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11-18-2012, 08:11 PM   #1
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Can't decide on the optimal walk around lens

Hey there, thanks in advance for taking the time to read my post!

I'm heading overseas in about 3-4 weeks and I'm looking at getting a new walk-around lens for general/street photography that can handle low light (I don't plan using any flash).
I currently have a Pentax K-5 with a Pentax 18-135mm f3.6-5.4 (which will extra lens).

At first I was looking into the 'fast fifties' as they have good low light capabilities, however I was worried that they would not be wide enough if I want to capture a building or scene.

So the 30-35mm range seemed more appropriate (Wish I could afford the 31mm f1.8).

Here are the lenses that I have in mind currently, I've looked into reviews on this forum for these lenses, and however I'm finding it hard to make a choice/narrow down:

Pentax DA 50mm 1.8
Pentax FA 50mm 1.4

Pentax DA 35mm 2.4
Pentax FA 35mm 2.0
Sigma 30mm 1.4

Any other suggestions welcome, budget <$450


11-18-2012, 10:03 PM   #2
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I travel overseas relatively regularly and my travel kit is:
K-7 + DA18-250mm + Voigtlander Nokton 58 mm f1.4

The DA18-250mm is the perfect all-around lens for me. The DA18-135mm is another option, with less reach but WR. You already hav the DA18-135mm and it will be your workhorse.

The main weakness of the all-around lenses is the low light. Even with the K-5. (I have a K-01 and the DA18-250mm + K-01 in low light is not great.) Hence I supplement my DA18-250mm by a fast prime. In my case, I have the VL58mm f1.4. The VL is MF, it has a great IQ, it works very nicely in difficult lights (smogg, fogg, ....) and the lens is built like a tank. MF is a great asset in very low light IMHO and I do no see MF as any form of hinderance. The VL58mm is a small lens (like most Pentax fast 50s) and it fits nicely in your jacket pocket.

I have other lenses, but the combo [DA18-250mm + VL58mm f1.4] is my prime selection for any overseas trip.

I hope that the advice will help.
11-18-2012, 10:06 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I recently sold my DA 35mm 2.4 for a Sigma 30mm 1.4, and can honestly say that the DA 35mm will be more than sufficient for low light. In fact, I quite miss the DA 35 for its closer focus ability. Oh and it also focuses much quicker and more accurately than the Sigma.

Other than that, the Sigma is a treat with its f1.4. Sorry I can't help with the other options, but I'd personally get the DA 35mm and save some money for other things!
11-18-2012, 10:09 PM   #4
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If I could only take one lens, it would be a superzoom or a 35mm (on a crop sensor). You've got the superzoom, so I'd go with a 35. The DA 35 is a very good lens, and actually a little faster than f/2.4. I don't think you can beat it for the price. With your budget, you could almost afford the DA 35/2.4 and a used 50/1.4.

11-18-2012, 10:51 PM   #5
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You won't fit much of a building in with a 35mm, let alone 50mm if the buildings are in urban settings.

Use your 18-135 to find out the focal length you're after, then consider which lens to buy.

The word 'building' alone makes me think of a 90 degree field of view so something around the 12-16mm range- such as DA14mm?? Maximum low 20mms.
Also, don't forget wider means more hand holdable, so a 14mm f/2.8 is actually a fast lens!
11-19-2012, 12:33 AM   #6

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For street photography, I suggest the SMC-DA 21mm f/3.2 AL Limited.

It's compact, fast-focusing, and wide enough for most situations.

At F/3.2, it's relatively slow, but I would just crank up the ISO and deal with noise in post processing. 21mm allows you to use low shutter speed and has great DOF. You can just "snap" focus.

The Pentax SMC-DA 15mm f/4 AL ED Limited is great too. But to me, it's too wide.
11-19-2012, 12:36 AM   #7
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What are you after with respect for low light?

Are you looking for something that can take pictures of whatever you want outside and then head into a bar or someones house and still take pictures without changing your lens? (IE you can leave your hotel/whatever with that lens and be happy?)
11-19-2012, 12:39 AM   #8
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I can highly recommend the Sigma 28/1.8 EX as a very versatile walk about lens. It has very good close focusing abilities and is a so-called "normal lens" on APS-C. Very sharp, and full-frame capable...

11-19-2012, 12:45 AM   #9
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Original Poster
Thank you for the great replies so far everyone,

I'm now leaning towards the Pentax DA 35mm 2.4 and also potentially getting a manual focus 50mm (Something like Pentax-A/M 50mm 1.4/1.7) as this will fit my budget and not take up much weight.

QuoteOriginally posted by Codazzle Quote
What are you after with respect for low light?

Are you looking for something that can take pictures of whatever you want outside and then head into a bar or someones house and still take pictures without changing your lens? (IE you can leave your hotel/whatever with that lens and be happy?)

Correct, that's my aim.
11-19-2012, 01:22 AM   #10
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What about a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8?
That would cover both buildings and indoor use whilst still being the smallest of the fast zooms - you may opt to leave the 18-135 behind...

I second SOldBear's idea for the 21 limited - always regret not buying it after I borrowed one. I found it was pretty much point and shoot with that lens and you always have the option to use the built in flash. Don't be put off by the aperture - it's good wide open. Also, very close focusing, which increases your creative options. 15mm limited can be too wide for general walk around, it does seem to take some effort to compose with that lens to avoid including too much in shot - but like the 21mm, it does let you get in very close.

My FA50 1.4 is my least used lens... I find it an awkward focal length, plus hard to focus in low light... just saying.
11-19-2012, 01:57 AM   #11
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Walk-around lenses?

Agree with the Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 XR Di-II LD Aspherical [IF] (gasp, what a name!) as a viable low-budget option. You save on the mechanical side here - performance- and IQ-wise it should be an excellent lens from what I read in reviews and comments.

If you dig a little deeper in your pocket and have been considering primes anyway, how about the
DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited or the DA 35 F2.8 Macro Limited? Only the DA 21 is marginally slower than F2.8, and both are unobtrusive premium-quality lenses. The Macro Limited is easily as good as its plastic-mount DA cousin (which otherwise isn't a bad lens either) and more flexible with its close-focussing capabilities. I own a Macro Limited myself and am very pleased with the IQ even wide open.

And if you're into that kind of thing, you might be able to pick up a good-as-new copy of one of the Limiteds in the Marketplace or on eBay?

Ultimately it depends on your personal choice, since any of the above options will be some sort of compromise (except in IQ) ...

Last edited by Madaboutpix; 11-19-2012 at 03:49 AM. Reason: Additional remark, language
11-19-2012, 02:27 AM   #12
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I recommend you take a look at the lens reviews section.
I only have experience with one of the listed lenses, the Pentax DA 35mm f2.4. I think this lens is great if you get close enough to your subjects and you aren't shooting in dark conditions. To me its not a great lens for faraway subjects. I don't think you even need a very wide angle for a walk around lens. You will only need it for getting larger scenes, but your 18-135 can take care of that. You should get a lens that fills in what the zoom doesn't have, which is low light capabilities and prime IQ. The 35mm is great for near subjects, but I would suggest you might prefer a faster 50mm so you can snap subjects that are slightly further away from you or in poor light (night, in-doors). Oh, and there are also two 40mm primes (ltd and XS), which are f2.8, but very sharp and compact (don't take space in your bag)

Edit: With your budget, you can get a used Pentax-F 50mm f1.7 and a Samyang 14mm. If you have the space to carry all of that gear, that (plus the 18-135) would be a great setup. Low light, sharpness/quality, ultra wide angle, and a zoom to cover anything in between and tele.

Last edited by Na Horuk; 11-19-2012 at 02:36 AM.
11-19-2012, 02:43 AM   #13
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If weight and space is a factor when travelling, then you could even consider the DA 40mm f2.8 XS, but I reckon the DA 35mm 2.4 would be more than capable for your purpose.
11-19-2012, 03:26 AM   #14
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Most cameras without an interchangeable lens have a ~24mm or 35mm on APS-C, or perhaps 35mm on a FF sensor. So I think you want to be in this range if you only have one lens. The DA35/2.4 and A24/2.8 are both good lenses. You could afford both. The FA28 is actually what I use when I don't want to carry the FA31.

Don't bother with the FA35/2. I had it, and it was good, but I never used it wider than f/2.5 because it would lose IQ. So the DA version at f/2.4 is almost a perfect design, since you can get great IQ throughout the aperture range.

I'd say what you should really get is the DA35/2.4 and an FA77. The FA77 is truly amazing - even more so when you realize how small it is. Its speed, wide-open IQ, and size are such an advantage that it's quite versatile despite its fixed focal length. But since the FA77 is out of your budget, perhaps you could substitute the Samyang 85/1.4 instead. I think there's at least one for sale here on the Marketplace right now. But I think you'll also be very happy with the A50/1.7 - I still like mine.

Also, I haven't tried the Tamron 17-50/2.8 or 28-75/2.8, but I have the DA*16-50/2.8 (and I had the DA17-70/4) and it's pretty versatile. So you might want to consider one of those Tamrons. But I generally go with primes.

Last edited by DSims; 11-19-2012 at 03:50 AM.
11-19-2012, 03:46 AM   #15
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I'm gonna throw in a curve ball and suggest the Pentax 16-45 F4 - smaller and lighter than a Tamron 17-50 and a tad wider too. You need to do more shooting if you want to shoot a prime but its easier to walk closer than step back often hence why a 24mm on crop is often banded about as a good walkaround (equiv to a 35mm on film) I have a FA31 and love it although sometimes not quite wide enough.

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