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06-21-2009, 02:48 PM   #1
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LBA - Requesting advise on which route to take...

Hi everyone,

First off, this is my first post. I have been reading here for a long time and the sheer amount of people and the wealth of knowledge and information here is great!

I bring to you a dilemma I have been trying to sort out:

I purchased a Pentax K100D over a year ago and love it! Only lens I currently own is the 18-55mm kit lens. The kit lens aperture is just too limiting for indoor photos and of course, the more I get into photography (pure amateur here!) the more I get LBA. I am going to purchase some sort of flash to help me out in the low light situations (possibly a Vivitar 3700) and I realize the cost of good glass is part of the problem in my dilemma. With that said, I still need to get some better lenses, so I have tried to plan out a lens buying route to take. Here are my options:

#1 - Superzoom + Prime

-Pentax 18-250mm superzoom. Try and take photos in it's "sweet spots" and use the other parts of it's ranges when convenient and without having to swap lenses all the time.
-Pentax-F 50mm F1.7. Use this lens for situations when I need something to perform in low light and/or when i'm looking for or need the extra IQ.
-Future purchases would be a prime in the 28-35mm range and 70-100mm range.

I like the above option for convenience of the superzoom, and then complimenting it with primes for their excellent IQ and low light ability when needed.

#2 - Good zooms

-Sigma/Pentax 17-70mm or a Tamron 17-50mm F2.8. Likely go with the Tamron and attempt to use this lens most of the time, including in the low light situations.
-Tamrom 70-300mm. A cheap option for now to cover the long range.
-Future purchases. Upgrade the above 70-300mm. Possibly also add a Pentax-F 50mm F1.7 prime in the camera bag for the times when F2.8 isn't good enough in low light.

This option leaves me with a good 17-50mm F2.8 lens with better IQ and low light than option 1's 18-250mm zoom. However, this option will force me to swap lenses between the 17-50 and 70-300 whenever I need to zoom past 50mm. With a 17-70mm I probably wouldn't have to switch lenses as much, but then you lose the constant F2.8 that I need for lower light.

Conclusion:

I am leaning towards option #1 simply for convenience and the fact that it will also give me arguably the best IQ (out of the two options) in the end through the use of primes for those times when I need it/ can't use the convenient 18-250mm. (ie. low light)

Thoughts?

And thanks to anyone for reading the above mess of a post and replying!

06-21-2009, 03:13 PM   #2
axl
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how about option 3:
keep DA18-55 it's not bad lens at all and I see no reason to replace by 18-250 zoom. Get DA55-300 and fast prime (don't go for 50 just because, think what you want your prime for. If portraits 50 will do you OK. If general purpose you may find it too narrow and FA35/2 or Sigma 30/1.4 would be better option).

If you want to stick with one of your two options then my vote goes for no.2
simply because as I said before I don't see point in "upgrading" to 18-250 superzooms. Either of the options for wide end listed in your second proposal would give you better IQ. And if buying new lens that weights more than convenience... at least for me...

my 2p

Peter
06-21-2009, 04:00 PM   #3
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Option 4

Pentax lenses are expensive so just buy the tamron 17-50 2.8 which is nice and fast lens and also get yourself a sigma 50-150 2.8 for the IQ. If you ask this 2 days ago I would say pentax 50-135 over the sigma 50-150 but the price for pentax had doubled during the past 2 days. Finally if you need more reach get the 200mm or 300mm DA* lens.
06-21-2009, 05:33 PM   #4
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While a 2-lens zoom kit isn't the most convenient to use, it generally provides better IQ. For a short time, I had a Tamron 18-250, but I got rid of it after getting really frustrated with the vingnetting at the wide end, especially when I was using a polarizer. My current zoom setup is the Sigma 17-70/2.8-4.5 and the DA55-300 and I'm pretty happy with it. With that setup, you get 17-300 FL range, plus very good closeup (1:2.3) ability when you use the 17-70 at 70mm. When I travel, these 2 lenses are the most likely to go with me, as they will handle almost anything I might run into, especially if I pair them with either a tripod or a fast prime like my FA43/1.9.

HTH,
Heather

06-22-2009, 03:50 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies, you have given me more to think about.

My end goal is really to have a capable small set of lenses that I can throw into one camera bag and still have it light enough for traveling, etc. For my level of photography, carrying around two bags full of lenses does not make sense.

All three of you suggested sticking with two zooms with better overall IQ than the 18-250mm superzoom. Heather, you summed it up very well that with two zooms, and a prime for low light, you end up with an excellent traveling kit.

I am still weighing the pros and cons of the following:

17-70 or 17-50 + a decent long zoom (55-300) and a prime for low light.

or

an 18-250 (giving as good or better quality than my kit lens w/ added range) and the possibility of adding up to 3 primes (as they are smaller and could all fit in one bag) in say 35mm/50mm/77mm.

In the end I guess I am left debating what will serve me better, good zooms or primes. Unfortunately my only lens experience to this point is the 18-55 kit lens!

Regards,
06-22-2009, 08:31 PM   #6
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I already have way too many lenses so I have been experimenting. For a few trips, I brought a series of primes: 16 fisheye, 24, 35, 50, 85, 105, 135, and the kit lens. Sometimes slightly different, 28 instead of 24. It works out but it is really heavy. I could do something like 16FE, 24, 50-55, 135 and not take substantially different photos, but it is harder to make those decisions than to bring the really cool 85 or 90 along.

Tomorrow I'm trying out a new kit. I just got the DA 16-45mm f4, and I'm also taking the Cosina 55mm f1.2 and the Pentax-F 70-210mm f4-5.6. It's not a great mix for lens caps and filter sizes but I can fit it in a much smaller bag and include a flash. This is going to be a couple of stops slower than the prime kit, partly why I am taking the Cosina. (My superzoom is a 28-300, not as good a one-lens solution as an 18-250.)

It's not terribly practical to buy a pile of lenses without a plan like I did. I don't recommend that, but I do suggest there are many possible solutions.
06-22-2009, 09:30 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by hwblanks Quote
While a 2-lens zoom kit isn't the most convenient to use, it generally provides better IQ. For a short time, I had a Tamron 18-250, but I got rid of it after getting really frustrated with the vingnetting at the wide end, especially when I was using a polarizer. My current zoom setup is the Sigma 17-70/2.8-4.5 and the DA55-300 and I'm pretty happy with it. With that setup, you get 17-300 FL range, plus very good closeup (1:2.3) ability when you use the 17-70 at 70mm. When I travel, these 2 lenses are the most likely to go with me, as they will handle almost anything I might run into, especially if I pair them with either a tripod or a fast prime like my FA43/1.9.

HTH,
Heather
I would also recommend that 17-70 and 55-300 option. Hate tripods. Can't see getting a prime :-) But low-light implies indoors, which implies wide, so a 30mm or so.

Last edited by SpecialK; 06-26-2009 at 08:27 PM.
06-23-2009, 05:30 AM   #8
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confused

I don't understand how you can consider a super zoom, when you complain your kit lens is too slow?

I think you are just setting yourself up for further disappointment.

Your second option has more merit, but before you jump, I would suggest the following.

map out the entire lens range you might want to use.

for me, I recommend planning out how to go from 10-12mm at the wide end to 400mm at the long end, with from 20mm to 150-200mm at F2.8. Everything you do needs to focus around that.

Your faster version of the kit lens will then be the central point. you can add longer (50-135/150 or 70-200 F2.8 zooms) and wider 10-20mm or 12-24mm later.

While the 50-300 might give you some reach, you may find it a little too slow for some indoor events. If you really want 300+mm you need in my view to go for something with about a 77mm front element. I think you could be better with a 50-135/150 F2.8 zoom and a 300 F4 tele.

It does cost a little, but if you buy a good lens once you are not replacing it.

I can see ultimately a 3 zoom basic kit, (10-20, 18-50, 50-135/150) and then branch out with speciality lenses. THis zoom kit also becomes a compact travel kit with excellent quality and a lot of flexibility

06-23-2009, 04:40 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I don't understand how you can consider a super zoom, when you complain your kit lens is too slow?
Hi Lowell. I guess one reason why I consider it, is that I would carry 1-3 primes with me for any situations where I need the faster aperture. I think there is a part of me likes the idea of being forced to use primes now and then by having the super zoom.

The consensus thus far, however, is strongly towards a good 2 x zoom (preferably constant f2.8) combination...I guess i'm probably not the only one who wishes the laws of physics could be suspended and it was possible to make a usable 10-200 f2.8 lens!
06-23-2009, 05:29 PM   #10
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Hey Ryan, I think you are making this too complicated. Think of buying just one lens at a time. To get the best return on your investment, this should be the lens that extends your photographic possibilities the most.

Right now you don't have extreme wide angle or telephoto. But something that will help your photographic knowledge far more than changing the focal length is speed.

Get a fast 50, whichever one you like. I would say the FA50/1.4 so you can still shoot automatic. Or a Tak if you want to save money and go all manual (it's not hard). Once you have the extra stops and control over depth of field you will find all sorts of interesting possibilities the slower zooms will never provide.

Work with this one lens for six months and your life just might change!
06-23-2009, 06:13 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
Hey Ryan, I think you are making this too complicated. Think of buying just one lens at a time. To get the best return on your investment, this should be the lens that extends your photographic possibilities the most.

Right now you don't have extreme wide angle or telephoto. But something that will help your photographic knowledge far more than changing the focal length is speed.

Get a fast 50, whichever one you like. I would say the FA50/1.4 so you can still shoot automatic. Or a Tak if you want to save money and go all manual (it's not hard). Once you have the extra stops and control over depth of field you will find all sorts of interesting possibilities the slower zooms will never provide.

Work with this one lens for six months and your life just might change!
While I don't disagree with your ideas about going with a fast prime, but I think he needs to prioritize.

Your other comments are also well noted, extending the range both wide and tele, and as I pointed out he needs to map out the entire thing eventually. The point I was making is that if you start with the 3 zooms he will ultimately buy, he can explore a lot of things, and put his basic travel kit together at the same time.

One thing we need to mention, is that one of his zooms needs to be able to do 1:3 macro, not to be a true macro lens but to let him experiment and have it in a pinch
06-23-2009, 06:31 PM   #12
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50mm is a lousy focal length for indoor shots - it's too long!!!

It was good on film but on cropped sensor DSLRs you'll often wish you could back into a wall to fit more people in a frame.

If you get a prime take one in the 30mm range. Options are used pentax 35mm f/2, brand new sigma 30mm f/1.4 or the royal pentax 31mm f/1.8. There should be some takumars as well.

(I personally do recommend the superzoom + prime route)
06-23-2009, 11:48 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by kristoffon Quote
50mm is a lousy focal length for indoor shots - it's too long!!!
I was attempting to provide a fast and (relatively) versatile solution while remaining affordable. While no one lens will do it all, the FA50 is the optimal solution. (Unless the OP expressed a preference for indoor shots, which I do not recall reading. If he did, I am off-base.)

All your suggestions have their own disadvantages. The FA31 is many times more money. That and the FA35 are a stop slower than the 50. The Sigma 30 a rather poor performer except right in the middle of the glass. Besides, I am not happy with 35mm on APS-C; it feels too in between. I think that 24-28mm is the sweet spot. I suggest a manual focus Vivitar 28mm to provide this range.

I suppose the best thing is that there are so many options!
06-26-2009, 05:47 PM   #14
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Finally made the decision...

Hi all,

First off, thanks for everyone's input on my questions! I finally bit the bullet and spent my hard earned cash...

I ended up purchasing a 2 zoom kit including the following:

Tamron 17-50mm F2.8

and

Tamron 70-300mm F4.5-5.6

Also, as I stated in my OP, I hope to also pick up a simple flash, and a manual focus (auto aperture) 50mm prime to play with soon.

The lenses should arrive sometime next week and the total cost was ~$550 US/ $630 CDN for the two, inc. shipping & tax. (The Pentax 18-250mm would have run me ~$575 CDN)

Another factor in choosing the Tamrons, was the 6 year Canadian warranty vs. 1 year on the Pentax 18-250mm.

The 17-50 comes highly regarded on this an other forums/review sites so it was a relatively easy decision. The 70-300mm is also relatively well regarded, especially when you consider how little it sets you back. I have never had a FL over 55mm yet on my K100D so this was an easy choice for a cheap lens to cover the long range for the time being.

I made the decision against a super zoom and primes for many reasons. I felt that although a super zoom is convenient, my end goal was to have 3 primes with me for the excellent low light and IQ they provide. I think that in the end, I would have found myself solely using primes, or at the very least, switching from superzoom to prime so often, that it would have involved more lens changing than the 2 zoom kit I decided to go with.

Furthermore, I would have also lost the F2.8 fast aperture in the zoom ranges for the low light ability I desired vs. my current lens kit and also for expanding my very mediocre photography ability in having more control of the DOF.

I was seriously considering the Sigma/Pentax 17-70mm instead of the Tamron 17-50mm, however, I just wasn't willing to give up the F2.8 for low light extra DOF options that the Tamron will provide me. I will miss the extra 20mm on the long end though and and the good macro ability of the Sigma...

I will also miss just having the great cosmetic look of the Pentax lenses, and the Pentax quick shift feature.

Obviously, this leaves me with a 20mm gap in my range from 17-300mm. The 'plan
is to evaluate how much I will find myself using the tele-photo range and then down the road research and pick up a fast (F2.8) tele-photo if it makes sense.

Also, for future expansion, I am considering a 1:1 macro prime somewhere in the 70-100mm range which should give me the excellent prime IQ that obviously my current 70-300mm won't. It would also then double as an excellent portrait lens.

In the end, I am very excited about the new lenses that are on their way, however also nervous about getting a lemon and having to go through all the trouble some folks have had with lens variations!

Again, thanks for taking the time to read my long rambling posts and I look forward to posting some shots with my new lenses soon!
06-26-2009, 05:54 PM   #15
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Its not LBA if you dont buy them all!!

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