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07-03-2014, 03:41 AM   #1
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My K-3 is awesome but.................

Having had the Pentax K-3 now for a couple of weeks and taken nearly 900 photographs (mainly of boy bands for my daughter ) at various concerts I feel something is lacking and I cannot figure out for the life of me what to do.

Something is inspiring me to purchase a new lens, but after reading reviews (paid for, amateur and people's general thoughts) I am unsure which to get.

I have plenty of old manual lenses, not a lot of money and feel I could do with another WR lens (as I am having fun taking pictures in weather others dare not to tread).

The K-3 came with the 18-55 WR kit lens, I have looked at the 50-200 WR but that along with the HD 55-300 WR & 18-135 WR seems to get mixed reviews. On the non WR front, Tamron & Sigma seem to get mixed reviews. DA* lenses are way out there as far as price goes. Even reading about the SMC DA 35mm & 50mm cheap Pentax primes leaves me wondering whether to buy one of them.

Perhaps I should wait, maybe someone has additional pointers to enable me to make a better choice as to what will make my K-3 shine more than it already is.

07-03-2014, 03:50 AM   #2
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Using a kit lens or a super zoom w this amazing sensor is a complete waste as they just don't out resolve the sensor. If you don't have the budget, take a look at some legacy manual focus primes.
07-03-2014, 03:54 AM - 1 Like   #3
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Get a tamron 17-50 f2.8 and consider a prime in a focal length you like.
07-03-2014, 03:57 AM   #4
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Are you in the front or middle/rear of these concerts? Concerts are generally hard to shoot with any camera due to the dark surroundings and bright stage lights, as well as the occasional LED light casting color onto people. If you are usually close to the front, a fast standard lens like a 17-50 2.8 or the new Sigma 18-35 F1.8 would serve you a lot better than the kit lens. If you are further away, I'd suggest the 50-135 2.8.

07-03-2014, 04:00 AM   #5
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Do you want long (50-200) or wide-angle (18-50) or both?

I remember being quite baffled and overwhelmed when I was first venturing into the 'which lens do I want or need' conundrum, so happy to offer any assistance.

Generally, in terms of quality, you get what you pay for. So, if you want to make your K-3 shine you need good quality glass. If weather-resistance is important, you really can't go past the DA* lenses.

Having said that, I don't have any of the DA* lenses, as when I was initially investing in glass I was like you and couldn't afford them. I ended up getting the sigma 17-50 f2.8 (which five years ago was an 18-50). It costs a lot less than the DA* equivalent, but still takes a very sharp picture. I've been using mine for almost 5 years now and it has taken many a great shot. Finally, though, I think I'm due and upgrade to the DA*, as I would like the weather sealing.

Similarly, I use a Sigma 70-200mm f2.8, and it takes beautiful sharp pictures (although it is a little more pricey).

As someone else suggested, primes can be a bit less expensive, but are often the best in terms of image quality. Have a look at a Sigma 50mm f1.4, or an 85mm f1.4.

I would avoid 'super-zooms' (18-135 or 18-200). They cover a big range, but the quality is not great, and you certainly won't be doing your K-3 justice.

Unfortunately, as I said, if you want quality you usually have to pay for it. And, in terms of getting quality pictures, there is no substitute for quality lenses. If you enjoy photography and plan to be doing it for many years, the investment in quality glass is worth it. A good lens should last you many, many more years than a camera body, that's why people say their lenses are far more important than the body.

You could always have a look at the second hand market on this forum. I've bought one or two things through there (although, no lenses yet)...and there are plenty of good deals. Just check seller reviews (if they have any), and make sure to ask the seller (if they haven't already said) if the glass is free of marks, scratches, blemishes, dust, or fungus.

Last edited by Poit; 07-03-2014 at 04:25 AM.
07-03-2014, 04:35 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by zelda_n64 Quote
Even reading about the SMC DA 35mm & 50mm cheap Pentax primes leaves me wondering whether to buy one of them.
I guarantee you that either of these will give you significantly better photos than the 18-55mm lens or the 50-200mm lens. Better low light performance, faster AF, sharper, more contrasty images, with vivid colours and lots of detail.
Keep in mind that the 18-55mm and 50-200mm are the most basic lenses in Pentax' current DSLR lineup. While they are not terrible, all the others are better. The other thing is that when you search info for a lens, you will find mostly threads and post of people complaining. That is because when someone has a problem with a lens, they go to a forum to write about it. There are thousands of other users of this lens that enjoy it and feel no need to go online and write about it (or look for "solutions", since they have no problem).
You have a great camera there, but its not reaching its full potential with the kit lenses. The main reason why people use those kit lenses is in WR situations or for travel, where a small, compact zoom with WR is really convenient.
And finally, technique is important, too. You can squeeze a lot out of that 18-55, but you can squeeze more out of the 35mm f2.4. You need to know how to squeeze, though, and that takes practice and a steady hand
07-03-2014, 04:41 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by zelda_n64 Quote
My K-3 is awesome but..
Yes I know where you are coming from. I was underwhelmed when I first got my K3 and actually switched back to my K5iis for a while. I found the K3 required a different approach to raw post work and I managed to improved my results somewhat.

I had lunch today with a very experienced photographer that shoots Canon primarily. I got him to have a play with the K3 and newly acquired FA31ltd.
His first comment was that he found the lens to be very Leica like in build and excellent in IQ. "As sharp as the best out there" was his verdict on the definition.
When I told him the lens had set me back a bit he said good glass does cost, but when told the actual price he thought it to be very good value.

I can attest to the DA 55 -300 & 18 135 being quite good IQ wise but see if you can try one out for yourself. (Any PF members round your way?)
Oxidized makes a very good point - "If you don't have the budget, take a look at some legacy manual focus primes"
You just can't beat good glass - especially on a K3.
07-03-2014, 04:55 AM   #8
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If you are likely to be doing a lot of concert shooting, it would make sense to build (over time) a basic kit that looks something like this:
- a fast, quality medium telephoto zoom (eg Pentax 50-135 f2.8, Sigma/Tamron 70-200 f2.8);
- a fast wide zoom (eg a Sigma/Tamron/Pentax 16 - 50 f2.8, or something like the excellent new Sigma 17-70 f2.8 -4)
- a low-light prime or two (eg DA 35 f2.4, FA 50 1.4, DA 50 f1.8, FA 77 f1.8, Sigma/SamYang 85mm f1.4)

Add two or three of those into your bag and you should be able to shoot any concert with great results with the K-3. Maybe add a monopod and a flash into the kit too, since they may be handy sometimes.

07-03-2014, 05:23 AM   #9
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Wow, Thank you all for the huge response, I will re-read and digest all the information and pointers.

My very first camera that I purchased when I was a teen, was a Ricoh KR-10 (1983), for which I purchased many K-mount lenses. My first DSLR was an Olympus E-410 which I had for a while before buying the Pentax K-x (which I still have).

As for manual lenses, I have loads in M42 format: CZ Pancolar 50mm 1.8, Meyer Opitk Gorlitz Oreston 50mm 1.8, Takumar 50mm 1.4, 1950's Tamron Twin-Tele 135mm, Takumar 135mm, 200mm primes, 350mm prime, 500mm prime and plenty of K-mount manual lenses.

Perhaps it is me looking at it wrong, there is great glass in my collection which I used on the K-x with an adapter and which gave me great results, maybe I feel I need to spoil the K-3 with a treat when in fact I don't need to.

When you are being pushed around by dancing gig goers it is sometimes difficult to stay still to get the shot & focus, although I have got some cracking ones using the K-x kit lenses on the K-3 (18-55 & 50-200) in unfavourable lighting conditions (really high ISO).

I will take a serious look at the cheaper (100) 35mm & 50mm primes as they could be ideal. The local camera shops don't seem to sell Pentax gear (all Pentax purchases have always been online).
07-03-2014, 05:35 AM   #10
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There are a few excellent AF-primes that can be bought at very good prices. I'd recommend SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F2.8 Macro and SMC Pentax-FA 100mm F2.8 Macro. Especially the 50mm is a perfect walk around lens which is super sharp and it's an extra bonus that it's also a macro lens. The 100mm is just as good except for the fact it's a heavy lens (600 grams). These two lenses costs together less than a DA*50-135 so you'll save some money.

As you already have the best fast 50mm (the Takumar 50mm 1.4) prime you don't kneed anything else there :-)
07-03-2014, 06:13 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by zelda_n64 Quote
My very first camera that I purchased when I was a teen, was a Ricoh KR-10 (1983)
Hey, I bought a Ricoh XR-2s at about the same time (maybe even earlier), with a Ricoh 50 f1.7, Pentax M28 f2.8, and a Pentax M 80-200 f4.5 - all of which I still have. It wasn't my first camera, but it was my first SLR.

Older manual lenses can still certainly deliver great results on the K-3. They just take more craft to use in the field, and sometimes a little more post-processing too. I have quite a few old K-mounts and do enjoy using them from time to time, even at gigs.

But when the action gets busy, particularly in poor light, bright, modern lenses with fast AF make life a lot easier.
07-03-2014, 06:23 AM   #12
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Well the 55-300mm is better then the 50-200mm, so that's an easy choice.

With small budget it is hard to get some good lenses that haver WR.

Non WR FA 135mm/f2.8 is also a very nice lens when you can find it.
07-03-2014, 06:35 AM   #13
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i was in the same boat as you when i purchased my k-50.my first "official" shoot was for a friends dance concert on a stage and lighting was awful. i only had the 18-135 and was working at really high ISO.
i checked at which focal length most of my photos lied in and were in the range of around 30-80. so i just found a used sigma 24-70 f2.8 and does the job perfectly. you need to check at what focal length most of your shots are, and hopefully that will help to make things a bit easier.
07-03-2014, 07:13 AM   #14
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I sounds like you need AF, in any case. Keep in mind that DA* lenses are WR (in fact, they have the best WR available from Pentax - better then the lenses labeled "WR!"). A DA*50-135 just sold for $600 here on the Marketplace, and they are still often found in the $600-700ish range, despite the huge retail price hikes a couple of years ago or so.

Also realize that the screw-drive AF motor is very fast in the K-3, making screw drive lenses like the Tamron 70-200/2.8 a good bargain. Using the K-3, the AF with it is as fast as the more expensive Sigma OS HSM 70-200/2.8. Since Pentax also has in-camera SR (so in-lens VR isn't needed), you can save significant money with this Tamron (and a few other lenses) because you're getting the previous generation model - still sold at the more reasonable previous generation pricing.


I don't wish to sound harsh, but you shouldn't get a K-3 unless you can afford at least one lens that costs about as much as the camera.

Last edited by DSims; 07-03-2014 at 07:18 AM.
07-03-2014, 07:27 AM   #15
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First of all, you're lucky the concert venue's let you take a camera of that size in. I've been rebuffed a few times and so now I bring the Pentax Q instead as that camera is too small to be considered pro.

I've used the da55-300 at a concert a few years back and I thought it was a great focal length - I was about 10 feet from the stage

https://www.flickr.com/photos/55038128@N00/sets/72157624566296278/

I also used that lens at an outdoor concert:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/55038128@N00/sets/72157624566272104/

Another lens worth getting would be the Tamron 28-75 f2.8 - I find that lens to be very sharp, fast focusing and it has a fast aperture to help keep your shutter speeds up without having to use really high iso's. if you want more reach and can afford it, the Sigma or Tamron 70-200 f2.8 might be worth considering. These are somewhat spendy though and are quite a bit larger and heavier compared to the da50-300.

Good luck!
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