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10-10-2009, 04:48 AM   #1
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To zoom or not to zoom?

I have an FA 50mm f1.4 and an 18-50mm kit lens on a K20D. I've been saving for a new lens and am seeking some advice in terms of where I should be directing my funds.

I have conducted a self-survey of sorts to assist: -

- 80% of my images are captured using the FA 50mm. The image quality is in a league of it's own but to be honest, I have been wanting of a shorter focal length. On the odd occasion I have made do by distancing myself from my subject to the detriment of composition;
- Those taken in the last twelve months on the kit lens have predominately been between 30-40mm focal lengths;
- My preferred subject matter are my kids and family.
- Whilst I have used the F1.4 frequently (indoors), I have found that I can get away with F2.8 in most cases using higher ISO;
- I'm an amateur, but over the last five yars and 8-9000 photos taken have developed an eye for a good quality image, hence the desire to dispense with the kit lens;

In the humble opinion of any prospective respondent, should I be looking at another prime lens or an f2.8 24-70mm type zoom?

I naturally have an inclination towards one answer here, but would appreciate input from more experienced contributors.

10-10-2009, 05:04 AM   #2
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You do rationalise your preliminary decision well, and I couldn't suggest otherwise given your background...
Only other suggestions would be to consider the new Sigma 30/1.4 if you're happy with zooming with your feet.

Just be sure you rarely or never need to have something wider than 24mm - it's not so wide on an APS-C cam.
10-10-2009, 05:23 AM   #3
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... zooming on my feet is not an issue, neither is switching lens' on the fly, it's backing up into hard objects that causes the most grief! Maybe I portrayed the wrong impression, as my preliminary decision isn't that firm, it's more of an inclination. I do like the 50mm prime. In addition to image quality, the absence of a zoom seems to make me think more about the image composition and I get better images as a result.
10-10-2009, 09:25 AM   #4
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A 24-70/2.8 could make a lot of sense if you're OK with the szie & price. You should probably at least be considering the DA*16-50/2.8 (or Tamron/Sigma equivalents) and the Tamron 28-75/2.8 too. If you get the 24-70 or the 28-75, I'd still hold on to the kit lens so you at least have a wide angle lens available.

Other option, of course, is to simply buy another prime in that 30-40mm range. Quite a few chocies, depending on what you're willing to pay or give up to get the price down. Manual focus 28mm, 30mm, and 35mm lens are quite cheap. The FA35/2 is discontinued, but can still be found. The DA35 is no cheaper than the aforemention zooms, but is a great lens. The DA40 is not terribly expensive and is wonderful, but might not seem enough wider than the 50 to be worth making it your next purchase.

10-11-2009, 09:58 AM   #5
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Been there...

I've been there not too long ago.

You can approach this a couple of ways. You can go for the fast prime. The Sigma 30 1.4 is the fastest. The Pentax 31 is probably the best image quality and most expensive. And the Pentax 35 2.8 is a great sharp all round lens that will open up the world of macro to you.

The 24/28-70/75 zooms are great options and I think you should consider them if you are in fast moving environments. I like to have them in weddings and parties when I can't really control the situation. And I prefer to have that range over the typical kit lens range.

The other option is to go for something a bit longer. All the options that people have mentioned are still within the range of your kit lens. You might want to consider expanding your shooting style with something like 70mm, or 90mm. Its weird at first but I really grew into that range.
10-11-2009, 11:42 AM   #6
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I can really relate to your decision. I don't do as many family images as you, but do night exposures and landscapes for selling at a local tourist shop. Then a friend got me involved in taking official photos for the local actors theater. I realized i needed an F2.8 min. zoom lens.

I was very close to getting the Tamron 24-70/75mm lens, whatever the actual numbers are, but was concerned about the tele ends. I often do night photos in the 50-135 range so the Pentax DA of that range was perfect for me.

But it is a somewhat heavy and cumbersom lens for casual use. So i would definitely recommend the Tamron, perhaps the Sigma zoom lenses of the range you are talking about. And definitely the F2.8 min. speed. I still use the primes from time to time, i like their light weight and portability esp in a crowd, but the Pentax DA 50-135 is usually on my camera as the "meat" lens, when i need something new to sell, and esp for actor portraits and plays.

As to wide angle lens sizes, i get most of my positive feedback at lens FL from 35mm and larger. I took 2 bridge pictures with the 20mm end of a Sigma 10-20 lens that have sold well but other than that, i don't get positive feedback at the wide end FLs. It may just be me, but i'd go with one sof those fast Tamy or Sigma. Best of luck in your decision.

Last edited by philbaum; 10-11-2009 at 11:55 AM.
10-11-2009, 03:22 PM   #7
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million dollar question...

nobody can answer it for you....
I started several threads asking for help/opinios on lenses. But at the end of the day, it's all about what suits you.
If you like the convenience of the zoom, get it. There are several good to great options.
If you particulary like some FL, find prime in that range. Even my wife (avid zoom shooter) got charmed by good quality prime. It took nothing less than FA31ltd itself to convince her about the qualities of primes, but she's hooked now...
Some find primes limiting, some very rewarding. Personaly, I have limits covered by zooms (10-20 & 50-135) but the main lenses are 24, 31, 40, 50...
good luck choosing

10-12-2009, 03:14 AM   #8
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Good work gents, just the type of feedback I was hoping for.

My rational mind tells me that the zoom is the logical choice, but my next acquisition after that would be a shorter prime. No doubt I'll flip backwards and forwards a few more times but the feedback has helped.

10-13-2009, 06:54 PM   #9
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80% of my images are captured using the FA 50mm. The image quality is in a league of it's own but to be honest, I have been wanting of a shorter focal length. On the odd occasion I have made do by distancing myself from my subject to the detriment of composition;

The DA 21 Ltd has your name on it....if you only use the kit lens 20%...your a prime guy.

Don't spend a lot on a zoom unless you are sure it is for you.
10-13-2009, 09:29 PM   #10
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DA35 or DA21. Of course, the DA40 is really nice too. May as well get it over with and just get them all, you'll get there eventually anyway.

The big zoom may sound like the logical choice, if you're considering focal lengths only, but working with the little primes is so much nicer, at least for me. Those f/2.8 zooms get real heavy real fast.
10-13-2009, 10:08 PM   #11
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If you're comfortable with the 50mm range you'll find the Tamron 28-75/2.8 will make your day a smiley day but if you see a good deal on an FA28-105 or the Tamron 28-105/4-5.6 you may be surprized by the versatility and excellent results over 95% of the range. The other 5% ain't all that bad either.

The Tammy 24-135 falls into that grey area between REALLY sharp and sharp enough -- like the 18-250 -- but it has it's place as a one-lens solution (like the 28-200) and around $240 is a good deal for those on a budget.


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