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12-22-2009, 11:40 AM   #1
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Good walkaround lens to augment/substitute kit 18-55?

Hi, all.

Having played with the new K-x for a few days now, I still can't get rid of the feeling that maybe I didn't make the right choice?

Having just sold my Olympus gear (E-510 that has poor high ISO performance and small viewfinder), the k-x feels... flimsy and unrefined in comparison. My wife, when she first saw it said "you can't be serious - did you sell the Olympus for this?" (of course all SHE cares is looks).

I know, I know, I didn't buy it for the looks.

I love the dynamic range and the high ISO performance of the k-x. It's something I couldn't get even close with my Olympus. Though I still prefer the Oly colours.

In addition, I see a few threads here that report IQ issues in low ISO (softness and low contrast primarily). Is it a function of the kit lens? I can confirm that my kit 18-55 lens is rather soft at all apertures and somewhat lacking in contrast.

Is it something that can be easily fixed without tapping into the expensive lens category? I am an amateur but still would like to have good (not necessarily pro level) results that I haven't been able to achieve yet.

Seeing that D5000's now going for $545 body only from B&H, this Nikon offering is fighting back.

Does anyone have any experience with BOTH who could comment on the IQ differences between the two especially in low ISO?

It's going to be very tough to make a decision since I don't have much experience with either and my initial choice was based primarily on price. The k-x could be had for ~$460 from Amazon while the D5000 was nearly $200 more. Now the lowest price I can find for the k-x is ~$505 and the Nikon pretty much closed the gap. The k-x comes with the kit lens, yes, but judging by its performance, I would have to replace it anyway, so not a real advantage there.

What really makes the D5000 even more appealing is:

1) I already have an HD camcorder so video performance doesn't influence my camera choice

2) I am not planning to have more than 2 lenses (maybe a decent 3rd prime for portraight) and there are enough decent quality offerings for both cameras (including VR lenses that provide up to 3 stops of stabilization for the Nikon) so the lack of internal focus motor and no in-body stabilization aren't a huge deal for me; I am not planning to use any legacy lenses

I just want to be sure that my concerns can be addressed by tweaking in-camera settging and/or upgrading the lens (within $200 limit) before I fully decide on a system.

This being a Pentax forum, biased opinions are OK.

Thanks

12-22-2009, 12:18 PM   #2
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There is not going to be any IQ difference whatsoever that you'd ever notice between similarly-speced cameras. Certainly no difference that would ever be visible at all just using the kit lenses.

You say you don't care about lack of motor or stabilization - does that mean you beleive the prime you buy will offer both?

And what if you - like most people - turn out to be wrong about never buying more lenses?

Anyhow, feel free to post images you are having problems with. 99% of the time, it's a matter of technique, not the lens or the camera, and chances are excellent folks here will be able to help you out.
12-22-2009, 01:00 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
There is not going to be any IQ difference whatsoever that you'd ever notice between similarly-speced cameras. Certainly no difference that would ever be visible at all just using the kit lenses.

You say you don't care about lack of motor or stabilization - does that mean you beleive the prime you buy will offer both?

And what if you - like most people - turn out to be wrong about never buying more lenses?

Anyhow, feel free to post images you are having problems with. 99% of the time, it's a matter of technique, not the lens or the camera, and chances are excellent folks here will be able to help you out.
All valid points, Marc. I actually have a few M42 lenses laying around that I MAY be willing to play with at one point. I just hope I will not have a need to "resort" to the legacy lens to get the picture quality I want.

I'll definitely study the manual before passing any judgements and see if I can fine tune my technique and get the most out of the camera and kit lens.

I'll post the pictures when I get a chance to illustrate the softness of the lens and colour rendition.

It's also very hard to ignore the perceptions, especially given I have no investment in either brand. A lot of people still buy a lot of mercedes'es and bmw's even if only to go shopping once a week. I'm just trying to make it clear to myself that "perceived" value is just that, perceived.
12-22-2009, 02:11 PM   #4
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I guess another question is whether you're shooting RAW or JPEG and--if the latter--have you experimented with the available camera settings?

12-22-2009, 02:36 PM   #5
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With the pricepoint you specified, it's going to be hard to find good zoom lenses for any camera brand apart from the kit lens. The camera body is only as good as the lens, so you're better off investing in better lenses. If you want a better Pentax kit lens but can't afford the DA*, take a look at these 3 options.

The Pentax DA 17-70 f/4 lets you use an f/4 aperture throughout the entire zoom range, unlike the regular kit lens. It also has SDM focusing, which means it focusing would be quieter than the kit lens. Currently going for $479 on Amazon (Amazon.com: Pentax 17-70mm f/4 DA SMC AL IF SDM Lens for Pentax Digital SLR Cameras: Camera & Photo) and photo samples can be found on PBase (Pentax smc DA 17-70/4 AL [IF] SDM Lens Sample Photos and Specifications).

You can also get the older DA 16-45 f/4. It lacks SDM focusing, so it is screw-driven (which may be an advantage for some). But like the DA 17-70, it lets you use f/4 throughout the entire range. Reviews of this lens have been positive. Even better, it's going for $379 on Amazon (Amazon.com: Pentax 16-45mm f/4.0 SMC PDA ED AL Zoom Lens for Pentax and Samsung Digital SLR Cameras: Camera & Photo). Photo samples again are on PBase (Pentax smc P-DA 16-45mm f/4 ED AL Lens Sample Photos and Specifications)

If you want an even faster lens but don't want to pay the extra price, take a look at the Sigma 18-50 f/ 2.8 EX DC. With a constant aperture of f/2.8, you gain over 2/3 of a stop when compared to the DA 17-70 or 16-45 f/4. I used to own this lens, and it worked great for the price. It's not a Pentax lens, but it's cheaper than the 17-70 and 17-45, going for $419 on Amazon (Amazon.com: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC SLD ELD Aspherical Macro Lens for Pentax and Samsung Digital SLR Cameras: Camera & Photo). Photo samples: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Lens Sample Photos and Specifications

- Jason
12-22-2009, 02:41 PM   #6
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12-22-2009, 03:22 PM   #7
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Try to get a FA35 1:2 if you can get a hold of one. This is the superb walkaround lens for its price.

Regarding colors - I myself moved from K10D ( CCD ) to K-x ( CMOS ) and the colors indeed look somewhat "washed-out" when using in-camera JPEG at default settings.

So I shoot raw and pull whatever I want to in Camera Raw.
12-22-2009, 04:57 PM   #8
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Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 with my K-x (ISO 640 f/2.8 for the first four; ISO 100, f/8 for the last):











A good combo, IMO.

12-22-2009, 05:00 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by ilya80 Quote
Try to get a FA35 1:2 if you can get a hold of one. This is the superb walkaround lens for its price.

Regarding colors - I myself moved from K10D ( CCD ) to K-x ( CMOS ) and the colors indeed look somewhat "washed-out" when using in-camera JPEG at default settings.

So I shoot raw and pull whatever I want to in Camera Raw.
I have a VERY restricted budget, I'll leave it at that.
But now that I have looked at the images I took a short while ago and compare them to what I'm seeing coming out of the k-x, it's actually quite disturbing.

Look at these examples taken in the same room in almost identical conditions lit by the same flash. All pictures are direct out-of-camera with no PP applied stopped to between f/7-8.

The first one is from k-x. washed out and unnatural cold colours. Second one from my (now sold) Oly E-510. Both used their kit lenses.
Third and fourth are 100% crops from the originals showing the softness and lack of contrast, again, compareed to Oly E-510. If not for the pathetic high-ISO performance, I would have kept that rig.

Compare.

REALLY disturbing to my eye.

Help?
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Last edited by moSIN; 12-22-2009 at 05:20 PM.
12-22-2009, 05:25 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by deadwolfbones Quote
Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 with my K-x (ISO 640 f/2.8 for the first four; ISO 100, f/8 for the last):

A good combo, IMO.
I agree that this lens produces pleasing results. Still the colours have this pinkish purplish bluish (sorry, not good with colours) tint that looks unnatural. Look at the lips on the first pic, and the snow. The colour is way off.
Is there an easy fix for that (a PhotoShop filter or something) that can be applied to make it more natural?

Thanks.
12-22-2009, 05:43 PM   #11
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The washed out picture from the Pentax seems to be a result of a stronger burst of flash. What flash are you using because unless you manually set both the camera and the flash, the results are not going to be the same....

What actually worries me is the lack of sharpness in comparison, the Pentax crop seems to be out of focus for some reason.
12-22-2009, 06:29 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by moSIN Quote
I agree that this lens produces pleasing results. Still the colours have this pinkish purplish bluish (sorry, not good with colours) tint that looks unnatural. Look at the lips on the first pic, and the snow. The colour is way off.
Is there an easy fix for that (a PhotoShop filter or something) that can be applied to make it more natural?

Thanks.
These were processed in LR3 beta, and the WB/Tint was adjusted by me in post to my personal liking. They were shot in JPEG, unfortunately, so I don't have the originals any longer. (It also might have a lot to do with the way the light was on that particular day.)

Some feel that Tamron lenses have "muddy" color, but I've never really had an issue with it. You can see a lot more shots from this particular lens in the Tammy Club thread.
12-22-2009, 06:46 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by keyser Quote
The washed out picture from the Pentax seems to be a result of a stronger burst of flash. What flash are you using because unless you manually set both the camera and the flash, the results are not going to be the same....

What actually worries me is the lack of sharpness in comparison, the Pentax crop seems to be out of focus for some reason.
The flash is a manual flash (I control all the settings manually, the picture is not overexposed according to the histogram), and the subject doesn't seem to be out of focus or else I would see something either in front or immediately behind that WOULD be in focus.
The colour is way off, too. I've tried various combinations but no success yet.
Should try shooting RAW, and see how much difference that makes.

Meanwhile, here's another example. Again, the image (according to the histogram) is slightly underexposed. Yet the contrast is low, the colours are off and the image is soft.
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12-22-2009, 07:16 PM   #14
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It's hard to tell without EXIF information, and it appears you've only posted crops of the areas you are interested in, rather than posting crops of the areas that might actually be in focus, but I'm not seeing anything that couldn't be explained by the camera having chosen to focus somewhere different than where you intended - and in the first example, motion blur.
12-22-2009, 07:46 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
It's hard to tell without EXIF information, and it appears you've only posted crops of the areas you are interested in, rather than posting crops of the areas that might actually be in focus, but I'm not seeing anything that couldn't be explained by the camera having chosen to focus somewhere different than where you intended - and in the first example, motion blur.
I have many examples I can post but all are basically showing the same thing.
I always try to focus on the near eye. The crops are pretty close to the centre.
Another question - if I focus on the near eye but the lens is focusing on something else instead, isn't there something wrong with the lens then?

The EXIF data for the following shot is:

Shutter speed: 1/160sec
Exposure Program: Manual
F-Stop: f/4.5
Aperture Value: f/4.4
ISO speed ratings: 400
Focal Length: 40 mm

The face was smack in the middle of the frame. So I focused on the eyes then pressed the shutter button completely to take the shot without reframing in order to eliminate any user error. Still the same result.

The file was saved as DNG in-camera. Opened in Adobe camera raw with default settings and then saved without modification as jpeg with high quality setting 8.
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Last edited by moSIN; 12-22-2009 at 07:58 PM.
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