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03-17-2015, 10:23 PM   #16
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Maybe it's because I learned shooting when a normal 50mm was really a 50mm (film days), but 50mm now is just too long for me. It's a 75 on APS-C. 40mm is also too long, being eq. to a 60mm. Why do they make those lenses as if they were still "normal"? Because optically, they are easy focal lengths to make. The 35's at least get you down to around 52mm eq on APS-C, but the prime that has been most useful to me has been the 21 Ltd. because it splits the difference between the old standard 28mm and 35mm. The 20-40 Ltd zoom is really an "expanded normal," in my opinion, giving you the "old-days" range 30 to 60, and prime-like IQ. It's versatility as a normal prime replacement in the Pentax lineup is way underestimated. If I could get only one thing in the "normal" neighborhood, the 20-40 would be it.

03-17-2015, 10:58 PM - 1 Like   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by pepperberry farm Quote
OK - now that I've had my K-50 for about four months, I'm ready to continue learning and expanding what I can do with it.... so....

I need a prime lens... and I have questions...

I have spent the last two weeks, absorbing as much as I can about primes - reviews, comparisons, etc...

What i want a prime for: portraits, landscape and as a walking around lens...

Is a 35 mm lens that much of a different view than a 50 mm? Is an aperture of f1.8 that much more noticeable in low light than an f2.4? Should I be looking only at autofocus lenses vs manual?

I've read from end to end the thread on old manual lenses and how great they are - but is it really just the 'neat' factor of using an old lens vs a new 'plastic fantastic'?

guidance, advice and criticism... all welcomed.....
My opinions on that are as follows:

If you are shooting low light then yes there is a noticeable difference. That said, don't be shy to experiment kicking up the ISO a few notches.

As for focal length, on a crop camera I tend to like the 28mm to 35mm focal length better but it depends on the shot. There is no one perfect lens. That's why most of us have a 'collection' rather than 'a' lens.

There is a lot to be said for old manual glass. I love my auto focus but manual glass has benefits too. It will definitely get you out of point and shoot mode if you use a manual lens.

To me the three most important parts of a photograph are subject matter, lighting, and composition. Each one can have volumes written about them. Gear comes way down on the list.

As a learning tool though let's take lighting for example.You're going to have to screw up a lot to start to learn. But which lens you choose on a particular day can help you learn. Try doing things like shooting at different times of the day. Try shooting in different weather not just bright sunshiny perfect days. It will eventually become an exercise in observation. If you really look around you will see interesting shadows and little nooks and crannies where an interesting shot could be made. You will see that if you shoot at high noon you get one thing, if you come back at 6pm you get another, and if you run out 2 minutes before a down pour you will get yet another... all of the same subject.

If you use it right the manual lens will force you into observation mode. You might only take 5 shots, but if those 5 are well thought out it's better than 100 random clicks.

An auto focus lens allows you to react faster but it also allows you to learn about how your gear sees the world and how it reacts. You will eventually be able to say that under X type of light I will get Y type of result.

The third part of this is to experiment with shutter speeds and apertures at different lighting conditions. Try to create different effects. Try to darken the background or lighten the background or try for even lighting. Use a variation of combinations of different shutter speeds and apertures to get different effects. This can much more easily be done with an AF lens because you are only worried about how the controls effect the results and you can quickly change on the fly and it gives you almost instant feedback.

I think using a variety of manual/auto lenses helps IF you let it help you.

Last edited by alamo5000; 03-18-2015 at 05:47 AM.
03-17-2015, 11:32 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by pepperberry farm Quote
What i want a prime for: portraits, landscape and as a walking around lens...
For portraits, you can use one prime lens and move to frame your subject, 35mm will be convenient a group photo, 50mm will work for full body portrait, 70mm to 200mm prime will work for head portrait.

QuoteOriginally posted by pepperberry farm Quote
Is an aperture of f1.8 that much more noticeable in low light than an f2.4?
The difference between 2.4 and 1.8 is almost twice the light for the 1.8. Where I see a bigger difference using primes is when stopped down. For example, most digital zooms from Pentax (except the DA*16-50/50-135) are best around f8. Generally speaking, primes are as good at f/4 as Pentax zooms at f/8. That's 2 stops difference and according the the sunny 16 rule, we should be able to shoot down to f/4 in cloudy conditions (or increase ISO). For special bokeh/effects/3D rendering, I consider that the lens should be sharp in the center from f/2, hence the 35 2.4 won't do it that much , the 50 1.8 maybe, the 31 1.8 and 77 1.8 will do it. The DA 35 2.4 and DA 50 1.8 are a bargain, although I'd prefer a metal mount.
03-18-2015, 12:42 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by starjedi Quote
If you want one prime lens for all, I recommend FA 31 1.8. One lens to rule them all...
I have to agree with this. If i would only get to keep one prime, it would be this one.

this said, there is nothing wrong with picking up some old manual primes instead. It can make you a better photographer.
But be selective..

03-18-2015, 01:14 AM - 2 Likes   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by pepperberry farm Quote
so, it sounds like I may be searching for two lenses then, not just one...
Two? Don't be ridiculous; I have primes at 15, 21, 24, 31, 35, 43, 50, 55, 77, 100, 135 and 300mm and that's *nothing* compared to some around here

Get either the DA35/2.4 or the DA50/1.8 and discover what primes have to offer. Both are pretty cheap, fully automatic and offer remarkable image quality for your money. Whichever one you get I promise it will not be your last!
03-18-2015, 02:36 AM   #21
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As many others have said it depends on personal preference and what is your planned use of the lens(es).
If you want a prime lens for walking around/travel/general use, as i have understood, then my suggestion could be to go for something in the 28-35mm range.

I used to travel with a manual 50mm prime and found it to have a little too narrow FOV for "walk around" use. My DA 35mm Limited and XR rikenon 28mm are more adequate for my tastes.

But then again "taste" is the key word here, this is just my opinion
Probably a rather common and unoriginal opinion, considering the FOVs of a 28 and 35mm lenses correspond to roughly the same FOV of a 42 and a 53mm lens on film, which fit well into the traditionally designated "normal" range.

Perhaps, considering that the DA35 f2.4 and DA50 f1.8 are very cheap, light, compact and already provide a very nice IQ, you could buy them both and use each one where its focal length is best suited.

Otherwise you could spend a little bit more than this solution, and get an used DA35mm Limited Macro. Personally, i love its versatility as a close-up lens, but my personal preference heavily comes into play here. However i think i can state as a fact that its optical qualities are outstanding, and surely you won't be disappointed
(Of course the other two DA lenses i mentioned are said to be very good as well, but i have not tried them myself )
03-18-2015, 03:10 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
Curious what your background is in photography? Are you an ex-film geek like me or new to the whole thing?
Also what is your budget?
mostly, yes, but probably not on your level - I shot 35mm film through an Olympus bridge camera for a dozen years before moving to digital with a series of Fuji bridges and point & shoots before my K-50...

budget right now is probably about $200 for my first prime - I don't want to spend a ton to find out that I'm not going to like working with a single focal length...



so, given that and everything that has been shared here (thank you, to all who have contributed), my immediate plan is to buy a 'plastic fantastic' DA 50mm and go from there.... if I like shooting with it, I'll keep an eye out for a longer prime to expand my palette...
03-18-2015, 03:14 AM   #23
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Prime for walk about

I find that my Sigma 30 mm f 1.4 makes a pretty good walk around lens, and with the large aperture it even lets me take photos in dark places. The Pentax 50 mm f 2.8 macro is another sometimes choice, and it lets me take pictures of little things too.

03-18-2015, 04:28 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by starjedi Quote
If you want one prime lens for all, I recommend FA 31 1.8. One lens to rule them all...
100% agree
03-18-2015, 04:30 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by redcat Quote
100% agree
Not with a $200 spend limit....
03-18-2015, 04:43 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by pepperberry farm Quote
so, given that and everything that has been shared here (thank you, to all who have contributed), my immediate plan is to buy a 'plastic fantastic' DA 50mm and go from there.... if I like shooting with it, I'll keep an eye out for a longer prime to expand my palette...
Good plan! It's a very good lens for a very good price.

And I would be surprised if the 35 doesn't follow fairly soon

Happy shooting!
03-18-2015, 04:50 AM   #27
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I have quite a line of old manuals, as few new af primes. If you are interested in photography by itself, it might be interresting to have some.
Many old primes have character. Swirly bokeh of helios42m, sharpness of pancolar and zeiss, family, color of old Leica glass, or some wideangles with only 3 apperture blades which produce crazy bokeh. Although obtaining such treasures and make them work is part of the game.

Pros: you get great, somtimes unique lenses, mostly cheap. Any prime is still better qualy than Kit.

Contra: Manual Focus, and slow photography. Artifacts - lenses aren't perfekt, in some cases they produce artifacts that are quite nice, but somtimes they can destroy your picture. Knowledge - it's really a Hobby to itself, and quite time Consuming.

There are not many choices between Portrait- wide angle primes.

For Portrait i would use new Plastik 50mm. If you have a fast Portrait prime, you want to shoot fast, and without af, you won't be able to capture some really fast moments.

In Landscape, you don't need to shoot that fast, so you can take your time and use tripod, with old manual lens set on hyperfocal length. The question is do you need real pricey wide angle with 16mm and less, or is old m28f2.8 wide enough.

In any case if you are interested in photography old 10$ manuals, will find their way into your gear, want it or not.
So why not try them directly from the start?
03-18-2015, 04:58 AM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
Not with a $200 spend limit....
Isn't ignoring the budgetary limitations of those asking for advice mandatory on here?
03-18-2015, 05:02 AM   #29
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My advice... as cheap as they are, get both; you won't regret it. I started with the 35 "plastic Fantastic" and it truly lives up to its name. It's sharp, lightweight and renders beautifully. It's clearly punching above it's weight when it's comes to price/performance. To say that I love this lens in an understatement.


I recently acquired a "demo" 50mm f1.8 "Nifty Fifty" for $99 and free shipping. I haven't had much chance to use it but from what little I have, I am very pleased with it. If you shop carefully you can have both for under $300 US. And that is without a doubt a fantastic bargain for the performance you'll get from them.
03-18-2015, 05:33 AM   #30
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my plan (for the moment and always available for revision) is to buy the DA 50mm f 1.8, which will leave a bit of the budget left to buy wider angle manual prime to play with....
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