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11-19-2010, 07:19 PM   #1
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Short zoom or prime?

I currently have the 18-55 kit lens, and an M 50/1.7. I've found myself needing a fast auto focus prime, but almost always when shooting for my school newspaper staff, which will end in a few weeks. Outside of that, my M 50/1.7 suffices for most of my needs when I can take the time to manually focus. I'm debating whether to still ask for a F/FA 50 1.7/1.4 or an upgrade from my kit lens like the DA 16-45 or 17-70 for Christmas. I like the leeway short zooms give me when walking around and shooting, but I'm also interested in Pentax's impressive primes, and auto focus is a big plus for me. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you!


Last edited by Tomzee93; 11-19-2010 at 07:24 PM.
11-19-2010, 07:35 PM   #2
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DA18-55 -> 16-45 or 17-70 is not much of an upgrade or worth the cost imho. Cannot suggest which prime to buy though as this is rather subjective.
11-19-2010, 08:38 PM   #3
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When in doubt, a normal focal length is as good a place to start as any. I hear good things about the new 35/2.4, and it is quite inexpensive.
11-19-2010, 08:46 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
DA18-55 -> 16-45 or 17-70 is not much of an upgrade or worth the cost imho. Cannot suggest which prime to buy though as this is rather subjective.
Good point. On top of being much better IQ, I would probably be more inclined to use a prime during casual walk-arounds if it were autofocus, too. . .

QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
When in doubt, a normal focal length is as good a place to start as any. I hear good things about the new 35/2.4, and it is quite inexpensive.
It does look promising, and I still have the 50/1.7 for artistic DOF, but I find that I don't like the "normal" field of view too much when shooting digital. If I decide to ask for a prime, it will probably be in the 50-70 range.

11-19-2010, 11:34 PM   #5
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If you're a fan of the 50/1.7, go grab some more cheap primes!

I've got the M28/2.8 and M35/2.8 and love em both. I use the M35/2.8 as a shorter, slower version of the M50/1.7, while the M28/2.8 is a perfect wide-ish lens. Still a normal perspective, but much wider than the 50.

Both can be had fairly inexpensively on ebay. (50 < 28 < 35)
11-20-2010, 06:26 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tomzee93 Quote
I currently have the 18-55 kit lens, and an M 50/1.7. I've found myself needing a fast auto focus prime, but almost always when shooting for my school newspaper staff, which will end in a few weeks. Outside of that, my M 50/1.7 suffices for most of my needs when I can take the time to manually focus. I'm debating whether to still ask for a F/FA 50 1.7/1.4 or an upgrade from my kit lens like the DA 16-45 or 17-70 for Christmas. I like the leeway short zooms give me when walking around and shooting, but I'm also interested in Pentax's impressive primes, and auto focus is a big plus for me. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you!
Tamron 28-75:2.8 is highly regarded and would extend your light and distance ranges.

Dave
11-20-2010, 06:38 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by newarts Quote
Tamron 28-75:2.8 is highly regarded and would extend your light and distance ranges.

Dave
+ 1 on this suggestion, especially since you like shooting 50-70mm. A couple of other suggestions:
Pentax A 35-105 f/3.5: Sharp, the best color rendition of any lens I own, with the added bonus of a "macro" (read close focus) function throughout the entire zoom range.
Pentax A 70-210 f/4.0: Very sharp, excellent bokeh (even better than some of my primes) close focus function at 70mm. Small enough to hand hold comfortably.

NaCl(and probably a zillion other possibilities)H2O
11-20-2010, 06:51 AM   #8
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To echo some of the other posts, I'd say the Tamron 28-75/2.8 would be a great choice. I think you'd also like the range of the 17-70, and it would be an upgrade to your kit lens. Especially because you already have an M50 (but even if you didn't), I'd recommend a 35mm lens over a 50mm lens for general usage, so the new 35/2.4 would be a great choice. I use my FA 35/2 and DA 35/2.8 Macro much more often than my various 50mm lenses. They're just more versatile for walking about and stuff. But that said, though I do love my primes, I do use my zooms more often than my primes just for practical reasons, generally shooting my kids and such. Good luck.


Last edited by jeffrey r; 11-20-2010 at 07:00 AM.
11-20-2010, 06:59 AM   #9
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Though I use more primes than zooms, I did find the DA 17-70 worth the upgrade from the kit lens. The silent focus, the superior performance wide open, and, most importantly, the longer reach were well worth it. I did not find other short zooms I tried with a smaller range than the kit lens to be significantly more useful than the kit.

If you mainly want faster, smaller, sharper, and don't mind less range, you probably want a prime. I would agree that the 35/2.4 is a logical step.

Last edited by GeneV; 11-20-2010 at 04:55 PM.
11-20-2010, 09:03 AM   #10
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Thank you for all the suggestions, everyone. I'm still considering the 35/2.4, but I'll need to play around with that length on my kit lens a little more. If I do get it, it'll probably be with my own money sometime after Christmas. The Tamron 28-70 seems to have a lot of potential too. As suggested by NaClH2O in a different thread, I used ExposurePlot to graph my focal length usage:



The consistency around 24-43mm tells me that I may like the 35/2.4 or 40/2.8 more than I think. It does spike at 55mm though, probably showing that I shoot at 55mm with cropping later. The 28-70 would help in both of these areas.

When I shoot film however, I love my 28mm, which the spike at 18mm backs up. I would love to go wider, and the DA 15/4 looks enticing.

I think the DA 15 and the Tamron 28-70 would compliment each other well for my kit. Maybe I could ask for one for Christmas, and save up for the other for later. I'm leaning toward the DA 15 since I already have the 18-55; what do you think?
11-20-2010, 09:13 AM   #11
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I think everybody jumped the boat here. I thought auto focus is very high on the priority list? Everyone is suggesting Pentax M or Pentax A. Those are manual focus I believe. From your usage chart. I'd definitely go with the DA35 not the DA40 LTD. The price difference between new is too much. If you can get a DA40 used for a decent price I think I would rather get that one due to the size. You'd be 1/2 stop slower but the pancake's are yummy. You already have the 50mm 1.7 so your good for that focal length albeit manual focus.
11-20-2010, 02:40 PM   #12
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The Tammy 28-75 is incredible.

But it's a zoom.

Eeech.
11-20-2010, 03:36 PM   #13
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Considering the spike at 18 (which means you like wide, and sometime might want wider), 35, and 55 (which means you sometimes might want longer) I think that the 17-70 is a really good place to start. No question that it will be nicer to use than the kit lens.

If you were to buy a prime, I would suggest the 35 2.4 as a good starting point. The 40 is worth considering, but you seem to prefer 35mm, and the price is better, to boot.

The tammy 28-75 would likely give you nicer images/1 stop flexibility in low light/more DOF control, but you lose out on the wide angle stuff you seem to enjoy shooting.

Last edited by paperbag846; 11-20-2010 at 04:37 PM.
11-20-2010, 04:59 PM   #14
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That plot looks a lot like my usage for the kit lens. I had other, older primes in the mix, but that kind of zoom usage told me that the 17-70 would be useful if I stayed with a zoom.
11-20-2010, 05:39 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by epqwerty Quote
I think everybody jumped the boat here. I thought auto focus is very high on the priority list?
MF primes are useful since you can't cover the whole focal range with AF primes right away. Overall you're going to need a lens on the wide end 15-21, one in the middle 30-40mm and a 50mm (which you have). It might also be worth it to pick up a 135/3.5 MF lens (50 or so) so you have something with a longer focal length.

Option 1
DA 15 or DA 21 (500 USD) - the 24mm is the widest MF option that makes sense to buy
MF 35mm (50-100 USD)
MF 50 - you have

Option 2
MF 24mm - (125-175 USD) - or continue to use the kit lens
DA 35/2.4 (220 USD) or DA 40mm (340)
MF 50 - you have

Getting the DA 15mm is much more expensive but it also gives you something that you can't find in the MF market. The tak/pentax 24mm is the widest reasonably priced prime that I've found. On the other hand the DA 15mm is so wide that it might be difficult to use as a daily lens. So you would be using MF for a bulk of your pictures. And the new 35 does have a very good entry price. It will be interesting to see some comparisons between the other 35mm AF and some of the better 35mm MF lenses.
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