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07-15-2013, 09:31 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Schmidt Quote
I was thinking this: If I were to add a circular polarizing filter to the 18-55mm lens, could I see a dramatic improvement in image quality? For example, would the polarizing filter make wombat2go's shot with the kit lens look more like the one taken with the 50mm? And how would it affect IQ throughout the entire zoom range?
If I were you, I would be thinking about getting my feet wet with shooting the camera and not worry about accessories as you are starting. The polarizer will help in certain landscape scenes with sunlight, but won't have a favorable overall impact on image quality for general use (filters are for effect or protection, not general IQ improvement).

What I like about the idea of starting with the 50mm - as unusual as that choice is - you will learn framing technique better. Primes force you to move your feet, and change perspectives. Starting with a zoom tends to instill bad habits as you let the lens do the work, and you might tend to settle for relying entirely on the zoom to get a perspective that is "good enough." My other fear is that you might deem the 18-55 good enough and decide you need a cheap telephoto zoom before getting a 50mm (almost everyone goes that dual zoom route). Starting with the 50mm is unconventional, but will serve you better in the long run.

07-15-2013, 09:40 AM   #17
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I've owned a Canon zoom briefly in the past and have always liked the prime better. But your point about perspective is well taken. I also agree that I might be thinking too much about accessories without understanding their full impact on the image. It was just a thought, not something I would seriously consider.
Definitely better for me to look for a good prime lens at this stage. Sound advice, and keeps things simpler and more affordable.
07-15-2013, 10:10 AM   #18
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Get the 18-55 kit. You won't regret the decision. While my FA 35/2 is usually resident on the camera, the kit is always in the bag and sees a lot of use. Once you have the 18-55, you can find a good 50mm. As noted above, good fast 50s are easy to come by and often are available for quite reasonable prices. I would start with a Pentax-M 50/1.7 (the value queen, IMHO). After that LBA sets in with the potential acquisition of thousands of interesting and rewarding K-mount and M42 50s.


Steve

(...has more than a dozen fast 50s...all but one of them very good to excellent...favorite is Russian Helios 44M 58/2...best is Pentax-K 55/1.8...)
07-15-2013, 11:13 AM   #19
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And don't forget that you can find film cameras on various auction sites, Salvation Army, Goodwill etc with 50mm's attached, often for $20. Take the 50 for yourself, and you'll probably be able to resell the body alone for $10.

07-15-2013, 12:54 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by Schmidt Quote
Let me begin with the 35mm prime - I'm just starting out so my facts, which have been mostly gleaned from various sites on the internet, might not be accurate: My understanding regarding focal lengths below 50mm on an APS-C system would result in facial distortions when taken close to the subject. This is why a 50mm, as far as I can tell, is considered to be good for portraiture. Intuitively I see the reasoning behind this statement, but I can also imagine a good lens of shorter length cutting down on this type distortion. Any thoughts?
I suppose the keyword here is 'close'. I use sub-50mm for snaps all the time. Granted, you CAN get distortions if you try getting silly-close, but for general use you can get away with wider lenses.






07-15-2013, 12:59 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by Schmidt Quote
I was thinking this: If I were to add a circular polarizing filter to the 18-55mm lens, could I see a dramatic improvement in image quality?
A polarizing filter wont technically increase the quality, but it will change the quality. With a good circular filter, photos can look a lot better. So yes, for all intents and purposes, it will improve the photos you get, at least in many situations. But a good polarizer will cost as much as a M 50mm.
The only way to "improve" quality, in the technical sense, is by adding a good lens hood and making sure the lens is in top condition.
Edit: If you buy chinese stuff on ebays you can get a good Pentax hood knock-off for under $15. But be careful with filters, because a knockoff filter will probably be really really bad. There were even cases of people ordering a brand name filter at an amazing discount and getting something that looked like it was made in a shed

Last edited by Na Horuk; 07-15-2013 at 01:09 PM.
07-15-2013, 01:06 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Schmidt Quote
My understanding regarding focal lengths below 50mm on an APS-C system would result in facial distortions when taken close to the subject
Distance = POV = Perspective

The closer you are to the subject, the more "distorted" (unnatural appearance do to perspective) the image becomes. This is true regardless of focal length. 35mm focal length will give you a working distance the same as a 50mm focal length on 35mm film. It is my opinion that you can safely go as short as 28mm on APS-C without too much concern about "duck-face". I use my Pentax-FA 35/2 as my regular walk-around lens and have taken some pretty decent, natural appearing portraits with it as well. That being said, I prefer 50mm for portraiture on APS-C.


Steve
07-15-2013, 02:50 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by Schmidt Quote
I am convinced. The 18-55mm comes first - despite being the more expensive option.
Thank you for your input!
A good choice. Don't put a UV filter on it, use the hood. I must have taken thousands of shots with it. The 18-55 WR and the 50-200 WR are a nice pair to get started with. Sharpness isn't everything.



07-15-2013, 03:35 PM   #24
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I went to England and had a great time photographing anything and everything. I took my 18-55mm WR kit lens, and an ancient 135mm Pentax manual lens because I wanted to travel light.

I got consistently good images and found I used the zoom usually right in the middle, and that's where usually where zoom lenses will give you good, sharp images.

I don't think you'll be disappointed with your decision.
07-15-2013, 03:53 PM - 1 Like   #25
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Sagitta, are all those shots really taken at focal lengths between 17 and 20mm? I checked the info on Flickr and can't believe it! They are all very natural in appearance, and I am very surprised. The self-portrait exhibits no objectionable characteristics at that distance, while the child sleeping is just a very nice photograph. The third photo looks as good as any taken from that perspective. Did they require adjustments in PP? If not, you've made a very strong case for the zoom (even if you didn't intend to).
Steve said he can get good portraits at 35mm focal length, which happens to lie in the sweet spot for the 18-55mm. Given what I've seen I'm gonna get the kit lens. Being able to shoot in our cold winters or in a light shower is going to be a boon. But given the price of the 50mm, I'll likely end up getting one soon. If my brief experience with Canon is any indication then the prime will become my primary lens, with the zoom there for more versatility in different situations (like photographing some wide murals).
Nothing against Canon (they are top-notch), but I felt I had to go for the Pentax. The first time I held one in my hand I knew it wasn't like the other kids
Now to take some photos of my own...
07-15-2013, 07:12 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by kh1234567890 Quote
Sharpness isn't everything.
This photo stream of yours really does make a great case for what is often considered a "basic" lens. Your statement is correct, the colours, tones and texture evident in these pictures more than compensate for for a minor lack of "sharpness". Nice work.
07-15-2013, 07:50 PM   #27
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I will also toss my 18-55 (first edition) shots into the mix.


Flickr: fotostevia's stuff tagged with pentaxda18553556al


Steve
07-15-2013, 08:20 PM   #28
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I'm sold. Still like to know how much post-processing went into each if those photo-streams. The perspective, colours, are all good to great. Still a bit amazed at the quality you can get from a zoom, even at the ends. I see the gull was taken with the lens at 55mm while the fantastic pier was at the 18mm end.
07-15-2013, 11:41 PM   #29
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Just to muddy the waters


https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photographic-equipment-sale/231121-sale-t...m-f-1-7-a.html
07-16-2013, 12:59 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by Schmidt Quote
I'm sold. Still like to know how much post-processing went into each if those photo-streams. The perspective, colours, are all good to great. Still a bit amazed at the quality you can get from a zoom, even at the ends. I see the gull was taken with the lens at 55mm while the fantastic pier was at the 18mm end.
Post-processing is (or should be) a part of the fun of taking digital photos. It could be because I am old enough to remember darkrooms.

It does not take much time - a minute or two per image maybe - once you'd got used to whatever software you are using. Probably the most useful fixes, especially with the 18-55, are lens distortion and CA corrections and just a bit of sharpening. Colour balance, exposure (including black and white points) and contrast/gamma usually require only minor tweaks unless you are trying to rescue a shot. There is a fine balance between ending up with 'flat' images and oversaturated, oversharpened ones. The trick is to know when it is time to give up and to hit the 'render' key.

As for the lens - being aware of its limitations helps. Plus all the usual - know when the light is good, know which shots will end up boring and don't take them, let the camera software help you (I usually shoot in program MTF mode) etc...
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