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08-16-2007, 07:45 PM   #1
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2 lens combo? (New to Pentax)

I shot film in college and recently got into digital SLR when I borrowed my friend's Nikon D50 for a while. I did some research and have chosen a K10D as a body, but now I need a couple of lenses. I prefer shooting with primes, and my budget is about $750.

My main use of the camera will be photographing my child (due to be born in three months), although I also enjoy taking pictures when I travel. Street/urban/landscape is also an interest, but the reality is I don't have abundant time for that now so those would be the third priority.

I've narrowed it down to the following list: 21, 40, 43, 70, 77. I'm not sure whether to go with a wide angle and a med tele (i.e. 21 & 70/77), a wide angle & long normal/short tele (21 & 40/43) or a long normal/short tele & med tele (40/43 & 70/77).

Part of the problem is I'm not very familiar with the 40/43 effective focal length, and not sure where those lenses "fit in". I'd definitely appreciate the extra stop of light on the 43 & 77, but I think if I had one of them it could be my low light lens and I could go with the cheaper alternative for the other focal length.

I'd love your feedback as I'm totally new to this system and the lenses.

Thanks.

08-16-2007, 09:08 PM   #2
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Welcome to the fold. I'm sure you'll enjoy your new camera.

I don't own any of the lenses you've mentioned (I have a bunch of zooms, plus some older primes), but pretty much all of the lenses you mentioned get good reviews. Pentax seems to be known for their primes, both for image quality and, with the pancakes, form factor. Hopefully others will pitch in and give you some more specific experiences. Have fun!
08-16-2007, 09:43 PM   #3
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Why not look into something like the Tamron 28-75 f2.8 zoom? I have just purchased this lens. The research I did indicated that the lens performed well throughout the full range and wide open. My initial test photos with the lens were great. I'm kind of new to this whole game but some of the veterans here may be able to post up some photos if you're interested
08-16-2007, 10:09 PM   #4
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I really prefer primes and the way they affect the image making process. I find that I shoot more creatively when there are fewer decisions to make. I'll post a message over at dpreviews - that seems to be a busy forum.

08-16-2007, 10:27 PM   #5
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The DA 40 is a superb lens. It is a great all rounder. Edge to edge sharpness. Low CA. It is not as fast as the film lenses but with digital higher ISO are easier to manage when needed to make up for the lack of f stop. The DA 40 is also so small it can always go along for the ride. It is priced right too.

The 77 is really stellar. If you can swing the price you will not be disappointed.

Some other alternatives if you don't mind second hand manual focus would be the smc PENTAX-A 1:2.8 28mm and smc PENTAX-A 1:1.4 50mm. These lens are very excellent. The 50 makes for an outstanding portrait lens. The 28 would give you a wider field of view indoors when needed for group shots. You can find these lenses in excellent condition priced to help stretch your budget further.
08-16-2007, 11:14 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by badlydrawnboy Quote
... I prefer shooting with primes, and my budget is about $750.

My main use of the camera will be photographing my child (due to be born in three months), although I also enjoy taking pictures when I travel. Street/urban/landscape is also an interest, but the reality is I don't have abundant time for that now so those would be the third priority.

I've narrowed it down to the following list: 21, 40, 43, 70, 77. I'm not sure whether to go with a wide angle and a med tele (i.e. 21 & 70/77), a wide angle & long normal/short tele (21 & 40/43) or a long normal/short tele & med tele (40/43 & 70/77).

Part of the problem is I'm not very familiar with the 40/43 effective focal length, and not sure where those lenses "fit in". I'd definitely appreciate the extra stop of light on the 43 & 77, but I think if I had one of them it could be my low light lens and I could go with the cheaper alternative for the other focal length.

Standard disclaimer: Nobody can tell you what you're going to like.

That said, the effective focal length of the 40/43 lenses is, um, 40 and 43mm respectively. If by "effective" you mean, what's the field of view? the answer is that the K10D's sensor provides a so-called crop factor of 1.5x -- or to put it more precisely, a narrowing of the field of view of about 33%. In other words, with a 40mm lens, you'll be getting a field of view similar to what you'd get with a 60mm lens on a 35mm film SLR. In short, somewhere around 35-40mm is very close to "normal" human vision and thus a very nice focal length for candids when you're reasonably close to your subjects.

Me personally, I would not START with a 21mm prime and a 77mm prime. That would mean I would have nothing but a wide and a telephoto lens -- nothing in the normal range, where a good 50% of my shooting occurs. I don't own either the 40 or the 43 but people here give very good reports on both of them. The 43 appears to be more expensive and is a bit faster. The pancake form-factor of the 40mm lens appeals to some folks. Personally, I think it looks a bit like a sawed-off shotgun, but I hear that both lenses take wonderful photos.

You didn't mention the FA 50 f/1.4, not sure why. It's also a very nice lens, and fast. If I could only have ONE lens on my K10D, and if I was forced to make that lens a prime, well, I think I'd either go with the 43 or the 50.

You said you prefer shooting with primes. You didn't say why. It it's just because your standards are really high and you'd rather miss shots than have them less than perfect, well, I admire your dedication to perfection, I guess. If you just like primes because you like primes, perhaps because you don't like think about zooming, well, that's fair enough, too. On the other hand, if you picked up an anti-zoom-lens prejudice in the past shooting with film cameras, you might want to reconsider. There are some very nice zoom lenses available now, thanks to major advances in the technology for making zoom lenses work with digital cameras. The Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 is one of my favorite lenses. Quality is very good throughout and, well, it's a heck of a lot more versatile than any prime. Alternatively, there's the Pentax 16-45 f/4, which is an outstanding lens.

I tend these days to think of prime lenses as specialists. I wish I had more primes, I really do. But even if I did, I'd only pull 'em out when I know in advance exactly what the shoot really requires. I will also note that, the fewer lens changes I have to make, the fewer opportunities there are to get dust on the sensor. That was not such a problem in the film days as it is now, which is one reason why it's lucky for us all that zoom lenses these days are so much better than they used to be.

If I have a minute or two tomorrow, I'll try to take some comparative shots with my FA 50 and the Tamron 28-75, setting the Tamron to 50mm and setting both lenses to something neutral like f/5.6 or f/8. I'll be interested to see the results myself.

Will
08-17-2007, 12:04 AM   #7
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I also shoot only primes, and the three DA Limiteds are the ones (out of quite a few) that now have a permanent home in my bag. The build quality and image quality are superb.

Its hard to say which two I would pick for taking pictures of the kids (My primary subject also) Most of my shots are with the 70mm, with a mix of 40 and 21. It just really depends on your preference, and eventually you will want all three, but for me, I think I would have to say the 40mm and the 70mm.

If you are familiar with a 50mm field of view on a film SLR, it will be fairly close to either the 40mm or 43mm on a DSLR. As far as speed goes, I find in most my shooting, I do not need it. Most of the time, I need to stop down to at least f/2.8 to get the DOF and Sharpness I need anyway, and the DA Limiteds are just as good (I think better) as the FAs at that point. Although I really want a 31mm

Anyway, unless you are like me, and want the limiteds for their build quality and quick shift focusing (which is an amazing addition to the lens) you may be happier with a 35mm f/2.0 than either the 21, 40, or 43...

EDIT: Heres a few samples....

DA 21mm: IMGP0589.jpg photo - kbrabble photos at pbase.com
DA 40mm: IMGP0434.jpg photo - kbrabble photos at pbase.com -- IMGP0462.jpg photo - kbrabble photos at pbase.com
DA 70mm: IMGP1416.jpg photo - kbrabble photos at pbase.com -- IMGP1648.jpg photo - kbrabble photos at pbase.com

Last edited by kbrabble; 08-17-2007 at 12:13 AM.
08-17-2007, 12:19 AM   #8
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I would go for DA 21/3.2 Ltd and FA 50/1.4. These two lenses will cover both of your shooting preferences... 50mm is the equivalent of 77mm in 135 format... and 21 is the equivalent of 32mm in 135 format.

08-17-2007, 01:14 AM   #9
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Actually it makes difference to debate over Da or FA.

The focal lengths you had picked 21 and 77/70 will do well for your photography of child and general landscape. The image quality and mechanical build of all pentax primes you had mentioned would not fail you at all (given your photography experience from college).

Then if you are asking what the difference in image quality of Fa 24 vs Da 21 or Da 70 vs Fa 77 or Fa 35 vs Fa 31, the answer is very minimal. There are numerous debates about DA and FA prime comparisons. It all comes down to personal preferences.

To me, all these primes are light and compact to carry, making little difference to me. You shall enjoy the beauty of pentax k10d and its lenses.

Cheers

James
08-17-2007, 02:28 AM   #10
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I'm going to give my view on this question.

Back when I was shoting film my "standard" lens was the FA35 and using the FA100 macro (back then I was hoping that Pentax would release a slower 85) when I needed a little more reach and the FA*24 when I needed a wider view. I also had/have the FA50 but it saw almost no use since I prefered the 35mm fov.

When I went digital I got the DA16-45 to give me the wider angle (the DA14 was not out yet) and to minimising lensswaping and dust on the sensor. At first I liked it but soon I realised that I got lazy and it showed in my work. I started to use the FA*24 as my "standard" lens but it was to big and around this time I started to lose interest in photography and sold it.

A while ago I got the chance to reaquire a FA*24 and did so having partly forgotten about the size. Its a great lens but Ive decided that I don't need the speed so I'm going to let the lens go.

I'm going to tryi to get back to the fov's that I liked on film and get the DA21 and the DA70 which will give me the fov of a 31 and a 105 which is as close as I can get it. Then I'll use the FA35 for low light stuff since I've adjusted to that fov on digital the last year or so.

But back to the original question I would suggest the DA21 and DA70 if you have no need for low light stuff or had the 50 as your favourite lens in film.
08-17-2007, 08:29 AM   #11
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I had a similar question and went with the 35/2 & 77.
08-17-2007, 08:32 AM   #12
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Thanks to everyone for your replies.

I understand that the K10D has a crop factor of 1.5x. My question about the 40/43 was more related to the fact that these lenses end up being a somewhat "unusual" 60/65 effective focal length. I'm not used to shooting with this FL so I was just wondering how others used these lenses... do they work as your "normal" lens essentially (but just a bit longer) or do they function more as short teles, or both?

I was also wondering what lenses folks with young babies/kids have found most useful. In reality that will be 80% of my shooting. The remaining 20% would be travel, urban, landscape. So I'd like my choice to reflect that, i.e. I should probably spend more money on the lens I'll use the most (for portraits).

I did consider the 50, and perhaps I still should. It seems like it would be a nice FL for indoor portraits, and fast which is good for low light stuff (although I've been studying up on off-camera flash over at Strobist, so this may not be as much as an advantage as it would otherwise).

I confess that I've been drawn in somewhat by the "mystique" of the 43 & 77, the supposed "3D quality" and "magical" rendering people rave about. I had my heart set on at least one of them, but perhaps I'm putting more stock into this effect than I should. Also, I wonder whether 77 (and 70 for that matter) isn't too long for indoor portraiture?

Also, I will very likely add a third prime in the future. Eventually I'll have a 14/21, 35/40/43/50 & 70/77. But for now I want to focus on what I'll use most, which sounds like a normal and a portrait. I think I can maybe wait for the wide, since it will be my least-used lens. Considering my budget, perhaps the 40 & 77 would be a good pair.

Thanks again for your feedback - it really helps since I'm so new to Pentax.
08-17-2007, 10:09 AM   #13
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For portraiture I'd consider the 43mm Limited. It has been a bit undervalued of the FA Limiteds and has a rep of being a bit "soft" - please correct me if I'm wrong - but for portraits this lens might just be IT.
I congratulate you for your excellent taste by choosing the primes. They are truly, truly wonderful performers and also so full of character. I have two DAs, the 40mm and the 21mm and love every second I spend shooting with them.You just can't get enough of them.
08-17-2007, 11:10 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by badlydrawnboy Quote

I was also wondering what lenses folks with young babies/kids have found most useful. In reality that will be 80% of my shooting. The remaining 20% would be travel, urban, landscape. So I'd like my choice to reflect that, i.e. I should probably spend more money on the lens I'll use the most (for portraits).

I did consider the 50, and perhaps I still should. It seems like it would be a nice FL for indoor portraits, and fast which is good for low light stuff (although I've been studying up on off-camera flash over at Strobist, so this may not be as much as an advantage as it would otherwise).

I confess that I've been drawn in somewhat by the "mystique" of the 43 & 77, the supposed "3D quality" and "magical" rendering people rave about. I had my heart set on at least one of them, but perhaps I'm putting more stock into this effect than I should. Also, I wonder whether 77 (and 70 for that matter) isn't too long for indoor portraiture?
My basic 2 lens kit now consists of the DA 12-24mm and the DA* 50-135mm. For my purposes, this covers almost all of my needs. It would take 5 fixed focal length lenses to effectively cover this range. (And, in fact, a few months ago, I did have 5 fixed focal length lenses to cover this range: the DA 14mm, DA 21mm, D-FA 50mm f2.8 Macro, FA 77mm Ltd., and the FA 135mm f2.8.)

If I had to pick just 2 fixed focal length lenses to use with a Pentax DSLR, it would be the DA 21 Ltd. and the DA 70mm Ltd. The 70mm is perfect for portrait use since the longer focal length makes it easier to blur the background and effectively isolate the subject. I don't like the clutter and the broader field of view of shorter lenses for portrait work, and I found the 77mm to be close to the perfect focal length for this application. The DA 70 "quick-shift" feature allows instant manual focus correction, and I would have bought the DA 70 over the FA 77 if it was available was the time. A 50mm lens would be my next choice for interior portrait use, but I prefer something a bit longer. I have take a lot of pictures of my kids with the 77mm and it gives great results. When they were babies I used an 85mm lens on a film body most of the time.

The DA 21mm is a good compromise for moderately wide angle landscape, travel and tight interior use. I had this lens and it produces excellent quality images. It is also a DA lens with the quick-shift feature which I like a lot. If you wanted a slightly longer focal length, Pentax has announced two new 35mm DA lenses: a 35mm f2.8 Limited Macro and a 35mm with SDM (unknown max aperture-maybe f/2?) that might be appealing. But who knows when they will be available.
08-17-2007, 01:25 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by GaryML Quote
Pentax has announced two new 35mm DA lenses: a 35mm f2.8 Limited Macro and a 35mm with SDM (unknown max aperture-maybe f/2?) that might be appealing. But who knows when they will be available.
Thanks for your reply, Gary. A 35mm macro? That's interesting... a normal prime with macro/close-focusing capabilities would be a pretty ideal walk-around lens for me. But I wonder how much larger/heavier this will be compared to the current 35/2 offering.

I did hear something about the DA 35 SDM coming out in 2008, but I think I wrote it off because someone said it would be a very expensive lens. (Is this true? Does anyone really know?)

I'm now leaning towards the 21 + 70/77, but I'm just not sure how much I'd miss the "normal" focal length. I suppose I could always pick up a used DA 40 for $200 if I need that in the future - not too expensive.
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