Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8 limited vs Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8

2009-08-22
Bharatanatyam Arangetram  with Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8 limited and Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8I happened to help my friend taking pictures for the graduation ceremony of Bharatanatyam Arangetram for their daugther. Bharatanatyam is a Southern Indian Classical Dance. It was my most challenged shooting where flash was not an option and fast movement of the dancer posed both excitement and difficulties in the shooting. Due to the lighting and need of speed, I took my best prime and zoom lens for the job.


Best Pentax Portrait and Event Lens
  • Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8 limited -- shots on the red dress
  • Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 -- shots on the green dress
  • Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 -- used in family and banquet shots when I could use flash


Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8 limited

The lens delivered stage with Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8good results and I chose it for red dress in the first portion of the dance when the dance movement was faster. Unfortunately, I pushed the lens into wider aperture as in f/2.0 and f/2.2 hoping to leverage the ISO to within 400 to 800. I might have done better with f/2.8 and iso from 800 and up to 1600. And in using Av mode with f/2.0 and f/2.2 in ISO 500, I get shutter speed not quite matching the fast movement in the dance. 1/200 of a sec is a safer speed in the dance. Another difficulty comes from the fixed prime and awkward decision to make in NOT zooming with my feet as my position would block the views of audience behind me. I ended up crouching in the front row and took as much shots as I could for the faster part of the dance.

Framing of the shots became a difficulty in the shooting. WB and color was also an issue with the strong stage lighting along with the reflective golden stripes in the clothing. My Pentax gear are not the best in dealing with red color, I shot all in jpg. In hindsight, I should have shot that portion in raw but I could not afford the time in post processing 1K+ pictures after the shooting.

1/125 sec, f/2.8, 77mm, iso 250, 0 Ev
Bharatanatyam Arangetram  with Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8 limited and Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8

1/160sec, f/2.8, 77mm, iso 500, 0 Ev
Bharatanatyam Arangetram  with Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8 limited and Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8

1/125 sec, f/2.8, 77mm, iso 320, 0 Ev
Bharatanatyam Arangetram  with Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8 limited and Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8


Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8


In the second half of the dance, I used the DA* zoom and the dance was slower in the greeen dress. I used TAv mode throughout 1st and 2nd half of the dance, the mode really helps me to freeze the motion when speed is critical in the 1/125 to 1/200 sec range. Though the dance was slower, I did the right thing to shoot more in ISO 800 to ISO 1600. Though heavier, the DA* zoom surprises me with the performance that seem to rival squarely with the prime lens. The ability to zoom also help tremendously in framing the shot in place.

1/60 sec, f/3.2, 90mm, iso 800, 0 Ev
Bharatanatyam Arangetram  with Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8 limited and Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8

1/125 sec, f/4.0, 123mm., iso 640, 0 Ev
Bharatanatyam Arangetram  with Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8 limited and Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8

1/200 sec, f/3.2, 65mm, iso 1600, 0 Ev
Bharatanatyam Arangetram  with Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8 limited and Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8

1/200 sec, f/2.8 wide open, 75mm, iso 800, 0 Ev
Bharatanatyam Arangetram  with Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8 limited and Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8

Impressions and Notes
  • Both lens really help me in the difficult shooting. I call them the best event and portrait lens that I have used.
  • Though it is not a fair comparison, I prefer the results and consistency from stage with Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8 Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 in the shooting. The IQ of the DA* zoom rivals the quality of my insanely good Pentax prime in the 77mm. It is simply amazing.
  • The 77 limited is much easier to use for long duration due to its small size and lightweight. I felt sore arms half way in the shooting with the DA* zoom that I found myself crouching in the seat to find the needed extra support for my arms in framing.
  • The FA 77mm f/1.8 did allow me to have pristine shots in extremely dark scene in the intermission where I could comfortably take pictures of the musicians and backstage.
  • It was a lesson to be reminded to trust the higher iso in Pentax to work with faster movement.
  • TAv mode is found invaluable when shutter speed is critical in making the shot
  • The quiet SDM in the DA* zoom is suitable in stage shooting. If I had the Pentax K-7 with quiet shutter noise, I would have the least chance of disturbing the audience

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4 comments:

robin said...

I have some experience doing dance photos -- it is a difficult problem since the light is generally low but movements can be rapid. Another issue is that the sound of the shutter can be too distracting. (One reason to want a K-7.)

In my opinion these photos are exemplery -- completely professional! Great colours! And they really show off the costumes and body forms.

chunehoong said...

Excellent set of pics, Hin. The richness in colours shines through magnificently especially against the dark backdrop.

I've shot some Bharatanatyam and the unkind lighting coupled with the lack of genuine white balance control made shooting conditions terribly hostile.

Well done!

Hin Man said...

Thank you so much for the visit and comments. Your comments have encouraged me in the work involved in blogging to share with others.

Anonymous said...

Really nice shots.

Hmmm i wonder how the DA*50-135 will perform on 35mm film SLR. I know I can expect vignetting on wider end of the zoom but Im really curious how big it will be. Some says that lot of the DA* lenses can cover full frame. I own 645N with FA75mm and FA45mm and K200 with 16-50 and 50-135. I think its time to find out and buy Z-1(p)

cheers
Sebastian

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