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View Poll Results: Which portrait lens?
FA 50mm/1.4 4113.99%
DA 70mm/2.4 4415.02%
FA 77mm/1.8 Limited 19165.19%
D FA 100mm/2.8 Macro 175.80%
Voters: 293. You may not vote on this poll

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03-09-2009, 01:10 PM   #1
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What's the best Pentax portrait lens in production?

I've been a happy owner of the FA50/1.4 for some time now, and while I was initially blown away by the bokeh and 3d "pop" of the images, my recent experiences with the sharpness of the FA35/2.0 and the DA40 have left me wanting more resolution at fast apertures.

I'm specifically looking at primes, and I'm wondering - which lens is sharpest? I'm torn on the 77, because while many reviews praise it's sharpness, the resolution figures at Photozone aren't stellar - bad copy maybe? The 70 looks pretty good and sharp, but I'm wondering if the extra length and aperture makes the bokeh on the 77 a little bit more special. The D-FA100 is in there because it has been noted for it's performance in portrait photography as well. And a long-ish macro wouldn't hurt, of course.

So, do I stick with my cheap but good fast 50? Or is there a new world of portraiture to be discovered with one of these longer lenses?

My (approximate) priorities...
1. Resolution
2. Low-light performance
3. Bokeh
4. Focus speed/accuracy
5. Build quality/small size/low price

03-09-2009, 01:36 PM   #2
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I can't speak for the other lenses, but I've found the DA70 pretty damn good right out of the box, for portraits and detail sorts of things. One of the things that impresses me about this lens is how it handles the region where it's going out of focus - very smooth.

But, many (me included) prefer a lens that has a soft spot wide open, i.e. where you get a choice between soft and good resolution, by stopping down a stop or two, for portraits.

For me again, the ~70-100 mm length on a crop camera tends to make these lenses more special purpose rather than general purpose. Obviously others' eyes and shooting styles will vary. The 70 and 100 lenghts are classic 'normal' territory for medium format, and so lend themselves for 'classic' portrait values. Of course miniature cameras crop that negative size quite a bit...
03-09-2009, 01:55 PM   #3
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Don't forget though that "super sharp" and "portrait" don't always complement each other; you'll have the ladies complaining about laugh lines and men complaining about bags under their eyes...
03-09-2009, 02:46 PM   #4
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Let's start a side pool guessing by how large a percentage the 77 will win this poll?

edit: having just voted I see now... by a lot! lol

03-09-2009, 03:16 PM - 1 Like   #5
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The DA*55/1.4 is in production, but not on the list. I realise of course that so far few persons have had a chance to use it, but still the question is a little bit strangely stated. Besides, the DA*50-135/2.8 is a great portrait lens as well, in production, not on the list. Makes it hard for me to vote.
03-09-2009, 03:19 PM   #6
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the FA 77mm f/1.8 limited is a superb lens, while it does suffer from purple fringing when used wide open however that is pretty much gone by f/2.8. though the DA 70mm f/2.4 limited is technically a better lens,sharper corners,superior control of PF, and it tends to focus better than the FA77 in dim lighting...I found the DA 70mm was just too small for my manual focus needs, and I couldn't live with the relatvely slow f/2.4 apeture. So I went forthe faster of the two, and for what it is the FA77 isn't what I would call a huge intimidating lens, the canon 85mm f/1.2 is. and the FA77 beats that lens because the canon lens focuses by wire, which means there isn't ANY tactile indication of where on the focus track you are apart from the image in the viewfinder. plus, the FA 77 LTD can be used on film!

Last edited by Digitalis; 05-15-2009 at 06:12 PM.
03-09-2009, 03:26 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by legacyb4 Quote
Don't forget though that "super sharp" and "portrait" don't always complement each other; you'll have the ladies complaining about laugh lines and men complaining about bags under their eyes...
That's what I was thinking. If sharpness is a high priority, a lot of macro lenses could work. But they will start to fall behind on the other 4 criteria:

QuoteQuote:
My (approximate) priorities...
1. Resolution
2. Low-light performance
3. Bokeh
4. Focus speed/accuracy
5. Build quality/small size/low price
Focal length is going to be an easy way to thin the herd. If 70-77mm is too long, the choice is simple. If it's hard to pick just one focal length, the DA*50-135mm has all of the portrait range covered.
03-09-2009, 03:56 PM   #8
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don't forget to add the 50-135 f2.8 to this list either, very sharp lens with great rendering, the slow max ( vs a prime ) is compensated for with the longer FL. That and I'd still vote for the 70mm limited otherwise, it's a "poormans" 77mm

03-09-2009, 04:13 PM   #9
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I like the 50mm F1.4...this is one fast lens and on my K10D I believe the focal length is about 75mm....clear, great background, sharp...what more can you ask for...
03-09-2009, 04:26 PM   #10
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77>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>70>>50.

This poll will be a venerable landslide (as it should).

c[_]
03-09-2009, 04:52 PM   #11
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The 77 ltd just renders colours so much more brilliantly and is more contrasty than the 50/1.4 or DFA 100/2.8, so it suits portraits that much more than the rest.

Couldn't say much about the 70/2.4, though, never tried it yet.
My FA 100/2.8 produces such a beautiful perspective to portraits, but it's still trumped by the 77 ltd for brilliance and pop.
03-09-2009, 05:27 PM   #12
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I will throw in another contender into the ring...the Pentax 50mm f/1.2 - even though it's no longer produced, you can still pick them up for reasonable prices...I paid $120 AUD for one(it was in flawless condition). but I paid $2,149 for my canon 50mm f/1.2L and in my opinion that lens is average.

optically the Pentax SMC 50mm f/1.2 is a variation on the same pattern of the 50mm f/1.4. It does have some very special qualities.

Last edited by Digitalis; 05-08-2009 at 12:31 AM.
03-09-2009, 05:46 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eigengrau Quote
My (approximate) priorities...
1. Resolution
2. Low-light performance
3. Bokeh
4. Focus speed/accuracy
5. Build quality/small size/low price
Perhaps, the sharper the lens the less flattering the portrait.
A longer focal length would be more flattering for faces anywhere from India to Ireland.

EDIT: BTW, I'm not going to vote.
03-09-2009, 06:56 PM   #14
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Depends on the size of the room and the DOF you want to control. I'd say any of the lenses in the poll are great for portraits.
03-10-2009, 09:52 AM   #15
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Don't write off the 43mm F1.9 as a potential candidate either.

Great for kids (and pets)!

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