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12-29-2011, 06:50 PM   #1
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I can feel the urge...

So, after having my DSLR for just a few short days, I can already feel the urge of LBA. I definitely can understand how everyone here wants to buy lenses all the time!

With that said, I was looking for some advice on a few different lenses and what I should look into getting. It probably wont be for a few months at least, but it never hurts to start looking, right? I don't know if I should get any primes or stick with zooms for now, but I'm looking for a few lenses that will give me a well rounded kit for walk-arounds, portraiture (family photos, engagement pictures, friends, etc.), macro and landscapes. Landscape and macro could probably be optional. I honestly don't have any clue what kind of budget I should be looking at for a set up, but I'm not looking for anything that is a professional quality lens that will be really putting a dent into my pocket. Would $1,000 be a realistic budget to get 3-4 pretty solid lenses? I'm not opposed to buying used, so could that possibly drop the price a bit as well?

*EDIT* Forgot to include my current kit: K-r body, 18-55mm & 55-300mm kit lenses


Last edited by jbuck92; 12-29-2011 at 07:11 PM.
12-29-2011, 06:59 PM   #2
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If you are are not opposed to using manual focus then yes that is a realistic budget. For auto-focus, it could be done but it would be harder to get good primes.

There are budget lenses and premium lenses so you need to decide what image quality is acceptable to you. No point in getting a great buy on a cheap lens if you are not happy with it.

There are a lot of threads on this forum asking essentially the same question (what should I get for my lens kit?) And everyone will give you an opinion but only you can decide what is most important.

What lenses do you have currently? That would help to know for any suggestions.
12-29-2011, 07:08 PM   #3
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Duh, sorry forgot to post my lenses currently (need to add that to my signature).

I have the K-r body, with the 18-55mm and 55-300mm lenses. I'm not opposed to using manual focus. I actually use it quite a bit right now. I'd like a decent image quality. I won't be doing any professional photography for a while. Anything I shoot will be for my own personal use and maybe (that's a big maybe) photo shoots for friends. I don't know enough about lenses to be able to tell what the differences are. If I get several different suggestions on lenses I'll go look at them in particular and pictures taken with that specific lens and try to make a decision based on that. At the moment, however, it's just too overwhelming to look at the lenses on my own and see a million different lenses, each with different focal lengths and zooms, and then some AF and some manual, etc.
12-29-2011, 07:09 PM   #4
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It all depends on your style - some (like me) swear by zooms for the flexibility, others prefer primes for the optical quality. I have done most of my walk-around shooting with standard zooms - the Sigma17-70 and Tamron 28-75 are two that spring to mind. You can pick those up used for a bit over $300 apiece. if you're prepared to do manual focus, there are still some relative bargains out there. I have an A50 f1.4($80) and an A 35-105 ($130) that I am rather partial to. You might also want to comsider some of the newer 17-50 lenses (the Pentax 16-50 would blow your budget).

If you're like most of us, you will buy and sell lenses as your tastes or budget changes.

Mike

12-29-2011, 07:14 PM   #5
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I'm sure I will be buying and selling lenses as my needs/budget changes over the years. Or maybe I'll become a lens hoarder and just have 50 different lens and not know what to do with them all! I haven't shot with a prime lens at all, but I wouldn't be opposed to having 1. I don't think I would want an entirely prime lens set up, as I also like the flexibility of zoom lenses. I've heard the Tamron 28-75 mentioned a lot on these boards. What brand are the A50/1.4 and A35-105? Pentax I'm assuming? And like I had said, I'm definitely not opposed to manual focus lenses.
12-29-2011, 07:37 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbuck92 Quote
What brand are the A50/1.4 and A35-105? Pentax I'm assuming? And like I had said, I'm definitely not opposed to manual focus lenses.
The A50/1.4 (link) and A35-105/3.5 (link) referred to above are both manual focus Pentax lenses. I've owned them both in the past and they're both outstanding lenses, especially for the money.
12-29-2011, 07:41 PM   #7
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jbuck -- great to see you diving in with such enthusiasm. As jatrax says, your opinion is the one that counts here. But of course that won't stop the rest of us from deluging you with opinions.

From our exchange on the critique forum and from the goals you list here, I think you'll want at least one fast prime in the mix. You were already after thin DOF effects for closeup work, and in portraiture you're likely to want to get even faster, as in f/2 or better. (Faster because with portraiture you won't want such a close subject distance as you had with the ornament shot, because this would give a distorted perspective, huge nose etc., and with a longer subject distance the DOF is thicker.) 50mm is quite a versatile focal length for general portraiture on your K-r, and fast 50mm lenses are plentiful. Indeed, you'll see the phrase "fast 50" quite a lot around here. So I'd say a fast 50 is an obvious choice.

You can't go wrong with any of the Pentax 50mm f/1.4 or f/1.7 variants. I think the f/1.4 is the better choice because it's faster, and also because the bokeh tends to be smoother (the 1.4s have 8 aperture blades vs. 6 for the 1.7s). There are plenty of third-party makes too. A Pentax-M 50/1.4 will usually sell for $80-$150 depending on condition and seller; that's the cheapest of the Pentax 50/1.4s. Manual focus and "green button" metering in manual mode. (See https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-beginners-corner-q/110658-using-ma...x-dslrs-f.html and https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-beginners-corner-q/60081-usage-green-button.html.) Add another $20-$30 to get the A-series version; this gets you aperture control from the camera and use of all exposure modes. The F- and FA-series versions will run $250-$350 (the FA is still in production so can be purchased new or used) and give you autofocus. I love my M 50/1.4 but it does take just a little more time and care to use well, and the extra couple of seconds can mean missing some opportunities.

Use the kit lenses and after you've taken a few hundred shots take note of what focal lengths you use most. This will give you a better idea of whether or not you need new gear. For example if you find yourself shooting at 18mm frequently, maybe you'll want something wider. Or if you shoot around 30mm a lot, maybe a prime in that range (what we call the "normal" focal length for a camera with an APS-C sensor).

When you see references to "A50/1.4" and so on, that means Pentax K-mount lenses. The first article linked above should give more info. Full name of that lens is "SMC Pentax-A 1:1.4 50mm".
12-29-2011, 08:20 PM   #8
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Bought my K-x 8-9 months ago and have gone through a number of lenses since. I say dive in head first, surf evil bay, the marketplace, shopgoodwill, etc, just don't spend any serious money for awhile until you figure out what you like and you get a handle on what is a deal and what isn't. Just don't forget to take some pictures from time to time!

12-29-2011, 10:17 PM   #9
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Awesome, thanks for all the input! I'll definitely look into a "fast 50" lens then, as portraits are definitely something I'd like a lens for. What would y'all recommend for a good walk-around lens? I'd probably want a zoom lens for walk-arounds, at least then I have a bit more flexibility with shots in case I can't always zoom with my feet.

I don't think I've taken enough pictures yet with my camera (even if i am up to about a 400 shutter count) to know what kind of focal lengths I use the most, but I'll keep an eye out for it!
12-30-2011, 12:17 AM   #10
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After looking around a bit and reading different lens reviews, what do you think about a Takumar 50/1.4 instead of the pentax FA 50/1.4? It's the "ancestor" to the FA50/1.4 but is also 1/4 of the price, which at this point in my life would be a much more affordable lens, and from what I've seen the IQ is amazing as well.
12-30-2011, 01:56 AM   #11
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If you are not opposed to used lenses there are AF bargains to be had that can let you stay within your budget.
May I suggest the following:
For starters I would keep your 55-300 and buy a hood for it if you didn't already.
Replace your 18-55 with a Tamron 17-50 2.8 or 28-75 2.8 for around $350 used.
Get low light capabilities with a Pentax FA50 1.4 for under $300 used.
Add a used Tamron 90mm macro for the remaining $350 and you are set with a good group of glass that will keep your LBA in check for a little while.
12-30-2011, 03:32 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbuck92 Quote
So, after having my DSLR for just a few short days, I can already feel the urge of LBA
Merry Christmas! AND LMAO! :-)

QuoteOriginally posted by jbuck92 Quote
I don't know if I should get any primes or stick with zooms for now, but I'm looking for a few lenses that will give me a well rounded kit for walk-arounds, portraiture (family photos, engagement pictures, friends, etc.),
You have a 'well rounded kit' for all that you have mentioned... What you're really after (at a guess) are 'new toys' and 'better IQ'... Keep what you have for now and make some 'additions' in the form of some primes (both AF & manual)

QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
If you are are not opposed to using manual focus then yes that is a realistic budget
Agreed... A grand is a nice bump...

My suggestions for you would be... (like I said... keep the Kit-lens for now)
DA35-2.4 as an AF walkaround prime... Fun...
Pentax-A 50mm 1.7 ... Manual fast fifty... Good for portraiture and lowlight...
Get a decent flashgun (metz) and some triggers (cactusV5)...
A reversal-ring for macro...

You should have enough change for petrol/motel money to visit a few places and get a load of cool shots...
12-30-2011, 05:57 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbuck92 Quote
After looking around a bit and reading different lens reviews, what do you think about a Takumar 50/1.4 instead of the pentax FA 50/1.4? It's the "ancestor" to the FA50/1.4 but is also 1/4 of the price, which at this point in my life would be a much more affordable lens, and from what I've seen the IQ is amazing as well.
The Takumars are M42 screwmount. You'd need an adapter, $25 or so. See https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-lens-articles/110657-how-use-meter...k-x-k-7-a.html. Price-wise this should be a wash vs. the M 50 1.4, for which you wouldn't need the adapter. If you shop carefully you should be able to come up with an M 50/1.4 in good condition for around $100. In fact, KEH.com currently has one in "BGN" condition (as in bargain) for $99. KEH is conservative with their condition ratings and many forum members report that BGN lenses from KEH are about equivalent to what eBay sellers call "like new" or "minty". At any rate, they have an easy return policy. I just ordered my first KEH BGN so I'll know more about it in a week or so.

Walk-around lens? The 18-55 is great for that. It's a very good performer, far superior to many kit lenses from competing brands.
12-30-2011, 08:08 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
If you are not opposed to used lenses there are AF bargains to be had that can let you stay within your budget.
May I suggest the following:
For starters I would keep your 55-300 and buy a hood for it if you didn't already.
Replace your 18-55 with a Tamron 17-50 2.8 or 28-75 2.8 for around $350 used.
Get low light capabilities with a Pentax FA50 1.4 for under $300 used.
Add a used Tamron 90mm macro for the remaining $350 and you are set with a good group of glass that will keep your LBA in check for a little while.
this was going to be my recommendation.

FA50/1.4 - great general purpose portrait prime
Tamron 28-75 - great general purpose portrait zoom
Pentax M50/4 or M100/4 Macro - 75-150USD
Accessories - these can add up. tripod, filters, flashes, remote, sensor cleaner, camera bag, etc...

And then decide what you wish you could do but can't and save up for it. DA15 or DA21 are excellent wide primes. Or if you like zooms you could get the Sigma 10-20, Tamron 10-24 or Pentax 12-24.

Of course there is a nearly unlimited selection of MF lenses to pick from. An M85f2 is on my list of future acquisitions for about $225-250. As is the K28f2 but it is rare and expensive.
12-30-2011, 08:53 AM   #15
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Since you aren't opposed to buying manual lenses, I would recommend buying a variety of primes. I would focus on a range of focal lengths such as 24mm, 50mm, 85mm, 135mm, etc. You could also pick up a single AF lens for general use in the cheap but awesome 35mm f2.4 at around $170 US. The sky is the limit on MF primes, so check ebay and check the offerings there against the lens review database here.

If you have no idea on what focal lengths to get, you can go off of people's suggestions. Advice that I received from the forums last year that was immensely helpful for me was this: intentionally set your zoom lens to a specific focal length and leave it there for a while. Don't zoom your lens to suit the scene, but actually try to compose your image without zooming. I was able to figure from this that I like the 21-24, 40-45, 70, and 135mm focal lengths. I'm now in the process of acquiring primes in those lengths, though I am going strictly with AF lenses.
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