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07-05-2008, 03:14 PM   #1
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Beginner: Do I need another lens? Which one?

Got a K200D with the 18-55 II lens about a month ago. Upgraded from a Canon point and shoot (though I did use a Minolta X-700 film SLR a while ago).

Quite happy so far, having a lot of fun. As usual, I now begin the debate of whether or not to blow all my non-existent money on lenses.

I do most of my photography on hiking or backcountry skiing trips. This means that weight and size are fairly important (weight more than size) and also that I often don't have much time to change lenses.

Looking at a selection of about 50 of what I consider decent photos I've taken, 17 were at 18mm, 12 at 55mm and 17 in between. I guess I shoot a bunch of wide landscape type shots, max out at 55mm when trying to zoom in on something small, with some miscellaneous stuff thrown in too.

Some of the things I ask myself: What will improve if I replace the kit lens? Things look decent so far, but I guess it doesn't take much to improve on the P&S. Is reasonable cropping bad? If not, I could possible get away with a wide angle prime for a lot of stuff (eg. DA 21 ltd, which is nice and light). Is 35 or 40mm not wide enough? Because the 35mm macro ltd and 40 ltd are also attractive.

Well, this is probably more of an exercising in my thinking things over, but any comments are appreciated.

Random shot I liked:


Flickr: sewebster's Photostream

07-05-2008, 03:34 PM   #2
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welcome ot the forum, it's always nice to have upgraders and Canadians

if you ask "do i need more lenses" in this forum, the answer will always be yes irregardless of the situation!

i have the DA21 and i find it very nice the small size is great. optically it's not THE greatest, but it's probably the smallest wide angle lens you'll be able to find on any system and it's pretty solid stopped down. the 35mm and 40mm are more "standard" equivalent so they would probably not be wide enough.
07-05-2008, 04:34 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by sewebster Quote
Got a K200D with the 18-55 II lens about a month ago. Upgraded from a Canon point and shoot (though I did use a Minolta X-700 film SLR a while ago).

Quite happy so far, having a lot of fun. As usual, I now begin the debate of whether or not to blow all my non-existent money on lenses.

I do most of my photography on hiking or backcountry skiing trips. This means that weight and size are fairly important (weight more than size) and also that I often don't have much time to change lenses.

Looking at a selection of about 50 of what I consider decent photos I've taken, 17 were at 18mm, 12 at 55mm and 17 in between. I guess I shoot a bunch of wide landscape type shots, max out at 55mm when trying to zoom in on something small, with some miscellaneous stuff thrown in too.

Looking at your list the DA 21mm might leave you a bit lacking at the wide end, if you are determined to upgrade then it might be worth considering the Pentax 16-45, Sigma 17-70 or perhaps one of the new 16-50s

It does sound to me though that you're quite happy with your results so it may well be worth you hanging onto your cash a while longer

simon
07-05-2008, 04:48 PM   #4
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What about covering all your options with an 18-200 or 28-300 lens?

I don't know what the wildlife is like on your trips but won't you need to be able to zoom in on them often as well as cover landscapes?

07-05-2008, 06:04 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by NicholasN Quote
What about covering all your options with an 18-200 or 28-300 lens?

I don't know what the wildlife is like on your trips but won't you need to be able to zoom in on them often as well as cover landscapes?
It would be nice. I'm not sure it's vital since I'm not super into wildlife photography (yet anyway). When I read about some of these super wide range zooms people talk about how the image quality is understandably not superb, since there have to be tradeoffs to have such a large range. Presumably though the quality is still better than the kit... ?

Definately something to consider. I might also take simon's advice and save my money, but having thought about these things helps me know what to do if I see a good deal used etc.
07-05-2008, 06:23 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by sewebster Quote
It would be nice. I'm not sure it's vital since I'm not super into wildlife photography (yet anyway). When I read about some of these super wide range zooms people talk about how the image quality is understandably not superb, since there have to be tradeoffs to have such a large range. Presumably though the quality is still better than the kit... ?

<snip>
I don't own the new 18-55 II, but I still have my old 18-55, and I very briefly owned a new 18-200. I returned it because to my mind the IQ was pretty much equal to the 18-55 and not very good at the 200 end. Now it's possible that I got a bad 18-200 but my point is that the 18-55 is in no way a bad lens. I'm assuming that the 18-55 II is as good if not better.
I now own the Sigma 17-70 primarily because I wanted a "walkaround" zoom that was a bit longer and faster than the kit lens. But the Sigma is somewhat heavier than the kit lens. But even tho it does have better IQ thant the kit, it's not surprising considering that it costs 3X what the kit does.
I would suggest the Pentax DA 50-200. It is very light and small and most people like it alot.

NaCl(the kit lens, at least the older version, is a great "bang for the buck" lens)H2O
07-05-2008, 06:46 PM   #7
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Since you do mostly outdoor photography in good light, maybe you should just keep the kit lens, and buy one of the longer zooms out there, the new Pentax 55-300 seems to be getting rave reviews, and the Tamron and Sigma 70-300's have their fans also ( and they are much less expensive than the Pentax 55-300 ) You can get the Tamron 70-300 Di LD for less than $150 new I believe, at that price it is a steal in my opinion, I have one, and like it quite a bit !!
07-05-2008, 06:56 PM   #8
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There is so many options!!!
I was in your shoes not very long ago. I think that my version of the kit lens is equivalent to the first version, and I was not pleased with it at all. Way too soft wide open, bad barell distortion on the wide end. You can still take some great shots, that's for sure, but I don't see myself puting this thing back on my camera before I start taking pictures of my nephews throwing rocks at me.

So I became addicted to primes, because apparently I am a bit anal. But, in your case, since you probably want to keep your equipment to a minimum on your hikes, a normal zoom seams appropriate.
So your options are:
DA* 16-50
DA 16-45
Tamron 17-50
Sigma 18-50
Sigma 17-70

Or, since the kit lens tends to perform better from 25mm, you can just take something for the wide angles like:
Sigma 10-20
DA 12-24

The good thing is that you only have the kit lens at the moment, so no matter what you buy, you will find that there is an improvement in IQ!

07-05-2008, 06:58 PM   #9
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Your kit lens is a really great tool and performs pretty well overall. There is one requirement that it fulfills quite nicely from the perspective of hiking, backpacking, and xc-skiing...it is relatively small and light, characteristics that are lacking with wider range zooms and faster glass.

Here is a list of pros and cons regarding the kit:

Pros:
  • lightweight
  • relatively compact for a zoom
  • inexpensive -- if you damage it on a pack trip, it is replaceable for under $100
  • Good optical performance

Cons:
  • Fair amount of distortion at wide end
  • vignette at wide end
  • slow aperture
  • toy-like build (though not as bad as the competition's kits)
  • 50mm long end is a little short

Your options moving forward:
  • replace the kit with faster glass in the same zoom range -- great performance but at a price both in $ and in size/weight
  • wide range super zoom -- versatile, but heavy and bulky
  • add a 50-200 tele zoom to your bag to complement the kit
  • supplement the kit with a standard trio of primes -- flexible, compact, and great performance (acceptable wide angle prime is a challenge)

My suggestion is that you continue to shoot with your prime and pick up an inexpensive manual focus tele close focus zoom (50-200) to fill out the tele end and near macro range. As you shoot more, you will start feeling the pain as to what the combo does not do for you. Once you know your need, the buying decisions become a lot easier!

Steve

BTW...I choose the last option and decided to use my vintage glass that I already owned along various primes (both expensive and inexpensive) purchased to address my needs (16mm, 35mm, 50mm Macro, 85mm, and 200mm). I still use the kit as my walk-around lens.

Last edited by stevebrot; 07-05-2008 at 07:04 PM.
07-05-2008, 07:11 PM   #10
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Hi sewebster

Re your sweeping generalisation:

QuoteQuote:
When I read about some of these super wide range zooms people talk about how the image quality is understandably not superb
Sorry, but I have to disagree with this statement, so simply try these links to see some shots which I have previously taken with my Tamron 18-250mm Di II......nothing special, but they will give you a realistic idea of what this lens can do. Bear in mind that the images have been seriously compressed and downsized to meet forum requirements. These examples are categorically NOT as good as the original photos. Look under the heading "Check out some of my images" halfway down the post:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/118774-post45.html

...and for an example of a macro photograph check this one out below. It's not 1:1 but quite acceptable IMHO !:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/136007-post15.html

Best regards
Richard
07-05-2008, 07:27 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Confused Quote
Hi sewebster

Re your sweeping generalisation:

Sorry, but I have to disagree with this statement, so simply try these links to see some shots which I have previously taken with my Tamron 18-250mm Di II......nothing special, but they will give you a realistic idea of what this lens can do. Bear in mind that the images have been seriously compressed and downsized to meet forum requirements. These examples are categorically NOT as good as the original photos. Look under the heading "Check out some of my images" halfway down the post:
Thanks for the samples, but I was basically just repeating what I read on the web, I've never used one of these 18-250s. Seems you are quite satisfied with yours, which is good to know.

Thanks also for the other advice everyone. Lots to think about. It does seem like adding something on the telephoto end would be nice, particularly if it could produce better macros than the kit.

Replacing the kit with a similar range (16-45 or 17-70) is tempting, but a little hard to know if I'll think the doubled weight is worth it.
07-05-2008, 07:45 PM   #12
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I bought the K200d just a few weeks ago as well, moving from a Fuji 10x zoom P&S I know I will need way more than 50mm in the long end. So the Pentax 18-250 is my kit lens and I did not get the 18-55. So far I am more than happy with the versatility and the reach all-in-one.

Yes there are many lens with better IQ than the 18-250 (especially the primes) but just one lens for outdoor walkaround really saves me lots of room in the camera bag.
07-05-2008, 10:01 PM   #13
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One question you need to ask yourself in deciding whether or not the Sigma 17-70 would be a good idea is whether or not you find yourself getting frustrated at not being able to go beyond 55mm when you're using the kit lens. That was a pretty easy question for me to answer for myself, hence I wound up getting the 17-70. I am very happy with the lens because of the versatility and good IQ for the money (under $400 new). One thing that the Sigma has that hasn't been mentioned thus far is that it does have a quasi-macro feature (1:2.3).

Without having the opportunity to actually use the soon-to-be-released Pentax DA17-70/4, the Sigma already has a couple of advantages--it's cheaper and it has the close-up feature, which the DA version doesn't have, which overall makes it a better deal.

If you decide that you want to hang on to the kit lens for a while, then I would recommend going with something longer, like the DA50-200, DA55-300, or even the Tamron 70-300.

HTH,
Heather
07-05-2008, 11:02 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by hwblanks Quote
. . .

If you decide that you want to hang on to the kit lens for a while, then I would recommend going with something longer, like the DA50-200, DA55-300, or even the Tamron 70-300.

HTH,
Heather
I concur with that as long it is the better Tamron 70-300mm.
07-05-2008, 11:20 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
I concur with that as long it is the better Tamron 70-300mm.
Do you mean that the Tamron is better then the Pentax tele-zooms mentioned, or that there are multiple versions of the Tamron?

I think I'm currently leaning towards possibly picking up the DA 50-200 cheaply, and then maybe saving towards a Sigma 10-20 or something.

I'll also continue to evaluate the kit lens as I use it to decide whether I might eventually want to replace it with something like the Sigma 17-70.

One other somewhat good thing about the kit is that it has a max magnification of 0.34 (I guess that is like 1:3) so it can do macro-ish work I guess. Though I'm not sure if it is really a good choice for that. Here is an example:

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