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04-01-2013, 08:12 AM   #1
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What lens for portrait photography

Hello!

I've recently bought a Pentax 645n (it's due to arrive tomorrow, I can't wait!) with a standard lens because I often mess up the focus in my shots and I really really wanted an autofocus medium format camera.

So far my main camera has been a Bronica Sq-Ai and I shot mainly portraits with the standard lens (80mm)







I often also take extreme close up frames of the models faces with adding a teleconverterx2 (making the lens a 160mm one) and close up filters.









What lenses do you think would be best for what I do?

Since I already got the standard lens, I was thinking about a tele lens and my options (all autofocus) would be:

120mm f4 macro (is it too short for close up portraits without distortions?)

150mm f2.8 (is it too short for close up portraits without distortions?)

200mm f4 (is it too long and heavy for close up portraits?)

What would you recommend?

Also, I know it's a bit of a silly question, but does the autofocus work ok when you put close up filters on the lens?

Thanks

04-01-2013, 09:44 AM   #2
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Well, just on the basis of equivalent focal lengths, the usual 35mm lens for this is 85mm, so that's about 135mm on a 645 camera. I think it would be safe to say that between 85 to 105 (35mm equivalent) would be very acceptable lens (135 to 150 for a 645 camera). So it seems to me that the FA 150 would be what you'd be wanting. I have an original 645 with A 135LS and A 150 lenses. I don't do a lot of this kind of photography with them. But recently shot some for a class with the A 135LS lens.

Here is one example from that shoot.

04-01-2013, 10:03 AM   #3
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The FA (autofocus) 645 150mm is supposed to be an excellent portrait lens and that's what I'd get if I were doing that sort of work.

Not sure if anyone has this lens for sale in the marketplace, but KEH.com is a good site for quality used gear. Even comes with a six month warranty if I recall correctly. I got several of my lenses from them.

Pentax 645 150 F2.8 SMC FA (67) *WITH HOOD, CAPS , MEDIUM FORMAT SLR AUTO FOCUS TELEPHOTO LENS - KEH.com
04-01-2013, 10:30 AM   #4
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Re: What lens for portrait photography

I would go with the FA 150mm f/2.8, or the A version if manual focus is OK. It's a nice lens, not too big or heavy, easy to hand hold.


Last edited by Buffy; 04-02-2013 at 02:27 AM. Reason: Grammar edit
04-01-2013, 04:54 PM   #5
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Thanks for the advice

I was wondering if anyone knows if the autofocus works ok when you put close up filters on the lens, as I like to photograph closer than the minimum focusing distance of the lens.
04-01-2013, 05:24 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by claudiamoroni Quote
I was wondering if anyone knows if the autofocus works ok when you put close up filters on the lens, as I like to photograph closer than the minimum focusing distance of the lens.
Do you mean extension tubes?

I don't know the answer to that, but you can always pick up the very sharp 645 120 macro as well. The A version I've seen for under $300 used.
04-02-2013, 02:25 AM   #7
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Re: What lens for portrait phtography

Autofocus will not work with extension tubes; the Pentax extension tube set doesn't have the required connections.

Autofocus can work with close-up diopters but it might struggle and hunt a little bit. Close-up diopters increase the effect of even small camera movements so I recommend using a tripod in that scenario.

I considerd mentioning the the FA 120mm f/4 Macro in my earlier post because it is closer to the "classic" portrait focal length than the 150mm but it might actually be too sharp for portraiture. It's also physically larger and heavier.

Although less common, Pentax did make a 135mm f/4 lens for the 645, it's manual focus only, with a leaf shutter. If you use flash that could be very useful.
04-02-2013, 06:48 PM   #8
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On the 645N, the 150mm is closer to classic portrait—it's about 90mm, with the 135mm about 81mm. The FA version of the 150mm focuses closer than the A version, and is also designed as a true portrait lens.
But some people like the harder look of the 120mm, so it's a case of what suits you best. Also, if you need fill-in flash, the 135mm is what you want—also designed for portraiture, bit soft wide open while very sharp stopped down.
The 200mm is more like the 135mm on FF, too long for most people in portraiture, although some use it, as it does allow you distance from your subject and doubles up as a nice landscape lens.

04-03-2013, 07:18 AM   #9
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Re: What lens for portrait photography

QuoteOriginally posted by Smolk Quote
On the 645N, the 150mm is closer to classic portrait—it's about 90mm, with the 135mm about 81mm.
I stand corrected, I was thinking of the 645D. I have a portrait of my service dog on my web site taken with the FA 120; it was a one-off shot to use up the roll of Velvia. It came out beautifully but I would not recommend Velvia for people portraits.
04-03-2013, 10:01 PM   #10
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Thanks everyone for the advice, now I'm dead set on getting a 150mm FA

I'm based in the UK and I was wondering if you knew any place where I could buy the 150mm FA lens other than Ebay.

Thanks again
04-04-2013, 07:18 AM   #11
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Keh.com sells good quality used lenses. I think it may even come with a 6 month warranty. They are located in the U.S., but I imagine they will ship to you in the U.K. The auto focus FA f/2.8 lens is supposed to be a little better for portraits than the manual A f/4 from what I've read (plus AF is nice) They've got a couple of copies of the FA for around $700 USD.

Pentax 645 Fixed Focal Length Lenses - KEH.com
04-04-2013, 07:41 AM   #12
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Thanks for the tip, but I'd rather buy in Europe because I'm afraid that it will be very expensive to ship and pay import taxes from the US.
04-04-2013, 09:43 AM   #13
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There are three genuine dealers I know of in the U.K. as opposed to just e-bay individual sellers. They are Ffordes, Mifsuds and someone from Ceredigion area called Cliff, I think, who is an e-bay seller but in fact to all intents and purposes acts like a genuine dealer i.e,. accepts returns, gives some kind of guarantee etc

I have dealt with him via e-bay, buying an 45mm A lens and found him an OK seller to deal with but both Ffordes and Mifsuds have good reputations. Of you want to see what Cliff has go to the film camera section, then Pentax medium format and his stuff will appear

asahijock
04-04-2013, 09:54 AM   #14
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Thanks for the advice. I really appreciate it.
04-23-2013, 08:12 PM   #15
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For AF the 150mm is your best bet, but otherwise I increasingly prefer the 135mm LS lens. Only downside is that it has no dedicated hood. Stopped down it is sharper than the FA 150mm, wide open it is softer - giving you just the classic options for portraiture. And of course it allows for fill-in flash unlike the FA/A lenses
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