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11-28-2011, 01:12 PM   #1
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lens strategy/thoughts ?

Hi all,

So I'm trying to plan out my lens purchases in the future, without too much derailment/replacements along the way, hopefully. This is as a hobby, not a job, but with some prints at 8x10 - 11x14 sizes.

Current:
K5
18-55WR AF
smc-a 50mm f/1.7 mf
smc-a 70-210mm f/4.0 MF
Quantaray/Tamron 70-300 AF
Tokina 28-70mm f/2.8-4.3 MF

Shooting interests - all over Portraits, animals, landscapes, travel/city, candids/street, trying to do some more macro and interesting machinery type of shots. Planes in flight occasionally, but usually without enough zoom/focal length so far (mostly with the 70-210, MF and some luck).

The 18-55 is ok, but doesn't work for me as a travel lens too well (range).
The 70-210 is so far my favorite lens, doing surprisingly well for outside portraits, some pseudo-macro.
I picked up the Tokina for $10 or so, mostly to 'test' the focal range to see how I'd get along with it, to consider if a Sigma or Tamron ~28-75 f/2.8 might make sense in my future or not, and I like it reasonably well for indoor shots and some portrait, landscape shots.
I would likely be keeping the 70-210, 50mm f/1.7 (maybe replacing it down the road with an -F or -FA, but no urgency there), simply because I really like both of them, and I'd keep the 18-55WR as it's possible we might pick up a second K5 or K7 for my wife in the future.

I'm liking AV/TaV or full manual for controlling the DOF on most shots except for landscape. I don't anticipate any 'serious' sports shooting, although some casual motorsports (car and motorcycle) if I get back into them personally again.

So, $ is always a concern - if I come across an interesting older M42 or K prime for reasonable $, I may pick it up to play with more primes, but my wife would shoot me and I'd be quite annoyed if I accumulated 40+ lenses, etc. I also simply do not trust Pentax SDM on the 16-50 nor the 50-135. Also, no matter how nice the 50-135, at least at this time, I don't think the range will work best for me.

On the wide side, I believe I can give up the 18-24/28 without too many worries, confirmed with using the Tokina a bit, at least so far..this range is the tougher one for me to sort.

Either way, right now the tentative plans are:
a. Pentax DA 18-135 - replacement walkaround/travel lens with the 50mm in pocket/bag. It's WR, supposedly an optical improvement over the kit 18-55, DC (not SDM), just IMO overpriced for what it is. I'd love it if it could fall back to screw drive, but at least right now, no such luck. This would become the 'grab camera and go' setup for casual random shots and short trips/travel.

b. DA* 60-250mm f/4.0. SDM, but at least on this one, I haven't heard of a lot (any?) of failures. Seriously considering if I should buy this one new, or used but only with a 3rd party warrantee. It's a chunk of change for me for a hobby purchase, but seems like a decent lens, in a useful range. I personally like quick-shift and the WR is a bonus.
Sacrifice of a stop of speed for the longer range over a 70-200 f/2.8, but I think that will work well for me, and it seems to be pretty sharp wide open. Especially if it turns out that we'll be buying a second body, I'd consider picking up a DA 55-300 as an interim (and much cheaper) lens on the 'way' to this one. I also like the overlap in focal range I'd have considering the choices for c. below.

c. This one is tougher. Just by the sheer number of positive comments on it, and the warrantee, I'm leaning towards the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8. I might also consider Sigma 24-70 2.8, or potentially the Pentax 17-70, but if I consider the pentax (SDM), it also brings in the Sigma 17-70 2.8-4.0 at a similar price, better warrantee, more trustworthy (in my perception) HSM...I'm also thinking better to 'go fast' for better DOF control at the shorter focal lengths.

Besides obvious suggestions or critiques on the above...I know i read somewhere about Sigma EX lenses having similar to Pentax Quick Shift - is this for all EX lenses, only some? Can someone explain the differences vs Pentax Quick Shift lenses?

I'm going to wind up seemingly having issues with filters regardless of the choices made above, with a 77mm filter size on the 60-250, something like 82mm(?) on a Sigma 24-70, and 67mm on the Tamron, 62mm on the 18-135, is it reasonable to step down on a polarizer and ND filters from 77 down to 67, 62, etc. ?

Thanks in advance..none of this precludes any primes from coming into the picture, but most of these are enough $ I'd really prefer to do it once..

11-28-2011, 01:30 PM   #2
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Looks like you have enough zooms. Suggestion: the little limiteds, 21mm, 40mm, 70mm and the case that holds all 3. You can use 49mm filters on all 3, also, unless you want to get the smaller 43mm inside-the-hood for the 21mm. I love my set..........................they are in a tiny bag with my Kr.
11-28-2011, 01:59 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Prairie Dog Quote
Looks like you have enough zooms. Suggestion: the little limiteds, 21mm, 40mm, 70mm and the case that holds all 3. You can use 49mm filters on all 3, also, unless you want to get the smaller 43mm inside-the-hood for the 21mm. I love my set..........................they are in a tiny bag with my Kr.
I expect that may come further down the line. Right or wrong, I'm trying to cover 'convenience'/'good enough' (18-135), followed by the ranges I'm actually using most (currently, mostly 75-200 + 300/whatever I can get) with some decent glass, after which I'll spend some more time looking at where I am gravitating towards, and decide if i want to fill in or supplement with primes. The set of suggested primes would definitely be portable, but run around $1500+ vs $700-$800 of the Tamron or Sigma 24/28-70/75. I could see maybe picking up that 21mm in the future, though, and if it really grabs me, selling off the Tamron without too much of a loss to help fund the others. Hmm. Maybe I will wind up thinking on that one a bit after all - the small size of that kit would be great, assuming that I wind up picking up the 60-250 first.

Do you use a smaller length zoom at all?
11-28-2011, 02:07 PM   #4
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Tamron 28-75 seems a good fit for you.

DA*60-250 is meant to be excellent, but the 55-300 is much smaller, lighter, and very capable. Do you really need the extra performance at huge expense? The 60-250 seems more a specialty lens to me, a lowish light sports lens. It's a thin niche between a $700 70-200/2.8 and the 55-300/5.8, and you could buy both those for less. Id buy the 55-300 and put extra money into a prime or 2; like the Sigma 30/1.4 or DA70.

11-28-2011, 03:45 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Prairie Dog Quote
Looks like you have enough zooms.
+1. You should consider to invest in a few primes.

For example, you do not have any fast lenses. A fast prime would add nicely to your line-up and gives you some experiences in these nice lenses. For example the FA50mm f1.4, Sigma 50mm f1.4, Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4.

The IQ of the better prime lenses is incredible, and Pentax is well known for its prime lense offer.

Food for thoughts...

Last edited by hcc; 11-28-2011 at 05:11 PM.
11-28-2011, 03:48 PM   #6
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My newest aquisition is the Da*60-250. It is an excellent lens; a most impressive piece of kit. Keep an eye out for a well loved 2nd hand copy from the forum, which is exactly what I did.

It is far larger and heavier than anything else I have held in the Pentax range. That may or may not be a negative to you. [It is a huge contrast to have th 60-250 and battery grip mounted to a K-5 then take them both off and mount the Da40mm.] It may work well for you as a replacement for the 70-200 F4 you are using.

QuoteQuote:
but my wife would shoot me and I'd be quite annoyed if I accumulated 40+ lenses, etc
Annoyed that your wife shot you? Have a look at my sig line, it's a good thing I don't have either a wife or a firearm...
11-28-2011, 04:31 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
Tamron 28-75 seems a good fit for you.

DA*60-250 is meant to be excellent, but the 55-300 is much smaller, lighter, and very capable. Do you really need the extra performance at huge expense? The 60-250 seems more a specialty lens to me, a lowish light sports lens. It's a thin niche between a $700 70-200/2.8 and the 55-300/5.8, and you could buy both those for less. Id buy the 55-300 and put extra money into a prime or 2; like the Sigma 30/1.4 or DA70.
That may indeed make sense, even moreso as I'd considered the 55-300 as an 'interim' more easily affordable lens on the way to the 60-250, as well as likely being a keeper if we pick up a second body. In the back of my head, I'm mostly silently hoping to see Pentax release a firmware update allowing the SDM lenses to fall back to screw drive..and hopefully be the standard across SDM/DC lenses in the future. Probably dreaming on that one, but if i planned to go with the 55-300 'first,' it could buy some time to see what else may develop with Pentax lenses. It's a tough call, as I do use the longer ranges pretty frequently, and love the constant aperture of my 70-210 f/4 (and that lens in general, really). That ~$1200 on the 60-250 is a bit difficult to swallow and you're right, I could pick up either a Tamron/Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 + the DA 50-300 or the 28-75 f/2.8 + the DA 50-300 for in the range of the same price as the DA*.

Sheesh, I go ahead and mostly convince myself to spent the 'big' $, and here ya go convincing me out of it.
I can probably swing around $1200-ish around Xmas/year end on lenses, which would realistically push back the 60-250 to 'the next round,' but I could probably pick up the 18-135 and the 50-300 at the same time easily enough.

Ok, back to some more thinking, I need to be reminded why doesn't money grow on trees if it does for our government?
11-28-2011, 04:35 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
+1. You should consider to invest in a few primes.

For example, you do not have any fast lenses. A fast prime would add nicely to your line-up and givs you some experiences in these nice lenses. For example the FA50mm f1.4, Sigma 50mm f1.4, Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4.

The IQ of the better prime lenses is incredible, and Pentax is well known for its prime lense offer.

Food for thoughts...
My 50 f/1.7 isn't fast 'enough'? While my eyesight is nearly 20-20, I seem to get the impression that most have issues focusing cleanly beyond even 2.0 (I'm usually stopped down a bit on my 50) or so with the stock focusing screen.. I've put at least a replacement for the 50 f/1.7 on the 'as money and opportunity arises,' but not currently urgent.

11-28-2011, 04:41 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by wizofoz Quote
My newest aquisition is the Da*60-250. It is an excellent lens; a most impressive piece of kit. Keep an eye out for a well loved 2nd hand copy from the forum, which is exactly what I did.

It is far larger and heavier than anything else I have held in the Pentax range. That may or may not be a negative to you. [It is a huge contrast to have th 60-250 and battery grip mounted to a K-5 then take them both off and mount the Da40mm.] It may work well for you as a replacement for the 70-200 F4 you are using.

Annoyed that your wife shot you? Have a look at my sig line, it's a good thing I don't have either a wife or a firearm...
Of course I'd be annoyed that she shot me. (have both wife and firearm )

It's mostly about my own balance of disposable/semi-disposable $ vs what I'm willing to put into a hobby at a time, as well as the wife acceptance factor. Other hobbies for both of us also need to be 'fed' as well..

I'd love to actually see and hold the 60-250 beforehand, but of course, short of a rental, that's generally unlikely.

On the used vs new, with new around $1200, most used copies I've seen have been asking for $1100 or so (USD)..it seems for that $, I might as well go new, and potentially with extended warrantee on it. No concerns for you there, or did you get a really good deal price-wise?
I saw what seemed to be a potentially abused one go for $700 or so on ebay, I just couldn't pull the trigger with the questions I was left with from that particular auction, though.
11-28-2011, 07:52 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by rtpguy Quote
I expect that may come further down the line. Right or wrong, I'm trying to cover 'convenience'/'good enough' (18-135), followed by the ranges I'm actually using most (currently, mostly 75-200 + 300/whatever I can get) with some decent glass, after which I'll spend some more time looking at where I am gravitating towards, and decide if i want to fill in or supplement with primes. The set of suggested primes would definitely be portable, but run around $1500+ vs $700-$800 of the Tamron or Sigma 24/28-70/75. I could see maybe picking up that 21mm in the future, though, and if it really grabs me, selling off the Tamron without too much of a loss to help fund the others. Hmm. Maybe I will wind up thinking on that one a bit after all - the small size of that kit would be great, assuming that I wind up picking up the 60-250 first.

Do you use a smaller length zoom at all?
I'm probably the wrong guy to ask about zoom lenses. At present, I don't have a zoom lens at all. Just came to the final realization that I am not a zoom user, so I sold my Pentax 17-70 and Pentax 55-300 zooms last month; both really nice and very capable lenses and, in the scheme of zoom things, are reasonably compact and light, but they just slept in their cases in the closet while I used fixed focal lengths on both of my bodies (I have other Pentax lenses besides the little limiteds; they are reserved for the Kr). Also had the kit 18-55 original and series II, 50-200 and 16-45 (wow was that one sharp; I gave that one to my son who takes ridiculously wonderful pictures with it). Have been in the Pentax world for about 6 years now and have been totally smitten with the compact as well as full size Limiteds. All such nice size and so portable. I am looking at that DA* 16-50mm though............you know, once you start buying lenses, it never ends.
11-28-2011, 09:09 PM   #11
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If you are still considering option C, you might also consider the Tamron 24-135 f3.5-5.6. I don't think quality-wise it's too far behind the Pentax 18-135. It isn't as wide, it is bigger/heavier, but it is much cheaper!
11-29-2011, 11:23 AM   #12
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i guess the real issue is you simply don't have enough shooting yet over the wide end to know what you would want/need.

what I would suggest is perhaps building a general kit with a few good zooms, and go for primes later to fit the niches you find in your shooting.

You could accomplish this with 3 lenses, something in the 10-20 / 12-24mm range, something in the 18-55 /20-70 / 28-75 range and a longer zoom, until you hit some limits.

I guess what suprises me is you feel the range of the 18-55 is not good for travel, what is missing, long or wide?

for me, looking at what you have, if you don't mind MF , and like the 28-75 and can live with the A 70-210, then go for an ultra wide, and fill out your range, then start looking at replacements (AF zooms perhaps, and or primes) to replace the two MF zooms.
11-29-2011, 12:23 PM   #13
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ObTopic -- Strategy:

I actually do have lens-buying strategies, not just aimless accumulation of whatever I see and can afford (although there is a bit of that). I won't recommend specific lenses here, just lay out some thought processes.

Start with the basics. Ask yourself, What do I want to do that I can't do with what I have? Or paraphrased: Where do you want to go, what will get you there, and how much will satisfaction cost? The answers may be useful.

Then there's the incremental process. Build a kit in several stages:

1) Coverage. My 10-17 FE, 10-24 UWA, 18-250, and 170-500 zooms certainly cover a huge range.
2) Speed. I have fast glass at crucial focal lengths: 16/2.8, 24/2, 28/2, 35/2, 50/1.2, 85/2, 135/2.5.
3) Special work. Various fisheye and macro and shift lenses achieve results that other lenses can't.
4) Character. Old slow lenses, presets, multi-iris-blade beasts, projection lenses, render differently.
5) Mania. Yeah, accumulate weird stuff just because it's fun and cheap and bizarre and demented.

Then there's kit-building of specialized mini-kits. I'm currently assembling an ultralight kit of tiny lenses (about 100g each) to stick into a cargo pocket or belt pouch. Right now I have eensy-weensy 100/4.5, 75/3.5, 50/2.8, and 35/11 shift (which I want to replace with a tiny 28 when I can find and afford one) lenses, with the 75 and 50 being macro-capable. It's a kit I needn't agonize over because it's always at hand.

Yet another strategy is... none at all. Use only the 18-55 kit.lens or a quality replacement like a 17-50 or something in the vicinity -- AND NOTHING ELSE. Or be even more minimal. Shoot only with one 28 or 31 or 35 or 43 or 50 or whatever. Nothing brings out creativity like severe constraints. A single prime forces you to see, think, move.

I hope I've provoked some doubts here. Cheers!

Last edited by RioRico; 11-29-2011 at 02:10 PM.
11-29-2011, 01:01 PM   #14
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once upon a time, i did a poll on lens kit design. It might be worth digging that up again.

I started out by suggesting looking at a range of 10-200mm with some plan for 400mm if you want to shoot wild life, and suggested that as much of this range as possible from about 20mm-200mm be F2.8 zooms.

Considering the improved High ISO capabilities of cameras these days, you can cut some weight, size and cost by going for F4 lenses if you want, but the same idea still holds, I think.

For general shooting, go for 3-4 zooms that give you adequate coverage over 10-12mm up to 400mm, then add primes (usually fast primes) for the creative needs.

My own kit reflects this.

Sigma 10-20 F4-5.6
Tamron 28-75 F2.8
Sigma 70-200F2.8 Plus sigma 1.4x and 2x TCs

I can fill in the gap between 20 and 28mm if I need to, with my FA-J 18-35 F4-5.6 but that usually stays home.

Add to the 3 good AF zooms lenses above, I have a ton, litterally of MF lenses, including an 8mm fisheye, 14mmF2,8 and 85mmF1.4 all from samyang, and K mount MF lenses from 24-135mm all faster than F2.8. (24, 28, &35mm F2 50mmF1.4 and 135F2.5) plus macro.

I have similar but slightly slwer at some focal lengths in M42, because they have a dfifferent look.

But the point is, start with some good zooms and then move forward. As i said in a previous post, your current line up is limited at the ultra wide end, it may not hurt to start there, especially if you like the MF lenses you have for the moment
11-29-2011, 02:05 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
i guess the real issue is you simply don't have enough shooting yet over the wide end to know what you would want/need.

what I would suggest is perhaps building a general kit with a few good zooms, and go for primes later to fit the niches you find in your shooting.
That's actually what I'm trying to do.

QuoteOriginally posted by lowell:
You could accomplish this with 3 lenses, something in the 10-20 / 12-24mm range, something in the 18-55 /20-70 / 28-75 range and a longer zoom, until you hit some limits.

I guess what suprises me is you feel the range of the 18-55 is not good for travel, what is missing, long or wide?

for me, looking at what you have, if you don't mind MF , and like the 28-75 and can live with the A 70-210, then go for an ultra wide, and fill out your range, then start looking at replacements (AF zooms perhaps, and or primes) to replace the two MF zooms.
The 18-55 - it depends on where you travel to. It's fine on the wide end for me so far, not so much on the long. I do enough outdoorsy/adventure type trips that WR is important to me, and as a single travel lens, or paired with a single prime, it just doesn't work for me for running out the door with a single lens, nor for some travel I do. Thus the intent for the 18-135 is really to fit that particular pair of niches as "good enough," with or without a single prime like the fast 50 for lower light, and the rest is really more specialized for when it will be more convenient to carry a more full kit along with me, or for specific intents - the 28-75 for portraits and some landscape(the 18-135 will of course be used for landscapes as well as the 50 on occasion, maybe another shorter prime later, 60-250 or similar really for some portraits and "everything else."

Surprisingly to me at least, I think the 18-135 is probably coming out as my top priority here - WR, and enough range to cover most things, even if not constant aperature or great for low light. When I'm taking shots outdoors, I find that sure, I like relatively wide for some shots, but also like to zoom in closer to specific elements in the shot, and was surprised at how much more I liked the 70-210 over the 18-55 for portrait use (from full body to waist up or head only), mostly being outside. Similarly, it's nice to have a wide angle for a scenic shot of the beach, mountains, but I'm always wishing for a bit more length to frame for example, the boat and water-skiier in the same scene. Based on the lengths I've found myself shooting most, if someone made a decent 35-175 or similar, I probably could be happy 90% of the time with a single lens. Were the DA* 50-135 a bit longer (50-175-ish), and I trusted in it's SDM, it could almost be a one lens for most, for me...as it is, the 60-250 would cover that pretty well and then some, which is where I keep winding up with the combo I mentioned above:
18-135 for everyday 'one lens'/travel lens + a prime, 'good enough' and WR
60-250 for multi-lens outings, covering a pretty wide range of uses for me, from portrait to animals, some nature, etc.
28-75 is probably coming in 3rd for me. I can get decent DOF from the longer length lenses for outdoor portraits at wide open or nearly, but then for indoor natural light shots, have the fast 50 or the MF Tokina 28-70. I don't mind the MF lenses much at all, however, my wife isn't a fan, and while the Tamron/Quantaray 70-300 isn't too bad, it's not the DG/coated version, and can have some fairly bad CA..

I'm not sure if the above helps or hurts with recommendations, really?
I'm going to think on this a bit more, trying to avoid too much LBA vs $ here, but it seems unlikely that given a good copy, that I'd be regretting the 18-135WR to replace the kit 18-55, knowing it's not a "perfect" lens, but still an improvement in quality as well as convenience factor, and then perhaps spend some more time thinking on the others.

Thanks for the thoughts and advice...it's giving me more time thinking about it, which isn't a bad thing.
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