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11-03-2011, 07:54 PM   #1
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Whats the best portrait lens for a K20D?

I have the opportunity to start doing some portrait work, and I an not really happy with
the sharpness of my DA 18-55 lens, so I would like some opinions from the experts here.

What is the best lens to use for portrait work? Pentax or third party doesnt matter, but I
would like to retain all of the features of the K20 (AE, AF, etc).

11-03-2011, 08:20 PM   #2
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Look into these lenses to get you started. Any of those should work. Best is subjective.

FA*85mm/1.4 > $1000 used.
Sigma 85mm/1.4 ~ $950 new
Pentax 77mm/1.8 ~ $800 new
Pentax DA*55mm/1.4 ~ $685
11-03-2011, 08:22 PM - 1 Like   #3
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If you ask me you've got two options if buying new: the Pentax FA 77mm F1.8, or the Sigma 85mm F1.4.

See our in-depth review of the sigma:
Sigma 85mm F1.4 HSM - Review

A lens I use as lot is the Pentax FA* 85mm, but it's only available used- and TBH, the Sigma is just as good (only a bit bigger) and cheaper (despite being new).

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11-03-2011, 09:09 PM   #4
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Also consider the DA70, I own it and the FA77, there's almost nothing to pick between these 2 for IQ, and the DA70 secondhand is pretty affordable especially in the company of the lenses mentioned above.

11-03-2011, 10:37 PM   #5
Brooke Meyer
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For value, Tamron 28-75/2.8. An incredibly useful lens. My 4 year old copy gets it done. Next up ( also in price) is a 50-135. See my Post https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/164302-move-18...ml#post1701665
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11-04-2011, 02:32 AM   #6
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It depends on what you mean by 'portrait'. For 3/4-body shots to not-too-close headshots with subjects that aren't hyperactive, I use an old M42 Tokina 55-135/3.5. Some very good AF lenses were mentioned above. Just what focal lengths you may find useful depend on how much of a subject you want in the picture, and what distances you shoot from. Some popular focal lengths include the 50-55-58mm and 70-77-85mm ranges, 90-100-105mm macros, on up to 135mm or longer. Macro lenses are popular with many because of their great sharpness.

And of course, budget matters. However much money you have, we'll help you spend it.
11-04-2011, 03:57 AM   #7
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Portrait can be full body shot as well, then you'll want something like FA*24 or FA31. For head only, the FA*85 is unsurpassed. For torso Da*55. Actually any good lens will work. FL is matter of taste, goal, preferred contact to the subject and what you want in background.
I suggest to try f2.8 zoom first (either 28-70 or 50-135) and use it to the maximum. Then you will see where you want to go further.
11-04-2011, 04:11 AM   #8
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So far, I do most of my portrait work outside. I typically bring three lenses, all of which are bargains. I use the Tamron 28-75/2.8 the majority of the time because it is the most versatile. For a face shot when I have the time, I put on my M42 Takumar 85/1.8 because it is the sharpest and has the best bokeh. If I need shorter, I go to the A50/1.7.

All three are super sharp and separate the subject well from the background.


Last edited by klh; 11-04-2011 at 04:17 AM.
11-04-2011, 04:24 AM   #9
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I would also put several other MF lenses into this mix. The Voigtlander 58mm f1.4 and the Vivitar (or Bowen or other branded) 85mm f1.4. I've found them both to be very nice for portraits and their cost is (or was) on the cheaper side.
11-04-2011, 05:14 AM   #10
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I'm a cheap bastard, so I'll present some bargain options:

* Slower is cheaper. Fast longer lenses are touchier to focus dead-on.
* A 75/3.5 enlarger lens on sufficient tubes is ultra-sharp, ultra-cheap.
* Manual 90mm macro lenses of f/2.5-2.8 are sharp and not too costly.
* A manual 50/1.4 is good at distances over 1m and has quite thin DOF.
* A 50/1.4 on a 1.4x TC becomes a nice 70/2 head-and-shoulders lens.
* For better separation, move the subject further from the background.

If your subjects aren't hyperactive, and especially if you can shoot in fairly controlled situations, you don't really need autofocus or even aperture automation (although that helps if you use flash). The high-priced options are superb lenses. But you can shoot great portraits with cheaper gear.
11-04-2011, 08:47 AM   #11
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Why does people here suggest cheap lenses, even if the OP asks for the best?
Im also happy when I get a good lens on bargain, but let's face it, there is no such thing as cheap AF portrait prime. And there are people out here willing to pay for the luxury of autofocus.
11-04-2011, 09:03 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by kenafein Quote
Look into these lenses to get you started. Any of those should work. Best is subjective.

FA*85mm/1.4 > $1000 used.
Sigma 85mm/1.4 ~ $950 new
Pentax 77mm/1.8 ~ $800 new
Pentax DA*55mm/1.4 ~ $685
Hi,
I'd add Pentax DA 70mm/2.4 Ltd ~ $550 to this list
11-04-2011, 09:42 AM   #13
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I'd suggest the DFA 100mm Macro, because of the working distance, good bokeh at f-2.8 and especially the way it renders flesh tones. Any lens will do dark or olive complexions. It's the blonds that give most lenses fits. Regardless, lighting is most important.
11-04-2011, 10:16 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by elho_cid Quote
Why does people here suggest cheap lenses, even if the OP asks for the best?

Ummmm - so what you are saying is the higher the price the better the lens is optically? (This is about to get really really interesting - can't wait to see where this takes us)





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11-04-2011, 10:43 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by jeryst Quote
I have the opportunity to start doing some portrait work, and I an not really happy with
the sharpness of my DA 18-55 lens, so I would like some opinions from the experts here.

What is the best lens to use for portrait work? Pentax or third party doesnt matter, but I
would like to retain all of the features of the K20 (AE, AF, etc).
FWIW, I actually shoot portraits in a real photo studio, though I don't know if this actually gives my opinion any credibility, this being the internet and all. I'm also not going to get caught up in the "what is a portrait" stupidity.
Anyway, I've found the DA*70/2.8 to be my most used lens. The 77 is somewhat nicer, but my room is just a wee bit short (I have about 30 feet that I can back up from the subject).
This is for what would be considered traditional portraits, from face only to half length.
If you want more of the subject than that, you would be better served my the DA*55/1.4, or FA50/1.4. I've owned both, but sold the 50 in favour of the 55. I rarely sell lenses.
If you are doing full environmental portraits, you will want something substantially shorter than 50-55mm, depending on the environment, any focal length form the 15mm right up to 35mm might be desirable. Consequently, it is very difficult to make a recommendation regarding focal lengths for this sort of imagery, other than several lenses are required if this is your interest.
I think a faster lens than what zooms are able to give is important for depth of field considerations.
Also, the image posted above is painfully over sharpened. I wouldn't use that example of what the lens can do, it's more of a testament to bad post processing.
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