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03-28-2014, 06:51 PM   #1
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Don't be sick of me...how's the Sigma 70-200?

Here I go again, and I thank you all for your help and guidance

Still deciding on a lens or two for my k30. I am planning for it to be "the" lens for me, to last 20 years. I am planning a trip to Europe, but I would like to use a smaller more discreet but versatile lens for London. Maybe a wider for landscape and country?
I need a zoom for the bird sanctuary (puffins) but I am also soccer/hockey mom who wants to get better game pics.
Yes I am learning, I don't know a lot, but I am trying and I don't want to make a bad decision with the budget I have saved so long for

I had hoped to get two lenses for the range of under 1500.00

My list I have been booking up on, need ideas for wide angle/landscape though!
sigma 70-200 or 120-400
DA 60-250
DA 55-300

03-28-2014, 07:37 PM   #2
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I just posted another answer in your thread re: DA*60-250 vs. Tamron 70-200 or other?, primarily for your Europe trip.



Can you please give us a little more information (sorry if I've missed it in the past). What do you currently have for lenses? Do you have any other cameras you might take (for example, I often like to take my Olympus XZ-1 that just fits in my pocket).


What kind of photos do you dream of getting? What do you plan to do with your photos? Who will see them?



Just as importantly, are there any other important scenarios coming up that you can think of now? For example, you've already mentioned the trip to Europe (including puffins - I wish I were going there!) and soccer/hockey. How important are these photos in comparison to one another? Do you want a hockey photo that's kinda interesting, or do you want an image you like so much you feel like you scored a goal yourself when you look at it?


I think a number of us have useful experience and information to share, but I'm not sure what parts apply to you.



Also, please do one more thing. Look at the photos in these two links. Do you have a preference for one set, or are they both just as good?

PENTAX : Select a PENTAX interchangeable lens camera or a lens model

PENTAX : Select a PENTAX interchangeable lens camera or a lens model

Last edited by DSims; 03-28-2014 at 07:52 PM.
03-28-2014, 08:10 PM   #3
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Well, I have a bridge Fuji, 35mm Nikon( never use), and a newer Digital Samsung ST150 tiny pocket camera.
I am bringing my pocket one and the K30, the only lens I have is the 18-55 kit.

The trip is kind of once in a lifetime, in that I will not be rushed by children to set up my shots etc and renting a car to go where I want. I dream of pictures of cottages and villages of thatched roofs, just really want to be proud of myself with some good pics! The puffins are an opportunity I do not want to miss and London for interesting architecture shots.

The hockey/soccer pics right now are non existent so any decent ones I could get would be a score

Last edited by northmole; 03-28-2014 at 08:19 PM.
03-28-2014, 08:14 PM   #4
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And how do you rate the photos in the above links? Do the photos from one set capture your attention slightly more, or give you a little more of an emotional reaction?

03-28-2014, 08:23 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
And how do you rate the photos in the above links? Do the photos from one set capture your attention slightly more, or give you a little more of an emotional reaction?
I find the second set more to my liking, but they are all gorgeous pics!
03-28-2014, 09:11 PM   #6
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OK, in my mind I can see photos similar to what you want, and I'm thinking of the few trips I've taken in the the UK, from Wales to Scotland. I know I had the DA55-300 and FA24-90 on my last trip, and they did OK.

But I'll continue to think about this as I half-watch the basketball game with the 2 teams I barely care about. What I can say for now is I'm sure you need to do something to upgrade the DA18-55.


Just felt a small earthquake here - nothing major right now. I'll get back to you.
03-28-2014, 10:50 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
OK, in my mind I can see photos similar to what you want, and I'm thinking of the few trips I've taken in the the UK, from Wales to Scotland. I know I had the DA55-300 and FA24-90 on my last trip, and they did OK.

But I'll continue to think about this as I half-watch the basketball game with the 2 teams I barely care about. What I can say for now is I'm sure you need to do something to upgrade the DA18-55.


Just felt a small earthquake here - nothing major right now. I'll get back to you.
Oh geez. All the time I've spent in Cali, no earthquakes. Hope it's ok
Thanks so much!
03-29-2014, 01:16 PM   #8
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The earthquake didn't cause any known damage where I live. Near the epicenter it broke some water mains and plenty of glass and things that fell off people's shelves.


What's most important is that you get the lenses well over a month before the trip, if possible. You need the time to practice with the lenses, and you need to send back whatever's not working for you. Be prepared to do this, and to get a different model if you need to. You obviously want to get this right, because you're asking a lot of good questions. Most of us can't get hands-on with Pentax equipment ahead of time, so you may have to send one or two back. It's important to feel the size, weight, and handling for yourself, as well as see how good your photos come out with a lens.



This is why I recommend a * 300 lens (F, FA, or DA, in order of preference). Your photos will come out good - dare I say very good? - and will be noticeably more interesting that what you'd get with the DA55-300 lens. But you'll have to get your hands on one to understand that you take what fits in the frame - but if you frame it well, it comes out nice. So maybe you thought you wanted 3 people (or puffins) in the shot, but you end up with a nice shot of one that you wouldn't have got if you had the freedom to mess up the shot by zooming out. Plus the high quality of the optics means that whatever you get almost automatically looks good if it's in focus and you frame it well.

See my examples here from last weekend at my first dance event, inside a poorly lit gym. All five shots on the front page were taken with my F*300/4.5. The Canon guy sitting next to me - who'd been to quite a few - said my lens was way too long. But the night before a National Geographic photographer reminded me of an old quote - "if you're pictures aren't interesting, you're not close enough." The Canon guy had a 70-200/2.8 on a full frame 5D - I had an angle of view equivalent to 450mm on his camera. He had much better timing on their leaps, but I'm sure his shots weren't as intimate, and I doubt they were as interesting. (Most of mine are straight from the camera, so I may still need to do some exposure adjustment and so forth).

EventTime Photos
Top Photos - EventTime Photos


Then see this girl in the parade? DA*50-135. Virtually all parade shots were taken with that lens at around f/3.5. I never could have got this look with the DA55-300. My FA135/2.8 is the only other one that could have (a lens I also recommend).

Photos - EventTime Photos




My inclination is to suggest you order a *300 lens, a DA18-135 WR, and if possible squeeze in a FA135 (which sounds redundant, but I'm not sure you'll think so once you see one (nice and small) and use it at f/3.2 to f/4 (impossible with the DA18-135)). KEH has a good price on an FA135 right now.

Try them out. Be prepared to send one or more back if necessary. But you need to get your hands on them. I can almost assure you you'll like the 300 and 135 (I think the FA135 is my daughter's favorite lens). I'll follow this post if you'd like with some thoughts on which of the three *300 lenses is better for given scenarios, and why I'd rather have a F*300 and FA135 than a Sigma 70-200/2.8. It may also help you to know that out of my fairly complete, quality lens kit, those are two of my most used lenses.


Last edited by DSims; 03-29-2014 at 01:34 PM.
03-29-2014, 06:38 PM   #9
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If your budget allows, and you're enthusiastic about photography, I don't think you would regret buying a high quality lens.

Of the lenses you mention in your original post, the only one I have is the Sigma 70-200 (the HSM II - not the current model). I had bought this lens specifically to take pictures at our daughter's equestrian events. I also tested it at hockey games in an indoor arena. The lens performs very well, optically and mechanically. It focuses quickly and produces excellent images. However, I find the lens is uncomfortably heavy for me at 1.4 kg / 3 lbs during hikes or walking tours. For that reason, I prefer other lenses in my kit but I do take it out on occasion. There is also a Tamron 70-200 that is lighter at 1150 g / 2.5 lbs; I don't own one but understand it's rated well and reasonably priced for its quality.

I do have the DA* 300, which is an extraordinary lens in my opinion. It's noticeably lighter than the sigma (1070 g / 38 oz) and I don't mind carrying it for hours. Like DSims said, the images "come out very good" indeed. Please note that many users also speak highly of the DA* 60-250, which I gather is no slouch and also has the versatility of a zoom.

For London, you would certainly benefit from a shorter focal length. The DA 21 or DA 35/2.4 would be good for general use. The DA 35 has a reasonably wide aperture (f/2.4) that will be useful in lower light levels outdoors or inside museums. The DA 18-135 would provide a good range of useful focal lengths for your city explorations, but it's a bit slower (aperture wise), so not quite as useful indoors. (you could increase your ISO sensitivity setting, though, to compensate).

I hope these comments help. No doubt others will offer other ideas.

- Craig

Last edited by c.a.m; 03-29-2014 at 06:43 PM.
03-29-2014, 09:24 PM   #10
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So...DSims, which do you prefer, the DA 18-135 or the DA 50-135? The parade shots are gorgeous! What did you PP theses with if I may ask?And I love the dance pics, all the emotion comes through.
I am starting to feel capable of a good decision !!!
03-30-2014, 03:55 AM - 1 Like   #11
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[I should be asleep now, but since I'm barely awake, and I just saw your question, I'll give a response while it's still on my mind]


I'm glad to hear that you're feeling capable of a good decision! I'm also glad the emotion is coming through in the dance photos. Those two remarks mean the most to me. If you're not already super comfortable with it, take some classes on general photography, composition, lighting, and landscape photography. Then visit more art museums or galleries - especially looking at paintings. Those artists could make the scene look however they wanted. You have to find it in the frame of your viewfinder.

Definitely I prefer the DA*50-135. It's just that it expands you budget. But it's a lens that's really worth it - it's the best zoom made for Pentax, IMO. Better to buy one used, because new prices are high. It's big enough for people to notice it, but it's not too heavy to carry around (unlike some 70-200 lenses).


Thanks for the compliment - I don't PP most of the parade shots at all - the lens is that good. I shoot RAW all the time except for events like this (which also includes sports and dance), where JPEG-only is more practical. Most of them are the lowest quality setting (1 star) JPEGs straight from the camera (but always full 16MP resolution) so they're small and I can send them to the web quickly, even over a cellular connection. The only thing I do is use Portrait color mode in the camera (that I've customized slightly, to my liking) and slightly customized in-camera NR settings. While 95% of the posted parade photos never see PP, I am still doing PP on some of the dance photos, since it was so dark inside and I have a few exposure/noise issues.


So yes, if you can afford it, the DA16-45, DA*50-135, and DA*300 would be the ideal kit, assuming you don't mind the physical size of the 2 longer lenses (and the need to carry 2-3 lenses with you some of the time).

[Well, actually the F*300 (or FA*300 if need be) would be slightly better than the DA*300, because I actually did lose focus with the DA*300 indoors more often. Many of my best shots were right after I switched back to the F*300 from the DA*300. But I'm getting a little nit-picky here - they're both quite good overall. Outdoors the DA*300 is WR with a nearly silent AF, and in a few cases people think the noisier screw-drive AF of the F* and FA* could scare some birds or wildlife away (whereas the DA* is nearly silent). The DA* is also easier to find on both the new and used markets.]

[Also, when I do PP, I use Capture One (or sometimes Perfectly Clear stand-alone for large batches). Capture One gives me better results than LR most of the time, and it's less frustrating because it has good camera profiles (Adobe's are only OK, and used to be quite poor) - meaning the RAW (PEF, in my case) photos already look good before I start modifying the settings. I'm also quite fond of the printing module, which makes it easy to print multiple photos per sheet or custom set the image and border sizes.]

Last edited by DSims; 03-30-2014 at 04:27 AM.
03-30-2014, 02:42 PM   #12
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Really awesome insight DSims! I just have to decide what I am capable of dragging around England with me, no hubby packhorse this trip but I'm sure it will be worth it if I just get a few shots worth having
Also, what kind of filter do you recommend? I really don't know about polarizing or UV. I'm not even going to pretend to know about them...
Thanks a ton!

Last edited by northmole; 03-30-2014 at 02:50 PM.
03-30-2014, 05:14 PM - 1 Like   #13
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There's no consensus on filters, but a good number of people (like myself) don't use one unless it's a Circular Polarizer (CPL) or Neutral Density (ND). This is the "purist's" approach, since a filter will slightly degrade IQ. So it has to enhance the image in some other way.


An ND is only to reduce the amount of light because you want to use a wide aperture or slow shutter speed to get a certain effect. In theory I want them, but in practice I seldom use mine.

CPLs are interesting, and you should get one that fits at least one of your lenses, to try it. I should use them more than I do, and I'm beginning to. But there are so many other things to think about in creating your images that you may not think to add a CPL to the mix most of the time. Nevertheless, it's good with sky, water and glass. For example, with a shallow lake or pond, you can either capture the reflection on the surface of the water, or look through it to capture the fish in it. Likewise you can make sky or ocean have more color. It just depends on how you rotate the filter one way or the other.


There's a broad consensus that these are the only two types of filters that can improve your photos on a digital camera (since you can now adjust White Balance and other things on the camera or in PP). But some argue that "clear" filters (variants are UV and Skylight filters) are still useful to protect the lens, even though they slightly degrade the image with little to no optical benefit. The only time I use these is when there's prevalent sand or ocean spray in the wind. And sometimes you'd rather use a CPL in these situations anyway (though CPLs will also cut the light by around 1.5 stops).

The most important thing to do to protect your lens is to keep the hood on it. And then you can also put the lens cap on if you're not likely to be shooting in the next 5 or 10 minutes. When the protruding hood bumps into a person, a wall, or (worse yet) the ground, it will prevent scratches on the front element while absorbing some of the impact to the lens. When my camera and lens with a clear filter on (but not the hood) fell out of my cheap Canon backpack as I was heading to my gate at Heathrow, it struck the ground the filter shattered, scratching the lens' front element that I thought it was protecting! If I'd had the lens cap on instead, it might have also absorbed enough of the impact to prevent or reduce the mechanical damage to the lens. So I haven't kept a clear filter on my lenses since then.

Last edited by DSims; 03-30-2014 at 05:20 PM.
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