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03-18-2012, 08:55 PM   #1
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Will K5 fix my low-light problems, or do I need fast glass?

After 14 days of research I'm still at a loss...

95% of my shooting is done while travelling (i.e. landscapes, city streets and architecture, inside monuments/museums/churces/etc).
I currently have the K7 and the bulk of my photos is shot with the DA17-70/F4 (backed up with DA55-300 and 18-55WR when it gets rough).

I have two problems with my lens line-up:
1. Low light. I often find that I have to stop shooting because tripod is unpractical/not present and I run into too high ISO problems.
2. I cannot back up further, i.e. I need a wider lens.

I have just ordered a K5 (K7 is going to the wife) and can spend (appr) an additional USD1500 on lenses.
My first choice was the DA*16-50/F2.8. This will give a fraction wider angle and a fair bit better low-light performance.
I am a bit worried about IQ and quality control issues though. (Actually I still cannot decide if this lens will actually give better IQ over my DA17-70, seeing that its a fair bit more expensive).
B&H sells the DA*16-50 for USD800 at the moment leaving another USD700.

The problem now lies with the second lens. Do I go with the DA14/F2.8 (sorts out the wider angle and low-light) or do I go for the 12-24/F.4?
The 12-24 will be the ideal zoom range for what I need but there will be no improvement for low-light. Which forms my next question: Will the K5 make up for some of my current low-light problems with the 17-70/F4?

Alternatively, I just keep the DA17-70/F.4 (and hope for better ISO performance from the K5) and spend the dollars on a really fast prime thats a bit more narrow. FA*24/F2 or FA31/F1.8Ltd.

I know I'm re-hashing the "fantasy travel lens" question here, but any thoughts (especially on K7 vs K5 low light performance) will be greatly appreciated.
I dont mind carrying up to 3/4 lenses while travelling though, so I just need a good combination here.
Also, I guess I can wait till I have the K5 and shoot with DA17-70 to see what the low-light difference from the K7 is.

Regards
CX

03-18-2012, 09:10 PM   #2
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For IQ I always use the rule, if you can possibly do it with glass, don't do it electronically. That goes for faster lenses instead of higher ISO and zooming in instead of cropping.

The DA* 16-50 is an excellent choice for both quality and speed and it goes from nicely wide to what I would call "city zoom", big difference in useability between F2.8 and F4, remember unless you are specifically going for shallow depth of field or some bizarre artistic effect, wide open aperture is not where you want to normally operate a lens. If you need wider angle step over to sigma and look at this little toy Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM Lens Reviews - Sigma Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database its as fast as you really get with that wide an angle and I hear mostly all good things about it.

EDIT: cheaper alternative to the DA*16-50, no WR though https://www.pentaxforums.com/userreviews/sigma-17-50mm-f2-8-ex-dc-os-hsm-no-stabilizer.html

Last edited by PPPPPP42; 03-18-2012 at 09:15 PM.
03-18-2012, 09:11 PM   #3
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Congratulations!

I'd hold off on the lenses until you've had a chance to try the K5 with your current lenses and its better ISO performance. I know it won't help with the wider perspective you want but you'll be in a better position to make an informed decision about all the lenses you may want after you've played with the low light performance of the K5 for a couple of days.

Be careful in your UWA selection. While there are good copies of the Sigma out there they are fewer and further between than with either the Pentax or the Tamron from all accounts. Again, I'd just wait for the K5 and try it out in low light with various ISOs before you make any decisions on the lens front.

Good luck.
03-18-2012, 09:29 PM   #4
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I don't think 16 is wide enough for the architecture shots you mentioned. I agree with getting the 12-24. I also like the Samyang 8mm/3.5 fish-eye. It doesn't have as many applications but it's an amazing lens for what it does. I think you should always have some sort of fast prime though. Pick up a cheap Auto-Aperture manual focus 50/1.4 or 1.7 to take advantage of that big aperture when needed at less than $100. I also like the shots I've seen from the 30/1.4 lens, but some say it's no good for landscapes because it is optimized for center sharpness and softer corners, I've seen some really dreamy shots from it though. The DA21 is great for street photography, and I'm considering trading my Samyang 14/2.8 for the DA15 even though it's wider/faster/sharper. The DA15 shots I've seen have amazing character and it's so small.

03-18-2012, 10:08 PM   #5
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Rather than repeat my answers to your "fantasy lens" question, I'll raise a couple points.

* As mentioned, wider lenses can be handheld with a slower shutter. For sharp photos I use the 1/FL rule with SR on, or 1/FL*5 with SR off. For 'acceptable' images I'll use 5/FL with SR on, or 1/FL with SR off. So my CZJ Tessar 50/2.8 (12 iris blades) might need a 1/50 shutter while my Zenitar 16/2.8 could use 1/15 second. And my Tamron 10-24 @10mm? Ooh la la!

* If you need low-light capability without pumping ISO to noisy levels (and your K7 is no better than my K20D) then forget zooms. Use fast primes. I prowled local museums and shops yesterday with just my Vivitar-Kiron 24/2 (with iris stuck wide open). I get good subject isolation with close shots, and thick-enough DOF at distance for 'scapes. (With prefocus at 15m / 50ft, the DOF is 7.5m / 25ft to infinity.) I add a CPL to shoot out in bright desert sunlight. My other inside lenses are 28/2, 50/1.4, and 85/2, and of course the Zenitar 16/2.8.

* When all else fails, pump-up the ISO and do some noise reduction in PP. Or buy a K5.
03-18-2012, 10:38 PM   #6
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Shooting rehearsals & performances with K5's, I start at ISO 3200 and can go to 12,800 with a little post processing. My 12-24 is used a lot, wide open at f4. Once you start shooting with it, you won't go back. I upgraded from K20's or that reason. With the K20's, after 1600, it was iffy. It would make a great travel lens. I also use mine a lot covering events for a local online publication.
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03-19-2012, 04:24 AM   #7
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The DA17-70/4 is a good lens, but I think you'll see the DA*16-50 is an improvement, as I did.

Like most wide to short telephoto zooms, it's weaker at the wide end. I personally use the DA15 and DA10-17FE here. But something like the DA12-24 or Tamron 10-24 might be good for you as well.

Here are some nice Tamron examples:

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Notice that most of the nicer shots are stopped down quite a bit. You can also see DA12-24 shots there. I personally prefer what I've seen from the DA12-24, but I like my DA15 even better. I think the DA15 has good performance near wide-open, which most zooms (especially wide-angle) seem to struggle with.


The DA10-17FE is nice because you can vary it from minimal distortion at the 17mm end (which is already wider than the DA15 - equivalent to ~12mm) to an interesting but very controllable FishEye effect as you go wider. The images also have nice color - almost up to the standard of the DA15 and FA43.

Last edited by DSims; 03-19-2012 at 04:35 AM.
03-19-2012, 10:59 AM   #8
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Well....you could gather a mob with pitchforks and torches to demand Tokina make a 11-16mm f/2.8 for Pentax mount. Only in an ideal world i guess.

03-19-2012, 02:10 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Reportage Quote
demand Tokina make a 11-16mm f/2.8 for Pentax mount. Only in an ideal world i guess.
I agree that this would be the better solution, if they made it.
03-19-2012, 02:24 PM   #10
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While I agree that you should wait until you've had some experience with the K-5, I suggest you have a look at the Sigma 10-20 Club here, in any event, or at least while you're waiting for the K-5.

While the 14/2.8 is a very good lens and the 15/4 slightly better (I have both - the extra stop of the 14 helps out at least in the viewfinder, but the 15 wins overall on IQ, but not by as big a margin as some would have you believe, in my opinion) the 10-20 is so good and so versatile that it really should be on your list (either version - I have the f3.5). I was seriously thinking about the 12-24 until a friend allowed me to trial his 10-20 - after that, it was a simple decision.
03-19-2012, 02:38 PM   #11
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I think you will see a huge improvement in quality moving upto the K5.
The 17-70 is better opticaly than the 17-50 F2.8 so I would stick with that.
The 12-24 pentax or Tokina are superb and I think best in class. Ive certainly not seen better.
What you need more than anything and would give you more value and better pics than any of these things is a bloody good tripod !
03-20-2012, 12:02 AM   #12
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Original Poster
Wow, I forgot how handy this forum can be!!!
Thanks everyone for your comments, it really helps.

So, I guess I am slowly coming around to the fact that I will probably need 3 lenses for the K5:

1. Wide angle zoom (Choice between DA12-24/F4 and Sigma 10-20/F4-5.6)
2. Medium zoom (Choice between DA17-70/F4 and DA*16-50/F2.8)
3. Fast prime (Choice between a gazillion lenses, probably in the 21mm to 35mm range)

I will probably shoot with the K5 and my current DA17-70 first and see how that goes before deciding.
Also, to keep cost down I might get a MF prime first and see what it's like - I haven't shot with a MF lens before, so a bit apprehensive...

Thanks again for all the comments and ideas!
CX
03-20-2012, 02:01 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by westmill Quote
I think you will see a huge improvement in quality moving upto the K5.
The 17-70 is better opticaly than the 17-50 F2.8 so I would stick with that.
The 12-24 pentax or Tokina are superb and I think best in class. Ive certainly not seen better.
What you need more than anything and would give you more value and better pics than any of these things is a bloody good tripod !
is the 17-70 actually better optically (at f4) than the 17-50 2.8?

i wouldve thought otherwise from the samples ive seen with the 17-50, seems to be an outstanding lens
03-20-2012, 02:07 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by CX15 Quote
I will probably need 3 lenses for the K5:

1. Wide angle zoom (Choice between DA12-24/F4 and Sigma 10-20/F4-5.6)
2. Medium zoom (Choice between DA17-70/F4 and DA*16-50/F2.8)
3. Fast prime (Choice between a gazillion lenses, probably in the 21mm to 35mm range)

I will probably shoot with the K5 and my current DA17-70 first and see how that goes before deciding.
Three lenses is a start, heh heh. My original 3 were DA10-17, DA18-250, and FA50/1.4. The 10-17 is now mostly replaced by the Tamron 10-24. I suggest you think of the Tamron for your UWA, as its warranty is better than Pentax and its QC is better than Sigma. I won't express an opinion on medium zooms because I don't use'em -- my DA18-250 gives more than enough range. And a set of MF fast primes like 24/2, 28/2, 35/2, 50/1.4 won't be killer expensive.

Coverage: It's good to be able to cover 10-500mm with 3 lenses, or 10-100mm with 2 lenses, etc. But coverage isn't sufficient. It's good to have fast|agile lenses at critical focal lengths. That's why I have f/2s at 24-28-35-58-85mm, and the F35-70, and various Fifties, and other specialty lenses. And it's good to have lenses with special character, especially cheap ones. 'Coverage' lenses just don't have speed nor character.

QuoteQuote:
Also, to keep cost down I might get a MF prime first and see what it's like - I haven't shot with a MF lens before, so a bit apprehensive...
MF ain't no big thang. AF is only about a generation old -- MF is traditional. [I won't rant about lazy kids who don't know how to focus.] MF is especially easy now with Focus Confirmation and CIF. My delaminating eyeballs depend on such focus aids. Many good old MF primes can still be bought for the price of one new AF prime. My minimalist ultralight minikit (Enna 35 and 100 f/4.5, CZJ Tessar 50/2.8, all easily adapted to PK mount) weighs 300g total and cost under US$30 shipped. Bargains still abound. Perseverance is all you need.
03-20-2012, 03:46 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by chickenandavocado Quote
is the 17-70 actually better optically (at f4) than the 17-50 2.8?

i wouldve thought otherwise from the samples ive seen with the 17-50, seems to be an outstanding lens
At F2.8 the sharpness in the centre is excelent but the edges barely reach good levels and the corners are even worse. Stopped down to F4 there is only slight improvement. The 17-70 at F4 the central quality is
excelent throughout the range but not as high as the
17-50 but the borders reach very good levels even wide open at F4 on the 17-70. For overall image quality the F4 Kills the 17-50.

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