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09-30-2011, 01:41 PM   #1
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Superzoom and Fast Prime combo

I've been reading the Pentax forums for the past year (but never posted). I upgraded from the Optio S point-and-shoot camera to a Pentax DSLR last summer and have been slowly getting more into photography, but not really an enthusiast yet.

I've read a lot of different topics regarding "what the best walk around lens" and it's pretty much dependent on what you shoot mostly. I understand to get the most quality out of a DSLR you need to use the proper lens for the job. However, I rarely just go out JUST to shoot photos (thus why I don't consider myself a true photography enthusiast). I only shoot photos when I am doing some other activities outdoors with taking photos only as a secondary activity.

Here's my current setup:
Pentax K-X
DA-L 18-55 F3.5-5.6
DA-L 55-300 F4-5.8
Popup Flash Diffuser (comming in the mail)

I'm an avid golfer/skier/hiker and that's when 75% of my photos are taken. One shot might be landscape (wide), then next portrait (of ourselves in action) and then we'd always find some interesting wildlife to photograph (telezoom). The other 25% of my photos are done during vacation and weekend travels so lots of indoor photography and low light situations. I'm a foody as well so we tend to take lots of food photography.

I'm considering selling my two lens and then buying a super zoom (18-200 or 18-250) for daytime shooting and then switch to a fast prime (35mm f2.8) for low light/indoor shooting (food photography, museum, church, party photos etc).

In particular, I'm looking at the Sigma 18-200 and 18-250 HSM, as well as the Pentax 18-250 (very rare and expensive still!) but between the two sigma super zooms I'm wondering if the HSM (hyper sonic motor for quiet AF) and 50mm extra focal length is really worth the extra $200?

As for the fast prime, is f2.8 fast enough? Or do i need f1.4 or f1.8? on the APS-C sensor 35mm would be equivalent to 45mm on FF, is that a good focal length? I see a lot of older 50mm film fast prime lens (manual focus only) available for cheap but on the K-x it would be 75mm which might be too tight for all-around photography. I understand another way to take photos in low light is set higher ISO and to invest in a good flash but for now that's out of my budget and i'll just use a popup flash diffuser for now.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

Last edited by neova; 09-30-2011 at 02:06 PM.
09-30-2011, 02:09 PM   #2
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I have a 50mm 1.4 M lenz that I just love to use, I compared it on an old film camera (Pentax ME Super) and I then notice the lens acts more like it is zoomed on my K-X. It however is pretty decent and to me I get better IQ then my other lenses. Indoors it really doesn't feel tight in cramped areas with that 50mm lens on it.
09-30-2011, 02:33 PM   #3
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Since you have the K-x you can bump the ISO for no flash indoor shots at 2.8, although faster would be better.
The DA35 2.4 is a good value. Anything faster will be way more cash.
I have experience with the Tamron/Pentax 18-250 and it is a capable lens, just keep in mind that at the long end your 55-300 is better.
09-30-2011, 02:45 PM   #4
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For primes, it all depends on what you want. If you want good bokeh control, I would got for something that's faster than F2.8, just as the DA L 35mm F2.4 or the FA 50mm F1.4.
Pentax 35mm DA L F2.4 AL Lens 21987 B&H Photo Video

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09-30-2011, 02:54 PM   #5
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People I know having the 18-250 pentax or tarmon are very satisfied of this lens.

About the prime, I think that the DA 35 f2.4 is a bargain considering the optical quality.
09-30-2011, 02:57 PM   #6
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Welcome aboard.

I'd suggest that until your present lenses give you reason to be frustrated, your're pretty well equipped with what you've got. If/When frustration sets in (if it does) ask yourself why. Speed? IQ? Size? Lens change issues? In the mean time, you have pretty good coverage with the lenses you have.

One free recommendation would be to download one of the free "aperture analyzing" software programs and see where you make most of your shots. Sometimes that's a wake-up call.

If LBA is a factor, I'd recommend purchasing one of the used, economical, mid-range upgrade lenses choices (like the Tamron/Pentax FA 28-105) and see how that fits your style. These are in-expensive enough to be used as "training wheels" and re-sold later while offering a modest upgrade in results and convenience.

09-30-2011, 03:03 PM   #7
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Thanks for the recommendations!

I know the 55-300 has better IQ than the superzooms but it's one of those tradeoffs to get versatility. I'm not a pixel junkie so as long as the photos aren't blurred it's good enough for me at this point. Barreling will be worst on the superzoom but should be okay as long as I don't shoot subjects with symmetry =)

So 50mm isn't too tight for say... Food photography during dinner? I've tried shooting at 50mm on my kit lens and it's not wide enough to get the whole dish, but only zoomed into the food. 35mm or less (based on my own test with my 18-55 lens) is more usable for photos I take indoors.

I did purchase a used FA 28-90 to see if it would save me from needing to change to the 55-300 lens, unfortunately I shoot most of my photos between 18 to 150 so the 18-125 and 18-135 are out and 18-200 or 18-250 is a good candidate.

LBA is not a problem for me, but can't say that about buying excessive amount of golf clubs LOL =)

Last edited by neova; 09-30-2011 at 03:13 PM.
09-30-2011, 03:20 PM   #8
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I do agree 50 is a bit long indoors. 35 or less would be my preference. If you don't mind manual lenses there are a lot of good old 28mms you can play with.
Everyone and their uncle made a K mount manual focus 28mm 2.8 in either M or A guise you can find cheapish.
I have a Focal (Kmart) brand 28mm 2.8 A lens that is peachy for indoor work, I paid $5 for it from the bargain bin at a camera show.

09-30-2011, 03:58 PM   #9
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When I moved from advanced P&S to dSLR, I asked myself, What do I want to do that I can't do with what I have? The answer led me to the DA10-17 fisheye (the lens that drove me to Pentax), the FA50/1.4 for action and dimness, and the DA18-250 for almost everything else. Add the Tamron 10-24 and a Raynox DCR-250, and my basic needs are covered.

Then I started looking for faster glass in critical focal lengths, so I accumulated MFL's in 16/2.8, 24/2, 28/2, 35/2, 50/1.2, 58/2, 85/2, 100/2.8, 135/2.5, and 200/3.5 -- not the fastest in most of those focal lengths, but fast enough and cheap enough. The FA50/1.4 is still my only AF prime. And the DA18-250 is still my most-used lens when moving around.

Then I started accumulating a lot of cheap lenses with character -- but that's another story.

So my lens-buying priority is 1) coverage, 2) speed, and 3) character (includes weirdness, and cheap enlarger lenses to stick on bellows).

I'm picky about some focal lengths. I love 50mm, fast or slow; I have 50 Fifty's in my stash (and I may buy another couple tomorrow). I don't really care for 35mm; I have a few good ones that go under-used. I think 28mm is just about ideal for grabbing what I see, and a fast 28 is always with me. A fast 24 is awesome indoors. A fast 85 is awesome on the street at night; a slow 21 or 100 is great for well-lit streets. Enlarger lenses in the 90-140mm range on bellows are great. And my favourite people lenses are the F35-70 and FA50/1.4 for AF and an M42 Sears-Tokina 55-135/3.5 for careful MF.

I didn't plan for most of these. I just buy lots of cheap|exotic lenses, keep what I like, hang on to the others for a few months, then sell them for a good profit, with which to buy yet more lenses. Sure is fun!

Which is all the long way of saying: I think an ideal kit would contain a 10-20 or 10-24, an 18-250, a 28/2, a 50/1.4, and a Raynox. Then expand in interesting directions.
09-30-2011, 06:33 PM   #10
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50+ lens!? Wow... How do you even decide what to bring out each time?

That ideal kit seems about right - I did thought about getting a fast ultrawide zoom instead of just a fast prime but needless to say any fast zoom with constant wide aperture will be out of my budget so for now I'm going to looking for the ultrazoom and fast prime first then see what else I need.
09-30-2011, 06:38 PM   #11
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Another vote for the 35mm 2.4 DA-L by Pentax.

Its a great lens for "party action" in low light. Its become my walk around lens, it does not leave my camera. For the money you can't beat it.

As for the super zooms I can not comment as never owning one.
09-30-2011, 06:42 PM   #12
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To answer the poster's original question, I am happy with my Stigma 18-200 for an all-in-one solution, but for me it's a back-up for situations where my preferred (prime)shooting style doesn't apply -- zoos, cablecars, etc. I used a film DSLR with a 50mm/2, so having a 35mm/2 on APSC as my main lens seems generally effective, a good compromise for indoor use, close work (e.g. food), and environmental shots. The 35/2.4, or even the 35/2.8, should be similar in functionality.

So if you're willing to invest more in your prime or primes, I know for myself that the Stigma 18-200 is a cost-effective backup solution. But for a single all-around zoom you might be happier with the Pentax 18-135 . . .
09-30-2011, 07:19 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Impartial Quote
To answer the poster's original question, I am happy with my Stigma 18-200 for an all-in-one solution.
On the 18-200 without the HSM is the auto focus noisy?
09-30-2011, 07:48 PM   #14
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I just tend to keep my camera bag with me and have my 28mm macro prime, my 50mm prime, and either my AF Sigma 70-300 or MF Sears 75-260 with me in addition to either the kit DA18-55 or my FA28-90 on the camera for the bulk of my shots. If I'm anticipating needing range I'll leave either the 28mm or the 50mm behind and throw my teleconverter in the bag and stick with the Sears zoom. All said, everything is fairly lightweight and carries easily enough. If for some strange reason I'm stuck with one lens only, I'll switch off between the Sigma or one of the two Pentax autofocus lenses depending on what I think my needs will wind up being.

I'd love to get my paws on a nice 18-somethinglong lens at some point simply so that I can just use that as my go-to lens for when I just want to snap pictures and not have to worry about messing around with swapping off lenses.
09-30-2011, 08:05 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by neova Quote
On the 18-200 without the HSM is the auto focus noisy?
I find it to be the same as the 18-55 kit lens or my 35/2. The screwdrive would presumably work harder in the. 35/2.8 . . .

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