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12-15-2011, 03:32 AM   #1
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A faster, yet affordable lens

So I'm looking at getting a slightly faster lens now that my daughter has been born.
I've got a Pentax KM, using the stock 18-55mm lens that comes with it. I believe the lowest f-stop on it is 3.5.

I'd like something with a slightly lower f-stop so that I could up the shutter speed in the sometimes lower light of home without needing to shine lights on her, or use a flash, even at ISO 400
i'm also not really looking to drop a huge amount of money on it either.

Should I go with an old manual lens? I've noticed a few third party pentax mount lenses for sale here in Korea, $50-70 vs a couple of digital era ones I've looked at which are over $200-$300.

Are there any lower priced digital era lenses that people are aware of? I'm okay with a prime lens as well, say a fixed 55mm lens or something with a lower f-stop.

12-15-2011, 04:03 AM   #2
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If you want faster than about f2.8 you're going to be pretty much looking at primes anyway.

If f2.8 is alright, consider a Tamron 17-50/2.8 as a much better replacement for that kit lens.

If you're not used to manual focus, you may find learning it a frustrating experience, especially with a stock focus screen. You may want to limit your search to autofocus lenses.
12-15-2011, 04:10 AM   #3
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If your ok with manual focus you should look into a fast 50.Either the f1.4 or f1.7 versions. The k and m versions you'll have to manually meter. If you get an A version you can control F stops on camera body. A good brand new auto focus prime that will probably work better indoors as far as focal length would be the DA35 f2.4. It is also the cheapest Pentax prime at about $170 here in the states.
12-15-2011, 04:22 AM   #4
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It's worth having a 1.4/1.7 prime anyway,even if they are manual focus. There's a lot you just can't do with only f/5.6 at 55mm. They're great lenses, and the 1.7 versions are amazingly cheap for what you get. Learning to manual focus isn't as hard as some say it is, but it does take some getting used to.

12-15-2011, 04:28 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mareket Quote
It's worth having a 1.4/1.7 prime anyway,even if they are manual focus. There's a lot you just can't do with only f/5.6 at 55mm. They're great lenses, and the 1.7 versions are amazingly cheap for what you get. Learning to manual focus isn't as hard as some say it is, but it does take some getting used to.

I used a k1000 for years and I switch it over to manual sometimes when I'm doing stuff with my zoom in sports, sometimes it doesn't auto correctly, not really a concern. For $50, I suppose it's not a huge risk to try the manual lens. I would like an auto just for simplicity's sake. Not to mention you sometimes have to be fast with kids..
12-15-2011, 04:37 AM   #6
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$50 - $70 lenses will typically be very manual indeed without even automatic aperture control and they will not be well suited to modern bodies. Old, fast, manual primes may be a pain to focus as well. Depending on your budget your best bets would be something along the lines of these:
  • $180: Pentax DA 35mm, F2.4
  • $200: Pentax F 50mm, F1.7 (this is an old 50mm prime but with autofocus; add another $100 or so for F1.4)
  • $300: Tamron 17-50mm, F2.8 or 28-75mm, F2.8 (depending on whether you want wider or longer)
  • $450: Sigma 30mm, F1.4
The F2.4 may not seem staggering but it is fully two stops brighter than the kits lens at 35mm. This means, for example, that you can reduce blur by selecting a shutter speed four times as fast or increase image quality by using one quarter the ISO number.

Don't reject flash right out of hand. The $180 would buy you a Metz AF36 flash, a P-TTL cord (to take the flash off the top of your camera) and a diffuser (to make the light gentler). This will take care of all your available light problems: dial in F5.6, 1/180s and ISO 100 and let the flash make it work.

Last edited by top-quark; 12-15-2011 at 06:27 AM. Reason: speling!
12-15-2011, 04:42 AM   #7
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QuoteQuote:
Don't reject flash right out of hand. The $180 would by you a Metz AF36 flash, a P-TTL cord (to take the flash off the top of your camera) and a diffuser (to make the light gentler). This will take care of all your available light problems: dial in F5.6, 1/180s and ISO 100 and let the flash make it work.
I'd rather not be frequently firing a flash in a newborn's face...
12-15-2011, 04:48 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by crossmr Quote
I'd rather not be frequently firing a flash in a newborn's face...
Firing a flash straight at anybody's face is a good way to get some craptastic photos.

That's probably why he suggested getting the flash off the camera.

12-15-2011, 05:02 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
Firing a flash straight at anybody's face is a good way to get some craptastic photos.

That's probably why he suggested getting the flash off the camera.
it still needs to be pointed in their general direction.

Either way, it's not the solution that works best here.
12-15-2011, 05:33 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by top-quark Quote
$50 - $70 lenses will typically be very manual indeed without even automatic aperture control and they will not be well suited to modern bodies. Old, fast, manual primes may be a pain to focus as well.
Can't really disagree and yet I just love using the old fast manual primes. But if you're concerned about getting quick shots and a high keeper rate you will likely be better served by an F, FA, or DA series lens. The DA* 55 would be a great choice but is a lot more expensive than your indicated budget. If you're lucky you might be able to get an F or FA 50/1.7 for around $200, but these seem to have been fetching a little more than that lately.

On the other hand, with patience and practice you can learn to get excellent results with manual focus, even with large apertures. The M50/1.7 is optically excellent and you should be able to find one for around $50; I think it's one of the best values out there. The K55/1.8 is another good inexpensive choice, a little harder to find and typically a bit more expensive. Because you want this for low light shooting, with the K and M series lenses you have the option of setting the aperture wide open and then using Av mode for automatic metering. Or the in-between choice is an A50/1.7, for automatic metering at all apertures, but still manual focus. Probably cost you around $100.
12-15-2011, 05:38 AM   #11
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It's not good to use flash on newborns.

I'd bite the bullet and get a fast 50 AND the Tamron 17-50 2.8.
12-15-2011, 06:16 AM   #12
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For about 225$ you can score a Pentax F50 f1,7 lens with auto focus and auto exposure if you look around the marketplace. I've sold a few myself, when they came with other stuff. They're really not rare.

QuoteOriginally posted by Unsinkable II Quote
It's not good to use flash on newborns.
Says who? Of course I bounce my flash but my 7 months old has not turned blind yet...
12-15-2011, 06:34 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
For about 225$ you can score a Pentax F50 f1,7 lens with auto focus and auto exposure if you look around the marketplace. I've sold a few myself, when they came with other stuff. They're really not rare.



Says who? Of course I bounce my flash but my 7 months old has not turned blind yet...
Even without blinding them, I can't imagine a newborn would enjoy constantly being flashed in the face.

It's really not the solution I'm looking for here.
12-15-2011, 06:54 AM   #14
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You can still use your kit lens for the new born, but with some addition:
- a flash, as someone has stated, use it wisely, i mean: a *manual* flash with vari power.
- a set of radio transceiver to get the flash off-camera
- an umbrella, and light stand.

Use flash with 1/4 power or lower is harmless. Umbrella makes the light softer. Shot with kit lens at f5.6 still good.
You will need another lens to produce the shallow DOF - actually any lens from 2.8 and better. My personal choice is macro, to allow close focus on fingers, nails,.. new borns always facinating.
Manual focus is ok as long as you don't have to chase them. Otherwise get an AF lens for the long run.

Enjoy taking photos of children - challenging every time
12-15-2011, 07:12 AM   #15
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Flashes and umbrellas, and bouncing light, and etc are not the solution I'm looking for here. I need a fast lens to use on the go in non-posed situations.
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