses you already have (35 and 50) you be more than covered. Going up to 200 also give them the possibility to keep some distance with the subject and have quite interresting subject separation and perspective compression that a 77 ot 85mm lens will not provide.

Here if you buy a 135, you'll find you miss a 85, and if you buy a 85, you'll find you miss a 135! In both case you may even want a 200mm at time.

Last edited by Nicolas06; 10-02-2016 at 09:03 AM.
10-03-2016, 01:14 PM   #13
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Thanks for the wisdom, Nicolas. Great name (it's mine).
10-03-2016, 05:09 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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A cheap fun solution.... with arguably better IQ then the 77 is the SMC K 85/1.8.... cheapish to.....

at F1.8...on K-1
10-03-2016, 09:48 PM   #15
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A 70-200mm f2.8 is the industry standard for portraits, Nsjohn. Pentax do an excellent one, but I've made do with the cheaper Tamron:


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