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01-24-2015, 11:02 PM   #1
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New Pentaxian - needs lens advice

Im going to get a K3 body and obviously need some lenses... I like taking photos of everything from macro, wildlife,landscapes and occasionally sports. Astrophotography is another area I'm wanting to try.

So far my lens shopping list is:

Pentax FA WR 100mm macro
Rokinon 16mm F2. (Landscape and Astrophotography)
Pentax FA 31mm ( Like the 24 and 35mm FOV and given its legendary status this seems a must have)

Im also considering the new 16-85mm (Im assuming its WR) as a walk around lens for those crappy days.

I then find myself unsure if I should risk on or two of the Pentax SDM lenses i.e. 50-135mm, 50-250mm or 300mm .. After doing some research there appears to be some reports Pentax "fixing" the SDM problems but equal number of failure reports.. Also, not knowing what configuration the yet to released zooms are going to be doesn't help either.
Can all of the SDM lenses be converted to screw drive? I don't want to be constantly sending lenses to Pentax to replaced SDM's.

What are some other alternatives (third party) that will cover approx. 50-200mm (F4 or faster. ) and are more reliable? I can hold off a bit on the 150mm+ end to see what happens with the pending zoom announcement/specs but i won't survive without something in the 70-200mm or 50-150mm range.

Any advice appreciated.

01-24-2015, 11:37 PM   #2
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I don't have one ($$$!) but I think you need a Sigma or Tamron 70-200 f2.8.
01-25-2015, 01:24 AM   #3
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Is the Sigma for pentax mount made anymore?
01-25-2015, 03:00 AM   #4
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The Sigma was discontinued for Pentax but used copies come up for sale sometimes.

I wouldn't worry about the SDM failing anymore, but most find the AF slower if that is important to you. Anyway, I have a 50-135 from 2009 that has never shown issues. From what I've read conversion to screwdrive requires an older body like the k10d. You can find plenty of threads on that by searching the forum.

The 31mm and DFA 100mm WR are both killer lenses that handle well with amazing build quality. Those are the two that would keep me from jumping to another system (besides $). Adding the DA 300 or F* 300 (and a good wide angle I guess) would complete a near perfect kit for me.

01-25-2015, 03:29 AM   #5
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The DA*50-135 is unbeatable. I've also been fortunate not to have an SDM failure on mine, but frankly I couldn't afford not to get it, because there's no zoom I know of that can match it.

The D FA 100 WR is fantastic as well - I've sold all my other macros (except for my Cosina 100/3.5) including the 'sharpest Pentax lens ever' F50 macro now that I have it. But that Cosina is outstanding for the money - I'd start with it unless you'll still have over ~$3000 left to spend on other lenses right away. This is a great place to save money while you're still building you kit. Likewise, the FA31 is rather difficult to get eye-catching photos from, IMO. Start with the DA35/2.4 instead.

Spend your money now on a *300 (I prefer F*, FA*, and DA*, in that order). Combine it with a DA*50-135.

Your starting kit should look something like this, IMO:

F*300 - good for sports too
DA*50-135 (some sports may require a faster-focusing lens like the FA*85 or F/FA135/2.8, but you can worry about that later - there's still no substitute for the DA*50-135)
Cosina 100/3.5 macro (available in AF if you want, under many brands)
DA35/2.4
FA*24/2 - it's just a better focal length, and I think you'll get better shots from it.
Rokinon 16/2

The 16-85 looks surprisingly good, so you might get one.

Also pick up an A (or M) 100/2.8 non-macro, as well as an A24/2.8 if you're not yet convinced to get the FA*24. And get an M50/1.4 to play with as well. Soon consider a FA*85 or FA77, and/or DA*55. And get some kind of zoom to fill the ~16-50mm range - don't put it off too long or you may keep trying to cover that range with too many primes (I've had 15, 20, 24, 28, 30, 31, 35, 43, and 50, but now I only want the DA*16-50 and FA*24/2 most of the time). The DA*16-50 will never match the IQ of the DA*50-135, but it's still better than anything else I can find so far, and I'm very happy to have it. If you just can't choose an ~16-50 yet, the F24-50/4 is very good, but it's not quite as versatile without the wide end. The DA16-45/4 may come close to it as well, and it has the wide end.

Also, a battery grip for the K-3 may not be necessary at all, but if you end up shooting many events or sports in portrait mode it can suddenly become a necessity (unless you want your arm to fall off!).

Last edited by DSims; 01-25-2015 at 03:50 AM.
01-25-2015, 03:50 AM   #6
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Sounds like the DA* 50-135mm might be worth taking the risk. The DA* 300mm with the tele converter would be nice but i will hold off on that purchase to see what the specs of the new telephotos are.

I prefer to buy once. Spending a bit extra to get the build quality of the Pentax FA 100mm plus weather sealing is the way i will go..

Ill check out the FA* 24/2 .Im not familiar with that lens. I think i would go the DA 35 f2.8 ltd macro before the DA 35/2.4..

Im not sure about the wider zoom.. From my limited experience I tend to prefer primes at the wider angle and just move around to get the shot...

Appreciate all the suggestions... Im off to do some more research..
01-25-2015, 05:03 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tonyau Quote
Ill check out the FA* 24/2 .Im not familiar with that lens.
The FA*24 was one lens I had to get my hands on before I understood how good it is. Usually I can tell pretty well just by looking a photos taken with a lens. Not that it's the best 24 any manufacturer's ever made, but it's still very good. And you realize it's reasonably priced too, when you start to notice what the competition is.

---------- Post added 01-25-15 at 04:09 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Tonyau Quote
Sounds like the DA* 50-135mm might be worth taking the risk. The DA* 300mm with the tele converter would be nice but i will hold off on that purchase to see what the specs of the new telephotos are.
If you'd rather have a zoom, then fine, but zooms aren't going to match a prime at this focal length, and the *300s are strong primes at that. I don't find the gap between 135mm and 300mm to be a problem, though I suppose YMMV. If you're not accustomed to having a lens like a 300mm prime, then you may not realize you'll be missing out while you wait for something inferior to arrive.
01-25-2015, 06:55 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by rod_grant Quote
I think you need a Sigma or Tamron 70-200 f2.8.
The Tamron is a great lens for the price, although not weather sealed. For about twice it's price you can get the Pentax 60-250, but that does not have internal zooming or focusing, and is an f/4 lens.

01-25-2015, 07:00 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tonyau Quote
Pentax FA WR 100mm macro
Rokinon 16mm F2. (Landscape and Astrophotography)
Pentax FA 31mm ( Like the 24 and 35mm FOV and given its legendary status this seems a must have)
Very good choices IMO.. the only question is the order to acquire them in!

Dont rule out the DA 15mm + O-GPS1 combo though (for astro)... but yes that will cost more than a fast 16mm f2 Samyang
01-25-2015, 07:05 AM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Imp Quote
The Tamron is a great lens for the price, although not weather sealed. For about twice it's price you can get the Pentax 60-250, but that does not have internal zooming or focusing, and is an f/4 lens.
The 60-250 does not have internal zoom, but it is internal focus.
01-27-2015, 01:10 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Conqueror Quote
Very good choices IMO.. the only question is the order to acquire them in!

Dont rule out the DA 15mm + O-GPS1 combo though (for astro)... but yes that will cost more than a fast 16mm f2 Samyang
The f4 DA15mm + o-gps1 is something i considered but a 2 stop disadvantage to the f2 samyang. With the o-gps1 and the samyang I'm going to get considerably more light over the same time period. If i was just doing landscapes the DA15mm would be my choice..
01-28-2015, 08:46 AM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tonyau Quote
I then find myself unsure if I should risk on or two of the Pentax SDM lenses i.e. 50-135mm, 50-250mm or 300mm
The "problem" SDM lenses are the DA* 16-50, the DA* 50-135, and the DA 17-70. Supposedly, the problems affecting these SDM motors were fixed two, three years ago, but that has never been conclusively established. The DA* 300, on the other hand, is known for having fairly reliable SDM. I've owned one for nearly five years and have never had any trouble with it. That lens would be my top recommendation for wildlife. Add the 1.4 TC for more reach.

The DFA 100 WR is the top choice for macro. While nearly all macro lenses are very good, the color rendition of the DFA 100 gives it slight edge over most. The Tamron 90mm is a fine budget option.

You really can't go wrong with any of Pentax's star or limited lenses. Optically, they're all very good -- at least as good, and often a bit better, than comparable Canon and Nikon APS-C glass. Other fine options are the DA 12-24 and the DA 10-17 (fisheye zoom). The DA 16-85 looks like it could be very promising as an all-in-one landscape lens, but it's just been released so there's still a fair degree of uncertainty about it.

The DA* 60-250 is one of those unique-to-Pentax lenses very highly regarded by those who own it. The Tamron 70-200 makes for a fine budget alternative.

I agree that the Samyang 16mm (or the Samyang 10mm) are better choices for astrophotography than the DA 15 (although the DA 15 is better for landscapes).
01-29-2015, 09:41 AM   #13
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I'd think about getting the DA 55 F1.4 SDM. That would fill out your focal length range perfectly.
01-29-2015, 11:27 PM   #14
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Place my initial order last night... K3 + Rokinon 16mm, 100mm WR Macro and GPS unit (for astro).

Not sure about the 31mm.. Starting to lean towards the 35mm f2.8 macro but i think i might always be curious about the 31mm and the 31mm probably has slightly quicker focus as its not a macro lens..

Does the 50-250 focus faster than the 50-135? Im tempted to hold off on the telephoto until there is more details on the news zoom lenses.
01-29-2015, 11:49 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tonyau Quote
Does the 50-250 focus faster than the 50-135? Im tempted to hold off on the telephoto until there is more details on the news zoom lenses.
What sports might you shoot?

Some have tried the DA*60-250 for sports, but it's really not that well suited. Works OK for some people, though (don't y'all get mad at me!). But then the DA*50-135 works for some people too - even for me at times. Other times it makes me want to pull my hair out. But only for action shots - it's fantastic if people are merely walking. DA*300 is better. So is the F or FA135.


The upcoming *70-200/2.8 will probably be great in every way and cost nearly $3000. You can get a Tamron 70-200/2.8 now for around $700, and it focuses quickly. I don't think there's any specific lens worth waiting for unless $2K-3K is in your price range.

Again, what kinds of sports shooting are you considering?

Last edited by DSims; 01-29-2015 at 11:54 PM.
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