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06-29-2014, 04:06 PM   #1
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Lens Recommendation for Candid Portraits.

Hi there,

Was hoping you guys could point me in the right direction.

My sister recently got married in Greece and I used my Pentax K-x with the 18-55mm kit lens. I liked some of the photo's but wasn't overly impressed with the close up shots. I'm also putting this down to being a pretty beginner amateur photographer.

We are hosting a suprise reception, this weekend when they are home and I was looking at some of the cheaper end lenses.

I've mainly been looking at the Pentax SMC 35mm f/2.4 AL Lens Pentax smc 35mm f/2.4 AL Lens: Amazon.co.uk: Camera & Photo

and the Pentax 50mm f/1.8 SMC DA Lens Pentax 50mm f/1.8 SMC DA Lens: Amazon.co.uk: Camera & Photo both mainly due to price.


I was hoping someone could maybe give me the best recommendation for one. I've had a look at the reviews but I'm still much of a beginner that I can't really make heads or tails. The idea is that I'll just be going round the tables at the party, and photographing people as they come in the door or are getting a drink at the bar - just to add into an extra wedding album for them. I'll be shooting in low light, and was also wondering if I should maybe invest in an external flash / difuser or if alterating the ISO would be do able.


Any information would be appreciated.

Thanks.

06-29-2014, 04:18 PM   #2
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What is your price point?

Answering your question will prove difficult because in my opinion it depends on too many outside factors to give you a "X is the best lens" answer.

Certainly you won't be hurting yourself with either of the primes listed in your post, but I also think you might should try to learn how to use what you have first.

As for my personal preference, I've owned some pentax zooms but after a while of trial and error I migrated to prime lenses. The real deal is knowing the focal length you want.

Of course I would steer you to a second hand copy of a DA 40mm Limited... to me it is wide enough to be more forgiving when framing up shots and you would be hard pressed to find anything sharper.

What I would do if I were you is use your zoom lens to see how you want to frame up your shots and then look at the lens and see where it's at for the focal length.

As for the flash, I would do that for sure. No matter what.
06-29-2014, 04:25 PM   #3
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DA 50mm f1.8 for portraits. Av mode, f3.5 or lower and bam! Oh, and try manual focus, the sound of AF tends to make people suspicious. Live view with focus peaking also works, if your camera has focus peaking.
06-29-2014, 04:29 PM   #4
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Go with the 35mm. Its long enough for candids and wide enough for group photos. The 50mm will be awfully tight in a number of circumstances. If you are looking at a flash and you'll be inside when its low light, I'd just get the flash and use the 18-55.

06-29-2014, 04:32 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by ckglasgow Quote
The idea is that I'll just be going round the tables at the party, and photographing people as they come in the door or are getting a drink at the bar
I think the 35mm would be the better choice as it will allow you a closer working distance. In situations like weddings, if you have to stand back to take a shot, you will find many instances of other guests positioning themselves between you and your subject. The closer you get, the less likely this will happen.

For wedding candids I would recommend shorter FL lenses. A 20mm or 24mm would be ideal. But the 35mm you mention will be adequate.
06-29-2014, 05:23 PM   #6
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50mm for individual shots (you better know the people, though, you've got to come in closer than if you were packing 85mm) and 35mm for the groups - very handy and affordable combo for events.
06-29-2014, 10:16 PM   #7
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You could look at your shots with the 18-55 to see what focal length you used. Since that's a zoom, those focal lengths show what you are comfortable with. If I know the people, closer is OK. If I don't, I like 135mm because you can be across the room and no one notices what you are shooting.

Your K-x should be OK at ISO 3200 or maybe 6400. Check this out in advance because everyone sees noise differently. The exposure is more critical with higher ISOs. If you try to brighten the shot later, you are effectively raising noise which can get ugly. If you figure out the highest ISO where the images are still decent, you can set the camera to not automatically exceed that. Then you can use Auto ISO and not worry about it. Don't use Auto ISO with flash, though. The camera will make strange choices for settings with Auto ISO + flash.

Any practice you can get is good.
06-30-2014, 03:29 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
What is your price point? - I think being realistic atm, with returning from the wedding in Greece and budgeting my maximum spend would be about 140.

What I would do if I were you is use your zoom lens to see how you want to frame up your shots and then look at the lens and see where it's at for the focal length.

As for the flash, I would do that for sure. No matter what. - Thanks for the input, I was having a look at some of the photos and a lot of them are at 55m focal length, I must have been ok with this distance as I / they didn't feel uncomfortably close.
QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
DA 50mm f1.8 for portraits. Av mode, f3.5 or lower and bam! Oh, and try manual focus, the sound of AF tends to make people suspicious. Live view with focus peaking also works, if your camera has focus peaking.
Thanks very much. I think from what I've seen of the 50mm it looks great. I'll need to dig out my Kx manual, read over it and see if it dos have focus peaking.

QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
50mm for individual shots (you better know the people, though, you've got to come in closer than if you were packing 85mm) and 35mm for the groups - very handy and affordable combo for events.
The unfortunate thing is that I'm only able to afford one of the lenses. I was thinking of going for the 50mm as I like portrait photography and just using one of my kit lenses.

QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
You could look at your shots with the 18-55 to see what focal length you used. Since that's a zoom, those focal lengths show what you are comfortable with. If I know the people, closer is OK. If I don't, I like 135mm because you can be across the room and no one notices what you are shooting.

Your K-x should be OK at ISO 3200 or maybe 6400. Check this out in advance because everyone sees noise differently. The exposure is more critical with higher ISOs. If you try to brighten the shot later, you are effectively raising noise which can get ugly. If you figure out the highest ISO where the images are still decent, you can set the camera to not automatically exceed that. Then you can use Auto ISO and not worry about it. Don't use Auto ISO with flash, though. The camera will make strange choices for settings with Auto ISO + flash.

Any practice you can get is good.
Thanks for the input, A lot of my shots varied although the close ups of couples tended to be around 55mm. I was thinking of maybe doing some test shots tonight with the Kx.


06-30-2014, 06:11 AM   #9
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I also have these lenses from my Grandads old camera that he used to use. I bought the adapter ring for the Kx, but I think the lenses are fairly worn and I'm not 100% sure on how to boost the light when taking them as all photos tend to come out dark.

Last edited by ckglasgow; 06-30-2014 at 01:03 PM.
06-30-2014, 06:55 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ckglasgow Quote
I also have these lenses from my Grandads old camera that he used to use. I bought the adapter ring for the Kx, but I think the lenses are fairly worn and I'm not 100% sure on how to boost the light when taking them as all photos tend to come out dark.









Holy blown out margins Batman. Maybe reduce the size of those images before posting.
06-30-2014, 07:06 AM   #11
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+1 advice to see what the 35mm and 50mm look like with your 18-55. Set the FL and put some tape on the lens - or a silicone ring bracelet to keep you from changing, and see which makes more sense to you.

Both of those primes are inexpensive and high quality optics, and will be a great start for you. The 50mm is pretty tight, though, for casual use.
06-30-2014, 08:10 AM   #12
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I seldom do group portraits so I prefer a slightly longer lens for this type of work. My personal choice is the DA 70/2.4. It is light and renders beautifully on my K10 and K5. The FA 77/1.8 would be another possiblity for your consideration. According to many it has the "fairy dust" quality that folks like in the portraits.

Tom G
06-30-2014, 09:33 AM   #13
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You haven't said, nor has anyone else asked, but why were you not overly impressed with the shots from the kit lens? Based on what I've read about the lens, I'm assuming that you're talking mostly about resolution as opposed to a plethora of other lens characteristics that can be discussed. But then again, it could be the quality light coming from your flash.

Going with a prime lens vs a zoom will:

1. Allow you to learn what that focal length does. After a while, you will be able to look at a scene and visualize what it'll look like even before you look through the camera.

2. Provide larger apertures so that you can blur out the background and isolate your subject from the background - something that is literally impossible to do with a kit lens that only opens up to f/5.6

3. Most, if not all, other aspects of the lens (build quality, bokeh, sharpness, flare control, resolution, color, contrast, distortions, minimum focusing distance, etc...) will be better.

But to best help you make the right decision for you, it'll help to know exactly why you're unhappy with your current lens.

Last edited by FrankC; 06-30-2014 at 09:46 AM.
06-30-2014, 10:56 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Holy blown out margins Batman. Maybe reduce the size of those images before posting.
Apologies, I'll go back onto Imgur and reupload the resolutions.

QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
+1 advice to see what the 35mm and 50mm look like with your 18-55. Set the FL and put some tape on the lens - or a silicone ring bracelet to keep you from changing, and see which makes more sense to you.

Both of those primes are inexpensive and high quality optics, and will be a great start for you. The 50mm is pretty tight, though, for casual use.
Thank you, I'm going to leave it set at 55mm tonight and use a very fed up looking Golden Retriever as my subject.

QuoteOriginally posted by 8540tomg Quote
I seldom do group portraits so I prefer a slightly longer lens for this type of work. My personal choice is the DA 70/2.4. It is light and renders beautifully on my K10 and K5. The FA 77/1.8 would be another possiblity for your consideration. According to many it has the "fairy dust" quality that folks like in the portraits.

Tom G
Thank you, I'll have a look at these two also. I think that's the aim I'm looking for. Whenever there is a family event etc, I like to go round and get photographs of everyone, but much like you say enjoy the different quality of photo.

QuoteOriginally posted by FrankC Quote
You haven't said, nor has anyone else asked, but why were you not overly impressed with the shots from the kit lens? Based on what I've read about the lens, I'm assuming that you're talking mostly about resolution as opposed to a plethora of other lens characteristics that can be discussed. But then again, it could be the quality light coming from your flash.
Sorry I should have said.
I like the idea of the bokeh being a lot more prominent and the idea of of the photo being all about the person and not the background. I'm assuming for this though, like you say I'll need the lens to go further than f/5.6.
06-30-2014, 11:58 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by ckglasgow Quote
I like the idea of the bokeh being a lot more prominent and the idea of of the photo being all about the person and not the background.

Absolutely. A key characteristic of traditional portraiture is to blur out the background which results in the isolation of your subject causing the viewer's eye to go directly to your subject. This has long been a disadvantage to using cameras with sensors smaller than FF such as APS-C, and it's even worse with micro 4/3 cameras. You can get the look that you want by getting a different lens. If you go with a 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 prime, then that'll most likely give you the best look because the large aperture. There won't be much of a difference between how much area is blurred between f1.8 and f/1.4. The Pentax 50 f/1.8 will also give you an overall superior image compared to your kit lens set to 50 (such as sharpness, color, contrast, distortion, etc...) which will solve your problem. The 50 f/1.4 will be even better than the f/1.8 in all aspects.
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