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09-26-2008, 04:33 AM   #1
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What next after "vacation zoom"?

I just started with DSLR photography with a K100D (which I love to bits). I got it with the Tamron 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II Macro instead of the kit lens. The Tamron is very versatile indeed and serves me very well (great macro).

However, I feel an itch to add another lens, for instance a fast prime. Here are my current thoughts:

A fast classic 50mm: Affordable entry into low light shooting. I wouldn't mind manual focus. Would use it for indoor shooting of people. Would also be good for portraits, but then I haven't got a lot of models to shoot.

An APS-C format normal prime, e.g., a 35mm; is probably more versatile than a 50mm. I'd use it for walking around and capture what looks interesting from a normal perspective.

Or should it be a more flexible fast zoom, like a constant aperture 24-70mm f/2.8? Would use it for all sorts of occasions. More flexible than the primes but not as fast and typically not as nice bokeh. Also it may not be tremendously different to my "vacation zoom" which is surprisingly good.

I'm very tempted by a really fast prime (e.g., f/1.4) but fear that I wouldn't be able to use it very often. Unfortunately, such lenses aren't ideal for landscape photography. In normal daylight, even a (modern) zoom has equal or better sharpness overall, right? I'd love a shallow DOF with beautiful bokeh, but if it is not a macro and you haven't got a lot of people to shot, what do you do with it?

Am I too screwed up for your recommendations?

I might get access to new Sigma lenses with a considerable rebate. The 28mm f/1.8 EX Aspherical DG DF Macro would be *the* normal if you go by the sensor diagonal definition and I read good things about it. The 30mm f/1.4 EX looks very interesting too. The 50mm f/2.8 EX MACRO might be nice, or the 18-50mm f/2.8 EX MACRO.

However, I'd only go for a Sigma opportunity if there is no affordable Pentax solution around. Currently I'm on a budget. I know that e.g., the FA 31mm f/1.8 is a hell of a lens and love to have it, but it currently is out of reach.

Looking very much forward to your comments.


Last edited by Class A; 10-29-2008 at 12:08 AM. Reason: typo
09-26-2008, 05:37 AM   #2
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You didn't quite tell, what type of photography you like... From your writing, I can conclude, that you would love to shot portraits, but you don't have any models. On the other hand, you love landscape photography. For these two styles, IMO, you should use two different lenses.
You also said, that you wouldn't mind MF, so my suggestion would be:

1. SMC-M (or A) 50mm f/1.7, for low light and portraits
2. SMC-M (or A) 28mm f/2.8 (or even better f/3.5), for landscape

These two focal lengths are ideal for me on APS-C for those two types of photography.

You can get both lenses for about 100 $US (M versions I think)....

BTW: did you check your focal lengths on your photos you took with the Tamron? What is the most used focal length in wide angle range?
09-26-2008, 06:04 AM   #3
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if you want a prime, try locking in your zoom in that position for a while and see if you can stand it. 35mm is more versatile especially with crop factor and pentax has an excellent selection of lenses ~40mm.

constant aperture zoom is good too, they up the quality. negative is that they weigh much more than the prime. the tamron and sigmas are good if you get a good copy.

but who says moderate primes can't be used for landscape? personally i prefer a compressed rather than the ultrawide landscape and almost any lens can be used for that.

if you get a fast prime, you can buy some extension tubes to get the macro functionality.

the 30mm 1.4 is not a lens most people like. perhaps try the 28 1.8. however all their true macro lenses are nice. if you're looking at the 18-50mm, most people prefer the TAmron 17-50
09-26-2008, 06:23 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentagor Quote
You didn't quite tell, what type of photography you like...
You correctly assumed that I like to shoot landscapes. I also like portraits but am not sure how often I'll have the opportunity to have a go. I'm also partial to close up shots of flowers, insects, etc. I don't like flash shots (unless done in a way that makes you think no flash was present). Hence my desire to get a lens that allows indoor shooting with nice natural light. I'm not too fond of long telephoto shots because (unless used for macro shots) they result in a rather flat perspective. However, I recently had a lot of fun trying to get some bird shots and this requires a long tele. The Tamron 18-250 should be good for this for a while, though.

Thanks a lot for your suggestions.

QuoteOriginally posted by pentagor Quote
1. SMC-M (or A) 50mm f/1.7, for low light and portraits
2. SMC-M (or A) 28mm f/2.8 (or even better f/3.5), for landscape
How about a 28mm f/1.8 to combine the landscapes and low light shooting? Would that work? I just edited my original post, adding a 28mm candidate because I remembered that this can be considered to be the true APS-C normal focus length (as ~42mm would be for 35mm film) considering the sensor/film diagonal.

QuoteOriginally posted by pentagor Quote
BTW: did you check your focal lengths on your photos you took with the Tamron?
Not yet. Just downloaded "Exposureplot".

Thanks again for your input. I'll keep an eye open for your lens recommendations.

09-26-2008, 06:29 AM   #5
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I agree on a fast prime, as it's the complete opposite of what you've got already.
A lens between 24-50mm, f/1.4 - f/2.8 will fundamentally change the way you go about taking your pictures compared to that superzoom. Whether you'll like it or not time will tell, but you will hopefully learn quite a few new tricks and appreciate the difference in image quality.
09-26-2008, 06:42 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by k100d Quote
if you want a prime, try locking in your zoom in that position for a while and see if you can stand it.
I tried that with 35mm for a while and it was OK. 50mm would probably be slightly too long, as I appear to recognise motifs with a "wide angle perspective" and do not (yet?) look in telephoto terms. I find it easier to approach a subject to fill a frame, rather than walk a way from it (usually hitting an obstacle in the process) to make it fit into the frame. That's why long telephoto primes scare me a bit.

QuoteOriginally posted by k100d Quote
if you get a fast prime, you can buy some extension tubes to get the macro functionality.
Interesting. Will these give you good quality? It is easy to think of them as being in the same category as cheap wide/tele converters you screw on top of (film camera) lenses. Those must be an optical compromise, right? However, presumably an extension tube should give a much better picture quality; or is the optimal choice a true macro lens?

QuoteOriginally posted by k100d Quote
the 30mm 1.4 is not a lens most people like. perhaps try the 28 1.8.
Again, that's interesting you mention this one. Before I read your post, I edited my original post to include the Sigma 28mm f/1.8. Why is it, you think, most people would prefer the 28 vs the 30? Better bokeh? Wider utility?

P.S.: I realise that I'm focusing on technical details here and that the real goal should be photography. However, I think there is a place for both aspects and I enjoy both kinds of discussions.
09-26-2008, 06:52 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Spongefingers Quote
A lens between 24-50mm, f/1.4 - f/2.8 will fundamentally change the way you go about taking your pictures compared to that superzoom.
Yes, I think that -- in my current phase -- makes more sense than getting another better quality zoom.

Something pretty fast (<=2.0?) with nice bokeh and not too long (<=35?), ideally with a macro facility would be great. Do you have a recommendation?
Thanks a lot for your thoughts.
09-26-2008, 07:09 AM   #8
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The DA35/2.8 is a good landscape lens.

If you need a faster 35, then go for the FA35.

HTH,
Heather

09-26-2008, 07:26 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
Something pretty fast (<=2.0?) with nice bokeh and not too long (<=35?), ideally with a macro facility would be great. Do you have a recommendation?
Thanks a lot for your thoughts.
The Sigma 28mm F1.8 EX DG ASPHERICAL MACRO sounds like it would work for you. Have you read through this thread? https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/37790-sigma-28...-35-f-2-a.html
Note, it's not a true 1:1 macro but it does allow close focus (1:2.9).
09-26-2008, 10:34 AM   #10
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QuoteQuote:
Interesting. Will these give you good quality? It is easy to think of them as being in the same category as cheap wide/tele converters you screw on top of (film camera) lenses. Those must be an optical compromise, right? However, presumably an extension tube should give a much better picture quality; or is the optimal choice a true macro lens?
never used one. i don't think the quality degradation is very high. it's pretty rare to see poor quality macro, be it a close up lens, extension tubes, even the "close focus" functionality of telephoto lenses.

QuoteQuote:
Again, that's interesting you mention this one. Before I read your post, I edited my original post to include the Sigma 28mm f/1.8. Why is it, you think, most people would prefer the 28 vs the 30? Better bokeh? Wider utility?
if you check the photozone review, the 30 is quite soft in the corners. also check out the FA35 vs Sigma 28 thread here right now, there are some comments on that lens as well. if you want a tonne of user reviews on these sigma lenses, check out Fred Miranda's forum.
09-26-2008, 01:49 PM   #11
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The FA50 f/1.4 is a nice lens, especially for the price. I think everyone should get this lens, unless they happen to have a bunch of 50mm's laying around already.

I base my recommendation mainly on price and image quality.
09-28-2008, 04:06 PM   #12
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Thank you all very much for your advice!
I really appreciate it.

QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
Thanks a lot for the pointer. I found this thread to be very useful indeed.

QuoteOriginally posted by k100d Quote
if you check the photozone review, the 30 is quite soft in the corners. also check out the FA35 vs Sigma 28 thread here right now, there are some comments on that lens as well. if you want a tonne of user reviews on these sigma lenses, check out Fred Miranda's forum.
Thanks a lot for these pointers as well.
I have read about the corner softness of the 30mm f/1.4 but I'm not sure how relevant this is in practical shooting since most objects are not planar anyway, corner sharpness is often not critical for the typical low light applications, and stopping down the lens will give you sharp corners if required.


QuoteOriginally posted by rfortson Quote
The FA50 f/1.4 is a nice lens, especially for the price.
Thanks for the recommendation. Do you think it is important to get the FA version or would an older (semi-) manual version do as well?

Summarising, it seems like the Sigma 28mm F1.8 EX DG ASPHERICAL MACRO would be the most versatile lens for me. I'm a little undecided whether or not I should go for the 30mm f/1.4 since it would be even better for low light shooting. But given all the input I've had so far, it appears the 28mm is the way to go and that I should add an even faster lens some time later (perhaps the 50mm f/1.4). Its telephoto characteristic may help to keep some distance to people, i.e., not become too intrusive when shooting.
09-28-2008, 10:12 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
QuoteQuote:
The FA50 f/1.4 is a nice lens, especially for the price.
Do you think it is important to get the FA version or would an older (semi-) manual version do as well?
The FA version is optically identical to the older K-mount versions. The f/1.7 versions are also equally good - some say better in some respects. You really can't go wrong with any of these 50's. If you don't mind working manually, then by all, save the money. Just don't bother with the f/2 version - these are definitely weaker.
10-02-2008, 02:43 PM   #14
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Thanks Marc!
10-05-2008, 07:07 AM   #15
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I bough a K10D last year with the kit lens. My first additional lens was a pentax 18-250mm which might be considered a vacation zoom and its similar to your lens. After that I bought a Pentax SMCP-FA 50mm f/1.4 Lens. I am not an expert, but a newbie, but that lens is really sharp, especially for portraits. Even thou is really fast 1.4, I do have some trouble focusing with low light, its slow on the focusing, but besides that is an amazing lens for the money. Cant go wrong with it.

Here are some examples, hope you like them:

Portrait:





Nature:







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