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06-05-2011, 08:18 PM   #1
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Would you recommend a K10D+77mm -> K-5+50-135mm upgrade?

Specifically for a studio specializing more and more into newborns, babies and children?

I've had my K10D for almost four years. I first began my love affair with photography with this very camera, a brand new and completely amateur photographer. First it was the 50-200mm... and then, I killed the bank account. I always preferred to invest in quality glass over a shiny new body every year.

Though the Tamron 28-75mm Xri (which isn't terrible per say) served me for a long time, when I finally gave in to my first prime, the 77mm Limited, I could never go back to the Tamron. There was no comparison. At that point I was shooting just about anything, I didn't have my studio yet so no niche to concentrate on, and managed with the 77mm.

When I did open a studio a year later, it posed certain problems. The 77mm is quite a long for certain type of shoots in an indoor setting, so in these times I resorted to the 28-75 and lived with it. I recently bought the 35mm Limited lens, which is just as sharp as the 77mm, and used it this week-end for a successful babu shoot (see here on the pentax critique forum).

This was at the client's house, and I had 4 foot of depth at best to shoot from the backdrop or other areas. The 35mm sufficed for this, but this resulted in many up-close and tightly framed shots. I did miss the versatility of a zoom lens this week-end.

After this shoot, thanks to Facebook, I have already gotten six additional shoots booked in less than 24 hours (friends of the client, friends of friends, etc.) for newborns, babies, or pregnant women. There is definitely a niche market for it in my area, and I loved doing it so much that it is probably the thing I'd like to specialize into.

Though I think the K10D performed admirably this week-end, I think it's time to move on. The AF was way too slow and I missed quite a few candid moments (kids aren't the easiest to catch naturally) because of it. The ISO performance is abysmal above ISO 400, and I wouldn't mind a bigger and better sensor (the 10MP is limiting in the size of prints I can order. Definitely there is money to be made in poster size prints). Likewise the 77mm is a great lens, but I will need more versatility than a prime can provide.

For all these reasons, I've been looking into upgrading to a K-5 (and the grip. I need a grip...) and the 50-135mm. I've been relishing this lens for so long, and I feel like it could do amazing paired with the K-5 for kid shoots.

tl;dr If there are kid photogs that read this, would you find a K10D+77mm Limited kit upgrade to the K-5+50-135mm be worth the investment for this specific type of photography? Even better if you did exactly that or something similar

I do have the income for it, and those six shoots alone will practically pay most of it. I could definitely part with the 28-75mm for good to help absorb the upgrade cost.

As always, my fellow pentaxians' wisdom is much sought and appreciated.

06-05-2011, 09:03 PM - 1 Like   #2
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It's always risky to get rid of a lens if you love it's IQ... why not add a second body (even a K-r) and put the 35 on it? Perhaps also sell the 35 for a FA31 for that little bit of extra width (and IQ!!). 2 bodies; 31 on one and 77 on the other would be a killer set up for IQ. Honestly I'd rather that than 1 body and a 50-135, even if that body is a K-5.

I have the DA*50-135 and sure it's terrific, but I also have the FA77 and simply, it is better. Given the IQ of the Tammy has many singing it's praises whilst you can't wait to get rid of it, have you thoguht that maybe you're just not ever going to be 100% happy with zoom IQ, even a fantastic one like the 50-135?
06-05-2011, 09:35 PM   #3
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Wow, twitch... you brought all excellent and very valid points. Thank you! I hadn't even consider using two bodies.

It is entirely possible I got spoiled with the 77mm. It is just so fantastically sharp, even the Tammy in comparison disappointed. Ever since I upgraded my monitor to a S-IPS panel (U3011) with proper calibration, I see the difference even more.

I had hoped the DA*50-135 would have IQ similar or identical to the FA77 at the same length. Rather than go K-5+DA*50-135 I should simply get the K-5 but with the FA31 instead, and keep using the K10D with the FA77. The FA31 and DA*50-135 are priced almost exactly the same.

I had assumed the IQ of the DA*50-135 was superior to the Tammy though, considering it is twice the price?
06-05-2011, 10:07 PM   #4
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You could always hire a 50-135 for a weekend and see how it compares to your 77 & Tammy. I think that would be a whole lot more reliable than anyones opinion on an internet forum, especially mine


EDIT: I just realised you're in Canada so rentals may be harder to source for you.... hmmm.... Adorma and B&H have good return policies, so if you are feeling restricted by your 77 buy a 50-135, try it out, and return it if it doesn't match your expectations...

06-05-2011, 11:09 PM   #5
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yes, definitely yes.

both are weather sealed, both are exceptional quality.

YES!!!!!!!
06-06-2011, 12:41 AM   #6
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If you can effectively zoom with your feet, as you do in the studio setting, the 77 is worth keeping. But indeed if budgetary concerns are what's holding you back from getting a K-5 for the 77 to work its magic on it, then a K-r is definitely a great idea. It will increase your access to menus due to not having as much at-the-tip-of-your-finger controls like the K10D and K-5, but its sensor is excellent and will give you brilliant results.

I'd later also consider adding on a 43 ltd for kids shooting - small and fast, with great IQ.
The 50-135 is certainly a capable zoom, though you may still be frustrated with its relatively slower and less amenable AF in low light settings, such as a studio with minimal modeling lighting available.
06-06-2011, 03:25 AM   #7
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I wouldn't hesitate to sell the Tammy unless you really need it. Your strong preference for the FA77 over the Tammy shows that we have similar taste in IQ.

I sold my FA77 to get an FA*85 because I wanted a faster lens, but the FA77 is still amazing.


I've been surprised to find that I can use the DA*50-135 for an entire shoot and be very satisfied with it. It especially works well if you have studio lighting and don't need a faster aperture. Here's a recent shoot where I kept the DA*50-135 on my K-5 all day - Even though I brought my primes I was shocked to realize I'd left them in the bag all day:

Photos - Creative Photography Group (Encinitas, CA) - Meetup


Photos 5 through 12 are mine. We had Profoto lighting on the beach. I was able to do all cropping by zoom as I shot, and later I only had to adjust exposure and rotation during PP (in Capture One - it has the best Pentax camera profiles).

I still like my primes better, and there's no replacement for them, but sometimes the DA*50-135 is the better tool. It isn't equal to the FA77, but it's still impressive.


The good news is that both the FA77 and DA*50-135 are current models, so if you make a mistake you can re-purchase one as needed.



BTW, love your photos. There's a good reason people are willing to pay for them.

Last edited by DSims; 06-06-2011 at 03:44 AM. Reason: Add comment.
06-06-2011, 06:09 AM   #8
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After having spent a month with the K5 / 50-135 combo exclusively, I would whole heartedly recommend it. While I don't have any studio type or even candid kiddie photos that I'm going to show here, I did have a moving subject to practice with..

Single In April - a set on Flickr

I wouldn't sell my FA77 though.



06-06-2011, 09:50 AM   #9
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Wow guys, thanks a lot for the spot on feedback. You know how it is: sometimes you ask for advice or feedback and you'll get responses that are barely worth their salt, but you all brought great suggestions! That's why I love the Pentax crowd the most: you still find willing and helpful folks that are talented, without the arrogance

QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
If you can effectively zoom with your feet, as you do in the studio setting, the 77 is worth keeping. But indeed if budgetary concerns are what's holding you back from getting a K-5 for the 77 to work its magic on it, then a K-r is definitely a great idea.
It wasn't really the budget that concerned me, it was whether or not the DA*50-135 would satisfy me (as in fulfill my IQ expectations) and my needs (kids and babies). Let's not kid ourselves: the K10D is an entry level SLR, whereas the K-5 is considered a professional body. I'm sure with the exact same glass (say, the FA77), the improvement over AF speed and ISO performance would already be DRASTIC (according to the reviews I've read anyway).

But I really liked twitch's idea of using two bodies. One with the FA77, one with FA31. The FA31 is the same price (1000$ give or take) as the DA*50-135, so it would cost me the same.

At this point it is either:
1) K-5 with DA*50-135
or
2) K10D+FA77 with K-5+FA31

The cost of upgrading is equal in both situations. For simplicity's sake, the first option would win (definitely easier to handle a single camera with the versatility of a zoom lens over two bodies with different primes) but for IQ, I think I am correct in saying option #2 would be much superior to option #1?

I love my FA77. I really do. Enough that ever since I got the DA35, I never use my Tammy, because I find it lacking. I imagine the FA31 would be that much sharper over the DA35, plus it'd be a bit wider, but still perform as well as my FA77.

The DA*50-135 will eventually find its way into my bag at some point. That is for sure... for street photography or everyday general photography, I don't think option #2 would work well.

But for my immediate needs, which is kid and babies photography, would you guys agree option #2 would be best as far as IQ is concerned? I certainly think so. Reading reviews of the FA31, it appears to be as phenomenal as the FA77. I think it would be epic. I'll definitely need to get used to switching between two bodies, but considering the IQ trade off, it would appear to be worth it. I really don't think the DA*50-135 would match a FA77+FA31 combo.

What do you think?
06-06-2011, 04:29 PM   #10
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With option #1 though don't you still have the FA77, DA35 & the K10D? Or have you sold some or all? There's no way you'd want 50mm as your widest option afterall.

Regardless, one "feature" (not sure if it is much of an advanage though) of option #2 with the FA31 and FA77 pair is that they produce the same look (same colours, smooth bokeh, contrast and rendering). The DA lenses all have a different look (bolder colours, more contrasty images, slightly busier bokeh).

If you go with option 2 you might want to have the 31 on the K10 and the 77 on the K5 (especially if you don't have light to burn) as the 77 requires a stop of more of shutter speed which the K5 can handle more easily with cleaner high ISO.
06-06-2011, 04:34 PM   #11
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Yes, I'm keeping the K10D and FA77 no matter what!
06-06-2011, 04:42 PM   #12
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OK, so it's between

#1 K10+DA35 with K5+50-135 (with the FA77 in the camera bag?)
#2 K10+FA31 with K5+FA77 (with the DA35 in the camera bag?)

Either option you have a redundant lens in your camera bag which I'd be tempted to sell with the K10 to fund a K20 or K-r. Either that or sell the redundant lens to help fund the K5.
06-06-2011, 06:17 PM   #13
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At this point, it's either

#1 K10+FA31 with K5+FA77 (with the DA35 in the camera bag)
#2 K10+FA77 with K5+50-135 (with the DA35 in the camera bag)

The DA35 is a macro lens which will have its uses for the future (I also do product photography. Rarely, but I do, and the 1:1 magnification is helpful). No matter what happens, the DA35 will not get used for newborn or kid shoots.

I will sell the Tammy, though. I have the DA12-24 when I need super wide anyway.
06-08-2011, 02:13 PM   #14
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The FA31 will probably look less sharp than the DA35 macro, per se. Rather, it makes it almost impossible to get a harsh looking background.

I found it's characteristics significantly different from the FA77, even apart from its focal length. For example, colors are noticeably different, but still nice in their own way.

For sharpness the DA*55 is excellent, but it sometimes gives harsh backgrounds. The K50/1.2, OTOH, gives great backgrounds, almost like the FA31. They are both lenses that might be useful to you.
06-08-2011, 02:18 PM   #15
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Awesome advice Dsims, thanks! I'm surprised that the FA31 would be less sharp than the DA*35 considering it's twice the price.
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