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03-19-2010, 07:38 PM   #1
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Can the K-7 kit lens do bokeh?

Hi, I'm thinking of getting my first DSLR and Pentax seems the way to go for me. I love going to the beach and I'm not particularly "nice" to my LX3 in these conditions, so the weather resistant K-7 seems a good fit for my needs.

I love shooting landscapes, but I also want to get in some portrait length shots that have sweet bokeh. I'm not really knowledgeable yet, so I'd like to ask whether the K-7 kit lens can produce nice bokeh? It seems that all the samples of the k-7 kit lens on this dont feature bokeh, so I was wondering if it's due to the F3.5 of the lens....

Ideally, I'd like a setup that will allow me to take wide landscapes, and then also allow me to take portrait or closer shots with bokeh. Since money is tight, if the kit lens can do bokeh, then I'll use that for now until I can manage more funds for something better like a 50mm F1.4 prime, perhaps!

Any advice is appreciated! Thank you.

03-19-2010, 07:57 PM   #2
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Don't even think about it. Get the body-only and add to it the DA* 16-50mm F2.8 if you can afford it or the DA 17-70mm F4. Both these are really nice lenses, the F2.8 will give you better bokeh. Regardless, either of these lens will avoid you deleting all your images because they came out so crappy. If you have to buy the kit-lens, make it into a neat coffee cup or something

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03-19-2010, 08:19 PM   #3
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get the kit lens for wide angle (does very adequately on a budget) and buy a cheap manual focus 50mm for bokeh filled portraits on a budget.
03-20-2010, 05:29 AM   #4
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The kit-lens is not that bad, and WR, wich you seem to need. But dont expect much of the bokeh. f3.5 is a little to slow.

03-20-2010, 09:18 AM   #5
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Also, it's only f/3.5 at the 18mm end. You generally would get a stronger in focus / out of focus look by shooting loser to the long end, although the fact that the maximum aperture is only f/5.6 at 55m m doesn't help. Still, at short focus distances, and/or if the background is far away, you can get an out of focus background, and bokeh (a term for *how* the OOF areas look, subjectively) is not that bad in my opinion.

But $25 for a manual focus 50/1.7 or the like will do far better. You won't need the background to be so far away to get it out of focus.
03-20-2010, 03:32 PM   #6
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Thanks for the suggestions!

I'd really like to explore some of the cheaper non-DA* options, but only a few other lenses have WR. Is a beach environment really dangerous for a camera/lenses that it warrants going the extra mile for WR?
03-20-2010, 04:29 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by uchinakuri Quote
I'd like to ask whether the K-7 kit lens can produce nice bokeh?
I am experimenting, and I find that, YES, you CAN get thinner DOF (depth of field) and nice bokeh with a 18-55 kit lens. The secret: a diopter (close-up) lens mounted on the front. With a 1-diopter (weakest) lens and AF, I get focus lock and shutter firing out to about 1.5-2m depending on subject lighting and contrast. You'll get thinner DOF and better bokeh out at the 55mm end.

QuoteOriginally posted by uchinakuri Quote
Is a beach environment really dangerous for a camera/lenses that it warrants going the extra mile for WR?
That depends on the beach but in general, YES! I'm not certain about Japan, but beaches in California and elsewhere on the west coast of North America are harsh environments: both desert-dry and with blowing water, salt, and rough and fine sand.

I have lived near beaches in Oregon and northern and southern California, and out in the deserts of California, and I consider the beaches to be much more hazardous than inland deserts to photo and electronic gear. I have also been on the east coasts of the USA and Mexico, and these seem less harsh. Still, I'll not take my K20D to a beach until I buy a WR lens or two. When I can afford them.
03-20-2010, 04:30 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Also, it's only f/3.5 at the 18mm end. You generally would get a stronger in focus / out of focus look by shooting loser to the long end, although the fact that the maximum aperture is only f/5.6 at 55m m doesn't help. Still, at short focus distances, and/or if the background is far away, you can get an out of focus background, and bokeh (a term for *how* the OOF areas look, subjectively) is not that bad in my opinion.

But $25 for a manual focus 50/1.7 or the like will do far better. You won't need the background to be so far away to get it out of focus.
I use the kit lens v1 for lens photos all the time, at 55mm, close to its minimum focus distance and f8-f11 depending on how clean my sensor is. Depth of field is very small under those conditions - I'm guessing a quarter-inch without checking a DOF calculator. Part of even a small lens will be out of focus. And I agree that the bokeh can be pleasant. I don't get out-of-focus highlights so I don't know how those are.

QuoteOriginally posted by uchinakuri Quote
Thanks for the suggestions!

I'd really like to explore some of the cheaper non-DA* options, but only a few other lenses have WR. Is a beach environment really dangerous for a camera/lenses that it warrants going the extra mile for WR?
It can be hostile, but people have also been taking cameras to the beach forever. Long-term exposure to salt water is bad for everything. I just cleaned beach sand out of a lens that sounded like a pepper mill when focusing. I would consider a protective filter if you're going to be in salt spray repeatedly, simply because you can clean the filter a lot and chuck it if it gets scratched. Sand is not hard to avoid. Marc's suggestion of the Pentax-M 50mm is good, maybe even an f2. It might be too bright for f1.7 to be useful. The lens is not WR but an old prime has fewer gaps for stuff to enter, better build for easy repair, no electronics and low enough price to have little risk if it all goes wrong.

03-20-2010, 06:03 PM   #9
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just to give an example..... Kit lens at 55mm F/8

03-20-2010, 08:14 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
I am experimenting, and I find that, YES, you CAN get thinner DOF (depth of field) and nice bokeh with a 18-55 kit lens. The secret: a diopter (close-up) lens mounted on the front. With a 1-diopter (weakest) lens and AF, I get focus lock and shutter firing out to about 1.5-2m depending on subject lighting and contrast. You'll get thinner DOF and better bokeh out at the 55mm end.
Dear RioRico -- where can I find a snap-on 1-diopter lens? Playing around with the Raynox 150, I had a similar thought -- with the Raynox, the DOF gets ridiculously shallow, and I thought a weaker version could work to shrink the DOF of the kit lens.

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03-20-2010, 08:39 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by sjwoo Quote
Dear RioRico -- where can I find a snap-on 1-diopter lens? Playing around with the Raynox 150, I had a similar thought -- with the Raynox, the DOF gets ridiculously shallow, and I thought a weaker version could work to shrink the DOF of the kit lens.
Hi, Sung. For snap-ons, I don't know. I know that screw-on diopter sets were and are quite common, and can be easily found on eBay, often within mixed LOTS of miscellaneous gear. They're often just called CLOSE-UP LENSES. I usually see them in sets of three, of +1, +2 and +3 diopters. Let's see... a +2 on the kit lens at 55mm seems to have a working distance of around 2 feet / 61cm. And the +1 focuses out to 1.5-2m.

I suppose it COULD be possible to find a locate a 43mm-thread +1 diopter lens to screw into a snap-on Raynox universal adapter, bought separately -- but besides likely vignetting, the diopter lens would be a bit further from the primary than if it were screwed on. This would increase magnification somewhat and narrow the working distance. Maybe that would work for you. Maybe not.
03-21-2010, 12:36 AM   #12
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I think the kit lens can do ok at bokeh, not as good as alot of others, but still ok.

Heres one from my 18-55 kit lens on my k200d (55mm @ f8)
03-21-2010, 12:49 AM   #13
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Yes it can do bokeh. one main advantage of the kit lens in terms of bokeh is that it has the
mfd of 0.25 which can get you closer to the subject.
Try the nearest focus you can get at focal length of about 34mm @f4 and the subject is far from the background it will give you a nice bokeh.
03-21-2010, 12:57 AM   #14
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heres one @55 5.6 i think.. just get closer to the subject as possible
03-21-2010, 02:53 AM   #15
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cutting it close

QuoteOriginally posted by rustynail925 Quote
heres one @55 5.6 i think.. just get closer to the subject as possible
Very nice! But the original question was, "I also want to get in some portrait length shots that have sweet bokeh." Most humans probably won't want to have the lens 3-4 inches / 75-100mm from their face. A +1 diopter at up to 1.5m / 5 feet will probably be a little more confortable.

Addendum: The 18-55mm kit lens DOES focus remarkably close, to within 3 inches / 75mm. I decided to experiment a little, with the FA 50/1.4, whose close focus is 5.5 inches / 135mm. I put a +1 diopter on the wide-open 50 and focused at a target about 1.5m away, a reasonable close portrait distance. Background blur (bokeh) increased slightly but noticeably. Then I tried a +2 diopter. Close focus distance dropped to under 1m and the bokeh softened dramatically. For *close* portraits, this cuts DOF about as thin as you'd want to go. Don't slice off your fingers!

Gosh. All these years in photography, and a bit of playing with diopter lenses for closeups, and I'd never bothered before to try them as portrait-mode DOF-bokeh machines. Duh! I'm sure glad the OP raised the question. So now we have a few ways to shrink DOF and increase background blur:

* Use a longer focal-length lens
* Set / use a bigger aperture
* Move subject further from background
* Move camera closer to subject
* Defocus / front focus a little
* Add slight extension to lens
* Use not-too-strong diopters

Can anyone think of any other tricks (other than PP)?

Last edited by RioRico; 03-21-2010 at 03:56 AM. Reason: addendum
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