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05-15-2014, 03:07 PM   #1
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Lens Nirvana; almost there . . .

I've almost reached "lens nirvana".

Since I’ve recently re-joined the Pentax world of DSLRs, with the purchase of my K5IIs, I’ve been buying and selling lenses as I settle in on the glass I need to fit my photography style (nature, wildlife,landscape, family, friends, some generic stock images).

Here is where I am after many steps along my journey:

DA 10-17 – For wide angle landscapes, special effects,indoors/tight quarters, close focus, very sharp

DA 20-40, Limited, WR – For most of my shooting, landscapes, people, stock images. I use this lens with a circular polarizer for 80% of my work. Super combo.

DA* 50-135 – For portraits, candid’s, landscapes, kids soccer. This lens is super sharp and fast.

DA* 300 – For wildlife and some landscapes. Very sharp and sturdy lens.

HD DA AF 1.4x Tele-converter – For my 50-135 and 300, extra reach on both lenses while retaining IQ.

I feel like my focal length range is very well covered with this set up. I’ve found out that I also enjoy the quality zooms over multiple many smaller primes because I’m often shooting in raining, dusty, salty outdoor conditions and don’t like swapping lenses in those conditions if I don’t have to. I also prefer Pentax brand when possible, over third party companies.

The only other two items on my “maybe someday” list are: 1) A macro (D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro); and 2) a faster wide zoom for indoor shots without flash (I have my eye on the Sigma 18-35 F1.8).

What are your thoughts on my evolution?

What does your path to “lens nirvana” look like?


Last edited by TroutHunterJohn; 05-15-2014 at 03:10 PM. Reason: fix tpyo
05-15-2014, 03:14 PM   #2
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Looks like you are pretty well covered/matching my idea of nirvana. Two of my favored lenses missing from your list, the DA 12-24 and the DA* 60-250.
05-15-2014, 03:36 PM   #3
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I've been to my nirvana three times in the past year alone; either nirvana isn't what it's supposed to be, or my roving eye continues to lead me astray.
Bets?

May your nirvana be less illusory than mine!


- - - -
Perfect kit #1 - 16-45, 50, 55-300 (2010, new to Pentax)
mid-Jun perfect kit - DA16-45 #4, 50-200wr #2, DA40+70 Limited primes &c
mid-Oct. perfect kit - DA16-45, Sigma 50-150, two Limited primes &c.
mid-Nov perfect kit - DA21+70 Limited primes, DA50/1.8, Sigma 105mac &c
Somewhere in here the Tamron 28-75 and DA40xs came and went as well. If time travel were only possible..
Today's 'decent' kit: DA18-135, Sigma 100-300 f/4.5-6.7 & a mess of manual primes from Takumar to SMC-A!


I like your setup, very nice lenses there. I have the SMC-A 50/2.8 for macro - after learning five times that a dedicated macro gets little use with me . That 18-35 sounds impressive, your backup plan can include that Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 that I let get away, it was very nice and fast enough for me anywhere. My budget and I learned the hard way that when funds are tight, manual primes are a great answer.
05-15-2014, 03:43 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by TroutHunterJohn Quote
What are your thoughts on my evolution?
Good to see another keen user of the DA 20-40.
Its lens club is ready for whatever you'd care to share:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/122-lens-clubs/247859-da-limited-zoom-club-11.html

That 100mm macro would complement the DA 20-40 for a minimalist pack.

QuoteOriginally posted by TroutHunterJohn Quote
What does your path to “lens nirvana” look like?

Like @jimr-pdx's, my path twists and turns.

Nirvana is a temporary state of mind,
whether induced by LBA or any other kind of addiction!

05-15-2014, 03:52 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by TroutHunterJohn Quote
The only other two items on my “maybe someday” list are: 1) A macro (D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro); and 2) a faster wide zoom for indoor shots without flash (I have my eye on the Sigma 18-35 F1.8).

What are your thoughts on my evolution?
Sounds like you have put a lot of thought into the collection (and a lot of trial and error, and a lot of money!). In the end you have gone for really high-quality lenses. That seems like a good strategy for those who can afford it.

I have the D FA 100mm f.2.8 macro WR. It is a premium lens, the best quality lens I have. It has often been said that it should have been branded as Limited. The autofocus hunts a lot, but using Quick Shift for manual tuning works well. The IQ is outstanding. (Interestingly, it under-exposes a little compared to my 55-300. Not a bad thing, just a different character.) Although you obviously prefer zooms to primes, as a top macro lens it would complement your collection perfectly.

You have a gap from 135mm to 300mm (although the TC takes your 50-135 to about 190mm). The perfect lens to fill it might be the 135-380-ish shown on the Ricoh-Pentax lens map. A lot of Pentaxians have high hopes for that lens when (if?) it eventually arrives. The DA* 60-250 is the obvious alternative.
05-15-2014, 06:55 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by TroutHunterJohn Quote
What are your thoughts on my evolution?
I think you have evolved to a very capable kit that covers a wide range of needs. I don't have the 20-40 (yet), but have been thinking along similar lines - DA15, 20-40, 50-135, and DA* 300. I don't think the gap between (135 x 1.4) and 300 will be a big issue for you. As you mention, a standard fast lens could be very useful.

QuoteOriginally posted by TroutHunterJohn Quote
What does your path to “lens nirvana” look like?
Great question! On which day? Depends on what shows up at the thrift shops (I enjoy Takumars, so I'm always on the lookout for a bargain!)

- Craig
05-16-2014, 03:45 AM   #7
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no super takumar?

Nivarna not have you reached
05-16-2014, 05:50 AM   #8
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I think your lineup makes a lot of sense. A 100mm macro would be an excellent addition, although to avoid too much focal length overlap a Sigma 70mm macro could be a good idea (or, if you don't plan on shooting macro, a DA70 or FA 77.

That being said, even though I consider that I'm near my own "nirvana" mine is different than yours.

Sigma 17-70 : most used lens, mounted by default

Pentax 18-55 WR : the lens I would like to replace with the 18-135 at some point. It's my go-to WR lens, I like its lightness and compactness. In a magical word the 20-40 would replace it, but I'd like a tad longer range. Anyway, it's the weak point in my nirvana.

Pentax 60-250 : second most-used lens. Wonderful, magical, reliable, I love it.

DA21 : landscapes, especially at night, cityscapes, not my most-used but I love its output.

DA40 : most-used prime. Portraits, studio, some landscapes, I love it.

DFA100 macro WR : I can leave home with just that and the 18-55 and have a nice, compact, reliable WR kit. Wonderful for macros of course, some portrait but it's tight.

So as you see, my kit is much different than yours. I cuold add a 70 for some studio work but I erally wouldn't use it often. I could replace the 40 with a 43, but apart from a faster aperture I doubt I'd gain anything. It's really only the 18-55 WR that's a weak point, and then again it's actually a good lens, and the most light/compact available.

05-16-2014, 08:44 AM   #9
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Great feedback from you all. I find it very helpful to hear your plans/experiences on the path to Lens Nirvana.

It seems like we have common interests in covering a broad range of focal lengths and acquiring over time quality glass. Interesting diversity between the prime vs zoom strategies; or like me, a combination of strategic zooms and primes.

While no one has shaken me from my path, I must admit to taking a peek at the DA 12-24 and the 60-250, based on your recommendations.

Onward and upward!
05-16-2014, 09:00 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by TroutHunterJohn Quote
I've almost reached "lens nirvana".

Since I’ve recently re-joined the Pentax world of DSLRs, with the purchase of my K5IIs, I’ve been buying and selling lenses as I settle in on the glass I need to fit my photography style (nature, wildlife,landscape, family, friends, some generic stock images).

Here is where I am after many steps along my journey:

DA 10-17 – For wide angle landscapes, special effects,indoors/tight quarters, close focus, very sharp

DA 20-40, Limited, WR – For most of my shooting, landscapes, people, stock images. I use this lens with a circular polarizer for 80% of my work. Super combo.

DA* 50-135 – For portraits, candid’s, landscapes, kids soccer. This lens is super sharp and fast.

DA* 300 – For wildlife and some landscapes. Very sharp and sturdy lens.

HD DA AF 1.4x Tele-converter – For my 50-135 and 300, extra reach on both lenses while retaining IQ.

I feel like my focal length range is very well covered with this set up. I’ve found out that I also enjoy the quality zooms over multiple many smaller primes because I’m often shooting in raining, dusty, salty outdoor conditions and don’t like swapping lenses in those conditions if I don’t have to. I also prefer Pentax brand when possible, over third party companies.

The only other two items on my “maybe someday” list are: 1) A macro (D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro); and 2) a faster wide zoom for indoor shots without flash (I have my eye on the Sigma 18-35 F1.8).

What are your thoughts on my evolution?

What does your path to “lens nirvana” look like?
Years ago now, there was a thread that discussed the "optimum" lens kit.

My response at the time was that it should have a minimum of 3 zooms covering the range 10-12mm at the wide end through 135-200mm at the long end, with a means of getting to or beyond 400mm if wildlife was a consideration, with as much of the range as possible up to the 135-200mm limit as possible being at F2.8, and supplemented by specialty primes such as macros etc, as required for individual use.

My only comment on your path, is that the 18-35 and 20-40 have quite a lot of redundant function. i think that would be an either / or selection not an addition.

otherwise, you are pretty much on track with my recommendation all those years ago.

the only other thing, and this is really a personal choice, is the fisheye zoom over a rectilinear zoom at the ultra wide end. While i have an 8mm fisheye in my kit and it is a fun lens, i find a 10mm rectilinear lens is very useful on the APS-C format. (i have a sigma 10-20). I looked at the 10-17 when i got the 10-20, but decided that the loss of field of view when you de-fish the 10-17 really reduced it's effectiveness for general architecture shots. WHen I travel , specifically when in europe, the cities are so compact, and streets and viewing angles so restrictive, a true rectilinear lens at 10mm is really really useful. but to each their own
05-16-2014, 09:00 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by TroutHunterJohn Quote
What are your thoughts on my evolution?
You have an excellent kit which could be used in a variety of ways. The only potentially major holes I see is the 100mm macro and a wide angle rectilinear lens.

QuoteOriginally posted by TroutHunterJohn Quote
What does your path to “lens nirvana” look like?
Similar to yours. I have the DA 10-17 and the DA* 300. Instead of the DA 20-40, I have the FA 20-35; and instead of the DA* 50-135, I have the Tamron 70-200. I also have a DFA 100 macro, a DA 15 and a recently acquired DA 17-70. The longer range zoom is handy for those times when I don't want to carry alot of lenses with me or wish to minimize lens changes. That's essentially my "core" kit. I also have a half dozen or so specialty prime lenses, nearly all old manual focus glass for when I want to get away from the zooms and go old school.
05-16-2014, 09:07 AM   #12
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The only thing you are lacking are fast lenses, especially for dim/night photography.

It seems like you're having great luck with SDM lenses, so why not the DA* 55mm f1.4?

And for something safer, the FA 43mm f1.9 Limited I hear is not too shabby.
05-16-2014, 12:48 PM   #13
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I think you have a very nice set up. And others have commented where you I think you might want consider adding to nirvana.

My kit is exactly like yours except on the extra-wide (i don't have one and can't seem to wrap my head around going that wide), the teleconverter (i've considered it but it is too rich for how much use it would get) and I just purchased a portrait prime. I think the only thing i might add to my kit is an inexpensive way to get macro.

Enjoy your kit!
05-16-2014, 04:06 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by TroutHunterJohn Quote
While no one has shaken me from my path, I must admit to taking a peek at the DA 12-24 and the 60-250, based on your recommendations.
I always had a preference for telephoto, but my DA 12-24 has changed that. I'm totally converted. Great lens.

An ultrawide does require careful attention to composition, but I guess you know that already from the 10-17 fisheye.

With your 10-17 and 20-40, a 12-24 (not to mention the 18-35) would give you a lot of overlap. Would you really use all three very much? Personally I agree with Lowell Gouge that I would find a rectilinear ultrawide much more useful than a fisheye.

I notice that you use a CPL most of the time on the 20-40. If you apply the same approach to a 12-24 it can be problematic:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/140695-pola...da12-24mm.html
05-16-2014, 06:33 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by TroutHunterJohn Quote

While no one has shaken me from my path, I must admit to taking a peek at the DA 12-24...
This is an indispensible lens for vacations, I have found (as is the 10-17). It does not compete with the 10-17, and you would likely be using it mostly in the 12-20 range which does not overlap (much) with the 20-40. The alternative might be the 15, which I choose for car shows (or the 12-24 if I want some flexibility).

Here's a 10-17 vs 12-24 comparison at the common focal lengths.


My wobbly path to Nirvana can be followed in my sig. The K20/18-55 may (hopefully) disappear soon. If I had to give up some lenses it would be the 21 and 40, which are nice but I rarely use them (plus there is some overlap with the versatile 17-70). I have no interest in more existing K-mount equipment, but I have the Tamron 150-600 on back order (since Feb 16 :-( and a Canon 17 TS-E should be shipping soon.

I think the last 2 will get me there.

I hope it is Nirvana, and not Jonestown.

Last edited by SpecialK; 05-16-2014 at 06:53 PM.
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