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03-26-2013, 03:14 PM   #1
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Buying a K-30, and overwhelmed with lens choices. Need help narrowing list down!

I'm planning on buying a Pentax K-30 soon.

To give you some context, I currently own an Olympus E-500 and have 3 lenses: 14-45mm, 40-150mm and a 50mm prime macro. Keep in mind that the crop factor on Olympus is 2.0

One of the problems with the 4/3 system is there are few affordable lenses.

On the other hand, one of the nice things about the 4/3 system is that there are few affordable lenses. When there are so few choices, you don't think too much about which lenses to buy.

Now that I'm buying a Pentax K-30, I'd like to somewhat cover the range and quality of the Olympus lenses I currently have (with comparable price). There are just too many lenses to pick from (including third party lenses). I need help narrowing the list down so that I can look at the reviews in detail and pick the lenses.

At the moment I'm not even clear about whether to get a kit lens vs body only, and if I do then which one?

Some constraints:

  1. I'd like to cover at least the same range as what I have in Olympus in terms of 35mm equivalents - so at least 28mm-300mm (19mm-200mm in terms of the Pentax crop factor).
  2. I probably used my 14-45mm (19mm-60mm in Pentax terms) much more than the other one, so a bit more weight at that range.
  3. The range is a guideline. Going beyond wouldn't hurt as long as the quality is good and I can afford it!
  4. The 50mm (66.7mm in terms of Pentax) Olympus macro prime f/2.0 is a fantastic lens. I really wonder if I can find a comparable lens in the Pentax ecosystem for a comparable price. It has awesome bokeh as well. More generally, I want 1) a good macro lens 2) That has at least an f/2.0 aperture. I'm actually not married to the focal length. An option is also to get two prime lenses if I can afford it. My desire to get both a wide and a macro is that for macro shots you often don't have much light (especially at higher focal lengths). However note that I'm coming from a camera with an unbelievably crappy high ISO performance, so if you think I'm overcompensating, let me know!
  5. No idea about whether I should care for WR? Obviously more expensive, so that's a limiting factor.
  6. Any thoughts on which kit lens?
  7. Unrelated to all of this, any suggestions for cheap legacy lenses? By cheap I mean $100 or below. I'll consider more expensive (up to $300) legacy lens only if they're REALLY good (and perhaps in lieu of the lenses I mentioned above).
  8. Wish I had a clear idea for the budget. Say roughly $400-500 for something that's as good as my Olympus 50mm prime macro. And at most another $300-500 for the rest of the range (closer to $300 but I'm willing to go up to $500 if it really does seem to be a fantastic lens). So a total of $800-1000 regardless of how it is partitioned among various lenses.
Thanks! I'm about to browse a few other threads now, so apologies if this is answered a lot. I just wanted to get my thoughts down ASAP. Feel free to point me to other threads if they address any of the above.

And keep in mind: The goal is to narrow my list down so that I can do a detailed look at each lens you suggest. I don't want to read the reviews of more than 10-15 lenses!

03-26-2013, 03:48 PM   #2
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The obvious way to start is to get the dual kit lenses: 18-55mm and 55-300mm. Both are well considered for entry lenses and their prices are decent.

Beyond, Pentax has a collection of superb prime lenses: e.g., the FA Limited's, the DA Limited's, the DA*'s. You cannot ignore these, but it may wait until you have more funds

There are also some excellent Pentax zoom lenses. The DA* series is very well regarded. Sigma and Tamron have also some great choices.

I encourage you to visit the In-depth review section of PF:

You may also visit Photozone:

Hope that the comment may help.
03-26-2013, 03:58 PM   #3
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I was recently in a similar boat. I did a lot of reading and finally decided to get the K-30 with the DA 18-135mm WR package. I got it from Adorama bundled with the AA battery adapter, extended warranty, bag and SD card for right around $1000. Granted, WR was important to me so it only made sense to get a decent WR lense. Plus, the range of the 18-135 makes it a pretty good intro walk around lens. From there I have also purchased a 35mm f/2.4. I actually bought this lens before the camera when it was on sale. It is another good intro prime lens that is fun to play and learn with. Finally I picked up a DA 55-300mm from a silly 30% off sale so that was a no brainer. For now, I am set with this setup until I truly find the need for something else. All together I paid under $1400 I think. If you absolutely don't want WR at all then as mentioned above, the 18-55 and 55-300 kit is good and you can find it in WR I believe.
03-26-2013, 04:13 PM   #4
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Get a DA18-135WR, DA 55-300 for your kit and range covering options; DFA100WR Macro for Marco, and perhaps a FA35/2 or Sigma 30/1.4 for your "wide" which are really "normals".

03-26-2013, 04:45 PM   #5
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Remember that with the K-30 you can use any old K-mount lens. If you are happy with manual focus then eBay is full of old 50mm M's or A's at very reasonable prices. Pentax-A 50mm f1.7 is a good bet or one of the ubiquitous 28mm f2.8 (Vivitar etc.).
03-26-2013, 04:45 PM   #6

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It depend so much on your photography. Subjects? Technique? Taste in images?
03-26-2013, 04:51 PM   #7
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I think, the trick here would be to start out slow, get the focal lengths that you use the most or are familiar with.

There are many many good quality second hand optics to found out there and if you don't mind manual focus, even more.

Have a quick look at lens review section here on the forum, it covers both Pentax and third party lenses.

You can feed your LBA over time she will wait for you.
03-26-2013, 04:54 PM   #8
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18-55mm WR is a decent affordable lens that will handle a lot of situations with ease.

03-26-2013, 08:01 PM   #9
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Really, you have to prioritize size, weather resistance, zoom vs prime, and budget. For me, I started out with the kit 18-55 and 50-200. I got an old A50 f2 for $35 just to see what primes are like, and I realized that I like primes, and have come to not like zooms at all. I have acquired the 15Ltd, 40 Ltd, Sigma 30, a Helios 44-2 (58mm), a Takumar 55 f2, and I feel like I'm just getting started. I still use my 50-200 for zoom, which for me isn't very often. If you really want zooms, there are many to choose from, again balancing price/size/WR, range.

Probably best for you to just get a second job and buy them all...

One thing I will say, is I like my Helios and the Takumar much more than the A50/2 (and I really do like the 50/2!). They were only slightly more expensive (<$50), and really much much sharper, and have a more pleasing rendering. The only downside is that they are M42 lenses, so an adapter is needed. Most will recommend the genuine Pentax adapter, which is expensive-ish. What I did was get the super cheap fotodiox adapter, removed the locking mechanism (1 screw) and used loctite to make them into permanent k mount lenses. Also, the fotodiox adapter has light leaks in the big square holes, I just used epoxy to fill them in, filed to fit. May be a poor choice if you're not handy with tools.

I would advise getting a cheapish 50 just to see if you like primes, if you do, get a DA40 Ltd as a gateway into DA limiteds. It really is a beautiful lens, and the rest of the limiteds are at least as good or better. It's easy to discount them out of hand as an expensive luxury and stick with the relatively cheaper option of a nice zoom, but you only live once; better to live with a limited on the end of your camera, you won't regret it. If you buy a used one, and don't like it, you can always sell it for basically what you paid for it, so it's not money really spent, think of it more like a savings account.
03-26-2013, 08:07 PM   #10

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There is a thriving marketplace here for lenses. Buy one, try it out, if you don't like it, sell it. You will find out quickly what you really like shooting with.
03-26-2013, 08:27 PM   #11

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QuoteOriginally posted by Beetle B. Quote
I'm planning on buying a Pentax K-30 soon.
At the moment I'm not even clear about whether to get a kit lens vs body only, and if I do then which one?
The K-30 with 18-55 kit lens is often cheaper than the body alone.

So unless you end up wanting the 18-135 or 55-300,
and can get it cheaper bundled with the K-30,
just get the body with the throwaway kit lens.

I bought two K-x cameras like this a couple of years ago,
and then got primes and a Tamron 17-50/2.8,
which is quite a good "standard" zoom,
at least in the unstabilized Pentax version.
03-26-2013, 08:39 PM   #12
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I'll also throw a spanner in teh works here and suggest (if you can find one) the Sigma 20-40mm 2.8 Yes, its a bit heavy - but since the day I got it it has barely left my camera. Easily my favourite lens bar none.
They're not overly expensive AND gives you much more versatility than a prime.
03-27-2013, 12:01 AM   #13
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buy the body - skip the consumer zoom lenses, you'll just end up selling them later

get some old primes 28 35 50 135
03-27-2013, 12:06 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by derekkite Quote
There is a thriving marketplace here for lenses. Buy one, try it out, if you don't like it, sell it. You will find out quickly what you really like shooting with.

A solid yet cheap starter pack would be the DA 18-135 and the DA 35 2.4. You've got wide, normal, and tele to explore what type of photography you might like, and you've got a prime to play with a fixed focal length and relatively fast aperture. Both of these lenses pop up frequently on the forum, and as long as you don't trash them, they can be re-sold for pretty much the same as you bought them.

Have fun!
03-27-2013, 01:02 AM   #15
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I bought a Pentax K-30 last month with a 18-55 WR kit lens, then went on to buy a 40mm f/2.8 XS and 18-135 WR lenses.

I got used to the easy life of using a Sony RX-100 with its phenomenal low light performance in near darkness, crazy fast auto focus and high contrast Zeiss lens. I realized I'll have to buy Zeiss lenses (to get that high contrast look), which are few and won't get much use since they're big and heavy. Since I already have the RX-100, I opted not to.

My introspection has led me to the conclusion I prefer small sized quality lenses and will most likely go for a Pentax 15 or a 21 lens (still deciding). So essentially it'll be three lens kit, four if you count the kit as well. Eventually covering a wide (prime), normal prime and a WR zoom (7.5x).

This was just my thought process.

Last edited by incidentflux; 03-27-2013 at 10:05 AM.

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