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08-20-2013, 09:17 AM   #1
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Upgrading from kit, so many options, which is right for me? 135mm 200mm?

Hello everyone, first off thanks for giving my thread a click. I've been doing some pretty hefty research over the past day or so and feel like i understand lens functionality fairly well. I would like to upgrade from my 18-55mm kit on my k200d. I got the k200d in the first place so i could use legacy glass (just bought a pentax-A smc 50mm f2).

I'm hoping people can narrow down my options (so many pretty lenses available I don't know which is best!): I know I want a telephoto lens and that the larger the aperture the more light you get. Good for low light and macro/bokeh effect shooting etc.. then stop down to get sharp pictures. At this point i think I need a telephoto that is versatile, as I do not know what focal lengths I will use most.

I've been looking at JC Penny 135mm f2.8, Sears 135mm f2.5, Super-Takumar f4, etc..

I like macro photography, and being able to zoom in close because I can't often get very close to my subjects. What are some good options for me under 40 dollars?

Thanks again for the help! With so many options available my mind was going into overload, and need some expert guidance!

Cheers
Dan

08-20-2013, 09:31 AM   #2
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Department store lenses will not compare well to Pentax lenses, so you are wise to stick to the Takumars (for the best value). Have you given any thought to a lens reverse adapter? That would be a very inexpensive way to venture into macro, I would think.
08-20-2013, 09:32 AM   #3
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Hey, welcome!
I think I need to clarify something
QuoteOriginally posted by SlyClockWerkz Quote
I like macro photography, and being able to zoom in close because I can't often get very close to my subjects.
Aperture (f-number) has nothing to do with "macro" - aperture is only a fraction of front element size relative to the focal length. So if the number is smaller, more light will be collected and the photo will be brighter.. And it will also have a smaller DoF/bigger blur. Blur does not mean macro, but some people associate the two.

Macro on the other hand is merely "focusing very near." Magnification will always be the biggest when the object is closest to the lens, but most lenses cannot focus very closely. Macro lenses can focus very near (They have a small MFD, minimum focus distance, which translates to big magnification at that distance). Macro lenses are often very high quality, but are also a little hard to use. Just remember that macro means you can get very near to the object and still focus on it. But you can also use it as a normal lens at normal distances. Oh, and some modern cheap zoom lenses claim to be macro, but you should check their "maximum magnification". Usually, magnification of 1:2 or greater is considered "true macro."

The other thing is Zoom. "zoom" is not focusing, it is focal length. Basically, your kit lens zooms between 18mm and 55mm. A lens with a fixed focal length (also known as prime lens, like the 50mm) will have NO zoom. It is fixed at 50mm. You can still focus normally, but its field of view is constant.

Whew! The next thing to think about is budget. Its hard to get a good tele lens for a low price. Those 135mm lenses are probably your best bet. Just get a good lens hood for it. A good lens hood can noticeably improve the image quality, especially of old lenses. But you might also want to think about just getting the Pentax DA L 50-200mm. Fully automatic, a lot of bang for buck, and a comfortable zoom range. It will probably be over $40, but it might be worthwhile. It should still be under $200. A budget of $40 is very restrictive, even for lenses from the 70s.
Oh and if you have an m42 adapter, you can think about a soviet Jupiter lens, like the Jupiter 11 or Jupiter 37. But once you factor in the adapter and shipping, it will cost as much as that DA L 50-200mm :/

Last edited by Na Horuk; 08-20-2013 at 09:44 AM.
08-20-2013, 09:59 AM   #4
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Oldie?

Hello Dan, Welcome to the Forum!
The first lens that came to mind when I read your post was the M-series (manual focus, manual aperture) 135mm f/3.5. They sell often for around $50.00.
I'd guess that the I.Q., sharpness and rendering are at least as good as any lens you listed, probably better. Check out the sample photos on the 'Lens Reviews' here. It's a real bargain in short telephotos.
But, there are downsides; Minimum focusing distance is 1.5 meters, almost five feet, so you won't be using it for macro work, at least not without major cropping.
It's f/3.5 max aperture, 1/2 stop slower than f/2.8 and a full stop slower than f/2.5.
No auto aperture, so the green button must be used unless you're shooting wide-open.
In your price range, you're going to have to live with compromises or trade-offs. I'd say the M135 f/3.5 offers the best quality with a manageable downside.
JMO,
Ron

08-20-2013, 10:22 AM   #5
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If you really want to spend less than $40, I'm going to go ahead and disagree with the comment that you should stick to Asahi/Pentax/Takumar lenses. The only way you'll get a name brand telephoto in that price range is to get lucky, or buy one with some kind of problem.

Several of the Sears lenses are very nice, and many of the Ricoh lenses are excellent--just remember to remove the Ricoh pin before using it! (They can get stuck on the AF drive area if you don't--google 'Ricoh pin' and you'll find info and descriptions of how to remove it).

I personally like the 135mm focal length, but most of them are not macro lenses. I'm not aware of true macro you can get for $40 without being lucky (i.e. paying much less than it is really worth).

If you're really on a tight budget and want to do macro, either use a reverse ring (as tlong423 suggests), or use a Close Up Set. The reverse ring gets you better magnification and image quality, but has a focal distance of inches. If you can't get close, use a Close Up Set.
Close-up filter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

If you're super lucky, you can catch a 100mm macro lens for about $40-50, but it isn't common.

Also, if you really want versatility, go for a zoom. Old zooms are also cheap... because they're not very good. But if you're on a budget, and just having fun, they're a great way to get more experience without spending much money. A few of them are real gems, too. Unfortunately, it's hard to make broad recommendations. For example, some Vivitar Series 1 zooms are amazing, others are average or worse.
For example, check out this page on KEH -- Pentax-Manual-Focus Non-Mfg-Zoom-Lenses

Note that "macro" in those lens descriptions basically means that the manufacturer wrote "macro" on the lens or its box. It tells you nothing about minimum focus distance or magnification.
08-20-2013, 10:24 AM   #6
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The typical older 135 or 200 won't focus close enough to qualify as a true macro lens. Most 135mm lenses focus to 1.5 meters/5 feet, and 200mm lenses add a foot or two to that. That's something like a 1:5 magnification. You can add extension tubes to them to get closer focus, but the result is a really narrow range of focus, just a few inches. I thought it was far more difficult to use than an actual macro lens. The actual macro lenses do start to cost money. You might consider the Pentax-M 100mm f4 macro, which focuses to 0.45m/1.5 feet, so it does 1:2 magnification, while still focusing to infinity without extra parts. It won't be $40, but should be less than $100.

The DA 50-200mm f4-5.6 lenses should focus to 1.1 meters/3.6 feet.

If you just want a nice 135mm, you should be able to find a Pentax-M 135mm f3.5 for less than $50 - I'll even sell you mine. It's sharp, small and very flare resistant. At 200mm, there's a Pentax-M 200mm f4. I like the Vivitar/Komine 200mm f3.5 but you'd need an M42 adapter for the most common versions.
08-20-2013, 10:51 AM   #7
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I second the recommendations for the 135mm prime, given your price requirements. The classic M135/3.5 is a good choice, and some of the Sears/JCPenney versions are very nice as well. I have a Vivitar-branded Cosina 135/2.8 that delivers amazing IQ for the $25 I paid for it. As others have mentioned, most of the 135s have a MFD of around 24-36", so it would be very difficult doing macro work. Among older/affordable zooms, I like the Pentax A35-70/4 - nice colors/sharpness/contrast, and a very capable closeup mode. These can be had for $40-$60 regularly. If you can spare a bit more cash & need more reach, the DA/DAL 50-200 is pretty nice.

Last edited by paulh; 08-20-2013 at 11:02 AM.
08-20-2013, 11:18 AM   #8
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Would any of the magnifier filters suit the desire for macro? I have zero experience with them, but have seen some people produce decent results. Could something like a 1.5X make that 50mm focus more closely, and not be too distorting?

08-20-2013, 06:02 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Hey, welcome!
I think I need to clarify something

Aperture (f-number) has nothing to do with "macro" - aperture is only a fraction of front element size relative to the focal length. So if the number is smaller, more light will be collected and the photo will be brighter.. And it will also have a smaller DoF/bigger blur. Blur does not mean macro, but some people associate the two.

Macro on the other hand is merely "focusing very near." Magnification will always be the biggest when the object is closest to the lens, but most lenses cannot focus very closely. Macro lenses can focus very near (They have a small MFD, minimum focus distance, which translates to big magnification at that distance). Macro lenses are often very high quality, but are also a little hard to use. Just remember that macro means you can get very near to the object and still focus on it. But you can also use it as a normal lens at normal distances. Oh, and some modern cheap zoom lenses claim to be macro, but you should check their "maximum magnification". Usually, magnification of 1:2 or greater is considered "true macro."

The other thing is Zoom. "zoom" is not focusing, it is focal length. Basically, your kit lens zooms between 18mm and 55mm. A lens with a fixed focal length (also known as prime lens, like the 50mm) will have NO zoom. It is fixed at 50mm. You can still focus normally, but its field of view is constant.
:/
Thanks for clearing that up, I think I used the wrong combination of words, and macro may not have been the best term. I think most of the stuff I will shoot is more than 5ft away.

QuoteOriginally posted by rbefly Quote
Hello Dan, Welcome to the Forum!
The first lens that came to mind when I read your post was the M-series (manual focus, manual aperture) 135mm f/3.5. They sell often for around $50.00.
I'd guess that the I.Q., sharpness and rendering are at least as good as any lens you listed, probably better. Check out the sample photos on the 'Lens Reviews' here. It's a real bargain in short telephotos.
But, there are downsides; Minimum focusing distance is 1.5 meters, almost five feet, so you won't be using it for macro work, at least not without major cropping.
It's f/3.5 max aperture, 1/2 stop slower than f/2.8 and a full stop slower than f/2.5.
No auto aperture, so the green button must be used unless you're shooting wide-open.
In your price range, you're going to have to live with compromises or trade-offs. I'd say the M135 f/3.5 offers the best quality with a manageable downside.
JMO,
Ron
I'm cheap, thus I'm used to trade offs . I'll look into the m135 f3.5. Thanks!

QuoteOriginally posted by thornburg Quote
If you really want to spend less than $40, I'm going to go ahead and disagree with the comment that you should stick to Asahi/Pentax/Takumar lenses. The only way you'll get a name brand telephoto in that price range is to get lucky, or buy one with some kind of problem.

Several of the Sears lenses are very nice, and many of the Ricoh lenses are excellent--just remember to remove the Ricoh pin before using it! (They can get stuck on the AF drive area if you don't--google 'Ricoh pin' and you'll find info and descriptions of how to remove it).

I personally like the 135mm focal length, but most of them are not macro lenses. I'm not aware of true macro you can get for $40 without being lucky (i.e. paying much less than it is really worth).

If you're really on a tight budget and want to do macro, either use a reverse ring (as tlong423 suggests), or use a Close Up Set. The reverse ring gets you better magnification and image quality, but has a focal distance of inches. If you can't get close, use a Close Up Set.
Close-up filter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

If you're super lucky, you can catch a 100mm macro lens for about $40-50, but it isn't common.

Also, if you really want versatility, go for a zoom. Old zooms are also cheap... because they're not very good. But if you're on a budget, and just having fun, they're a great way to get more experience without spending much money. A few of them are real gems, too. Unfortunately, it's hard to make broad recommendations. For example, some Vivitar Series 1 zooms are amazing, others are average or worse.
For example, check out this page on KEH -- Pentax-Manual-Focus Non-Mfg-Zoom-Lenses

Note that "macro" in those lens descriptions basically means that the manufacturer wrote "macro" on the lens or its box. It tells you nothing about minimum focus distance or magnification.
Food for thought... I think a zoom lens is what I want, macro I suppose was the wrong term. Thanks!

QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
The typical older 135 or 200 won't focus close enough to qualify as a true macro lens. Most 135mm lenses focus to 1.5 meters/5 feet, and 200mm lenses add a foot or two to that. That's something like a 1:5 magnification. You can add extension tubes to them to get closer focus, but the result is a really narrow range of focus, just a few inches. I thought it was far more difficult to use than an actual macro lens. The actual macro lenses do start to cost money. You might consider the Pentax-M 100mm f4 macro, which focuses to 0.45m/1.5 feet, so it does 1:2 magnification, while still focusing to infinity without extra parts. It won't be $40, but should be less than $100.

The DA 50-200mm f4-5.6 lenses should focus to 1.1 meters/3.6 feet.

If you just want a nice 135mm, you should be able to find a Pentax-M 135mm f3.5 for less than $50 - I'll even sell you mine. It's sharp, small and very flare resistant. At 200mm, there's a Pentax-M 200mm f4. I like the Vivitar/Komine 200mm f3.5 but you'd need an M42 adapter for the most common versions.
I may have to follow up with you on that offer. Of the 3 lens you mentioned at the end, is there any notable advantages between the f3.5/4? Even though the m42 adapters are only 10 bucks or so I think that might drive my budget up and be better spent on a k mount. Thanks for the help!

QuoteOriginally posted by paulh Quote
I second the recommendations for the 135mm prime, given your price requirements. The classic M135/3.5 is a good choice, and some of the Sears/JCPenney versions are very nice as well. I have a Vivitar-branded Cosina 135/2.8 that delivers amazing IQ for the $25 I paid for it. As others have mentioned, most of the 135s have a MFD of around 24-36", so it would be very difficult doing macro work. Among older/affordable zooms, I like the Pentax A35-70/4 - nice colors/sharpness/contrast, and a very capable closeup mode. These can be had for $40-$60 regularly. If you can spare a bit more cash & need more reach, the DA/DAL 50-200 is pretty nice.
So to sum up the lenses here in order from best to worse is:
Pentax 135 3.5
Vivatar/cosina
Sears/jc penny 135mm 2.8

So assuming I drop the macro request do these lenses act as a good versatile zoom lens?
08-20-2013, 06:08 PM   #10
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This thread might be of interest - lots of great examples from the various 135s: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/lens-clubs/99057-135mm-lens-club.html
08-20-2013, 06:25 PM   #11
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Zoom or Prime?

Hello Dan,
I think you're confusing 'zoom' with 'close focusing'. As Na Horuk explained, the 135's you're interested in are 'Prime' lenses, that is, a single focal length, in this case 135mm. A short telephoto that doesn't 'zoom' any closer or farther. You can only get as close as the minimum focusing distance, about 5 feet. From there, you focus as sharply as possible. That's the largest image size available from that lens.
Zoom means to CHANGE focal lengths, like the kit lens. You can take a photo at 18mm, then zoom in to 24mm, 35m, 55mm etc. Each time, the image will get larger, you're magnifying it. It is a variable-focal length lens. Generally zooms aren't true macros, they don't have the image quality (I.Q.), sharpness, resolving power and short-focus capability of a macro.
Hope that helps!
Ron
08-20-2013, 07:56 PM   #12
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Ron gave some of this info already, but it seems like you would benefit from a FAQ or glossary. There's probably one on the site already, but I like this stuff, so I'll write my own.

Don't be offended at the obviousness/simplicity of some of this, I like to be complete.

Camera: A tool for capturing images by gathering light and storing an representation of it on a storage medium, such as film or a digital file generated by an image sensor.

Focus: Technically, refers to the portion of the image whose light is perfectly converged on the storage medium, but usually used to refer to the detail level or sharpness of an image. An image is "in focus" if the intended subject appears sharp and detailed in the image. An "out of focus" subject appears blurry and lacks detail.

Lens: A critical part of a camera, used to focus the light onto the storage medium.

Shutter: A critical part of a camera, it opens and closes for a specified amount of time in order to let in the correct amount of light.

Shutter speed: The amount of time which the shutter is open to gather light to be stored, usually expressed in seconds. Most commonly a fraction, such as "1/100", which indicates 0.01 seconds of exposure. "B" stands for "Bulb", which means the shutter stays open for as long as you hold the button down. Faster shutter speeds (smaller fractions) let in less light, while slower shutter speeds let in more light. There's an adage that in hand held photography, you shouldn't use a shutter speed slower than the reciprocal of your focal length if you want to avoid having camera shake blur your image. For example, when using a 50mm lens, don't use a shutter speed slower (longer) than 1/50th of a second. If using a 500mm lens, don't use a shutter speed slower than 1/500th of a second. This is one of the reasons to use a tripod--it lets you use slower shutter speeds without having to worry about camera shake.

Aperture: The size of the opening in the lens allowing light to pass through. Usually measured in f-stops, which are a ratio of the size of the opening to the size of the lens, which is why larger apertures (large openings, allowing lots of light in) are smaller numbers, while small (more closed apertures) are larger numbers. The "maximum" aperture of a lens is its widest setting (smallest number), and is the aperture used when discussing the qualities or details of a lens. For example, a "28mm f/2.8" lens has a maximum aperture of 2.8. It can be made smaller (such as f/8 or f/16), but not larger (f/2, etc).
Fast Lens: A fast lens has a wide maximum aperture. Usually refers to f/2.8 or larger.
Slow Lens: A lens with a small maximum aperture. Not used nearly as often as "fast lens", but can used in reference to a long telephoto, which are often f/8.

ISO or Film Speed or Sensitivity: In film, this is how quickly the film reacts to light. On a digital sensor, it is essentially a "gain" setting. Either way, higher ISO numbers mean more light is gathered. The trade off is that higher ISO has more noise in the image.

Exposure: Usually refers to the amount of light which is captured by the image. It is controller by the magic triangle of photography, Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO. To "increase exposure" means to bring more light.

Focal Length: The length of the optical path between a lens and its focal point. Usually measured in millimeters. Most commonly referenced aspect of a lens (e.g. "a 50mm lens" refers to the focal length of the lens being 50mm).

Image Area (or Image Size or Sensor Size): The size of the storage medium for the light. Usually references film frames, even though most modern cameras are digital. Standard Image Sizes: (see this from Wikipedia: Sensor Sizes)
"35mm" or "Full Frame" -- 24 x 36mm, the size of single frame of 135 film (the most common type of film for still picture film cameras), used by professional DSLRs
"APS-H" -- 30.2 16.7 mm, the size of a single frame of APS film, uncropped, used by some older DSLRs, such as EOS 1D. 1.3x crop factor
"APS-C" -- 25.1 16.7 mm, a common cropped size from a single frame of APS film, used by most modern DSLRs, although the specific size varies. 1.5x or 1.6x crop factor
Micro 4/3 (or Four Thirds or MFT) -- 17.3 x 13mm, made specifically for digital, used in most Olympus and Panasonic DSLRs, and many Mirrorless cameras.

Field of View (or Angle of View) -- A measurement of the area visible in the captured image using a camera. Determined by a combination of focal length and image size. A larger Field of View means the picture captures more of what is around, but everything in the picture is smaller. See "Wide", "Normal", and "Telephoto".

Normal (or Standard) -- A lens which shows a field of view approximately equivalent to that of human vision. On 35mm film, this is approximately 50mm focal length. The equivalent field of view on APS-C is approximately 33mm, so lenses from 30-35mm focal length are considered "normal" on APS-C.

Wide (or Wide Angle) -- A lens with a larger field of view than a "Normal" lens. On 35mm film, this is a lens with a focal length less than 45mm. On APS-C, this is a lens with focal length less than 30mm. A wide lens lets you capture more area, and is great for landscapes or architecture.

Telephoto -- A lens with a smaller field of view than a "normal" lens. On 35mm film, this is a lens with a focal length greater than 55mm. On APS-C this is a lens with focal length greater than 35mm. A telephoto lens lets you capture images of far away subjects as if they were closer. Long telephotos are great for wildlife, short telephotos are great portraits.

Prime (or Fixed) Lens: A lens with only one focal length. It requires you to "zoom by feet" if you want to reframe the image. Prime lenses are generally held to have better image quality, because they have a simpler optical formula. They also often have a larger aperture.

Zoom Lens: A lens with a variable focal length. This is expressed as a range, such as 18-55mm. In that example, the lens can be any focal length from as wide as 18mm up to the mildly telephoto length of 55mm. These lenses allow you frame the picture without moving, and to take different kinds of pictures without changing lenses. They are often inferior to primes in optical quality and maximum aperture. Modern zoom lenses are much better than old zoom lenses, as lots of progress has been made in zoom lens design. On the other hand, the optical quality of prime lenses has not changed nearly as much in the past 25 years.

Macro: Refers to the ability of a lens to focus close to the subject (short working distance). A short working distance means greater magnification, so many people think of macro as taking pictures of small things (like bugs). When talking about macro, the magnification ratio is used. "True Macro" is 1:1 (or "life-sized"), which means that the subject appears on the capture medium (film or sensor) at exactly the same size as it is in real life.

Depth of Field: Refers to the area in an image which is within acceptable focus. The depth of field will extended some distance in front of and behind the area of perfect focus, which is a specific distance away. For example, if perfect focus is set at 10 meters, then the depth of field might from 8 meters to 40 meters. Depth of field is affected by focal length, subject distance, aperture, and image size. You can use an online calculator (or smartphone app) to calculate depth of field for any combination of those factors. The short rule of thumb is that wider apertures give you narrower (shallower) depth of field, so less of the image is in focus. This is good for subject isolation, such as in a portrait, and bad for things like architecture or crowds. Conversely, if you want more of your image to be in focus, use a smaller aperture.
08-21-2013, 10:18 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by rbefly Quote
Hello Dan,
I think you're confusing 'zoom' with 'close focusing'.
QuoteOriginally posted by thornburg Quote
Ron gave some of this info already, but it seems like you would benefit from a FAQ or glossary. There's probably one on the site already, but I like this stuff, so I'll write my own.
Hey guys thanks for the input, but as I stated in my last post, I realize that a prime/macro/ whatever with a fixed focal length is not what i want. I realized that I wan't/need a ZOOM lens (thanks to previous posters who cleared up some terminology) with variable focal lengths. This has to do with my requirement for versatility.

On that note, does anyone have experience with a SMC pentax m 80-200mm f4.5?
08-21-2013, 11:07 AM   #14
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I have no experience with the M version, but the F 80-200 is a real stinker, IMO. I've got one I'll sell you really cheap if you want it. :-p

If I were you, I'd try to go for an "A" lens, as it allows the camera to adjust the aperture, which is handy sometimes, and just sort of friendlier to use.

I don't have personal experience with it, but reviews and comments here seem to point toward the A 70-210 f/4 as a good possible choice. It would compliment your kit lens nicely.

KEH has one in "bargain" condition for $53, or "EX" with loose zoom for the same. A bit outside your stated price range.

OTOH, this Vivitar 70-200 f/3.8 macro is just $11 plus shipping. You could probably buy 2 or 3 different equally cheap lenses and play around with them. You'll learn about which focal lengths are useful to you, and what qualities you like and don't like in a lens.

You'll notice I like KEH. With them, avoid lenses in "UG" condition, anything else is usable. Even UG lenses might be OK for just playing/learning.

Alternatives to KEH are Adorama, BH Photo, eBay, Craigslist, and thrift stores. Just beware of those last three, as the lenses are likely to have haze, fungus, scratches, aperture problems, etc.

Last edited by thornburg; 08-21-2013 at 11:09 AM. Reason: clarity, spelling
08-21-2013, 02:14 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by thornburg Quote
I have no experience with the M version, but the F 80-200 is a real stinker, IMO. I've got one I'll sell you really cheap if you want it. :-p

If I were you, I'd try to go for an "A" lens, as it allows the camera to adjust the aperture, which is handy sometimes, and just sort of friendlier to use.

I don't have personal experience with it, but reviews and comments here seem to point toward the A 70-210 f/4 as a good possible choice. It would compliment your kit lens nicely.

KEH has one in "bargain" condition for $53, or "EX" with loose zoom for the same. A bit outside your stated price range.

OTOH, this Vivitar 70-200 f/3.8 macro is just $11 plus shipping. You could probably buy 2 or 3 different equally cheap lenses and play around with them. You'll learn about which focal lengths are useful to you, and what qualities you like and don't like in a lens.

You'll notice I like KEH. With them, avoid lenses in "UG" condition, anything else is usable. Even UG lenses might be OK for just playing/learning.

Alternatives to KEH are Adorama, BH Photo, eBay, Craigslist, and thrift stores. Just beware of those last three, as the lenses are likely to have haze, fungus, scratches, aperture problems, etc.
WOW. There are alot of really cheap lenses on there! I've been looking on ebay. Thanks for the link and the suggestion!
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