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10-24-2011, 02:27 AM   #1
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help me choose a xmas present for myself

I've had my K-x for 18 months now and i'm ready to get a new lens
My current lenses are the 18-55 + 50-20 DAL kit lenses and a 2nd hand 50mm A f1.7 i got for £50 off ebay
I've been happy with all my lenses so far and i do a range of photography at a range of focal lengths but i suppose my main interests are landscapes and photographing my kids
I've liked the 50mm prime but as its a manual focus and as my kids don't stay still for v long i get a high % of out of focus shots and hence i don't use it as much as i'd like
Now my decision lies with do i upgrade my main kit lenses or get a lens that would add to my current system
Some of the lenses i'm considering are;

A super wide-angle - Sigma 10-20 f4 or Tamron 10-24 f3.5
(anyone compared these? i'm not sure if i'd make full use of this type of lens?)

A replacement for my 18-55 - Pentax DA16-45 / Sigma 17-70 / Tamron 17-50 f2.8 / Tamron 28-75 f2.8
(are any of these a significant upgrade on my kit lens? anyone compared these?)

A replacement for my 55-200 - Pentax 55-300f4
(again is this a significant upgrade in quality ?)

A new auto focus prime lens - Pentax DA35 f2.4/ Pentax DA35 ltd f2.8 / Sigma 50 f2.8 macro / Sigma 70 f2.8(macro) / Tamron 90 f2.8 macro
(i quiet fancy trying macro photography - which is best for this?)

Price wise i'm looking at max £400
Image quality is the priority

I realise i'm v undecided and would appreciate any advice/comments


10-24-2011, 03:16 AM   #2

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A few thoughts, but firstly I have no experience with the Sigma or Tamron lenses but am sure someone will come along who does!

Anyway, you say you're considering replacements for the kit lenses, but you're happy with them? The 16-45 is better IQ wise than the 18-55, and contant aperture (f4), so some advantages, and won't break the bank. BUT, it'll only replace the 18-55. The Pentax16-50 is supposed to be good, but has suffered with SDM issues (hopefully now resolved), and the Pentax 17-70 is also highly rated.

The 55-300 is regarded as better than the 50-200, so potentially improved IQ and range, which could be good for longer range candids of the kids.

The 35's will give you equivalent fov on your K-x to the 50 on a full frame, so good for portraits. The 35 f2.4 is considered to be great value, but not as good IQ wise when compared with the Ltd.

Landscapes - I use a Pentax 12-24, and it's great. That said, went on a course recently were I was persuaded to use longer lenses, which although counter intuitive does work, but there's always room for a UWA lens when you want to capture a 'vista'.

Macro. Unless you're doing still life I'd suggest the longer the focal length the better because it gives you more working room between you and the subject. With a 50 macro you'll be right on top of the subject.

If I were you I'd pick just one area of photography you want to concentrate on and buy your next lens for that purpose; there's always future birthdays, Fathers day, Christmas
10-24-2011, 05:52 AM   #3
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If you don't have an external flash, I would first look at that (with tilt/swivel head) so you can get those shots of your kids before you start adding / replacing lenses. For macro you can consider a Raynox adaptor (which will not break the bank).

Further it's your call if better quality has priority or expanding your focal tange. Personally I'm not a big fan of 'extreme' wide angle for landscapes; 18mm of the kit lens would be fine for me.
10-24-2011, 06:09 AM   #4
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the DA35 obviously. That's what you need. For macro you can use some adapter/ TC/tubes in combination with the 50mm you already have.

10-24-2011, 06:11 AM   #5
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Consider the DA40 in your list of primes. It is cheaper than all the others listed except the da35/2.4. It is small, and light. It is one of the fastest to autofocus. It produces stunning portraits (especially of children). It can be had used here and on ebay for $300 (sometimes less). It's a great lens. I have the Tamron 17-50. It's a big leap from the kit lens. It's not as fast as primes though. The image quality is right up there with classic primes, but it is not a good as the limiteds. In fact, now that I have 4 limited lenses, I may not even keep the Tamron because it really is that much worse (and it's a great lens!). The suggestion of a good flash is a good idea. More light will make your indoor pictures better with the glass you have. If you don't need bells and whistles a good, powerful, auto-thyristor flash can be had for less than $30 on ebay (vivitar 5600 is my current favorite in that category). Just dial in your f-stop and iso and start shooting.
10-24-2011, 06:14 AM   #6
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Get the tamron 28-75. It is the best bang for the buck. It will allow you to keep up with your kids, shoot in low light, and get your feet wet with macro. It is a great event and portrait lens, and very sharp. Your kit lens at 18mm/f8 will be just fine for landscapes.
10-24-2011, 06:47 AM   #7
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I recently had a similar decision to make. I already have a long ish lens so the choice was either upgrade my kit lens (which would have been a Tamron 17-50 2.8) or go for UWA lens. I ended opting for the Tamron 10-24 and am very pleased. It’s great for landscape shots and also in built up city locations. I love the odd angles and distortion that you get using a lens this short. That said its very much personal preference but I think UWA's are more versatile than you think (never used the Sigma 10-20 so cant compare the two).
10-24-2011, 07:36 AM   #8
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I was in a similar situation except that I got the DAL 55-300 w/ my kit. (That has really been an outstanding lens for me.) I wasn't particularly happy w/ the 18-55, so I bought a used 16-45. That is a very fine lens, but I missed having something longer to use it as a one lens solution.
I think I would enjoy the DA 18-135 (or the Pentax/Tamron 18-250), but as a less expensive alternative I found a nice used Tamron 24-135. It's a little big, but a very useful range and takes good pics.

10-24-2011, 07:57 AM   #9
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First of all, take a look at alternative ways to approach your needs. For landscapes, try stitching. Use the portrait orientation for the body, so as to reduce the long skinny pictures. There are free stitching packages available; autostitch and microsoft ice. You do not have to have wide angle lenses to do wide landscapes. Most of the best landscapes are done at 24 to 28mm. Wide angle lenses are expensive due to the optics involved. In order to pull in the scene, they push the center back, and in doing so, they emphasize the foreground. Also go with f8, this way you get lots of depth of field. If the light is insufficient, try getting a cheap tripod - second hand. Lots available since folks buy them, don't use them and there they sit. So until you know that you are going to use it a lot, don't put a ton of money into one. Plus, after using an older inexpensive one for a while, you will know what you want, when and if you decide to get a better one.

So that is one request that can be easily done with what you currently have. Give it a try....

Suggestion number two - buy used lenses. A lot cheaper. A good source is the Marketplace here on the Forum. Most folks here take very good care of their equipment. Also, folks will disagree with me, but screwdrive lenses have less to go wrong than SDM lenses. For me lenses are about the optics, not the electronics.

Last edited by interested_observer; 10-24-2011 at 08:05 AM.
10-24-2011, 07:58 AM   #10
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How about the Sigma 30mm f1.4? Great for indoor shots of the kids; I found the 50mm to close indoors, very fast, great for low light.

I had a similar kit- K-X, 17-55mm, 18-250mm lens.
Over the course of 2 years or so I replaced all with K-7, Tamron 17-50mm f2.8, Sigma 30mm f1.4 and a sports lens.

I have two young kids and the Sigma is great.

On my long term shopping/wist list is:
  • a macro lens, maybe 90mm or similar as it'd be good for kids portraits too
  • wide angle (10-20 maybe)
  • maybe an 18-250/270 again for walk around in new places if i want to zoom (sports too big for general walkaround).
Good luck.
10-24-2011, 08:27 AM   #11
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Options as I see it
WA zoom/prime - I would wait on this since you don't sound disappointed by the kit lens yet at 18mm.
DA40 or FA50/1.4 - small versatile primes, the DA 40 a little more multipurpose while the FA50 is a little better for portraits
A good, fast zoom like the tamron - great lens if you like heavy zooms
An expensive macro lens - get ext tubes, the raynox or spend $75 on the M50/4 macro to find out if you like macro and find out what you need in a macro lens. Maybe 1:2 mag and 50mm is all that you need
A nice wide normal 24-28mm - it's a great landscape focal length but there really aren't many options out there until you get into the very good MF lenses ($50-125)
55-300 - you didn't mention any dissatisfaction with your 50-200 so I would wait on this upgrade

Imo - you don't sound like you are limited by the two kits lenses at 18mm and 200mm so I would consider upgrading to a DA40, FA50 or Tamron 28-75 f2.8 zoom. These options would be a big upgrade from the kit lens for photographing your family. And I use my A50f1.7 more and more for landscapes. I pair mine with a $125 K24/2.8 and rarely wish I had something else landscapes. If you don't mind a 500 gram lens on a 500 gram camera then the Tamron would give you the best value. And wait on WA, the expensive macro and the telephoto zoom.
10-24-2011, 08:36 AM   #12
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Ask yourself: What do I want to do that I can't do with what I already have? Replacing your kit lens(es) will give you somewhat better IQ, which is great if you want to make poster-size prints but rather irrelevant for small prints, slide shows, etc. Fast primes (or f/2.8 zooms) will let you shoot faster action and/or in less light -- alas, not cheap for AF, except the almost-fast DA35/2.4. A suggestion for people shots: the old F35-70/3.5-4.5 is agile, sharp, a render-meister, and CHEAP. Also faster than your kit lens in its range.

Or do you want to explore? I'll ditto the Tamron 10-24/3.5-4.5, which seems to have fewer build problems than UWA Sigmas and costs rather less (with a longer warranty) than the DA12-24. 10mm is wild, and great in tight spaces, and 24mm is good for 'scapes. If you want to get more extreme, the DA10-17 (the lens that drove me to Pentax) is superb, ultra-fishy at 10mm, slightly so at 17mm. Or you can explore macro -- see

I'll ditto some other previous suggestions too. Flash(es). Tripod. Used lenses. Superzoom. But think about the shots you aren't getting with what you have, and go from there.
10-24-2011, 11:56 AM   #13
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I have a 16-45 but if I were buying it today I'd spend the extra money on an 18-135 for its reach and water resistance.

I'm also quite interested in a 35mm limited, and will rent one for a couple weeks. I'm going to evaluate it against that 16-135 and the old 50mm F/2 which I'm pretty fond of. I want it for close photography, but I think it should be quite versatile.

I can attest to the fun factor of the DA10-17, and it seems quite well-built. I've taken some really good pictures with it, and often use it when in the yard with the dogs or inside, just because it's so easy to use. I rented it over the holidays a couple years ago and bought a copy within a month.

The FA-100 macro has proven my best buy, I think, it's a little tank of a lens and 100mm is necessary if you want to take pictures of bugs while being able to shift to a subject a bit farther away.

There's your dilemma. Make your little plus/minus tables and see which lens gets the most pluses. Don't neglect old glass, either.
10-24-2011, 02:04 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by kenafein Quote
Get the tamron 28-75. It is the best bang for the buck. It will allow you to keep up with your kids, shoot in low light, and get your feet wet with macro. It is a great event and portrait lens, and very sharp. Your kit lens at 18mm/f8 will be just fine for landscapes.
+1 Excellent lens and a useful range.
10-24-2011, 03:26 PM   #15
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I join the group: Tamron 28-75 2.8.
It’s at your budget level (per example at SRS Microsystems it costs less 40 pund than your limit!).

If you can get your family to join the fun in your Christmas present, you can get the Tamron 70-200 2.8 instead (more 200 pounds than your budget at the same place).

Or… get everybody in the mood and maybe you can reach both at Christmas (if not plan for the birthday for the second one…)

Best regards,

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