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12-18-2010, 08:21 AM   #1
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New to Changing Lenses

I started out with the black square black camera over 50 years ago and now own my first camera where you can change lenses and do great things with the camera not having to wait till you enter the darkroom. Just purchased the Pentax Kr last month. never dreamed I would pay that price for a camera but sure glade I did, worth every penny. Never had so much fun taking pictures, and that's with the two stock lenses that came with the Kr (18-55 &55-200) I'm looking at buying the DA 55-300 for my next lens or the 70-300. Need help on this decision. Maybe I should be considering a different lens all together. Love to hear some suggestions on this. Still trying to find a site which will help me out with all these lens number on just what they mean and do. Thanks for any help.

12-18-2010, 09:25 AM   #2
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The 55-300 is great value

The "L" version has a plastic mount and no "quick shift", but the same optics as the regular model and is superb value. A lot of new recycled ones are available from folks who bought the two-lens kit and parted out the 55-300 L. (Check marketplace here). If you want the metal mount, quick shift and a hood, it's still not too expensive. You could sell the 50-200 to help.

The Tamron 70-300 is another alternative, but if you check reviews here in the lens section, you will see that the Pentax gets the nod on performance at the long end.

12-18-2010, 09:50 AM   #3
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Question is why you want to get the 55-300. People say that it's better than the 50-200 but you're the one to decide if you can live with the quality of the 50-200. And yes, the 55-300 quite good. Do you need the extra reach?

My usual advice is to shoot with what you have and determine the limitations of your kit. Not long enough? Not fast enough? Not wide enough?

If you haven't done it yet, get lenshoods for your current lenses (unless you plan to sell the 50-200 in which case you don't need to get a lenshood for that one ).
12-18-2010, 09:57 AM   #4
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2nd that on the 55-300

I agree the 55-300 is a great value. I owned the Tamrom 70-300 and found it not as sharp as the Pentax. Lately, however, I'm keeping the Pentax 18-250 on my K10 just so I don't have to change lenses in the field as often. I lose a little on the telephoto end, gain on the wide end, and the IQ (I think this means Image Quality) is much better than either kit lens.

That said, I'll probably put the 55-300 back on one of these days and be impressed once again with it's IQ. Funny how that happens - I guess you get so used to one lens that switching gives you a whole new perspective!

I know the acronyms can be daunting; it's still that way for me too. I use this site's lens database to see the ratings and I keep an eye on eBay and the Marketplace here to see if I can actually afford some of the better glass! There's also but it's not Pentax-centric. Little by little the abbreviations are starting to make sense.

12-18-2010, 10:34 AM   #5
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More info you

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12-18-2010, 10:46 AM   #6
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After 50 years of shooting, I got my first dSLR 2.5 years ago. I had a great P&S but I asked myself, What do I want to do that I can't do with what I have now? The answers were ultrawide, ultralong, low-light. Also, I didn't want to change lenses a lot in everyday shooting. So with my K20D, I got the DA10-17 fisheye zoom, the DA18-250 walkaround superzoom, and the FA50/1.4 Nifty Fifty. And over 150 lenses later, those are still what I use most.

The best place to start is with what you have. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of your fine lenses. Note which focal lengths you use most, which focal lengths do or don't deliver the image quality you want, and which focal lengths you WISH you had available. Where you go from there lens-wise depends on what you want (and can afford).

I personally don't like the 18-55 and 50-x00 2-lens kit because I do much shooting in the 35-70 range, and changing lenses around 50mm is a pain. With any zoom or prime (fixed focal length) lens, we learn to see what that lens sees. Some people prefer smaller visual ranges. I really like having an 18-250mm window on the world. But I also recently bought (CHEAP!) a used small F35-70 to cover that most-used range with agility. That narrower window on the world makes me concentrate more.

Almost all of my lenses are cheap used manual-focus primes. These tend to be smaller, lighter, faster, and MUCH CHEAPER than new autofocus zooms or anything else. And they impose a certain discipline, similar to your old black boxes. Instead of zooming the lens to frame a shot, I must zoom with my feet, which makes me explore different angles and perspectives. You will see much discussion of such lenses here and on other forums like the European-based which is dedicated to them. Whole new worlds await you!

And some of those worlds may be very very small -- macrophotography! Some say that macro shooters are the happiest photographers around. Whether with a Raynox adapter, or a dedicated macro lens, or a cheap enlarger lens on tubes and/or bellows, shooting tiny stuff is a revelation and a joy. We also have many discussions of macro gear and techniques here. Seek and ye shall find.

Welcome aboard and have fun!
12-18-2010, 02:07 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by maanpayates Quote
...Still trying to find a site which will help me out with all these lens number on just what they mean and do. Thanks for any help.
That's pretty easy to figure out on your own. Put the kit lens on, look through the viewfinder and zoom to 18mm. Things look smaller and more stuff is visible in the frame. Zoom to 55mm. Things get bigger and less stuff fits into the frame. That's focal length. Think of changes in focal length on a percentage basis. Zooming from 18 to 20mm changes the framing a lot, but 53 to 55mm is no big deal. So 200mm to 300mm sounds really impressive but it's only 50% more. The 18mm end is wide-angle, the 55mm is telephoto, and around 33mm is normal. Ignore any mention of crop factor, no matter how many times you see it.

Next is aperture, which on the DA 18-55 is f3.5 to f5.6. It tells you the maximum amount of light that the lens can let in. The range means at 18mm, it's f3.5 and at 55mm, it's f5.6. The numbers look odd because they are ratios of the area of a circle. You can skip the math for now and just know that a smaller number means more light gets in to the sensor. A really small number means a big, heavy expensive lens.

Aperture can really affect the look of photos. You can experiment with your camera in daylight (so there's reasonable flexibility in settings). Take a photo at 30mm and f4. Then take the same photo at f8, f16 and maybe even f27, the highest possible number with that lens at 30mm. At f4, only some of the photo is in focus. At higher numbers, more is in focus. You may see other parts of the photo improve, such as contrast, sharpness and corner brightness. At f27, you may see a softer image because of diffraction. If your subject wasn't very bright, your shutter speed at f27 will probably be too low to hold the camera steady, also making the image soft.

Many of the other terms in a lens name are advertising the type of glass it uses or lens features. The manufacturer's web site will decode these for you.
12-18-2010, 07:32 PM   #8
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Welcome Aboard!

Hoods can make a world of difference in the quality of a photograph. The Kit lenses do NOT come with hoods. I bought Chinese copies via eBay and the 58mm for the 55-300 is fine. The tulip hood for the 52mm 18-55 was a bit loose on mine but worked. Reviews are here:


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