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11-29-2008, 11:27 AM   #1
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Guidance on planning an outfit?

Hi, everyone. I thought I'd start my own thread, cause I'm seeking guidance and suggestions about putting some glass on this K20d I'm happy to have coming, and this involves a lot of possible combinations of things.

I'm a longtime film shooter: home ground is old school black and white, and I'm fairly set in my ways: (I have old Canon manual focus stuff, ) ...I do probably ninety percent of my work between a 50 1.2 and an 85 1.8. Since half the time when I go to that 50, it's for the extra speed (so I can focus) I'm thinking that it's pretty much a foregone conclusion I'll start with an FA 50 1.4, so I can have and get used to the autofocus, and maybe save up for something really spiffy in that range after other things are squared away, like a Voigtlander 58 or a Zeiss or that new 55 that's coming out.

Otherwise, I'm trying to avoid redundant purchases while getting my bases covered on a budget, so I'd like to start planning.

It's possible that after the 50, I'll go prowling for old primes and MF zooms to cover my bases: that part is pretty much about targets of opportunity, but suggestions are welcome there.

I have some needs and wants to balance when it comes to picking up a 'walking around' zoom and/or something for the likes of weddings and events and whatever such jobs I might pick up: I like fast and steady-aperture lenses: I wouldn't be above scraping a while if I could have like a 17-70 2.8 sort of lens, as huge as that would likely be. Something has to give, though, clearly, considering what I see out there.

Another thing I can't seem to get is the wide angle half of a combination I use with film: a little consumer 28 and a 35-105:
One can have a 24-70 which will do the one half of that job nicely, but in part it's because real wide angle is such a *low* priority that I'm tempted to want to stick that on the short end of a zoom rather than get an expensive digital prime wide that'd stay home a lot cause they're so big.

There's always the kit lens, I guess, but they're obviously *very* slow, and probably bigger than even they need to be.

So, I see a few courses of action, while I wait for wonderful success to bring me a stack of those Limited primes and an MZ-S or something.

One involves any of that huge number of 24-70 type lenses, and whatever else makes up the differences.

Another involves maybe getting one of those slow does-all travel zooms for days travelling light on digital, and a mess of old primes.

A third, I suppose, is taking Pentax's suggestions and going with a 16-45 or a 16-50, if the latter can be managed. Improvising in the meantime.

Wide open field of possibilities, anyway. Suggestions? Nice things that'll hit on some good spots for not-too-much?

11-29-2008, 01:06 PM   #2
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From what you say, I think anything slower than f/2.8 is going to drive you nuts.

Lenses that come to mind:
Pentax FA35/2.0 for your fast normal (FA31 is excellent but $$$$)
Tamron 28-75/2.8 for your social zoom

I can't think of any good and cheap 20mm-ish primes. Using the wide end of the kit zoom or a Tokina or Cosina 19-35/3.5-4.5 are two inexpensive options.
11-29-2008, 02:42 PM   #3
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If you like the fast lenses because they focus well, then autofocus mostly obviates your need for a fast lens. If you like a fast lens for the shallow DOF and low-light images, then, yes, you'll want more fast lenses.

My suggestion, to start with, is a FA35/2.0 ($300), A50/1.4 ($70), and a Takumar 50/1.4 ($50 + M42 adapter for $30). That, plus the kit lens, would give you a feel for what's out there. The kit lens is slow, but small and light and respectable--and a zoom. The FA35/2.0 can be fully automatic, and is a great deal; manual 35/2.0's aren't going for that much cheaper. With the A50 and Tak50 you'll be able to see whether you like the luxuries of Program mode or whether Manual is just fine. After playing with those four lenses, you'll better know what your priorities are and be able to intelligently select your next purchase... then sell the lenses you didn't like at little or no loss.

The kicker is that brand new lenses are getting more expensive due to exchange rates and used lenses are getting cheaper and cheaper due to the economy.
11-29-2008, 02:45 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by troyz Quote
I can't think of any good and cheap 20mm-ish primes. Using the wide end of the kit zoom or a Tokina or Cosina 19-35/3.5-4.5 are two inexpensive options.
The Cosina MF 20/3.8 isn't too horrible.

11-29-2008, 07:20 PM   #5
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Hi, and thanks for some good suggestions. I *am* pretty much settled on starting with the FA 50 1.4... Just cause I do do so much of my work in short tele: and a 75 equivalent is just that much more flexible than an 85, which I usually use, that I think I can muddle through a while. I want to start off with that one thing just right, and thereby figure out what of the automation I really need and such.

My preference for fast lenses has a lot to do with the fact I'm subject to eye fatigue, and with manual focus at least, I need all the help I can get, sometimes. ...but I do actually often have call for the speed, even if with what I have, it's best to try to keep to f2 or smaller for sharpness' sake. There's some flexibility there, though, particularly where AF and image stabilization are involved.

From what you say, I think anything slower than f/2.8 is going to drive you nuts.

Well, let's just say that I've got a history of being willing to carry some substantial glass to keep to a steady 3.5. But given AF, some of this is pretty negotiable. I would, for instance, be pretty willing to go for something variable aperture/slower to carry alongside that 50 for minimal kit. A lightweight does-all that isn't atrocious, for instance, could have a place.

Definitely for serious occasions, one of those stew-can sized 2.8 zooms is bound to be in the equation, sooner or later.

Lenses that come to mind:
Pentax FA35/2.0 for your fast normal (FA31 is excellent but $$$$)
Tamron 28-75/2.8 for your social zoom


Thanks for this, ...both of these have caught my attention. That Tamron is good and sharp, fairly wide open, would you say? The focal length range is surely a comfy one for me, and they don't cost too much. ...but enough that for me it'd be a semi-permanent arrangement, at least, though. I don't want to spend that twice unless I'm making enough on it to be picky.

I was also considering a cheapie Sigma 2.8-4 somewhere in that range that was wicked cheap, basically to tide me over and be small, but they seem to be pretty sold out.

Question: How much difference is there between the first version of the kit lens and the II? The former seems to be all over the place for very little.


The fast 35 is a nice thing: I've had a nagging craving for one for my film cameras, for working in pubs and with bands and such.

(Which gives rise to a question: Will these FA lenses with aperture rings work with an old manual-focus body? My presumption is that they would, but I've been meaning to ask for sure. Much of the time, the Pentax digital will be an adjunct to my old film Canons, but there will be times when I'd just like to stick a Pentax film body in the bag cause I don't like to be without my B&W film.)

Anyway, there's a bit more.
11-30-2008, 07:01 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ratmagiclady Quote
I was also considering a cheapie Sigma 2.8-4 somewhere in that range that was wicked cheap, basically to tide me over and be small, but they seem to be pretty sold out.
If you're referring to the Sigma 28-70/2.8-4, no--they are not sold out. B&H has them on sale!
Sigma | 28-70mm f/2.8-4 Compact High Speed Zoom AF Lens | 634109

If you can handle a constant f4 on the wider end, then the DA16-45 is also an excellent choice.

HTH,
Heather
11-30-2008, 08:42 AM   #7
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The 16-45 might just find its way to me, eventually, not sure on that, though. The little Sigma, I'd seen on sale for somewhere in the neighborhood of just 80 bucks, ...I did some looking around and found it's not a terribly-sharp lens, so I think it'd have to be that kind of bargain for me to trouble with it. (Frankly, the idea had crossed my mind that I could score one of those and a cheap 50/2 A to tide me over and leave me with some more holiday season money. ) B&H's price on that is close enough to real money I'd probably sooner look elsewhere.
11-30-2008, 11:16 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ratmagiclady Quote

Thanks for this, ...both of these have caught my attention. That Tamron is good and sharp, fairly wide open, would you say?
Yes. I'm very happy with my Tamron 28-75. It's quite good even at f/2.8 (although I had to tune the autofocus adjustment on my K20D to get good wide-open results).

QuoteOriginally posted by Ratmagiclady Quote

Question: How much difference is there between the first version of the kit lens and the II? The former seems to be all over the place for very little.
The consensus seems to be that the two versions are similar in performance

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/37315-da-18-55...a-18-55mm.html

QuoteOriginally posted by Ratmagiclady Quote

(Which gives rise to a question: Will these FA lenses with aperture rings work with an old manual-focus body?
Yes, any F- or FA- lens (except for a few denoted FA-J) will work on any K-mount body.

12-02-2008, 08:41 AM   #9
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I wanted to say thanks for the help on this, I think I have my plan sketched out pretty well, now.

Especially since I remembered that my sister is following me into Pentax, and that means I don't have to worry as much about wasting money: if something needs an upgrade, I can pass it off to her.

(she's less serious about it, but she does some artsy type stuff here and there: I'd been thinking K200 or maybe K-m for her. Are the menues similar enough to a K20 on these for me to help guide her over the phone and the like, you think? )

Anyway, thanks again.
12-02-2008, 09:11 AM   #10
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I have written this many times, but since this thread is specifically on planning a lens system, I will spend the time to write this once again.

For any photographer, ultimately you will want to cover a range from 10-12mm at the short end, up to 200mm at the long end, with the possibility of going much longer if you are interested in wild life.

For travel, I prefer zooms over primes, hence the backbone of the kit needs to be (ultimately) high quality zooms, and you need to cover a large portion of the 10-200mm range at F2.8

My base kit is the following

Sigma APO 10-20 F4-5.6 EX DC
Pentax FA-J 18-35 F3.5-4.5
Tamron 28-75 F2.8 XR Di
Sigma APO 70-200 F2.8 EX

I get out to 280 mm and 400mm by adding the sigma 1.4x and 2x teleconverters, which are not general use TC's but meant only for sigma's long fast lenses.

If I am planning to only be in a city, and want to travel light, I drop the 70-200 and the 18-35 and add in my 135 F2.5

Obviously you can play around with the exact focal lengths but I would recommend from somewhere in the 20-28mm range up to your maximum focal length (135/150/200) being at F2.8

I would also recommend that at least one of the lenses is macro or close focus capable.

Once you have this, you can look at primes, which I find great for specific or creative work, but not as good for travel.

My primes are mostly K mounts, and all are fast (i.e. faster than F2.8 except for my macro) I don't mind MF for the primes, because I use them quite differently, and up to the 135 mainly for low light where AF is almost useless any way.

my primes at present are

Tamron Adaptall 24mm F2.5
SMC-Takumar (M42) 35mm F2
SMC-P 50mm F1.4
SMC-M 100mm F4 Macro
SMC-P 105mm F2.8
SMC-P 135 mm F2.5
SMC-P 300mm F4
Vivitar MC 400mm F5.6


The bottom line is plan out your kit and how you want to get there. One other consideration is whether you shoot any film or not. You will note all but my Sigma 10-20 are full frame lenses. In addition to my DSLRs, I have a PZ-1 and still shoot some film. Having a good range of full frame lenses is part of my decision, but does not need to be part of yours
12-02-2008, 11:23 AM   #11
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Hi, I've tried several time to post this but the system wouldn't let me so if it appears more than once it is a glitch. We seem to have a lot in common regarding history and current situation of trying to find equivalent lenses . I'm with you on the hunt for a deal on a "fast fifty" sounds like it might replace my FDL 85. I still wish ther was a direct replacement for the FD 35-105 macro but I'm not finding it. The Pentax FA 28-135 isn't bad but it's a little soft at the extremes and if you are getting serious switching to manual focus is a must. So since we're kind of in the same position I hope you'll keep posting here or message me with your opinions as you build your kit. Sounds like we speak the same language Canonese. Please don't get me wrong I love my new Pentax equiptment but old habits die hard and I'm not going to give up my film stuff. It took years to build a film kit that satisfied me and I guess the same trial and error will be true here , I just want to minimize the error part! With regard to a camera for your sister , don't disregard the istD series . I bought mine after the K20 just because it was a super deal and figured I could use a "knock around " camera. I've been very pleasantly surprised by the preformance of this SLR at a point N shoot price.
A side note , one of my friends gained some notoriaty for his paintings of the Old Athens Train Station. Does the station still exist? If its still there you have an incredable subject for some wide angle and fish eye work in your home town.

Last edited by seacapt; 12-02-2008 at 11:28 AM.
12-02-2008, 01:24 PM   #12
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Well, yes, actually, I'll be using film: I'm actually adding digital to a Canon FD system, so the digital's going to be something where I'm only carrying a couple of lenses at a time, (I usually go pretty light, relatively-speaking. The digital'll supplant the second body I used to carry for color, (which had been supplanted by a little bridge camera in recent years, ...best I could do) ..and by the time there's enough Pentax stuff I might be carrying for occasions that require digital, what I'll do is just slip a Pentax film body in the bag, so I'm not without black and white film. I mostly use just a couple of primes for that work, so it won't add up to too much. (Those Limited primes are pretty appealing to me for an arrangement like this, let me tell you.

I don't have much call for ultrawide at this point, maybe something fun and funky will come along, in that regard. Given the cost of real wides for digital, it'll probably end up waiting. Likewise with telephoto, until there's some call for it, I'll probably pick up an old 80-200 type thing to cover my bases, there.

For zooms, well, the digital is a logical place to put them, it's not what I do my film work with, anyway. It's looking like I'll get some kind of reasonably-fast 18-50 for wideness and relative smallness, (this may get passed to sister if there's need to improve on that) and that Tamron 28-70 for any wedding or event jobs I may pick up.

Primes as they come. I'm starting off with nothing but a 50/1.4, since I use short portrait almost all the time. a 35/ 2.0 might be a good one.
12-02-2008, 02:05 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by seacapt Quote
Hi, I've tried several time to post this but the system wouldn't let me so if it appears more than once it is a glitch. We seem to have a lot in common regarding history and current situation of trying to find equivalent lenses . I'm with you on the hunt for a deal on a "fast fifty" sounds like it might replace my FDL 85. I still wish ther was a direct replacement for the FD 35-105 macro but I'm not finding it. The Pentax FA 28-135 isn't bad but it's a little soft at the extremes and if you are getting serious switching to manual focus is a must. So since we're kind of in the same position I hope you'll keep posting here or message me with your opinions as you build your kit. Sounds like we speak the same language Canonese. Please don't get me wrong I love my new Pentax equiptment but old habits die hard and I'm not going to give up my film stuff. It took years to build a film kit that satisfied me and I guess the same trial and error will be true here , I just want to minimize the error part! With regard to a camera for your sister , don't disregard the istD series . I bought mine after the K20 just because it was a super deal and figured I could use a "knock around " camera. I've been very pleasantly surprised by the preformance of this SLR at a point N shoot price.
A side note , one of my friends gained some notoriaty for his paintings of the Old Athens Train Station. Does the station still exist? If its still there you have an incredable subject for some wide angle and fish eye work in your home town.
Hi. I'm actually looking at that Tamron 28-75 to cover what my 35-105 has done. A little faster, anyway, which I can always use. ...and knowing my own use of the 35-105, I know I won't often miss if it's a little less wide, ...sometimes I've wished that lens would go down to like 30... but barring that I stay pretty much above 40. So, it ought to do.

As for my sister, well, I'll keep it in mind, she's a bit better off and can probably do a k200, no biggie, there. But, I'll keep it in mind.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that station is still there. can't bring the station itsellf to mind, at the moment, but I'm pretty sure. I'm nursing a cold, atm, maybe it'lll come back to me.
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