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11-02-2014, 05:38 AM   #1
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Portrait lens on a budget?

I am thinking get one of those K50 kits with the 18-55 and the 50-200, plus a Tamron 90 Macro.

I could use the Tamron for some portrait work, but for full body portraits it might be limiting.

I am trying to work within a budget. Would a something like a 50mm 1.7 AF work? Or is there something even more budget friendly?

Or just stick with those three lenses?

Thanks, this is a great forum.

11-02-2014, 05:55 AM   #2
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I can recommend the plastic wonder DA 35mm F2.4. It can produce some nice portraits. Sometimes you need to get close, but on the other hand you have more freedom to back up if you want full body portraits. I've done some full body portraits in a small room a while ago and I think the 35mm was a better choice for that job rather than a 50mm lens. That being said, 35mm is more versatile as you can use it for landscapes and street photography also. When it comes to sharpness, it's up there with the big boys.

Some shots with the plastic wonder:





11-02-2014, 06:14 AM   #3
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I've owned the 35 F2.4, fa 28mm 2.8, SMC takumar 28 mm and 35mm f3.5, Tamron 17-50, Tamron 28-75 macro, 50mm super and SMC takumar 1.4, da 40 limited and xs versions and finally Sigma 35 MM F1.4 art. For full body portrait I would recommend a lens shorter than 50mm as stepping that far back will lose bokeh. I would get a lens with better bokeh and that means a faster aperture. If you can afford it I think the fa 35mm F2 at around 300$ on eBay is best. My next choice would be Sigma 30 mm 1.4 art at under $500 or older version for cheaper. If you want cheaper cost similar to fa35mm f2, I'd get the Tamron 17-50 again as it provides the wider angle and is sharp at f2.8.

Last edited by airjames; 11-02-2014 at 06:34 AM.
11-02-2014, 06:16 AM - 2 Likes   #4
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Yes, the 50mm/1.7 will work, and it is a lovely lens. The DA50/1.8 is essentially the same lens with a nicer aperture (7 rounded blades) and a plastic mount. I'd probably get that instead. The 35/2.4 is a great budget choice if you want a closer working distance. I'd advise getting both.

If you want quite cheap, a manual focus M50/1.7 is almost free. And great fun to learn manual focusing. The 50/f2 is even cheaper, but not nearly as nice.

11-02-2014, 06:35 AM   #5
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Portrait lens

With a portrait lens, you do not need autofocus. This opens up a world of classic MF lenses for your consideration. There are literally dozens of nifty 50's out there, including Pentax's own M 50 1.7 and A 50 1.7. Either of these should be available for less than $100, well less for the M version. For a longer perspective, you can get one of the old classic 135 mm lens, such as the 2.8 by Sears. This lens regularly appears on eBay for around $25 or less. So if you get a 50 mm and a 135 you should be in for right around $100 + when shipping is considered.

Action portraiture, which I myself really do not call portrait photography but others do, AF is definitely more important, and you can revert to some of the other suggestions already offered. The 77 mm limited is the best, but not if you are on a tight budget!
11-02-2014, 06:42 AM   #6
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Da 50 1.8 and /or da 35 2.4 - both on sale at pentax webstore now.
11-02-2014, 06:48 AM   #7
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I use the Tamron 90 all the time for portraits. It is excellent.

The DA 35/2.4 for wider and closer work is good as well.
11-02-2014, 07:25 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by ivanvernon Quote
With a portrait lens, you do not need autofocus.
Just curious, why do you think that? I don't shoot portraits that much, but I wanna start improving my technique on this subject. I thought it's the other way around. I use MF almost all the time for my landscape shots.

11-02-2014, 07:46 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by bladerunner6 Quote
I am thinking get one of those K50 kits with the 18-55 and the 50-200, plus a Tamron 90 Macro.

I could use the Tamron for some portrait work, but for full body portraits it might be limiting.

I am trying to work within a budget. Would a something like a 50mm 1.7 AF work? Or is there something even more budget friendly?

Or just stick with those three lenses?

Thanks, this is a great forum.
Da* 55 is assumed to be one of best portrait lenses as it mimic 85mm in 135 format. However if you prefer macro photography also, Tamron 90 is a very good choice as it covers 135mm. Usually 85-135mm in 135 format serves as good portrait focal length.
11-02-2014, 08:05 AM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hattifnatt Quote
Just curious, why do you think that? I don't shoot portraits that much, but I wanna start improving my technique on this subject. I thought it's the other way around. I use MF almost all the time for my landscape shots.
There are two points in mind about MF versus AF for portrait lenses:

1. Portrait models should pose and sit still long enough for the photographer to focus. In other words, portrait models, like landscapes, ought to sit still for you. With most landscape work, you don't need to focus anyway--you can devote attention to finding and framing interesting views, set lens on infinity, and shoot away. With portraits, it is not quite that simple, although I do sometimes use "catch in focus" for groups and use the same focal settings for several different groups. With CIF, you do not need to manually focus at all, just move slightly forward or backward until the camera finds the focus. I would not use CIF on face-only portraits, but would use manual focus to catch the eyes.

One point, however, it is generally better to use a MF lens with a nice large and comfortable focussing ring. Many of the AF lens are not at all well designed for manual focus because the ring is tiny and uncomfortble to use or is loose and doesn't hold focus well, or changes focus too rapidly to make fine gradations of focus.

2. AF is problematical for portraits because you would normally want to focus on the eyes, and this is easier to do with MF than with AF. AF will tend to focus on the nose, in my experience.

So . . . for portraits, I always use MF even when using a lens that has AF available.

For full body "portraits," if that is what you want to call it, AF is probably okay since close focus on eyes is not needed, or at least less important. For action/activity "portraits," if that is what you want to call them, AF is actually better since nailing an exact manual focus is difficult and in many of these situations, you only have one chance.

For weddings, I would still use MF prime lens for full body shots of bride and groom as well as for group shots. Coming down the aisle, I would go with auto focus. At the reception, I would switch to autofocus and something like Tamron 17-50 f 2.8 zoom lens because in crowded rooms it may be hard to get the right distance from the subject using a prime lens.

All this is just based on my own personal experience and way of working, so it is entirely possble that others think quite differently about these matters.
11-02-2014, 08:09 AM   #11
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Thank you, those were some detailed points, I will try to MF next time when I take portraits and see how it goes.
11-02-2014, 08:11 AM   #12
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Plus one for the 50mm f/1.7, it's a killer...
I've made more than a few keepers with it in the field of portraiture, especially headshots...
...after all, it's not my avatar picture by chance!
I'd also like to add the SMC-M 100mm f/2.8 as it has a bokeh that's pure whipped cream... sadly on APS-C it becomes a little too long for my taste, and it's a pity, as it sees less use than it should...
11-02-2014, 09:28 AM   #13
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My advice is not to start with focal lengths. Start with the distance you want to be from your subject, what you want to include, maybe under what lighting. Those ranges suggest focal lengths. If you start the other way around, you end up with lots of excellent lenses but no way to choose among them.

Distance is important because it affects how you interact with the subject. You can take awesome shots at 200mm but interacting is hard. Or you can be right there with a 35mm.

You can experiment with the kit lenses if you don't have a clear idea of where you want to be. You have to shoot at something like f5.6 so you can't get as much of a blurry background as you want, but just pay attention to focal lengths that feel comfortable. Then you might discover that 50-55mm works, and the lighting in your house is terrible so a lens that's three stops faster would be great. The lens choice is now clear.
11-02-2014, 10:00 AM   #14
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Cheap? The M f 1:1.7 will do the job without distorting the face (roughly 75mm equivalent on a full frame). It is sharp and has very good bokeh. You can pick up a great copy on ebay for $50, perhaps even less. You could also go with the M 100mm f/4 macro. Also cheap and very sharp.
11-02-2014, 10:13 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by quant2325 Quote
Cheap? The M f 1:1.7 will do the job without distorting the face (roughly 75mm equivalent on a full frame). It is sharp and has very good bokeh. You can pick up a great copy on ebay for $50, perhaps even less. You could also go with the M 100mm f/4 macro. Also cheap and very sharp.
True, I remember shooting test charts of the 1.7 and it has virtually no distortion...
...and Ken Rockwell agrees...
Pentax 50mm f/1.7 SMC-M
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