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04-17-2014, 03:04 PM   #1
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Need help in picking a lens, please

OK. Being a relatively new guy to the art of photography and this forum, I must disclaim that I probably know less than anyone who will likely respond to my request for help. Now that I've put my cards on the table, I will try to provide as much info as I can in hopes that I can get some much needed advice.

First of all, I'm not a skilled photographer, but I am willing to put in the work to get to a stage where I have successfully transitioned from luck to skill. Now to my dilemma.

I'm torn between 2 lenses for 2 completely different reasons. I'm torn between the Tamron 18-200mm AF XR Di II LD IF Macro lens and the Pentax DA-35mm FA 2.4 AL. You may be saying at this point -- WTF!! They are not even remotely similar!! One's a zoom/macro and one is a prime lens!! So, let me explain ...

I currently have a Pentax K500 with the kit Pentax DA 18-55mm AL f3.5-5.6 and Pentax DA 50-200mm f4-5.6 lenses. In addition to that, I have some older lenses from my ME Super film days -- a Pentax-M 50mm f2 prime lense and a Genesis (probably never heard of them) 28-80mm macro / zoom f2.8-3.5 lense. But wait, there's more -- I have ordered, and should have in my hands very soon, a MC Helios 44K-4 58mm f2 prime lense. I also have a 2x converter and some +2 and +4 diopter type lenses (poor man's macro).

My current shooting is pretty diverse and haven't yet settled into any one type of photography that I would consider my "passion". If asked I would say that I like and lean more towards photographing nature such as flora, insects, birds, vistas / views, etc. I also enjoy shooting Architecture and automobiles, as well as exploring my artistic side through abstract photography (textures/colors/light). I'd really like to explore macro, but the cost of a true macro lense is -- well, let's say they are not cheap. Sports and high-speed stuff is not really something I would want to devote a portion of my limited budget towards -- not my bag. I may, however, explore some portraiture eventually. (Probably would have been shorter to just list what I don't plan on shooting.)

Now to make a long story long ...

Why am I looking at those 2 very different lenses?

1. Well -- the Tamron has a pretty close focus "macro" capability that seems intriguing. In addition, the fact that it goes 18-200mm seems nice as the idea of less switching of lenses is appealing. Seems like it would be a good "walk-around" lens. The barrel distortion at both ends of the zoom seem pretty excessive, but may be correctable in LR or PS - -especially with the lens profiles. I can't help but feel that the trade-offs of a super zoom like the Tamron are too great and that I should just stay with the 18-55mm and 50-200mm kit lenses; however, I would like some input. Is the cost of having a singular "walk-around lens with close focus / pseudo Macro capability worth what I'd lose by just staying with my kit lenses?

2. Assuming, I choose not to got the Tamron (based on your fabulous input), then my fall-back is the Pentax DA-35mm FA 2.4 AL lens. This lens is AWESOME from all the reviews. The sharpness and contrast seems excellent and the sample pictures are outstanding. The fact that it is a DA AF lens is nice meaning I can go auto, semi-auto, or manual whenever I choose, as opposed to always going manual with the Pentax-M and Helios. Given the prime lenses I already have, would I be nuts to shell out for another lense? Would the DA-35mm quality surpass the Helios or Pentax-M or would it just be a zero-sum affair? Would the DA be a suitable replacement for either or a good addition to my prime lens portfolio? (I can always pass any lense along to my daughter for use on her K110D).

Well -- if you've gotten this far, please chime in. I really do not know what to do at this point. Thanks in advance!!


Last edited by ripper2860; 04-17-2014 at 05:50 PM.
04-17-2014, 03:09 PM   #2
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I would go with the prime lens. Not only for the better image quality, but because having a lens that doesn't zoom really helps train your photographic eye.

Superzoom lenses are convenient, but IMO they're not worth the compromise in image quality if you're looking for high-quality or artistic shots rather than everyday/travel snapshots. If you do want to upgrade your 18-55mm some day, take a look at the Pentax 18-135mm: its image quality is good and it's got silent AF, which is nice.

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04-17-2014, 03:59 PM   #3
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Go with the 35. Superzooms are a trade-off...convenience at the cost of quality.

Macro, btw, need not be too pricey, consider a Tamron 90 f2.5 manual focus (autofocus and macro really don't mix well). I have one that I have owned since the early 80's and used it on my Nikon's and Pentax's with a simple mount change. Nice lens with outstanding image quality! Check ebay.

Also consider reverse mounting a lens or lenses. Check out the link for more info on how to.

Reverse Lens Macro: Close Up Photography Lesson #3 -
04-17-2014, 04:02 PM   #4
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+1 with Adam.

Go for a prime and DA35mm f2.4 is a good choice for a start.

The alternative DA18-135mm is also worth to consider.

At the end you may end up with both, and this is called LBA... Lens Buying Addiction!

04-17-2014, 04:06 PM   #5
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Prime Time?

Hello ripper2860, welcome to the Forum!
Yep, I'll 2nd the nomination for the 'Plastic Fantastic' over a superzoom, any superzoom. Better image quality, smaller, lighter, faster.
You're in a good spot right now; With the two kit zooms covering 18-200mm between them, you can pick and chose any prime you like.
There's a couple of ways to pick out which primes to buy along the way. One is to use your kit zooms a lot, then set LR to filter the photos by focal length. In other words, let's say you find there's several good shots taken around 20-24mm, OK? These are photos that you really like, and you had a choice of framing and composing at the time. You chose to zoom to around 20-24mm. So, a 21mm Ltd or 24mm prime would fit right in.
The other way is the old (film era) formula. Half and double. If you start with a fifty, your next prime should be half the focal length 24mm (roughly) or twice, 100mm. The 35mm sits pretty well between a fifty and the 24mm.
And for a macro, I'd suggest 100mm or so. If you follow the sales here on the Marketplace, you may find a used Sigma, Tamron or Pentax macro for a good price. As long as you don't mind used and sometimes manual lenses, there's a whole world of legacy glass out there!
Good luck!
Ron
04-17-2014, 04:22 PM   #6
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DA 35mm f2.4 for sure. With the super zoom you will not get different results the gear you already have. I start with Sigma 18-200 and gave it to my brother. DA 18-135 WR has better optics and you can keep it if you upgrade in to a future to a weather sealed body. My most used lens are DA 35mm f2.4, FA 50mm f1.4 and my 18-135 DA
04-17-2014, 04:29 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by jwd722 Quote
Also consider reverse mounting a lens or lenses. Check out the link for more info on how to.

Reverse Lens Macro: Close Up Photography Lesson #3 -
Excellent recommendation. I had read previously, but had completely forgotten about reverse mounting a lens for macro. I believe there is even an adapter that allows one to affix a filter on the reversed lense to protect the "back glass" and mount. I will also keep an eye out for the Tamron SP90. -- thanks!!

Adam, rbefly and hcc -- thank you for your replies. I was leaning towards the DA35mm and I believe this is the way I will go.

Now -- how does this lense fit in with my current prime line-up? This would give me a Pentax DA 35mm, Pentax-M 50mm, and Helios 44K 58mm. Is it prudent to keep all 3 primes in the portfolio given the 3 focal lengths. Should I hand the Helios or Pentax-M off to the kiddo for her K110D or is there a reason for me to hang-on to 2 lenses with very similar focal lengths?

QuoteOriginally posted by wax Quote
DA 35mm f2.4 for sure. With the super zoom you will not get different results the gear you already have. I start with Sigma 18-200 and gave it to my brother. DA 18-135 WR has better optics and you can keep it if you upgrade in to a future to a weather sealed body. My most used lens are DA 35mm f2.4, FA 50mm f1.4 and my 18-135 DA
It's really looking like I need to put the 18-135 Pentax on my list. It seems to be very highly recommended and reviewed. Kiddo will need a something with a longer reach soon. Perhaps my 50-200mm?
04-17-2014, 04:38 PM   #8
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You should forget photography and start writing a book. A long book. I think you can answer your own question.

04-17-2014, 05:10 PM - 1 Like   #9
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Thanks everyone, for your valued input. At this point, I have decided to take Pepe's advice and give up photography. Instead I will be writing the great American Novel!! Anyone have thoughts on whether I should use a Word Processor -- or just go with an old manual typewriter??


Nah -- who am I kidding?? I've ordered the DA35mm and will make my own determination as to which Prime lenses to keep after using them all for a bit. Only then can I answer my own question. Thanks to everyone that provided photographic guidance. And thank you Pepe for showing me that the true answer to ones question lies purely within himself.



BTW -- Amazon has the Pentax 21987 DA 35mm f/2.4 AL Lens for $141.98

Last edited by ripper2860; 04-17-2014 at 05:21 PM.
04-17-2014, 05:36 PM   #10
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Welcome to LBA!!!
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