Flash or Fast Prime 1st for indoor portaits?

Started Jul 31, 2007 | Discussions
igilligantoo Veteran Member • Posts: 3,452
Flash or Fast Prime 1st for indoor portaits?

My Friend Hin and I both have K100d w/kit and Da50-200.

And we want to get the next gear for indoor portraits, which one should we get first -- a better lens like FA 50 f/1.4 or an bounced swivel type of flash like the 540.

Ultimately, I will get both but my question to you all is which one to get first and the reasoning. And I like to be on the cheap side and alternative to 540 flash with swivel and bounce but requiring manual adjustment will be of high interest to me too.

Your feedback is highly appreciated.
Hin
--
gus
Get what makes you happy...
Anything less makes you less happy!

exaiphnes Regular Member • Posts: 340
Re: Flash or Fast Prime 1st for indoor portaits?

Many will not agree, but I think that showing to someone his (and especially her) portrait taken with flash is the easiest way to make an enemy...

awaldram
awaldram Forum Pro • Posts: 13,271
Re: Flash or Fast Prime 1st for indoor portaits?

It depends on what you want and your taking habits but my take on this is

flash = total flexibility will even allow picture taking in pitch black and HSS in daylight to control the light in the image.

lens = 3 stops advantage think thats 1/6 of the light level that the kit could take in but you'll be pushing the lens to its limit and have very limited DOF .

now if you hate the flash type indoor picture then the lens is the quickest fix.

If you need low light shooting where flash is frowned on then again the lens is the answer.

If your finding the kt is just a little slow then the 50 will solve the problem whereas if your finding with the kit its not possible to even consider the picture then the 50 will still leave you short.

If you want more versatility in your picture then the flash will be more fun.

Flash requires better technique to get acceptable results i.e a sloppy picture taken in low light with the 50 will look OK but the same with flash will be hideous.

Of cause with both you'll be able to take a picture of a black cat in a coal cellar at 1000 paces

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awaldram
awaldram Forum Pro • Posts: 13,271
Re: Flash or Fast Prime 1st for indoor portaits?

exaiphnes

valid point but when did you last see a professional studio portrait photographer NOT using flash.?

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K1000Photographer Veteran Member • Posts: 6,894
Re: Flash or Fast Prime 1st for indoor portaits?

Try using your 35 wide open and see how you like it. I have an F50/1.7 and like it a lot for available light portraits. I have also used an old thyristor, handle type, bounce flash for portraits. It works well with the 50.

exaiphnes Regular Member • Posts: 340
Re: Flash or Fast Prime 1st for indoor portaits?

valid point but when did you last see a professional studio portrait
photographer NOT using flash.?

maybe 30 years ago... with a big wooden box yielding exquisite pictures.

now studio photographers either produce images of ugly motley and greasy faces (straight from camera) , or rosy and smooth plastic dummies (after smoothing filter in PP). A poor model has wide opened eyes and frightened look.

soldbear Contributing Member • Posts: 804
Re: Flash or Fast Prime 1st for indoor portaits?

exaiphnes wrote:

Many will not agree, but I think that showing to someone his (and
especially her) portrait taken with flash is the easiest way to make
an enemy...

Not neccessarily.

I made a lot of friends by bouncing the flash. If your camera/flash can do wireless, bouncing is even easier.

Alain Jeanson Forum Member • Posts: 71
Re: Flash or Fast Prime 1st for indoor portaits?

My 2 cents:

I started the same questionning six months ago.
Took portraits classes.

Then I bought 50mm 1.4 (teacher's advice)

With interior lighting (candles, lamps, flashlights, windows, etc...) I was able to put in practice what I had learned.

Then bought strobes, wireless trigger, well....I am hooked...

So, start with 50mm and practice, learn and mostly..enjoy!

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exaiphnes Regular Member • Posts: 340
Re: Flash or Fast Prime 1st for indoor portaits?

I made a lot of friends by bouncing the flash. If your camera/flash
can do wireless, bouncing is even easier.

I once almost lost a friend by bouncing the flash. She simply noticed her image from the session I borrowed Nikon DSLR and flash for (I've owned only miserable 2mb Canon P&S these days). Boy, she was furious!

Maybe some very talented and experienced photographer could shoot a portrait with flash (with total cost of equipment approaching a million) where a person will not look like a corpse but I have yet to see one.

Hin Man Senior Member • Posts: 2,552
Re: Flash or Fast Prime 1st for indoor portaits?

Thank you for the help. Your help in getting some answers is greatly appreciated. My threads in Pentax forums are always in page 2. I post in this thread so that I can quickly jump in see opinions in choosing between fast lens and flash.

Much thanks again,
Hin

OP igilligantoo Veteran Member • Posts: 3,452
Re: Flash or Fast Prime 1st for indoor portaits?

Your welcome, and I posted the answer as I knew it to your Manual focusing question in my other thread.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1036&message=24202995

But I know you are up against the wall on the rebate for the lens or flash...
Good luck...
--
gus
Get what makes you happy...
Anything less makes you less happy!

OP igilligantoo Veteran Member • Posts: 3,452
Thanks to all who have helped

Thank you all so much for your input... The rebate ends today so the decision will be cheaper if I can somehow make it today? haha

I have always loved natural light so I am leaning toward the 50mm 1.4, but the bounce flash is also so important... Only time will tell.
--
gus
Get what makes you happy...
Anything less makes you less happy!

steephill Veteran Member • Posts: 9,861
bad flash shots?

then you seriously need to upgrade your technique - try reading this site http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html

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Hin Man Senior Member • Posts: 2,552
Re: Thanks to all who have helped

Buydig is currently down but I will be keep trying to get it in the next few hours. My plan is to get the FA 50 f/1.4 first and then explore with swivel and bounced flash and if I run into inexpensive manual lens with 35 or 7x, I will indulge into that thoughts of LBA. For now FA 50 f/1.4 is what I have decided. I hope more answers and discussion on inexpensive flash choice for K100D besides the authoritative ones with pentax 540/360 as I am running a low budget for my hobby.

Thanks,
Hin

Bill Beckett Regular Member • Posts: 414
I would like to add my .02 worth...

If you add a lens first, you will become a better photographer by learning to use the light that is available. You will look for the best light instead of just turning it on and shooting away. AFTER that, you will appreciate the choices that a good speed light will give, but you will keep the eye of an available light photographer.

BTW, I have had a 50mm 1.4 lens and I found that at 1.f my DOF was too shallow for a portrait ... either the nose or the ear was out of focus, unless I backed up too far for a good head shot. I had a 175 mm (can't remember how fast it was) that I liked much better for this.

Dreticus Contributing Member • Posts: 968
See this picture

"For this thread only" I just made a picture of one of my daughters. Here it is.

The important thing is: it was in a completely dark room -you could have developed your negatives in it. So the only lightsource was my flash, bounced via the ceiling (in combination with a white carbon that I cut for it). I stood about 1m in front of her, and the yellow wall is about 1m behind her.

The picture was taken with my DA 70mm, f/4, 1/100s (tripod), 200 ISO (Ist-Ds). My flash is a Metz MZ3, which may not be powerful enough for such a situation, but still.

It's by no means a great picture, but this is an absolutely worst case. I think it proves to some extent that a flash can turn any lens into the equivalent of a fast lens. The face has plenty of detail (not seen here).

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-- Andreas --

Zion Frost Senior Member • Posts: 1,170
Fast Prime

I always prefer a fast prime (FA50 f1.4; FA77 f1.7; FA50 f1.7) because I like the effect and I have a lot of windows in this old house. However, I must admit I feel mastering a flash is every bit as hard (if not more difficult) than mastering the camera. Maybe I've just taken the easy way out...

I'd start with the fast lens then move forward with flash. I think it would help you learn more about lighting, and perhaps even to combine natural with fill, etc.

Good luck whatever your decision may be...
--
Ron Johnson
Brigham City, Utah; At the top of the Great Salt Lake
GMT-6 Mountain Daylight Standard Time

The only stupid question is the one that goes unasked.

http://www.pentaxphotogallery.com/ronaldgjohnson
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Zion Frost Senior Member • Posts: 1,170
Re: I would like to add my .02 worth...

Bill Beckett wrote:

BTW, I have had a 50mm 1.4 lens and I found that at 1.f my DOF was
too shallow for a portrait ... either the nose or the ear was out of
focus, unless I backed up too far for a good head shot. I had a 175
mm (can't remember how fast it was) that I liked much better for this.

Bill...I don't think everything has to be tack sharp to make a good portrait. I just think that's just a rule to bend.

For example:

-- hide signature --

Ron Johnson
Brigham City, Utah; At the top of the Great Salt Lake
GMT-6 Mountain Daylight Standard Time

The only stupid question is the one that goes unasked.

http://www.pentaxphotogallery.com/ronaldgjohnson
http://www.pbase.com/ronaldgjohnson

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Pentax smc DA 35mm F2.4 AL
OP igilligantoo Veteran Member • Posts: 3,452
Beautiful...

What lens is that beautiful child shot with?--
gus
Get what makes you happy...
Anything less makes you less happy!

exaiphnes Regular Member • Posts: 340
Re: Beautiful...

igilligantoo wrote:

What lens is that beautiful child shot with?--

Seems that there are only 3 lenses in the world this capable --- Pentax 85/1.4, 77/1.8, and Zeiss Makroplanar 100/2.

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