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08-11-2013, 07:05 AM   #1
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Newbie - Wedding Lens setup? (on a budget)

Looking to set up a solid wedding/engagement kit to start shooting amateur-professionally.

This is what I have:

K200D w/Grip
18-55 F3.5-6.6 ALII
50-200 WR F4-5.6
50 FA 1.4
Metz 50 AF-1

First off I must say I'm proud to be a pentax shooter, but sometimes in the same way people are Toronto Leafs fans. Proud among friends but shy around others when they walk in with their Canon/Nikon setups. I also believe that while Pentax makes some amazing lenses, I don't conform to the notion that one company does everything perfect. So I'm completely open to getting a Sigma/Tamron lens as long as the cost vs. performance makes sense.

So here's my dilemma. While we all know about the K200's limitations as far as noise at, well anything even close to 800 I still feel like it's a solid camera. I wouldn't get rid of it ever. We've been through alot together; 5 countries, weddings, funerals, rain, snow/cold (from Canada after all) But I'm wondering if an upgraded body would be better suited for my investment.

I'd love to know what you'd recommend as far as lenses or body upgrades!? As a newbie you are flooded with opinions while combing through the forums, the amazon reviews, talking to other photogs. While I can research and read on my own I'd love some advice.

And what started it all for me, my daughter... Thanks in advance for any advice.

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08-11-2013, 08:18 AM   #2
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Beautiful shot of your daughter. She's a cutie!!

Next, while that's nice gear for fun shooting, it's in no way good enough for paid work. With 500+ weddings and a number of other paid work done, I hope I can give some advice.

The only lens you have for this work is the 50mm. The other 2 are "fun" lenses. The flash is fine.
For paid work, you need 2 of everything and of equal ability. At a minimum, it would be 2 K20D's but I would recommend 2 K5's or better. Then some serious glass and at least 2 (3 is better) good flash heads. You need solid lenses that encompass the wide (12mm) to long (200mm) range. Zooms must be fixed aperture at F2.8 (there are a few exceptions such as the 16-45mm F4 lens that is excellent) and primes that are as fast as is available.

DO NOT TAKE A DIME from anyone before you've spent that money and prepared your kit carefully. Like any business, an investment must be made before opening the shop. Like any career an investment (education etc) must be made before starting work.
08-11-2013, 08:58 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
Beautiful shot of your daughter. She's a cutie!!

Next, while that's nice gear for fun shooting, it's in no way good enough for paid work. With 500+ weddings and a number of other paid work done, I hope I can give some advice.

The only lens you have for this work is the 50mm. The other 2 are "fun" lenses. The flash is fine.
For paid work, you need 2 of everything and of equal ability. At a minimum, it would be 2 K20D's but I would recommend 2 K5's or better. Then some serious glass and at least 2 (3 is better) good flash heads. You need solid lenses that encompass the wide (12mm) to long (200mm) range. Zooms must be fixed aperture at F2.8 (there are a few exceptions such as the 16-45mm F4 lens that is excellent) and primes that are as fast as is available.

DO NOT TAKE A DIME from anyone before you've spent that money and prepared your kit carefully. Like any business, an investment must be made before opening the shop. Like any career an investment (education etc) must be made before starting work.
Could not have said it better, There is a huge difference between what works as an attendee and what works for a paid gig. May I suggest you find a professional who is willing to take you on as second or third shooter for a summer? Gear is only the first part, being in the right place at the right time, dealing with clients, keeping everything organized without seeming 'bossy', post production, printing, pricing and getting paid all have to be done. Not to mention insurance, taxes and just the details of running a business.

As to gear, as noted the FA50 will work but you need to replace the other two. Possibly DA*16-50 and DA*50-135 (or DA*60-250) or the Sigma/Tamron equivalents. And two bodies is absolutely a must. You need to think everything through with the idea of "what do I do if this breaks?" What if the camera dies, what if flash falls and breaks, what if a lens breaks, what if a card does not work suddenly. There are no 'do overs', you have to get it right first time.
08-11-2013, 09:19 AM   #4
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I'm no pro, but I'm also looking to start picking up some paid work (NOT weddings, although there seem to be more of them than anything else).

I've been seeking advice, and have seen most of what these two have said several times before.

I have NOT seen the recommendation for a 12mm lens before, but I guess it makes sense if you need to photograph a large group of people in a small place.

If you want to pick up some "cheap" wedding-worthy equipment, I recommend looking at the Tamron 17-50/2.8 and 28-75/2.8. Used, they're about $300 each, new around $500.

Also, while higher end equipment like the K-5 makes a lot of sense, I bet a skilled photographer with decent lenses could shoot a wedding with a K-30 or even a K-500, and the clients would never notice. Modern DSLRs are so good that even the bottom entry level model is superior to a 5+ year old "semi-pro" model.

08-11-2013, 10:15 AM   #5
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QuoteQuote:
I bet a skilled photographer with decent lenses could shoot a wedding with a K-30 or even a K-500, and the clients would never notice.
That's true but the operative word there is "skilled". If you've done 40+ solid weddings and other pressure shooting, you might pull off some good work with sub-standard gear. There is no substitute for top quality lenses and to a lesser extent, a solid body with reliable results and high ISO qualities.

As for the 12mm. We're talking APS-c here and that's an 18mm equivalent lens. In a crowded hotel room with the bride, 2 flower girls, mom and 4+ bridesmaids, you need everything you can get to capture the room. An ultra wide has many other uses during the day. In fact if you asked me to shoot a wedding with only 2 lenses in the bag (assuming the camera was good to at least ISO 1600), I'd take a 12-24mm and a 17-50mm and do just fine. I'd miss some of my other glass for certain shots but could get the job done with these 2.
08-11-2013, 10:31 AM   #6
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Peter Zack's recommendation about having two of everything with similar capability is very good. For a budget solution I do have my own recommendation (in order of purchase):

1. Tamron 28-75 (this allows you to get a placeholder one-lens backup of both 18-55 and 50-200 AND get a 2.8 zoom; less than ideal but since you already have 18-55, I think the 17-50 can wait)
2. K-x or K-5 or better; K200d becomes second body with FA50 permanently attached to allow you to shoot flashless in lower ISO
3. Sigma 10-20 or DA 12-24
4. Another K-x or K-5 or better; K200d can be retired
5. Tamron 17-50, DA 18-55 becomes backup
5. Sigma 50-150 / 70-200 or Tamron 70-200, Tamron 28-75 can be retired

Whenever you can, also get:
1. Yongnuo 560 (for 2 seconds recycle time); it is a full manual flash though.
2. Raynox 150

Last edited by Andi Lo; 08-11-2013 at 10:44 AM.
08-11-2013, 03:44 PM   #7
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Thanks so much for all the advice! Obviously the kit and the 50-200 were just nice to travel around with but clearly not the workhorse one would need to get through a season of weddings! I have a couple friends who I've shot with before that are wiling to take me on as a second/third shooter to help start me out. This, obviously, is invaluable before I would dare consider charging for any of my shots. On to the lenses...

My concern with the 50-135* is the numerous reports about the SDM motors dying out. I've read through here and dpreviews and everyone seems to say the same thing. After a while (or not even that long) the motors die out. Any thoughts? First hand knowledge?

Same thing with the 16-45 F4.0...it's funny you mention that because I've looked at this lens used many times. (approx 200$) Which I thought was a great deal! But got bombarded by comments telling me to save my money. Interesting..

@ Peter Zack: I couldn't agree more. The plan right now is to purchase a K5 and see if I can get away with using the K200 as a backup with the FA50 on it for doing some reception candids.

@ jatrax: Haha! I completely agree. I think the easiest part about looking to try to transform this into a business is actually taking the photos! The post-production and business model will only come with experience. My biggest pet peeve is the countless number of ads you see for "FirstnameLastname Photography" who are shooting with a Rebel Kit and charging an outrageous price for out of focus poorly edited prints.

@ Andi Lo: Thanks so much for giving me a list of options. That's exactly what I'm looking for! (And if anyone else could put together a list that would be great) I'll go look those suggestions up and post any questions I have.

Thanks for all the input. I want to do this properly and firmly believe that you need to spend money to make money. Invest in good equipment first.
08-11-2013, 04:40 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by robertbrown_ Quote
I think the easiest part about looking to try to transform this into a business is actually taking the photos!
I think most of us got into this because we like pressing the shutter but that is indeed a small part if you are running a business.

A parable I was told long ago: A woman loved to bake pies. So much so that she baked almost every day and gave them away to friends & family. Everyone said these are wonderful you should open a pie shop. Eventually she did and a few years later some friends asked why she looked so miserable, "aren't you doing what you love every day?". No she replied, I don't bake anymore, I have two bakers who do that, I do marketing, sales, customer service, deal with the government, pay the bills, listen to employees cry on my shoulder, try to fix customer complaints, order product, worry about which insurance to get, interview new employees to replace the ones that quit, do payroll, and generally do all the other stuff involved in running a business. I have not actually baked anything in over a year and I just hate this whole pie shop.

I have attended a couple of classes by pros and read a lot as well. One book in particular about food photography really stuck with me. The author didn't bother to even turn on the camera for most of a 'shoot'. All the real work was done first, styling, positioning, lighting, props and so on. That might take hours to get right. Then 30 seconds to fire off a few frames and you are done. The work is getting the image right, recording it on the camera is only a tiny part.

08-11-2013, 06:13 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I actually have 16-45 and the 16mm is quite useful. With the 16mm I can get by without my sigma UWA most of the time, allowing minimal lens changes.

16-45mm is a very good lens, although I consider it a bad combination with the K200, since f/4 isn't exactly speedy. When I had my K10 (same sensor) the FA 35 and 50 lives in it most of the time.

As per the Pentax 50-135, you do have alternatives that I listed above (last purchase). I never jumped on the DA* zooms for the SDM reason, and relatively slow AF.

FWIW now there is a hack that allows you to use 50-135 on screwdrive, so maybe you won't need to be so concerned. Perhaps you can score a cheap SDMless one on ebay and hack it.
08-11-2013, 06:37 PM - 1 Like   #10
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Totally agree with what has been said so far in regards to two bodies - lenses and backups. I will give you a few cheaper options that you can go with in the meantime.
Bodies Kx/K7 + K5 (Kx/K7 use with the wider lenses, the K5 is used for its better AF for those tricky long shots such as throwing the bouquet.
Lenses, Tamron 28-75, Sigma 70-200 2.8, you can get both 2nd hand but get the Sigma for its fast and Silent HSM focusing where the Tamron is the ultimate portrait range. Take backup 18-55/55-200 kit lenses or a 18-250 just in case of emergency.
Two half decent flashes such as a Metz 50 AF or greater, make sure they have swivel heads. HEAPS of Batteries (also why a Kx is handy as it uses AAs)
Also make sure you have a good system for holding your cameras as it makes it much less hassle to change between them and not worry about drops etc.
Finally get a small softbox for direct flash as often you can't always have a perfect ceiling to bounce off.
08-11-2013, 07:18 PM   #11
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I always liked the 16-45mm. Wished it was faster only to control DOF with candid and portrait shots. Otherwise a fantastic lens and tough. I've used it in rain, sandy and windy beaches etc and literally taken thousands of shots with the 2 I owned.

Had a Tamron 28-75 as well and I it just didn't cut it for my shooting style on APS-c Too long on the wide end and too short on the long end. Never seemed to be the right lens at the right time. I also had 2 when I shot Nikon D700's and loved it on FF. One body always had that lens strapped to a body at all times. My style was always a wider lens on one body and a longer lens on the other to just switch back and forth without changing lenses often.

One note about zooms, when shooting a wedding, you use flash a lot. You want a lens that does not have a variable aperture like the 18-55mm or 50-200mm does (and frankly these lenses are far too soft for shooting people). You want the exposures constant through the zoom range. Over time you will shoot flash in manual mode more and more to get exposures that auto mode mess up too often. Then you want the zooms to have a constant aperture so your exposures remain consistent.

As for the business vs fun of shooting, Jatrax is correct. 10% of the business is shooting and the rest is all the things needed to make it successful plus editing time, designing albums, running to the courier and printer shop etc. That's not a bad thing but there's so much more than clicking the shutter. Once I turned full time pro, I took ZERO shots for fun. In fact the only images that where not done for paid work where to test out a new lens or other part added to the kit.

I think if you hold it to part time work, that can be controlled. Set a strict policy of say 10-12 weddings a year and no more. Then the camera is still a device you can enjoy just for yourself. My problem was, I needed to shoot every week to pay the bills and stay sharp. Too much down time makes me a bit rusty, it's not the same as riding a bike....
08-11-2013, 07:30 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by robertbrown_ Quote
My concern with the 50-135* is the numerous reports about the SDM motors dying out. I've read through here and dpreviews and everyone seems to say the same thing. After a while (or not even that long) the motors die out. Any thoughts? First hand knowledge?
I bought a used DA*50-135 that was 4 years old. No problems. I love this lens. It's definitely up there with the primes as far as IQ and is a lot of fun to use.
08-11-2013, 07:42 PM   #13
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Yes but have you used it when it needs to take 500 in focus shots in a single day? And during that time, not babied at all.

Maybe SDM has gotten better in the last year or so but the reason I left Pentax for Nikon a couple years ago was SDM $ucked and cost me many paniced moments and missed shots.
08-11-2013, 07:51 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
Yes but have you used it when it needs to take 500 in focus shots in a single day? And during that time, not babied at all.

Maybe SDM has gotten better in the last year or so but the reason I left Pentax for Nikon a couple years ago was SDM $ucked and cost me many paniced moments and missed shots.
This is what I was wondering about. I've heard so many stories of this lens failing. I'm surprised pentax hasn't recalled it or fixed the motor? I think it's a perfect range and truly a lens no one else has but as far as making an investment. Could you imagine buying a car that had as many motor issues?
08-11-2013, 08:47 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by robertbrown_ Quote
This is what I was wondering about. I've heard so many stories of this lens failing. I'm surprised pentax hasn't recalled it or fixed the motor? I think it's a perfect range and truly a lens no one else has but as far as making an investment. Could you imagine buying a car that had as many motor issues?
The issue was supposedly fixed as of late 2012, but this was never officially stated for some reason.

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