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04-18-2014, 04:03 PM   #1
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Primes or zooms

I am at the start of building my lens collection but I am undecided which way to go.

I currently have a k5 with the kit 18-55mm WR and a selection of takumar lenses.

My previous setup I had a canon 5d classic with 17-40mm f/4 L, 50mm f/1.8, 70-200mm f/4 L that worked quite well.

I have been getting on OK with my collection of various takumar lenses but I really want autofocus.

My current path of thinking is either;

Pentax 16-50mm f/2.8 and 50-135mm f/2.8
Or
15mm, 21mm, 35mm, 70mm Pentax limited lenses.

All advice and suggestions greatly appreciated.

04-18-2014, 04:57 PM   #2
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I am sure there is a right answer for you - until you change your mind

I was an ALL zoom guy until about a year or two. Had the DA* 16-50mm and a Tamron 70-2000/2.8. Did a 180 and I am now all prime.

A couple of thoughts: The DA* is All Weather - your primes will not be. The DA* 16-50 will not be up to the IQ of the shorter primes, but the 50-135mm probably will be (have not had one). The zooms are big and very noticeable - the primes far less so. The primes will provide a MUCH more compact set (something I really appreciate now). Downside is that lens changing can become a nuisance - and a second body helps a lot but adds to the bulk.

Good news is that if you buy used lenses, you can easily sell them again a no or little loss. I have sold 15 lenses in the last few years. Issue is of course that you will find excuses to keep them all
04-18-2014, 05:00 PM   #3
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Either one will work, honestly. The DA* zoom set is very good and the DA*50-135 has excellent IQ. It's one of the best lenses you can get, and its only drawback is AF speed that's too slow to capture most runners (but fine for marchers). Naturally it's bigger than primes and has a smaller aperture.

If you go with the primes I'd consider keying on an FA*24/2 and an FA77/1.8. The FA77 can virtually replace the DA*50-135 because its high IQ at f/1.8 adds flexibility. The F or FA 135 makes a great addition to these, and just like the FA77 it has great IQ and is unobtrusively small. Furthermore all these lenses work on FF, should you change your mind about APS-C a year from now.

The at the wide end consider whether you'd want a DA15, Samyang 10/28, or DA10-17 at some point - regardless of whether you pick the zooms or primes.
04-18-2014, 05:34 PM   #4
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As a person with far too many lenses, so my wife tells me, I prefer the primes. I have a 15, 40, 77, 100 macro and a 300. I love the 40 because it's not only sharp and fast but it is small. The others I only use when I have a specific reason. Sometimes I force myself to try photos with a prime I rarely use like the 77 just to work with that lens. However, I got a less expensive Sigma zoom for taking snapshots of the grandkids, friends, and occasional events. The zoom is much handier when taking lots of snaps of kids running around.

I have tried some others but I stick with these lenses for good results. I am tempted, I must admit, to buy the new Pentax teleconverter but I am waiting until I can see some reviews.

One thing is certain. No matter what you decide, you won't be satisfied and will always wonder if you did the right thing.

04-18-2014, 05:52 PM - 2 Likes   #5
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both. autofocus zooms for situations with quickly changing/moving subjects and locations with fog, snow, dust, sea spray, etc.. fast primes for situations where you can take your time and want the best image quality you can get.
04-18-2014, 06:18 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by maltfalc Quote
both. autofocus zooms for situations with quickly changing/moving subjects and locations with fog, snow, dust, sea spray, etc.. fast primes for situations where you can take your time and want the best image quality you can get.
Exactly what I was gonna say.

It'll depend on your shooting style. When I'm on the road and I can't really stop every two minutes and take my time to find just the right spot, I have a super zoom on the camera (18-200). If I come up to a place where I feel I should take my time, I'll set up and either use a good quality shorter zoom or a prime. If I am doing portraits, I'll have a prime on the camera. I tried my 50-135 for portrait but I still prefer primes for this. If I'm going for a walk in the bush with the dog, I'll use a 17-70 I'm not into birding so I don't need the reach. A 50 would work good too but the zoom does give a bit of flexibility.

My goal was to cover most range with good quality zooms. I currently have 17-70 and 50-135 with a 10-20 expected Tuesday and a 120-400 next month. I shoot everything and anything. This kit covers it all. But it's big and bulky. And even with the DA*, IQ is not equal to primes.

After a while I have identified focal lengths I use more often and bought primes where I felt they were required. At the moment, 35, 50 and 135. I will later get a 15ish and either a 70, 77 or 85. At that point, zooms will become less useful.

Both your zoom kit and your limited kit will render great IQ. You won't go wrong either way. (I would add a longer prime like a DA*200 or 300 if I were you). It will depend on the level of quality that you are after. Even the DA 18-270 can take amazing photos, one lens and you're done... if you can live with it's limitations.

One thing I noticed over the years is that most "prime kind" of people will usually stick with primes and rarely get a zoom. Where the "zoom kind" of people will get some fixed focal length lenses at one point.
04-18-2014, 06:59 PM   #7
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I also went with af zooms and manual primes, well that is today's story The 18-135 wr and 100-300 zoms cover a lot of range quickly, and the primes are available for low light or leisure. For fairly cheap thrills get one from every decade like me: 2 Tak, a K an M and two A primes cover 17 to 300mm... with a few gaps for later
04-18-2014, 07:15 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by bonaprof Quote
One thing is certain. No matter what you decide, you won't be satisfied and will always wonder if you did the right thing.
Perhaps you're half joking?

I think you can be satisfied. However, I have a fairly complete kit so I 'm not sure it's fair for me to say that.

But don't ask me which path to take, since I took both. FWIW, if I'd bought the DA*16-50 sooner (it was one of my last acquisitions) I wouldn't have got so many primes in this range.

04-18-2014, 07:26 PM   #9
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This one is really quite simple, these aren't my words but they ring true: Zooms are for TAKING pictures, primes are for MAKING pictures. They are not the same thing. Are you taking pictures while on the go, or is photography the whole point of your excursion?

I have some of both. My zooms go with when I have the family in tow, the primes are in the bag when I go specifically on photo safari. Except my Tamron 70-200-it goes with the primes; my DA50-200 goes with the zooms.
04-18-2014, 08:06 PM   #10
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Just get exactly what I have, with the DA55 instead of the FA50. How can I recommend any different?
04-18-2014, 08:16 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kozlok Quote
DA50-200 goes with the zooms.
To be honest this is a mediocre zoom at best so I can see why you would use this to "take" pictures and not "make" pictures.

I think I'm split evenly between primes and zooms. Of course I have two of the best zooms, the DA*16-50 and the DA*50-135. But I also enjoy shooting with the FA 43 and DA 21 combo. One day I will own the FA 31. Honestly I think there's room for both as long as they are high IQ lenses.
04-18-2014, 10:22 PM   #12
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Either case, go with the limited primes first.. they are the most compelling reason to own a pentax DSLR iin my opinion.
04-18-2014, 11:08 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kozlok Quote
This one is really quite simple, these aren't my words but they ring true: Zooms are for TAKING pictures, primes are for MAKING pictures. They are not the same thing. Are you taking pictures while on the go, or is photography the whole point of your excursion?

I have some of both. My zooms go with when I have the family in tow, the primes are in the bag when I go specifically on photo safari. Except my Tamron 70-200-it goes with the primes; my DA50-200 goes with the zooms.

Well said! I have quite similar approach. When I travel the DA* zooms are default in the bag. There's not so much time to think every frame and I still wan't to get a picture of what ever is interesting without using my legs too much.

Primes are for home and dedicated photography journeys, when it's all about the pictures.

Of course there are exceptions, but this is how I mainly use my lenses.
04-19-2014, 05:15 AM   #14
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Both.
The * lenses will deliver iq not significantly different than primes and are more flexible. The primes are smaller and lighter and more fun.
Different, not better.
04-19-2014, 08:32 AM   #15
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Back when I bought my first Pentax dSLR, a K10D, instead of the kit lenses I bought the DA* 16-50 and 50-135 and have never regretted it. I have a bunch of primes which I like to shoot with but when I'm out and about, rain or shine, those two are always with me. Oh, and yes, I can MAKE photographs with them too.

DA* 16-50mm f/2.8.
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