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12-06-2010, 03:28 AM   #1
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Fine Pentax Primes

The selection of Pentax primes is truly wonderful, especially with the long-lasting mount.

A question is this: willing to carry lenses, but enjoying portability and low cost, is it worth keeping to a tight and small system (2-4 nice ones) and focusing on the actual photography, or just buying secondhand what takes interest and selling later on if necessary?

The number of fine Pentax primes is very tempting, but is getting into the multi-lens game the way to go, or just to have a small and well loved family of lenses for long term use.

Then again, to get to that mysterious long-term tight family, must one buy and sell to get there?

12-06-2010, 04:10 AM   #2
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Hi there, and welcome to yet another Aussie.

Pentax is for practicality.
There aren't as many Pentax lenses in the active inventory as with Canikon (perhaps even Sony and Olympus) but they're all quite useful.

Now it all boils down to what *you* will use.
No point in investing in the fine FA limited series if you'll never use 31mm, 43mm and 77mm focal lengths. But for those focal lengths, you won't find better.
Then there's portability vs versatility. Pentax prides itself in creating a niche collection of the smallest primes, yet boasting unrivalled image quality. The DA limited series are a testament to this.
So, go for the best, once and for all, and go for the lenses that you'll use and use often.
If that means building up the collection slowly, then so be it, unless you need a wide variety of focal lengths for your line of work.
All up to you mate.
12-06-2010, 06:47 AM   #3
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as far as primes go, I agree with Ash. go with what you will use. I have both primes and zooms, and use them quite differently. SOme have primes only some zooms only.

What ever you do, If you are just starting out, learn photography with your kit lens, and take it as far as it will let you, BUT start thinking from the beginning, about where you find the kit lens limiting your photography, get the primes where you feel really limited. Take your time selecting your lenses, cameras come and go, especially in the digital era, but lenses last a lifetime.

There are many members here on the forum that produce steller images with 30 and 40 year old lenses.
12-06-2010, 07:49 AM   #4
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The question of few versus many is really going to be up to you and what you want to do. For me, I have a standard kit of primes that I take out, but I also have a stash of glass just for "play." It's fun to pick up lenses, especially bargain bin forgottens and see what they can do.

If actual photography is your goal, though, I think you'd be best to pick a few really good primes at focal lengths that are necessary for your style and stick to those.

Good luck!

12-06-2010, 08:52 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by MSD Quote
The selection of Pentax primes is truly wonderful, especially with the long-lasting mount.

A question is this: willing to carry lenses, but enjoying portability and low cost, is it worth keeping to a tight and small system (2-4 nice ones) and focusing on the actual photography, or just buying secondhand what takes interest and selling later on if necessary?

The number of fine Pentax primes is very tempting, but is getting into the multi-lens game the way to go, or just to have a small and well loved family of lenses for long term use.

Then again, to get to that mysterious long-term tight family, must one buy and sell to get there?
Go here,

Member Photo Albums - PentaxForums.com

Do a search on "Single In September" and "Single In November" and see what people were able to do for an entire month, using just one lens. I didn't do Single in September but here is a sampling of what I did with an 85mm lens for Single In November.

Single In November - a set on Flickr

In all honesty, even given my lens collection, I could easily live with just 2 given what 90 percent of my stuff is. The 85 and a 24ish.

12-06-2010, 09:37 AM   #6
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I think it is important to figure out what you will really use. There is no sense stockpiling 50's, if you really inwardly hate that focal length. Also, are you willing to deal with manual focus and metering or, will lenses that do not have auto focus and metering be relegated to the "seldom used pile."

It is far better to buy one useful lens than five cheap, useless ones.

Primes are great, because you see the world differently from when you use a zoom. Stick a 40mm prime or 15mm prime on and you will come back with completely different photos. Suddenly, you think about framing more and composition and your photos improve. With a zoom, I tend to think less and photos just don't turn out as well.
12-06-2010, 10:01 AM   #7
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One of the reasons I switch from Nikon to Pentax was for the glass. Their best (Limited and star) are comparable to Zeiss at less than half the price. Everyone argues bodies, but for IQ the glass is most influencial.
I bought them one at a time (all primes) based upon pragmatic need and budget allowances. I now have my focal needs covered from 15mm to 200mm with five lenses, with no overlap.
Instead of becoming a part time lens merchant, research your needs and base your purchases upon user testemonies and examples.
12-06-2010, 02:13 PM   #8
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Thanks guys.

I'm fine with manual controls, I like them (epecially if I have a little more time on my hands to prepare the shot).

I do understand that knowing your lenses and using them well is important. I enjoy landscapes, portrait, wildlife and look forward to photojournalism some day. A wide area, isn't it? But as long as you know your glass and use it to its strengths, you can do well with just about anything.

Problem with me is that I don't know what lengths and settings I require, because I haven't ever used an SLR before. (I am getting my K20D on my birthday on the 14th Dec, a date which can't get here fast enough).
I love photography, and I can't wait to really start exploring the opportunities of interchangeable lenses.

But I shouldn't get ahead of myself: good photography can be done with anything. I just get so excited about getting up for the sunrise holding an SLR and my first prime lens (Sigma 14mm Asph f2.8) instead of my compact.

In time I will figure out what I like in lenses, and follow that. The excitement about that process is taunting.

12-06-2010, 02:21 PM - 1 Like   #9
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You will likely buy and sell your way there, but it does not have to sting.

Some people enjoy warranties, but if you are prudent and a bit of a risk taker, consider buying EVERYTHING used. If you get a good price on the lens, you can sell it for at least what you bought it for.

Also 2-4 lenses will work for you in two situations:

1) You don't care for telephoto.
2) You like zooms as much as primes.

Because I think you can do the 14 - 100 prime range quite nicely in 3 as such:

(14mm / 15mm) - (40mm/43mm/50mm) - (70mm/77mm/100mm)

The 40/43/50mm split would be determined by speed requirements (the 40 for IQ at low cost, the 50 for maximum speed, and the 43 for a premium price, but a solid compromise).

The 70/77/100 split would be determined more by usage: are you going to want reach/macro as much as portraiture? If so, the DFA 100 WR or one of the other macros (sigma/tameron 90/105) would work too. If you prefer portraiture, do you want a bokeh king (the 77) at a premium price, or do you want something very nice for a reasonable price (the 70).

Don't be fooled by the DA ltds - they are slow, but very very good from wide open, unlike most faster lenses.
12-06-2010, 07:45 PM   #10
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I recently bought Pentax F50mm 1.7 and realized that I like primes better than zooms indoor. Only thing is 50mm is slightly longer especially when you want to cover parties and with the crowd you cant move backwards, otherwise in informal gatherings 50mm works and longer I use it I am realizing that for my purposes a 30mm and 50mm will do everything indoors. Outdoor zoom is handy Initially, I was a bit sceptical about prime lens usage but when I think about it, primes are better quality and now I know my focal lengths. In your case, try a general purpose zoom for a while, everytime you use the zoom, always think on the back of your mind which focal length you like when you zoom and if you can get a cheap prime and in combination with the zoom usage and prime usage, you might be able to narrow down to what you works for you...
12-06-2010, 08:08 PM   #11
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It goes back to what many people have said. Go with what you will use the most. There's a great little tool call Exposure Plot (search it on this site for the link) that will show you which lengths you use the most. It helped me solidify the next purchase I've been lusting after...

There's plenty of personal perspectives out there about what is best between primes vs. zooms. Frankly, I have a bit of both depending on the need.

My favorite lens for landscape is Pentax's 12-24, but I also have the Tak 28mm. Both take excellent shots.

I have the FA 50 1.4 for low light shots - and I use it a couple times a year but rarely more (it's a keeper because I bought it just for those 'couple times a year').

My next step up is telephoto lenses. The 60-250 is my main lens and it's a wonderful lens. But, in looking at what I use most to take pictures, I used my Vivitar 135 2.8 and Orestegor 200 4.0 (both manual focus lenses) more over the last year.

Can a zoom give me the same quality as my primes - yes, sorta. Do I prefer primes for my shooting style - yes, because using manual focus lenses force me to frame my shots better and I can focus better manually than my 60-250 can autofocus (autofocus can't predict where the bird I'm shooting will be in .5 seconds unfortunately).

Here's what I did: I bought my FA 50 1.4 and a Pentax 18-250 first. I then figured out what things I liked shooting and what lenses took those shots best (the lens database was an immense help here - but I researched across the entire web). I like landscape - hence the Pentax 12-24. I like action shots (birds, etc) - hence the Pentax 60-250. I wanted to play with primes to see the difference, so I spent about $100 on the Vivitar 135 and Orestegor 200 (for both) and found I enjoyed immensely shooting with them. My next purchase is a toss-up between Sigma 300mm 2.8 or a Sigma 500mm 4.5 because either of those two lenses match my shooting style.

Take your first period of time (year?) to figure out what makes shooting fun for you. If you don't like photographing it you won't do it and you'll waste your money. In that time (year?) have a good quality generic lens that allows you great flexibility. Grab the lenses that you can afford and fit your shooting style. Get good with those (frankly, I feel very few actually master the lenses they own) and determine what gaps you have and what fills it best. Fill slowly, but fill with quality. That's my 2c...
12-06-2010, 09:20 PM   #12
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I think one of the best things is the availability of older prime lenses that still work with current Pentax digitals. I'm looking at a lot of the different A and M series lenses, and for their price/quality they seem to be pretty incredible.

That said I would love to see some lower-priced primes from Pentax themselves, like a $150 range 50mm 1.4/1.8 from Pentax.
12-07-2010, 06:11 AM   #13
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I think we are getting ahead of ourselves and the OP. He said he has never used an SLR in his life so it is a little too far to be recommending a range of primes to him. I made this point earlier but no one seemed to really take note. So let's take a different approach. What has the OP used before and does he have a collection of digital photos already? If so, he should get the program ExposurePlot and see what the analysis for focal length shows him then at least he will understand where his likes are(were)
12-07-2010, 06:23 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I think we are getting ahead of ourselves and the OP. He said he has never used an SLR in his life so it is a little too far to be recommending a range of primes to him. I made this point earlier but no one seemed to really take note. So let's take a different approach. What has the OP used before and does he have a collection of digital photos already? If so, he should get the program ExposurePlot and see what the analysis for focal length shows him then at least he will understand where his likes are(were)
Very true. If he owns a point and shoot, he can certainly see what his preferred focal lengths are.

I would only add that I would buy one lens at a time and shoot with it awhile before getting anything else. There is nothing at all wrong with just getting a kit lens and shooting with it to see what things you feel you are missing out on.
12-07-2010, 06:41 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
There is nothing at all wrong with just getting a kit lens and shooting with it to see what things you feel you are missing out on.
I missed out on this fact, and would agree that the kit lens would be a good place for the OP to begin... it taught me a lot about the focal lengths I like. Exposure plot is a handy feature if you shoot JPEG.

However, in contrast to this, I found that I only began really learning about focal lengths when I started buying cheap primes, because before I would just zoom around, blissfully ignorant of how my focal length decisions would influence the perspective of the image.

"Photojournalism" is what I thought when I got into photography. For this sort of stuff, my fast 50's have turned out to be the best for this sort of thing. The DA 21 would also work.

However almost all modern photojournalists (like most event photographers) use zooms these days - it's just faster. Primes are really fun, I love them... so if you want to play 1970's photojournalist, by all means invest in primes. However, something like the 16-45 or more expensive 16-50 DA* would be more like what a modern photojournalist would use.

Personally? (14/15) - 21 - (40/43) - 50 - (70/77) - 100 would be MY dream spread. Yeah, it's 5, and that kit is expensive. But I can save up for it and buy it in the long term . That kit would be nice because you really would do pretty much anything other than paparazzi / sports photography, and your set up would be nice and light because it would be a rare day where you would need to bring all of them with you.

If the OP is feeling adventurous, one good place to start would be the A 50mm 1.7, which is dirt cheap and a great fast 50.... all you need to do is focus manually. Older primes are very inexpensive and a nice way to being exploring focal lengths.

Last edited by paperbag846; 12-07-2010 at 06:59 AM.
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