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05-04-2013, 09:18 AM   #16
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I have a few photos with consumer zooms that I would sure like to retake with a better lens. (Admittedly these are way outnumbered by the shots I'd love to retake with more skill.)

05-04-2013, 09:28 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
(Admittedly these are way outnumbered by the shots I'd love to retake with more skill.)
I think I'd like to retake an awful lot of shots like that. What was that Ivory Soap percentage????
05-04-2013, 09:34 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by utak Quote
So please if you’re new to Pentax or thinking about a Pentax dslr, or thinking about investing in new lenses, don’t be discouraged by the $1,000 prices of some supposedly “must have” primes, or comments about the “less than prime” performance of budget zooms or budget primes. You have plenty of great, cost-effective options to choose from.
Couldn't agree more. Excellent post +1. Some of my best, most interesting (and sometimes sharpest images) have been taken with zooms like the Tamron 28-75/2.8 and DA 55-300. I like primes for their compactness, their "discipline", and shallow DOF, but modern zooms like the Tamron 17-50, 28-75 and 70-200 can more than hold their own in the IQ/resolution stakes against much more expensive lenses.

Last edited by Gray; 05-04-2013 at 09:42 AM.
05-04-2013, 09:42 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by psychdoc Quote
To the OP. Many of your points are valid. It looks like you spend some time and effort to write this. I think you should be credited for that. However, there is an element of poking a sleeping bear in it. So dont be surprised if you get some snarky comments.
Many thanks for the warning! It did cross my mind that I could be heading for needless trouble, and nearly deleted the post, but thought what the hell, this is the advice I'd liked to have got a few years ago.

In response to other comments, maybe the OP does not quite have the right tone, because I too value my old and new primes a great deal. But it has taken me a lot of time and money finding the right ones.

I do have something else up my sleeve to encourage more snarky remarks. The OP actually came out of something I'd written for myself as I think about what to do next camera kit-wise, and what primes/zooms to buy. I noted down how I thought the current Pentax range of prime lenses would be perceived/perform vs. other options in the future, remembering that when I got the FA50mm just a few years ago it was considered by some to be one of the greatest 50mm ever made. Now its showing its age, and I should probably have seen that coming, as the Sigma 50mm 1.4 had just come out. Here's my personal view of the FA77mm Limited - do I 'invest' in it or not, or do I look/stay with other options and wait? So I could always try and write up the rest of my notes covering other prime lenses in full to really get people going!!!

FA 77mm limited
Future generations will be less kind than today’s owners about the $1,000 77mm Limited’s contradictions. Promoted as an outstanding lens but with PF flaws wide open on digital sensors. A “Limited” hand-made-in-Japan lens, but mass produced, not in Japan. Coveted by non-professionals, but increasingly priced out of their reach and not championed by most influential professionals because it’s a K-mount. I am willing to wager that at some point in the future a mint version of the rarer SMC Takumar 85mm f1.8 will be worth more than a FA77mm. Aside from historical value, the screw-mount works much better on non-Pentax camera/video bodies. But I could be wrong.


Last edited by utak; 05-04-2013 at 11:14 AM. Reason: To make more sense, before other comments
05-04-2013, 06:21 PM   #20
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To answer the OP...

No! Premium gear will not guarantee you great photos.

Yes! Great images can be made with inexpensive gear

Gear does not make photos, though the quality and capabilities of gear may limit the types of photos you can make. The other major limitations are your skill as a photographer, your artistic eye, and the availability of subjects suitable to your artistic expression.

Before spending good money on premium gear, I would suggest that all photographers evaluate their motivation. If the need for gear is driven by a REAL failing or inadequacy of existing kit, the purchase is justified. If not, it is just the desire for nice gear.

I would suggest that all users of this site check out the kit lens, no-name, and Soviet lens club threads along with the other third-party lens clubs before sinking big money into high end primes (FWIW, $500 is seriously mid-range).


Steve

(...has a 77/1.8 Limited that was a vanity purchase...and yes, the lens is that good, though I prefer my Jupiter-9 for my work. Go figure.)

(PF wide open with the 77 Limited? I keep hearing this, but have never seen it. Have you actually used this lens or are you blowing smoke? As for price, I paid under $550 USD new for my "Made in Japan" copy. Anybody paying premium money for the SMC Tak 85/1.8 will get exactly what they paid for. After all, it is the buyer that determines the value of any purchase.)

Last edited by stevebrot; 05-04-2013 at 06:35 PM.
05-04-2013, 06:42 PM   #21
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Oh...cannot pass up the chance to flaunt the value of inexpensive or vintage lenses...





Done with Tamron 70-150/3.5 (20A) mounted to the K10D, though I might point out that the lens was not particularly cheap at the time I bought it new in 1982. And yes, it was hand-held...thank you SR!


Steve


(...isn't there a rule of natural law somewhere that all threads discussing inexpensive lens options will eventually sink to the level of people posting their favorite cheap lens photos?)

Last edited by stevebrot; 05-04-2013 at 06:53 PM.
05-04-2013, 06:50 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by utak Quote
Here's my personal view of the FA77mm Limited - do I 'invest' in it or not, or do I look/stay with other options and wait?
Why the 77 Limited? Do you need AF? Do you need the compact and excellent build? Do you need the pixie dust? Seriously. What do you think the Limited will give you that a Samyang 85mm or my Tamron 70-150 (see above) or even the lowly Jupiter-9 will not?


Steve
05-04-2013, 07:15 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
(...isn't there a rule of natural law somewhere that all threads discussing inexpensive lens options will eventually sink to the level of people posting their favorite cheap lens photos?)
Almost did that, only because mine was taken at 31mm, but narrowly averted the cliche!

05-04-2013, 08:30 PM   #24
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I agree with a lot of the points in the OP, but also disagree with a few. Inexpensive gear can certainly perform, and yes, at f/8 looking at center sharpness, at normal viewing size a kit lens can match a nice prime. BUT when you look to the corners, this is where primes stand out. I know the "focus" of the photograph is most often in the center, but for things like landscape shots you often look at the entire photo, and I'm sorry but I will NEVER choose the 18mm end of my kit lens over my 15mm Ltd. There's just no comparison (Even when viewing at standard size, not pixel-peeping). I know that at normal focal lengths, the issue becomes less of an issue because kit lenses are pretty decent in the 24-40mm range. This is why I still use mine for that range, along with the fact that I can't really afford anything worth upgrading to in that zoom range.

In most cases, an image shot with a quality prime will look better than one shot with a zoom (with the same exact settings). Unless it's a really cheap prime. But that's not really what this argument is about.

Really expensive primes serve the purpose of trying to squeeze out as much sharpness, color, bokeh, etc, as possible; at a certain focal length. Zooms are designed with equal quality across the range in mind. Maximum sharpness is not THE primary concern as manufacturers are trying to make the lens usable at ALL focal lengths. Naturally, you're going to compensate some image quality for more equal performance across the board, and that's the nature of zooms, so it shouldn't be a surprise that an expensive prime will always outperform a zoom.

As for the question of "is it worth it?" That's up to the user to decide. I'd have a hard time justifying the current price for an FA31 (the most pixie-dust-inducing lens on this forum) but I'm sure someone who isn't a university student could beg to differ, i.e. a professional photographer. Price is always relative to the consumer. To me, my 15mm Ltd was worth it as it basically opened up a new world of wide-angle shooting for me. (much wider than the 18mm kit lens, insane sharpness and incredible flare resistance) To someone who rarely shoots wide angle or just doesn't like the distorted perspective, obviously it's not going to be worth it.

And then there comes the "pixie dust" of all the famous Pentax primes. Technically some of these pixie-dust effects (greater microcontrast, richer colors, etc) can all be done in post-processing. But for some people, that's no fun. But some things can't be manipulated, like bokeh.
05-04-2013, 09:59 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by NitroDC Quote
As for the question of "is it worth it?" That's up to the user to decide. I'd have a hard time justifying the current price for an FA31 (the most pixie-dust-inducing lens on this forum) but I'm sure someone who isn't a university student could beg to differ, i.e. a professional photographer. Price is always relative to the consumer. To me, my 15mm Ltd was worth it as it basically opened up a new world of wide-angle shooting for me. (much wider than the 18mm kit lens, insane sharpness and incredible flare resistance) To someone who rarely shoots wide angle or just doesn't like the distorted perspective, obviously it's not going to be worth it.
I just thought I'd throw my cents in since I've been through my own journey in this too. I started hobbying in early 2008 when a friend started showing me the stuff he was doing with his Canon Rebel. I did my online research and picked up a K100D then right before I went on a trip to China, Javier (well known member here) loaned me a Tammy 70-300 for the trip. I barely knew enough but had the time of my life shooting on that 2 week trip. Got back from that buzzing then a couple months later got an FA50/1.4 for $200. During the summer of 2008 my wife's business died when the recession hit full tilt and from then on my income alone we went through seriously tight financial times that are still really tight to this day for the most part except for some spurts of extra income that came last year and this year. After the Fa50 in 2008, I hadn't spent more than $20 on a lens and I was happy to just enjoy what I had. I suddenly came into enough money last year to get a k-5, a DA15 and a DA35/2.4 all at the same time! Hog heaven baby!

This year I got an unexpected $3,600 bonus at work and I was torn because of the practical demands I should have spent the money on, but I got permission from the wife to be ridiculous and spend $1000 of it on whatever I wanted. I debated for some time and ultimately decided on an FA31 that I spent $950 on and received in early April. It was a tough decision but here was some of my rationale for the purchase:

I do photography for fun as a hobby.
I knew from my experience shooting that around 28mm is my favorite APS-C focal length for general all around shooting, especially family oriented stuff. This factor helped me justify the expense because I wagered that no matter how well I do photography or not, my family will appreciate the images down the line. At close to the 28mm length, I knew the 31 length would be fun and therefore help me to want to keep shooting. There aren't too many AF options in this general focal length. I of course debated hard about just getting the Siggy 30 and then being able to get at least one additional lens.... The 31 eventually won when I just decided if money weren't a factor which lens would I want. I debated about the FA35 too but I already knew I wanted something wider than 35 and faster because I have the DA35/2.4 (which I really like, and my 14yo daughter uses it a lot on my K100D)
I knew from my experience looking at tons of shots online that the FA31 gave really pleasing results to my eye in all regards.
I wagered that even if I decided that it was a relative mistake, I could most likely recoup a significant portion of my investment and then try a different route.
I knew that by spending that much money on one lens, it would make me try really hard to get my money out of it.
I do photography for fun as a hobby, and I only live once. I knew that this lens wouldn't make me a better photographer but I really enjoy the process of doing photography and knew that I would enjoy the heck out of this lens.
I do hope that Pentax eventually goes full frame (and that I'll get another spurt of income to acquire), but even if it doesn't, I have an ME Super I am intending to learn how to use and the FA31 will be fun there too no doubt.
There are probably more factors I would add if I had more time but I am being summoned by family.

I've been really enjoying the heck out of the 31 and have no regrets. I've noticed them selling for as "low" as $850 here on the forum since I got mine, but I had to get mine when I did because that money would surely have been sucked into bills had I tried to wait...

(I really want the FA77 too. I wow over just about every image I see posted from that lens and hopefully one day I will be able to own a copy. )
05-04-2013, 11:31 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Oh...cannot pass up the chance to flaunt the value of inexpensive or vintage lenses...





Done with Tamron 70-150/3.5 (20A) mounted to the K10D, though I might point out that the lens was not particularly cheap at the time I bought it new in 1982. And yes, it was hand-held...thank you SR!


Steve


(...isn't there a rule of natural law somewhere that all threads discussing inexpensive lens options will eventually sink to the level of people posting their favorite cheap lens photos?)
Not sure if it's a rule of nature, but if it results in more photos like the one you just posted.....bring it on! /me likes your photo a great deal....


To the OP: what I took away from your long-winded posting was roughly the following:

(i) you'd realized that a lens hood - while being one of the least sexy accessories as such - is one of the few (let's face it!) photographic thingamabobs that we invest in, that has a huge impact on image quality.

(ii) "the grapes are probably sour".

Not sure if that was the intent - then again, I own more than 2 Limited lenses, so clearly I don't know anything
05-05-2013, 12:03 AM   #27
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Nothing guarantees better photos. We all need to learn how to use our equipment, when each piece is appropriate and when it's overkill. I enjot primes for a number of reasons, but I have a Tamron 17-50 zoom which delivers image quality only very, very slightly poorer than my DA 35 limited, for example. And it can't give me the DoF or fast shutter speed that f/2 can.

Shooting fast-moving kids is a skill in itself, and I don't believe that abudget zoom will be better than a prime, though it will be more flexible.
05-05-2013, 12:27 AM   #28
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Simply put, at the end of the day... it's really all about what works for you, gives you the results you want and that your happy with.

The equipment used is your choice in order to achieve the above and nothing else really matters.
05-05-2013, 12:48 AM   #29
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Excuse the shoddy post processing (I've long since filed the RAW away somewhere), but I always liked this from a Sigma 70-300 if we're getting into showing what cheap zooms can do :]




I used to be rather fond of that lens.
05-05-2013, 01:19 AM   #30
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Right tool for the right job. If I were stuck with the DA 55-300 for concerts, I'd make do, but would be having to shoot at a higher ISO than what I could with an f/2.8 telezoom or telephoto prime.

With the PP technology, it's making noisy and unsharp images easier to 'fix', but I personally prefer more conservative cleaning and sharpening passes in PP. So the cat photo and the above portrait are both overly cleaned and sharpened IMO, limiting pure texture and creating fine unnatural halos in the final result. They are generally quite acceptable results, but to me I would rather they be naturally more textured and less noisy. So the 'luxury' of shooting with faster (and consequently more expensive) lenses means that there is less need for these PP problems.

And of course, there is no substitute for thinner DoF, which is often desired in photography. Not always, but quite often in a number of genres.
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