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02-26-2014, 04:05 AM   #1
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All-purpose basic lens set

Hello

I'm a long-time lurker here, but it's about time to tap into the forum wisdom in a more active way

I'm planning on starting a small photo business. In theory it'll based mostly around photojournalism, in practice photographer around here needs to be a jack of all trades. I've decided to stay with Pentax for it's features, build quality and cost-benefit ratio. Right now I'm compiling a list of equipment needed, with choice of lens being most crucial. And that's where I need some advice.

I want to build a basic all-purpose kit, made by 3 or 4 lenses, covering most of the 18-200 range with constant fast aperture. Main body will be K-3, with K-7 as backup. Right now my choice looks like this:

Standard zoom: Sigma 17-50 f2.8. It's main contestants are Tamron 17-50 and Pentax 16-50. Sigma looks like good value for its price and of decent quality, I'm not sold on Tamron here. Pentax is nicely built and weathersealed, but for its price it should be better optically, so I'm not willing to spend that kind of money here (also, there's an upcoming DA* standard zoom in the roadmap, so hopefully I'll have some upgrade path from Sigma later on).

Telephoto zoom: Tamron 70-200 f2.8. Competed against Sigma 70-200 f2.8 and Pentax DA* 50-135. It gets favorable reviews, should work well with K-3, and again, good value for its price. I'd choose 50-135 for weathersealing and great quality, but I'm afraid I'll need that extra reach provided by third-party lens more, than 50-70 gap. Again, maybe I'll upgrade to it later? I didn't consider 60-250 because of f4 and price, Sigma is also much more expensive here than Tamron, and I can't see nothing in quality to justify it.

Portrait lens: Pentax DA* 55 f1.4 No contestants here, I could go limited but I prefer the seals. It's quite affordable and should fare better than third-party lens.

There's no real wide lens here, but I'm considering Pentax 12-24 if I can get it somewhere, or 15 f4 Ltd. Still, it's not a priority, A lens needs to pay for itself and I can buy one when I'll feel the need for one.

No here's the question: Did I miss something? Is there any good lens I missed and could take into consideration? Are there any obscure problems with those I'm willing to get right now?

02-26-2014, 04:18 AM   #2
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Personally I would go for the DA* combination (which is also what I actually have). My shooting style couldn't do without the 16mm, and in a standard zoom, there's only the Pentax DA*16-50/2.8 that offers this alternative. I often use another standard lens (DA20-40, FA31 or FA43), but only when I can have my DA15/4 or Sigma 8-16 as well in the bag to enable the wide angle...
On the same level, I couldn't do without the 50-70mm range in a telezoom, which is my perfect portrait range, hence the DA*50-135/2.8 is a favourite of mine. To compensate for the "shortness" of the 135mm end, there's always the alternative to crop, esp given current high MP bodies.

Wim
02-26-2014, 04:33 AM   #3
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I have had the Sigma 17-50 and after comparing, I kept the DA*16-50. The latter is by far my favourite. How would you like it to be better optically? Both my copies have been absolute stunners optically, despite their SDM's both failing. One was repaired under warrantee, and the other was converted back to screw drive, and that is the copy I kept. The average rating this lens gets in the Forum's Lens Database is a travesty.

As for telephoto zooms: my DA*50-135 is far better at f/2.8 than my Sigma EX DG 70-200 HSM II - at all focal lengths but especially the long end. The Sigma is no slouch though, and from f/4.0 it is really excellent. The newer optically stabilised Sigma is possibly better, and I have no experience with the Tamron.

I completely agree about the DA*55. Amazing lens.

As for super wide lenses - the DA10-17 is remarkably compact and performs brilliantly. The lens profile in LightRoom defishes it very nicely.
02-26-2014, 07:17 AM - 1 Like   #4
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If I were building a new kit like it seems you want and Sigma had their 18-35 f/1.8 out I'd do that, the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8, the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8, whatever lens you were looking for for portraits, and then something on the wide end.

02-26-2014, 07:59 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by VoiceOfReason Quote
If I were building a new kit like it seems you want and Sigma had their 18-35 f/1.8 out I'd do that, the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8, the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8, whatever lens you were looking for for portraits, and then something on the wide end.
This sounds just about perfect!

VoR, which portrait & which wide angle would you choose?
02-26-2014, 08:01 AM   #6
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No problem with your set in my eyes. Clearly we all have our favorites, mostly well-deserved and easily justified for our different needs. Some must have a 150-500 for their kits, others could not manage without 8 or 10mm in the bag.

For me the & comes from adapting the kit to accommodate budget crunches or a lens that's just right. For example I've just picked up a great 28-75/2.8 despite a tight budget, so I needed to move a few other 'perfect-for-me' lenses that the 28-75 crowds . And so it goes...
02-26-2014, 08:46 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by dansamy Quote
This sounds just about perfect!

VoR, which portrait & which wide angle would you choose?
Wide angle would be most likely the Sigma 8-16, thought the Tamron 10-24 is nce (I had one) and the Sigma 10-20 seems highly rated. For protraits I'd likely get the DA* 55 f/1.4, DA70 f/2.4 ltd, the FA 77 f/1.8, or the Sigma 85 f/1.4 depending on how long you want to go in it. I'd also toss in something long like my Sigma 150-500, or if you were to get really lucky the FA* 250-600 f/5.6, but that's insanely expensive if you can find one.
02-26-2014, 08:51 AM   #8
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I'll just say I like the way you're thinking, Nadir.

I'd still consider the Tamron 17-50 instead of the Sigma though - I find Tamron's rendering and color to be closer to Pentax than Sigma. I believe you'd be closer to have a "standardized" look going Tamron/Pentax. And later you could always trade the 17-50 for the DA*16-50 as mentioned, and up the quality of your setup.

02-26-2014, 09:23 AM   #9
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I would go with the DA* zooms as well. There's a lot of prejudice against the DA* 16-50 because the SDM horrors and it's price, but if you merely look at the images it produces, it's clearly better than the Sigma and Tamron equivalents (better microcontrast, better color rendition, better overall rendering). I own a copy of the Tamron 70-200, and while it's an excellent lens, it's not quite in the league of DA* glass. It's also quite heavy and cumbersome to use, hand-held. I use my 70-200 primarily for zoo photography, where it really excels. But as a portrait lens I think it would be too big and awkward for daily use.

I use to own a DA 12-24 and currently own the DA 15. Both lenses are terrific. Either will do, depending on whether you want FOV flexibility with the zoom, or compactness, flare control, and the rendering of the prime. The DA 10-17 is an even wider option; not as sharp as the 15 or the 12-24, and prone to rather severe purple fringing (usually fixable in post), but capable of creating exquisitely beautiful images.
02-26-2014, 01:09 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nadir Quote
Standard zoom: Sigma 17-50 f2.8. It's main contestants are Tamron 17-50 and Pentax 16-50. Sigma looks like good value for its price and of decent quality, I'm not sold on Tamron here. Pentax is nicely built and weathersealed, but for its price it should be better optically, so I'm not willing to spend that kind of money here (also, there's an upcoming DA* standard zoom in the roadmap, so hopefully I'll have some upgrade path from Sigma later on).
Firstly, the DA ~16-85 on the lens roadmap is no longer listed as a * lens, and I doubt it ever will be (because its zoom range is too wide). So don't wait for it.

Secondly, no manufacturer on any DSLR mount makes a standard-range f/2.8 APS-C zoom that's "as good as it ought to be," so just get one that's good enough. Don't expect it to be as good as primes in its zoom range (whereas the DA*50-135 almost is that good, albeit slightly slower). For me only the DA*16-50 met this criteria - it takes very good photos.


Finally, make sure the images produced by whatever lenses you choose are good enough for your purposes. My first priority was IQ above all else. I chose the DA*16-50 and DA*50-135. I would've got the DA*55 also, except I have the other 2 best 50ish Pentax lenses (K50/1.2 & FA43).



BTW, for me the ability to zoom back wider to 50mm at times is more important than being able to zoom long to 200mm. For going longer I have 200mm and 300mm primes (which perform better than most zooms at 200mm anyway). In most situations you'll miss more shots without the ability to go between 70 and 50mm, unless you have the other body with you (with the 16/17-50, or possibly DA*55, mounted on it). If you plan to carry 2 bodies all the time, the gap won't matter too much.

Last edited by DSims; 02-26-2014 at 01:28 PM.
02-26-2014, 01:38 PM   #11
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Photography around journalism? Apart from that beautiful DA*55 I would also get HD35Ltd. Pretty versatile ("standard" lens with nice bokeh) lens and macro functionality might come in handy. Plus DA* 200 for slightly further reach and that would be just about all you might need for high quality journalism, at least from technical side
02-26-2014, 10:13 PM   #12
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If I lost my bag, I'd replace it with the same gear: two identical bodies (currently K5II's), DA12-24, Tamron 28-75 and & DA 50-135. Also, I have a DA 17-70 as a backup for the 12-24 & 28-75. Only other lens is a Sigma 100-300/4 for stage performances. All constant aperture, especially important to me as I use manual exposure.

To see what these lenses can do, here's a link to my event hosting site BrookeMeyer Lots of local event coverage. CaryCitizen is a local online publication.

Covering events, no time for lens swapping. And you don't want to wonder what lens is on what body. Get at least a K-5 for the second body. BTW, I bought the 12-24 & 17-70 used. Used will save you money. You do not need 24MP for events. Or portraits or actually anything.

Most indoor events, I have a flash on each body, both with the black foamy thing . Besides two of everything, I usually have a spare flash & camera body in my vehicle. Extra batteries, memory cards, meter, etc are in my vest pockets.
02-27-2014, 12:37 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Brooke Meyer Quote
And you don't want to wonder what lens is on what body. Get at least a K-5 for the second body.
Except that the K-7 has more saturated color than anything since then. It may still be the best choice sometimes in good light - depending on how you want the images to come out. It still has the same body as the K-5 and K-5 II/IIs. And fortunately the K-3 isn't too different control-wise.

Last edited by DSims; 02-27-2014 at 12:42 AM.
02-27-2014, 03:51 AM   #14
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Thanks for all the responses!

Since Ricoh seems to be determined to keep to APS-C buying FF glass isn't a factor for me. I'd rather go for better quality lens, and all arguments for 50-135 are convincing. I'm not really sure I'll need the 135-200 range, and many users of 70-200 zooms say they don't use it much either. The price gap isn't too far, so maybe I could go for the DA* and be happy about it. If I'll ever need more range I can always ged DA* 300, or just move closer. As was said, if your photos are not good enough, you're not close enough

Since focal length would move back a bit I'd rather keep the main zoom in the 16/17/18-50 range. This would be the primary lens and I'd need fast access to wide end more then mid tele and another wide lens, so no 28-75.Thanks for the info about new zoom being non-*, I missed this bit. So I will get 16-50 somewhere in the future, but for now it's too expensive, and I'd stick with either Sigma or Tamron. My preference for Sigma is highly subjective - It just feel more right in build and work. On the same basis I never considered Canon cameras, they hold and feel uncomfortable for me. I was choosing between Nikon D300 and K-7, Pentax won this one. So I'll try to compare Sigma and Tamron again, get the one I can work better with, and then save for the DA*.

This kit should be flexible enough to let me work without problems and get more resources to upgrade the glass later.

As for additional lens - I'm considering Limiteds, both for photojournalism (but rather 40 than 35, I know it's a bit longer, but from what I've read its AF seems to be faster), and for wide and (15 f/4). From available samples SMC versions seems to be as good as HD or even better, what do you think about them?
02-27-2014, 05:50 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
Except that the K-7 has more saturated color than anything since then. It may still be the best choice sometimes in good light - depending on how you want the images to come out. It still has the same body as the K-5 and K-5 II/IIs. And fortunately the K-3 isn't too different control-wise.
Good light at events is rare. Its why I went from K20's to K5's, for the extra ISO capability. Color rendering is a non-issue for me as I've never shot anything but DNG's. Its always mixed light so RAW is the best way I've found to manage that.
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