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04-12-2018, 11:33 AM   #1
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Questions about buying a new portrait lens.

I am getting back into portrait photography so I recently bought a KS2 kit and a Pentax smc DA 50mm f/1.8 Lens.
I really like the DA 50mm lens but I want to add another lens to my collection with a bit more range and quality however, I'm having a hard time deciding what type of lens to buy.

After much forum searching these really stood out to me.

Pentax smc PENTAX-FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited Lens
Pentax Telephoto 55mm f/1.4 DA* SDM Autofocus Lens for Digital SLR (I really like the pictures I have seen taken with it)

or, should I look into buying something with a little bit of range like this. I know sometimes its nice to have some distance from your subjects

Pentax SMC DA 18-135mm F/3.5-5.6 ED AL (IF) DC WR Lens.

The plan is to make my hobby profitable and, down the road invest in a K1 but, funds are tight right now after being laid off from work and I dont want to spend $1000.00 + on a new lens at this time. I did search past portrait photography questions but didn't find an answer to this question.

Any help would be greatly appreciated,

Thank you in advanced!

04-12-2018, 11:50 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bethor Quote
I am getting back into portrait photography so I recently bought a KS2 kit and a Pentax smc DA 50mm f/1.8 Lens.
I really like the DA 50mm lens but I want to add another lens to my collection with a bit more range and quality however, I'm having a hard time deciding what type of lens to buy.

After much forum searching these really stood out to me.

Pentax smc PENTAX-FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited Lens
Pentax Telephoto 55mm f/1.4 DA* SDM Autofocus Lens for Digital SLR (I really like the pictures I have seen taken with it)

or, should I look into buying something with a little bit of range like this. I know sometimes its nice to have some distance from your subjects

Pentax SMC DA 18-135mm F/3.5-5.6 ED AL (IF) DC WR Lens.

The plan is to make my hobby profitable and, down the road invest in a K1 but, funds are tight right now after being laid off from work and I dont want to spend $1000.00 + on a new lens at this time. I did search past portrait photography questions but didn't find an answer to this question.

Any help would be greatly appreciated,

Thank you in advanced!
For portraits, the FA 77mm is one of the best out there. That said, the 18-135mm would be a nice walkaround lens for your kit, and if you don't want to spend too much for now, it together with your 50mm should allow you to get started just fine.

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04-12-2018, 12:04 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Welcome to the forums

I'm sorry to hear you've been laid off from work. That's unfortunate... I hope something suitable comes along in the near future.

On that basis, though, I wonder if now is the right time to spend money on lenses? Obviously it's your decision entirely, but the DA50 f/1.8 is already an excellent portrait lens when used effectively. On your K-S2, it gives a very similar field of view to what you'd get using the FA77 on the full-frame Pentax K-1 or K-1II. Plus, the image quality is (like most modern 50mm lenses) rather good. It needs stopping down a little to become sharp in the mid-frame and edges, but is actually quite usable even wide open for head-and-shoulders portraits. Plus, at f/1.8 max aperture, it's pretty fast, which is great for controlling background blur.

The DA*55 f/1.4 will undoubtedly give you better results, and a field of view very similar to the classic 85mm on full-frame. It's faster, too, and whilst you'll still want to stop down a little for best results, you'll get those results at wider apertures than your DA50, allowing for even greater background blurring.

The FA77 is widely considered to be the best Pentax prime lens currently available, but you need a bit of room between you and the subject to work with it. The field of view is considerably narrower than your DA50 and the DA*55. Outdoors this won't usually be a problem, but be aware that indoors it might be limiting.

Being a zoom lens, the DA18-135 is the most versatile - but at the focal lengths you're most likely to use for portraiture (50mm and upwards) the maximum aperture might be something like f/4.5 or worse, which isn't great for controlling background blur - something I'd suggest is quite important for this type of shooting, depending on the background. Plus, you'll need more light generally. Of course, neither of these is a problem if you intend to shoot exclusively in a studio with hanging backgrounds and lighting.

In your situation, I'd personally recommend using your existing DA50 to the best of its (and your) ability, as you really can do so much with that lens for portraiture. But if you're certain about wanting to buy another lens at this point, ask yourself whether you're ever likely to move up to full frame in the near future. If not, then I'd suggest the DA* 55 might be the most versatile choice for portraiture. The FA77 will offer the most pleasing images, but only if you have room to work with it
04-12-2018, 01:06 PM   #4
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I'll concur with everyone to say that the 77mm is a special, unique lens. That being said, on APS-C its field of view is quite narrow, and might not be comfortable indoors. If you have access to a medium-large studio it will work, but even with my K-1 I always have to be 8-10 feet from my subjects for best results (except for specific close crops).

The 55 is a fine lens also, but I'd consider it redundant with your 50. The 55 is sharper for sure, but it won't be very noticeable in the center where your subjects will be.

On APS-C, my favourite focal length for portraits has always been 40mm (or 43). I find it very comfortable, even in cramped spaces. The 40mm Limited served me well for many years and is plenty sharp from corner to corner.

Since getting the K-1, I replaced the 40 with the 43 Limited and like that lens even more, Its corners are not as good as the 40, but the center has something more.

Food for thoughts.

04-12-2018, 01:09 PM   #5
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The da50 1.8 seems good to me. You have the 50-200 compare at 50, 55, and 77 for framing significance. Only if you feel the framing is significant would i buy another portrait lens at this time. The lighting, posing, and interaction will make more difference than the lens. Also if you are not satisfied with the da50 1.8 performance the 18-135 isn't going to to be better.
04-12-2018, 02:14 PM   #6
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Nobody asked for financial guidance but here I go anyway; save your money, shoot the daylights out of the kit you have right now, learn how to get good results with every lens you currently own. The DA 50 f1.8 seems very good for a nifty fifty; I really like it on my crop digital camera. Stay sane, find new work, treat yourself when it makes sense.

My two cents.
04-12-2018, 02:47 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Welcome to the forums

I'm sorry to hear you've been laid off from work. That's unfortunate... I hope something suitable comes along in the near future.

On that basis, though, I wonder if now is the right time to spend money on lenses? Obviously it's your decision entirely, but the DA50 f/1.8 is already an excellent portrait lens when used effectively. On your K-S2, it gives a very similar field of view to what you'd get using the FA77 on the full-frame Pentax K-1 or K-1II. Plus, the image quality is (like most modern 50mm lenses) rather good. It needs stopping down a little to become sharp in the mid-frame and edges, but is actually quite usable even wide open for head-and-shoulders portraits. Plus, at f/1.8 max aperture, it's pretty fast, which is great for controlling background blur.. . .

In your situation, I'd personally recommend using your existing DA50 to the best of its (and your) ability, as you really can do so much with that lens for portraiture. . . .
I agree with what he said

you and I have what has been called the " niftiest of the fifty's "

https://www.pentaxforums.com/reviews/pentax-50mm-fa-da-dfa-lens-comparison/i....html?src=lrdb

" Pentax 50mm Prime Lens Shootout

Conclusion

We started this review asking the question; which of the three fifty’s was the nifty fifty? Taking into consideration the factors that were reviewed, the Pentax DA 50mm F1.8 is the niftiest of the fifty’s. Although the lens did not blow the competition away, it did hold its own against the D FA 50mm F2.8 and the FA 50mm F1.4 both which cost more.


Read more at: https://www.pentaxforums.com/reviews/pentax-50mm-fa-da-dfa-lens-comparison/c...#ixzz5CUu02sFP

Your DA 50 1.8 can be very, very good for you

however should you wish to discover how you would like something else, you could try to rent the lenses you are interested in for your own personal trial out before investing the money into a lens

I have used Lensrental.com from Tennessee with good result and there are other companies - Borrowlenses.com is one I think

Last edited by aslyfox; 04-12-2018 at 02:57 PM.
04-12-2018, 03:56 PM - 3 Likes   #8
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Taken with the FA 77mm on a crop frame (K3ii).

I rest my case for the FA 77mm, if you can afford it and have a 50mm or 40mm for tighter locations and environmental portraits.

Attached Images
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PENTAX K-3 II  Photo 
04-12-2018, 04:08 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bethor Quote
I am getting back into portrait photography so I recently bought a KS2 kit and a Pentax smc DA 50mm f/1.8 Lens.
I really like the DA 50mm lens but I want to add another lens to my collection with a bit more range and quality however, I'm having a hard time deciding what type of lens to buy.

After much forum searching these really stood out to me.

Pentax smc PENTAX-FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited Lens
Pentax Telephoto 55mm f/1.4 DA* SDM Autofocus Lens for Digital SLR (I really like the pictures I have seen taken with it)

or, should I look into buying something with a little bit of range like this. I know sometimes its nice to have some distance from your subjects

Pentax SMC DA 18-135mm F/3.5-5.6 ED AL (IF) DC WR Lens.

The plan is to make my hobby profitable and, down the road invest in a K1 but, funds are tight right now after being laid off from work and I dont want to spend $1000.00 + on a new lens at this time. I did search past portrait photography questions but didn't find an answer to this question.

Any help would be greatly appreciated,

Thank you in advanced!
I usually carry a bag of primes (HD DA Limited’s) to shoot with on my K-5II. The 70 is my favourite portrait lens outside or in a space large enough. The 40 is pretty special indoors.

This past weekend at an indoor shoot I needed flexibility and didn’t have time for lens changes. On Sunday I broke down and ordered a Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 zoom. The reviews here show it is a touch sharper than the Pentax DA* 16-50 f/2.8 and is much cheaper while having a silent AF motor. Check it out Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC HSM Lens Reviews - Sigma Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database

---------- Post added 04-12-18 at 08:43 PM ----------

The HD DA 70 is pretty terrific too...
Steve & Kelly - Pentax User Photo Gallery

So is the HD DA 40...
Emily Ann - Pentax User Photo Gallery

Then there is the DA* 50-135....
https://www.pentaxforums.com/gallery/photo-fall-park-bw-54749/&u=74929

Last edited by Saltwater Images; 04-12-2018 at 04:29 PM. Reason: Added
04-12-2018, 04:10 PM   #10
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I really appreciate all of your knowledgeable responses. Thank you!

Being laid off has been a blessing in disguise, it gives me the opportunity to help homeschool our children and do things around the house.
Instead of working part time I talked to my wife and we discussed me getting back into photography. I plan on shooting portraits outside so I can capture the golden hour and that way it gives me a chance to do what I like and work for myself.

Since getting my KS2 I have taken it all over the place shooting anything and everything. However, the more pictures I took it seemed that I didn't have enough versatility lens wise and I didn't know if I should shoot with more than 1 lens when taking portraits. I want to make sure I am giving my clients multiple choices when looking at their pictures.

I am fine with stating small and working my way up. I know there is no magic bullet and, success can only be achieved if I give 110%. I just want to make sure I give myself the best start possible.

Once again I really appreciate all of your responses.
If anyone has any other tips or feel I missed anything please let me know.

Thank you!

---------- Post added 04-12-18 at 04:24 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Billk Quote
Taken with the FA 77mm on a crop frame (K3ii).

I rest my case for the FA 77mm, if you can afford it and have a 50mm or 40mm for tighter locations and environmental portraits.
BTW Billk that is a beautiful picture. Thank you for sharing!
04-12-2018, 04:39 PM   #11
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I have a ks2 and the fa 77 and an A50 1.4 and an A50 1.7, and a maimiya 55 1.4 and a sigma 70 macro. I think i can make any work well. I also think my bussiness savy can't do it. You have alot of good advice here.
04-12-2018, 04:45 PM   #12
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If you are interested in the 40mm

check out the review of the 40mm and the 40mm XS, you might be surprised:

Pentax DA 35mm F2.4 vs 40mm XS vs 40mm Limited Review - Introduction | PentaxForums.com Reviews

Pentax DA 35mm F2.4 vs 40mm XS vs 40mm Limited

The Bottom Line


DA 35mm f/2.4 7.5 "Unbeatable Value" $179.95
DA 40mm f/2.8 Limited 8.1 "The Complete Package" $369.95
DA 40mm f/2.8 XS 7.8 "Lean and Mean" $246.95

Read more at: Pentax DA 35mm F2.4 vs 40mm XS vs 40mm Limited Review - The Bottom Line | PentaxForums.com Reviews

be sure to check out the forum's market place if you are interested in looking at " experienced " equipment. I have had good luck there
04-12-2018, 08:57 PM   #13
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I see photographers doing outdoor portraits all the time at the local park. They work very late in the day in amazingly low light - I'm at 1 sec at f11 and they're blasting away handheld. A few use APS but the majority have full-frame. Most carry only one lens: a few use a 50mm, but most use a 70-200 2.8 or a fast short-tele prime. Very few use supplemental lighting, but a number use reflectors. From what I've seen the issue is more skill at wrangling little kids than lens choice.
04-12-2018, 10:24 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
I see photographers doing outdoor portraits all the time at the local park. They work very late in the day in amazingly low light - I'm at 1 sec at f11 and they're blasting away handheld. A few use APS but the majority have full-frame. Most carry only one lens: a few use a 50mm, but most use a 70-200 2.8 or a fast short-tele prime. Very few use supplemental lighting, but a number use reflectors. From what I've seen the issue is more skill at wrangling little kids than lens choice.
This is what I am working towards right now.
I have been scouting parks around town taking our 2 youngest with me.
It's funny, when I say lets go to the park they know Im bringing the camera so I can take pictures of them.

Luckily they are easy to please, some playtime at the park and small snack while we are out and they are good.
Unfortunately our teens are not as easy =(.

---------- Post added 04-12-18 at 10:34 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Saltwater Images Quote
I usually carry a bag of primes (HD DA Limitedís) to shoot with on my K-5II. The 70 is my favourite portrait lens outside or in a space large enough. The 40 is pretty special indoors.

This past weekend at an indoor shoot I needed flexibility and didnít have time for lens changes. On Sunday I broke down and ordered a Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 zoom. The reviews here show it is a touch sharper than the Pentax DA* 16-50 f/2.8 and is much cheaper while having a silent AF motor. Check it out Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC HSM Lens Reviews - Sigma Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database

---------- Post added 04-12-18 at 08:43 PM ----------

The HD DA 70 is pretty terrific too...
Steve & Kelly - Pentax User Photo Gallery

So is the HD DA 40...
Emily Ann - Pentax User Photo Gallery

Then there is the DA* 50-135....
Fall in the Park BW - Pentax User Photo Gallery
Thanks for the links! I will check it out tonight.
04-12-2018, 11:57 PM   #15
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I recognized the 70-200mm portrait trend too. I am not a big fan of it. In my opinion portrait shooting is also about the interaction between model and photographer. A big scary lens is not helping a nonprofessional model to relax and heavy lenses dont help the photographer to bring the fun feeling into play. I also dont see the point in needing a zoom during that situation (shooting portraits during events surely differ in this point), a prime just has more possibilities. Having sad that, I love the fa 77 for portrait, but on crop I would go for something with shorter focus length if whole body shots are desired too. When the distance is getting that big you have to speak up when interacting, it is a lost session imho.
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