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08-10-2018, 11:05 AM   #1
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what would you do to get nice very shallow bokeh portraits?

I have a K3 and a da70 / M85 f2 / M100 2.8 / M135 2.5
And an fa31 which is great for environmental portraits on apsc.

I'd like a modern lens to use p ttl flash & AF to be honest. I have to save up a bit first.
Either i should go into the direction of an AF 1.4 lens (maybe the upcoming dfa 85 or an older one) or i should to put my money on a K1 & combine it with the da70.
2.4 on FF isn't shabby i guess.

Ofcourse maybe I should stick with the m lenses and learn to control my flash manually.
I need to do that anyhow in the short run.

But would like to know what your preference would be regarding a FF vs an 85 1.4..

For everything else i'm very well equipped in apsc such as da12 24 & filters and so, & i'm absolutely happy with the K3..

08-10-2018, 11:17 AM - 3 Likes   #2
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Some of the best portraits I have ever seen were taken with a 70-200 stopped down a few stops to about f4 to f5.6.


The biggest thing that I've seen that makes a difference above all gear of any type is lighting and careful background selection. If you can select a good background and get the right kind of light on the subject it's hard to screw it up.

Producing or recognizing good lighting and being able to 'see' good backgrounds before you shoot is a skill. It's stuff that has to be learned not bought.
08-10-2018, 11:22 AM   #3
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What Alamo said.
I'd go one step further, the longer the lens, the better the separation. I love shooting my kids at 300mm. I once borrowed a Tamron 200-500mm lens, and at 500mm, I LOVED it.
Mind you, impossible to do in studio unless your studio is 300ft long.
08-10-2018, 11:24 AM - 2 Likes   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by grispie Quote
I have a K3 and a da70 / M85 f2 / M100 2.8 / M135 2.5
And an fa31 which is great for environmental portraits on apsc.

I'd like a modern lens to use p ttl flash & AF to be honest. I have to save up a bit first.
Either i should go into the direction of an AF 1.4 lens (maybe the upcoming dfa 85 or an older one) or i should to put my money on a K1 & combine it with the da70.
2.4 on FF isn't shabby i guess.

Ofcourse maybe I should stick with the m lenses and learn to control my flash manually.
I need to do that anyhow in the short run.

But would like to know what your preference would be regarding a FF vs an 85 1.4..

For everything else i'm very well equipped in apsc such as da12 24 & filters and so, & i'm absolutely happy with the K3..
The DA 70 should be nice on FF, but an 85mm f/1.4 is even better if you want to minimize DOF. And just FYI, bokeh is the quality of the out of focus area. You can't have shallow bokeh. You want shallow DOF.

08-10-2018, 11:36 AM - 1 Like   #5
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A longer lens provides a bit of a different perspective to the subject. Meaning what angle of view and many other things of that nature. If you get within the right zoom range you can obliterate the background or have as much or as little as you want.


It's important when doing true portraits to study the work of others as well as classical artwork. In the art world people have figured out which angles are the best to flatter and show off the subject. People who way back when would spend months or years painting a subject put a lot of thought into how their subject was posed, sitting, and many other things. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Composition matters, and this includes selecting a good backdrop for your images. Also composing with color matters a lot too. Do something intentional.


Above all though the question is all about light. Instead of asking 'which lens' it would be a lot better to discuss 'how to light' or 'how to see the right light'. A mediocre lens capturing a stellar subject in great light with good composition will win every single time.


The difference maker is not going to be your lens.
08-10-2018, 11:50 AM - 5 Likes   #6
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Is it actually shallow depth of field you want, or more out-of-focus background? Whilst they might seem similar, they're quite different.

With very shallow depth-of-field portraiture, you might be looking to get the eyes, or leading eye, in sharp focus, with the rest of the features starting to blur ever-so-slightly. For that, you're going to need focal length and maximum aperture combinations suitable to achieve the task.

But if you're merely looking to achieve more out-of-focus backgrounds, I'd encourage you to be more aware of, and creative with, your subject-to-background distances. You have a huge amount of control in throwing backgrounds out of focus by positioning your subject appropriately. Obviously lens choice still plays a part, not least in terms of the field of view, to ensure you capture only what you want behind your subject. But you already have a nice range of glass for portraiture, so try working with your subject's position in relation to the background. Won't cost you a penny
08-10-2018, 01:25 PM - 2 Likes   #7
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The DA70 is great ... just get in as close to your subject as you can with a background as far away as possible.

Really look around for locations that make this possible.

All Full Frame does is force you to stand closer to get the same composition, it doesn't really have a smaller depth of field.

08-10-2018, 01:39 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by grispie Quote
I have a K3 and a da70 / M85 f2 / M100 2.8 / M135 2.5
And an fa31 which is great for environmental portraits on apsc.

I'd like a modern lens to use p ttl flash & AF to be honest. I have to save up a bit first.
Either i should go into the direction of an AF 1.4 lens (maybe the upcoming dfa 85 or an older one) or i should to put my money on a K1 & combine it with the da70.
2.4 on FF isn't shabby i guess.

Ofcourse maybe I should stick with the m lenses and learn to control my flash manually.
I need to do that anyhow in the short run.

But would like to know what your preference would be regarding a FF vs an 85 1.4..

For everything else i'm very well equipped in apsc such as da12 24 & filters and so, & i'm absolutely happy with the K3..
I have an Exakta to PK adapter and I use either an 80mm f/2.8 Tessar (which is a bit soft opened up but nice for portraits) or either a 135/2.8 Steinheil Auto-D-Tele-Quinar or the 200mm f/4.5 Steinheil Quinar. I used to have a 180mm f/3.5 Meyer Gorlitz Primotar and it was great for bokeh but it got fungus. As for modern lenses...I would want an 85/1.4 and a 200/2.8 but I can't afford either. The nice thing about the old lenses are that they are built to last forever, they are not too expensive, and they have many diaphragm blades and nice bokeh effect. (Some are expensive if you're talking an Angenieux 90mm f/1.8 or a Zeiss 75mm f/1.5)

08-10-2018, 01:52 PM   #9
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yep, shallow dof.. :-)

I did realize about the back (& fore) ground & started using that given. Indeed, it makes a huge difference.
per below example. mine..
Portrait - christophe gryspeert
I also know about light ofcourse but only very recently 'discovered' the use of flash or becoming more aware of the specific light needs for portrait. I have a great deal to learn here. Basically what i am hearing is, use the gear you have & learn that craft..

Someone mentioned 'color'. Great tip, colors & patterns..

QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
With very shallow depth-of-field portraiture, you might be looking to get the eyes, or leading eye, in sharp focus, with the rest of the features starting to blur ever-so-slightly. For that, you're going to need focal length and maximum aperture combinations suitable to achieve the task.
this..

2 examples:
Polin by Sergey Piltnik (???????) - Photo 268193079 / 500px
just gorgeous in my opinion.
& why not this one :-)
Playing with Bubbles by Eric Noeske - Photo 254894197 / 500px
Silky smooth pics..

Probably indeed best to use what i have to the fullest before buying something new. Not planning to this year.
But i do wonder what plays the bigger role in these kind of pics. the lens aperture(and focal indeed also) or size of sensor.
Hec, there is also sthing like da55 1.4 for apsc..

---------- Post added 08-10-18 at 10:56 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
All Full Frame does is force you to stand closer to get the same composition, it doesn't really have a smaller depth of field.
interesting comment..
not sure yet on how it would affect, say:
FF + da70 vs apsc + da55
08-10-2018, 02:11 PM   #10
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For shallow DOF portraiture, an 85mm f/1.4 is hard to beat. The Rokinon/Samyang is great value for money. Ask me, I have one.

You could shop around for a Pentax FA* 85mm f/1.4 if you have deeper pockets. For the ne plus ultra of K mounts, look for a Pentax A*. Or a Zeiss ZK.

For if feel more adventurous, a 135mm f/2 or 135mm f/1.8 can also do great things. But I would get an 85mm first.

I have tried a K 200mm f/2.5 for portraiture but things can go pear shaped. For bokeh magic, you want to be close to your subject with the background way back. With a 200mm on crop frame, you have to move a long way back from your subject. Now the background isn't so far away, relatively speaking, any more. And the bokeh isn't quite there.

Regarding FF versus crop, apply the 1.5 factor. And you 'gain' slightly more than one stop of DOF with that crop.

Therefore, 85mm f/1.4 on FF is about equivalent to 135mm f/2 on crop frame. Likewise, 135mm f/2 on full frame is equivalent to 200mm f/2.8. Full frame will therefore give the shallowest DOF. For even less DOF, get a bigger sensor i.e. a medium format such as the Pentax 645Z.
08-10-2018, 02:11 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by grispie Quote

interesting comment..
not sure yet on how it would affect, say:
FF + da70 vs apsc + da55
The APS-C combination will get you the shallowest depth of field for the same distance, Chris.

That lens can do f1.4 for starters.
08-10-2018, 02:23 PM - 1 Like   #12
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[


It's certainly a combination of elements, and you can get results even from zooms and moderate apertures. Here's an example of mine showing a few of the things mentioned in this thread ..... Background distance and separation, bokeh, enough DOF for the whole subject, and lighting (in this case off-camera flash using HSS in order to control the ambient exposure) ....

This was shot with the K7 and D FA28-105 at 100mm and F6.7 .....
08-10-2018, 02:25 PM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wasp Quote
. For even less DOF, get a bigger sensor
It's a myth, Wasp.

Standing closer to the subject reduces DoF, sensor size doesn't.

https://fstoppers.com/education/no-larger-sensors-do-not-produce-shallower-depth-field-254158



08-10-2018, 02:26 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wasp Quote
Therefore, 85mm f/1.4 on FF is about equivalent to 135mm f/2 on crop frame
55mm f/1.0 on crop would give roughly similar framing, FOV and DOF as 85mm f/1.4 on FF.

To the OP, I think the DA* 55 on crop would do what you want for the most part. That is the classic portrait length equivalent to 85mm on FF, but with not quite as shallow DOF given same framing.
08-10-2018, 02:32 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
But if you're merely looking to achieve more out-of-focus backgrounds, I'd encourage you to be more aware of, and creative with, your subject-to-background distances. You have a huge amount of control in throwing backgrounds out of focus by positioning your subject appropriately.
This ^ ^ ^

Most of my bokeh shots with the K-3 have been done at 50mm to 135mm and at f/2 or narrower with a surprising number being at f/4 and f/5.6.

As for FF vs APS-C...as noted above, with magnification being equal (same framing), there is no difference in DOF between the two formats for a given absolute aperture (not the same as f/number). As a result of that bit in the parentheses and in practice, available DOF does tend to be more limited as frame size increases. Before one gets too excited, I would caution that is not really a good thing. Imagine if you would a face shot (portrait) at f/8 where only the subject's eyelash is in acceptable focus. Welcome to the world of 4x5 and larger formats. Even with 35mm FF, the challenge is to maintain adequate DOF so that one's subject does not fade to blur. At 50mm and f/1.4 at head portrait distances on FF, such is a fantasy.

For subject isolation and pop, background blur is useful. So is difference in contrast, texture, and color and light values. There is nothing fail-safe or even particularly useful about razor-thin DOF.

QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
It's a myth, Wasp.
I was not intending the above to be a direct contradiction of your statement. What you are saying is true, but with the qualifier of aperture. DOF is a complex topic and difficult to discuss without either math or comparison images. I have comparison images somewhere that I did in about 2009 for DOF of equivalent crops at different focal lengths that illustrate nicely. As I noted above and other comments have called out, there is nothing magic or even particularly useful about limited DOF. In my opinion, it is a pain.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 08-10-2018 at 02:59 PM.
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