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05-31-2011, 01:54 AM   #16
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I used 50mm manual focus for 7-8 years before I buy the DA*50-135.
The DA*50-135 is used for wedding or events that need AF.
Otherwise all old MF lenses are still very good. I rather spend money on lighting - also manual flashes. Spend time on skills, save money until you have confident. Portraits can do perfectly with correct lighting and the cheapest pentax 50mm f2. The lenses will be there waiting for you until that day ;-)

05-31-2011, 02:36 AM   #17
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Good lenses are expensive and it is good to read reviews etc but ultimately, the only way you will be able to decide is to try them for yourself. It may be that your photos will seem better and you feel it is wotrh it. Perhaps it is technique rather than the lens.

FWIW, I went through a similar dilema on the RF. One solution is to check the markets like the one here. A "good" lens will tend to hold it's value at least in the short term. Get a secondhand one, try it. Keep it if you like it, sell it if you don't. If you buy sensibly, you won't lose very much at all.

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05-31-2011, 04:15 AM   #18
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I want to thank everyone for the responses. I had no idea I would get this many. Truth is, it's highly highly highly doubtful I will ever buy a $1000 lens. But I was wondering whether I should even aspire to owning one of those lenses. I'm getting a sense from these posts that most of you think these lenses are NOT worth the money, so I should just wash them from my brain. Am I reading these right? Is that what most are saying? Oh, and I can't imagine laying down $1000 on a lens (or anything else, for that matter) not knowing whether it would be worth it in terms of improving my life in some way. About the Helios, it has (I'm trying to remember, it's been a while) a pin that needed to be surgilcally modified to get the aperture to work right. Well, I spent way too much time on that project and the aperture still doesn't work right. I'm just not very handy and will not be buying any more do it yourself project lenses (or anything else). Jim
05-31-2011, 04:31 AM   #19
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Yes they are worth it if you care about ultimate image quality. No they aren't if you don't.

05-31-2011, 07:15 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
Yes they are worth it if you care about ultimate image quality. No they aren't if you don't.
I think you can get the same image quality from other lenses for less if you are willing to sacrifice other things...

A) build quality
B) autofocus
C) weather sealing
D) size (larger)

etc.

This is how to look at lenses... the DA 70 is a *wonderful* lens, but the real magic of it is how SMALL it is! You can get the same picture quality from a high-quality zoom that covers 70mm (or close enough, anyhow), but that lens might actually be 30-50 times larger than the 70mm (which is just an oversized lens cap!)
05-31-2011, 07:27 AM   #21
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How 'good' (ie expensive) a lens one wants / needs, depends. Depends on budget and desire, and on subjects and targets. Budget: What can you afford? Desire: What will satisfy you? Subjects: What are you shooting, and how? Targets: Where and how will the pictures be seen?
___________________________________________________

One story: A couple years ago I bought a batch-lot on eBay, a camera bag stuffed with stuff. It came from the estate of a pro shooter, formerly with a newspaper in a MidWest USA city. Yashica Electro-35 GSN; Argus-Chinon CR-3E (the most advanced M42 SLR) with Chinon 55/1.7; Vivitar-Tokina 28/2.8 and 35/2.8 and 135/2.8; Vivitar-Komine 90/2.8 macro; Sun flash, various filters, etc. The SLR set were what were needed to shoot daily newspaper stories, while the Yashica loaded with color film was likely for Sunday magazine features. Those same lenses still do fine work on my dSLR. The Chinon and Yashica bodies are great. Oh yeah, the amortized / averaged cost of these items was US$3 each, shipped.

Next story: We've heard here of a successful wedding photographer whose kit consists of a Kx, the DA18-55II kit.lens, a big honking flash, and PhotoShop. That's what she finds sufficient for her career. Me, I'd add a backup body with a FA50/1.4 for 'romantic' shots; but hay, it's not MY career!

Last story: Member benjikan shoots fashion magazine covers: Vogue, Elle, etc. He writes here that among other gear, he uses a K20D, and DA18-250, and DA18-55II. (He also berates corporate Pentax for not providing fast support when a SDM lens failed.) I won't argue lens quality with Ben. He buys the tools he wants to make a good living. Every lens is just a tool. Those tools include non-elite lenses.
___________________________________________________

I'll mark a rough divide in images, between content and quality. If the content is compelling, quality is fairly irrelevant. A compelling photo can be printed on blotchy newsprint and remain compelling. If the content ISN'T compelling, quality really matters. But perfect shots of boring sh!t remain boring sh!t. And as I mentioned earlier, presentation RULEZ! How a picture is SEEN can be more important than how it was MADE.

So, the determining factor for lens buying should be: What is needed to make satisfactory pictures? If you NEED pixel-peeping ultimate quality, spend the money. (But for glossy magazine covers, a kit.lens may suffice.)
05-31-2011, 08:27 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by jjhenders Quote
Here is my question: What do you really get when you pay all that cash for one of the above mentioned lenses? Will my pictures be 500 times better? I'm just not sure what could possibly make one of these lenses that much better than the cheapies I've got. Can anybody try to explain it to me? And if they really aren't worth all that money, what alternative route would make most sense? Thanks, Jim
While others have gone on at length about the differences and what you get for the price, what you don't get is better pictures.

Pictures are 99% photographer, anbd about 1% equipment. (others please I don't want to debate the percentages here)

Yes the hardware is better, lenses perhaps sharper, and faster, and depending on the shot, things like subject isolation are easier with the narrow DOF of a fast lens, but, it is the photographer that largely makes the shot, not the lens. You need to understand how to use each lens in your kit fully.

I always recommend when people are just starting out, to learn the kit lens fully, then base the next lens on where your interests are heading, in terms of focal length first, and speed second.

I don't usually recommend someone who is new going out and getting a whole bag at the onset.
05-31-2011, 12:18 PM   #23
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Again, thank everyone. I had a thought while reading these which I'm sure has been discussed many times and in many places, but just imagine I DID have a spare $2000, would I/should I spend it on some of my lusted after lenses or on a camera upgrade? You know, maybe it's good that I don't have lots of money because it saves me from having to make such decisions. Jim

05-31-2011, 12:36 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by jjhenders Quote
magine I DID have a spare $2000, would I/should I spend it on some of my lusted after lenses or on a camera upgrade
Always invest in glass. Camera bodies are like computers... the best today will be worthless in 10 years. You can't say that about a good lens (e.g., the 50 1.4, which has remained virtually unchanged optically since the 60s).

My advice would be to buy a used digital body, the cheapest one you can find (which should only be about 300 dollars, e.g., used KX). Spend the rest on lenses. Or, better yet, spend *some* of that money on lenses, the rest on the better things in life. Like wine .

Lenses can't buy you happiness, or skill. A skilled photographer could take a 50 dollar film body, and a 50 dollar lens (say the K 55 1.8), and shoot beautiful photos that me, my K5, and my FA 31 could never match. Ever. The most important thing here is going to be practice practice practice, and learning the craft. Some of the best photographers I know (the ones who are paid to shoot cool gigs) don't really give a rats ass about optical qualities. They care about focal lengths, and most importantly, LIGHT!

So I guess I would break it down like this:

Bodies matter 1%, Lenses matter 9%, Light matters 90%. Skill matters an additional 9000% .

NB: I don't own the K5 or FA 31, but I'm pretty confident I wouldn't make the most of them.

Last edited by paperbag846; 05-31-2011 at 12:47 PM.
05-31-2011, 04:45 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
Bodies matter 1%, Lenses matter 9%, Light matters 90%. Skill matters an additional 9000% .
My breakdown is like this -- the factors in good photography, in descending order of importance, are:

1) photographer -- without skill, nothing else matters
2) subject -- a compelling subject can survive almost anything
3) light -- without appropriate lighting, the best cam & lens are useless
4) lens -- even a bad lens is better than no lens at all, usually
5) camera -- this is a box upon which to hang lenses

I haven't weighted these statistically, but you're probably about right. Or I can weasel, and weight each component by a factor of 10:

photographer 90%, subject 9%, light 0.9%, lens 0.09%, camera 0.009%

And the remainder is pixie dust, eh?

Last edited by RioRico; 05-31-2011 at 07:53 PM.
05-31-2011, 05:27 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
photographer 90%, subject 9%, light 0.9%, lens 0.09%, camera 0.009%
I think my post proves I have a tenuous grasp on maths . I like your breakdown though.
05-31-2011, 08:05 PM - 2 Likes   #27
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Jim, my advice to you is STOP READING THE FORUM. Or at least the lens forum. :-) People rave about this lens, or that lens, and how it has pixie dust, magic or whatever, and before you know it that worm gets into your brain and you are spending significant money on lenses, or significant time looking for bargains. Both of which can be fun in their own right, but if you want better pictures, you'd have better luck practicing by taking more and more. And I say this as someone who has spent a lot of money on lenses, appreciated the incremental improvement that comes with high cost, and is now trying to pare back to just a collection of lenses to use.
05-31-2011, 08:35 PM   #28
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Very sobering advice Nick.
Though a photog won't have better luck by practicing, he/she will be a better photog by practicing.
05-31-2011, 08:43 PM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nick Siebers Quote
Jim, my advice to you is STOP READING THE FORUM. Or at least the lens forum. :-)
Wise advice, but probably futile.

QuoteQuote:
...I say this as someone who ... is now trying to pare back to just a collection of lenses to use.
What fun is that?!?!?!? BTW I haven't accumulated my 200+ lenses just for incremental improvements, but because 1) they're mostly cheap old manual primes, and 2) each has a different flavour. Does anyone NEED five Fifty's? Do I really NEED forty Fifty's? (I probably haven't reached my limit there; and at least one member here owns more Fifty's than I have lenses, total.)

It's not a matter of need, nor that this one is incrementally 'better' than that one. No, my lust is for cheap deals, and now for lenses with unique characters. I'm sure that a set of FA-Ltd's would be very Nice To Own. But even if I receive another inheritance and buy them, they won't 'replace' what I have. Each lens is its own window on the world. My various Fifty's all see the world differently. A couple weren't cheap; the others were. All are great to take out for a day or three, to taste the differences.

When I began this dSLR and lens-buying adventure 3 years ago, I considered 'coverage'. Oh yeah, I'm covered from 10mm to 1000mm. Then I wanted (and still want) speed. OK, so now I have a K50/1.2, and fast glass at 24-28-35-55-85-135mm, and fairly fast at 16-105-200mm. Then I got hooked on character. So now I have SLOW lenses at 21-35-50-75-100-127-140-162-180-200mm and elsewhere that render nicely, differently. Paring back isn't an option. Looking at the world through all those windows, is a joy.

Last edited by RioRico; 05-31-2011 at 08:57 PM.
05-31-2011, 09:30 PM   #30
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Oh, I didn't mean to pour cold water on anyone's fun, I was at least partly kidding. Discovering lenses, exploring their capabilities, collecting the good ones - it is a hobby in its own right, and one I indulge in as much or more than taking pictures. There are only so many hours of good light that I am free, but eBay is always open. If someone wants to go down that road, welcome to the club. But if one is happy with the pictures they get from their gear, then reading about how much better a more expensive lens is can only breed dissatisfaction. I have taken lots of pictures I really like; if I had stuck with my original lens set up (M28/3.5, M50/1.7, M50/4, K80-200) plus the kit lens for the time I've gone digital, I do not doubt that I would have just about as many pictures I really like. Maybe more! Because I would have had more practice (not luck, as Ash correctly noted) and developed better as a photographer.

I would have fewer fisheye shots, though. :-)

Last edited by Nick Siebers; 06-01-2011 at 06:49 AM.
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