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08-13-2008, 03:04 PM   #1
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Next lens choice

Hi - just registered and posted in the intros section, but I am coming here to seek some advice:

My wife and I shoot weddings part time, and outside of that I shoot pretty much whatever - closeups, landscapes, street, family, events - I carry my camera randomly and point it at shiny things, more or less.

I've got the K100D equipped with a Pentax 18-250, the FA50/1.4, an AF540 flash, and I'm trying to decide where to go from here. My biggest desires for improvement at this point are low light autofocus (the FA50 hunts like crazy, and my night-vision is terrible), wide angle, and macro ability.

So, where to go from here? To address low light focusing I am looking at either one of the limited primes or maybe one of the DA* zooms - unless the best option would be a K20. I've heard the DA series is faster than FA, and moreso for DA*, but I have to admit I'd really like that 31mm FA for all the raving I've heard - even though it might be no better than my existing kit.

For wide angle shooting I was looking at the Sigma 10-20, the Pentax 12-24, and then the 14/2.8 prime. I saw some amazing shots from the prime and heard some really good things about, plus I like shooting with primes, so that's where I was leaning.

For Macro, I was for sure going to go with the Pentax 100mm 2.8, but I just read a crazy review of the Sigma 70mm Macro, and the fact that it focuses closer (unofficially)than 1:1 is unheard of in my experience. Plus I'm not crazy about the fact that there's no focus hold or lock on the pentax.

So, where would you go? Any wedding photographers want to lend some advice? I've heard a lot of old-timers saying that manual focus is a must for low light occasions, and I can see that, but if there's a better autofocus out there with pentax I'd love to have it. It seems to me that low-light performance should be a priority over macros, wideangles, or fisheyes for a wedding photographer, but I'm open to being proven wrong.


08-13-2008, 03:06 PM   #2
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Just ordered a Sigma 10-20 myself, I've also seen/heard many good things about the lens...probably post some shots when I get anything worthwhile

08-13-2008, 03:24 PM   #3
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Considering the fact that you shoot weddings, I have some suggestions:
Wide--DA12-24--I chose this over the Sigma 10-20 because it has a greater focal range, plus it's a constant f4. If you think you'll need any faster, then the DA14 would be the choice.
Normal-Telezoom--you might want to take a look at the Tamron 28-75/2.8. It's IQ has been compared to primes and since you're going to get a WA lens anyhow, the focal length would make more sense--DA12-24 or 14 +Tamron 28-75.
Macro--another one to take a look at is the Tamron 90/2.8. I've been thinking about selling my A100/4 macro and getting either it or the Sigma 70, since both are 1:1 macros and the A100 is a 1:2 macro.

08-13-2008, 04:08 PM   #4
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I have the DA14 and highly recommend it. Distortion is low compared to a zoom and it's fast; f/2.8. Color rendition is awesome as is the sharpness. Page 4 and onward have many examples from the DA14; Casual Photography Photo Gallery by ajuett at

08-13-2008, 04:48 PM   #5
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If you want faster AF, the answer is the K20D. AF improvement is noticeably better than the K100D.
If you're planning a lens to use for weddings, forget the ultra wide for the moment. It requires some care to use unless you want to convey exaggerated features. A tele macro lens is quite useful.

Just how serious are you shooting events? How much do you have set aside budget wise?
The DA*16-50/DA* 50-135 combo is good for events, but remember most event shooters also carry 2 bodies as well. If you're not so serious, just upgrade the body (better AF, better WB, better dynamic range, better resolution, etc.) and maximise using you existing lenses, which can cover a wide focal range already.
08-13-2008, 08:13 PM   #6
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Thanks for all of your replies, I really appreciate it.

To answer some of your questions, I am relatively serious about photography - probably won't be turning it into a full time career, but I intend to continue it as a part time business pretty much indefinitely.

Budget wise, I'm hoping to spend $500-ish, but if it would be a better long-term move I could squeeze a K20 or DA* if I waited a bit.

Also, my wife shoots with me and is on a Sony A100, and she's on the kit 18-70, a Minolta 70-300, and a Sigma 28mm F/1.8, although she never takes the Sigma off of her camera because she loves it to death (and produces some lovely pictures with it too). So, redundancy is *somewhat* covered in the fact that we both carry equipment, but I do like the idea of having a K20 and using the K100 as a backup.

It seems like the DA*'s are an elegant if expensive solution, but my issues with the lenses are first in the QC issues I've heard about, and second I'm thinking I might go full frame in the future if Pentax gives us a pro FF body - so I'm a little wary of investing heavily in ASP-C only lenses. Legitimate concerns?
08-13-2008, 08:36 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eigengrau Quote
My biggest desires for improvement at this point are low light autofocus (the FA50 hunts like crazy, and my night-vision is terrible), wide angle, and macro ability.
AF hunting in low light is a fsct of life on a camera with no AF assist lamp. Realistically, I doubt you're going to improve on the FA50 much. I will say the DA40 is about as fast and accurate a lens (in terms of focus) as Pentax makes, but it too hunts in low light. Upgrading to K20D may help some, but it's still likely to hunt some.
08-14-2008, 05:37 AM   #8
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AF needs light to focus.. lenses do nothing more, nothing less than catching light..

I think the 16-50 f2.8 and 50-135 2.8 is a perfect combo for these events and if you have 2 bodies you dont have to change lenses, but bodies. So if business goes well you know what to do..

how about the Sigma 105mm 2.8 macro? good for portraits and its an 1:1 macro.. its a little bit cheaper than the Pentax

08-15-2008, 09:21 AM   #9
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Based on the comments here it seems like K20 + DA40 + 16-50 & 50-135 might round out the kit nicely for low light. Maybe I'll start cheap with the DA40 and see where I want to go from there. I'll be making a trip this weekend hopefully to try out some lenses.
08-16-2008, 12:46 PM   #10
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I do think the 50-135mm would be a good choice. The 40mm would be a good place to start (or if you want something a bit wider, the Sigma 30mm f1.4 EX HSM)
08-16-2008, 06:34 PM   #11
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Does the HSM in the sigma 30/1.4 work with Pentax cameras? I know they sometimes include that function only for Canikon.

How does that guy compare to the 31 Limited? I probably couldn't ever justify having both, so it would be one or the other.

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