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02-16-2011, 10:29 PM   #1
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Lenses - Taking The Plunge

Hey All,

After looking for about 2 years (while using a G1) looks like I'm going to take the plunge and go for a K-5 instead of a GH2. I know about the problems and have a pretty good idea of what to look for - stains and front focusing - although I'm not sure why front focusing is a problem as long as you can get the camera to focus on what you want it to focus on - how would the camera know what you want? Anyway that is a different subject here I want to ask about lenses.

I'm going to skip the kit lens and buy a body and one lens with an eye toward a 3 or 4 lens kit. I am predominantly a landscape guy (that doesn't care much for tripods - too expeditionary) hence I like the "speed" (high ISO performance) of the K-5.

So what am I looking for? Well like most landscape guys I like wide and generally have little interest in a BIF (bird in flight) or BOAS (bird on a stick) pictures. I also like macro and of course need a general purpose walk around lens. What do I want in a lens? Mostly detail and sharpness. So fairly fast definitely sharp lenses with good color and contrast are what I'm after.

For a walkabout lens 28ish to 100ish (35mm equivalent) is good - for a walkabout I don't really need wider or longer. so I'm thinking:

Option 1) 16-45 Pentax as a walkabout - a bit short but doable - with a 55-300 for long and either a wider than 16-45 zoom or a wide (wider than 16) prime - I'd like to be around 12 to 14 or so - and a portrait length macro.

or

Option 2) 17-70 Sigma as a walkabout with a 55-300 for long and either a wider than 17-70 zoom or a wide (wider than 17- ideally 12 to 14 or so) prime and a portrait length macro.

So My question is which plan is better the Pentax 16 - 45 as a walkabout or the Sigma? What lenses would you recommend on the wide and macro sides? Is the 55-300 the best option (300 is likely long enough)? Are their any good tamron options?

My budget is not unlimited and I am a a bit concerned about the DA* SDM failures.

I look forward to your opinions! TIA!!

-Ed-

02-16-2011, 11:51 PM   #2
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I have the DA 17-70/4 and it's sharp as sharp can be and focuses very well. Basically the best lens in this class I have used (and I've used a few).

55-300mm is great value for money and for compactness and weight. Of course you can do better in terms of image quality but you will be paying a lot more in terms of both of those.
02-17-2011, 12:05 AM   #3
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12-24 is excellent and wide.
A 17-70 for the middle.
A Pentax 55-300 for the longer stuff.
Tamron 90 is a highly-rated and relatively cheap macro. Some will recommend the 35mm macro, but even 50mm seems a bit short for a working distance.
02-17-2011, 12:12 AM   #4
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I think that you will receive a range of advice. Since you decided to go with the K-5 for quality, you should target some quality lens(es). You are a landscape guy, and I may share my own experience as an outdoor photographer.

I would recommend the FA31m f1.8 Ltd.

This is a superb lens with outstanding IQ, vibrant colours and highly reputed lens. Sometimes, I like to travel light with 1 body and 1 light lens (only). The FA31mm is my preferred option because it can be used for landscape, in low light as well as daylight.

I have other lenses and each one has its strengths and weaknesses. Among these, tThe FA31mm is the best IQ lens, with the least weakness. (Its only weakness is possibly its price, but you get what you pay for with any decent lens.)

Go for the FA31mm and invest later in other lenses incl. zoom and prime lenses.


02-17-2011, 12:27 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by DanielT74 Quote
55-300mm is great value for money and for compactness and weight. Of course you can do better in terms of image quality but you will be paying a lot more in terms of both of those
Have to second that Ed.Have the "DA" version as opposed to "DAL" and cant
tell you all the difference's,maybe someone else can weigh in.
It's very good value,covers good focal length range,with attractive IQ at a great price.
Have seen some teriffic things done with Raynox and 55-300 for closeup work
again,maybe someone that shoots that combo can post an example.
One big advantage to DA(L) is microchip inside that supplies info to camera body
offers flexibility and additional opportunities 3rd parties cant.
Those options combined with the K5's high ISO/IQ capabilties offers a very attractive
package the gives the economic advantage of being able to add to the 'arsenal'
somewhat without breaking the bank.
02-17-2011, 02:38 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
12-24 is excellent and wide.
A 17-70 for the middle.
A Pentax 55-300 for the longer stuff.
Tamron 90 is a highly-rated and relatively cheap macro. Some will recommend the 35mm macro, but even 50mm seems a bit short for a working distance.
The K5 is a fantastic camera and you'll love it !

SpecialK's list is spot on. The 55-300 DA (not DAL - which lacks the quick-shift, hood and has a plastic mount not a metal one) is a great lense if you don't plan to shoot sports / birds (and need to crop).

The Tamron 90 - is a fantastic macro lense at a great price.

I would think the older (not the new constant f3.5) Sigma 10-20 a superb piece of kit that is substantially cheaper then the 12-24, you can still buy it new. Brilliant for landscapes etc. Check out the 10-20 thread on this forum.

The Tamron 17-50/2.8 is a better option that the still excellent 17-70 (and you already have 55 upwards covered) and is a little gem for the money. Again see the Tamron thread on this forum.

If you are short of cash then the Tamron 70-300 does genuine 1:2 macro and costs around US$150. It is an excellent lense for the money and will see you over until you want / can afford a dedicated macro (e.g. Tamron 90) or upgrade to the 55-300.
02-17-2011, 02:49 AM   #7
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Regarding Tamron 17-50/2.8 being better than the DA17-70mm, I have to dispute that. (At least in my experience) I had a lot more missed with the Tamron - misfocused and underexposed pictures mostly. Other people may have had better luck though. f2.8 certainly offers its advantages, however DA17-70 is weather resistant and just a great lens!
02-17-2011, 02:56 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by DanielT74 Quote
Regarding Tamron 17-50/2.8 being better than the DA17-70mm, I have to dispute that. (At least in my experience) I had a lot more missed with the Tamron - misfocused and underexposed pictures mostly. Other people may have had better luck though. f2.8 certainly offers its advantages, however DA17-70 is weather resistant and just a great lens!
See the Tamron thread on here - fantastic shots. I don't think I've missed a shot with mine but I did check 4 versions to ensure I got one I liked and then adjusted it to +5 in-camera to solve any FF/BF issues.

02-17-2011, 04:02 AM   #9
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Hi Ed. You're after landscape, macro and all-round photo capabilities. Looks more like a 3 or 4 lens venture to me, since neither of your options caters for macro.

My suggestion is to have a decent landscape lens (17mm may not be wide enough, but I don't know your preferences there), so a 12-24 or 15 ltd are good options. Then for walkaround, a Tamron 28-75 or even 17-50 if you don't mind the crossover. Then for macro a MF option, a Tamron 90 or DFA 100 would be good value, and of course the 55-300 for telephoto.
02-17-2011, 04:18 AM   #10
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given the OP's parameters, my 4 lens kit would be (as if I could live with only 4 lenses )

Da 12 -24 - almost my favourite lens and a I have quite a few. Superb landscape lens. Useful in many ways

Pentax or Sigma 17-70 - I probably wouldn't have bought a Siggy except that this one was a 2nd hand bargain. I don't think there is a huge difference between them in IQ terms. My walkabout lens.

D Fa 100mm Wr as a portrait and macro lens. I have the 35mm macro, which is superb at what it does, but that is limited. I also have an M 100 F4 Macro which is about the sharpest manual lens I have ever used, but these days everyone wants auto everything and with an unlimited budget...why not? Im in the market for the DFA 100

and then the best 100 -300ish lens I could afford - this isn't really my area of interest, so I have not done a lot of research to compare lenses at these focal lengths. I use a Sigma 150 - 500 for sports/birds/etc, but that is outside the parameters of the OP.
02-17-2011, 05:05 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
I think that you will receive a range of advice. Since you decided to go with the K-5 for quality, you should target some quality lens(es). You are a landscape guy, and I may share my own experience as an outdoor photographer.

I would recommend the FA31m f1.8 Ltd.

Go for the FA31mm and invest later in other lenses incl. zoom and prime lenses.
My suggestion, too. Designate the 31 as your walk around lens.

Go slow... Pair the 31 to the K-5 and shoot them exclusively for a year. Both camera and lens have learning curves. Once you have a solid grip on your kit, consider adding another lens, or two.

The next lenses I'd pick would need to be very specialized in the look they produce, like the Sigma 8-16 for subjects that call for a broad and sweeping treatment, and the Pentax DA* 300 for micro detail like birds and bugs.

Resist the temptation to cheap-out, or compromise on image quality.

Cheers... M
02-17-2011, 07:57 AM   #12
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Well, I guess I'll be the typical A-hole who recommends specifically what the OP doesn't want. If you really are serious about landscapes, buy cheaper lenses and a nice, light, carbon fiber tripod that you won't notice when strapped to your backpack. In my experience, and that of a lot of vets more seasoned than me, the difference in sharpness from lens to lens is negligible compared to the loss of sharpness by not using a tripod.

Just sayin...
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