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03-18-2009, 08:33 AM   #1
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Location: Texas, Liberia
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Help me spend money: on a lens


I have been shooting with Pentax for about a year. I told myself at this point that I would begin to slowly build up with some good lenses. I have been shooting with a 50 F/2, Stock 18-55 for my 200d and also a F 80-200. Just some practice lenses to build my skills.

I need some help though, I want to tier my spending-

The first tier is this

100 dollars + or - a bit a beginner lens or lenses that is a good learn the skill lens or lenses- (I think I have seen someone set a budget like this before and buy one or two older lenses.)

Any thoughts and maybe you have one?
I am working on building my skills to use them to shoot my work in Liberia, W. Africa. Lots of people outside, and lots of low light conditions, and also a little length because the older president hired hit men to kill, and then sent a photographer to get there picture for them- people are a little hesitant to get their picture taken

Any thoughts would be great


03-18-2009, 09:29 AM   #2
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at $100, i'm not sure you could get much better than what you have now.
which focal length do you like using the best, or do you prefer zooms?
03-18-2009, 10:15 AM   #3
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For me, the biggest challenge I have are indoor, school related shots of the kids. The 50 I have is fast, but not long enough, and the zoom I have is ok at 200mm, but too slow.

For this reason I am on the prowl for a fast 200mm. There is a pentax M model in F4 and a vivitar model in F3.5, both in your price range. There is also a lot written on both, and it starts to approach personal taste AFAIK. There is an F2.8 version but it is MUCH more $s.

On the other end of the spectrum are the close up / macro shots of flowers, etc, so that puts you into a different lens entirely.

I am not big on zooms, because I seem to use them either full in or full out, but then again, I am just a beginner.
03-18-2009, 11:59 AM   #4
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If it is indeed a faster (larger maximum aperture) telephoto that you feel would best complement what you have now, then in addition to the M200/4, the other options in the $100-ish price range are the M135/3.5 and M100/2.8. The latter is my favorite of three, and that's based both on tis image quaity as well as how well the focal length works *for me*, but depending on what kind of events you are shooting, where you are shooting from, and how you like your shots framed, might not be long enough. The 135 is a nice compromise between length and speed and is still a nice small package. The 200 is *much* larger and heavier, and f/4 isn't all that fast - but it is indeed a faster than most affordable zooms at that focal length.

For the OP - you definitely do want to identify what kind of shots you'd like to take that you cannot now (or that you'd like to have come out "better" in some specific way you can name). In your shoes, I would be flippng a coin being a fast telephoto for portraits and shooting performers at events versus a fast "normal" or "slight wide angle" lens for more causal candids - a 50 is often too long for that in my experience. Best $100 option there is probably the A28/2.8.

03-18-2009, 12:14 PM   #5

These threads always feel a bit like asking Junkies to help you buy dope...

That said... I recently picked up a Vivitar 135 2.8 that is pretty nice for 25 bucks.
Also recently I got a Tamron adaptal 80-210 for about 35 bucks that is a very nice lens IMO.
I love my Helios 44M 58mm F2 that I picked up for about 20 dollars. The Jupiter 9 at aprox 125 would be a nice lens too.

Other great low-light options are any of the M/ SMC / Tak 50 1.4s.

Longer lens that can shoot in darker conditions are usually a tad more expensive than your 100 ish limit. There is a nice Series 1 vivitar 70-210 that has a constant aperture 3.5... not sure what it is going for now.

Last edited by Igilligan; 03-18-2009 at 12:19 PM.
03-18-2009, 12:19 PM   #6
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Original Poster

Well, with the responses I have gotten I think this might help

Where I shoot there is no electricity, but lots of light during the day six months out of the year, the other six are rain and clouds. With that being said when I shoot indoors I have to use a fast lens, I tend to take a lot of candid portraits. People in my mind communicate so much of what a country is like.

The other thought that comes to mind from the responses is that I also take a fair bit of landscapes and shots from a distance. The 80-200 is good for some of the distance shots but tends to be a bit soft overall though it does what I need it to do.

In my mind something like a fast 135, March you said "In your shoes, I would be flippng a coin being a fast telephoto for portraits and shooting performers at events versus a fast "normal" or "slight wide angle" lens for more causal candids" What would you consider a fast normal or slight wide angle?

I think that a fast telephoto may be what I am looking for but what? Any other thoughts based on some of the new situations?
The only other thought that someone may be able to help me with, when I use a M lens, my manual focused shots seem to be just slightly out of focus almost always, should I look for a split ---- my mind went blank- split prism not right but you should know what I mean or any thoughts on that?
03-18-2009, 01:39 PM   #7
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I think you were referring to a split focus screen. There's a thread, i think in the accessories forum about one that is selling from Hong Kong China for $29 that folks seem happy with. I have a split screen on my K10, not the same one, and find it invaluable.

As to lenses, there are lots of 135's available, and they are also much shorter than a zoom and therefore pretty discrete for that length. Also, lightweight to carry around. The M design lenses were a redesign of the K lenses to be more compact and lighter. I have an M design and its only 3 1/2 inches long, for essentially a 200mm effective reach. Mine only has f3.5, you can get down to a 2.5 i believe, but make sure it has the Pentaxes Special Multiple Coating (SMC) on its lenses. I bought a Takumar 135 f2.5, which was sharp, but only had a single coat and too much purple fringing. Anyway, see the lens database before buying any lenses that you are considering. (i paid only $50 for mine)

Good luck and good photography, Phil
03-18-2009, 02:20 PM   #8
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Sounds like an exciting job you've been given.
Although the M 200/4 is a great little lens, it may not be as fast as you want, and it's a little soft wide open. The 135/2.8 variety is probably best but be weary of focusing at f/2.8-4 - very little depth of field to play with.

Fast normal lenses like a 50/1.4 or 50/1.7 are just gems to have - you already have a 50/2, which is decent also, and can give you the extra field of view for group shots at a distance. Slight wide angles like 35mm range are also good in this way but may be a little to wide to capture people at a distance.


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