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05-20-2014, 12:36 PM   #1
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Cheap Prime Lens for Astrophotography - Pentax K30

I'm trying to find a cheap prime lens (under $125) for my trip out west to Yellowstone and Grand Teton. I specifically want it for taking some wide astro shots of the stars over the top of the tetons out there. I read this post: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/162323-good...otography.html but it's more focused on telephoto shots and I'm looking for a shorter, fast, wide lens that I can use for landscape shots of the stars. I've been reading this website How to Pick a Lens for Milky Way Photography – Lonely Speck but the lenses he recommends are just out of my price range. Anyone have some recommendations that will serve a similar purpose but for cheaper? Thanks for your help!

05-20-2014, 12:44 PM   #2
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Your price range is a bit restrictive as it pretty much limits you to older manual lenses, which weren't designed for ultra-wide shooting on APS-C cameras.

I'd recommend the Rokinon 14mm F2.8, which is $299:
Rokinon 14mm Ultra Wide-Angle f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens FE14M-P B&H

If that's too wide, then there's the 16mm F2.0 for $329:
Rokinon 16mm f/2.0 ED AS UMC CS Lens for Pentax K APS-C 16M-P

Or you could go manual with something like the 28mm F2:
SMC Pentax-M 28mm F2 Reviews - M Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

The issue with older lenses is that their coatings are not the best, which could lead to flare and ghosting if your scene includes the moon. If sure there are other legacy third-party options out there, so perhaps someone else will be able to help in that department.

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05-20-2014, 12:47 PM   #3
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I would purchase an M42-PK adapter (genuine Pentax brand, roughly $30 - others ($5 - $10) may not allow infinity focus). Then you have the whole world of screw mount lenses available to you. It should be easy to find a high quality piece of glass for the remaining $100 or so.
05-20-2014, 12:50 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Well, you could get an old 28mm/2.8 for cheap. Not sure what you're expecting for under $125.

I'd suggest you rent a lens if you want a good quality lens for your trip. You can get the 15mm limited for a month for less than 125. Or if you want crazy wide, the sigma 8-16.
CameraLensRental.com - Pentax Wide Angle rental

05-20-2014, 01:02 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by OregonJim Quote
I would purchase an M42-PK adapter (genuine Pentax brand, roughly $30 - others ($5 - $10) may not allow infinity focus). Then you have the whole world of screw mount lenses available to you. It should be easy to find a high quality piece of glass for the remaining $100 or so.
Thanks for the idea, I hadn't really thought of that. If I went that route, do you have a recommendation for an M42 that would be best for my use?

---------- Post added 05-20-14 at 04:24 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by narual Quote
Well, you could get an old 28mm/2.8 for cheap. Not sure what you're expecting for under $125.

I'd suggest you rent a lens if you want a good quality lens for your trip. You can get the 15mm limited for a month for less than 125. Or if you want crazy wide, the sigma 8-16.
CameraLensRental.com - Pentax Wide Angle rental
Yeah I know that I'm not going to get the best quality for that money. I hadn't considered a rental yet though, I'll look into that.
05-20-2014, 01:26 PM   #6
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Those will have the same issue Adam mentioned with flaring and ghosting - possibly even more so than newer manual lenses.

If you do get one, put it on a macro ring or something first so you can practice taking it off… they can be *incredibly* frustrating to remove from the camera. (I removed the locking mechanism on mine after it took me 20 minutes to get it off the camera the first time)

---------- Post added 05-20-14 at 04:48 PM ----------

Rentals can be a great deal. Shipping can be a bit salty, but if you're going for a week or two shipping is a lot more economical than it is for a weekend.

If you're in the part of NC that's close to Tennessee, I think LensRentals.com is in eastern TN - you might be able to save shipping with a road trip.

They don't have as much as cameralensrentals, but still much more than borrowlenses.
05-20-2014, 04:21 PM   #7
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Grab an old 28 f/2.8 for wide astrophotography, stop it down to f/4 or so, and have a blast. If you want AF I have occasionally seen the DA 35 f2.4 just over your 125 budget. It would have modern coatings and should be great for what you want.
05-20-2014, 06:31 PM   #8
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Thanks for all of your help so far. Follow up question... would y'all think that I would be better off purchasing the Pentax 35mm f2.4 at about $150, or renting a wide angle Pentax lens for $145? In other words, do you think that the 35 2.4 would be good enough for my trip and useful to keep for the long term or should I go for the better lens for the short term just for the trip?

05-20-2014, 07:13 PM   #9
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A couple lenses I use (and like). Sears 55mm f1.4. @$50 but might not be as wide as you want. Pentax A-28mm f2.8. @$90. But might not be fast enough. I use both of these lenses for the type of shooting you plan on doing and like them both. A lens I don't have but am hoping to find in a thrift store some day is the Kiron 24mm f2.0. @$60. The 28mm version goes for @$100 and gets very high marks in the reviews. The Vivitar 28mm f2.0 A version goes for @$125. These are all manual lenses but if you're shooting at night you should be shooting manually anyway. (but they can be rather heavy)
05-20-2014, 08:36 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jrdesigns Quote
Thanks for all of your help so far. Follow up question... would y'all think that I would be better off purchasing the Pentax 35mm f2.4 at about $150, or renting a wide angle Pentax lens for $145? In other words, do you think that the 35 2.4 would be good enough for my trip and useful to keep for the long term or should I go for the better lens for the short term just for the trip?
From the ratings I've seen you will probably like it. You can always resell it for about what you paid for it too.
05-21-2014, 08:47 AM   #11
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I paid $5 for a no-name 28/2.8 (Not bad for $5 - Flickr) and got pretty good results with it for normal photography. Haven't tried astrophotography with it, or really with anything else… sooo much light pollution where I live.

Regarding 35 vs renting a wide angle -- depends what angle of view you want. A 35mm is not a wide angle on a Pentax DSLR. If you want full milky way photos you need to go wide.

How-To: Picking a Great Lens for Milky Way Photography

In portrait orientation, the 15mm would catch it. In landscape you need a fisheye or the widest rectilinear you can find (sigma 8-16mm or any of the 10-xmm zooms)

how long are you going to be on vacation for? I didn't think the prices were that high. Remember you can have it sent to your hotel instead of your home, so you don't have to pay for the time you spend traveling with it, and you don't have to rent it for the entire span of your vacation if you don't expect to be using it the whole time.

I'd rent or borrow https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/122-lens-clubs/86234-15mm-limited-control...ml#post2760974 because it's going to net you some great photos for your whole vacation, not just the stars, it's cheap to rent, and it'll fit in your pocket. You could rent both the 10-17 fisheye and the 15mm ltd for 2 weeks for about $120.
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