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06-28-2013, 11:28 AM   #1
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Best, inexpensive DA lens choices for K 20D and advice on RAW

Please, if this is the wrong forum to post this, could someone point me to the right one?

Hi -- I've long had a Pentax PZ-1 film camera, with just a couple of FA lenses: an SMC Pentax-FA 28-80mm f1:3.5 - 4.7, an SMC Pentax 100-300mm f1:4.5 - 5.6, and an oldie-but goodie SMC Pentax-M 50mm 1:2. I finally bowed to the inevitable, and as I've been a huge Pentax fan since my first Spotmatic F in the 1970s, decided to go with a K 20D body when the K7 was announced, and K 20D prices started coming down. All these lenses, in Pentax tradition, fit the K 20D. but all are crippled to a greater or lesser degree. However, I like shooting in Manual, so that hasn't been a terrible problem for me, and most of my shooting is landscape and static vintage cars and motorcycles. The big problem is that I'm retired and dependent upon our beloved Uncle Samuel for returning to me my monthly FICA pittance, which doesn't amount to much. I understand that FA focal lengths are not at all the same as DA CMOS sensor focal lengths.

I have a couple questions:

First, keeping in mind my straitened finances, and the lenses I have that, crippled or not, work at worst in full manual mode, which doesn't hamper me terribly, what would be the forum's recommendations for DA lenses to fill in my focal-length gaps, also keeping in mind that my finances allow maybe getting one lens a month or one lens every two months? I see these Pentax SMC DA (and DA AL) 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 "kit" lenses (K 20Ds sold that way with the cheapo 18-55 "kit" lenses acting more as a dust cap than a fine quality lens), and I understand that some of these 18-55mm ;enses are very cheaply made, with a lot of plastic elements, and, unless I'm mistaken, the "DA AL" lenses seem to be the worst of the bunch (please correct me if I'm wrong!). The FA 100-300mm f1:4.5 - 5.6 seems to be an excellent product, around its "low," 100mm f1:4.5 focal length serving as a great "portrait" or "general" lens, and at its highes 300mm f1:5.6 focal length, as much telephoto as I'll ever need. The SMC Pentax-FA 28-80mm f1:3.5 - 4.7 seems to be fine for closer work, although its best (for depth-of-field) aperture of f1:3.5 isn't as low as I'd like.

So, forum members, what would you recommend for a poor old (65) man's K 20D body to round out his lens kit?

Second question: I'm beginning to experiment in Camera RAW, and have the on-camera (with battery base) storage -- two 32GB MicroSD cards -- to deal with the file sizes. I'm on a mid-2011 27" iMac 2.7 GHz Intel Core i5 with 12 GB memory, Mac OS Lion 10.7.5. Sadly, once I upgraded to Lion, I lost the use of my old Adobe Creative Suite, and I couldn't afford to invest in another, so I ended with Photoshop Elements 10, which isn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be, and many of the CS functions I thought were lost when I first started PSE 10 are still there, you just have to figure a way through the woods to get to what you want to do.

Can someone point me to a book, website, whatever, that specifically, but without arcane mumbo-jumbo. deals with working in the RAW format? Among the many curses of my "Golden Years," though I can remember precise details of history and literature and personal life from 60 years ago, what I had for breakfast, and where my car keys are, are daily mysteries to me. I've been diagnosed with ADD, and I need the simplest, most easy to follow Camera RAW resources I can find.

Thanks for ALL in this forum being here. I hope the questions I asked will generate some useful and practical answers.

Peace

Bart Brown

06-28-2013, 11:48 AM   #2
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On the kit lens, believe it or not but you can take excellent pictures with it. It's very under rated, and can be had for 50 bucks pretty easily. The DA AL means plastic mount. Get the version 2 of it and you're in good shape. If you wanted soemthign past the kit lens, then I would recommend the Sigma 18-50 f/2.8-4.5 HSM, which can be had for 150 at times. It's pretty good. Next step up, which can be had for 300ish here used is the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8.

Focal lenghts are the same, but what you will see is if you cropped the edges of the picture from your film camera away, which gives a full frame equivalency of 1.5 times focal length. Meaning, for a 200mm lens on the K20D you would need a 300mm lens on your film camera for the same field of view.

On RAW, if you still have your old install discs (and it's either PC or Mac on those disks) then why not install Windows as a dual boot OS and install it there? Or, possibly make a partition where an older OS can be installed specifically for your old Adobe CS.
06-28-2013, 11:54 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by bartbrn Quote
Hi -- I've long had a Pentax PZ-1 film camera, with just a couple of FA lenses: an SMC Pentax-FA 28-80mm f1:3.5 - 4.7, an SMC Pentax 100-300mm f1:4.5 - 5.6, and an oldie-but goodie SMC Pentax-M 50mm 1:2.
All these lenses, in Pentax tradition, fit the K 20D. but all are crippled to a greater or lesser degree.
Hi Bart. Your FA lenses should be fully functional. They work just like any modern lens on a K20D.

Aside from the lenses mentioned by Voice of Reason, you might look at the DA 16-45mm. Price is good, and it's sharp from wide open, unlike your FA 28-80 or the DA 18-55.

QuoteOriginally posted by bartbrn Quote
Can someone point me to a book, website, whatever, that specifically, but without arcane mumbo-jumbo. deals with working in the RAW format?
Instruction books for Elements should be readily available. I need to do the same thing for Lightroom. I can navigate, but I'm not using it to its potential. There's a ton of info on the Adobe website, but it's not very easy to follow IME.
06-28-2013, 12:02 PM   #4
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Optically any of the DA 18-55 lenses should meet or beat your 28-80 in the range where they overlap; in my experience the version 1 18-55 was nicer than the film era kit lenses I've come across. The DA, DA II, or possibly the DA WR versions of the 18-55 with the metal mount and included lens hood are probably the way to go if you want something in the $50 to 100 range (DA on the low end of the price scale, DA II a bit more, and DA WR on the high end).

The next step up from those would be something like a Sigma 17-70 or Pentax 16-45 in the $200 plus range. They are better built and perform better than the Pentax 18-55, but not by a huge margin.

06-28-2013, 12:33 PM   #5
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I echo the previous lens suggestions - Sigma 17-70, Pentax 17-70, Pentax 16-45, Pentax 18-55mm, and maybe, although it is getting a little pricey, the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8? Look at Keh.com - they have most, if not all of these choices available right now.

As far as books on software go, Scott Kelby books are all very readable. Sometimes I find his style a little annoying but the books are accessible. He and Matt Kloskowoski have one for Photoshop elements 10. There is a used one at Amazon for 10 bucks. Usually, you can download the sample images from the book so you can actually work through the edits they are describing in addition to only reading about them.
06-28-2013, 01:18 PM   #6
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This might be helpful for Adobe Camera Raw

06-28-2013, 01:37 PM   #7
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Also, here's a breakdown f the various 18-55 lenses listed from best to leas best

DA 18-55 AL WR, 2nd optical version, weather resistant, quick shift focusing

DA 18-55 AL II, Same as above minus WR, has different finish/looks.

DA-L 18-55 WR, (just announced) same as top one but has plastic mount, and no quick shift.

DA-L 18-55, Same as the AL II version but with plastic mount and no quick shift.

DA 18-55 AL, original optical design, has quick shift and metal mount.

Also, the DA-L 18-55 originally shipped without a hood so I'm guessing most of them won''t come with a hood.
06-28-2013, 01:49 PM   #8
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On the smaller APS-C sensor, you need something in the kit lens range. The DA 18-55 gives you roughly the same field of view that your old 28-80 did. Then there's lots of lenses to address its shortcomings: a bit wider, a bit faster, a bit longer, a bit nicer, or some mix. With the K20D you also have to consider weather resistance. Prime lenses are also an alternative to zooms but zooms are going to be cheaper for a given range. Most people will take a lot of shots in this 18-55 range so it's worth paying for a good lens or set of primes to cover it. It's a little tricky to figure out the exact features you need because sometimes you don't know until you have them whether they are useful. You can look at your 28-80 shots and see if you are lacking something there. You could buy a used DA 18-55 and see if it's good enough. (It is typically good enough for a lot of shots, but it is also only built to be improved upon.) I would identify which bit you wanted to make better before looking at the better lenses meant to replace the DA 18-55. Start with that lens first, then you can get other lenses to fit. What I did is get a DA 16-45/4 used, for better image quality and a wider field of view. That anchored the wide end for me, so I could get a fast 50mm and other faster primes. Lately I have added a DA 50-200WR, which I like. I have older primes from 24mm to 500mm, and a fisheye zoom for extremely wide.

If you open up a RAW file in Elements, you should see the Basic panel of Adobe Camera RAW. I think the adjustments here are all I need for RAW. More adjustments can be made in Lightroom, or you can move on to the Editor in Elements, but those are more about general editing. If you master the Basic panel, that's good enough for now, and it's a manageable task.

Start with white balance. The file opens with a white balance that the camera used for the shot. You can change that by sliding the controls until it looks good, selecting one of the preset options instead of "As Shot" like Flash or Cloudy, or choosing a point on the image to call white with the eyedropper tool in the top bar, third from the left. All the colors will shift based on your input here. The change affects exposure somewhat so you need to do this first.

Then move on to exposure, a slider calibrated in stops like your camera meter. The key here is knowing one hidden ACR feature: hold down the Alt key on the keyboard. When you do this, the image preview turns black except for the parts that are overexposed. If the R, G and B channels are all overexposed on part of the image, you'll see white there. You'll see colors if only one or two channels are overexposed. You can adjust the Exposure slider to darken or brighten the whole image. Just note that it's not entirely free. In other words, if your shot is extremely underexposed, you can move the exposure slider up to +4 and make it 4 stops brighter, but that adds 4 stops of noise or other issues. With an overexposed shot, you can't move the slider to -2 and bring those highlights back. You can often adjust within one stop either way with no problems, more than that and the fix is more complicated. Often there are areas of the image that are overexposed that I don't care about, so I can raise exposure to brighten the areas I do care about.

The Recovery slider helps with overexposed areas by smoothing the exposure around them for a better transition to the rest of the image. If you have an image with an overexposed highlight and simply move the exposure slider down, that highlight will stay very bright while everything gets darker. Often it will just be more obvious. Use the recovery slider to help it blend in. The Alt key works here too to identify the area it's adjusting. I use Recovery mostly when one channel is overexposed.

Blacks set the darkest point of your image. I think of the number as a threshold - everything below it is black. If you hold down the Alt key and move this slider, the screen turns white except for the parts that are at or below the threshold. Again you'll see colors if it's just one channel. Raising this number has a visual effect that looks similar to raising contrast or saturation. Again, some areas can be black that don't matter at all.

Fill Light acts on the black areas like Recovery works on bright areas.

I ignore Brightness and Contrast almost all the time. Either I have fixed those issues with the initial sliders or I'll use my editor to change those later.

Then you have Clarity, which I believe increases contrast but only on midrange tones. It's usually not necessary for me but it's like salt - add to taste. Vibrance adds saturation but has a safety feature. When the colors come close to maximum, vibrance stops adding to them. Vibrance can add to colors that aren't already close to overexposed without maxing out one color that's already too bright. Saturation doesn't have the safety. These controls are all to taste. Don't be afraid to use negative values either.

You have a color histogram display that changes as you move sliders. There's small arrows at either end to show under- or overexposure, similar to the display you get with the Alt key. There's information below that showing values from 0 to 255 for each channel when you put your cursor on the preview. Some camera information is there too.

I'm not sure what else is available in the Elements version. There should be a place to choose 8 bits or 16. Elements allows some 16 bit adjustments in the Editor but some stuff only works in 8 bit, and the JPG format is 8 bit. So it's just a matter of preference. There is probably a camera calibration tab too. You may have a choice here of how Adobe interprets RAW files from that camera. I think there is a basic noise reduction tab too.


Last edited by Just1MoreDave; 06-28-2013 at 03:00 PM.
06-28-2013, 02:15 PM   #9
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Since the K20 is weather resistant, either the 18-55WR or 50-200WR would be good to have; I occasionally see the 18-55WR for $100 and I recently picked up a 50-200WR for about $160.
06-28-2013, 03:34 PM   #10
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You should get the 18-55WR at least, considering your K-20D is weather sealed.They can get pretty cheap. A guy here is selling his 18-55 and 50-200, both WR, for 30€.
06-28-2013, 04:05 PM   #11
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Not super cheap compared to the 18-55, but still pretty cheap:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photographic-equipment-sale/228584-sale-tamron-sp-af17-50-f2-8-xr-ld-aspherical-325-final.html
06-28-2013, 04:38 PM   #12
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I would forget about the Kit Lens and go for the F 35-70 3.5-4.5 macro if you like an walk around lens. Itīs small, sharp and pretty quick AF.
I f you prefer wide angle i would go for the DA 16-45 f4
06-28-2013, 05:43 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by bartbrn Quote
Please, if this is the wrong forum to post this, could someone point me to the right one?

Hi -- I've long had a Pentax PZ-1 film camera, with just a couple of FA lenses: an SMC Pentax-FA 28-80mm f1:3.5 - 4.7, an SMC Pentax 100-300mm f1:4.5 - 5.6, and an oldie-but goodie SMC Pentax-M 50mm 1:2. I finally bowed to the inevitable, and as I've been a huge Pentax fan since my first Spotmatic F in the 1970s, decided to go with a K 20D body when the K7 was announced, and K 20D prices started coming down. All these lenses, in Pentax tradition, fit the K 20D. but all are crippled to a greater or lesser degree. However, I like shooting in Manual, so that hasn't been a terrible problem for me, and most of my shooting is landscape and static vintage cars and motorcycles. The big problem is that I'm retired and dependent upon our beloved Uncle Samuel for returning to me my monthly FICA pittance, which doesn't amount to much. I understand that FA focal lengths are not at all the same as DA CMOS sensor focal lengths.

I have a couple questions:

First, keeping in mind my straitened finances, and the lenses I have that, crippled or not, work at worst in full manual mode, which doesn't hamper me terribly, what would be the forum's recommendations for DA lenses to fill in my focal-length gaps, also keeping in mind that my finances allow maybe getting one lens a month or one lens every two months? I see these Pentax SMC DA (and DA AL) 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 "kit" lenses (K 20Ds sold that way with the cheapo 18-55 "kit" lenses acting more as a dust cap than a fine quality lens), and I understand that some of these 18-55mm ;enses are very cheaply made, with a lot of plastic elements, and, unless I'm mistaken, the "DA AL" lenses seem to be the worst of the bunch (please correct me if I'm wrong!). The FA 100-300mm f1:4.5 - 5.6 seems to be an excellent product, around its "low," 100mm f1:4.5 focal length serving as a great "portrait" or "general" lens, and at its highes 300mm f1:5.6 focal length, as much telephoto as I'll ever need. The SMC Pentax-FA 28-80mm f1:3.5 - 4.7 seems to be fine for closer work, although its best (for depth-of-field) aperture of f1:3.5 isn't as low as I'd like.

So, forum members, what would you recommend for a poor old (65) man's K 20D body to round out his lens kit?

Second question: I'm beginning to experiment in Camera RAW, and have the on-camera (with battery base) storage -- two 32GB MicroSD cards -- to deal with the file sizes. I'm on a mid-2011 27" iMac 2.7 GHz Intel Core i5 with 12 GB memory, Mac OS Lion 10.7.5. Sadly, once I upgraded to Lion, I lost the use of my old Adobe Creative Suite, and I couldn't afford to invest in another, so I ended with Photoshop Elements 10, which isn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be, and many of the CS functions I thought were lost when I first started PSE 10 are still there, you just have to figure a way through the woods to get to what you want to do.

Can someone point me to a book, website, whatever, that specifically, but without arcane mumbo-jumbo. deals with working in the RAW format? Among the many curses of my "Golden Years," though I can remember precise details of history and literature and personal life from 60 years ago, what I had for breakfast, and where my car keys are, are daily mysteries to me. I've been diagnosed with ADD, and I need the simplest, most easy to follow Camera RAW resources I can find.

Thanks for ALL in this forum being here. I hope the questions I asked will generate some useful and practical answers.

Peace

Bart Brown
Here's a good resource on lens info & compatibility:

Pentax K-Mount Lenses Explained: The differences between various Pentax lens series
The Pentax Camera Lens Compatibility Chart

Adam
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