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View Poll Results: What is a better addition for portraits?
Pentax DA*200/2.8 1381.25%
Used Canon 5D MKI 318.75%
Voters: 16. You may not vote on this poll

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01-13-2009, 08:49 PM   #1
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WWYD: DA*200/2.8 vs. used 5D

I have been shooting Pentax for the past 1.5 years and I mostly shoot portraits of family members, especially my little 7-month old. With the recent release of the 5DMKII, a used 5DMKI can be had for about US$1000. It is a very tempting price for a FF camera, and the 5DMKI would give me better AF and ISO performance. But on the other hand, I really like my Pentax gear and am really interested in trying the DA*200/2.8 for portraits. I used to have the DA*300/4 but I didn't use it much because it was way too long for me.

I know the cost of the 5DMKI is for body only and I would have to sell a lens or two to get a 24-70/2.8L. But with all things considered, if you were me, what would you pick? A DA*200/2.8 or a used 5DMKI?

01-13-2009, 08:57 PM   #2
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Are you unable to get the shots you see with the Pentax? Is the ISO or AF performance hindering you? Do you need to do radical cropping and/or print larger than 24x36"?

Personally I can't think of a better combo for portrait than K20d and 77ltd.
01-13-2009, 09:02 PM   #3
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I wouldn't think that the 200 2.8 would do anything for you portrait wise that the 50-135 couldn't do.

If it were me, and I didn't have any applications other than portraiture, I'd be inclined to pick the 5d. I wouldn't pair it with a 24-70 though. I'd pick up a prime, probably the 85 1.8, and really play around with exploiting the 5d's DOF control. To my mind DOF is the selling point of full frame.
01-13-2009, 10:18 PM   #4
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Isn't the DA*200 a bit long for portraits especially on APS-C?

What about a DA 70 ltd or better yet a 77f1.8?

Now if you're into low light portraits, the 5D works pretty well (it's the reason I bought one after all...) and I would go for the 85f1.8 USM with it.

01-13-2009, 10:25 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by lol101 Quote
Isn't the DA*200 a bit long for portraits especially on APS-C?

What about a DA 70 ltd or better yet a 77f1.8?

Now if you're into low light portraits, the 5D works pretty well (it's the reason I bought one after all...) and I would go for the 85f1.8 USM with it.
According to his sig he's got a 77/1.8 as well as a 50-135*. Honestly that would cover most any portrait situation. I would keep the glass and instead buy a K20d body as that'll get better low light performance over the K10d. But it really depends on what problem one is trying to solve...
01-13-2009, 10:25 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by nostatic Quote
Are you unable to get the shots you see with the Pentax? Is the ISO or AF performance hindering you? Do you need to do radical cropping and/or print larger than 24x36"?

Personally I can't think of a better combo for portrait than K20d and 77ltd.
As I said, I am very happy with my Pentax setup. However I do shoot my 7-month old indoor a lot and I try to avoid flash it I can and so I don't really mind a camera with a little better AF and ISO performance.

I rarely do radical cropping or print larger than 24x36" either.
01-13-2009, 10:32 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by srclark Quote
I wouldn't think that the 200 2.8 would do anything for you portrait wise that the 50-135 couldn't do.

If it were me, and I didn't have any applications other than portraiture, I'd be inclined to pick the 5d. I wouldn't pair it with a 24-70 though. I'd pick up a prime, probably the 85 1.8, and really play around with exploiting the 5d's DOF control. To my mind DOF is the selling point of full frame.
It is the DOF control that I am most interested in and that's exactly the reason of my dilemma. I can get better subject isolation either:

a) use a longer lens with larger max. aperture, hence the thought of getting the DA*200/2.8

b) use a FF camera, hence the thought of getting a used 5D
01-13-2009, 10:35 PM   #8
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K20d will improve high ISO, but not to 5D levels. AF is likely faster on Canon as well. Just depends if you want to invest in new glass. I shoot indoors in low light all the time with no flash using either 43/1.9 or 77/1.8. I find the AF to be ok for my needs but I do have to pay attention.

imho the main reasons to go FF are if you need to print very large or do radical crops that you need to then print. There are arguments for narrower DOF and that a 35mm lens looks like a 35mm lens, but for portraits I'm not sure that the latter is an issue as you tend to use a longer lens. The former might be depending on your needs.

01-13-2009, 10:36 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by leeak Quote
It is the DOF control that I am most interested in and that's exactly the reason of my dilemma. I can get better subject isolation either:

a) use a longer lens with larger max. aperture, hence the thought of getting the DA*200/2.8

b) use a FF camera, hence the thought of getting a used 5D
With a longer lens, DOF only seems shallower. And you also forgot

c) Make the subject stand farther from the background.

With "slow" telephoto lenses, birds seem plenty isolated. But I guess you want to isolate the nose from the eyeball.
01-13-2009, 11:10 PM   #10
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Personally, the difference is in the lighting and choice of composition instead of camera gear you use.

Canon lenses in fact have terrible looking bokeh with most primes. Instead, working on interesting lighting set up and people of various natures are more important with protraits.

5D doess render skin tone well as the rendering tends to be pale and gossy. Pentax colour tends to be more real life like and maybe revealing too much details for women's liking. However, it all depends on how you use your gear to your advantage.

Yes, bokeh tends to be shallower with fast canon primes on 5D sensor. However, harsh bokeh with ugly specular highlights tend to be a headache.

Fa 77 ltd actually makes a lot of my canon friends drool who used more expensive canon gear than I do.
01-14-2009, 12:21 AM   #11
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From your gear list I think you are pretty well covered. I have the FA*200/2.8 and it works great for outdoor portrait, especially you can keep your distance when the children are having fun. However, your DA*50-135/2.8 is not that much shorter either. Two strong reasons to go 5D are much better AF and more usable ISO1600/3200. But these make sense only if you pair it with fast lenses which aren't cheap. So the question is what you will do if you bought the 5D? Two complete systems? Or slowly migrating from Pentax to Canon? The truth is you might never be happy with any 1/2 baked system so either scenario will happen eventually.
01-14-2009, 12:29 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by roentarre Quote
Canon lenses in fact have terrible looking bokeh with most primes. Instead, working on interesting lighting set up and people of various natures are more important with protraits.

Yes, bokeh tends to be shallower with fast canon primes on 5D sensor. However, harsh bokeh with ugly specular highlights tend to be a headache
Not my experience after using both systems.

QuoteOriginally posted by roentarre Quote
5D doess render skin tone well as the rendering tends to be pale and gossy. Pentax colour tends to be more real life like and maybe revealing too much details for women's liking. However, it all depends on how you use your gear to your advantage.
I guess it depends on which skin colour you are refering to. I have found Canon DSLRs render skin tone best to my taste. Pentax renders the skin tone colour differently which I still like, but camera calibration (for ACR or LR at least) and postprocessing will have far more impact if you shoot RAW.

QuoteOriginally posted by roentarre Quote
Fa 77 ltd actually makes a lot of my canon friends drool who used more expensive canon gear than I do.
Love the FA77, hate its CA and donut bokeh.
01-14-2009, 12:40 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
From your gear list I think you are pretty well covered. I have the FA*200/2.8 and it works great for outdoor portrait, especially you can keep your distance when the children are having fun. However, your DA*50-135/2.8 is not that much shorter either. Two strong reasons to go 5D are much better AF and more usable ISO1600/3200. But these make sense only if you pair it with fast lenses which aren't cheap. So the question is what you will do if you bought the 5D? Two complete systems? Or slowly migrating from Pentax to Canon? The truth is you might never be happy with any 1/2 baked system so either scenario will happen eventually.
The DA* 200 is a good outdoor portrait lens. I have a Kata sling bag (Portrait Kit) with 3 lens in it DA*50-135 on K10D with grip. the DA*200 next to it also the DA70mm LTD.. which I plan to swap for the DA*55 when the price is right this year.. You may not need to get a 5D as the K30D may have all those AF and FPS improvements we have been wanting. The DA*200mm is just a little sharper at f4 than the DA*300... The DA* 200mm is one of the sharpest lens @ f2.8 around for the price in 200mm... EF 200mm F2.8L II USM (NO IS) need a monopod. Which wide open is not as good as the DA*200mm wide open. I have taken hand held shoots in low light with the DA*200 thanks to PENTAX in body SR..

Last edited by Adrian Owerko; 01-14-2009 at 01:03 AM.
01-14-2009, 06:51 AM   #14
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If you want less dof consider that Cosina 50mm f 1:1.2 lens everyone is talking about in another thread. There is no dof.
Would keep the Pentax. look how many Canon people cut up 77s to mount them on their camera.
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01-14-2009, 09:17 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by leeak Quote
As I said, I am very happy with my Pentax setup. However I do shoot my 7-month old indoor a lot and I try to avoid flash it I can and so I don't really mind a camera with a little better AF and ISO performance.

I rarely do radical cropping or print larger than 24x36" either.
If the requirement is low light portraits, then I'll definitely recommend the 5D over the K20: the camera was quasi made for that and is very good up to ISO 1600 and still very decent at 3200. Be aware that ISO 3200 can show some horizontal banding in underexposed parts of the image on both cameras.

Choice of (relatively) cheap lenses, depending on how you like your portraits:
35f2 (around 250): small and not USM but nice IQ;
50f1.8 (less than 90!): cheap plastic lens with surprisingly good IQ of course no USM;
50f1.4 USM (around 330): not that sharp at f1.4-f2 but nice bokeh and good contrast;
85f1.8 USM (around 350): sharp and fast, a classic.
100f2 USM (around 450): a bit more expensive and very well rated also.


From the 5D, you get around 1-1.5 stop less noise at ISO 800+ than the K20 but more importantly IMO, you also get a boost in DR at high ISO (around 1-2 stops at ISO 800).

Low light without flash portraiture is my primary useage of this camera and I have been very happy with it.

Note: I am a 100% raw shooter so the details about color rendering are pretty moot for me as I can pretty much get any kind of color rendering I like from both cameras. For jpegs, I like the Pentax natural rendering very much.

An example of a quick grab: 5D+24-105f4, ISO 1250, 1/20s, f5.6:
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Last edited by lol101; 01-14-2009 at 09:31 AM.
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