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06-08-2012, 08:46 AM   #1
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Pentax 17-70 vs. Tamron 28-75 vs. Flash

So I have about $500 to spend on a new piece of kit and am trying to decide the best way to spend it. Currently I have a k-x, Sigma 50 mm f1.4, and DA 21 mm, and a 18-55 kit lens that is never used. I mostly use it for family and travel photography, nothing serious just a DWAC. I have narrowed the choices down to either getting a standard zoom to sate my wife's disdain for primes (either Pentax 17-70 f4 or Tamron 28-75 f2.8) or a flash to fill out that piece of the photography puzzle (either pentax AF 540FGZ or metz 58).

The 21 I mostly use when shooting pictures and video indoors in smaller rooms or if I go out solo since it is more compact, it is a better focal length because my subject often decides to run at me if I get far enough away to compose a nice shot with the 50 mm, and I don't have to worry about it banging into something if I have to chase after a kiddo. I use the 50 mm most of the rest of the time because it is faster and equal or superior in IQ to the 21 in most situations. My plan was to get a flash this year and get either a FA 77 or Sigma 85 mm prime next year, but I hesitate to go through with that plan because it seems like there is a lot of ambivalence around the 540 that it is over priced, outdated, and has a few shortcomings with build quality. I was really hoping that they would have released a successor by now.

I am of the mindset to keep waiting 1 more year for a new flash which is why I am considering the zoom lens. With the zoom lens I was looking at these two and am leaning towards the Tamron because I like the results I have with the FF lens on an APS-C sensor (sharper across the whole frame and virtually no vignetting) with the Sigma as well as the peace of mind that if Pentax released a FF camera sometime in the next 5 years I could upgrade to that without buying new lenses.

The thought crossed my mind to sell or trade the 21 mm for one of those zoom lenses (to make my wife happy) and get the flash too, but that thought got all the way across my mind and the 21 isn't going anywhere .

I get some advice to people more experienced and skilled than myself if I am being too picky/optimistic in waiting for a new flash because the 540 is great or if I should just go for the metz and be happy. Otherwise, what are your thoughts on these two lenses.

06-08-2012, 08:53 AM   #2
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Lens would be useful for more situation then the flash, which lens to get is an other question.
06-08-2012, 08:59 AM   #3
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28-75mm is an awesome lens, one of the best zoom and solid performer. Till I sold it recently, it remained on my camera most of the time (even more than my FA77)

Check #6 post in this thread, all except 3 were shot with 28-75mm

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/186696-black-white-gorge...ml#post1959036
06-08-2012, 09:05 AM   #4
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mikemike, if you don't use your kit lens, it looks like you don't need the wide end below 21mm.
So of the two lenses, the Tammy would seem to be the one to go for.

06-08-2012, 09:09 AM   #5
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you can always consider buying used here..save you money.
06-08-2012, 09:19 AM   #6
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If it is anything like the Tamron 17-50, which I have, it is worth noting that the Tamron (theoretically) only supports centre-weighted average AE metering, not full matrix metering, as a Pentax lens would on a Pentax body. Hence my Tammy meters less reliably than my kit lens, with a notable tendency to under-expose.

Another related interesting question may be: which lens (Pentax 17-70, Tammy 28-75) works best with flash on Pentax? All of the Pentax PTTL flash features are more likely to work with a Pentax lens than a third-party one, I think.
06-08-2012, 10:18 AM   #7
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I like the Tamron 17-50 very much. If you need the reach, though, either the DA17-70 or Tamron 28-75 are good zooms. I use flash very little, but that's my style.
06-08-2012, 10:32 AM   #8
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@mikemike - if you decide on the 28~75 let me know, I have a brand new one listed for trade here at PF...

06-08-2012, 10:32 AM   #9
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I love my 28-75 and use it a ton. I use it with my Sigma 530 Super flash a lot too and the combo is good. The Sigma flash was about $160 IIRC when the newer model was coming out and so worth it. The controls took some getting used to on that flash but the results are good! You may be able to get a used 28-75 and a Sigma flash (be sure to get one with Super in the name for P-TTL) for your $500 if you can find the right deals.

06-08-2012, 10:38 AM   #10
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You could always save money by going all-manual with the flash. On digital it is not a problem to adjust your camera settings manually to get the exposure right; and with flash you can actually predict the exposure pretty well based on distance to subject, or size of room if you are bouncing off the ceiling. When bouncing the flash exposure doesn't vary much shot to shot.

One of the old Pentax units like the AF280T or AF400FTZ, which are commonly available for peanuts, would be OK. They only fire on full or low power (low power is useful for triggering a slave flash or two). Or you could go with a variable-power flash like the Yongnuos or Minolta AF4000s (bought two last week for less than 25!)

Last edited by ihasa; 06-08-2012 at 10:46 AM.
06-08-2012, 11:19 AM   #11
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So long as you don't mind using it, a flash will take care of any available light problems that you may have. I can't say anything about the AF540 FGZ, but I recently bought the 360 for just south of a ton ($160 or thereabouts) which I thought was perfectly reasonable. I have absolutely no issues with it: set exposure dial to manual, set whatever aperture I like and let the flash take care of the exposure; adjust shutter speed for ambient light and flash exposure compensation to taste. The 540 has an advantage of having a swivelling head (for portrait orientation). Get something like an Omnibounce to go with it, since I'm guessing that you're not interested in carrying around a light stand, strobist-style. As an aside, the Pentax flashes may be old, but they're by no means obsolete.

I have no experience of the high end Metz flashes, but I wasn't impressed with a low end one. I also have a powerful manual flash, but I'd say that this is better for shooting under controlled conditions, since you typically have to fire off a couple of test shots to get the output right. Another thing about having a P-TTL flash is that you can do rear curtain sync if you want; you can't do this with a manual flash.

Something to note about the Tamron 28-75mm, which may or may not matter to you, is that it has a 77mm filter thread. That is a big front element and above my personal comfort zone for actually pointing at someone. Nothing shouts I AM TAKING A PHOTOGRAPH like a honking big lens dangling off the front.

Having just taken delivery of a DOA Pentax 17-70mm, I'm not inclined to go there again. I really liked the Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4.0 (wish I hadn't sold it now). It's a little on the large side (72mm thread) which again may or may not matter to you.
06-08-2012, 11:21 AM   #12
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Such a choice

I do volunteer work at a local live theatre, plays. I used my Tamy 28-75f2.8 a lot for that. But several times, the lower end just wasn't wide enough, so i'd have to shift out to my DA21, PITA.

Then within the last 6 months, i bought the Pentax 17-70 f4. It occasionally comes up on the market place or is close to your budget new. Since then, i haven't use the Tamy once for the plays, but still keep it for really low light work. I recommend it to you because i think your wife will be delighted with it. And the constant f4 is a delight. If you're going this way to a 17-70, also check out the new Sigma 17-70, with variable aperture, but a max f4. It also has a macro feature. The Tamy 28-75 is a little sharper at the 70 end of things, but for sheer usability, can't beat a 17-70 lens, IMO. The Pentax 17-70 has no creep, nor does the Tamy 28-75.

Good luck with your search.
06-08-2012, 11:31 AM   #13
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by lytrytyr Quote
mikemike, if you don't use your kit lens, it looks like you don't need the wide end below 21mm.
So of the two lenses, the Tammy would seem to be the one to go for.
Thats right, I haven't used the kit lens once since I got the da 21.

QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
Lens would be useful for more situation then the flash, which lens to get is an other question.
The flash would be useful all winter and also at a few of the places we go quite often during the summer when it is oppressively hot outside namely the aquarium, insectarium, and children's museum. I don't really like to use the flash but with kids, they just move so damn fast and it is hard to freeze in certain low light situations w/o flash.

@joe.penn thanks for the heads up but I was probably going to buy at a local (and by local I actually mean Baton Rouge erff...) shop which specializes in pentax gear when I am up there for some business later this month. I like to support local businesses even if it means spending a few extra bucks. Although with Pentax's new pricing policy that difference isn't as big as it used to be.

So I haven't seen anyone sing the praises of the DA 17-70 over the Tamron other than the superior metering functionality.
06-08-2012, 12:51 PM   #14
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With $500, why don't you consider to buy Sigma 17-70mm HSM f/2.8-4.0 and a 360 flash? Look it up on ebay for 47th photo, you may by a Sigma 17-70mm for $375 by doing "best offer."
06-08-2012, 01:05 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote
The flash would be useful all winter and also at a few of the places we go quite often during the summer when it is oppressively hot outside namely the aquarium, insectarium, and children's museum. I don't really like to use the flash but with kids, they just move so damn fast and it is hard to freeze in certain low light situations w/o flash.
I'm probably just spoiled with the K5, but even with the K10D i hardly used a flash but often relies on fast lenses like the DA40 and DFA100, now i've the DA*16-50 and DA*50-135

I like the idea of Hiep sigma 17-70 but i would go for the Metz 50 good value for money.
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