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04-23-2013, 05:03 AM   #1
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First Prime Lens for Pentax K-X

Hello all!

My Pentax K-x with the 18-55 mm lens is a little over a year old and I'm ready to purchase a new lens My primary focus is getting the fine details in crisp focus with a shallow depth of field. My main subjects will be food, and small objects so I think I need a macro lens?

I am definitely a beginner so I need help in choosing a good lens that won't go over my budget ($350) and am willing to spend a little more if a lens is significantly better but not much more. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! I also did a Google search and read through the forums, but that left me more confused so that is why I'm posting here. Thanks so much for reading!!!

~Bella~

04-23-2013, 05:16 AM   #2
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Welcome Aboard. I'd suggest a DA35/2.4 (runs $150ish used) in autofocus for general use but a macro would be better for very close and high magnification photos. If you are doing static objects then Autofocus is not as necessary and there are several very good Manual Focus primes for Macro like the M100/4 and the M50/4 that will come in well under your budget - thereby leaving money for a flash/macro ring and/or a tripod+head (one of the most important items in your kit for macro).
04-23-2013, 05:32 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by bellavida Quote
with the 18-55 mm lens
Firstly welcome to the forum.

Have a quick look back at your pictures you've taken over the last year and see at what focal length between the 18 and 55 mm most of them were taken at.

Then choose a new prime in the that focal length range, you will be both familiar and comfortable with that new lens.

Remember there are many legacy lenses out there, in both auto and manual focus to choose from, enjoy.
04-23-2013, 06:30 AM   #4
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I'll second the M-50 macro. I love the rendering on this lens and it is pretty affordable.

04-23-2013, 06:55 AM   #5
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Probably over the budget but it sounds like the DA 35mm F2.8 Limited Macro would fit the bill perfectly.
Otherwise I like my Sigma 20/1.8 for its close focusing and really wide aperture. It's a quirky lens but fun to use and one of my most used ones. The wide perspective would probably look good for food. Used it may com in at about your budget.
04-23-2013, 07:03 AM   #6
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Wow, thanks so much everyone for the quick responses!

If I am mainly interested in food photography and other static objects, is there a great difference between the 1:1 or 1:2 macros and is there a budget lens similar to the Tamron 90mm (reading great things about this lens) it's out of my price range Where are some places I can get lenses for cheaper (other than Ebay)? Thanks again!
04-23-2013, 07:40 AM   #7
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As others have mentioned, maybe look at a manual focus option.
I recently purchased a Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 90mm f2.5 Macro, which is manual focus. Only had it a few days, but I really like the image quality so far...and the price is very good.
The lens is 1:2, but you can also get a matched teleconverter to take it to 1:1.
Check out the forum lens review and see what you think Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 90mm f/2.5 (52B) Lens Reviews - Tamron Adaptall Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database
Cheers
Dean
04-23-2013, 07:41 AM   #8
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Where are you from? There might be equipment fairs and flea markets nearby.

04-23-2013, 07:41 AM - 1 Like   #9
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1:1 ratio is if you want a picture of a single piece of macaroni to fill the frame. My guess is you don't want that, and probably shouldn't pay for it. The lens you have focuses kind of close, so the first question is: does the 18-55 focus close enough for what you want? If not, is it almost there, or do you want much closer? That lens has a 0.3x, or a 1:3 range. A 1:2 would be quite a bit closer, and a 1:1 is really very close.

Most prime lenses will not focus as close as the 18-55 does. The ones that do focus closer are usually Macro lenses, or at least they say "Macro" in the name. However, most prime lenses will be significantly sharper than the kit lens, and almost always they will be faster (aperture).

As for depth of field, my guess is you don't need a super big aperture. Up close, even f4 is pretty shallow.

The Pentax-A 50 macro f2.8 (manual focus) is 1:2, and around $100. Find one used and buy it. For that kind of photography, manual focus is actually more fun. If you don't like it, sell it, and then you will know better what you really want, and meanwhile you'll have $250 in the bank. There is really no way for us to know what you want, because you don't know yet. Just buy something, and keep trading/buying until you are happy.

The best place to get a good used lens for a fair price is here in the buy/sell forum. You can also post a wanted post to drum up interest in someone to sell. KEH.com is also very reliable, and both B&H and Adorama have used departments. With these options, you are getting a seller who knows what he has, what condition it really is in, and they know they can't ask a stupid price and actually sell it, because the buyers in these places know what they are doing too. So you will pay a fair price, and get a good, serviceable piece. eBay is full of ads for lenses without any meaningful description of condition. You will play roulette there for sure.
04-23-2013, 07:45 AM   #10
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"macro" just means the lens can focus very near. Your 18-55mm actually has fairly near focusing, the DA 35mm f2.4 doesn't focus as close. The 35mm ltd macro focuses much closer.
Macro tends to mean that the image that is captured by the lens is projected onto the sensor at the same size (1:1). But a lot of macro lenses are only 1:2. this isn't very bad, though, 1:1 is pretty extreme and is hard to work with. You can also buy extension tubes or bellows, which will let you use any lens as a "macro lens", but it has to be high quality. So if you have a 1:2 macro lens, you can buy an extension tube set and get it to 1:1 without a problem. Thing is, for food you probably won't need 1:1, because you won't be able to get a whole plate into the frame. You would get.. just one strawberry. Well, unless you just moved further back, but its pointless to pay for near focus when you probably won't need it. Food photography also often includes things like the table, the setting, etc. So I would recommend you get a DA 40mm f2.8 XS or DA 50mm f1.8. Or an older manual 50mm macro lens. And a tripod, then use 2 sec timer.
Oh, and one more thing, a lot of zoom lenses say "macro" on them, but they rarely even get to 1:4 and its often not very good quality. Basically, you get what you pay for. The best bang for buck is definitely older lenses, like M or A series. Here is a list of all Pentax macro lenses:
macro Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
The database also usually has info on max. magnification and closest focus, for your convenience. You can find lenses in the marketplace in this forum. Other places are keh dot com and ebay. There might be some local websites, too, depending on where you live.
04-23-2013, 07:58 AM   #11
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Hi Bella, and welcome to the forums. Instead of getting a dedicated macro lens, here is what I'd suggest. First get the Pentax DA 35mm F2.4 mentioned above, it's about $220 almost everywhere. After you get the lens see if it has enough closup magnifacation for you. It's a pretty close focusing lens, less than one foot and the magnification I think is about 1:1.7 which isn't too bad. Even tho it's relatively inexpensive the lens is excellent, I've got one and it was so good that I never use my FA 35mm any more. If the magnification isn't what you need get a Raynox 150 close-up clip on lens. Most clip on lenses are poop, but the Raynox is excellent. You can certainly get very good macros with it and it's a fraction the price of a gen-u-ine macro lens. Besides it just clips onto the front of your lens, so it's on and off in a jiffy. The only problem with the DA 35mm F/2.4 and Raynox combo is that the Raynox will only fit 52mm lenses and larger and the 35mm is only 49mm. The solution is simple get, a 49-52mm step up ring (lens to filter) and you're all set. Step up rings are relatively cheap, you can get them for under $10. In addition you can use the Raynox with your 18-55 mm lens too.

NaCl(total cost will be well below your $350 budget)H2O
04-23-2013, 08:07 AM   #12
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I was going to suggest looking into the Raynox DCR-150 option as well, these sell for $70. I'm planning to pick one up sometime to use with my 55-300mm lens for things like insect shots, but for food you don't need that much magnification and using it on the 18-55mm should be plenty.

Extension tubes are even cheaper, but also more fiddly and you may lose some features if they don't pass through all the electrical contacts from your lens (the more expensive ones may, but then you're not as cheap anymore). Honestly, I haven't looked into these as much because the Raynox sounds simpler, more user-friendly, and less likely to accidentally buy the wrong thing
04-23-2013, 09:24 AM   #13
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Buy a good tripod. Then try out your 18-55 at ~35 at f/8, ISO 100 in Av.
04-23-2013, 10:53 AM   #14
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Generally, what you want to shoot calls for a somewhat longer than normal focal length, and auto focus wouldn't be necessary. I'd suggest one of the many many "nifty fifties" avalable--you could get something more than adequate for $50 or so. Budget an extra $10 or so for some extension tubes and you're good to go. And, as Giklab suggests, use a tripod for best image quality.
04-23-2013, 11:26 AM   #15
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I work for a food company and as a result, I see a lot of food pictures. The current trend is for very narrow DOF shots which would call for a fast lens of at least 50mm if you are going to do a lot of it. A manual focus lens is perfectly acceptable as you will be shooting from a tripod most likely or at least with plenty of time to fine tune your focus so you could probably snag one of the many Pentax lenses in the 50 or 55 mm focal lengths with apertures f/1.8 or more.

To be honest, I really don't like a lot of the narrow DOF shots I see on flyers our drivers are given to hand out to customers but that's what the marketing people are in love with these days. For me, I want a sharp picture that makes me want to devour a meal, not wonder what is on the other half of the plate. Most of the Pentax 50's will deliver both. You could go longer but the price goes up. Extension tubes could be used on shorter lenses to get the effect also.
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