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05-03-2016, 03:04 PM   #1
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New lenses for Ks-2: 55-300 + 35mm prime or 50mm prime?

Hi all!

Loving my new KS-2 camera. For the price and features it can't be beat IMO (of course that's why I bought it!).

I've taken a bunch of shots with the kit lens, and actually find it just peachy for my use, HOWEVER - I would like something that would be better in low light / produce better bokeh.

The 55-300 WR seems like a no brainer for me ATM, being on sale for 266 everywhere, but I'm completely torn about whether to get the 35mm or 50mm prime.

I've read forum posts until I'm blue in the face about which is better for what, and still can't make up my mind. I was favoring the 50mm prime as it's faster, and produces better bokeh - BUT, my thinking is that for street photography / indoors the 35mm will be better, and if I did decided to do some portraiture I could zoom in with the 55-300 to get a similar effect? Will the difference between the f1.8 of the 50mm and the f2.4 of the 35mm be noticeable at night / dusk when forced to hand-hold?

Should I be looking at used lenses at all that would be better?

Thanks!

05-03-2016, 03:21 PM   #2
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One thing to remember about reading posts on this forum is that the place is a little 'prime lens' biased. I have and use good primes, but 90% of my shots are with zooms. That isn't to say one is better than the other only that you need to decide what you are most comfortable shooting with.

That said, everyone should have a fast 50mm either f/1.4 or f/1.7 or f/1.8 depending on the lens. it is useful in low light and on APS-C makes a nice portrait lens.

Beyond that though the 55-300 is a slow consumer telephoto. The two primes are faster normal or slightly wide single focal length. I'm not sure how you get into an either or situation with those choices. If you want a prime and need to pick between the 35mm and 50mm sure I get that. But if your choice is between a 50mm fast prime and a slow telephoto zoom? Not sure we can help you with that choice. You need to decide what your priority is for lens purchases.

The 18-55 and the 55-300 are designed to work together to give you 18-300 in a two lens kit. Not fast but actually pretty fair glass. Add a fast 50 to that and you are covered for just about anything.

---------- Post added 05-03-16 at 03:24 PM ----------

One way to decide on which prime to get is to take a look at the shots you have taken with your zoom lenses. There are a number of software programs (Lightroom for one) that will sort those and give you a list of the focal lengths you use. Study that and decide what focal length you use the most and that might be the place to purchase a prime.
05-03-2016, 03:36 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sean Hamilton Quote
I've read forum posts until I'm blue in the face about which is better for what, and still can't make up my mind. I was favoring the 50mm prime as it's faster, and produces better bokeh - BUT, my thinking is that for street photography / indoors the 35mm will be better, and if I did decided to do some portraiture I could zoom in with the 55-300 to get a similar effect? Will the difference between the f1.8 of the 50mm and the f2.4 of the 35mm be noticeable at night / dusk when forced to hand-hold?
I would go with the 35mm for now. After all, it delivers the classic "normal" field of view on the K-S2, and it's one of the most commonly-used focal lengths in general. The 50mm is more of a portrait lens, and since you'll be getting 55-300mm, you're already covered in that regard (unless you want to shoot portraits professionally, of course).

Alternatively, you could get both. You get so much for the money, after all!

Adam
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05-03-2016, 03:37 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
One thing to remember about reading posts on this forum is that the place is a little 'prime lens' biased. I have and use good primes, but 90% of my shots are with zooms. That isn't to say one is better than the other only that you need to decide what you are most comfortable shooting with.

That said, everyone should have a fast 50mm either f/1.4 or f/1.7 or f/1.8 depending on the lens. it is useful in low light and on APS-C makes a nice portrait lens.

Beyond that though the 55-300 is a slow consumer telephoto. The two primes are faster normal or slightly wide single focal length. I'm not sure how you get into an either or situation with those choices. If you want a prime and need to pick between the 35mm and 50mm sure I get that. But if your choice is between a 50mm fast prime and a slow telephoto zoom? Not sure we can help you with that choice. You need to decide what your priority is for lens purchases.

The 18-55 and the 55-300 are designed to work together to give you 18-300 in a two lens kit. Not fast but actually pretty fair glass. Add a fast 50 to that and you are covered for just about anything.

---------- Post added 05-03-16 at 03:24 PM ----------

One way to decide on which prime to get is to take a look at the shots you have taken with your zoom lenses. There are a number of software programs (Lightroom for one) that will sort those and give you a list of the focal lengths you use. Study that and decide what focal length you use the most and that might be the place to purchase a prime.
Excellent advice.

More info:
35 2.4 is still not very wide. It is considered a "normal" perspective lens. Not a portrait lens for most people but intimate up close shots could work.
50 1.8 is a nice option for inexpensive short telephoto with low light capabilities. I use the F 50 f/1.7 to shoot stage acts from the audience. The low light is very important in this situation as flash is not permitted.
55-300 f/4-5.8 not even slightly related to the above. You can in theory move people far from you and use the telephoto end of the lens to get subject isolation but the sharpness will not be as good and it is really complex to work that far from the subject.

My advice - as the advice above - narrow in on what you want. Then we can help. If the 18-55 is great but too slow - also consider that another option would be to replace it with one of the lower light zooms in that range. There are a couple of 17-50 f/2.8's and a 17-70 f/2.8-f/4 as well as a 16-50 f/2.8 that might do what you want. These will NOT be as low light capable as the 50mm f/1.8 but they will offer rational portrait and indoor shooting options.

05-03-2016, 03:41 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
One thing to remember about reading posts on this forum is that the place is a little 'prime lens' biased. I have and use good primes, but 90% of my shots are with zooms. That isn't to say one is better than the other only that you need to decide what you are most comfortable shooting with.

That said, everyone should have a fast 50mm either f/1.4 or f/1.7 or f/1.8 depending on the lens. it is useful in low light and on APS-C makes a nice portrait lens.

Beyond that though the 55-300 is a slow consumer telephoto. The two primes are faster normal or slightly wide single focal length. I'm not sure how you get into an either or situation with those choices. If you want a prime and need to pick between the 35mm and 50mm sure I get that. But if your choice is between a 50mm fast prime and a slow telephoto zoom? Not sure we can help you with that choice. You need to decide what your priority is for lens purchases.

The 18-55 and the 55-300 are designed to work together to give you 18-300 in a two lens kit. Not fast but actually pretty fair glass. Add a fast 50 to that and you are covered for just about anything.

---------- Post added 05-03-16 at 03:24 PM ----------

One way to decide on which prime to get is to take a look at the shots you have taken with your zoom lenses. There are a number of software programs (Lightroom for one) that will sort those and give you a list of the focal lengths you use. Study that and decide what focal length you use the most and that might be the place to purchase a prime.
Hi, and thanks for your response.

Sorry if I wasn't clear, those choices are independent of one another. I mean to say that the 55-300 is something that seems great to have in my arsenal, but beyond that I'm not sure what I should be getting, the 35mm or the 50mm prime.

Honestly it seems I've been using the 35 'ish focal length more from my photos, BUT as I'm perfectly happy with the way they turned out I'd be fine to keep using the kit lens for that length most of the time... Unfortunately again with the kit lens I can only shoot at f4.5 at 35mm (I believe) so the 2.4 would be better for low light / depth of field. The 50mm would be even better for both of those things, but then I lose the width.

Is it possible to get similar results w/ bokeh and portraiture (outside of course) using the 55-300 if zoomed up to 85mm or so? (if I decided to go with the 35mm then I would rely on the zoom for more intimate shots).

Thanks!

A few kit lens shots I liked for what it's worth:
Album: Pentax Ks-2 w/Kit Lens | Photography Forum
05-03-2016, 03:56 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sean Hamilton Quote
Sorry if I wasn't clear, those choices are independent of one another. I mean to say that the 55-300 is something that seems great to have in my arsenal,
Ok, so add that one to your list. My wife carries the 18-135 and 55-300 in her go bag, makes a good pair.

QuoteOriginally posted by Sean Hamilton Quote
Is it possible to get similar results w/ bokeh and portraiture (outside of course) using the 55-300 if zoomed up to 85mm or so?
Sorta kinda. Purists will insist not and I suppose they are correct. Depends on your standards. You can get close but remember aperture is only one part of that equation, distance to the subject and distance from subject to background also matter. So in some situations you can simulate the affect but not always.

Personally I would get the 50mm first and see if you like shooting primes. If you really like the 35mm focal length on your camera I suspect the lens you really want is the FA 31mm Limited.
05-03-2016, 03:58 PM   #7
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If it's between the 34 f/2.4 and 50 f/1.8, I would go for the 35 for its versatility. It has a slower aperture by about 2/3s of a stop, but a wider field of view. The 50 f/1.8 would be better suited for portraits though, due to its focal length and shallower depth of field at maximum aperture.

It really depends what you want to use it for.
05-03-2016, 03:58 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sean Hamilton Quote
Is it possible to get similar results w/ bokeh and portraiture (outside of course) using the 55-300 if zoomed up to 85mm or so? (if I decided to go with the 35mm then I would rely on the zoom for more intimate shots).
It is possible to get good isolation but you will likley be at 200mm or 300mm to get the kind of isolation that the 50 f/1.8 gives. The bokeh will depend a lot on how far your background is relative to the subject. You will need to be far from the subject who in turn is far from the background to get the effect you seem to want. That is not a lens I would recommend for portraits.

There is an FA 35 f/2 available also. It is another good option.
However it is more $ than the 35 f/2.4 plus the 50 f/1.8 in some cases.
The FA 31 f/1.8 limited is also out there - crazy expensive and perhaps worth it.

05-03-2016, 04:22 PM   #9
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35 or 50mm prime?

get both - the DA 35 and the DA 50 are both inexpensive and amazing lenses - light, accurate, quick to focus...

if you find you aren't using one as much, sell it for what you bought it for here in the Marketplace....
05-03-2016, 05:09 PM   #10
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The DA35 is a wonderful inexpensive lens that will get you a more different view from your zoom than a 50 would, Sean.


You may even consider a used DA21 Ltd because that will be wide enough for a lot of the shots street and landscape photography call for.


The 50 will make a very good head-and-shoulders portrait lens, the 35 a good environmental or 3/4 body or group photo portrait lens.


The 55-300 can do a good portrait too if either the background is distant and without highlights, or you're in a studio situation.
05-03-2016, 07:34 PM   #11
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The 55-300 is a great lens, and optically all three versions are the same. I use mine quite a bit, definitely a lens you want to have in the 'arsenal.'

Unless your only doing portrait work indoors, I'd pick the 35mm over the 50mm. I have the FA50 f/1.4. It's awesome to play with dof stuff, but I often fine it much too long for general indoor shooting.
05-03-2016, 09:35 PM   #12
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Thanks for all the great advice folks! Much appreciated.

I think what I'll do is order the 55-300 for now from B and H, then head down to the camera shop from where I bought the Pentax to see if they've a couple used 35 and 50mm primes I can try out to get a better idea of how they'll perform on a first hand basis (yes I know I could just zoom in with the kit lens for an idea about spacial requirements ). I did see the Tamron 17-50 2.8 on sale on ebay for about 245 CAD (which would cover both prime distances), however as I do like the kit lens (and its WR) I'd like something to complement it when the occasion calls for it (as opposed to replacing it entirely).

I'll report back on what I decide on, and again - thank you!!

Sean.

Last edited by Sean Hamilton; 05-03-2016 at 10:18 PM.
05-05-2016, 12:03 PM   #13
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So I ended up going with the 50 f1.8 after all. For 125 CAD it's a steal, and I think the kit lens will cover the 35mm for MOST of my shots outdoors. Worse comes to worse I'll pick up the 35mm in the future. Thanks for the help! I look forward to snapping some photos and posting them up on the forum.

Cheers!
Sean.
05-11-2016, 07:37 PM   #14
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Just an update... I decided that (after doing a bunch of test shots @ 50mm on the aps-c) that I needed something a little more versatile (at least until I become an award winning photographer ) so ended up ordering the Tammy 17-50 f/2.8 (non-vc) lens. Whether or not I should have ordered the Sigma 17-50 remains to be seen, however I think this lens scratches a couple of itches; low-light, indoor photography (though obviously not as good as a prime), differing focal lengths, generally better glass, and decent bokeh. The kit lens - which I still quite like - is small enough to be carried in my pack in case of adverse weather conditions. I think (hope) between the 55-300 wr, the kit lens in my bag, and the Tammy, I should be good 98% of the time.
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