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04-19-2015, 02:08 AM   #1
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KS2 DSLR beginner questions

My K-S2 arrives Tuesday! So excited! I was about to buy the K50 when I saw an open-box reduced-price K-S2 at a very good reduction, and just could not resist.
I'm a complete beginner to DSLR photography, although not to SLRs. I like to take the usual family stuff, pets, and landscapes - I do an amount of mountain walking, and this year I'm going to California (coast/Yosemite/Sequoia and everything in between) so there will be lots of photo opportunities there! I'd also like to try some night/low light shots,.
Can people please suggest those must-have essentials to get me started? Please bear in mind that budget is restricted, and weight is a factor as it needs to be carried all day on longer walks.
I already have a number of bits from my Super-A days: skylight / uv / polarizing filters, "elephants trunk" style bag, Cokin square filter holder (although the filters have disappeared), an old manual lens (Vivitar 70-210), and a flash (AF200T).

On my list so far is:
SD card(s) - how big is practical? How many shots can I get on one (piece-of-string question, I know)? What class to buy?
Spare batteries - is the battery life really as terrible as the specs suggest, compared to other makes?
Small lightweight "pocket" tripod
ND graduated filter set

Can anyone point me at the online manual? I've searched and cannot find it anywhere, just a broken link on the Ricoh site.

04-19-2015, 05:16 AM   #2
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Travel + restricted budget = superzoom ?

Hi,
I don't have the K-S2 (but consider buying) and only one DSLR so far (Pentax K10D). I am quite happy with the Tamron 18-250 (see for example Canon 18-200 vs Sigma 18-250 vs Tamron 18-250 and 18-270 [JuzaPhoto] ),
but I bought it in 2010 (for around 350 EUR), so I don't know if it is still on the market and how it compares to recent lenses. Also for family photos I think a superzoom comes very handy. The advantage of Pentax: you don't have to buy a lense with stabilizer (--> cheaper).

N8igall
04-19-2015, 07:19 AM   #3
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Get the cheap knock-off batteries on Amazon. You can get two with a charger for around half the price of the genuine battery. Are they as good? Seems they are to me.

Filters: For digital, you just don't need them (except ND and Circular Polarizer). Better to get used to shooting in RAW and changing colors in post to suit your purpose. I use LightRoom, but there are other choices. LightRoom has a free trial, I tried it and was hooked. Note that your polarizer from film days is probably a linear polarizer, and they don't work well on digital.

I have a fast (class 10) 16GB card and it's great. I have a slower 32GB card for vacation and when I'm likely to shoot a bunch. Even in RAW, that's a lot of shots! I usually shot daily, and format my card at the start of each day, so the 16 GB is nice because it formats faster and gets me on my way. The only other advantage of the faster card is when shooting in burst mode; the buffer clears faster. If you get a class 10 64 GB card, it's only $30, you'd probably never run out of room. If you do, then you probably need to be more deliberate in your photography.

Lightweight tripod...Tripods follow a pretty universal axiom: Good, Light, Cheap. You get any 2 of those. Everyone ends up with a good, light tripod. Save yourself money in the long run and save up for a good, light tripod. Cheap ones are useless, heavy ones are too burdensome to carry. The Sirui T-025X is well thought of by people who travel frequently. I have an Oben I like, but it was a bit more expensive than the Sirui.
04-19-2015, 08:12 AM   #4
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You can download the manual from Operation Manuals Download : Support & Service | RICOH IMAGING

04-19-2015, 08:39 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kozlok Quote
Get the cheap knock-off batteries on Amazon. You can get two with a charger for around half the price of the genuine battery. Are they as good? Seems they are to me.

Filters: For digital, you just don't need them (except ND and Circular Polarizer). Better to get used to shooting in RAW and changing colors in post to suit your purpose. I use LightRoom, but there are other choices. LightRoom has a free trial, I tried it and was hooked. Note that your polarizer from film days is probably a linear polarizer, and they don't work well on digital.

I have a fast (class 10) 16GB card and it's great. I have a slower 32GB card for vacation and when I'm likely to shoot a bunch. Even in RAW, that's a lot of shots! I usually shot daily, and format my card at the start of each day, so the 16 GB is nice because it formats faster and gets me on my way. The only other advantage of the faster card is when shooting in burst mode; the buffer clears faster. If you get a class 10 64 GB card, it's only $30, you'd probably never run out of room. If you do, then you probably need to be more deliberate in your photography.

Lightweight tripod...Tripods follow a pretty universal axiom: Good, Light, Cheap. You get any 2 of those. Everyone ends up with a good, light tripod. Save yourself money in the long run and save up for a good, light tripod. Cheap ones are useless, heavy ones are too burdensome to carry. The Sirui T-025X is well thought of by people who travel frequently. I have an Oben I like, but it was a bit more expensive than the Sirui.
Thanks Kozlok, great advice. I can see that its going to take a little while to transition from "film" thinking to "digital" thinking.
Post-processing is going to be a whole new adventure. My main computer is a Linux box (Mint 17), and I think my options may be more limited to GIMP and ... is there anything else? ... although I can get use of a Windows box if I can remove the rest of the family from it.
Ordering the SD card today. I think from what you say that the 64GB fast card will be fine, I'm used to thinking about my shots rather than taking lots - a heritage from the time when every shutter press cost to develop. Also you've given me the confidence to go for the cheaper batteries. There were some very negative comments on Amazon about how they didn't last as long as the original ones.

@sterretje - thanks, the link seems to be working now.
04-19-2015, 08:49 AM   #6
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SD cards - If you are traveling then why risk losing all your pictures if something goes wrong with the card? I tend to buy smaller cards and have more of them - 16 or 32 GB. Depends on how much you shoot. Faster cards can transfer files faster also, if you are using a card reader to transfer the files to your computer.

I have both OEM batteries and third party batteries. I've had both good and bad luck with 3rd party batteries - they always seem to need to be charged a couple of times before they'll hold a charge for as long as they are going to. The ones I have (and I have 6 of them at the moment, from 2 different sources) aren't as consistent as the OEM batteries I have. One of them wouldn't charge in the Pentax battery charger but I got it to charge in a 3rd party charger. How long the batteries will last depends on what you are doing - if you aren't using live view or chimping a lot or using wireless constantly then they last for a reasonable (to me) amount of time. I'm assuming that wireless would require more battery usage, I have a K-S1 and frequently use a FLU card, which significantly affects battery life.

There's a couple of things to think about when it comes to pocket/tabletop tripods. I have 2 and I use both of them for different reasons. I have a nice Manfrotto table top that's fairly heavy but really sturdy. I can put a camera on it with a fairly heavy macro lens (Viv S1 105 macro) and it works fine. I also have a much lighter weight gorillapod. It doesn't work as a table-top, the flexible legs aren't sturdy enough for heavy lenses. But it works reasonably well if you wrap the legs around a tree, rail, post or some such. I am much more likely to take it when I'm hiking than anything else.

As far as the on-line manual, I've often found the US Pentax website slow to get the manuals up. They are on the Japanese site in English, but I always have trouble figuring out how to find it. Someone else posted a link here in a different thread. I found it at Ricoh's UK site, link to the list here: Download operating manuals - RICOH IMAGING UK LTD. .
04-19-2015, 09:41 AM   #7
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becareful of the flash.......as older ones are not a good idea to mount on newer cameras.............I know nothing about flashes but have read old ones could short out the camera
04-19-2015, 10:19 AM   #8
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Batteries / SD-card

Batteries:
I purchased two original batteries (the spare one for around ~50 EUR then) for my Pentax K10D in 2007, alternating them since then, ~50 000 shots in total. Still in very good condition.

SD-card:
I think the 64 GB should be more than enough, my 32 GB for the 10 MPixels last forever (I shoot DNG + JPEG). The problem is rather later storing them on hard drives (since I am too lazy removing the not-so-good ones)...

04-19-2015, 10:53 AM   #9
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flash

QuoteOriginally posted by Aaron28 Quote
becareful of the flash.......as older ones are not a good idea to mount on newer cameras.............I know nothing about flashes but have read old ones could short out the camera
The NON-Pentax ones may do this, but have not heard any problems with using old Pentax flash - see the Pentaxforums Accessories user reviews.

---------- Post added 04-19-15 at 01:00 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by LarfinGiraffe Quote
Thanks Kozlok, great advice. I can see that its going to take a little while to transition from "film" thinking to "digital" thinking.
Post-processing is going to be a whole new adventure. My main computer is a Linux box (Mint 17), and I think my options may be more limited to GIMP and ... is there anything else? ... although I can get use of a Windows box if I can remove the rest of the family from it.
Ordering the SD card today. I think from what you say that the 64GB fast card will be fine, I'm used to thinking about my shots rather than taking lots - a heritage from the time when every shutter press cost to develop. Also you've given me the confidence to go for the cheaper batteries. There were some very negative comments on Amazon about how they didn't last as long as the original ones.

@sterretje - thanks, the link seems to be working now.
The camera has great specs. You may want to get a walk-around zoom + one macro lens. The 18-135 is a good one for taking everywhere and is weather-proof. An old 100mm SMC takumar macro lens would be a great sidekick to that zoom and an extra extension tube to get 1:1 shots of bugs and stuff as you walk outdoors (you will need a cheap chinese M42 screwmount lens adapter to fit onto Pentax K mount). I have a lens bought from KEH, it is insanely sharp.

I like the other comment about having a few small SDHC cards in the 32GB size. I use SanDisk only, very reliable. The write speed is important, try to get the Extreme series that writes 45MB/sec or faster (Class 10 and UHC-I and UHC-II I believe are standards for video recording, not sure).

Old Pentax flash can work but you lose automated flash and need to guess a little more with the settings. See the Pentaxforums Accessories reviews of the Pentax AF280T and the AF200T.

Yes, get a Circular Polarizer first. I use B+W but Marumi (HD series) and Hoya (Pro series) are decent also.

A used carbon fiber tripod might be more versatile and just as heavy as a small aluminum tripod, not sure you will have to check specs and weight. Look at KEH.com for some decent used tripods and lenses (EX or better).

DONT buy used lenses from eBay. They probably have fungus inside, especially the older ones (my opinion, of course).

Software saves so much TIME! I use Windows 7 with Adobe Photoshop Elements 9, Corel Paintshop Pro X6, and DxO Optics Pro 9 for all of what I need.

Happy shooting!!


Last edited by goldenarrow; 04-19-2015 at 11:15 AM.
04-19-2015, 11:30 AM   #10
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good to know thanks....as I really don't
04-20-2015, 02:23 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by LarfinGiraffe Quote
My main computer is a Linux box (Mint 17), and I think my options may be more limited to GIMP and ... is there anything else?
For postprocessing in Linux I can recommend Darktable or RawTherapee. Darktable is a bit similar to Lightroom in that it helps organising the pictures and helps in the processing workflow. RawTherapee is more just a raw processor. Both are capable of producing pictures with great quality. On youtube you can find some explanatory video tutorials for both.

They are both in the Ubuntu repositories, so I guess they should be in mint repositories too.
04-20-2015, 12:06 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuvalu Quote
For postprocessing in Linux I can recommend Darktable or RawTherapee. Darktable is a bit similar to Lightroom in that it helps organising the pictures and helps in the processing workflow. RawTherapee is more just a raw processor. Both are capable of producing pictures with great quality. On youtube you can find some explanatory video tutorials for both.

They are both in the Ubuntu repositories, so I guess they should be in mint repositories too.
I've just stumbled across a thread discussing this in another part of this forum, and it seems that there are actually more options than I'd imagined. Darktable and Rawtherapee are indeed in the repositories. Thanks for the recommend, I shall start there.
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