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02-14-2011, 07:16 AM   #1
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my first manual prime? what to get?

hey guys. so i am looking into making my first lens purchase. i have only owned one DSLR and am still using the kit lens. so i was looking into getting a manual prime. mostly for the challenge/fun/reward it will provide. seems to me that most users of this forum praise old Takumar lenses quite often... i will head their advice. so the two focals lengths i am considering are 35mm and 50mm. there seem to be an abundance of these beauties around, and from the examples on this forum, they can be quite sharp (in the right hands of course). so what are your thoughts? the one thing i would consider is that in the 50mm range most of the lenses seem to be noticably faster. i.e. 1.4-1.7 and the 35mm tend to be mostly around 3.5. is it rare to find a faster 35mm? which focal length do you prefer? of course the easiest answer for me would be to just set my kit lens to one focal length, shoot for a couple of days, switch to the other and see which one seems more comfortable or whathaveyou. i am leaning towards a 50mm just because they are MUCH faster than the kit lens, but not sure yet. what do you think? which one is your favorite???

02-14-2011, 07:27 AM   #2
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Takumars are really nice but a pain in the *** due to screwmounting, and really not that cheap anymore I'm afraid (Canon people buy them too).

I would strongly suggest the A 50mm f1.7 for overall usability, good colour, amazing sharpness, and low dof. I ike the k55 f1.8 better, but it's a stop-down meter thing. It's available in K-mount (non-screw).

Neither should run you much over 60 bucks.

As for 35s, also consider the A 28 2.8, or K 28 3.5. It's a little wider than 35 on a DSLR but it still comes in pretty close to normal, and there are a bajillion of them out there.
02-14-2011, 07:55 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by wehavenowaves! Quote
....the two focals lengths i am considering are 35mm and 50mm. ... which focal length do you prefer? ....
Not considering speed I prefer the longer focal length because I like flattering photos of people: Here's a nice study of the perspective effect on headshots by Eastwood:


A full frame camera was used for the above photos; in your case 35mm ~> 50mm and 50mm ~> 75mm. I think the longer lens is a bit more flattering: a portrait headshot with a 50mm lens requires that you be about 2 meters from the subject so distance isn't likely to be a big problem.

The extra speed for the money further tilts my preference towards a fast 50 as I often find myself in dim social settings and I greatly prefer natural lighting.

BUT your style and circumstances may well differ.

Dave

QuoteQuote:
I would strongly suggest the A 50mm f1.7 for overall usability, good colour, amazing sharpness, and low dof. I ike the k55 f1.8 better, but it's a stop-down meter thing. It's available in K-mount (non-screw).
I concur! "A" lenses are easy to use: auto-exposure and auto-flash work well - easily worth an extra $50 or more cost.

Last edited by newarts; 02-14-2011 at 09:25 AM.
02-14-2011, 07:58 AM   #4
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My first manual prime was the SMC-M 50 1.7, and I LOVE it. It is still one of my favorite lenses to use. It can be had for relatively cheap ($40-$50), and produces great images. Check out the reviews here SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.7 Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Reviews & Pentax Lens Database

02-14-2011, 08:06 AM   #5
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I would also suggest the 50. Because of its ubiquity in the film era, there are lots of them out there at reasonable prices. So many of the other MF lenses (such as the 35) are not enough cheaper and few are faster than the very reasonably priced AF versions. I have not been too tempted to buy them for a DSLR.

Use on a film body is another matter entirely.
02-14-2011, 08:16 AM   #6
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Let me be the second one to suggest the A 50mm f1.7
It was my first manual prime and I still love it. An Pentax-A lens will also be a lot easier to use because you only have to worry about focusing.
The A 50mm f1.7 is great at f2. Very sharp, great colors and bokeh. Very nice build quality too.
I love this lens so much that I ended up owning two. And I'm not ready to let go to either one.

Just a warning: You will be spoiled after using this lens!
You have to pay quite a lot to get similar IQ in a auto focus lens.
02-14-2011, 08:16 AM   #7
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Only one lens? You're thinking too small. Go for the old prime kit. 28-50-135. You can put together a kit of A28/2.8, A50/1.7, and A135/2.8 for less than the price of the FA50/1.4 if you look hard enough.
02-14-2011, 08:25 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Only one lens? You're thinking too small. Go for the old prime kit. 28-50-135. You can put together a kit of A28/2.8, A50/1.7, and A135/2.8 for less than the price of the FA50/1.4 if you look hard enough.
and if you are willing to go the extra step of pressing the green button you can add a 200 f 4.0 for the same money as the a kit if you look at k an m lenses (as a matter of fact i believe my 28/50/55/100/135/200 cost less than $150 ( and i felt i over-payed for the k 135 at $50 )

the main advantage to an A lens is the metering and ability to adjust f stop with the thumbwheel. it's not a huge problem to use the k/m/m42 lenses though in manual mode (though an A does give you access to the other modes)

Shop carefully and it won't cost much. i' paid as little as $12 for a lot of my m lenses....you'd be hard put to find value like that with any lens

and if you are only getting 1 to start than a fast 50 is the way to start (unless you come across any 85 in a junk shop for cheap because they don't know the value - i'm still looking for one)

02-14-2011, 08:42 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by eddie1960 Quote
and if you are willing to go the extra step of pressing the green button you can add a 200 f 4.0 for the same money as the a kit if you look at k an m lenses (as a matter of fact i believe my 28/50/55/100/135/200 cost less than $150 ( and i felt i over-payed for the k 135 at $50 )
I paid $190 for the A28/50/135 with a Super Program & a flash. So under $50 each. The lens I did over pay for was the A50/1.4. I paid $90 for a BGN condition lens with an UG condition Super Program.

Last edited by boriscleto; 02-14-2011 at 08:49 AM.
02-14-2011, 08:45 AM   #10
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I just bought a lens called FA 77 ltd at the market place here. I hear it is a pretty cool lens. The problem for me is that I don't have a camera that I can mount this on. I know it is not the focal length you were looking for, but I thought I would post.
02-14-2011, 08:46 AM   #11
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a lenses have been jumping for the last year or so, it's getting harder to find the deals on them. i keep looking though. lba is not a curable condition it seems
02-14-2011, 09:09 AM   #12
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there are a lot of good lenses out there, in both M42 and K mount available.

If you are specifically looking for 35 and 50mm, and unless you are limiting yourself to $30 per lens, you may as well go for SMC tak's and get th 35mmF2 and 50mmF1.4 they are both pretty common and can be had in good condition for less than $100 each.

There are pro's and con's against M42 and K mount lenses.

The pro is that you can use them in AV mode, the con is you manually stop them down, and this means opening them up for focus then stop down to shoot.

K mounts will allow automatic aperture stop down, but you need to meter and shoot in manual, by pressing the green button (if it exists on your body) or AE button (if green button does not exist), This stops the lens down momentairly and sets shutter to match selected aperture.

Both are acceptable ways to shoot.

The unfortunate reality of both M42 and K mounts is that you cannot use P-TTL flash with them. (some forum members have a way to fake this out but it is not an everyday solution) You can use "auto" flash and manual, or if you have an *istD body then TTL works.

If you want all the exposure modes, then look for KA lenses, these will support all camera AE modes and P-TTL flash
02-14-2011, 11:41 AM   #13
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50mm is the 1st idea and when it comes to 50mm i recommend this link:

the Normal Lens Shootout Photo Gallery by Sean Carpenter at pbase.com
02-14-2011, 03:10 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
Takumars are really nice but a pain in the *** due to screwmounting .
You have to be kidding.
02-14-2011, 03:52 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
You have to be kidding.
I was waiting for you to respond .

To each their own, but I find swapping lenses quickly with a screwmount adapter (esp. from screw to nonscrew) really cumbersome. I'd buy a 50 1.4 SMC tak if I found one for a good price, but I really value ease of use. I'm one of those guys who would pay a lot more for the A version of a lens. I hate stop-down metering my K55. It's worth it, for now, but I generally think that the first manual prime someone buys should be a little easier to use than M42.... especially if the lens does not expose properly (like all non-A lenses do on my k20d)...

YMMV, but if I am shooting a moving target, I only want to worry about focus, not focus, stop down aperture, and exposure errors...
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