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01-24-2011, 08:50 AM   #1
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realistic to hope for decent lenses for cheap?

I've been playing with my k-r and kit lenses for a bit now and am really wanting to find a cheap portrait lens... preferrably a macro in the 50mm to 100mm range. I see many people here saying they've bought lenses sometimes for very cheap and have to wonder how often it really happens. I don't see anything out there right now that's in decent condition and also within my budget (which is close to nothing right now). Where do I get lens deals like some of you do? I'm dying to get into macro with the k-r and also really want a decent portrait lens (a bit frustrating taking shots of a 2yr old indoors with the kit lenses without flash...).

01-24-2011, 09:00 AM   #2
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Two things: indoors, get a flash. Lens won't help you as much as a flash.

Cheapest lens in your range is the Tamron 70-300 and it has a decent pseudo macro mode, but you'll have to stop it down (aka, you need flash). Or find a manual focus 85/1.8, but that's 3x the cost (around $300?) or a manual focus 50/1.7 ($100?)

And it really depends on what you define as decent...I'm assuming you mean bang for buck. Getting a good macro autofocus lens with zero money won't happen...otherwise, I'd be driving a Ferrari 458 by now :-)
01-24-2011, 09:06 AM   #3
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Get a flash...? That response surprises me a little.
Shouldn't I be able to take low light shots with a k-r and fast lens without needing flash?

I've pretty much accepted that whatever I get will be manual... that's fine by me.
I see many people here and other places finding lenses for under $100... some under $50... some even lower.
I'd really like to know what the chances are of finding deals like that.

QuoteOriginally posted by kenyee Quote
Two things: indoors, get a flash. Lens won't help you as much as a flash.

Cheapest lens in your range is the Tamron 70-300 and it has a decent pseudo macro mode, but you'll have to stop it down (aka, you need flash). Or find a manual focus 85/1.8, but that's 3x the cost (around $300?) or a manual focus 50/1.7 ($100?)

And it really depends on what you define as decent...I'm assuming you mean bang for buck. Getting a good macro autofocus lens with zero money won't happen...otherwise, I'd be driving a Ferrari 458 by now :-)
01-24-2011, 09:14 AM   #4
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Oh sure, get a super tak 50mm 1.4 I hear that is a pretty sharp lens that can be had for cheap (under $100).

01-24-2011, 09:15 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by photochimp Quote
Get a flash...? That response surprises me a little.
Shouldn't I be able to take low light shots with a k-r and fast lens without needing flash?

I've pretty much accepted that whatever I get will be manual... that's fine by me.
I see many people here and other places finding lenses for under $100... some under $50... some even lower.
I'd really like to know what the chances are of finding deals like that.
You should have no problem finding a lens like the M50/1.7 or K55/2 for $50 or less. If you are willing to go up to $100, you could consider other manual lenses like the M50/1.4, A50/1.7, K55/1.8.

As for the flash, that's good advice. You can certainly sucessfully shoot pictures of your toddler indoors without a flash, but keep in mind that shooting fast glass at large apertures gives you a very narrow depth of field (DOF) and nailing the focus is going to be difficult under these circumstances. Using a flash with the kit lens, specifically bounced off a wall or ceiling, will probably give you better initial results for what you're trying to do, than buying a fast MF lens.
01-24-2011, 09:16 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by photochimp Quote
Where do I get lens deals like some of you do?
While one occasionally hears stories of people running into great deals in pawn shops and flea markets, your best bet is online, i.e., ebay, craigslist, keh.com, pentaxforums marketplace, etc. The best deals are to be had on the old manual focus glass. I haven't been following what prices are on the 50mm macros, but the 100 macros (1:2 magnification) generally run over $100. If you're looking for 1:1 magnification in the ~100mm you'll probably have to pay at least $200+ and more likely $250+.
01-24-2011, 09:19 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ubuntu_user Quote
Oh sure, get a super tak 50mm 1.4 I hear that is a pretty sharp lens that can be had for cheap (under $100).
This is your best bet, but even these are going for more than $100 these days. You'll need the M42 adapter though.

If you really want to get into macro, you don't HAVE to have a macro lens. You can just reverse the Tak with a ring.

In both instances, you'll be shooting manual, but no big deal.
01-24-2011, 09:25 AM   #8
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I myself have accidentally started a collection of 'cheap' lenses. One way to find a decent lens is to go though the renown Lens Database and seek something that impress a few people. Don't go for those with multiple platinum review, since the price will definitely be sky-high. In my experience, a '7' for rating really mean 'Plain Good', and those can cost as little as 20 bucks like my newly-found Tokina MF 28-70mm. f3.5-4.5. SZ-X 270 SD. If a particular lens is good for someone, it's good enough for anyone.

There's another way, though. That's to live in my place, a place where you can get a M 50mm 1.4 for less than $ 40

01-24-2011, 09:34 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
This is your best bet, but even these are going for more than $100 these days. You'll need the M42 adapter though.
I guess I didn't have my facts right, Ira. Man, I guess I should have invested in Pentax glass way back and by now I'd be a rich man!
01-24-2011, 09:54 AM   #10
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Best deals are on craigslist.

For a generic 50mm, look for people selling old cameras. They often come with a 50mm lens attached, sometimes for very good prices.


I got my A 50mm 1.7 for far less than the normal going rate... because it was sold in a package with a program plus, from someone who knew very little about cameras.

The two best deals IMHO are the K55 f1.8, or the A50mm 1.7. The older 50mm 1.4's (super tak in particular) are the best... but the market prices reflect that.

The M 50mm 1.7 can be found for the cost of a large pizza.

Craigslist is best, EBAY is for the very patient (with lots of self control).
01-24-2011, 10:28 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by photochimp Quote
Get a flash...? That response surprises me a little.
Shouldn't I be able to take low light shots with a k-r and fast lens without needing flash?
The problem with a fast lens (and the use of its widest apeture) is that the DOF (that what is in focus) is very shallow. A 50mm at f/1.4 and a subject distance of 1 meter has a DOF of 2cm (99cm to 101cm); at a distance of 3 meters it is 10cm in front and 10cm behind (290cm to 310cm). So if your 2yr old moves that much between the focusing and the actual taking of the picture, the subject will be out-of-focus. You can play with e.g. Online Depth of Field Calculator to find those numbers.

So you still have to stop down to e.g f/5.6 or f/8, use a decent shutter speed to prevent motion blur and therefore increase the ISO to prevent underexposure. And that you can basically all achieve with the kit lens

The flash will give you some flexibility because you don't have to crank the iso to a crazy value while using a decent shutter speed.

Last edited by sterretje; 01-24-2011 at 10:35 AM.
01-24-2011, 10:49 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by photochimp Quote
Get a flash...? That response surprises me a little.
Shouldn't I be able to take low light shots with a k-r and fast lens without needing flash?
Sure, but the flash will probably do it cheaper, especially for a moving subject.

QuoteQuote:
I've pretty much accepted that whatever I get will be manual... that's fine by me.
I see many people here and other places finding lenses for under $100... some under $50... some even lower.
I'd really like to know what the chances are of finding deals like that.
I got some good deals a few years ago and learned a lot, but spent a lot of time on it too - like a part-time job. Today, it might not be worth the time. You might find a lens that does your task for $300 to $700. Yep, pretty close to the cost of your kit, for just one lens. But it's new, with a warranty, caps, hood, AF, maybe a silent motor, good coatings, etc. It works in all modes, works with the flash, works with SR, just plain works. If you chose the right lens, it will do what it's designed for. And you can get it within a week.

I am cheap so I know it is tempting to go the cheap way. I got a Vivitar 55mm f2.8 macro lens for $22 including shipping, with a 62mm filter. It's 1:1 without tubes, manual focus, made by Komine. But it had a Canon FD mount, so I had to convert it to Pentax (several hours). Now it has a slightly greater than 1:1 magnification but doesn't focus to infinity, and the aperture ring is a little weird. Compare that to this Sigma, $300 from B&H: Sigma 50mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro Autofocus Lens for Pentax 346109 If I count my time as valuable, the new lens starts to look a lot better, and is easier to use and more capable.
01-24-2011, 10:51 AM   #13
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I also suggest the older tak/supertak/k/m lenses. they can still be had cheap. maybe i'm fortunate but I've found loads of them at junk shops,markets, and have yet to break the $50 barrier on any of them ( I have 8 primes and 1 zoom at this point in various focal lengths, most for $20 or less)
If you go the craigslist/ebay route than i find the best deals come in bundles where you can then sell off what you don't want and recoup some if not all of the purchase price over time. the biggest issue i have with ebay and other online alternates is you aren't able to inspect them and the price can jump with the shipping (also if they are crossing a border there is a good chance you'll end up paying taxes something I've avoided on all mine.
For the junk shops and markets you have to be persistent and drop in regularly as stock does turn over on these pretty quick i find.

As for the indoor without a flash if you do go the route of the older fast lenses as mentioned DOf may well be an issue and if you decide to use flash a whole other set of variables come into play as you will be running full manual and the auto flash functions won't do much for you (flash will be better for capturing action of a child to be honest, more so than lens speed which will be more useful for portraits if you can get them to stay still long enough)
with a reversing ring you can use any lens for macro, though usually it would say a fast 50 on a 200 for a 4X magnification
01-24-2011, 11:24 AM   #14
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My name is Rico, and I'm an optics junkie. Oops, wrong forum...

Well, my lens count is approaching 180 190, so I guess I am addicted. (Well, 20 will be sold, but that's still a lot.) Of those, just 11 are autofocus (AF), costing an average of US$282 each. The rest are all manual, costing an average of US$22 each. So just the gearing in an AF lens costs an average of US$260. Woah!

Thrift/pawn shops, yard/rummage sales, Craigslist, all are pretty sparse in my remote mountain locale, so 99% of my lens dealings are on eBay. It takes patience and research, and a bit of time and luck. I do find some really good deals on AF lenses -- an F35-70 for US$11, a Tamron AL 28-200 for US$50 and 28-70 for US$10 -- but the best stuff (to my taste) is manual. I got a Tomioka 55/1.4 for TWO BUCKS! A Nikkor 85/2 for NINE BUCKS! A Vivitar 90/2.8 macro for THREE BUCKS!

My rule-of-thumb (ROT): If it costs less than a sandwich or hamburger, buy it. If it costs more than a large pizza, think real real hard about it. And if it's not what I hoped, wait a few weeks and sell it. I have no discretionary income to buy camera gear, so if I want more lenses, I must sell something first. Over the last 6 months my profit margin has been 80%+ so I guess I'm doing something right.

Yes, you can get decent lenses cheap. Besides M42 Takumars (the 55/2 is still vastly under-valued, and the 200/5.6 is amazing) look for lenses branded as Vivitar, Sears, Focal, Ricoh, Mamiya, Yashica, Lentar, Meyer, Enna, Jupiter, Helios, Industar, Mir, Porst, Hanimex/Hanimar, etc. Don't hesitate to ask here about any specific lens.
01-24-2011, 11:44 AM   #15
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The other thing with a flash is that it will freeze motion (there's a reason they call it a strobe :-)

The single biggest thing you can do to improve your indoor photos is to learn how to use a flash effectively, preferably bounced or off camera to avoid that cheapie P&S look. You can run your shutter down to 1/15 and still get shots that are sharp in the foreground as long as they're lit by the flash...SR will help you to hold the background still...

"The opposite of LIBERAL is not CONSERVATIVE, but ENSLAVED"....lol...missed that...funny thing is you'd think Liberals would want less laws, but instead add lots of laws controlling our lives. I think you really mean Libertarian ;-)
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