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06-01-2010, 11:54 AM   #1
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Prime & Zoom Lens Question

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Last edited by LadyRo; 07-01-2010 at 10:46 AM.
06-01-2010, 11:58 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by LadyRo Quote
I have my eye on a Sigma 70-300mm lens for a good price. I've seen some pics taken with this lens on Pentax DSLR bodies and I really want it. But, I only have so much money to work with and I need to buy a tripod and a camera bag, as well.

I want longer lengths to complement my 18-55mm AL II zoom lens. I have a 50mm f2 prime lens and a 135mm f2.5 prime lens, both manual focus and created for film SLRs. Using them on my K10D, they are the equivalent of 75mm and 202mm lenses (multiplying 50/135 by 1.5). Those two lenses, along with my 18-55mm pretty much have the long ranges covered. I don't mind moving forward or backward a few feet if I need to do so to get a shot.

So, my questions are: In light of the kit zoom and primes I have, do I really NEED the range of the Sigma 70-300mm lens? Would it be better for me to forego the lens (at least for right now) and put my money into a good tripod and camera bag? Hmm... I just saw a 100-300mm AF lens for $20 less than the Sigma, and it would come in where my 135mm (202mm) left off. That extra $20, believe it or not, makes it possible for me to actually buy everything (lens, good tripod, and decent bag).

So, is this the route I should go?

One last thought and question... ALL of my photography has been done handheld, so do I even need a tripod? Wouldn't a mini tripod work for low shots and ground-level macros? If I don't need the tripod quite yet, I'd just get the Sigma 70-300mm and a camera bag and call it a day for a couple of months.

Thanks for letting me "think out loud", and for your feedback.
Definitely go for cheaper alternatives. There really isn't much difference. A sturdy tripod can improve your pictures more than a $100 difference in lens price, IMHO.

or you can do what this guy does and save tripod money:
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4059/4318630130_8694a6fab1_o.jpg
06-01-2010, 01:19 PM   #3
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Last edited by LadyRo; 07-01-2010 at 10:47 AM.
06-01-2010, 01:29 PM   #4
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The cheapest solution for you would be to get a Pentax FA 100-300 f4,7-f5,8. NOt the f4,5 version.

The FA I suggest is better than the Tamron and Sigma 70-300 lenses regarding sharpness, CA, and distorsion. AF is not impressive but not bad. It can be found used for around 100-115$.

That's the way I went, and I'm very pleased with my purchase (almost a year now).

Or you could get an older Vivitar series 1 70-210, manual and heavy, but extremely good (fantastic, I would say). Get one of the first three versions.

I've never seen anything really impressive about the 70-300s of this world.

06-01-2010, 01:45 PM   #5
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Last edited by LadyRo; 07-01-2010 at 10:47 AM.
06-01-2010, 03:02 PM   #6
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Tripods are one of those things that only really the user can decide whether they need, or not - and would be based on their method of shooting, and what they shoot.

I currently have two, however neither are expensive (i.e. $50 max). I rarely use them except for when I'm hocking junk on ebay, or using off camera flash (via trigger on tripod).

They are helpful to have, for sure, but in almost all of my circumstances I don't "really" need either.

A good bag is always a good idea though, especially when you lug your gear around a fair amount (I do). It helps to keep things safe, organized, and depending on the bag can also help protect gear from the elements. The one suggestion I would make though is to obtain one that is a bit bigger than you think you'll need. Eventually LBA will set in and you'll expand your gear. Also make sure that it's comfy to carry around - especially if you'll be lugging it.

I hope this helps!

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06-01-2010, 03:10 PM   #7
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If I have to choose between those choices, I'd go for the camera bag as well. I use my camera bag 98% of the time. The tripod 10% of the time and a telephoto for about 40% of my shots.

So, from a usage point of view it's easily the camera bag.

Don't get me wrong, tripod is an essential tool. I cannot imagine taking my upcoming Yellowstone trip (my first photography vacation) without a tripod, but for daily shooting I'll defintely get the bag for convenience.

I prefer the sideloading ones for easy access and yet don't like the sling type. So, I chose the Lowpro fastpack.
06-01-2010, 03:13 PM   #8
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1) Unless you're doing wildlife, 300 is longer than most people need.

2) Don't spend a lot on a bag. It's just a bag. And get a small one that you'll actually wind up carrying around, to hold your body and 2 or 3 lenses. (My tiny bag can hold an amazing 7 lenses, but not the body. My style is to always have the camera out, and I only use the bag for lenses and accessories.)

3) Get yourself a good tripod. Even if you don't use it 99% of the time like so many of us here, you're really going to wish you had it as your experience and shooting curiosity deepens. You don't have to spend a fortune, but don't settle for a piece of crap.

06-01-2010, 03:22 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by tokyoso Quote
Definitely go for cheaper alternatives. There really isn't much difference. A sturdy tripod can improve your pictures more than a $100 difference in lens price, IMHO.

or you can do what this guy does and save tripod money:
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4059/4318630130_8694a6fab1_o.jpg
lol I've done that so many times

it's the best solution if you want to travel light
06-01-2010, 06:34 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by LadyRo Quote
I want longer lengths to complement my 18-55mm AL II zoom lens. I have a 50mm f2 prime lens and a 135mm f2.5 prime lens, both manual focus and created for film SLRs. Using them on my K10D, they are the equivalent of 75mm and 202mm lenses (multiplying 50/135 by 1.5).
Um, OK, if for some reason you want to compare the field of view to how they'd look on a film camera. But why perform that hypothetical thought experiment for these tow lenses and not your others? That is, the 70-300 is just as surely equivalent to a 105-450 on this hypothetical film camera. Whether you compare hypothetical film camera equivalent focal lengths or the actual focal lengths, there's no getting around the fact that a 70-300 is over twice as long as that 135. That's a pretty huge difference if you're shooting any wildlife or other subjects you generally need to shoot from a distance.

On the other hand, if you don't ever find the 135 too short, then a lens that is over twice as long like the 70-300 won't come in particularly handy.

QuoteQuote:
One last thought and question... ALL of my photography has been done handheld, so do I even need a tripod? Wouldn't a mini tripod work for low shots and ground-level macros?
With a DSLR mounted as opposed to a featherweight P&S, they don't tend to be sturdy enough to be worth the money or effort it takes to use them.

Hard to say how much you personally would get out of a tripod. I use mine for probably well under 0.1% of my shots, but it's still a great thing to have for those few times it does come in handy. Mostly it sits around in my basement until one of those rare situations comes up. Others take their tripods everywhere.

Personally, I'd say don't buy anything until you see a *clear* need. Although I'd think a bag would qualify at this point.
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