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04-19-2011, 02:19 AM   #16
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Just to throw another option into the ring; it seems you're going to have a bit of a struggle deciding on focal length for starters. May I suggest you experiment before you settle on spending big dollars. Browse around second-hand camera shops or Ebay and sample some old K, M or A lenses in the focal lengths you're interested in. You can pick up some superb older lenses for next to nothing, try out the whole gamut of focal lengths you're interested in at your leisure and have a lot of fun in the process. You'll also learn a lot and who knows, you might decide to keep them or trade them in once you've settled on what you want.
My 2c.

04-19-2011, 02:26 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
Buy the DA 40 for ease of use and sex-appeal. It's super fun...
Why do you think that is? Are the pancake style lenses just sufficiently quirky to appeal more strongly than "just another lens"? In terms of the FL/FOV, is the 40mm just a sweet-spot for some people?

QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
Don't be afraid of the DA L 35 2.4.
Indeed. I know it's not a "limited" prime, but there's a lot of love out there for that lens; especially given it's low price and decent performance.
04-19-2011, 02:36 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by axl Quote
You are welcome...
I never had 40 with 55 at the same time. Back then (pre 2010) I had DA40, Sigma 10-20 and Sigma 105 and some zooms. I really liked it. Then I got a great deals on mint F50/1.7 and new FA31 so it suddenly got very crowded. Combination of 31+50 often suited my needs more than 40. I only used 40 instead of body cap when in transit, while other lenses were in pouches. Then in January 2010 I found good deal on FA43 and sold off my 40+50. Never missed 40, but regreted selling 50 very soon. Since then I was trying to replace the 50mm. I went through K55/1.8, K50/1.2, DA*55(looking back at it it must have been a dud copy), K50/1.4. I always felt that despite all the goodness the 43 is just too close to 31. Then when I sold all of those 50+mm lenses to fund 77 and later K-7 I was left with 24+3 FA ltds. I got disillusioned with 77 very quickly (it's a great lens just awfully long for my vision - on APSC that is, I'm sure I'd love it on FF) and I decided to sell it to give another to DA*55. My second copy is great. I used to feel I need to have lens to fill each gap but not anymore. My Mrs is using K-x + 31 while I have K-7 + 24+55. These two lenses can do it just about all for me. With FOV equivalents of 35 and 85mm it makes a lot of sense!
40 has great reviews but it all depends on how you percieve world around you. I never had problem with 40/43 FOV but given the choice 24+55 suits me more. And 55 for casual shooting? We went for walk with Mrs last Sunday. I took bot my lenses and used 24 for 4 keepers while 55 for 40 odd keepers...that says it all IMO
Thanks much for the really useful background, axl. It helps to understand how you got to where you are with your lens choices today.

I am still strongly drawn to both the 40 and 55 for completely different reasons. The 55 looks like a real class act, and the faster lens seems like it would be useful for the K-7, given that unit's performance in less than perfect light. And I am both attracted and scared by the pancake 40 -- I really don't know what to make of it. But the simplicity, speed of focus and overall quality of the 40 are a real draw.

As I lamented in an earlier reply, I need to get disciplined at trying my 18-55 kit lens at some fixed FL for shooting and see if I can't settle on or identify my personal sweet-spot.
04-19-2011, 03:07 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wombat Quote
Just to throw another option into the ring; it seems you're going to have a bit of a struggle deciding on focal length for starters. May I suggest you experiment before you settle on spending big dollars. Browse around second-hand camera shops or Ebay and sample some old K, M or A lenses in the focal lengths you're interested in. You can pick up some superb older lenses for next to nothing, try out the whole gamut of focal lengths you're interested in at your leisure and have a lot of fun in the process. You'll also learn a lot and who knows, you might decide to keep them or trade them in once you've settled on what you want.
My 2c.
Thanks for that, Wombat; sound advice, for sure.

There's been three factors spurring me on to a (relatively early, given my experience) new lens purchase.
  1. Lack of sharpness in landscaping shooting with my 18-55mm kit lens.
  2. Beautiful wildlife at the local reservoir that is significantly beyond my reach.
  3. Kind parents looking to put 400 ($650) towards a new lens as a birthday gift.
Regarding point 1, I suspect there are a gambit of factors at work here, not least of which could be general lack of experience/competence on my part. I also find it hard to gauge expectations realistically; I guess I just had high expectations for my K-7, kit lens or otherwise.

As for the "wildlife", I've always loved nature, and birds in particular; although that is not why I decided to get into photography and I did not think that I would be so interested in capturing wildlife shots. But a couple of afternoons at the local reservoir, sitting just 50-80ft away from pelicans and herons, and osprey dropping into the water less than 200 feet away, I was instantly frustrated with the limited range of my 55mm.

So with a gift in the offering, I decided that I should maybe push the boat out and get a couple of lenses; one at each end of the spectrum.

The 200/2.8 versus 300/4 choice I thought would be easy, and it is at least proving easier than the choice of shorter FL. Of course, more choice always creates more indecision, that's why I've gotten into choosing the first thing on a menu that calls out to me -- I hate indecision. That said, $20 for a sub-par steak is hardly the same as $1000 for a lens that doesn't excite, and so I find myself procrastinating horribly (or perhaps, rightly so).

Perhaps I should focus on the easier choice of the 200 vs 300, ignoring adding the 60-250 into the mix, and leave the <55mm prime choice to sit for a while until I have more experience shooting at different FL in that range? We'll see ... but the lure of a faster, sharper short prime may prove too much to ignore! After 41 years, I know myself pretty well...

04-19-2011, 04:44 AM   #20
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If you're thinking of going for a long lens straight up then I'd strongly agree with Frank - go for the 300. I do a fair amount of bird shooting and believe me, even 300mm is really frustrating if you want to get feather detail, colour variation etc. You might consider the 300mm together with a 1.4x adapter and a good tripod. That would give you a decent setup for local bird work.

By all means explore shorter modern primes, but don't write off, let alone underestimate, some of the older Pentax lenses, which can certainly hold their own on a K7. Check out the lens reviews and see what sort of approval ratings they get. You might be surprised.
04-19-2011, 06:29 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by pjthiel Quote
I still have a lot to learn about photography and my K-7 body in particular. Is this something I'll be doing with each lens I buy? What about my kit lens? Does the 18-55 need dialing in?

I have not yet looked at any of the Sigma glass as I wanted to look at some lenses from Pentax as my first buys. I can't explain "why" in particular, it just feels right. That said, I really just want bang for my buck and good quality for when I capture a great picture. I'll take a look at some of the Sigma units.
You need to test focus on every lens you buy. Once you set it up with the K-7 it will remember the settings for each lens.

I understand wanting to buy Pentax glass. That is why I kept trying to get a good copy of the DA*55m. My biggest issue with Pentax glass that what they make and what I want are not the same. I like the longer reach of FF glass on APS-C bodies. 28-75mm, 70-200mm, 50mm, 85mm, 135mm, & 150mm. The Pentax 15mm and 31mm are the only two that I will probably buy. I have thought about the 100mm Macro, but if Sigma is releasing a weather sealed 150mm, then I will go for the longer reach and HSM (faster focusing).
04-19-2011, 11:43 AM   #22
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I'm glad I got the DA 40, it spends a lot of time on my K7. The F50/1.4 works for low light indoors. I'm an outdoors kinda guy and and my favorite long lens is the DA*200/2.8. I can usually get up close to the wildlife (including birds) and the best times are usually early morning or late afternoon when liighting conditions aren't the best.
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04-19-2011, 09:43 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by pjthiel Quote
Thanks for the reply, Heegz.

Is your 35/2.4 you "walkabout lens" as of now? The SMC Pentax-FA 31mm does indeed look like a fabulous lens.

This is exactly what I have been doing of late, trying to sit at a specific FL for each particular outing to see what it might be like to shoot with a prime. It's actually harder than I thought, and I found myself "cheating" as soon as I needed a different shot; particularly with any kind of portrait shot -- I was usually banged up against the 55mm to get the shot I was looking for.

As I have the 18-55 kit lens, I am going to try and be more disciplined with this exercise and really sit at one or more of these FL and see if one suits my "eye" or style of shooting more than another. Perhaps it'll help me decide.
The 35mm f2.4 is now my standard lens and I have only swapped it out once since the purchase for my kit zoom to take a 18mm wide shot. If you are going to take portraits you might consider the 70mm limited for that. Combined with the DA* 200mm it is still in your price range and you have room left over to get a wider more standard lens. How wide you go depends on your experience with your kit lens I guess. I'm thinking maybe a trio of 35mm f2.4, 70mm, and 200mm if you don't need a wide angle lens.

04-20-2011, 03:06 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by Winder Quote
You need to test focus on every lens you buy. Once you set it up with the K-7 it will remember the settings for each lens.
Has anyone in the community posted an article on how to do this with the K-7? Or is it so straight forward as to not be needed? I'll Google around and see if I can find the process.
04-20-2011, 03:14 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ahab Quote
I'm glad I got the DA 40, it spends a lot of time on my K7.
Nice. I've currently got my kit lens set at ~40mm... I'll see how I get on shooting with. After just 5-10 shots at the canal yesterday, I already found the FOV a little tight and I was unable to get exactly the shot I was "seeing" before presenting the camera. After that, I'll shift to 35mm and see how that goes.
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