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12-18-2010, 06:08 PM   #1
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Zoom vs Prime for Weddings, Family Gatherings, Night Shots

New to the dSLR world I have been actively working with my K-r and a SMC Pentax-DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL II . I have been pleased with the results but I think a lens with a larger opening would benefit me since I like to shoot in low light.

Id like to buy a new lens but im caught between which direction to go: should I go for a fast fifty or a zoom lens ? I think a prime would be a good buy for its IQ and performance but i worry it will be limited in use and i will be walking up to or away from alot of my subjects especially at family gatherings and such.

the zoom (135 maybe 200mm tops) would be versatile but i think for the amount of money i want to spend ($350 tops) I feel i would be selling myself short on IQ. Low light is a huge concern for me with zooms. Its great for range but if the light is low (for me it usually is) the zoom isnt going to do me much good with a super dark picture.

my priority is a solid low light lens which still gives me some range to work with....i dont know if i am asking for something that just cant be had......


conflicted:
Zoom:
SMC Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED
or
??
Prime:
SMC Pentax-DA 40mm F2.8 Limited
or
SMC Pentax-DA 35mm F2.4 AL
or
FA 50mm f1.7

12-18-2010, 06:25 PM   #2
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Overall, I think the best bang for the buck is going to be the Tamron 28-75 f2.8 lens.

That 2.8 will be a godsend in wedding situations, and so will the flexibility of a zoom.

Last edited by paperbag846; 12-18-2010 at 07:54 PM.
12-18-2010, 07:05 PM   #3
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I have to place another vote for the Tamron 28-75 f2.8. The larger aperture of the lens, along with the excellent ISO performance of your Kr will make a great match. You can esily find this lens used within your budget too. Good Luck.
12-18-2010, 07:10 PM   #4
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Yep, can't go wrong with 28-75, or if you wanted a wider focal range (similar to what you have already) Tamron's 17-50 would do well also.
If it weren't for the budget, you could keep the 18-55 and add the DA* 50-135, assuming you're after low-light abilities for portraiture.
Zooms are versatile, but if you're happy with zooming with your feet, then an FA 50/1.7 is as good as you'll get for best value low light lens.

12-18-2010, 07:58 PM   #5
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I feel that your requirements are not consistent. If you are after a "low light lens " and "Low light is a huge concern for me with zooms", you must ook for some prime lenses with a large aperture (f1.4 or f 1.8).

Practicaly, you may need to refine your requirements and needs. What is most important to you? In low light conditions, do you want to shoot without a flash? Or are you prepared to buy an external flash?

For example, it is better often to shoot at children and babies without flash.

In the former (no flash), your answer is a fast prime lens and most likely MF. There are some excellent K-mount fast primes. In particular, the Pentax FA50mm f1.4, the older Pentax 50mm f1.7, Carl Zeiss 50mm f1.4, Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4, ....

In the latter (flash), you may consider a f2.8 or f2.0 lens like the Tamron, but you must invest in an external flash.

I hope that the comment will help you...
12-18-2010, 10:01 PM   #6
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How does the Tamron 28-75 compare to the Sigma 24-70.
12-18-2010, 10:41 PM   #7
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I neglected to see the 'weddings' part of your desires for the new lens(es).
For $350 there isn't enough to satisfy that requirement with both speed and versatility.
It would have to be at least 2 zooms, and 2 zooms of excellent quality, such as DA* variety.
Otherwise, you'd be going for a fast fifty or the Tamron, but neither on their own would suffice for weddings (unless you were a #2 or 3 shooter).
12-18-2010, 11:06 PM   #8
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This is sort of piling on to what others have already suggested....

I shoot primes almost 100% of the time. Just on general principles I do not care to use zooms (or autofocus). But I realize there are times a zoom is essential and for those times I keep on hand both the Tamron 18-50/2.8 and the 28-75/2.8.

And though it is several decades out of fashion, there is nothing wrong with walking up or back on your subject. You also learn that the times when you can't adjust your lens to the photo you instead adjust the photo to your lens.

12-18-2010, 11:15 PM   #9
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QuoteQuote:
kbryant How does the Tamron 28-75 compare to the Sigma 24-70.
Sigma here: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO (AF Lens) Lens Reviews - Pentax Third-Party Lens Review Database


Tamron here: Tamron Macro SP AF28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di LD Lens Reviews - Pentax Third-Party Lens Review Database


A good copy of the Tamron lens, IMHO, can not be beat for its cost/performance.
12-18-2010, 11:20 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by enjoytheride Quote
New to the dSLR world I have been actively working with my K-r and a SMC Pentax-DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL II . I have been pleased with the results but I think a lens with a larger opening would benefit me since I like to shoot in low light.
If you are working - getting paid for the job - I think you really need a pair of f2.8 zooms. That could be the Tamron 28-75 and a 70-200, or the Pentax DA* 16-50 and DA* 50-135. Yes, this will cost money. You probably should buy a flash and a second body as well. It's just the right set of tools for the job, and the idea is to not miss a shot.

As an amateur, you have a lot more flexibility. If I'm a guest and don't know the people that well, I like something from 85-135mm to shoot candids from a distance. In family situations, you can go shorter than that without missing anything - beyond 70-75mm isn't that useful. You also have the time to change lenses. I like a fast 50 as a complement to te kit lens, but the FA50/1.7 is the last one I'd get - they're overpriced. Either get an FA50/1.4 or an F50/1.7.
12-19-2010, 10:40 AM   #11
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thanks for all the replies everyone. i really appreciate it. i will def check out the tamron lens since i havent looked into it yet. to shed some light on my intended use i am strictly an amateur photographer but attend lots of large gatherings in my community for friends, kids birthdays, weddings, etc. so its almost always indoors and light is sometimes plenty but alot of times not.

i will look at the lens you all have recommended and will let you know what i decide on. thanks again everyone!
12-19-2010, 01:10 PM   #12
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quick additional question: would the SMC Pentax-DA 40mm F2.8 Limited also fit the bill in the same light as the FA50/1.4 or 1.7 ?
12-19-2010, 01:31 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by enjoytheride Quote
would the SMC Pentax-DA 40mm F2.8 Limited also fit the bill in the same light as the FA50/1.4 or 1.7 ?
If you want a sharp image, there is an effective one stop difference (these 50's need to be used at f2.0 to give sharp results). With an f2.0 depth of field, you also need to be standing a bit back to get a reasonable area of the photo in focus.

Depending on your camera, the one stop difference (ISO 800 vs. 1600) might be huge, or might not... it really depends on the camera body.

I found that I used my 50's at f2.8, so I'm happy with the DA 40... but it's not exactly a fast lens. The difference is that the 40 is killer wide open, while the 50 needs to be stopped down, which means that the 2 stop difference is practically more like one stop.

Most wedding photogs use 2.8 zooms, and it is fast enough for them... but they also have he convenience of a zoom, which is very important for events IMHO.
12-19-2010, 02:21 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by enjoytheride Quote
quick additional question: would the SMC Pentax-DA 40mm F2.8 Limited also fit the bill in the same light as the FA50/1.4 or 1.7 ?
For the low light part, absolutely. There are other uses for the fast 50 or 70--such as isolating the subject--for which only a large aperture will do. For weddings and similar gatherings, I tend to use the DA40 and the FA77 for low light work, with the DA21 thrown in for the occasional wider shot. Like Mike, I prefer primes, but if I'm traveling and the location works well for flash, the DA17-70 does just fine as a single solution. I seldom need anything longer than 70mm, but if I do, it is the K 135/2.5.
12-20-2010, 12:46 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
Most wedding photogs use 2.8 zooms
And a flash.
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