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05-18-2007, 12:27 AM   #1
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Noob learns lessons with K100D -- Part II: Lenses (with questions)

Preface: I'm a total photography noob. A month ago, I new little more than the difference between optical and digital zoom on point'n shoot. I cursed having to use a point'n shoot at sporting events. I finally decided I wanted to learn some basic, elementary, but semi-real photography. With the Pentax K100D + 50-200mm $150 rebate, here I am. Thus begins my experience which I will document here in this thread in this section -- which includes a lot more questions than in Part I for the camera section.

Pentax DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 ED (52mm)

The main reason I opted for the Pentax K100D is that I wanted a basic zoom lens that would give me about the same "reach" as a 8x in a point'n shoot. I figured this was a 35mm equivalent of about 300mm. The $150 body+lens rebate and reviews on the $220 Pentax DA 50-200mm sold me. Had I known the rebate would be extended, I probably would have waited until almost the American football season (late July) to buy. But oh well, I started early!

I have been extremely impressed with the DA 50-200mm so far, especially with a Hoya 52mm circular filter for shooting long out in the open (not perfect, but it does cancel some reflections, and improve the sky/water, at least for sub-$20 new). The only issue is that I'm concerned with the 50-200m that several have stated defected versions have been shipping. My auto-focus is fine, except for low-light, which everyone says is not defected (especially not at its rated f/5.6).

QUESTION: How do I tell if I have a defective version?
I can post some images.

Pentax AF 28-105mm f/4-5.6 IF (non-AL) (62mm)

The fellows at B&H Photo sold me on a used (quality 8+) AF 28-105mm IF (non-AL) for $80 (I wanted the AL version, but they didn't have it used and it was $200 new) as a good, generic "walk-around lens" that gives me the equivalent of about 1-4x zoom in a typical point'n shoot. So far, I've been extremely impressed with the quality of the "made in Japan" (not Vietnam/Korea) lens that is clearly glass. I just more recently compared it to the Pentax DA 18-55mm kit lens (next in this post) and it's clearly sharper. And since this is my walk-around lense, I opted to buy the 62mm circular polarizing filter in addition to having the 52mm. I figure I could always recycle the lens/filter to my wife some point in the future if I upgrade from the K100D and pass it on to her (with that lense)

Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL ED (52mm)

I finally gave in to the DA 18-55mm kit lens after a long thread on another board (Should I get the 18-55mm kit lens anyway?). Luckily I got it for $65 from an Amazon.COM reseller, and it came factory packaged, so it didn't really cost me anything over buying it with the body. It complements the 50-200mm well, and uses the same 52mm filters (which the more expensive 16-45mm, which I'm still contemplating on buying at some point, uses 67mm). And I was still impressed with the quality for such a cheap lens, although both the AF 28-105mm and Zenitar 16mm fisheye (next in this post) clearly best it.

Zenitar 16mm f/2.8 Fisheye

This Russian-made glass with manual focus in a K-mount comes recommended as a cheap, manually focused option to get around 110-120 degrees field of view (FOV) on an APS-C sized sensor (it's supposed to give 180 degrees on a full 35mm frame) by dropping only $125 instead of $300+ for the 10-17mm Fisheye (although it gives you 100-180 degrees) or 83 degrees FOV with the 16-45mm. It is known for its sharpness and more minimal distortion (because of the projection over the APS-C sensor size). Like other Fisheyes, external filters are not an option, although a non-standard 26.5mm inside filter is, and besides the clear, 3 colored filters are included for B/W photography.

The sharpness is, indeed, better than the 18-55mm kit lens, especially in lower light where it works well with even f/2.8. And the barrel distortion isn't bad at all, especially if you snap level at the horizon (which I'll try to do in the corner of American football stadiums for a good "stadium shot"). I tried setting the SR for both 10mm and 15mm and I think the 15mm works better -- I wasn't sure if it should be set lower than 15mm for a fisheye or not. My only concern is that the focus for infinity isn't quite infinity, which is being reported by many, many people. It seems these lenses have been in storage and may have not going through full QA. As such ...

QUESTION: How do I tell if my infinity is off on my Zenitar 16mm Fisheye?
I can post some images.

Tamron AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 (77mm)

Okay, this was an impulse buy for $100 when I saw it used (EX quality) at KEH. I caught the older (185D part number), sized for a full 35mm frame, Tamron AF 28-300mm IF AL LD that people claim is better than the newer (although smaller/lightest) AF 28-300mm XR Li/Lii AL LD lenses. Yes, I know it's going to weight a ton and zoom out like a log, but I figured it can't hurt to have an "all-in-one" for when I really can't carry any more lenses (I have just the holster for these occasions). You never know if and when you enter an American football stadium that some security prick or retiree volunteer is going to take issue with you bringing in a big bag/two bags.

Yes, I know the quality is going to give me nothing over the DA 50-200mm (of which is not perfect, although very good for its price) at 200mm, and not going to snap much I will want to print when I zoom out closer to 300mm (at least not beyond a 4x6 print), but I figured it can't hurt to have such in the bag. And if I don't like it, I can always sell it on eBay and get most of it back (just like the 18-55mm or 28-105mm as well). I'm not bothering to buy any 77mm filters, as I don't plan on using it for shots where I need quality (I'd use the DA 50-200mm in that case).

QUESTION: Has anyone used the Tamron 28-300mm?
Especially someone who has used the older?
Especially even more so if someone has used both the full 35mm frame sized one as well as the newer Li/Lii verions.

And yes, I know (or at least heard) it sucks in comparison to the Canon 28-300mm IS for Canon cameras.

I plan on posting pics and comparison between it and both the 28-105mm and 50-200mm at 50mm as well as 105mm, and it and the 50-200mm at 150mm and 200mm, in the future. If I find it too useless and just carrying, while dealing with the zoom range limitations, of the 50-200mm would be better, again, I'll sell it on eBay.

Other Considerations

Yeah, yeah, I know, with all the extra dough I could have gotten a Pentax DA 16-45mm f/4.0 AL ED (67mm) or the Sigma AF 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DG Macro (72mm) instead of dealing with the other lenses. But I figured I could play with some cheap lenses to start, sell of the 1-2 I don't end up using, and then buy one of these. With the rebate on the DA 16-45mm extended through July, I have time.

Comments (especially on my questions above), rebukes, suggestions, etc... always welcome!


Last edited by bjsmith; 05-18-2007 at 12:35 AM.
05-18-2007, 02:38 AM   #2
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Hi

My suggestion to all your questions is ..... go and take lots of pictures. Only by experimenting will you see if the equipment is giving you what you want.
05-18-2007, 04:25 AM   #3
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Regarding the infinity focus on your Zenitar. I guess it's very difficult to determine unless you have a split focus screen, like the Katz Eye or the cheap chinese copy (which I opted for. Works GREAT)

If you do verify that it has problems, read this thread. It has instructions on adjusting the focus of the lens.
Zenitar doesn't focus to infinity: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review
05-18-2007, 07:58 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by kskjon Quote
Regarding the infinity focus on your Zenitar. I guess it's very difficult to determine unless you have a split focus screen, like the Katz Eye or the cheap chinese copy (which I opted for. Works GREAT)
Remember, I'm a noob. Don't know if I want to modify my K100D, let alone I don't really understand how these work at all.

QuoteOriginally posted by kskjon Quote
If you do verify that it has problems, read this thread. It has instructions on adjusting the focus of the lens.
Zenitar doesn't focus to infinity: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review
Yeah, I already read that thread, as well as some of the links, prior.
I believe also found another thread with a link to a good, visual guide.

Is this something a camera shop might be able to help me with?
Or will they charge me enough that I would have been better off doing with the DA 10-17mm Fisheye?

Ack, I might just take the plunge anyway.

05-18-2007, 08:23 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by bjsmith Quote
Remember, I'm a noob. Don't know if I want to modify my K100D, let alone I don't really understand how these work at all.

Yeah, I already read that thread, as well as some of the links, prior.
I believe also found another thread with a link to a good, visual guide.

Is this something a camera shop might be able to help me with?
Or will they charge me enough that I would have been better off doing with the DA 10-17mm Fisheye?

Ack, I might just take the plunge anyway.
With the real wide DOF of the Z, it's hard to tell. I'm fairly certain mine focuses to infinity, and to be truthful it's kind of a "pixel peeping" problem (meaning a forest/trees problem) Take some shots at infinity and if they look good then they look good. Don't be afraid of your noobiness not seeing it, try this experiment. Take a shot of something about 10' away with the Z (you will be at infinity focus even at that short distance) paying particular attention that it's in as good a focus as you can manage, then back off on the focus a bit, and take another shot. Compare the two. Is the first nice and sharp? Then you have no worries.
Jonas, who posts here fairly frequently is the "Z master". He has written THE definitive post about the Z, can be found here:
Zenitar 16 FE- presentation and samples: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review

In any event good luck with your new camera and don't forget to post some photos!

NaCl(I'd worry less about defective glass and more about taking good pics!)H2O
05-18-2007, 08:29 AM   #6
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It's not as much modifying as it's popping down the hatch holding the old focus screen and replacing it with the new one. Push back up to secure.

I wish I knew of a good (accurate) way to visually determine proper focus. "Eyeballing" it isn't quite good enough if you want to adjust the lens =P

Perhaps there is a member with a split screen living close by?

QuoteQuote:
let alone I don't really understand how these work at all.
Neither do I, but that doesn't stop me from using one
05-18-2007, 10:25 AM   #7
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A link to an excellent exercise on manually focusing.
Actually it's a link to a link, but what the hey. I've used the exercises and they've helped immeasurably.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/2604-excellent-man...exercises.html

NaCl(some of the best time I've ever spent "practicing" in this craft)H2O
05-18-2007, 05:52 PM   #8
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First off, thanx for the continued replies!

QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
With the real wide DOF of the Z, it's hard to tell.
Yeah. I plan on just using it on infinity. I just want it for wide scenery and shots from the corner of [American] football stadiums.

QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
Don't be afraid of your noobiness not seeing it, try this experiment. Take a shot of something about 10' away with the Z (you will be at infinity focus even at that short distance) paying particular attention that it's in as good a focus as you can manage, then back off on the focus a bit, and take another shot. Compare the two. Is the first nice and sharp? Then you have no worries.
Damn, that just sounds too easy to try. Thanx!

As I mentioned, it was clearly sharper than the 18-55mm at about 10', so I'm hopeful.
And I was clearly seeing more difference with 12-bit RAW/PEF than 8-bit JPG compared to the 18-55mm as well.
Just worried that when I start taking wide-open shots I'll have issues.

Anyhoo, I'll try your suggestion tomorrow -- and from several, different distances.
I'll also post pics (I really need to do that).

QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
Jonas, who posts here fairly frequently is the "Z master". He has written THE definitive post about the Z, can be found here:
Zenitar 16 FE- presentation and samples: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review
Yeah, I think that was him I was thinking of (although I want to say I saw another).
QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
In any event good luck with your new camera and don't forget to post some photos!
NaCl(I'd worry less about defective glass and more about taking good pics!)H2O
Agreed, I've just gotta get out there.
Home with the wife for the weekend and we're going to take a day trip somewhere here in central Florida.
I'll throw some things up by probably Sunday evening.

QuoteOriginally posted by kskjon Quote
It's not as much modifying as it's popping down the hatch holding the old focus screen and replacing it with the new one. Push back up to secure.
I wish I knew of a good (accurate) way to visually determine proper focus. "Eyeballing" it isn't quite good enough if you want to adjust the lens =P
Perhaps there is a member with a split screen living close by?
You know, I was going to ask that, but figured it was kind of "pushy" for a noob.
I live in Orlando and work in Fairfield (southwest) Connecticut during the week.

QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
A link to an excellent exercise on manually focusing.
Actually it's a link to a link, but what the hey. I've used the exercises and they've helped immeasurably.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/2604-excellent-man...exercises.html
NaCl(some of the best time I've ever spent "practicing" in this craft)H2O
Thanx for the link!
I'm in the middle of the Magic Lantern Guide now, and am reading other things as I go.
Will definitely hit that one while I'm at it!

Thanx again all!

05-20-2007, 08:23 PM   #9
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Yeah, I clearly got an issues with the Zenitar at infinity focus. It clearly needs to be adjusted.

I'm using Flickr -- only used it once before. Anyone know how to get a larger sizes? Do you have to pay to get such?

Zenitar_InfinityFocusIssues - a photoset on Flickr
05-22-2007, 08:34 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by bjsmith Quote
QUESTION: Has anyone used the Tamron 28-300mm?
Especially someone who has used the older?
Especially even more so if someone has used both the full 35mm frame sized one as well as the newer Li/Lii verions.
I have the older Tamron 28-300 (model A06) for full frame cameras and I love it. I know it doesn't get much love, but I find that it takes good photos and it's very convenient. I bought the 18-250 two weeks ago and spent a week on business travel with it. While its a fine lens, I didn't find it to be better than my 28-300 and I'm now selling the 18-250 (others don't agree).

In fact, I did a comparison of the 18-250 and the 28-300 in this set on Flickr, all shots with no post processing, just converted to jpeg from raw:
Tamron test - a photoset on Flickr

The key to the superzooms is in how you use the shots. I don't view more than full screen (much less than 100% resolution) and I don't print at larger than 8x10. I also generally frame my shots before I take them (a primary benefit of a zoom lens) so I don't crop much (some, but not extreme). Therefore, any compromises with this lens just don't show up in how I use the shots. For other people, those compromises may be a killer to them.

I've entered a few photo competitions and the only one I won was with a shot (semi macro) taken with this lens at 53mm, wide open aperture. Go figure!

I'm taking a "dream" vacation to Machu Picchu this summer and the only lens I'm taking is the 28-300 (okay, I may sneak the 10-17 fisheye zoom in the bag as well). It's a great travel lens.
05-22-2007, 09:18 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by rfortson Quote
I have the older Tamron 28-300 (model A06) for full frame cameras
Is that the same as the model 185D? Or is the A06 different?
I know there is a digital-designed, but full-frame compatible 28-300mm. (A06?)
And then there is a previous-generation, full-frame 28-300mm. (185D?)

QuoteOriginally posted by rfortson Quote
and I love it. I know it doesn't get much love, but I find that it takes good photos and it's very convenient. I bought the 18-250 two weeks ago and spent a week on business travel with it. While its a fine lens, I didn't find it to be better than my 28-300 and I'm now selling the 18-250 (others don't agree).
I normally wouldn't go with such a "superzoom," but I figure I might run into an issue where switching lenses is not an option.
In all honesty, I'm finding the Zenitar 16mm Fisheye plus DA 50-200mm to be 90% of my usage now.
I don't use the IF 28-105mm much and the DA 18-55mm almost always stays in my bag.

QuoteOriginally posted by rfortson Quote
The key to the superzooms is in how you use the shots. I don't view more than full screen (much less than 100% resolution) and I don't print at larger than 8x10.
I won't go bigger than 8x10 with that lense either.
I may consider doing maybe a little bigger with the DA 50-200mm at some point.

QuoteOriginally posted by rfortson Quote
I'm taking a "dream" vacation to Machu Picchu this summer and the only lens I'm taking is the 28-300 (okay, I may sneak the 10-17 fisheye zoom in the bag as well). It's a great travel lens.
I have the Zenitar 16mm Fisheye for such (although I clearly need to fix the infinity focus).
05-22-2007, 11:50 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by bjsmith Quote
Is that the same as the model 185D? Or is the A06 different?
Model A06 came out in 2002, I believe it was one of the first of the superzooms. It wasn't designed with dSLRs in mind, it was strictly for film, judging by the product brochure. Here's the link to Tamron's website with information about the A06.
Tamron Lenses: AF28-300MM F/3.5-6.3 XR, 35mm, Digital Lenses, Commack NY.

From Tamron's website, the model A06 replaced the 185D.
05-22-2007, 01:27 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by rfortson Quote
Model A06 came out in 2002, I believe it was one of the first of the superzooms. It wasn't designed with dSLRs in mind, it was strictly for film, judging by the product brochure. Here's the link to Tamron's website with information about the A06.
Tamron Lenses: AF28-300MM F/3.5-6.3 XR, 35mm, Digital Lenses, Commack NY.

From Tamron's website, the model A06 replaced the 185D.
Yep, from 1999, 25% larger.
I'm still waiting on it to arrive from KEH.

Here's something I found on Google images:
Tamron AF28-300/3.5-6.3 LD IF Macro (185D)╩ďË├╠ň╗ß
05-22-2007, 01:51 PM   #14
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One interesting note on the 28-300 and the newest 18-250. If you look at Pop Photo's tests of these two lenses, the Subjective Quality Factor (SQF) test results for the 28-300 look better to me than the SQF test results for the 18-250. I can't claim to totally understand the ratings though, so I'm probably misinterpreting something. Also, the 28-300 was tested full frame. I don't know what effect an APS-C sized sensor would have on the test results. Perhaps an email to Pop Photo is in order.
05-24-2007, 07:28 PM   #15
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Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 (185D) is crap ...

Just got the Tamron 1999, 35mm film sized, model 185D 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 (and not the 2001 model A06 25% reduced XR version). I just tried it at 50mm and 200mm in comparison to the Pentax AF 28-105mm f/4-5.6, DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6.

At 50mm, sharpness is: DA 50-200mm (f/4.0) > AF 28-105mm (f/4.5) > DA 18-55mm (f/5.6) >>> Tamron 28-300mm (f/4.0)
At 200mm, sharpness is: DA 50-200mm (f/5.6) >>>> Tamron 28-300mm (f/5.6)

It absolutely sucks -- sharpness-wise -- in comparison to all three. I'll post comparisons on Flickr this weekend. Can't even consider it as an "all-in-one" lens -- I wasn't expecting much, but not as poor as it is. I guess it might compete well to a 10-12x point'n shoot optical zoom quality, but definitely not the reason I went dSLR!

I think I'll try to drop it on eBay and try to get the same $150+ others are. I'll just save up my marbles for a 300 or 400mm prime instead in the future. The DA 50-200mm, while not having the same range in either direction, is "good enough" and looks a hell of a lot better IMHO at both ends of the range (by a massive margin).
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