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08-26-2018, 08:19 PM   #1
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"Portrait challenge" lens suggestions

Hi all -

I've decided to challenge myself. I've reached out to my friends on Facebook, looking for people who might be willing to pose for a portrait during the month of September. Portraits are an area that I haven't explored much and are definitely outside my comfort zone. To my delight, I've had enough responses to where it looks like I'll be doing 10-15 mini "portrait sessions" sometime during the month. While I'll be providing each subject with my best-effort shots, there's no money involved here - I'm doing it to learn. So that gives me some freedom to play.

My strategy here will be to travel light and work fast. For one of the sessions, I'll be using a backdrop; for the rest, I'll be choosing the best location available. I will be shooting natural light whenever possible, with a stand-mounted AF540FGZ bounced into an umbrella for fill. I may also experiment with the on-camera flash (diffused by a Gary Fong Puffer Plus) if the situation seems right.

Anyway, I'd welcome some feedback on which lens to use. I do have a Pentax DA* 50-135, and that's my first choice. But I also have some decent vintage lenses - and, knowing that my K-3 and K-01 have a 1.5x crop factor, that makes a vintage 50mm prime equivalent to a 75mm - which is not a bad field of view for portrait work, either.

Here are the vintage lenses that I'm considering experimenting with:

- Super-Multi-Coated Macro Takumar 1.4/50
- Helios 44-2 (58mm, f/2)
- SMC Pentax 1.8/55
- Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7
- Vivitar 50mm f/1.8, M42 mount (don't laugh; I've shot this lens, and it's surprisingly good)
- Mamiya-Sekor 55mm f/1.4

Thoughts and insights appreciated. Thanks!

08-26-2018, 08:29 PM - 3 Likes   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by babywriter Quote
Hi all -

I've decided to challenge myself. I've reached out to my friends on Facebook, looking for people who might be willing to pose for a portrait during the month of September. Portraits are an area that I haven't explored much and are definitely outside my comfort zone. To my delight, I've had enough responses to where it looks like I'll be doing 10-15 mini "portrait sessions" sometime during the month. While I'll be providing each subject with my best-effort shots, there's no money involved here - I'm doing it to learn. So that gives me some freedom to play.

My strategy here will be to travel light and work fast. For one of the sessions, I'll be using a backdrop; for the rest, I'll be choosing the best location available. I will be shooting natural light whenever possible, with a stand-mounted AF540FGZ bounced into an umbrella for fill. I may also experiment with the on-camera flash (diffused by a Gary Fong Puffer Plus) if the situation seems right.

Anyway, I'd welcome some feedback on which lens to use. I do have a Pentax DA* 50-135, and that's my first choice. But I also have some decent vintage lenses - and, knowing that my K-3 and K-01 have a 1.5x crop factor, that makes a vintage 50mm prime equivalent to a 75mm - which is not a bad field of view for portrait work, either.

Here are the vintage lenses that I'm considering experimenting with:

- Super-Multi-Coated Macro Takumar 1.4/50
- Helios 44-2 (58mm, f/2)
- SMC Pentax 1.8/55
- Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7
- Vivitar 50mm f/1.8, M42 mount (don't laugh; I've shot this lens, and it's surprisingly good)
- Mamiya-Sekor 55mm f/1.4

Thoughts and insights appreciated. Thanks!
While the 50-135 would and is the natural choice, any of your vintage lenses can and will produce stunning portraits in the right conditions. I would say to experiment with all of them. What I would do is use the 50-135 to start each mini session, then take one or two of the vintage lenses and take a few portraits with them. You will become very adept at using the 50-135, and will "learn" the strengths and weaknesses of the other lenses. (BTW the SMC K 55 1.8 is one of my favorite all time lenses)
08-26-2018, 09:02 PM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by twilhelm Quote
While the 50-135 would and is the natural choice, any of your vintage lenses can and will produce stunning portraits in the right conditions. I would say to experiment with all of them. What I would do is use the 50-135 to start each mini session, then take one or two of the vintage lenses and take a few portraits with them. You will become very adept at using the 50-135, and will "learn" the strengths and weaknesses of the other lenses. (BTW the SMC K 55 1.8 is one of my favorite all time lenses)
l couldn't have said this any better. /Threadclose!

But just to have a bit more fun. What are your other lenses that are not traditional portrait lenses - maybe you should also consider using a non-standard lens for a few shots in each session to have fun.
08-26-2018, 09:26 PM - 1 Like   #4
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+1 to Twilhelm's idea … in each session get the necessary shots 'in the can' with the 50-135, then experiment with some of the others.

Your subjects will have loosened up towards the end of the session and may tolerate better the lag of nailing manual focus, but please do practice beforehand so on the day it's rapid.

Each second they have to hold a pose, the spontaneous expression gets more and more replaced by a grimace. A couple of awkward delays in a row and you break the spell of rapport you had with them, and you might not be able to 'bring them back'. Keep talking to them throughout.

08-27-2018, 05:31 AM   #5
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31mm, 50-135 anything above 50mm or at 50mm
08-27-2018, 05:32 AM   #6
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31mm, 50-135 anything above 50mm or at 50mm
08-27-2018, 09:45 AM   #7
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Two lenses stand out babywriter. The Helios is used by former East Bloc photographers to great advantage. The other, the MS 55mm has a great reputation. Good luck.
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