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01-01-2010, 01:05 AM   #1
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Looking for advise for buying lens for interior shooting

Dear all,

I am a happy owner of a K200D with a SMC Pentax DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL II.

For exterior with decent luminosity , I am very satisfied with the quality of the pictures.

But I would like to go to the next level an enjoy my Pentax in more difficult conditions, specially in the inside. I realised this when trying to shoot my christmas tree with garland as the only source of light (or almost).

The result was bad.

I guess that with the proper lens, the result would have been different. What which one would you advice to me?

Best regards and happy new year

François

01-01-2010, 01:29 AM   #2
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You want something fast and wide. You have a few 2.8 zoom ranges to choose from (Pentax 16 - 50, sigma 17 - 70, tamron 17 - 50). Not that much faster wideopen but better IQ. You could always try using a fast fifty if lowlight is huge priority. And get yourself a good tripod, regardless of what lense you choose, makes a world of difference indoors in lowlight.
01-01-2010, 01:34 AM   #3
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It depends what focal lengths you want, but you definitely want speed. If you're looking for less expensive lenses, take a look at Sigma 24 f/1.8 (slightly wide angle on a cropped sensor) and Pentax FA 50 f/1.4 (slightly telephoto). Also, it'll be difficult to find a faster lens than DA 14 f/2.8, at around 14mm (wide) focal length. The rule of thumb for sharp shots (discounting the motion of the subject) is that shutter speed should be around 1/(focal length) seconds. With very dim lights, seldom do I get a blurry shot with DA 14 f/2.8, wide open and ISO 800-1600.

EDIT: Also, the camera is looking through the same lens you are. So if the lens is dim, the camera may have more trouble auto-focusing without a focus-assist lamp.

Last edited by asdf; 01-01-2010 at 01:40 AM.
01-01-2010, 02:07 AM   #4
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THank you for your very quick reaction. Fantastic.

Let's be honest: i am a complete newbie.

So, I will try to refine my expectation:
* interior shooting without flash (i really don't like the pictures of the K200D with flash)
Of course, the christmas tree shooting is an exceptional case!
* I would like aslo to use the same lens to make portrait ouside

I found the Sigma 18-50mm F/2.8 DC EX at a very decent price (€360) compared to the PENTAX SMC DA 16-50MM F/2,8 ED AL [IF] SDM (€995).


What are the main differences between the two?

Would the sigma give me satisfaction in more difficult conditions?

WHat would be better?
> Keeping my K200D and buying the PENTAX SMC DA 16-50MM F/2,8 ED AL [IF] SDM
> upgrading to the K-7 and bying the Sigma 18-50mm F/2.8 DC EX

Note: i found the following kit new for €1199 in a shop near my house: PENTAX K7 + 18-55 WR + 55-200 WR

Thanks a lot

01-01-2010, 02:13 AM   #5
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Judging just by the one shot you tried to take, a tripod could have been the only thing you needed.

However, if you're interested in a new lens you may want to experiment with the lens you have to get an idea of the focal length that would work for you. The "fast fifty" (50mm f1.4) is great for low light photography, but, unless you want some tight shots, it can be little long for indoor work. Set your 18-55mm to 50mm to see what you think.

When it comes to picking the right lens for you you'll have to answer yourself a few questions:

Is a fully manual lens okay?
Do you want a zoom?

As has been said, if you want to photograph in low light you'll have to look at lenses with a smaller "f" number. 50mm f1.4 is significantly faster than your 18-55mm which is f3.5 when used at 18mm. Be careful of variable aperture lenses. Kaimarx mentioned the Sigma 17-70, but this isn't a f2.8 lens. It, like the 18-55mm has a variable aperture. The 17-70mm is a f2.8-4.5, meaning the lens is f2.8 at 17mm and f4.5 at 70mm.
01-01-2010, 02:16 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by geocaching Quote
THank you for your very quick reaction. Fantastic.

Let's be honest: i am a complete newbie.

So, I will try to refine my expectation:
* interior shooting without flash (i really don't like the pictures of the K200D with flash)
Of course, the christmas tree shooting is an exceptional case!
* I would like aslo to use the same lens to make portrait ouside

I found the Sigma 18-50mm F/2.8 DC EX at a very decent price (€360) compared to the PENTAX SMC DA 16-50MM F/2,8 ED AL [IF] SDM (€995).


What are the main differences between the two?

Would the sigma give me satisfaction in more difficult conditions?

WHat would be better?
> Keeping my K200D and buying the PENTAX SMC DA 16-50MM F/2,8 ED AL [IF] SDM
> upgrading to the K-7 and bying the Sigma 18-50mm F/2.8 DC EX

Note: i found the following kit new for €1199 in a shop near my house: PENTAX K7 + 18-55 WR + 55-200 WR

Thanks a lot
Check out photozone.de and lenstip.com for extensive lens tests.

DA* 16-50 is weather sealed and has a built-in motor (that often breaks ) which makes auto-focusing near silent. If you really want to settle on a zoom (boo!) lens that's fast, take a look at Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 (very sharp).
01-01-2010, 02:19 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by geocaching Quote
WHat would be better?
> Keeping my K200D and buying the PENTAX SMC DA 16-50MM F/2,8 ED AL [IF] SDM
> upgrading to the K-7 and bying the Sigma 18-50mm F/2.8 DC EX
If you're considering a new camera and want low light performance, then you should also look into the Kx. It has shown excellent low light performance.
01-01-2010, 02:23 AM   #8
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I bought a Sigma 30mm f/1.4
just because for that purpose.
I suggest have a look at it.

01-01-2010, 03:10 AM   #9
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I have been very happy with K200D + SMC FA 35/2 combination indoors. FA 35 is more than 2 stops fasted than kit lens with the same focal lenght which is >4 times more light to the sensor. 35mm wide has been for me too. Sigma 30/1.4 is faster and bit wider so check it too.
01-01-2010, 03:32 AM   #10
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I have seen recommendations for lenses here, but what would actually help more is a tripod. If you are going to take pictures of only objects in low light, the tripod would be a better (and cheaper choice). Also, you will need a tripod sooner or later. I would say invest in a good tripod (or monopod, it can also help) instead of buying the cheapest one. I can't really say more since i have only a cheap one (and regretting it).

Secondly, before getting a new camera I recommend getting a new lens. Try recalling what is the range that you use the most for deciding what to get. As said before, I would recommend this (In order):

For zooms (recommended, in order of apearance):
Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 (top choice)
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8
Pentax DA 17-70mm f/4 (slower)
Pentax DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 (You can buy the three above with the price of this baby, not that i would recomend buying the three)
Pentax DA 16-45 f/4


For primes (in no particular order):
Pentax DA 15mm Limited f/4 (slow, maybe a little too wide)
Pentax DA 21mm Limited f/3.2 (a little slower, but not that much)
Pentax FA 35mm f/2
Pentax DA 35mm Limited f/2.8 (You can do macro, albeit not that useful at this focal length)
Pentax DA 40mm Limited f/2.8 (Pancake, really light, possibly a little too long for indoors)
Sigma 20mm f/1.8
Sigma 28mm f/1.8
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 (faster than every other lens in this list, don't necessarily mean it is better)

Go to a store that hava them and ask to try the ones you like the most.

Lastly, I would actually recommend using f/4 even in low light for objects, just pop the ISO to 400 or lower and use a tripod.

For people, if it is a big group of people, putting it to even f/2.8 can make some of the people in the group go out of focus. So it is not that recommended. If it is only one person, f/2 or wider (smaller f-number) can work wonders. Again, try before you buy anything.


Summing it all up, this is what i would do (now):
1. Get a good tripod
2. Get a zoom (try the tamron 17-50mm f/2.8. if it is good, comtemplate of buying it).
3. Get a fast prime (I may recommend the FA 35mm f/2, i haven't tried it though).


Greetings and happy new year
01-01-2010, 04:08 AM   #11
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What exactly is a "focus-assist lamp"?
01-01-2010, 04:16 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Winnie Quote
What exactly is a "focus-assist lamp"?
AF Assist Lamp: Camera System: Glossary: Learn: Digital Photography Review

It's the red rectangular thing on an external flash, for example.
01-01-2010, 07:37 AM   #13
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Tripod is key

If you are shooting interior I don’t know why you would need a lens that can shoot 2.8 unless you are going to shoot handheld or shooting things that move. You might want to look at getting a Pentax 12-24 or the Sigma 10-20. You probably don’t want a shallow depth of field when shooting indoors anywise. If you are going with strictly interior shooting I would go with one of two. Just use a tripod and a longer shutter to get the light. I found my 18-50 not quite wide enough.
01-01-2010, 09:02 AM   #14
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A tripod should be every photographer's first accessory purchase.
Get a good one.
01-01-2010, 09:23 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by apemen Quote
I bought a Sigma 30mm f/1.4
just because for that purpose.
I suggest have a look at it.
I'll second that!
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