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11-17-2010, 08:50 AM   #16
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As a lot of others have said, it's really a personal preference thing. I asked these same questions when I got into this a few years ago, and I think a lot of others as well. We all seem to come to the same conclusion, which is everyone may have a slightly different take for different, individual reasons. That being said, here's what I have and why:

For landscape shooting I use a three-zoom setup (DAs 12-24/17-70/55-300). I use these because they offer versatility (especially during the time-critical moments of sunrise/sunset light), excellent image quality (because they're stopped down), and because size is irrelevant as the camera is on a tripod.

For portrait work (usually on-location outdoors) I use a combo of zooms and primes (usually the 17-70, occasionally the 12-24, the DA 70, and I just picked up a Sigma 24/1.8). The setup doesn't need to be as flexible because I've always scouted the location before the shoot.

For travel (and this is opposite of some), I avoid the zooms* and stick to the DA 15/21/35/70 combo. I don't like walking around a city with a large lens on the camera, just feels too consipicuous. (*I do carry the 18-55 WR as a precaution for rough weather...and I'll probably upgrade to the 18-135 WR for this reason and the extra reach over the 70, just in case). To be completely honest, I could probably travel with just the 21/70 and be happy. But I hate the thought of missing something wide (hence the 15) and the 35 is just so damn good.

So, that's what I do. Hopefully it helps spark some ideas for you about how you want to do things.

Oh, one more thing: If I were going to get three of the DA Ltds, I'd go 15/21/70 or 15/35/70. The 15/21/35 combo you're looking at is great, but a bit closely bunched for getting just those three.

11-17-2010, 09:12 AM   #17
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One would be missing out on some of the Pentax magic if they only shot zooms IMHO. But you can have it both ways because zooms tend to be a better deal and more flexible to boot.

Is weather sealing important to you? I've heard reports that the Tamron 17-50 2.8 is mighty fine for the dollar and give the DA* 16-50 a run for it's money. You could get that, and the DA 70 for portraits, for the same price (or a little more) than the DA* 16-50. You get some prime magic, and a fast zoom?
11-17-2010, 09:35 AM   #18
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Thank you all for the well-reasoned inputs.

Pentax likes to confuse its fans in a good way. Every lens purchase is both intellectually and emotionally stimulating. So many choices.
11-19-2010, 03:39 PM   #19
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I guess weather sealing is not really that important to me because my body is not weather resistant anyway.

I am probably going to get the 15mm next and rely on the kit lens unit I decide what to do with my normal-wide requirements. I shoot wide-angle stopped well down but I do want something faster in the 30-50mm range. So my choices will be:

* 21mm / 35mm DA Limited combo
* 31mm FA Limited (costs as much as 21/35 combined)
* Tammy 17-50mm

I may get a macro lens at some point, but I am setting my sight on the 100mm WR. I will think about that later.

11-19-2010, 05:16 PM   #20
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If macro is a non-issue, I would go with the DA 21 / DA 40 combo, it's considerably less expensive, and your focal lengths end up a little more spaced out.
11-19-2010, 05:19 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
If macro is a non-issue, I would go with the DA 21 / DA 40 combo, it's considerably less expensive, and your focal lengths end up a little more spaced out.
and pocketable.
11-19-2010, 08:34 PM   #22
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I heard good things about the DA 40. Is the lens cap unusual and difficult to work with?
11-19-2010, 10:20 PM   #23
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I have the DA*16-50, and also the DA 15 Ltd and FA 43 Ltd. Right now I like carrying the two primes, very compact and great IQ. But the 16-50 is no slouch either: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/106084-da%2A-1...at-can-do.html
The 16-50 does have a lot of distortion at the wide end, but there are lens correction profiles (Ishpuini has a good one in LR 3 now) that can take care of that. As far as Tamron comparisons, I don't have the 17-50, but I do have the 28-75/2.8, and while it is a good lens, its rendering seems a little cooler to me than the DA lenses. Plus in comparisons against the DA*16-50 at 28, 35, and 50 mm I think the Pentax is the winner (IMO). The Pentax DA*16-50 is a very strong contender. But another poster's advice sounds good, maybe get the zoom plus one good prime somewhere in the middle, such as the DA 35/2.8 Macro, or FA 43 Ltd. (which is the one most often on my camera nowadays). Good luck with your choice!

11-19-2010, 11:44 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by NeverSatisfied Quote
The 16-50 does have a lot of distortion at the wide end, but there are lens correction profiles (Ishpuini has a good one in LR 3 now) that can take care of that.
NeverSatisfied, do you find the chromatic aberration of the 16-50 at 16 objectionable? I guess it can be easily corrected in LR, right?
11-20-2010, 12:17 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by curiouspeter Quote
NeverSatisfied, do you find the chromatic aberration of the 16-50 at 16 objectionable? I guess it can be easily corrected in LR, right?
No but I try to avoid situations that would cause it- for example landscape type shots I would usually shoot at f5.6 - f8, rather than wide open. I'm pretty sure that particular Lens Correction Profile fixes CA and distortion- I do know that Ishpuini did a very exhaustive series of shots to form a thorough profile. There still aren't that many profiles yet for Pentax lenses (exception: medium format!), but at least that one is available for the 16-50, and it's a good one.
11-20-2010, 06:44 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by NeverSatisfied Quote
No but I try to avoid situations that would cause it- for example landscape type shots I would usually shoot at f5.6 - f8, rather than wide open. I'm pretty sure that particular Lens Correction Profile fixes CA and distortion- I do know that Ishpuini did a very exhaustive series of shots to form a thorough profile. There still aren't that many profiles yet for Pentax lenses (exception: medium format!), but at least that one is available for the 16-50, and it's a good one.
Lens corrections are also available in the newer cameras. I like your point about avoiding situations. In your example of shooting a landscape, you didn't avoid taking the shot, but you know your lens, and you avoided its weak spot by stopping down. It's important to know how a lens reacts in order not to stress its limitations. That goes for zooms and primes.

I like primes, but I tend to use them for specific tasks. I use the FA 35mm for low light, FA 50 for portrait, D FA 100 for macro and low light telephoto, the DA 40 mostly for its tiny size. I have a couple of manual primes just for the experience. I use a 16-45 and 55-300 for general purpose.

Primes are great, but as specialized tools, not as the main show. I can't see going without a standard zoom. The 16-50 covers extra wide, wide, nomal and short telephoto. That's a lot ground and a hell of a lot of lens changes. IME the IQ penalty of using a good lens like the 16-45 or 16-50 vs a prime is not noticeable under most circumstances where the zoom is not stressed, despite all the hype about wonderful prime IQ. If I'm going for a specific bokeh effect, or operating in some condition where the zoom won't work, or I need the best IQ for a shoot, that's when I reach for a prime. For general use, the 16-45 meets my expectations.

PS Unlike some, I like and use my flash for low light when appropriate. My zoom plus flash results are normally better than I get with a very wide aperture prime, high ISO and slowish shutter speeds.

Last edited by audiobomber; 11-20-2010 at 09:26 AM.
11-20-2010, 07:19 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by curiouspeter Quote
I heard good things about the DA 40. Is the lens cap unusual and difficult to work with?
It is a little unusual, but it's not that hard to get used to it. Some people ditch the arrangement and use a standard lens cap. I sometimes do that with the DA70, because it is so tiny without its cap. However, you can lose a very important performance aspect to the Ltd primes by eliminating their hoods, so it is better just to get used to the cap.
11-20-2010, 08:14 AM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
It is a little unusual, but it's not that hard to get used to it. Some people ditch the arrangement and use a standard lens cap. I sometimes do that with the DA70, because it is so tiny without its cap. However, you can lose a very important performance aspect to the Ltd primes by eliminating their hoods, so it is better just to get used to the cap.
Why would anyone eliminate the DA 40 hood? The size of the lens with hood was a main selling point for me. I use the cap from an old film canister. It pushes into the opening on the hood and is easily pulled out. I put the original cap in storage. I believe you could also use a 43mm pinch cap.
11-20-2010, 08:51 AM   #29
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I was in this very prediciment two weeks ago. I wanted to try out the Limited's as i have heard so many amazing things. I ended up getting the 15,21,35macro and the 70.

Build quality wise the lenses are amazing, and if you're used to zoom's these are comically small in comparison. After going out and shooting every day for a few days i started to realize that even with two bodies each mounted with a limited lense i felt like i had one hand tied behind my back. My only choice for composition was to move and recompose, if i wanted to get a look at a different focal length i had to swap lenses. Two bodies helps a lot with this but with the cost of the limited lenses, plus the fact that they're not teribly fast combined with the fact that when i'm carrying 4+ lenses to do what one zoom can do i realized that i am just not a prime shooter.

My wife on the other hand is content with the fixed focal lengths because she adores the small size of the lenses. I agree with her that the size is wonderful but i am a scatter brained shooter and when i'm out working what i see changes from second to second so being able to convert the lens that is on my camera to many different focal lengths is worth carring an extra lb of glass on the camera. Not to mention not having to waste time debating what focal length i want to be stuck at.

I've been scouring the web for info/opinions on Prime vs zoom and it really seems like the advantage of prime are usually claimed to be:

-speed
-price
-size
-image quality.

The pentax kits dont give you speed or price advantages. So far, In my opinion, IQ seems to just be par (but i should mention that i was not a fan of the bokeh of the 70mm). i think that the advantages to shoot prime on Pentax boil down to two. Size and personal preference.

Fact is since Pentax is sticking with cropped sensors we can cover 24-200mm equilivant focal lengths all at f2.8 with two lenses (the 16-50 DA* and the 50-135DA*) and since those lenses are smaler, lighter and cheaper than Canon and Nikon brand equilivants on full frame cameras. In the past two weeks of testing i have found that for myself zoom's are the way. For less than the cost of a good range of Limited Primes you can get the trio of Sigma 8-16, Pentax 16-50DA* & Pentax 50-135DA*

I ended up returning the 70mm and i'm selling the 21mm (because i cant return it). I've pretty much donated the 15mm to my wife but i am keeping the 35mm macro for myself. Having a good small lense like that that can focus from damned near touching the subject and that is right at the sweet spot of natual vision (on a crop sensor) made this one impossible to part with.

I'm pretty surprised at how many people on the web are in the Prime camp, i guess i just wanted to point out that it is not for everyone.
11-20-2010, 09:28 AM   #30
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Wow Trevisthomas that was a big chunk of change you dropped all at once! Well I don't want to wander too far from the thread title but since you mentioned...DA*50-135, yes buy it buy it! IMO Pentax's best current zoom, you will not be disappointed!
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