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03-31-2011, 02:19 PM   #1
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Starting out my lens buying on the right foot.

I've been a reader of the forum for a while and have done many searches but I think it is finally my time to try and farm from the wealth of knowledge this forum possesses.

I'm looking for a advice on what set-up will give me the best longevity and hopefully help me avoid a bunch of buying and selling. I am a member of a few other forums and I find the sooner you can find your ideal set-up the sooner you can hopefully stop the bleeding. I want to start off on the right foot.

My current set up.

Pentax KR
dal 18-55 kit
kiron 28mm f2
smc A 50mm f1.7
Takumar A 70-200 f4 Macro

What I shoot.

Lots of indoor shooting, we had snow from Nov - beginning of april it is melting but still about 2-3 feet of the stuff everywhere. My house is decent lighting but I do like to shoot at night. As a side not I only have tungsten lights in the bathroom.

The rest of my time is spent outdoors, I have young kids. I also like to shoot bugs (mostly spiders, ants and bees) and strange plants. I do like to do some street photo stuff as well.

My current needs.

1. I want an autofocus prime because it is difficult to hit subjects in focus at wide apertures and I find it hard for others to use my camera when I hand it off.

2. I want the prime I pick something that I can hold onto and build around, not something I will sell 2 years down the road to replace it with another lens.

3. 50mm prime is a touch too wide indoors and tough to focus at 1.7

4. 28mm is nice indoor width but again a bit trick for focus at low lights. (when shooting with kit lens I am usually right around 35mm.)

5. I would just shoot with my kit inside but it is too slow and the image quality of my 50mm is drastically better.

6. My budget for lenses or toys is about $450 a year give or take. I do lots of buying and selling from estate sales and ebay and local classifieds. I enjoy doing it, I learn lots, and it builds funds for toy buying. Bottom line my budget is $450.

Does anyone have a good starting point for me? I am not planning too far ahead just this current lens purchase and the next logical one for my needs. Here are my current combos I am thinking.

FA 35 f2 and FA 50mm 2.8 macro or just keep my 50mm 1.7
Da 35mm ltd macro and I keep my 50mm 1.7
40mm ltd and keep my 50mm or 28mm (not sure the 40mm would be fast enough inside)

I am open for suggestions and comments as I have been racking my brain on this. These are my 3 most obvious choices for me right now but I am also pretty new to all this.

03-31-2011, 02:27 PM   #2
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Don't forget the sigma 30/1.4.

Some complaints that it is not sharp across the whole frame but the centre is marvellous. Relatively cheap but screw drive so noisy. But so are the limiteds too.

G
03-31-2011, 02:44 PM   #3
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From everything you just said, I think the 35mm macro might be your best bet. You will have a little trouble in low light with it, but that might change when you eventually upgrade the camera body.
03-31-2011, 02:54 PM   #4
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If you are thinking about the DA 35mm, here is the one negative to consider. It is from this site: Pentax SMCP-DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited User Review « robertsdonovan.com

This incredible focus range (infinity to 0.139M) is the DA 35 Macro’s Achilles heel. It is very deliberate and accurate when shooting macro but becomes slow and laborious when taking snap shots. If the camera misses the focus point it will usually run all the way to one extreme of the focal range and then back to the focus point where (hopefully) it will lock on. If not, it will continue on to the opposite end of the focus range before heading back to try again. On a normal lens this “focus hunting” can be a bit annoying as the lens “ziiiip-ziiiips” back and forth before locking focus. On the DA 35 Macro focus hunting goes more like “ziiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip, ziiiiiiiiiiiiiiip, ziiiiiip, ziiip-zip.” I missed a ton of snap shots with the kids while this lens oscillated back and forth the focus scale on me.

I still went ahead and bought it and its very sharp. I found the above review to be true. However, depending on your shooting style/conditions it may hit the focus quickly most of the time. Its also not good for shooting macros of living things that would run away or be unsafe to get close to.

03-31-2011, 03:08 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by psychdoc Quote
If you are thinking about the DA 35mm, here is the one negative to consider. It is from this site: Pentax SMCP-DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited User Review « robertsdonovan.com

This incredible focus range (infinity to 0.139M) is the DA 35 Macro’s Achilles heel. It is very deliberate and accurate when shooting macro but becomes slow and laborious when taking snap shots. If the camera misses the focus point it will usually run all the way to one extreme of the focal range and then back to the focus point where (hopefully) it will lock on. If not, it will continue on to the opposite end of the focus range before heading back to try again. On a normal lens this “focus hunting” can be a bit annoying as the lens “ziiiip-ziiiips” back and forth before locking focus. On the DA 35 Macro focus hunting goes more like “ziiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip, ziiiiiiiiiiiiiiip, ziiiiiip, ziiip-zip.” I missed a ton of snap shots with the kids while this lens oscillated back and forth the focus scale on me.

I still went ahead and bought it and its very sharp. I found the above review to be true. However, depending on your shooting style/conditions it may hit the focus quickly most of the time. Its also not good for shooting macros of living things that would run away or be unsafe to get close to.
Are there certain conditions that this happens in (low light?) or is it consistently problematic no matter the conditions. I do shoot lots of kid shots. (like 300-500 per month only keep about 10% maybe less.... yes I'm a pretty new father and also crazy)

I have shot macro with my 200mm Tak, results are pretty average and 200mm is a bit long of a macro for bugs.
03-31-2011, 03:19 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by 1r0nh31d3 Quote
Are there certain conditions that this happens in (low light?) or is it consistently problematic no matter the conditions. I do shoot lots of kid shots. (like 300-500 per month only keep about 10% maybe less.... yes I'm a pretty new father and also crazy)

I have shot macro with my 200mm Tak, results are pretty average and 200mm is a bit long of a macro for bugs.
In low light the 35macro is way more likely to start hunting. And when it does it spins all the way back and forth through its range again and again until it thinks it's found what it's looking for. Have not had any issues with this in decent light.
03-31-2011, 03:25 PM   #7
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Low light: certainly hunts.

I have not had good luck with it for kids shots, unless they are sitting still...

Does fine with adults, still life, flowers etc.
03-31-2011, 04:11 PM   #8
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The obvious choice to me is the DAL35/2.4, even though it might possibly seem like a lens you might replace. I wouldn't rule out the DA40, though - it's a great lens, and while sure, sometimes you might wish it were faster than f/2.8, with modern cameras and their high ISO performance, it's really not that big a deal. Larger aperture just means shallower DOF, anyhow, which is usually not your friend in casual candid photography (very hard to get more than one person in focus).

03-31-2011, 04:18 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by garethwebber Quote
Don't forget the sigma 30/1.4.
+1 for the Sigma. At f 1.4 it is much sharper than the FA50 1.4 - not to mention the FA31!
03-31-2011, 04:28 PM   #10
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The FA31 is the standard against which all other indoor primes lenses are measured. This lens has everything; great focal length, fast aperture, sharp, beautiful rendering and colours and has bokeh as smooth as silk. The "only" downside is price. All the other primes mentioned are a compromise.
03-31-2011, 05:09 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
The obvious choice to me is the DAL35/2.4, even though it might possibly seem like a lens you might replace. I wouldn't rule out the DA40, though - it's a great lens, and while sure, sometimes you might wish it were faster than f/2.8, with modern cameras and their high ISO performance, it's really not that big a deal. Larger aperture just means shallower DOF, anyhow, which is usually not your friend in casual candid photography (very hard to get more than one person in focus).
The highest I ever shoot is iso 1600. I just kind of figured anything more was too grainy. Maybe I'll experiment at even higher... How high of iso do you like to shoot indoors?
03-31-2011, 05:12 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
The FA31 is the standard against which all other indoor primes lenses are measured. This lens has everything; great focal length, fast aperture, sharp, beautiful rendering and colours and has bokeh as smooth as silk. The "only" downside is price. All the other primes mentioned are a compromise.
I agree it seems like the one prime to rule them all. Unfortunately I can't do it. I could do it this time next year if I buy something I think will hold its value over this next year.
03-31-2011, 05:21 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
The FA31 is the standard against which all other indoor primes lenses are measured... All the other primes mentioned are a compromise.
The fact is... it cannot produce even a reasonably sharp image at f 1.4 and that is why the Sigma 30 is sharper at that aperture. According to Photozone the Sigma 30/1.4 is also measurably sharper than the FA31 in the center across the board.

Since the viewfinder on my K-x isn't 100%, I have no problem cropping out the soft borders leaving me with a very impressive result.
03-31-2011, 05:26 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
The FA31 is the standard against which all other indoor primes lenses are measured. This lens has everything; great focal length, fast aperture, sharp, beautiful rendering and colours and has bokeh as smooth as silk. The "only" downside is price. All the other primes mentioned are a compromise.
budget = 450.

I think the sigma is a good call. Or the DA 35. I'd suggest the DA L, but since you like macro so much, why deprive yourself?
03-31-2011, 05:35 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by garethwebber Quote
Don't forget the sigma 30/1.4.

Some complaints that it is not sharp across the whole frame but the centre is marvellous. Relatively cheap but screw drive so noisy. But so are the limiteds too.

G
+1

IMO, this is the perfect choice for APS-C AF indoor lens when the FA31 funds are out of reach. I recommend buying this one new or still under warranty though, sometimes it's AF needs adjusting from BF/FF problems. Optically it would suit you quite well, and it fits your budget fine!

If you want to stay Pentax, go with the DAL35/2.4 or FA35/2.
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