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09-29-2008, 03:45 AM   #1
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First lens.


After a long time reading reviews I decided to get a K200D. The short term purpose for it will be to take photos of a trip to Japan. I'm, however, maybe too thoughtful about which lens to buy. For now, my budget is a bit limited and I'm considering to drop the 18-55 mm kit lens and spend those 50 dollars ($549 K200D body-only vs $599 body+kit lens at BH) into a better lens.

As far as I have read BH's reviews it seems that the best I can get under 200 dollars, other than the kit lens, is the FA 50 mm f/1.4. I expect to do lots of landscape photographs in Japan and a wide angle would be great, but also I wouldn't want to miss the chance for those beautiful night shots without flash that are possible with the fast prime.

In case I choose the prime, do you think I would miss too much the wide angle for landscaping?

EDIT: I come from the P&S world, this will be my first ever DSLR.

Last edited by hahifuheho; 09-29-2008 at 03:51 AM.
09-29-2008, 03:56 AM   #2
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Wide angle ae great for landscape so IMHO I would miss it!!
09-29-2008, 04:08 AM   #3
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since you are just coming from a Point and shoot, I would avoid primes right now. I would get the kit lens. it really is worth the extra 50 bucks. heck, you can sell it on here for 75! you could get the 12-24, ive heard great things but its quite expensive. honestly, id get the kit lens and maybe the 50-200 (you can get one used on this forum for under 200) or i would consider the 55-300. the reason i am recommending this is because the kit lens will do landscapes, it just wont go SUPER wide like the 12-24 but 18mm is still quite wide, wider than your Point and Shoot would go!
09-29-2008, 05:35 AM   #4
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A 50mm 1.4 is a great lens, but it's not great as an only lens. With a 50m, you're limited to only mild telephoto. The 18-55mm gives you wide angle to mild telephoto. An example;
I was visiting and a friend asked if I would shoot her back yard. I only had the 50mm with me, but I tried anyway. The photos were hopeless, I could not achieve a suitable field of view to show off the beautiful grounds and fit the house in the same frame. I went back the next day with the 18-55mm and did it right. In Japan you will want to capture a wide range of subjects. The kit lens is your best bet.

Yes, an 18-55mm is not for low light, but it's not a crime to use a flash if you need more light. You'll find the Pentax built-in flash is much more pleasing than the flash on a p&s, especially if you use fill flash.

Last edited by audiobomber; 09-29-2008 at 06:04 AM.
09-29-2008, 06:13 AM   #5
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For under $200, it has to be the 18-55 II. However, if you're prepared to spend a little more you could get the Tamron 18-200, which has a rebate at present making the total cost about $250. I haven't used this lens, but the reviews on B&H seem to be positive. By choosing a lens like this it gives you plenty of options for your trip to Japan, all in one lens.

The 50-200 together with the 18-55 II is the standard kit lens set, which many people find suits their needs. The cost of these two with the k200d won't be to much over your budget.

You could also get the 18-55 II kit lens with the K200D, giving you a nice zoom range and then buy a FA 50 to have as your low light, fast lens when needed.

There are plenty of other lenses but I've tried to give you options around your price range.

Of course you could always check out the marketplace on this forum and pick up one or two used lens saving you some $$$.

Last edited by dazman; 09-29-2008 at 06:24 AM.
09-29-2008, 10:19 AM   #6
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NO WAY would I go ANYWHERE (especially Japan!) with only a 50mm. Especially since you're just starting out. You should be able to scrape together the extra $50 for the kit lens. You'll be very happy you did (anything around the house you can sell?) The 50 is a great lens (I owned one for a little while), but it's not a "do it all" lens.
09-29-2008, 10:58 AM   #7
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Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 - much wider than 50mm, can get out to 75 for some mid-telephoto, and is optically superb. If you're going to Japan, it would be good to spend just a few more bucks to get killer images. ($265 -> $350 for used --> new)


09-29-2008, 11:11 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by hahifuheho Quote
...In case I choose the prime, do you think I would miss too much the wide angle for landscaping?
Yes. The FA 50mm f1.4 is a fine lens, but the DA 18-55mm is the best budget wide angle solution. It's not perfect, but it is extremely useful.

You may want to consider a used manual focus 50mm lens, such as the Pentax-M 50mm f1.7, somewhere around $50. You will have to learn how to use it, because it's completely manual. Once you learn, your other lenses will be much better. If you decide you don't like completely manual lenses, you can easily sell it for the same price.
09-29-2008, 11:38 AM   #9
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If you do want a better lens to replace the kit, the best choices are the Sigma 17-70, the Pentax 17-70, the Pentax 16-45 if you can find it, and that's it. All of those will give you better quality, but the kit lens itself isn't half bad.

If you carry only one prime, you NEED a very wide one. 50 mm on a current camera is a mild telephoto lens, like others have said, it can be extremely confining.

You could also go towards a superzoom, if you're wiling to accept the compromises it entails (flexibility vs image quality). Outdoors, with the lens closed down to f8 or so, superzooms will perform quite well. Indoors it can be a different story.

I think if you want to save for better glass, and are thinking about primes, you should get the kit, and decide later. If you plan on getting a better zoom, get it now, as I did (I never bought the kit, I went directly to the Sigma 17-70).
09-29-2008, 11:46 AM   #10
Damn Brit

The best price initial kit you are going to get is the camera + 18-55 + 50-200. You should be able to find all three as a kit.
With this setup you will have 18mm - 200mm covered with a little overlap and only two lenses.
This will be a great kit to take on your trip both for shooting and learning. Once you have gained experience, like someone else said you can sell the 18-55 for more than you paid for it, you could probably do the same with the 50-200 but it's more than likely you would want to keep it.
09-29-2008, 01:53 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
You may want to consider a used manual focus 50mm lens, such as the Pentax-M 50mm f1.7, somewhere around $50.
That's my vote, too. No way would I take a potentially once-in-a-lifetime trip with only a 50mm lens - there are far too many pictures you *wouldn't* be able to take, and most of them because it isn't wide enough. Not just landscapes, but cityscapes too. And indeed many kinds of interior shots.

But a fast 50 is so worth having for the kinds of pictures you can't get with the 18-55 that if an extra $200 for the FA50 is out of budget, I'd be heading to nearest pawn shop with a $20 bill in my pocket - OK, maybe two of them - picking up an M50/1.7 and learning to use it before you leave. M50/2 will do if you're in a time crunch and that's you all you can find, but the 1.7's aren't that much more and are easily worth it. There are also 1.4 versions, but they do tend to be harder to find and more expensive - at that point, you might as well go with the FA50.

Anyhow, a trip to Japan with the 18-55 & M50/1.7 would be fabulous. When do we leave? :-)
09-29-2008, 04:43 PM   #12
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Original Poster
Good news.

Thank you for all your advise, If things keep going smooth, I expect to be there by december.

To tell you the truth I've read a lot of people saying the 18-55 kit lens isn't that great and I didn't want to ruin those once in a lifetime shots you talk about if I could afford a better lens, that's why I thought about not getting it. However, now I think nothing could be better, for that price, than it.

Today I received a good new and I may have a 400 dollars extra and, speaking of landscapes and cityscapes, I'm even thinking about also getting Pentax's 10-17 fisheye if that money comes to my wallet . I have no previous experience with SLR's, but from what I've read (and, believe me, I've been doing my best to learn as much as possible), I think a fisheye could be very useful for interiores wide angle needs.

Of course, being there I will visit as many second-hand shops as I can, looking for good and cheap lenses. The point is, I want to be ready to shot great pictures from the moment I spot the Japanese islands.

Thank you again.
09-29-2008, 09:16 PM   #13
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Be careful of the fisheye, it would be better to buy a wide angle lens instead of the fisheye (pentax 14, 12-24 or sigma 10-20).

You could also get 16-45 at 16 is also relatively wide, and might be better than the 14.

The downside is that the 12-24 is very expensive.

I'm not recommending the 21 as it might not be wide enough for interiors.

I assume your budget is $400 + a little + $50 or kit.

12-24 is $600 to $700, and probably would be the only lens you could afford if you buy. So you would be left without fast or tele lens.

So it comes down to sigma 10-20 vs pentax 16-45 if going wide.

I'd say buy the 16-45 as it is actually $50 cheaper as it saves you from having to buy the kit lens. (Constant aperture is nice also, less worries for a beginner).

16-45 is $300 approx. So you would have $100 + a little + $50.

That could get you the FA 50 1.4 as the low light lens or a tele for the additional reach.

If you have access to cheap fast 50's like those mentioned before, go for it, though you must practice your manual focusing.

Why I don't recommend the fisheye:

1) It might be more wide than you need (the field of view is like 180 to 100 degrees, whereas the 12-24 is from 100 to 60 degrees approx, so you get the idea, a lens having fisheye means the field of view is dramatically different from a normal -called rectilinear- lens).

2) Fisheye lenses cause distortion, while you can fix it a bit in post processing, it can be annoying.

As a side note:

If you have a P&S take it too to cover your missing focal lengths. Just make sure you never use the same SD card for both cameras.

I can't recommend more until you give us more information, like how much would you consider stretching your budget, or what do you think will be your priority when taking pictures (landscapes and... something else?).
09-29-2008, 11:32 PM   #14
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Thank you very much.

The original budget is up to 800 dollars, which allows me to buy the body with the kit lens (600 usd) plus any 200 dollars-or-less lens (or the body plus any 250 dollars-or-less lens). However, I might earn around 400 in extra cash and that would be around 600 dollars for the lens(es).

This is will be my first time in Japan and I'm very excited about it. I want to photograph everything, I don't want to miss anything. I will do a lot of street walking but I also will visit temples and other places of interest. I thought about the fisheye because of its super-wide angle (100 to 180 as you say) and I think I wouldn't be bothered by its distortion.

However, from what you and other people have written I think there is just too much where to choose from. I'm considering to get the camera with the 18-55 kit lens (a bargain) and play with them for a while. I still have time from here until december to buy another lens(es) in case I find out I desperately need either wider angles, longer telephotos, or just a better lens within the kit's range before traveling. As for the fast prime, I think it will be easier to find a good one (either manual or AF) once I get there.
09-30-2008, 12:03 AM   #15
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Well, then $50 is not relatively much, so getting it and the camera asap to learn to use it is a good move IMO.

What I can further add is 2 things:

-Take a look at pentax photo gallery, and look at photos sorted by lenses.

-Would you have enough time between photos to change lenses? Or enough bagspace / weight limit? Lets say if you go with someone else, or in a tour (tours are fast-paced in japan) you might not want/be able to change lenses every other shot.

If this is a strong possibility, then consider getting a multipurpose zoom 18-250 or something similar, which is nicely complemented by a fast prime, say a FA 50, both lenses should be at your budget, or slightly stretching it. In this case you would use the multipurpose zoom in day and the prime at night to avoid changing lenses too often.

If you are going at your own pace, carrying many lenses and the environment is ideal enough to change lenses often, then you can consider another lens selection.

Even still I would recommend you to first try the camera with something relatively wide (like the kit lens or a multipurpose zoom) and watching lots of pictures with a fisheye before commiting to one.

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