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Old Jan 1, 2010, 3:04 AM   #1
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Default More slightly dumb questions from the newbie...

I've read all sorts of stuff about a "nifty fifty" lens, which is available for pretty cheap for Canon and Nikon. Does Pentax have a similar lens? It's my understanding they are good for "portraits". Are they good for other things too?
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Old Jan 1, 2010, 9:04 AM   #2
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I've read all sorts of stuff about a "nifty fifty" lens, which is available for pretty cheap for Canon and Nikon. Does Pentax have a similar lens? It's my understanding they are good for "portraits". Are they good for other things too?
I haven't heard this term used, but it's certainly apt for the Pentax FA-50mm f/1.4. It's a very sharp little lens that has lots of uses, including portraits and low-light work. The ability to go to the wide aperture at f/1.4 enables you to produce a really nice bokeh for portrait work, and I've used this lens in numerous settings where flash wasn't allowed. I've posted a couple of examples below. (Both were taken with the K10d.)

Paul
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Old Jan 1, 2010, 9:19 AM   #3
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Canon and Nikon's nifty 50's are known for being quite cheap (sub $100) while still delivering awesome photos... Pentax does not have a lens like this unless you want to consider an M or A 50/1.7, both MF lenses. As for an AF fast 50 for Pentax, not gonna happen under $100.
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Old Jan 1, 2010, 9:27 AM   #4
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You must have read the same article in Shutterbug magazine as I did.
yes, even the old "A- F:2.0 manual lens works nicely for a variety of shots
and you can pick them up for $20 or less on eBay if you want something to play with.

BTW the only dumb question is the one you don't ask... one of the biggest reasons most of us joined this forum was to learn from others who have been there, done that. so don't be afraid to ask.
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Old Jan 1, 2010, 10:31 AM   #5
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My A 50 f1.7 MF from my old ME Super comes out at the campfire when the Kit lens is to slow (K2000 f1.7 ISO 500 1/320 -1.7 stop
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Old Jan 1, 2010, 12:42 PM   #6
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Back in the days of 35mm film photography, 75 or 80 mm lenses were considered "ideal" for portrait photography. The focal length was long enough that there was essentially no distortion of the subject at the edges of the frame (as there could be with a wider angle), but was also short enough that you didn't get the background compression that's common with longer focal lengths. And large apertures allowed the photographer to throw the background out of focus, which was also desirable for portraits.

With the 1.5 crop factor of APS-C sensors, 50mm lenses now have the same field of view that 75mm lenses had in the 35mm days. So, on all Pentax DSLRs, (and most other DSLRs as well) fast 50mm lenses are now great for portraits. As Paul pointed out, they are also very useful for shooting in low light, where flash is not allowed or would produce undesirable effects. The Pentax FA 50 f/1.4 is somewhat pricey, but it's a great lens.

If Paul's low light pics are not enough evidence, look several pages back in this forum, for my entry called "Gandalf Murphy and the Slamboian Circus of Dreams." All those pics were taken with the FA 50 f/1.4 in a very dimly lit auditorium, without flash.
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Old Jan 1, 2010, 1:29 PM   #7
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With the 1.5 crop factor of APS-C sensors, 50mm lenses now have the same field of view that 75mm lenses had in the 35mm days. So, on all Pentax DSLRs, (and most other DSLRs as well) fast 50mm lenses are now great for portraits. As Paul pointed out, they are also very useful for shooting in low light, where flash is not allowed or would produce undesirable effects. The Pentax FA 50 f/1.4 is somewhat pricey, but it's a great lens.
At one time, the FA-50 was one of the most reasonably priced AF lenses in the Pentax lineup, generally selling a little under $ 200. However, its price has increased disproportionately with other lenses and is now being shown at $ 359 at Adorama. It's still not up to the $ 600-900 range of the DA* series, but more expensive that it once was.

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Old Jan 1, 2010, 1:40 PM   #8
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I have both the M 50 mm 1.7 and the M 50 mm 1.4. If you don't mind manual lenses, the 1.7 is my favorite - sharp wide open and cheaper to buy on the used market. My particular 1.4 is really soft wide open but as sharp as the 1.7 by f2 or f2.8. I was always going to sell it, but have found it very useful reversed in front of my macro lens, giving more than 1:1 magnification (you have to have a lens with an aperture ring to do this). So getting an inexpensive manual fast 50 can be useful for more than just portraits and low light.
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Old Jan 3, 2010, 10:40 AM   #9
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I have about 20 different ways to get that 50mm portrait lens but in the end prefer my 30+ year old M 50mm f/2.0 or for slightly faster and sharper photos my M 50mm f/1.7 Pentax lenses. The M 50mm f/2.0 can be bought on Ebay for under 50 dollars and is a very good performer. The 50mm f/1.7 I got by buying the ME Super camera it was attached to, for under 50 dollars on Ebay. They usually sell for less than 75 dollars and are great lens for the money. But then again I like manual focus for portraits and macros any way.LOL
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