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03-30-2010, 04:02 PM   #1
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Renting New Lenses vs. Buying Old Lenses

Hello, all -

I'm in a bit of a pickle and hope you can help me find direction.

First, background: I own a K20D, K110D, and K1000. I use the K20d 90% of the time, but play around with my K1000 when I get the urge to shoot with film.

My "new" modern lenses are the Tamron 70-300 4-5.6 and the Pentax DA 18-55 3.5-5.6 kit lens. I use the Tamron for outdoor sports and the kit lens for landscapes when I'm out driving around in the countryside.

I'm really more enamored by old manual lenses. My go-to lens for most of my work (product shots, especially) is my beloved, ancient Pentax-M 50 1.4. I've also gotten superb results with a particularly sharp copy of a Hanimar 135mm 3.5 and decent Abinar ADG Coated 28 2.8.

I have an assortment of other manual lenses I've picked up along the way, but none are particularly exciting.

My dilemma:

I'm heading off on a trip soon where I'll be doing a mix of walkaround shooting while being touristy and concert photography in fairly intimate clubs with decent lighting and access to the stage. I don't have enough speed in the 80-135 range which I'll need for the concerts.

My choices are:

- Go ahead and buy the Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 I've been eyeing for over a year ($799)
- Rent a Pentax 50-135 2.8 for the trip ($110)
- Rent the Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 for the trip ($110)
- Play around in the Marketplace and Ebay looking for well cared for and sharp copies of old primes (usually around $100 ea. for something decent)

Also of note:

I'm shooting Prelude to a Dream at Eldora this summer with trackside access and will need a fast lens for the race under lights. If I don't get the Sigma now, I'll need to rent or buy it then.

What I'm really asking is: should I spend the $800, or can I get something just as good or better in the manual glass category for far less outlay of funds? I love shooting manual with primes . . . less so with a zoom.

ANY suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

*** Note: I put this in the Pentax lens section b/c I'm considering the 50-135 and manual Pentax lenses. If it should be located somewhere else, please let me know.

03-30-2010, 04:25 PM   #2
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Really, I think it comes dow to what it always comes down to: what do you you hope to do that you cannot do now? Or what do you hope do better, with less weight, etc.

I can't imagine using the 70-200 or even the 50-135 for typical touristy walkaround purposes, although of course they are great concert lenses. But since you enjoy manual primes (as do I), it's really hard to imagine what you'd gain by getting the 70-200 or 50-135 for this trip. BTW, not sure why renting either is an option, but you'd only consider buying the 70-200?

Looking at your lineup and your described purposes, unless you want *better* options in the 18-55 range than your kit lens and the two primes in that range, I'd say you're OK there, and will something wider than 18 can be fun, there aren't any obvious choices. The manual primes wider than that (like Zenitar 16) are mostly fisheyes or else are really expensive. I guess fisheye could be fun if you're into it. DA15 is sure fun too - just because its a DA lens doesn't mean you can't focus it manually :-)

For concerts, the 135 should work fine. Not sure how much of that kind of work you've done. 135/3.5 is borderline, but it's what I use a lot these days. Mine is the Pentax-M, which is pretty amazingly small & light and has a built-in hood and could be worth a look if you're looking to replace the 135, but presumably you'd be looking to either replace it with something faster or supplement it with something between 50 and 135, not to replace it with another lens that takes essentially the same pictures.

To replace it with something faster, the K135/2.5 (not the Takumar bayonet version) is the "obvious" choice here, assuming you can find one in time. My opinion is that an f/2.8 lens just isn't enough of an improvement to be worthwhile if you've got a 135 you're happy with. But since you say you'll be able to shoot from close, I'd be looking to fill that 50-135 gap rather than replacing a 135 you already like. This pretty much screams M85/2. Between that and your other lenses, you'd be pretty well set, I'd think. Next choice would be M100/2.8, which is a lens I love, but it leaves a bigger gap below it than you might like, and f/2 is hard to turn down.

BTW, your post is about lenses and nothing but lenses - definitely the right place for it.
03-30-2010, 04:34 PM   #3
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I wouldn't rent a DA 50-135. You can buy one right here on the forum, used. Take it on your trip. And, when you return, if you aren't complelled to keep it. You can, with some good negotiation, sell it and get back everyting you have invested in it.

Most of the stuff you find here from the long time, and reputable, members will be in much better condition than anything you can rent.

My .02
03-30-2010, 04:37 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by ajtour Quote
Hello, all -

I'm in a bit of a pickle and hope you can help me find direction.

First, background: I own a K20D, K110D, and K1000. I use the K20d 90% of the time, but play around with my K1000 when I get the urge to shoot with film.

My "new" modern lenses are the Tamron 70-300 4-5.6 and the Pentax DA 18-55 3.5-5.6 kit lens. I use the Tamron for outdoor sports and the kit lens for landscapes when I'm out driving around in the countryside.

I'm really more enamored by old manual lenses. My go-to lens for most of my work (product shots, especially) is my beloved, ancient Pentax-M 50 1.4. I've also gotten superb results with a particularly sharp copy of a Hanimar 135mm 3.5 and decent Abinar ADG Coated 28 2.8.

I have an assortment of other manual lenses I've picked up along the way, but none are particularly exciting.

My dilemma:

I'm heading off on a trip soon where I'll be doing a mix of walkaround shooting while being touristy and concert photography in fairly intimate clubs with decent lighting and access to the stage. I don't have enough speed in the 80-135 range which I'll need for the concerts.

My choices are:

- Go ahead and buy the Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 I've been eyeing for over a year ($799)
- Rent a Pentax 50-135 2.8 for the trip ($110)
- Rent the Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 for the trip ($110)
- Play around in the Marketplace and Ebay looking for well cared for and sharp copies of old primes (usually around $100 ea. for something decent)

Also of note:

I'm shooting Prelude to a Dream at Eldora this summer with trackside access and will need a fast lens for the race under lights. If I don't get the Sigma now, I'll need to rent or buy it then.

What I'm really asking is: should I spend the $800, or can I get something just as good or better in the manual glass category for far less outlay of funds? I love shooting manual with primes . . . less so with a zoom.

ANY suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

*** Note: I put this in the Pentax lens section b/c I'm considering the 50-135 and manual Pentax lenses. If it should be located somewhere else, please let me know.
My first thought is, 80-134mm is not a good range to find inexpensive prime lenses. At 135mm, you have a lot of lenses to choose from. If you have or buy an M42 adapter, the Vivitar/Komine 135mm f2.8 in M42 mount often sells for around $25 including shipping. But finding another prime that matches the zoom's f2.8, is worth buying and is around $100 is a challenge.

I think renting is an investment if you aren't sure if the zooms meet your needs. Otherwise it just adds to the cost of buying later.

03-30-2010, 04:42 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ed n Georgia Quote
I wouldn't rent a DA 50-135. You can buy one right here on the forum, used. Take it on your trip. And, when you return, if you aren't complelled to keep it. You can, with some good negotiation, sell it and get back everyting you have invested in it.
That is saying that it's still working when you return
I may be wrong, but I feel that some of them are for sale just because their owners no longer trust them. I know that some people have sold new and repaired lenses before they even tried them, after a warranty issue.
03-30-2010, 05:42 PM   #6
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 83
Original Poster
Thank you all so far!

Extra notes/answers:

- Yes, I have an M42 adapter

- I agree that the 135 2.8 vs. 135 3.5 is not enough of a speed difference to justify buying a new lens


Marc, what ISO are you using for your 135/3.5 indoors? I adore it outside in good light, but haven't had the opportunity to really test it inside with stage lights yet. I agree the M85/2 would be ideal and will start looking in the Marketplace and Ebay.

Switching gears slightly. Let's say I keep what I have, forego the expense of the 70-200 2.8, and want something in the range of a 200 2.8 for indoor sports and concerts from the audience rather than the rail/stage. Is there a particular brand/model you recommend?
03-30-2010, 05:53 PM   #7
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Indoors, I shoot my M135/3.5 at ISO 1600, which is the highest my camera (K200D) has. I use shutter speeds of 1/30" - 1/60", which sometimes results in underexposure (if I had higher ISO I'd use it), but that's the slowest speeds that give a decent chance at a sharp image. Some twill have motion blur, but enough won't that I'm happy. If you visit the "M Club" thread, you'll see tons of examples form me, but here's a small one for this thread:



For situations where 135mm isn't longer enough, I also find f/2.8 isn't often needed, either: the bigger the venue, the brighter the lights, generally speaking. So M200/4 would be worth a look. But I'm talking about getting shutter speeds of 1/60" - 1/90" or so. Good enough for concerts, but for sports, maybe you really would need that f/2.8. I don't know of good cheap options there.
03-30-2010, 06:39 PM   #8
mel
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Lens needs and choices aside (because a lot of the depends on personal preferences and shooting styles too, which really only you can determine) I'm a fan of renting for a couple reasons.

One is that try before you buy situation. Okay so yeah it'll cost you $100ish to rent the lens and you have to send it back. But the shots you take with it are forever so there's that benefit. Also, if you decide the lens isn't for you, then you are only out the rental fee and not the cost of the lens.

Another is to have the lens you need for the situation you need if that need is temporary. I have the 50-135 and it suits most of my performance shooting needs (coupled with the 16-50 on my other camera). However, I'm traveling to another state and shooting a large dance performance there. I'm not sure if 135 will be long enough, so I'm renting the Sigma 70-200/2.8 to have on hand as well. And the beauty part of that is that I'm having delivered to that location rather than my home then having to lug it with me. And I'll send it back from there as well. Pretty darn convenient I have to say.

This will be my third rental. The other two lenses I've rented cost a total of about $2400 last I checked. Now I'd love to have both of those lenses, but renting I've realized for the majority of my shooting, I don't NEED those lenses. So really, it's saved me some money in the long run. And I still have the shots I took with them.

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