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11-25-2008, 09:27 AM   #1
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New to Pentax and find lens choices confusing

Hi Folks, Please excuse my ignorance but I am finding it hard to get info on what Pentax lenses are GOOD , OK and JUNK. Also is there a pricing guide for used lenses. I have shot Canon film (A-1's and F1's) for years and know their lenses (FD) inside and out . I'm old school and believe that the glass is far more important than the body. I recently made the decission to buy a K20d as well as a used ist DL for back up. I'm trying to build my lens arsenal to make the transition to digital less painful but I'm somewhat confused.
I bought a FA 28-105 new with the K20d hoping it would fill the shoes of my Canon FD 35-105 macro (my alltime favorite carry around lens) but I alittle dissapointed . I also purchased used a FA 80-320 and a F 80-200. The 80-320 seems OK at local sports events but I'm just not getting the warm fuzzy feelings I was used to with my film cameras and old "heavey" glass and metal lenses. I am also finding it impossible to get a lens to "go wide" that doesn't cost more than my first car.
Yes I am aware of the conversion factor for using film lenses on digital and yes I did realize it was going to cost money to go digital. I am hoping to find more used equiptment to help ease the blow financially but I don't know what to buy or what it should cost.
Comments and suggestions will be greatly appreciated ! Thanks , Ken

11-25-2008, 09:31 AM   #2
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He he he


It is confusing at first, and mostly because the range is soooo big, you do get lost! But is a good "bad" thing... if you know what I mean.


It takes some time to also fully understand the labeling used by pentax (A x FA x K x DA etc etc) but you'll get it all after a month reading the forums.


Suggestions:

Read the reviews, it has cost, and user ratings, and it is great to check the value of a lens you are thinking about buying:


Pentax Lens Review Database - Main Index

PentaxForums.com Third-Party Pentax Lens Review Database - Main Index
11-25-2008, 09:41 AM   #3
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A DA* 50-135/2.8 would do you good as would all the DA* lenses. Limiteds are hard to beat as well.
11-25-2008, 09:48 AM   #4
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The user reviews here are the best place to start. You can also look at the (outdated) PDF here:

http://www.jcolwell.ca/_SPLOSdb/SPLOSdb-2004-09-31.pdf

11-25-2008, 09:51 AM   #5
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You started poorly with two fairly crappy lenses.

Let's start again ......

Forget the old mount MF stuff unless you want useability headaches and it is too much to process right now.
  • In a nutshell there are four modern lines, FA, FA*, DA and DA*.
  • The FA lenses are all full frame and older designs, DA mostly for crop sensors only with more modern designs.
  • Anything with "limited" written on it should be of the highest order but all are primes.
  • How wide is wide? as in what 35mm Fl do you need?
  • All the modern lenses are pretty good but the 16-50/2.8 is plagued with QC issues but the Tamron 17-50/2.8 has won many followers and is cheap.
  • The 50-135/2.8 appears a knock-out lens to say the least. There is no 70-200 in this mount unless you go 3rd party.
  • As a starting point the Tamron 17-50 and pentax DA55-300 should serve you well. If you do not need the 300 then try the DA50-200 (about $125 used) or if you're serious the 50-135/2.8 DA* lens.
11-25-2008, 10:16 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by seacapt Quote
I bought a FA 28-105 new with the K20d hoping it would fill the shoes of my Canon FD 35-105 macro (my alltime favorite carry around lens) but I alittle dissapointed .
Hi,
How were you disappointed? Sharpness? Contrast? Color rendition?

I sympathize with your comments regarding build and particularly with the frustration with the lack of moderately-priced high value wide angle options. I am not familiar with the lenses you have purchased, but might have given a small piece of advice with the initial purchase. That advice:
Get the DA 18-55 kit
It is cheap and performs well except for being too slow for low light. The best part is that the 18-55 is the cheapest route to a workable wide angle solution. The DA 50-200 or DA 55-300 might also be added to round out the kit on the long end. Other alternatives exist in the Tamron/Sigma/Tokina world. I know...these are pretty pedestrian choices, but they offer the chance to know the digital medium without wasting a ton of money on glass.

Once you use your camera a bit and read the various threads on this and other sites, you will get a feeling for where your best lens values are. The nice thing about Pentax is that there is a huge selection of old-school lenses that will work nicely with your camera. If you take a look at my signature, you will see only two truly modern lenses. The rest are either old, weird, or both.

Steve

BTW...Check out any of the "club" threads in the Pentax SLR Lens Discussion area. You will see tons of pictures taken with all sorts of lenses along with notes by people who actually own and use the things.
11-25-2008, 10:23 AM   #7
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Alfisti , with regards to how wide?I'd like something to take the place of my film 24mm but think I'm going to have to go with an equivalent to a 28mm film. At the long end yeah I need 300 (or more) and like the crop factor with the FA80- 320 but the lens seems a little soft. I have 3 kids on 3 diiferent teams and spend ALOT of time at the ball fields and do quite a bit of nature photography (wild horses ) from a boat on the Outer Banks. Thanks for your input
11-25-2008, 10:42 AM   #8
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The beauty of going with Pentax is that there is plenty of good glass out there going all the way back to the glass made in the 60s. It sounds like your preferred range is 24-300mm on the 35mm, which translate to 16-200mm on the Pentax digital bodies. If you tell us your budget and whether you mind MF vs AF, maybe we can pick out couple goodies for you. = )

11-25-2008, 10:45 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by seacapt Quote
Alfisti , with regards to how wide?I'd like something to take the place of my film 24mm but think I'm going to have to go with an equivalent to a 28mm film. At the long end yeah I need 300 (or more) and like the crop factor with the FA80- 320 but the lens seems a little soft. I have 3 kids on 3 diiferent teams and spend ALOT of time at the ball fields and do quite a bit of nature photography (wild horses ) from a boat on the Outer Banks. Thanks for your input

Keep an eye on the marketplace here or place a wanted ad here for a Sigma 10-20mm which will set you back about $350 used and a 55-300 (about $300 used).

Another option is the Tamron 17-50 which is a 25.5 equivilent at the wide end for about $350 used.

See my sig for examp-les of some of th elenses you're after, the Tamron 70-300 is dirt cheap but IMHo the extra $200 is well spent on the Pentax 55-300.
11-25-2008, 10:47 AM   #10
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Stevebrot, pretty disappointed by auto focus when shooting with open f stops and long focal length (now I generally switch to manual focus when I want shallow depth of field) and lesser issue with sharpness. I guess some of my problem is getting used to the feel of plastic lenses . Like I said I'm old school , my Canon lenses are all either SSC , L series or a couple of first generation Series 1 Vivitar. I just like the solid feel of glass and metal.
11-25-2008, 10:49 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alfisti Quote
You started poorly with two fairly crappy lenses.

Let's start again ......

Forget the old mount MF stuff unless you want useability headaches....
What usability headaches? I use the "old mount MF stuff" almost exclusively and it is easier than rolling off a log. Just because he happened to suffer the misfortune of picking a couple of turkeys at the start is no reason to unjustly sully the good name of Pentax legacy glass.
11-25-2008, 11:18 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
What usability headaches? I use the "old mount MF stuff" almost exclusively and it is easier than rolling off a log. Just because he happened to suffer the misfortune of picking a couple of turkeys at the start is no reason to unjustly sully the good name of Pentax legacy glass.

Manual focus and metering issues.
11-25-2008, 11:19 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by seacapt Quote
Stevebrot, pretty disappointed by auto focus when shooting with open f stops and long focal length (now I generally switch to manual focus when I want shallow depth of field) and lesser issue with sharpness. I guess some of my problem is getting used to the feel of plastic lenses . Like I said I'm old school , my Canon lenses are all either SSC , L series or a couple of first generation Series 1 Vivitar. I just like the solid feel of glass and metal.

You really need the DA* 300/4 which is a serious bit of kit but $1,000.
11-25-2008, 11:31 AM   #14
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Thanks to Y'all but if I don't get off this computer and get some work done I wont be able to buy any new lenses. Thanks again
11-25-2008, 12:50 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by seacapt Quote
Stevebrot, pretty disappointed by auto focus when shooting with open f stops and long focal length (now I generally switch to manual focus when I want shallow depth of field) and lesser issue with sharpness. I guess some of my problem is getting used to the feel of plastic lenses . Like I said I'm old school , my Canon lenses are all either SSC , L series or a couple of first generation Series 1 Vivitar. I just like the solid feel of glass and metal.
I am with you in regards to the plastic feel of many newer lenses vs. the feel of the old-school stuff. Auto focus is a difficult subject since it appears that user's expectations often outstrip the capabilities of the technology. I also use manual focus if focus is critical. As you can tell from my signature, I am on the mostly manual side of the fence.

Steve
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