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09-08-2013, 08:52 AM   #1
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A full lens set to upgrade the kit lens

I'm a DSLR beginner and have a K-5 with 18-55 WR. I used it for days and decided to get a new set of lens to replace it with a limited budget.
I use all the focus length from 18mm to at least (guess, cuz never used before) 135mm, and 18mm most often.
I don't mind changing lens but my DSLR bag can only contain 3 (2 + attached) and I don't want to bring more.
I prefer zooms cuz I am not familiar with primes so far.
Budget is about $800 - $1000.

Here is my plan:
(1) SIGMA 17-70 F2.8-4 Contemporary (Is it the 4th or 3rd gen?)
(2) DA 55-300 F4-5.8
If I have enough time to try on primes or 17-70 is not good enough in telephoto side: (3) DA 50 F1.8
If not, bring 18-55 WR as it is water resistance.

Any advice is welcomed.

09-08-2013, 10:46 AM   #2
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Well you've done some research. What do you want to take pictures of?
09-08-2013, 11:16 AM   #3
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I think you have a good plan there.
09-08-2013, 11:20 AM   #4
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Well, I think you should first think about the kind of pics you wanna do.

my approach:

do it all zoom for daily pics: a 18-200 or 250 (tamron, pentax, sigma) is a good replacement of the kit lens to get a longer reach with about the same pic quality.
i'm not sure 300mm worth the expense, but it depends on your type of pics. if you can live with 135mm as the longest focal, the 18-135 is a good option quality wise.

then you add good lenses the focals you use the most, step by step when you budget allow it.
e.g. for portraits (kids?): fa 50/1.4 - shallow depth of field will make eyes popping out of the pics and will reveal full potential of a dSLR
e.g. for landscape: DA14 or DA15, or DA12-24 will enable you to shoot landscapes that no compact or phone can do.
e.g. getting the life of the city around you: DA 21mm in manual focus set at hyperfocal for lighting speed shots.

that's only my opinion. others would say to get a high quality normal range zoom (da 16-50) and wait for more money to extend your gear...

09-08-2013, 11:38 AM   #5
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May be worth checking out the 18-135 F3.5-5.6 if you use from 18 to 135 . Check it out in the lens reviews. Do you need something fast? You could also get a fast 50 as well for low light etc.
09-08-2013, 11:53 AM   #6
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The Sigma 17-70 is well liked by those who have it. It also serves as a decent almost-macro. The 55-300 is also a great lens that doesn't cost a lot, and it also focuses somewhat close. If you have room in your budget and bag, the DA10-17 fisheye is a truly fantastic lens. It is very very wide, even at 17. The rectilinear wides, like the Sigma 10-20 are enormous, and not as much fun as a fisheye.

As far as primes go, it's a very different way of working. I think you should try one. I did, and I love them, but they can be an expensive habit. The lowest cost/best quality to start is to get a 55mm/1.8 or 55mm/2.0 for around $40 or $50. They came in K series, and also in Super Takumar (M42 mount, adapter required). I'd probably go for the K-mount one if you're not familiar with M42. You can get one on e-bay for cheap, and it's a really world-class lens. The 50mm 1.7 is also available cheap sometimes, it's also super. The 1.4 is quite a bit more expensive, and not much better really. The 50mm f2.0 is a lens to avoid, unless you get it for <$20 or so. Manual focus lenses slow you down and make you think about your photography more. It's a real learning experience. After you get one of these primes, join the "Single In..." group for whatever month is next (I'd suggest getting the lens now, and joining the October challenge). You shoot one photo with your new lens every day. It's great fun, and there's a great group in the challenge.
09-08-2013, 12:42 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by fizzyvimto Quote
May be worth checking out the 18-135 F3.5-5.6 if you use from 18 to 135 . Check it out in the lens reviews. Do you need something fast? You could also get a fast 50 as well for low light etc.
+1 on the DA 18-135.
This would make a perfect walkaround that is also WR. Start from there and get to know it and what you like to shoot. Then decide which kind of pictures you want to take to a higher level and find the right glass for it.
09-08-2013, 03:24 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by lbell Quote
I'm a DSLR beginner and have a K-5 with 18-55 WR. I used it for days and decided to get a new set of lens to replace it with a limited budget.
I use all the focus length from 18mm to at least (guess, cuz never used before) 135mm, and 18mm most often.
I don't mind changing lens but my DSLR bag can only contain 3 (2 + attached) and I don't want to bring more.
I prefer zooms cuz I am not familiar with primes so far.
Budget is about $800 - $1000.

Here is my plan:
(1) SIGMA 17-70 F2.8-4 Contemporary (Is it the 4th or 3rd gen?)
(2) DA 55-300 F4-5.8
If I have enough time to try on primes or 17-70 is not good enough in telephoto side: (3) DA 50 F1.8
If not, bring 18-55 WR as it is water resistance.

Any advice is welcomed.
Buy primes, because it's the one thing that pentax do extremely well! (and you'll really start to understand just what your camera can do!). It's just like having a zoom lens, except that you need to use your feet to zoom!

Start with either the DA35 macro or DA40 limited. If you can find the DA40 'XS' version on sale, that would be a no brainer (it's optically the same, just made of plastic, so it should be a bit cheaper). The choice between the two basically comes down to this: If you like taking close ups of flowers / food, get the 35mm. If you like taking portraits, people, and street photography, get the 40mm. Both lenses are stunning general purpose walk about primes, but the 35mm can be twitchy in low light, and the focus can occasionally hunt, which makes it less useful for action shots (but is awesome for macros). They are both absolutely stunning, and you'd be more than happy with either of them!

The 21mm is a really nice little prime, especially for street photography, but it does come with a bit of a learning curve, where as the 35mm/40mm will give you instant pleasure (and the 40mm is much more useful in low light). It's a lens I really like, but I do feel a mild pang of regret that I didn't buy the 15mm.

I've just bought the DA50 f1.8, and it's not bad (if you can get it really cheap with the current discount like I did), but I'd still recommend a limited before getting that (The 40mm is actually a better portait lens). As a cheap lens to compliment the DA35 macro or DA21/DA15, it's worth considering, but possibly surplus to requirements if you have a DA40 (It's not *that* much better in low light).

Avoid the DA 16-45mm zoom. The IQ is a little better than the kit lens, but it's just a little bland.
The DA 50-200mm WR is not a bad lens, but it's not amazing either. Useful *IF* you need the range.
I've not tried the 18-135mm, but I suspect I'd have the same feeling of blandness as with the 16-45mm.

If I lost all my lenses tomorrow, and only had your budget to replace them, the most versatile choice would be the DA35 macro (possibly second hand?) + DA50 f1.8 (at current prices), or I'd go down the cheap route and just get the DA40 on it's own (again, possibly second hand? Although looking at current B&H prices, I might get the silver 43mm FA instead!). The rest of the money I'd put aside, and start saving up for the rest of the DA limiteds!

[FWIW: My 50-200mm zoom had one outing this year, to an F1 race, where zooming with feet was not an option. That was the *only* time a zoom was mounted on my camera this year. Once you go prime, you'll never go back!]

09-08-2013, 03:32 PM   #9
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The DA 18-135 is an excellent lens, I much prefer it to my Sigma 17-70
09-08-2013, 04:40 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by lbell Quote
I'm a DSLR beginner and have a K-5 with 18-55 WR. I used it for days and decided to get a new set of lens to replace it with a limited budget.
I use all the focus length from 18mm to at least (guess, cuz never used before) 135mm, and 18mm most often.
I don't mind changing lens but my DSLR bag can only contain 3 (2 + attached) and I don't want to bring more.
I prefer zooms cuz I am not familiar with primes so far.
Budget is about $800 - $1000.

Here is my plan:
(1) SIGMA 17-70 F2.8-4 Contemporary (Is it the 4th or 3rd gen?)
(2) DA 55-300 F4-5.8
If I have enough time to try on primes or 17-70 is not good enough in telephoto side: (3) DA 50 F1.8
If not, bring 18-55 WR as it is water resistance.

Any advice is welcomed.
Ok, maybe somewhere in other posts you have answered this, but. How can you use 18-135 mm with an 18-55 lens?
What do you find wrong with the kit lens?

If you want to do more, I might suggest going wider, much wider, because you say you use 18the most, this suggests you really need wider.

Get a sigma 10-20 or Pentax 12-24. With what's left, go longer, likely you can get the 55-300 or 60-250
09-08-2013, 04:50 PM   #11
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@ Lowell I am guessing the OP meant that he would like to use FL's up to 135mm but it just wasn't worded so well. I don't know how much the 12-24 is in the US but in the Uk it's way over the budget of the OP.

Sigma 10-20 is a good idea.
09-09-2013, 09:42 AM   #12
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I'll also ask, what do you take pictures of, when, why, where, how?
But if you just want a complete range of moderate wide zoom to moderate tele zoom, those are both good mid-range options.
I'd also agree with the poster who said Pentax's forte is its primes. Every other manufacturer has more sophisticated autofocus, with hypersonic motors, even on their mid-range zooms. Pentax has the very noisy and average AF-ing 55-300. But optically it's great. And you've obviously read enough about SDM and that's why you're looking at Sigma.
09-09-2013, 09:57 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by lbell Quote
... and 18mm most often ...
If most of your shots are at 18mm you might like a wider lens. There are quite a few zoom and prime options. The DA15 is very compact. The Samyang/Bower/Rokinon/Pro-Optic 14mm is a bargain (manual focus but such a wide lens can use hyperfocal focusing for many shots). A lot has been said elsewhere about zooms like the Pentax 12-24, Tamron 10-24, Sigma 10-20.

The DA 55-300 is a great bargain in Pentax-land if you want to try wildlife photography. It has good image quality and is small enough (compared to many other 300mm options) to always carry in your camera bag.

There are many different ways to prioritize lens purchases. You'll have to decide whether a wider lens, longer lens, weather resistance, etc. is most important for your next purchase.
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