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11-10-2009, 01:22 PM   #1
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New User - Advise on Lightweight Kit

Hello All,

I'm looking for advise on a lightweight lens kit for my newly acquired K7.

I'm new to the forum and to Pentax, having been a long time Nikon and Canon user. While I'm quite familiar with the offerings from N and C, I'm not up to speed with the Pentax line-up yet.

I specifically wanted the K7 as a lightweight kit to supplement my D700. Sometimes with my toddlers along, even the D700 and two pro-level zooms is just too much for me to handle. The feature-set, small form factor, and value of the K7 seems quite impressive. I was originally thinking along the lines of a Canon G11 or Panasonic GF1, but to get a such a feature-packed, durable, full-blown SLR camera, albeit for more $$$ and a slightly bigger size, seemed like a good trade-off. I also looked at the Kx, but I don't think it's for me.

So, I'm thinking about either a Pentax 16-45 f4 (I think) OR Pentax 17-70 as a walk-around zoom, along with the 21 f3.2 and 70 f2.4 limited primes. When going light, I usually don't shoot much beyond 105mm (full-frame equivalent), so I think up to 70mm on a cropped sensor would be fine. If I really latch on to the K7, then maybe I can add a 40mm limited and a Pentax 60-250mm F4 zoom. That would cover the entire range for my needs.

Any other suggestions for the kit?


Last edited by jonlee; 11-10-2009 at 02:56 PM.
11-10-2009, 01:43 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum.
I think you'll find the K-7 with Limited series primes the way to go for going light.
K-7 + DA 21 ltd + DA 40 ltd + DA 70 ltd would be an excellent set with very very good IQ.

Zooms add bulk and may not be as impressive in IQ, but if you really wanted zooms the DA 17-70 and perhaps 60-250 may suffice to cover big focal ranges, but if you don't shoot beyond 105mm, the 60-250 may be overkill. Then of course you do have the f/4 limit on both these zooms whereas the limited series primes go beyond f/2.8.

The other option is to go with the K-7 and "three amigos", the FA limited series, which are still available new: FA 31 ltd, FA 43 ltd and FA 77 ltd. These are highly acclaimed all with even larger maximum apertures but with a slightly tighter FOV than the DA series. And they're more expensive overall as well.
11-10-2009, 01:44 PM   #3
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In my opinion, the DA 17-70 is great lens and I'd chose that in a heart beat over the DA 16-45. I've read that many consider the Sigma version better but it's not SDM and constant appeture. I'd add that the DA 17-70 is not on the lightweight side though. The DA 40 is a wonderful lens and unique all by itself. I have the DA 21 but have not found much use for it - yet. You should also give a strong look at the DA 10-17 fisheye lens. It's really a unique lens and I can't say enough good about it. It was my first purchase after geting my k10 kit last year.

Everyone's got there favorites but for me the DA*16-50 f2.8 is my principle lens for most things. I use the DA 17-70 for outdoors daytime work and the DA 10-17 for fun anytime. I've seen some very good results from the DA*60-250 but it's way out of my reach. I've settled on the DA 55-300 for that telezoom of choice. Many also say that the DA*50-135 f2.8 is their main lens. I have too many others (old manual lens etc.) in that length to need that. Finally, any of the limiteds lens are really good but of them the DA 40 gets the most use for me.

Last edited by blackcloudbrew; 11-10-2009 at 01:57 PM.
11-10-2009, 03:13 PM   #4
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Thanks people. The FA series primes look interesting and more what I'm accustomed to in terms of having larger apertures. Form factor looks pretty small, which keeps with my purpose. Pretty pricey though.

Sounds like the Pentax 17-70 zoom and maybe the DA21, FA43, and DA70 limited primes would be a solid kit to start with. I wouldn't mind the DA15 too, but F4 seems a little slow for a wide prime - also kinda of pricey considering the max aperture.

11-10-2009, 06:26 PM   #5
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How often do you really need or even want to shoot 15mm at any aperture wider than f/4, though?
11-10-2009, 10:26 PM   #6
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Good point, Mark. I went back over some pics from a recent Disney World trip and realized I do not cross that threshold many times, however I do find myself right at F4 often. I admit, it's mostly out of laziness for not using additional support and trying to shoot at crazy ISO values, wide-open to get a decent shutter speed hand-held.

14mm (20mm full-frame) at f4, 1/15, iso 3200.


14mm (20mm full-frame) at f4, 1/10, iso 3200.


14mm (20mm full-frame) at f4, 1/20, iso 3200.


Sometimes, you just don't have a choice however. 14mm (20mm full-frame) at f3.2, 1/40, iso 6400.


Sometimes, it's just for better subject isolation. 21mm (30mm full-frame) at f2.8


Having that one extra stop (at F2.8) would allow me to double my shutter speed or halves my ISO.

I used to think 15mm (22mm full-frame) was wide, but I actually use it quite a bit for family candids.
11-10-2009, 10:42 PM   #7
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FWIW, that #3 capture is beautifully rendered. Love the colours, patterns and textures in it.

Using a 15mm for candids means getting up reasonably close to the subjects, almost invading their personal space!

I would agree with Marc, though, there would be few real applications of f/2.8 on an ultra-wide lens. A tripod is your friend in low-light situations.
11-10-2009, 11:19 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
FWIW, that #3 capture is beautifully rendered. Love the colours, patterns and textures in it.

Using a 15mm for candids means getting up reasonably close to the subjects, almost invading their personal space!

I would agree with Marc, though, there would be few real applications of f/2.8 on an ultra-wide lens. A tripod is your friend in low-light situations.
Thanks Ash. Funny, I used to think 15mm (22mm full-frame) was wide, but you should see what the Nikon 14-24 looks like on full-frame - now that's wide and without being a fish-eye. From my understanding, a 17-35mm (on full-frame) is a photojournalists bread-and-butter focal length. Like I said, I'm lazy about using additional support.

11-10-2009, 11:42 PM   #9
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You have wonderful pictures. Pentax primes are in general small, lightweight, sturdy and great for traveling.

You often hear suggestions of Pentax limited trio with pancake in DA limited lens line as in Pentax DA 21mm f/3.2, DA 40mm f/2.8 and DA 70mm f/2.4. The DA limited tend to be smaller and lighter due to the pancake design and they focus faster than the FA limited lens equivalent but slower in speed. Speed can be subjective in the choosing but I tend to weigh in more importance on speed to make up the lacking of noise control on my K20D that is lacking beyond iso 3200 and higher. In hindsight, I wish to have Pentax DA 70mm f/2.4 instead of Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8 for the gain in AF speed along with the quick shift focus support that the DA limited lens provide where you can override the AF by turning the focus ring manually and enable AF button to engage (or cancel) AF to find ways to manual focus at critical moments that AF may fail us more than helping us make the shot. Marc can probably explain it better to you on quick shift focus as he shoot frequently with indoor concert events

The limited pancake trio in 21/40/70mm is extremely small set and great lens lineup for traveling. I have a combination of DA (digital) limited along with FA limited (faster and full frame compatible).

For fun factor to add to the limited lens for lightweight, I will include the Pentax DA 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 fisheye which may not appeal to some due to the fisheye distortion but I really like to use the lens with my boys in museums, indoor events, fireworks and distortion is not bad 15 to 17mm and the 10mm is the fun factor lens with my family. PF/CA is very apparent with the fisheye lens though the fun factor.

Hope you join us to be a Pentaxian. In Pentax bodies, we pride in the SR (shake reduction) that are built into the bodies and work with all lens mounted, be it 3rd party, m42 lens, or manual focus lens. The SR will work beautifully. You are more likely to see long shutter 1/30 sec to 1/4 sec hand-holding shots without tripod on a ordinary lens mounted on the Pentax body. Whether SR is as good as VR or IS, that is a different subject worth debating, I pride in my Pentax system that I have SR working for a $5.00 used lens that I have in my bag -- we have a term called LBA with Lens Buying Addiction and it may have something to do the SR feature and backward compatibility in Pentax.

The Pentax DA 16-45mm f/4.0 is a wonderful lens for traveling, I settle my walk-around lens with Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5. It is not as sleek with constant speed but it gains on close up with 1:2.3 and a more usable range for walk-around. I chose it over the Pentax DA 17-70mm f/4.0 as I find it cheaper to own as I bought it used for $300.00. And the SR works as advocated with all shots hand-held


1/3 sec, f/5.6, 53mm, iso 400, 0 Ev



1/5 sec, f/6.3, 17mm, iso 500, 0 Ev



1/40 sec, f/4.0, 40mm, iso 400, 0 Ev


1/2000 sec, f/7.1, 70mm, iso 400, 0 Ev


Hin

Last edited by hinman; 11-22-2009 at 08:15 PM.
11-11-2009, 12:34 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jonlee Quote
Having that one extra stop (at F2.8) would allow me to double my shutter speed or halves my ISO.
True enough. You just have to balance that against the cost in size/weight/price. My thought is that for the type of pictures I'd be taking at 15mm, it just wouldn't be worth it often enough. On the rare occasions when f/4 won't get me the shutter speed and ISO I am comfortable with, I'll just move to a shutter speed and/or ISO I am *not* so comfortable with and deal with it.

As for subject isolation, when you get as close to a subject as you need to be in order to come close to filling the frame at 15mm, you do get pretty shallow DOF at f/4, too. But of course, no denying f/2.8 is better still.
11-11-2009, 12:53 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by jonlee Quote
Sounds like the Pentax 17-70 zoom and maybe the DA21, FA43, and DA70 limited primes would be a solid kit to start with. I wouldn't mind the DA15 too, but F4 seems a little slow for a wide prime - also kinda of pricey considering the max aperture.
I have the FA43 and I absolutely love it. For my family pictures, inside or out, it is on my camera 90% of the time.
11-22-2009, 06:36 PM   #12
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Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Sorry, for the delay. I thought I subscribed to this thread and hadn't received any notifications of any activity, so I never checked back.

Anyways, I've been having too much fun with the K7 and my first DA limited - the 40mm. Wow . . . amazingly small and compact, nice build quality, fast-focusiing, and good image quality. I'm thinking the K7 with the 21, 40, and 70 or 77 will fill my needs nicely - a pocket full of high-quality primes. As time goes on, maybe I can swap out the 40 for a 43. The 15 is still on the list too.

For my one light, compact zoom, I was sold on the Pentax 17-70, however as I started to get for familiar with the K7's video capabilities and the benefits of the in-body SR, I'm thinking I'll actually be using the video more, so I picked up a Tamron 18-250. Frankly, I normally wouldn't even think of getting a zoom like this, but I'm thinking for my simple video needs, that wider focal length range in a small, pact zoom would be more practical. I've had to keep reminding myself that this is supposed to be my lightweight kit.

Now, I just need to figure out how people (especially Marc) are churning out such nice high-ISO pics from the K7. I think I'm content with what it can do up to 1250 or even 1600. I'm not a pixel-peeper and do actually print my pics, so I'm fine with the K7's capabilities, and besides, I still have my D700 if the need arises for high-iso, better AF tracking, and maybe added DOF, but I've seen some really impressive high-iso pics from the K7 at 1600-3200, and would love to know the secrets of pulling these files out with less noise.

Based on what I'm seeing personally thus far, noise in the darker colors is more prevelent. From what I've read, I should shot RAW and convert to JPG for better results. I've been using DCU, but haven't had good results so far. I'll play with ACR a little more to see if that helps. What settings for noise reduction (in either DCU or ACR) seem to work best?

Oh, and one more request . . . is there are smaller flash unit for the K7 that can actually swivel. The AF360 would fit the bill, but it doesn't swivel for bouncing in a portrait position. The AF540 would work too, but it's a little big. I actually have a pair of Metz 54 4zi flashes that would work too, but they are actually even bigger than the AF540.

Last edited by jonlee; 11-22-2009 at 06:44 PM.
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