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01-03-2013, 08:28 PM   #1
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New to forum: Question about lenses

I always loved my K1000s, but I've gone strictly digital. Very happy with my K-30... I am ready to buy some lenses. The 18-55mm kit lens works great for me, but I want more mm. So is it better to go with a Pentax 50-200 DA or an equivalent Sigma or Tamron lens. Are there older lenses that might be better than DA? Any favorites out there? I am not looking for a super zoom. I would prefer getting up to 300mm (55, 75, 100mm at the other end). I definitely want to keep it around $100 for now. thanks.

01-03-2013, 10:32 PM - 1 Like   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gone Dig Quote
I always loved my K1000s, but I've gone strictly digital. Very happy with my K-30... I am ready to buy some lenses. The 18-55mm kit lens works great for me, but I want more mm. So is it better to go with a Pentax 50-200 DA or an equivalent Sigma or Tamron lens. Are there older lenses that might be better than DA? Any favorites out there? I am not looking for a super zoom. I would prefer getting up to 300mm (55, 75, 100mm at the other end). I definitely want to keep it around $100 for now. thanks.
Generally DA lenses or Sigma/Tamron lenses are the way to go. You can take a look at the Pentax lens database (Pentax Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database) or third-party lens database (Pentax Lenses by Sigma, Tamron, Zeiss, and more - Reviews and Specification Database - Pentax Lens Review Database) to see our member favorites.

If you want better IQ, the Tamron 17-50mm or Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 are affordable upgrades over the kit lens, and they're generally better than the Pentax 16-50mm except for the weather sealing. Be sure to read our comparative review, located here:
DA* 16-50mm vs. Sigma and Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 Comparison - Introduction - PentaxForums.com

Another favorite if you want reach is the DA 55-300mm, which goes along great with both the kit lens and the 17-50mm's.

I'm not sure how familiar you are with the different Pentax lens series, but in case you need any clarification, this article does a fairly good job of explaining the differences between DA, FA, A, etc.:
Pentax K-Mount Lenses Explained: The differences between various Pentax lens series

And welcome to the forum, BTW!

Adam
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01-03-2013, 10:42 PM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gone Dig Quote
I definitely want to keep it around $100 for now. thanks.
$100 will not get you far, but the Marketplace here sells used items, and an older manual lens may be found.

The 50-200 is not that great optically. The 55-300 is much better than that and the Sigma/Tamron 70-300's from my experience.
01-03-2013, 10:43 PM   #4
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Thanks.

01-03-2013, 11:41 PM - 1 Like   #5
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The 55-300mm is a great lens but you're not going to get it for $100. I'm not sure that there's any way to do 300mm for $100. Perhaps some old, beat up manual lens... but most applications that require 300mm also 'require' autofocus.
01-04-2013, 12:58 AM - 1 Like   #6
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+1 for 55-300mm if you need the reach.

If you are after shallow DOF for portrait, then 50-135 f2.8 is what you will need.

Unfortunately you will need to pay a lot more than 100.00.

All the best.
01-04-2013, 01:05 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gone Dig Quote
The 18-55mm kit lens works great for me, but I want more mm. Are there older lenses that might be better than DA? Any favorites out there? I would prefer getting up to 300mm (55, 75, 100mm at the other end). I definitely want to keep it around $100 for now. thanks.
For $100, I would recommend the M100/2.8.
Superb quality, good enough for a "digital zoom"
(crop) to 200mm for smaller prints and web use.
01-04-2013, 07:40 AM   #8
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Thanks for the tips, folks. This is useful. While the reviews from this and other sites provide useful information, sometimes the information can be conflicting and/or confusing (for instance, how can a WR lens have better IQ than a non-WR lens with all the same specs?). Some sites definitely favor certain brands. Therefore, I do appreciate personal input. I most likely will spend more than $100, but I didn't want to end up with a dream list $3000 lenses. I also have seen the DA 50-200mm and older Sigma 70-300 and 75-300 used in the $100 range. I guess a more pointed question is how much IQ (primary concern) would I sacrifice getting a used Sigma 70-300 rather than a new DA 55-300. I also was curious about vintage lenses that I find on this site, and I am curious about compatibility with my K-30. I read somewhere that I could not use an adapter with this camera. Is this true?

Maybe if I specify my specific uses....

I'm a painter: I use photography to document my work and to make photo references. IQ is highly important.
I'm a shooter: In gathering photo references (old buildings, some landscapes, and such) I found that I enjoyed documentary photography, and some of my images are pretty good (and jpegs are a lot lighter to carry than paintings).
I like birds (LOL): On a recent camping trip. There were some opportunities to snap shots of some cool birds (among other wildlife). Could have had some great shots if I had more mm. When I mentioned getting one o the affordable DA 50-200 lenses used, a photographer friend of mine suggested that I should go for at least 300mm.
People intrigue me, but I much prefer candid shots over standard setup portraiture.

Folks on this site, generally speaking, seem to prefer prime lenses. I will definitely invest in a good prime lens (probably 35mm) for documenting my artwork. For now, though, cruising around old towns in the south documenting changes and infrastructure, zooms give me a lot of versatility on the fly.

01-04-2013, 08:31 AM - 1 Like   #9
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Weather sealing has no impact on IQ but it is a bonus point, especially as you own a K30!

The DA55-300mm (or the slightly cheaper DAL55-300mm variant) is probably worth stretching to, it's definitely one of the best zooms in it's price class.
01-04-2013, 08:45 AM   #10
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$100 might get you a used Sigma 70-300 or equiv. Tamron. KEH had a couple listed for $69 recently. Buy them new for around $200.
01-04-2013, 09:16 AM - 1 Like   #11
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I used the Sigma 70-300 and kit combo for years before I felt the need to upgrade. They are available used for $100 or less. One advantage to the Sigma is the 1:2 macro, which is actually often useful long after you upgrade to better glass. It's also an excellent lens from 70 to 150, although it gets a little weak in the long end, but all that type of lens does. At 90mm it's images are only a little less in IQ than the best available.

With the kit and the 70-300, there isn't much you can't cover. I've taken mine in twice to trade in and haven't been able to let go of it. And in some situations, it's still my lens of choice. Those situations would be
1. Good light (it's doesn't open very wide, 6.3 @ 300 for example)
2. Subject not to far away over 150mm. An image at a distance will not be captured accurately. (It will look like someone ran it through a Photoshop Watercolour filter.)

But for close ups , and from 70mm to 150mm it's a great lens. You're not going to do better for $100. I've seen them on kijiji for $70. The below image was shot at 150mm and F 5.6, both settings really play to the lens' strength.

01-05-2013, 11:56 AM   #12
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Most reviews I read suggest that at the upper end 200-300, most of these lenses get soft, blurry, distorted, and crappy. If the ideal range of one of these lenses is 70-150, would it not be a better idea to get a smaller range zoom, 70-200, 50-150ish, 100-300 ? Or, are all tele zooms under $1000 going to kind of lose it at the extremes?

One other question, reading through the reviews on this site, is safe to assume that Pentax is better at making wide angle lenses?
01-05-2013, 01:09 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gone Dig Quote
Most reviews I read suggest that at the upper end 200-300, most of these lenses get soft, blurry, distorted, and crappy. If the ideal range of one of these lenses is 70-150, would it not be a better idea to get a smaller range zoom, 70-200, 50-150ish, 100-300 ? Or, are all tele zooms under $1000 going to kind of lose it at the extremes?

One other question, reading through the reviews on this site, is safe to assume that Pentax is better at making wide angle lenses?
My experience with the Sigma 70-300 is that it gets soft at the long end but stopping down helps a lot. It's a fine lens for the money and will serve you well. 'Superzooms' are always a compromise, especially budget ones. The only other lens I can think of would be a DA-L 50-200 and I don't think you will gain much in IQ from what I have seen.
01-05-2013, 01:41 PM - 1 Like   #14
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The 55-300 performs remarkably well at the long end and amazing value for money in terms of IQ. I have won awards with results from this lens.
01-05-2013, 04:52 PM   #15
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I replaced the Sigma APO 70-300 for Pentax DA 55-300 ED because Pentax is incomparably better than 200mm
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