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04-20-2007, 12:00 PM   #1
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My future lens kit

Seeking some opinions on what types of lenses to fill out my kit. Here's my situation:

1. Little money for lenses, so I'm looking at the older primes/zooms.

2. I shoot mostly family candids, some landscapes, some wildlife, and events in a concert type venue (actually a large church, but the lighting is like a concert venue)

3. I love my 70-150mm manual.

Aside from the kit lens (DA 18-55), I have a Tokina 28mm and a Vivitar 70-150mm.

I'm thinking about finding another Vivitar 80-200mm to bring things closer. I have seen some other lenses that go to 300mm. I'm thinking the digital cnversion with the 200mm length will give me enough range.

I'm also thinking another 2.8 prime around 50mm.

I'd love faster, better lenses, but I don't have a lot of money to drop on these. I've been crusing the auctions and stuff, and seen some great deals, but a good deal isn't so good if you don't really need the lens. (At least I keep telling myself that).

So, would that be a decent kit for my purposes? Or am I missing something?

slinky

04-20-2007, 01:06 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by mediaslinky Quote

1. Little money for lenses, so I'm looking at the older primes/zooms.

2. I shoot mostly family candids, some landscapes, some wildlife, and events in a concert type venue (actually a large church, but the lighting is like a concert venue)

Aside from the kit lens (DA 18-55), I have a Tokina 28mm and a Vivitar 70-150mm.

I'm thinking about finding another Vivitar 80-200mm to bring things closer. I have seen some other lenses that go to 300mm. I'm thinking the digital cnversion with the 200mm length will give me enough range.

I'm also thinking another 2.8 prime around 50mm.

So, would that be a decent kit for my purposes? Or am I missing something?
Another slow, mid-range zoom isn't going to help you much. 200mm isn't long enough for most wildlife shots (and is only 25% longer than your existing zoom), and an f4 or slower zoom isn't going to work well indoors.

I'd suggest the following (in the order listed):

Pentax 50mm f1.4 K, M, A, F or FA: Perfect for family candids using available light. Used manual focus 50s are still plentiful and relatively cheap. If you want a rock-bottom price get a 50mm f1.7 M or A. Since family candids is your most common use, this is the first lens to get.

Pentax 135mm f2.5 K: This will give you more reach than the 50mm for concert/event shots and it is much faster than an f4 zoom. This is also relatively cheap. Avoid the cheaper Takumar A "Bayonet" 135mm f2.5: it is a four element design and not very good. The Pentax M 135mm f3.5 is a decent lens, but f3.5 is getting pretty slow for indoor use. Alternatively, you could consider something like the Pentax M 85mm f2 or M 100 f2.8 if you don't need as much magnification. I use a Pentax FA 135 f2.8 for this application and it is a nice lens, but these have gotten expensive in the used market in the last year or so.

Pentax 300mm f4 K: This has decent reach for wildlife shots and can be found for a decent price. Inexpensive zooms in the 75-300 class tend to have poor image quality on the long end. A fixed focal length lens will definitely out-perform the zoom of comparable quality. You might find an inexpensive 300mm f4 manual focus lenses from third parties (Tamron, Tokina, etc.) at a good price.
04-20-2007, 06:11 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by mediaslinky Quote

I'm thinking about finding another Vivitar 80-200mm to bring things closer. I have seen some other lenses that go to 300mm. I'm thinking the digital cnversion with the 200mm length will give me enough range.

I'm also thinking another 2.8 prime around 50mm.

I'd love faster, better lenses, but I don't have a lot of money to drop on these. I've been crusing the auctions and stuff, and seen some great deals, but a good deal isn't so good if you don't really need the lens. (At least I keep telling myself that).

So, would that be a decent kit for my purposes? Or am I missing something?

slinky
Try to find Pentax-A 70-210/4 if you can. I have got one, actually my only manual zoom at the moment. It is very very good.

With your 50mm lens, have a look at keh.com for either a f1.7 (cheaper) or f1.4 (more expensive) manual focus lens. The price ranges from $70 to $150, depending on condition and speed. They also have 50mm/f2.0 for cheaper price but I would go for a K/M/A-50mm/f1.7 as it is rated as sharper in its wide-open performance than either the f2.0 and f1.4 version.

If I was to put together a manual-focus prime lens kit with a limited budget, here is what I would get:
M28/3.5, M50/1.7, M100/2.8 (non-macro), M135/3.5 and M200/4

All the lenses above can be found from under $100 to less than $150. Anything wider than 28mm is going to cost quite a bit (ie > $200), unless you get lucky. So I would probably just stick with kit lens until more fund become available.

cheers
Kenny
04-20-2007, 06:21 PM   #4
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Get the DA 50-200 @ ~$200, maybe less if you are a good bargain hunter.

04-20-2007, 06:38 PM   #5
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Hi. I use the AF 80-210mm Tamron zoom.I seem to get pretty good results with it and there relatively cheap.$250 aus approx.All the photos in my gallery are takin with it if u want to see some samples. Going to a rodeo this afternoon hopin to get some good action shots.Il post a few if i do. Good luck
04-20-2007, 08:15 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by mediaslinky Quote
I'm also thinking another 2.8 prime around 50mm.
For new stuff, the DA 40mm f/2.8 Limited is pretty nice, and it's relatively reasonably priced. B&H has some in stock right now, and there's the $50 Pentax rebate through the end of the month, making it $225.
04-21-2007, 01:39 AM   #7
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I probably sound like a broken record on this subject, but if you want some nice primes and don't want to spend a lot of money on them, consider M42 (screwmount) lenses. They're actually easier to use with the DSLR than are the later M lenses.

I started using them a couple of months ago, and promptly removed all my M and A lenses from my bag. The adapter may as well be welded onto my camera; I practically never remove it.
04-21-2007, 05:56 AM   #8
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Thanks for the replies.

Mike, what are some of your favorites? I've seen lots of m42 lenses go dirt cheap, but wouldn't know where to start...

B. Jones- yeah, I like the DA 50-200. It would take some shopping.

Gary and KJ- You have convinced me to look for a 50mm first. Looking over my existing lenses (didn't take long, heh heh.) that's a range I'm missing, badly given my shooting habits.

Thanks.

04-21-2007, 09:52 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
I probably sound like a broken record on this subject, but if you want some nice primes and don't want to spend a lot of money on them, consider M42 (screwmount) lenses. They're actually easier to use with the DSLR than are the later M lenses.

I started using them a couple of months ago, and promptly removed all my M and A lenses from my bag. The adapter may as well be welded onto my camera; I practically never remove it.
Can you offer a little detail as to how the M42 lenses are easier to use? I currently don't have any manual lenses, but have used my A 50mm in manual mode, just to get a feel for using manual lenses. My thoughts with this (limited) proactice is that manual would be fine for anything where you have more than a second or two to get a shot. I have been thinking about seeking out some manual primes as an inexpensive way to add a few to my bag. Should I look for M42 lenses instead?
04-21-2007, 06:13 PM   #10
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They're easier to use with "M" lenses (not "A" lenses), and it has to do with the metering process.

With "A" lenses, you set the aperture to "A" on the lens, and on most modes all you have to do is focus and shoot.

With "M" lenses, (on K100D ->), you set the aperture to where you want it, focus, hunt for the AE-L button, stop down the lens, glance at the shutter speed, recompose, then shoot....assuming the subject hasn't moved out of focus or in/out of an area with brightness different enough that your metered exposure is now off and you have to repeat the metering.

With M42 lenses (in Av mode), you focus, spin down the aperture, and shoot. Since the diaphragm closes down as you move the ring, you get immediate and constant DOF preview and immediate and constant updating of the metering....without lowering the camera and with no hunting for buttons.

I'm not the best (or even a good) source regarding which M42 lenses are best. I can only say that I love each of the few that I have. I love the way they are built, the way they look, the ease of use, and the prices I paid for them.

SMC Takumar 55/1.8 ------ $29
Super Takumar 105/2.8 -- $58
Super Takumar 135/3.5 -- $35
Super Takumar 200/4 ----- $24
No-name 2x converter ---- $8
Pentax M42 macro tubes - $22

176 bucks. Add in a bit for shipping and whatnot and it still comes in lightly tipping the scales at $200.

I started out very early on realizing that I wasn't going to be able to afford new lenses, even ones from third-party makers such as Sigma. I decided to pick up "A" lenses, sacrificing autofocus capability while still being able to have auto-exposure and flash interoperability. The jacked-up prices of the "A" lenses quickly made me see that money-wise they were a false economy. The ergonomic awkwardness and aggravation (in my opinion, anyway) of using the "M" lenses rather quickly put me off of them. Once I tried my first M42 on the K100D, I was hooked. Finally I had found something with good quality, easy to use, and affordable enough that I could actually indulge in LBA.
04-21-2007, 06:24 PM   #11
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I managed to get a Pentax-M 40mm f/2.8 pancake off eBay for $107 including shipping. It came with a Pentax ME, but I really just wanted the lens.

I think it's a great little portrait lens because:
1) It works out to 60mm on my K100D with the 1.5x crop factor, which is actually usable indoors.
2) It's slightly soft at 2.8, which I think makes for more flattering photos. I don't want to imply that the lens is blurry and bad at f/2.8 though. The images still look great, but the pores on your subjects' faces just don't jump out.
3) At f/2.8, the depth of field is pretty good for portraits.
4) It's super tiny, but still easy to work with. It makes my K100D very light and nice to carry around all day.

After using this lens for a while, I'm actually considering splurging for a DA 40mm just so I can have autofocus back.
04-22-2007, 12:46 PM   #12
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Thanks Mike,

I didn't know that the M42 lenses stop down as you turn the aperture ring. Now I understand why they are easier to use, and might have to try out a couple. I will have to seek some out. Now I have to go and read all the threads that I skipped about M42 adapters!
04-22-2007, 07:00 PM   #13
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OK, I snagged a Pentax M 50MM f2 for a great price (<$20 so I couldn't pass it up), should have it in a week or so. I looked over the reviews in the database here, and they were all pretty positive.

That should fill a major hole in my kit...
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