Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home

Show Printable Version Search this Thread
06-03-2009, 08:08 AM   #1
Forum Member
lunelson's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Missouri
Posts: 80
Looking for a new portrait prime

I think I have it narrowed down to the following:

Sigma 50 f/1.4 - might not be long enough, but the bokeh and sharpness look amazing.

Pentax DA* 55 f/1.4 - slightly longer, which suits my style well, but the bokeh doesn't seem as good as the Sigma. Weathersealing would be nice.

Pentax FA 77 Limited - legendary quality, no HSM or weather sealing. The sample shots I've seen show somewhat busy looking bokeh sometimes.

Pentax FA* 85 f/1.4 - the speed looks great, and from the few samples I could find, the bokeh is more pleasing to my eye than the FA 77's. Sharpness might be a little lower though. Probably the most expensive and hard to find.

Does anyone have some opinions to offer up or some example portraits that could help me decide? I have the FA 50 1.4 now, but I don't like it real well because it's just not sharp and contrasty enough wide open.

06-03-2009, 08:30 AM   #2
Veteran Member

Join Date: Apr 2009
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 488
There are quite a few FA* 85 f/1.4. They're going for a little under the Zeiss 85mm f/1.4.

Personally, I'd go with the 77mm. It's designed to render skins tones better, great focal length (on both film and APS-C), fast, sharp wide open. Sure it may not be weather sealed, but it's not very often you shoot portraits out in the rain. And you don't require ultra fast focusing for portrait, though the screw drive is meant to be pretty fast at focusing.
06-03-2009, 08:48 AM   #3
Veteran Member
soccerjoe5's Avatar

Join Date: May 2008
Location: Philippines
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 1,343
Eventually you'll want both a 50/55 and the 77. I switch between my 50 and 70 often when shooting portraits. The 70/77 need quite a lot of working space/distance.
06-03-2009, 09:14 AM   #4
Veteran Member

Join Date: Mar 2007
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,476
It does depend on you also, what focal length you like. I actually use a 125mm as my portrait lens.
There is also the DA 70mm which is cheaper than say the 77 and 55

there are also some manual focus alternatives if that doesnt scare you, such as the voigtlander nokton 58mm f1.4 and zeiss 85mm f1.4.

I have the 77 as well and it is very very good so I can recommend that.
I am not personally so impressed by the 55. it has sdm but focuses very slowly, doesnt seem that much better than the fa 50mm and costs a fortune. way to much for a lens around 50mm when there are so many good and cheap 50mm lenses. The zeiss 50mm f1.4 is another alternative there.

The fa 85 seems a great lens too bad its not in production anymore. I dont know anything about the sigma as I sold the sigmas I had and am not interested in getting any more of them.

I guess in conclusion Id recommend the 77mm out of the ones you listed. although the da70mm is a much more affordable alternative if you dont need the extra speed.

06-03-2009, 12:35 PM   #5
Senior Member
tlwyse's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Waxhaw, NC, USA
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 209
Why not add the 70mm f2.4 Limited to your short list? I used it for a while as my prime(ary) portrait lens...until I got the DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 and now that's my "prime" portrait lens. When you think about it, it covers the portrait focal length perfectly...although it's not EXACTLY a pancake lens.
06-03-2009, 12:39 PM   #6
Veteran Member

Join Date: Apr 2009
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 488
No, go 77mm, it's a stop faster, sharp wide open and can be used on film.
06-03-2009, 12:51 PM   #7
Veteran Member

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: La Crescenta, CA
Posts: 7,451
The 70mm is also quite sharp at 2.4, but as you say, a stop slower...
06-03-2009, 01:34 PM   #8
Forum Member
lunelson's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Missouri
Posts: 80
Original Poster
I've actually owned the DA 70 before and ended up selling it off because it just wasn't fast enough for me. It gave pretty shallow DOF but I want even shallower for a stronger separation of subject and background.

Thanks for all the input so far. The FA77 seems pretty highly recommended but I just can't shake the often-nervous bokeh I'm seeing in some sample shots. Maybe it would work out all right in practice though. I think the focal length is almost perfect -- I also have the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 and it's great for portraits at the short end, and even some at the long end.

06-03-2009, 02:21 PM   #9
Inactive Account

Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 1,972
Definitely the 77mm. The 85*'s are much more expensive (and larger) with only minimal gain in IQ over the 77mm (much the same as the FA50 and the DA55*).

I'm like you...the DA70 didn't do much for me so I went for the 77 instead. Very glad that I did.

06-03-2009, 03:49 PM   #10
Veteran Member

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Boston, PRofMA
Photos: Albums
Posts: 3,027
QuoteOriginally posted by lunelson Quote
I also have the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 and it's great for portraits at the short end, and even some at the long end.
A lot of people seem to use a 70-200/2.8 for portraits...push it out to 130mm or so and you'll get more bokeh than the 77/1.8.

That said, my 77 is easily my favorite lens since I got the studio/model bug...
06-03-2009, 04:19 PM   #11
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
Steve Beswick's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Ontario, California
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 1,696
If you don't mind the extra effort you could always go with a Jupiter-9.
06-03-2009, 05:05 PM   #12
Veteran Member
rparmar's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2008
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 8,780
QuoteOriginally posted by lunelson Quote
The FA77 seems pretty highly recommended but I just can't shake the often-nervous bokeh I'm seeing in some sample shots.
Somewhere I recall seeing a side-by-side comparison in the same circumstances. The bokeh was similar but the win went to the 85. However, if you had not seen them side by side I doubt you'd notice.

Once can have bad bokeh situations with any lens. Not everyone prioritizes this in their shots. Because the FA77 is used in a wider range of circumstances odds are you're going to see more shots with nervous bokeh. Though it's never a head wrecker.

Today I shot some portraits and went for the FA43. I didn't want to be too much further from my subject in order to keep close rapport. I think the solution is to get both these FA lenses. And still save money over the FA*85!

  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
bokeh, f/1.4, fa, k-mount, pentax, pentax lens, sharpness, sigma, slr lens
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Pentax prime vs Nikon prime ladybug Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 58 09-19-2010 01:03 PM
When you take a picture in a portrait shot do you rotate it back to portrait and save rustynail925 Troubleshooting and Beginner Help 24 08-22-2010 08:29 AM
Best choice for a long, prime portrait lens? m88k Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 23 08-11-2010 03:13 PM
Which Prime Would You Buy For Portrait Work? Christopher M.W.T Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 57 09-08-2009 10:19 AM
Portrait, Self-Portrait and a Bonus, all in one shot! Buddha Jones Post Your Photos! 7 05-07-2007 05:52 AM

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 04:19 PM. | See also:, part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]