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01-15-2013, 04:09 PM   #1
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First question...

Haven't even gotten my K-30 yet, and already this excellent site has prompted me to poke my head up and ask something.

I know that I will probably just need to spend some time with the kit lens (ordered the weather-resistant 18-135mm package) before I go hawg-wild and start buying more lenses. I've resigned myself to this...I think

After looking over the lens reviews, my eye hit on the SMC Pentax-FA 77 F1.8 Limited. Yes, that one.

One of the main things I will be using this camera for from the git-go is to photograph the artwork my sweetheart created during her lifetime. I have forty-three years of art to catalog, photograph and archive. I will be making a retrospective "Catalog" of her work into a book (I will probably self-publish this at some point). The artwork ranges from tiny (2" square) to upwards of three feet by four feet to nearly wall-size in some cases. A stunning array of things from acrylic painting to mixed-media collage work incorporating everything from paper to antique fabric and lace.

Would it behoove me to start saving up the nearly eight hundred smackers for this FA77 jewel? Or would I find the "kit lens" to be adequate?

Also, when looking for this lens at B&H, they seem to have added a "P" to the end of the SMC part of the name now...is this the "same" lens or has it changed from the reviews here? It's because of y'all's raving over this lens and the examples y'all have posted that are making me wonder if I need it (yet).

Many thanks for humoring this first question an eager almost-owner (hey...I'll have the kit by Friday!).

01-15-2013, 04:19 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by beebs Quote
Haven't even gotten my K-30 yet, and already this excellent site has prompted me to poke my head up and ask something.

I know that I will probably just need to spend some time with the kit lens (ordered the weather-resistant 18-135mm package) before I go hawg-wild and start buying more lenses. I've resigned myself to this...I think

After looking over the lens reviews, my eye hit on the SMC Pentax-FA 77 F1.8 Limited. Yes, that one.

One of the main things I will be using this camera for from the git-go is to photograph the artwork my sweetheart created during her lifetime. I have forty-three years of art to catalog, photograph and archive. I will be making a retrospective "Catalog" of her work into a book (I will probably self-publish this at some point). The artwork ranges from tiny (2" square) to upwards of three feet by four feet to nearly wall-size in some cases. A stunning array of things from acrylic painting to mixed-media collage work incorporating everything from paper to antique fabric and lace.

Would it behoove me to start saving up the nearly eight hundred smackers for this FA77 jewel? Or would I find the "kit lens" to be adequate?

Also, when looking for this lens at B&H, they seem to have added a "P" to the end of the SMC part of the name now...is this the "same" lens or has it changed from the reviews here? It's because of y'all's raving over this lens and the examples y'all have posted that are making me wonder if I need it (yet).

Many thanks for humoring this first question an eager almost-owner (hey...I'll have the kit by Friday!).
SMC-P stands for SMC Pentax. You'll see those two prefixes used interchangeably, though "SMC-P" isn't part of the official lens name.

The 77mm would work for product photography because of its bokeh, but it's more of a portrait lens. You might also want to look at a shorter macro lens like the 50mm macro, and another important thing is to have a good lighting setup.

But overall, yes, the 77mm is worth the price! Here's why: Why Not Try Out a Prime Lens? - Pentax Camera News & Rumors - PentaxForums.com

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01-15-2013, 04:49 PM   #3
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Many thanks for the clarification on the "P" in the name on the B&H page. Now I know.

And thanks for pointing me to that comparison. That would be the very two lenses I would want to compare! And yes, those sample shots show that it IS worth the bucks.

And, in a sense, I will be taking "portraits" of her work, so to speak, so this looks like something I will want to check into getting. I'll check out the 50mm Macro as well. On phase of her creating involved making what she called "Pocket Altars" out of little Altoid tins, sardine tins, even match-boxes. She painted them and adorned them with all manner of figurines and baubles, so these will need to be shot from several angles to show the full piece.

One thing that I'm happy about is that the "standard" lens on my wonderful old K-1000 should also still fit this new digital baby, so that will be something I will be using, just for "old time's sake" if nothing else. I always loved that lens. I was able to do lots of things with it at the time, I'll be interested to see how it makes the "translation".

And lights will definitely be a consideration. I'm going to attempt to make some home-brew diffusers and reflectors when I set up my little corner in the studio where I'm going to do this, hoping it won't be too painful of a process to find the right combination of things to produce the sort of light I'm going to need for this.
01-15-2013, 04:54 PM   #4
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If you're working relatively close to her work, then a 'standard' lens might be something like a DA 35 f/2.8 macro Limited. This too is a quality lens, but it is not practical to put back onto your K1000. If you work a little further away, then the FA 43mm Ltd might be worth a look at, as on an APS-C camera, it is a very nice focal length for just about everything, including portraits. 77mm is quite long on APS-C and you need decent separation between camera and subject to get a working field of view. All of these mentioned lenses however are simply excellent pieces of engineering in every way.

01-15-2013, 05:07 PM   #5
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I'm probably going to be adjusting from close-up to "across the room" for the different sized artworks. The larger, framed things I plan on hanging against a backdrop and shooting from a tripod anywhere from 6 to 12 feet away, and the smaller things, I will have to move closer for, I'm sure. Some of the "3-D" pieces will have to be done table-top and close-up. So I'll be investing in a good tripod, as well as figuring out the lens and lighting situation.

Quite the adventure I've drummed up here, and it's going to be a major learning process. Pretty sure I'm up for the challenge.

As for getting from camera to hard drive, I'll be using my (now-ancient but still viable and perfectly functional) PowerMac G4 and G5 towers.

I'm making notes on everything y'all say, and will definitely do my homework before I decide the next major steps.

Many thanks for this great community!
01-15-2013, 05:24 PM   #6
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I would also suggest looking at the Pentax 35 macro limited or a 50mm macro. Macro's will allow you to get very close to your subject (good for the small art pieces) while giving you a non distorted view. Macro lenses also tend to be very sharp. I've had very good luck with the Pentax 35 macro (by the way, pentax makes 3 different lenses that are 35mm - a f2.0, a f2.4, and a f2.8 - the macro is the f2.8 model which unfortunately has the highest price of the 3).

Sounds like a labor of love! Best wishes!
01-15-2013, 05:37 PM   #7
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It is an ambitious project to catalog any set of work, much less 43 years of work. Good luck.

I made a 24 image set of catalog shots for a painter, using my 100mm M lens for the flat field. As you have surmised, if you have a 1 meter or more original, the working distance can be 4 meters or more. From what I understand about the FA77 it is a gem, and also gives a very flat field of view and a closer working distance.

Please don't forget a gray card AND a color card. Artists pigments can do strange things in any light, and if you cannot get to a neutral ground, you may go off in very strange directions.

Best SQE
01-15-2013, 08:17 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by beebs Quote
Or would I find the "kit lens" to be adequate?
I bought this lens with a K-30 several months ago and it is anything but your typical "kit". You should be able to start your project with the 18-135 and maybe even do it all. There is distortion at the wide end but the image quality is excellent. Good luck!

01-15-2013, 08:31 PM   #9
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Many thanks, everyone. Sage advice duly noted on macro lenses and gray card/color card. I'm also looking at getting a couple of books to learn some basics (ie: white balance and all that). Coming from my simple K-1000, where none of that ever really came into what I was doing, I've got a lot to figure out! I've also been looking at the flash reviews and have decided to "file that for later". I'll have my hands full for awhile just learning the camera.
01-15-2013, 09:05 PM   #10
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Sorry to add a second post, but I attempted to add a paragraph to my post immediately above, but it didn't "save"...I don't know why, other than I'm on an older browser. At any rate, I wanted to add this to my last reply:

Yes, this cataloging project is, indeed, a "labor of love". It is one of the final promises that I made to my sweetheart when we were in Hospice just before she passed. She was an extremely talented and utterly original artist, and never got the recognition or appreciation she deserved while she was alive. I am hoping that through this project, I will be able to accomplish that for her...she deserves to be known as "an artist" and my aim is to make that happen before I'm "outa here" myself.

I figure as I'm learning and going through this process, I will be sharing progress shots, so y'all will be able to see some of her work as I learn the craft I need to learn in order to get this done. Many thanks for all your good wishes. I'm looking forward to learning to do this "right".
01-15-2013, 09:37 PM   #11
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G'day Beebs. This sounds like a very worthy project. Congratulations in taking it on.

For my part, I'd advise you to think and discover more about your lighting and have that setup clearly defined so that you have a consistent look for your catalogue of her artworks. So, I would suggest to you that the 18 -135 is going to do all you need it to do for now until you get to the point where more specialist lenses are required, ( and then I'd probably first look at the 35, 50 or 100mm macro lenses for the intricate pieces.) if you are going to spend money now, do so on the lighting. Be it studio lights, or a couple of inexpensive flash units and some radio triggers, once you have the lighting to your taste, the rest should be fairly simple, and good lighting will help overcome the shortfalls of a 'slow' zoom like the 18-135.

The 18-135 will allow you to see what focal lengths you will need (if the zoom is not of good enough IQ) for various sized pieces. You can then go about filling those lens segments with top quality lenses, such as the FA 'three amigo's', or the DA* zooms, or the DA limiteds...or... the choices are (almost) endless - and thus is born LBA.

Good luck with your endeavors. Make sure to post your progress on here.
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