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12-04-2013, 09:07 PM   #1
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Help with Portrait photography: K30 with 18-135WR

Hi,

Am having hard time in portrait photography. My friend uses Nikon D5100 with 50mm prime lens and he takes amazing portrait with blurred background. But with K30 and 18-135mm lens, am unable to take impressive portrait regardless of the zoom level, distance between subject and background etc...

Any recommended settings will be helpful..

Regards,
Jai

12-04-2013, 09:30 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by jaikumarr18 Quote
Hi,

Am having hard time in portrait photography. My friend uses Nikon D5100 with 50mm prime lens and he takes amazing portrait with blurred background. But with K30 and 18-135mm lens, am unable to take impressive portrait regardless of the zoom level, distance between subject and background etc...

Any recommended settings will be helpful..

Regards,
Jai
You'd want to get the Pentax DA 50mm if you're on a budget, or DA* 55mm if you're not. With the 18-135mm it's hard to get a nice background blur as it's a F5.6 lens at the long end...

See this video:


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12-04-2013, 10:06 PM   #3
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Jai,

Primes naturally have a much shallower distance of focus because of the aperture. For example many 50mm primes have a F/1.4 which is a very shallow depth of focus. This causes the Out Of Focus highlights to be blurred heavily. As that Aperture number goes up the subject isolation (and blur) lessens. That 18-135 has a 3.5-5.6 aperture rating, which isn't good for portraits. Getting the zooms that shoot at F/ 2.8 is a great way to keep your zooms but have good out of focus highlights and good bokeh.
If you are on a budget get the DA 50mm 1.8 and it will blow away your 18-135. If you have the money, as Adam said, get the DA*55 1.4. It seriously is one of the greatest portrait lenses made. The FA 31 limited, FA 43, FA 77, the DA 70 are all awesome portrait lenses. People rave about the Pentax DA* 50-135 as an excellent zoom for portraits. I think Tamron makes an excellent one in the 70-200 SP 2.8. I have the DA* 55, the Tamron 70-200 and the FA*24 (on its way) for portraits. That video will help a lot. Essentially lenses for portrait are about subject isolation, bokeh quality, and skin rendering. If you can do manual you should try the Rokinon/Samyang 35 1.4 and 85 1.4. They are excellent too! Hope this helps.
12-04-2013, 10:08 PM   #4
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And if you want better pictures than your friend - the DA* 55 is king of portraits as it is modeled after the legendary FA* 85. Nikon makes great gear, but I have a hard time they make anything that is as good at portraits as the DA* 55.

12-04-2013, 10:18 PM   #5
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Here are some examples of my youngest daughter and the DA* 55.

1st - F/2 Aperture
2nd - F/2 Aperture
3rd - F/2.5

Even at F/2 they are razor sharp with detail on a 42" Vizio LED TV.
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12-04-2013, 10:19 PM   #6
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135mm @ f/5.6 is plenty to get background blur so long at you are within a few meters of the person.
12-05-2013, 12:31 AM   #7
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Above post is correct ,full zoom, get away from your subject, no pro with any manners would use a 50mm to do portraits you nearly have the camera up the persons nose (exaggeration) seriously you should be at least 6 feet away or more , I use a 200 mm at about 100 for the majority of my work mostly at its minimum of f4.5 back ground blur is more than acceptable.

Do not waste money on a lens you don't actually need.

Go look at Al Barclay, a Bristol, City of Bristol BS1, UK based Photographer. / Portfolio hosting and networking for models, photographers and related creatives / PurplePort not a 50mm in sight
12-05-2013, 01:06 AM   #8
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Maybe you can post a sample so we can advise where you go wrong

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/179869-da-1...ml#post1877921 (second photo in post #2)

I guess that something like that is what you want. In case you can't see the EXIF:
ISO100, 1/45s, f/5.6, 135mm

Thanks to normhead for posting.

12-05-2013, 04:10 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by zbrueningsen Quote
Here are some examples of my youngest daughter and the DA* 55.

1st - F/2 Aperture
2nd - F/2 Aperture
3rd - F/2.5

Even at F/2 they are razor sharp with detail on a 42" Vizio LED TV.
Those are awesome pictures....... Nice work!!!!!!!!!!!!
12-05-2013, 04:12 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
135mm @ f/5.6 is plenty to get background blur so long at you are within a few meters of the person.
@twitch : That method works great for any objects to have blurred background. But its hard to get nice portrait when you zoom in full to 135mm..........
12-05-2013, 04:13 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by jaikumarr18 Quote
@twitch : That method works great for any objects to have blurred background. But its hard to get nice portrait when you zoom in full to 135mm..........
@sterretje : The pictures are really nice....will try it out this weekend. Thanks
12-05-2013, 08:50 AM   #12
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Jaikumarr,

You can take a portrait with any focal length. To do a portrait at 135mm, you just need to be about 3 or 4 meters away from the subject. When you get that far away, it makes it so the background becomes less prominent due to perspective distortion.

The truth is longer lengths are better for portraits because they make the human face look more elegant (make noses look smaller for example). Try having someone stand outside, take their portrait at 18mm, 50mm and 135mm. Keep them in the same spot, and move back away from them with each FL change. You will immediately see the effect of FL on portraiture. For me, I love portraits between 50 and 80mm.
12-05-2013, 10:57 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by adwb Quote
Above post is correct ,full zoom, get away from your subject, no pro with any manners would use a 50mm to do portraits you nearly have the camera up the persons nose (exaggeration) seriously you should be at least 6 feet away or more , I use a 200 mm at about 100 for the majority of my work mostly at its minimum of f4.5 back ground blur is more than acceptable.

Do not waste money on a lens you don't actually need.

Go look at Al Barclay, a Bristol, City of Bristol BS1, UK based Photographer. / Portfolio hosting and networking for models, photographers and related creatives / PurplePort not a 50mm in sight
"No pro with any manners would use a 50mm to do portraits" - uh, the DA* 55 is based on the FA* 85. It was created at 55mm because with an APS-C sensor that length comes out to around 85mm (aperture has it at 82mm). I know what you are getting at, but the 80-85mm range is notorious for the preferred full frame look for portraits. Sure my 3rd picture has a hint of distortion, but that is because it was intentional. Sure your website you listed doesn't have 50mm "in sight", but explain to me why the 85mm was the go to lens on film? Why is that Pentax's storied portrait lenses are 85 and 77? You can't tell me Canon or Nikon made anything better for portraits than those two lenses. The 55 is from that heritage and splitting those two right in the middle at 82mm on APS-C. You could make the argument that "pros" don't use APS-C, but then I would ask you why you even commented on someone's thread entitled "K30 with 18-135WR".

Sure the 135MM does a great job of subject isolation, but I have never had a subject say "Wow, you are too close". Someone with a K30 and a 18-135WR asking about portraits is not looking to get published professionally next week. They are trying to learn the trade - and traditionally that 80-85 range is pretty darn popular still to this day.

Back to the OP's comments and Adam's - the DA 50 1.8 is a great lens for an extremely excellent price for portraits. The DA 55* is, in my opinion, the best lens you can get for portraits on a Pentax system. The 50 1.8 is the best you can get for the price point, by far.
12-05-2013, 11:01 AM   #14
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The DA 70 2.4 is another extremely good portrait lens. If you want longer with zoom - the Tamron 70-200 is sharp, smooth, and vibrant. At $700 new with a 6 year warranty - it is a great buy.
12-05-2013, 11:39 AM   #15
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well when I was taught portraiture many years ago in the studio i was taught in as a assistant if we used 35 mm, which was not often , the lens for head shots was normally 100 - 135 mm,
i'm not going to spend hours typing so please have a read of the link below. i don't always agree with Mr Rockwell but this post does make sense and does bust some commonly held myths.

" Fifteen Feet
Our brains recall people's facial features as they appear to be from about 15 feet (5 meters) away.
Ask a human visual system researcher for the details, but our eyes don't actually see anything by themselves. All our eyes do is send signals to our brains which are then interpreted in ways about which we're still learning.
In the case of facial recognition, when our eyes see a familiar face, it triggers our brain to reconstruct an image of those features as they appear from about 15 feet.
If we see someone from only inches away, we don't see them distorted as a camera would; our brain perceives and reconstructs their features in proportions similar to a distant view.
Therefore we want to be at least about 15 feet away when photographing people in order to achieve realistic proportions".


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