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02-24-2014, 09:46 AM   #1
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Lens suggestion for KX kid/family portraits <$300

I have been shooting with my KX w Tamron 28-300mm lens in mostly MF but really need something to get nice sharp clear portraits of kids/families that have a nice bokeh. I am looking for something less than $300. I have looked at the A 50mm 1.7 lens as I heard this is good and I can still shoot in AV mode, but wonder if I need to just shoot in AF instead of MF (I just feel I have more control when Im in MF but yet my focus ratio to those out of focus is not very good because my subjects are small kids that do not want to stay still and cooperate.) so I have thought maybe the da 35 or 50mm. I also have heard the preferred range for portraiture is between 70-135mm, soooo...I am just a bit confused on what I should buy? Thank you in advance for any help. Here is a sample of what I am frustrated about: ]hb2wq


Last edited by smileyz1gin; 03-01-2014 at 10:11 AM.
02-24-2014, 09:57 AM   #2
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Well, you can get an A 50/1.7 for less than $50, so if manual focus is ok, you've still got at least $250 to work with. 50mm is not a bad focal length for portraits on APS-C cameras, but a 70-85mm works nice as well. And if you like MF, the Samyang 85mm 1.4 (which comes under various brand names like Rokinon, Bower, etc) is a very good choice for portraits at $300 new and less used.
02-24-2014, 09:59 AM   #3
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Would you suggest those over the AF da 50mm?
02-24-2014, 10:10 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by smileyz1gin Quote
Would you suggest those over the AF da 50mm?
Well, you can't really go wrong with the DA 50 and it is cheap. It is a better choice for all-around use. But if I was going to buy a lens for purely (non-action) portraits, I'd buy the 85/1.4. I mean the Tamron is AF, right, you're just not using it much? So you do have that available. There are also many nice older manual macro lenses at 90-100mm that wouldn't be quite as fast (generally f/2.8) but are often quite sharp wide-open and make good portrait lenses...

02-24-2014, 10:14 AM - 1 Like   #5
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For portraits, manual focus would be fine. For kids playing in the sprinklers candids, you'll need quick, accurate auto focus.
02-24-2014, 11:06 AM   #6
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If you don't mind manual focus, any K-mount 50mm lens might be just what you are needing and they are cheap. If you must have AF, it is pretty hard to do better than DA 50/1.8 or if you can find one, any of the Pentax AF 50mm lenses.


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02-24-2014, 01:25 PM   #7
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The tamron 28-300mm that I currently use is it suppose to be good for portraits? Maybe in misusing it and should try the af mode...
02-24-2014, 02:11 PM - 1 Like   #8
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I'd set that Tamron at 50mm f5 to f8 with good lighting and see what the autofocus gives you. Then check 85mm to see what that field shows. I think 50 will be more useful.
then if you like what you see, keep dropping the fstop to the minimum and see if that gives better results.

Set yourself up for success - use a tripod if you have one, and get the kids to sit still for a portrait and use enough light to keep your ISO low.

The DA50 is supposed to be nice for the price, but you can figure a lot out with a zoom.

02-24-2014, 02:57 PM   #9
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Manual focus problems are almost always your fault. You can place some blame on the viewfinder, focusing screen or lens not showing you enough detail to see the exact point of focus. But it also is a skill. You might try focusing on stationary subjects to get some practice and evaluate your ability. If that works, you might just get nervous in the moment. The example shot was at f8, and that should really show something in decent focus. It might be time to try AF.

The lens was designed to be general purpose and inexpensive, so it won't be great anything. I had a version of it and I did get some portrait shots with out-of-focus backgrounds. The Tamron doesn't have a very wide maximum aperture, so it doesn't allow much control over depth of field. It isn't that sharp or high-contrast which makes manual focus more difficult, and it's harder to move its focus ring precisely. Its design means the focal length listed on the zoom ring or in EXIF is always more than the actual focal length. It only zooms to 270mm because Tamron allowed themselves a 10% margin of error, and it only does 270mm at infinity. Since portraits are rarely at infinity, the example shot was taken at something less than 90mm.

A better lens will make taking these shots way easier, and the shots will be better. The 50mm lenses people are suggesting were also meant to be general purpose lenses, but they have much larger maximum apertures, higher image quality and sharpness, and are inexpensive because there are millions of them, not because they were designed to be cheap. The focal length works well for kids because it's slightly wider - at 100mm you might have to work harder to keep the kids in the shot.
02-24-2014, 03:16 PM - 2 Likes   #10
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For candids of the kids, and even for portraits, find yourself a F35-70.

SMC Pentax-F 35-70mm F3.5-4.5 Reviews - F Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
Pentax-F 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 samples - PentaxForums.com

Small, sharp, and cheap.

The 35-135 is a great lens too. But it is harder to find, more expensive, and much heavier.

SMC Pentax-F 35-135mm F3.5-4.5 Reviews - F Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
SMC Pentax-F 35-135 F3.5-4.5 - PentaxForums.com
02-24-2014, 03:21 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
For candids of the kids, and even for portraits, find yourself a F35-70.

SMC Pentax-F 35-70mm F3.5-4.5 Reviews - F Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

Small, sharp, and cheap.
I love this little lens!

If you're good (& patient) with eBay, you can get the F35-70 for under $50 & the DA50 for under $125.
02-24-2014, 04:48 PM - 1 Like   #12
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I agree with Just1MoreDave completely. I've never used anything but manual focus, with the exception of a couple of weeks with a kit lens, it works well but takes practice. I've been at it 30 years, but I can peg birds flying by at 50mph. I miss many more than I get in focus, but when I started I wouldn't even try it...

All of my shots of kids have been with either a 50mm manual or 70-210mm Tokina on a 35mm K1000 or ME Super (film). Usually if I had a choice I'd grab the 50mm.

Keep at it, practice a lot, and you can find 50mm Pentax lenses at good prices and still have enough for a good zoom in the 28-80 or 35-70 range. Either way you'll find you need practice more than another lens. Check the big online auction site, I've been looking around and they have some pretty decent deals now and then. Be patient and picky, don't grab the first one that pops up. More will come along...I would definitely get a 50mm though, you'll find it useful for more than just shots of the kids...
02-24-2014, 05:31 PM - 1 Like   #13
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Hi smileyz1gin,

I'm not sure whether you are interested in 'portraits' in the sense of patiently posed subjects, or candid pictures of your family/kids at home and about. For taking pictures of active kids, I'd suggest either the DA 35/2.4 or DA 50/1.8. Either one is relatively inexpensive, good quality, and AF. The DA 50 will also allow you to take take pictures indoors in lower light levels (although 50mm might be a bit too 'long' for most indoor use). The DA 35mm, while slightly 'slower' in aperture, might be a more versatile focal length. The DA 18-135 zoom would also be worth considering for it's extended versatility and weather resistance, although it's moderately outside your budget ($450-500?) and has a smaller maximum aperture than the two prime lenses mentioned. A used 18-135 might be found for around $350 (I'm guessing).

I have the Pentax-F 35-70 f/3.5-4.5 and use it frequently outdoors. As others have said, it's a very good lens that rarely disappoints. However, I don't use mine indoors without a flash.

- Craig
02-24-2014, 05:32 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by smileyz1gin Quote
I have been shooting with my KX w Tamron 28-300mm lens in mostly MF but really need something to get nice sharp clear portraits of kids/families that have a nice bokeh. I am looking for something less than $300. I have looked at the A 50mm 1.7 lens as I heard this is good and I can still shoot in AV mode, but wonder if I need to just shoot in AF instead of MF (I just feel I have more control when Im in MF but yet my focus ratio to those out of focus is not very good because my subjects are small kids that do not want to stay still and cooperate.) so I have thought maybe the da 35 or 50mm. I also have heard the preferred range for portraiture is between 70-135mm, soooo...I am just a bit confused on what I should buy? Thank you in advance for any help. Here is a sample of what I am frustrated about: ]hb2wq
I would recommend the DA 50mm F1.8. Good bokeh and sharpness with AF and all You can't get the same level of image quality from a zoom at that price.

Adam
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02-24-2014, 05:38 PM   #15
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Actually, you know what, with $300, I would stalk eBay or the forum marketplace & pick up both the DA35 & DA50 for under $125 each *AND* an F35-70 for under $50. I absolutely would. You might have to be patient. But it's worth it.
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