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12-16-2013, 02:39 PM   #1
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Help w/ lens / camera my personal roadmap

OK, probably like a lot of people, I am looking for that little extra ďpopĒ in my pics. Iíd like some advice from some of our members who may have been in similar situation.



Iíve got mostly zoom lenses, and some fairly good primes.They all will get the job done within their limitations, and I am very happy so far with my latest acquisition, the Tamron 17-50 F2.8Ö



Here is my current lineup:



Pentax K5 Body

Pentax DA 16-45mm

Pentax DA 55-300mm

Pentax FA 50mm F1.4

Pentax F 35-105 (this lens is a sleeper, very good IQ, but noisy, slow, and feels a bit fragile)

Tamron XRDI 17-50mm F2.8 Pentax Mount

Tamron XRDI 28-75mm F2.8 Pentax Mount

Tamron 1.4X Pentax AF adapter



Manual:

Tamron SP 80-200mm F2.8 Adaptal

Tamron SP 28MM F2.5 Adaptal

Vivitar 100mm F2.8 Marcro MF

Spritatone 18mm F3.5 T-Mount



Iím thinking I might let go of the 16-45, and the 55-300 tohelp fund the purchase of a really nice modern AF tele zoom. Maybe even sell the 28-75, I kept hoping to see a full frame someday, but Iím thinking less likely now. (no,please, no thread drift on that comment!)



My thinking is, the wide angles are redundant kit now, with my new Tammy 17-50 which I am pretty happy with for a zoom. I donít think I could do much better on the wide end without going to a series of primes.(though the DA 12-24 is on my someday list, itís not a priority right now)



For the 55-300, I find myself consciously pulling back to 250mm to avoid the slight softness of 300, which I also notice even with shake reduction, I canít hand hold very well anyway above 250mm and below 1/100th sec (at least at a pixel peeping level, or with big crops on birds, which I donít do often anyways.) I know motion blur when I see it, and I canít blame the camera. I knowÖ crank up the ISO and shoot at 1/1000th, but Iím not a fan of grain, and if I have to crop a high iso shot, well, forget it, I could use a tripodÖ, but not always convenient on hikes or BIF. Iíd rather carry a slightly heavy lens which might help with shake, than the additional weight of my Bogen. It seems that if I want to shoot at ISO 80 with the 55-300, itís always at f7.1, around 1/100th to 1/160th or so. Focus does hunt a bit even in fair light.

So, I ďthinkĒ what Iíd like, is either something like the DA60-250 f4, or, the Tamron 70-210 f2.8, for that extra ďpopĒ of sharpness, and maybe a stop or two of light. Iíd also consider maybe the DA or Sigma 50-135 50-150 2.8 type lens, as it seems to be a range I use a lot, but I am afraid I might constantly be looking for that little extra reach?

The DA 60-250 would probably give me the range I limit myself to currently on the 55-300, but with a constant f4 and better glass??? The 70-210 2.8 I have a feeling might be a bit sharper, with a little less reach, but better isolation with the f2.8, not to mention the brighter viewfinder?

You may notice I already own the old Tamron manual 80-200f2.8, which is a beast of a lens. I am more than happy with the sharpness of that lens and really like its creamy bokeh, and I could live with the weight size if it were autofocus, but, itís notÖ and I just donít manual focus fast enough to track moving subjects. If the modern AF Tamron matched this lens optically, I think Iíd be tickled. I guess I could sell some of the old MF glass if I thought I could get enough to make it worth parting with them. Some of them have kind of become like old friendsÖheh.

As far as my body goes, the only thing that tempts me aboutthe K-3 is that the PTTL might actually be fixed for bounce flash, which Iadmit is very annoying on the old K5Ö and the improved AF tracking for movingobject like BIF and PIF, other than that, I think I would prefer the K5 sensor.I might be tempted into a K5IIs or something, but before I did anything likethat, Iím thinking I want to get my lens line up in order first.

So, now you know some of my reasoning, and what I have, and whatI think I want. The only thing I havenít really told you is what I shoot. Itískind of an eclectic mess. Indoors I tend to shoot available light, or bounceflash portraits, some product photoís for sales, outdoors I like to hike andshoot the typical nature when I travel, big wide shots with a lot of DOF, Somemacro, (which my old MF Vivitar is great for), some BIF etc, and one of myhobbies is model aviation and air shows, so PIF? (Planes in Flight?) heh heh.


Wow, Iíve written a novelÖ sorry! All help and opinions appreciated!

Eric

12-16-2013, 03:18 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Erictator Quote
Maybe even sell the 28-75, I kept hoping to see a full frame someday, but I’m thinking less likely now. (no,please, no thread drift on that comment!)
Actually, even more likely now than in the past, but OK.
QuoteOriginally posted by Erictator Quote
The DA 60-250 would probably give me the range I limit myself to currently on the 55-300, but with a constant f4 and better glass???
I have both and while the 55-300 is a very nice lens for a well priced consumer zoom, it just is not in the same class as the 60-250. Never used any of the 70-200 f/2.8s so I cannot comment but if you are looking to get to 250mm then get the 60-250 and don't look back.

My go bag has 12-24, 16-50 and 60-250 in it. Plus a single prime usually the F 50mm f/1.7.
12-16-2013, 03:27 PM   #3
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My thoughts, for what it's worth:

If you add either the tamron or sigma 70-200 f2.8 and keep the tamron 17-50,
most of your existing lenses become redundant (with the teleconverter, you cover 17-200mm at 2.8 and go to 280 at f4)
Don't forget to keep the FA 50.

If you're hiking, the 70-200 f2.8 can be a beast to carry, so maybe keep the DA 55-300 as a light weight alternative?
You may want to consider a monopod if you're getting camera shake and a tripod is too heavy.

Try reading the lens reviews and coming up with a short list of lenses you might want.
Then decide what you're willing to sell to fund those purchases.

At the end of the day, it's different lenses for different things,
you might need to end up with one set of lenses for your product photography and portraits and another set for your hiking and travel

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
12-16-2013, 04:03 PM   #4
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I have the DA 50-135. It's good for what it is. great for portrats in my opinion. What I'm getting out of the above is your need is for your aviation photography (outdoor hikes sounds like wide angle landscapes and you don't need the reach indoors). For that I'd look at the DA 60-250 (I don't have one, but reviews are great) among the lenses you mentioned. You might also consider the DA 300mm. This one I have and it's a great lens. Either is f4, but for aviation shows I'm guessing you almost always have decent light. You lose one stop (2.8 to 4) so bump ISO from 100 to 200 to compensate. I find everything acceptable through ISO 800 on the K5 so I doubt you'd have a real issue.

12-16-2013, 05:52 PM   #5
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Lenses are indeed what you need to concentrate on right now - not the body.

The DA16-45 may actually be the best IQ in your kit - or possibly the Vivitar 100mm Macro, depending on which exact model it is. That doesn't necessarily mean you should keep those lenses, though.


The easy answer for you is probably the DA*50-135 plus one of the AF *300 lenses (F, FA, or DA). Some people call these *300 lenses "heavy," but actually they're all relatively light, being both primes and "slower" (but still very high IQ) f/4 or f/4.5 lenses. I almost always use my F*300 hand-held.

I found I didn't even get very good photos from the DA55-300 over 135mm, much less 250mm. And certainly I wouldn't call them "eye-catching." No fear in selling that lens - you can easily acquire another one should you need to (but you won't). Any of the *300 lenses will turn the exact same composition into something much more appealing. These are high quality lenses - they should all be shot stopped down by just 1/3 to 2/3 of a stop.


I trust you're looking at the actual photos people are taking with these lenses - even more than the lens reviews. These are my 3 favorite places:

PENTAX : Select a PENTAX interchangeable lens camera or a lens model
Pentax smc DA* 300mm f/4 ED (IF) SDM Lens Sample Photos and Specifications
Advanced Search

The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM for Pentax 589109 B&H is also an option if you like the IQ (personally, I never fully warmed up to Sigma rendering). With this Sigma 70-200, in most cases you're much better off getting the latest model (because of better AF and other advancements), which usually means buying new (since people tend to hold on to them, and there are fewer on the used market).

Last edited by DSims; 12-16-2013 at 06:02 PM.
12-16-2013, 06:30 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Actually, even more likely now than in the past, but OK.

I have both and while the 55-300 is a very nice lens for a well priced consumer zoom, it just is not in the same class as the 60-250. Never used any of the 70-200 f/2.8s so I cannot comment but if you are looking to get to 250mm then get the 60-250 and don't look back.

My go bag has 12-24, 16-50 and 60-250 in it. Plus a single prime usually the F 50mm f/1.7.
Jatrax, that is some very specific and helpful input, especially since you've had both lenses. Thank you very much. Now all i need is someone who's had both the da 60-250 and one of the 70-200 range f2.8 zooms to chime in. The only thing that scares me a little about the da lens is the early sdm failures, but in hindsight, i don't recall ever hearing anything about sdm failures in the 60-250 specifically?
12-16-2013, 06:36 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by skunktail Quote
My thoughts, for what it's worth:

If you add either the tamron or sigma 70-200 f2.8 and keep the tamron 17-50,
most of your existing lenses become redundant (with the teleconverter, you cover 17-200mm at 2.8 and go to 280 at f4)
Don't forget to keep the FA 50.

If you're hiking, the 70-200 f2.8 can be a beast to carry, so maybe keep the DA 55-300 as a light weight alternative?
You may want to consider a monopod if you're getting camera shake and a tripod is too heavy.

Try reading the lens reviews and coming up with a short list of lenses you might want.
Then decide what you're willing to sell to fund those purchases.

At the end of the day, it's different lenses for different things,
you might need to end up with one set of lenses for your product photography and portraits and another set for your hiking and travel

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
Skunktail, great stuff, and i actually do have a monopod and tend to forget i have it because i never got around to getting a little ball head or pistol grip head for it. Ive used it with no head, and moving the whole monopod around trying to chase a shot is kinda slow work... The head i use on my big Bogen is a big two knob head, and just wouldn't be right for the monopod. Those pistol grips look sweet, but im not sure how much weight they can reliably take without slippage?

The teleconverter is also an under used piece of kit, and was thinking with a 2.8 zoom it might see more use. I grabbed it during the ritz closeout for a song, and always thought it would come in handy someday. I know that particular teleconverter brings big bucks for some reason...
12-16-2013, 06:40 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by jrpower10 Quote
I have the DA 50-135. It's good for what it is. great for portrats in my opinion. What I'm getting out of the above is your need is for your aviation photography (outdoor hikes sounds like wide angle landscapes and you don't need the reach indoors). For that I'd look at the DA 60-250 (I don't have one, but reviews are great) among the lenses you mentioned. You might also consider the DA 300mm. This one I have and it's a great lens. Either is f4, but for aviation shows I'm guessing you almost always have decent light. You lose one stop (2.8 to 4) so bump ISO from 100 to 200 to compensate. I find everything acceptable through ISO 800 on the K5 so I doubt you'd have a real issue.
Jrpower- thats some good mind reading... I actually though that if i went with the short da 50-135 or sigma 2.8 tele that i might also grab a 200 or 300 prime. Glad to know Im not nuts for considering it. Still, its prolly more kit than i want to carry. One thing i hate is when i have to choose what goes in the bag when i go out and always feel ive compromised somehow. Id like to be able to carry my top quality stuff with me for all occasions, well, within reason anyways.

12-16-2013, 07:06 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
Lenses are indeed what you need to concentrate on right now - not the body.

The DA16-45 may actually be the best IQ in your kit - or possibly the Vivitar 100mm Macro, depending on which exact model it is. That doesn't necessarily mean you should keep those lenses, though.


The easy answer for you is probably the DA*50-135 plus one of the AF *300 lenses (F, FA, or DA). Some people call these *300 lenses "heavy," but actually they're all relatively light, being both primes and "slower" (but still very high IQ) f/4 or f/4.5 lenses. I almost always use my F*300 hand-held.

I found I didn't even get very good photos from the DA55-300 over 135mm, much less 250mm. And certainly I wouldn't call them "eye-catching." No fear in selling that lens - you can easily acquire another one should you need to (but you won't). Any of the *300 lenses will turn the exact same composition into something much more appealing. These are high quality lenses - they should all be shot stopped down by just 1/3 to 2/3 of a stop.


I trust you're looking at the actual photos people are taking with these lenses - even more than the lens reviews. These are my 3 favorite places:

PENTAX : Select a PENTAX interchangeable lens camera or a lens model
Pentax smc DA* 300mm f/4 ED (IF) SDM Lens Sample Photos and Specifications
Advanced Search

The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM for Pentax 589109 B&H is also an option if you like the IQ (personally, I never fully warmed up to Sigma rendering). With this Sigma 70-200, in most cases you're much better off getting the latest model (because of better AF and other advancements), which usually means buying new (since people tend to hold on to them, and there are fewer on the used market).
DSims, thanks for confirming that i really do need to address the lens lineup first and foremost, its tempting to look at the shiny new machines, but why bother if i cant put glass in front of it that will make use of the extra resolution? Lenses will yeild more bang for the buck in the short term and i think ill be happier.

While i agree the da 16-45 is reasonably sharp, i dont like all the pp i have to do removing Ca, flare is not as well controlled, and 45 is just a tad short. The tamron 17-50 otoh seems i can shoot darn near into the sun without flare, hardly any ca to clean up in pp, and i tend to get A higher percentage of keepers that pop in sharpness than the da. I could just never quite get that almost 3d pop with the da, i dont know how else to describe it, but the micro sharpness and contrast that isolates the subject? For lack of a better term.

I do have to agree on the vivtitar macro, its crazy sharp, ive got macros of flower stamens that look otherworldly in the breakdown of texture and detail. You have to be patient, but its worth the result with the old MF lens. The funny thing is, the color rendering for portraits is kinda weird, its hard to describe, not exactly warm or cold, but it may lean harder on the reds and be a little weak on the greens and blues? I dunno... But Its truly awesome for black and white, i can say that much! The weird color rendition punches up the b&w for some reason.

Thanks for the links. I definitely am looking at peoples work, not just reviews. I guess i dont dislike my 55-300 as much as you did, but i do find enough fault with it to want to move on, so i guess we are really on the same page. I see you are another advocate for the short tele and a 300 prime. I guess i need to give that a little more serious thought.

I should probably mention i have a full set of sm primes from my spotmatic days, from the 17mm fish, 28 3.5, 35f2.0, 135 3.5 & 200 4.0. So i know how great pentax primes can be. For a while, as a fun exercise, i used an sm adapter with my ist ds and all those primes. I got some really great shots and was really impressed with the glass on digital. In the end, the only real draw back was no af and stop down metering made working slow.

I know sigma has come a long way, and probably surpassed tamron now for enthusiast level glass, i guess i have some bad experiences from the past where i wasnt impressed with their consumer grade stuff. The tamron 2.8 glass always seemed a great value for the money in the past, i liked the color rendering and bokeh, but ill keep an open mind with sigma. The Da 60-250 vs/ 70-200 2.8 sig/tam opinion would still be welcome from any who have one.
12-16-2013, 10:12 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Erictator Quote
i don't recall ever hearing anything about sdm failures in the 60-250 specifically?
AFAIK the 60-250 was not plagued by SDM failures. Not saying it never fails just that it is not a recognized problem like early 16-50s were. I would not hesitate on 60-250. On the 16-50, well there are alternatives that are as good and less expensive. I got mine before the price increases and feel it was well worth it. Not sure at today's prices though.

The more electronic the lenses get the less reliable they are likely to be. I have a 135mm Takumar made in 1957 that works just fine on the k-3. Not sure my 60-250 will still be working 55 years......... But then I won't be either so who cares.......
12-17-2013, 07:42 PM   #11
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Ok, Ive looked at sample photo links until my eyes hurt. Is it just me, or is there just not a lot of da 60-250 gallery out there, and what there is, im not that fond of what i saw. Some of that can obviously be the photographer, but it seems too much to be a coincidence. I just dont see that level of fine datail in the samples i have been able to find. That, and the da seems to do weird things under harsh lighting with contrast. The bokeh goes all kinds of hard?

The Sigma and Tamron are fairly popular at flickr pbase etc, but more so in other mounts than pentax. What i could find on k5 family, i didnt like the bokeh as much nor the color on the sigma as much as the tamron. I dont know why but the tamron seems to win the sharpness and bokeh contest for me against both the sigma and the da, for at least what i was able to find.

If you have some other places to go looking at samples, let me know. I have a feeling what i cant see in photos is how a given lens handles or speed or noise, but, the image is the ultimate goal. Reviews really dont tell the whole story, i can see that much so far at least.
12-26-2013, 09:11 AM   #12
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I bought the Tamron 70-200 in the spring to take shots of my daughter's graduation, with the intent to sell it immediately afterwards. I absolutely fell in love with it. I have a nearly full set of DA limiteds, and the Tamron easily keeps up with them for IQ. It has a distinctly different rendering, but it is gorgeous. I culled my "top 10" shots of the year, and 4 were from the Tamron, and one each from my various primes.

I did a "single in" challenge with it a couple of months ago, and it was absolutely one of my favorite months. It's a little big, but not crazy.

One more great thing about the Tamron is it focuses fairly closely. Great for butterflies and such.

I would really recommend the Tamron, but I've never used the 60-250. Just buy used here on the marketplace. If you don't love whatever you buy, sell it and try something else!
12-26-2013, 08:36 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Erictator Quote
Ok, Ive looked at sample photo links until my eyes hurt. Is it just me, or is there just not a lot of da 60-250 gallery out there, and what there is, im not that fond of what i saw. Some of that can obviously be the photographer, but it seems too much to be a coincidence. I just dont see that level of fine datail in the samples i have been able to find. That, and the da seems to do weird things under harsh lighting with contrast. The bokeh goes all kinds of hard?
There's also this thread : https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/130-lens-sample-photo-archive/207625-pent...ml#post2514065

I rarely shoot wide open, usually I'm happy with 4.5. I needed this lens because of WR which has proven itself to be very useful.
01-02-2014, 09:12 AM   #14
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Well, I went for it... the Tamron 70 - 200 f2.8 that is. Maybe part of me is still hoping for Full Frame someday? Heh... I dunno. It arrived the other day, and I took it for an outing at my first lunch break. It was an overcast gray day, so it wasn't ideal lighting for pretty pictures, but on the other hand, a good day to torture test the new lens.

I tell ya, it is a little scary when you go out for your first little trial with high expectations, and every shot is out of focus and under exposed.

Once the panic subsided, I realized the focal point was behind all my subjects. One point at a time I kept pushing the adjustment to the right and re-shooting a stationary object with the lens wide open. The nice thing about a f2.8 lens I guess is that you can zero in on focus quickly with it wide open, the flip side is it makes screw ups obvious too!

I ended up dialing in +5 focus adjustment on my K5 classic and also realized I had my auto ISO set to ramp up slow... I kicked it to normal speed ISO shift and it was much better exposures.

I'm still learning the lens at this point. I may need to go to further fine tune the focus adjustment, since my in-the-field adjustment was just a WAG while handholding shots on some stationary objects and reviewing them on the LCD while trying to zoom in and see what was up.

All in all, I'm happy with the purchase. It has basically the same or better image quality as my old Tamron SP 80-200 F2.8 manual focus lens, and the same creamy bokeh and color rendering. The AF speed is fine, I was able to track this little bird as he flitted around the railing. Got about a half dozen clean shots of him hopping around before he took off.

Here is a sample shot, not quite 100% zoom, but cropped pretty heavily. For longer work, I still need to test my Tamron 1.4x AF converter. I guess that's the next session.

Thanks for everyones help & advice!
Eric

Note: I just reviewed this after posting... I guess I need to work on my PP skills, as the original looks a lot better than the downsized jpg for the forum. Guess I need to open a flickr account or something.
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Last edited by Erictator; 01-02-2014 at 09:17 AM. Reason: Note
01-28-2014, 06:42 PM   #15
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Try using sRGB when saving the jpeg for web presentation. I found that it makes a big difference in the colors. Very nice image!
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