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02-10-2008, 07:34 PM   #1
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Noob, which accessory to buy next?

Hi all...I was very excited to find this forum after getting my first DSLR for Christmas. My husband was wise enough to purchase the k100D for me instead of a Canon or Nikon , and I have been practicing with it everyday since getting it. Aside from self-improvement, I am trying to figure out what else will help me improve my photos. I take mostly pictures of my boys (3 and 1) inside the house. I'm wondering which would be the better first purchase...a new lens or flash?

Thanks!

Kristin

02-10-2008, 08:09 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums and congrats on the new camera. I hope he's getting more than a card on Valentines (prices on K10D's are pretty good now!)Lol.

The answer is both. But first, get a new lens. A lens will improve the picture quality of your images much more than a flash will overall.
My recommendations would be a Tamron 28-75 f2.8Di for a zoom, a very sharp and fast good all round lens for portrait work and general photography. Second would be a 18-50mm Sigma f2.8 macro zoom. Another fine lens (make sure you get the macro version) that is wider and also a good length for indoor work and landscape type photography.

Now the best lenses are primes (single length lenses that don't zoom) but you do loose the flexibility of composing the shot from one spot. You have to move around to get the best framing. But picture quality is superior and these lenses are even faster (they can work hand held in low light better). First on the list would be the FA35mm f2.0, perfect length for indoor shooting and landscape stuff. Next would be the FA50mm f1.4, maybe a little long indoors but still an excellent lens.

I'd suggest the flash will come very shortly after this though. An AF360FGZ would do a fine job with the camera.

If you choose a prime lens that is fast, you can delay the flash a bit if the house has decent natural light. Under artificial light the fast primes are OK but shoot in RAW and you can easily colour correct the images afterwards to remove the yellow or blue cast that type of lighting will create.

Once you get the lens the colour correction (white balance) tutorial will commence....
02-10-2008, 09:02 PM   #3
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The older version of the Sigma 18-50 is fine, and only $269 at Cameta Camera. It is long enough for head-and-shoulders portraits. You could get the 50-200 that is a handy zoom outdoors, and not very expensive ($209 or so).
02-11-2008, 07:43 AM   #4
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Improving your photos? You can buy only so much improvement. Slow down and keep taking pictures. If you don't have software for editing photos get a program and start learning to use it. You'll be amazed how a little cropping, exposure adjustment, or other tweaks will make a big difference. Don't get hooked on the processing. Use it sparingly.

Concerning lenses. Shoot a lot of pictures and consider whether you wish you had a longer lens, a wider lens, or a faster lens. That will give you an idea of where to go for the type of shooting you're doing. The equipment that suits one person might be a waste of money for someone else. A friend lusts after a really long and expensive telephoto but his passion is photographing birds. Photographer birds bores me so my last purchase was a 12-24mm zoom.

Concerning flash. They're great if they suit you. I have one that I rarely ever use. My shooting is in the street and the flash just isn't what I want.

I sometimes use a tripod but for shooting candid shots of the kids it isn't very useful.

02-11-2008, 10:02 AM   #5
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flash most definely if trying to capture indoor movement.

light is everything, the more light, the faster you can have your shutter, faster shutter means less motion blur, means more satisfying pictures of todlers running around.


if however you want to expand your horizons as a photographer, start experimenting with either wide angle photography (sigma 10-20, pentax 12-24 or a pentax/zenit fisheye) or go towards the telezoom range with lenses that go beyond 50mm.
02-11-2008, 07:04 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the help...I was definitely thinking of the 50mm prime to start out with, the biggest problem at the moment is the $$$ for it. With the indoor shots now, we have a few windows in our family room, only they are facing northwest, so the natural light is hard to use until late afternoon, and for only a short time anyway...I'll have to keep that in mind the next time we move ha ha. Anyway, I was starting to think maybe a flash could help a bit, and not cost so much...I saw some under $50 on eBay, but I don't enjoy saving $ to buy a piece of junk that will be trash in a year anyway. Do I have to splurge on the flash or would the Digital Concepts TTL do the job?

Thanks again.

Kristin
02-11-2008, 07:17 PM   #7
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If you're willing to give manual focus a try, there's always the M or A 50mm 1.4 or 1.7. M 50mm 1.7's would be the cheapest, followed by the A 1.7 and M 1.4, with the A 1.4 being the most expensive. I have an extra M 1.7 if you are interested.

02-11-2008, 07:28 PM   #8
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To save some money I'd say a used A SMC 50mm f1.7 or 1.4 is the way to go if manual focus isn't a concern. To get a cheaper flash, get a Sigma 530 model for Pentax. The cheap Ebay ones are door stops.
02-11-2008, 08:54 PM   #9
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Hi chinacatsunflower ,

Welcome to the forums . May I suggest that you cut out some heavy paper boards , wrap them in aluminum foil . These simple reflectors will allow you to enhance the amount of light by placing around the room . Make a whole bunch in various shapes .

Mirrors are much better but with kids , the safety factor needs to be considered .

Also don't forget the lowly Pentax SMC A 50mm 1:2 lens . Very cheap but not a bad low light lens .

The "A" lens has the electrical contact making it easier to shoot in manual mode .
02-12-2008, 10:46 AM   #10
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Kids move FAST !!

Welcome! This is advice from one newbie to another. Caution is advised ...

Everyone has a different approach - as the member above indicated. You have to take enough photos to learn what's best for what you want to do. I've done the same - banging away and noting where the pain is felt. Explains my addiction to used bits and pieces while I learn.

And only you know where the budget pain is felt.

I might suggest a flash, first. Kids move around quickly and available light often isn't good enough. Many of the best kid shots are candids, spur of the moment, without time for manual mucking about with focus, settings, etc. Portraits are a different thing entirely - you have time and may want to invest in a top of the line lens or two. You will decide which kind is more important right now in your family.

You might begin with a used flash, like a Sunpak 383 or Vivitar 285HV or Nikon SB-26 (IIRC), and see how that works. Bouncing off the ceiling will help take away the harshness of the direct flash. They'll require some manual input at the beginning of the session, but will handle exposures automatically after that. It appears that many here never do "graduate" to a more expensive dedicated flash. There are lots of choices for your camera.

For inside shooting, I've chosen the Sigma 17-70, F2.8 to something. Others differ. I like the longer focal length for an impromptu portrait or a tight candid from across the room. People aren't quite as self-conscious if you're not right on top of them. Kids, especially, will forget you're there if you hang about at a distance and let them get used your presence with the occasional flash.

Have fun and take lots and lots of photos of the kids. Unlike some other shots, they won't be there next year if you don't get around to it now!
02-12-2008, 07:05 PM   #11
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Thanks to everyone! I got way more info from all of you than I ever expected...I've been doing a ton of searching around the web too. I'm going to definitely keep a list of the recommended lenses and flashes, everything for the moment is definitely out of the budget. I was hoping to use a gift card I have to eBay, but I don't like making big purchases there. Hopefully I can find a camera shop nearby and be able to get a better look at things before I make the purchase. Knowing that I won't be able to buy anything soon, I took a better look at the manual (imagine that!) and played around a bit with the ISO and WB for the indoor shots...so far so good. I just attempted a round of RAW shots today, so I'm looking forward to checking those out on the computer.

Thanks again for all the input!

Kristin
02-15-2008, 03:19 PM   #12
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I know you've gotten a lot, but here's a tiny bit more.

A TTL flash is of no use to you, as your camera does not have the TTL sensor. You will either need to use a flash in its Auto or Manual mode, or you will need to save up and get one that is PTTL capable for Pentax.

For moving candid kids indoors, you may find an A 50 1.x to be either a bit hard to focus, compose and shoot, before the action or moment has passed you by, or you may find that it is just a tad to long for your needs in the room you are in. I find my A 50 1.4 to be a great lens but not for in our house, catching the kids running around. I find it a bit long. For what you are shooting it might be great, only you will know.

If you are going to pick a prime lens, or a zoom for that matter, review your current images and look at the exif data. It will tell you what focal length you shot at. From this you will be able to say I like that shot I took at 35mm but wish it were better. Or you might say that one I shot at 55mm was not quite close enough I wish I coulda shot it at 70mm.

Reviewing that EXIF data for more than the focal length can also help you improve your photos. It will allow you to put focal length, shutter, aperture, and iso #'s to your images to see where you might want to tweak those variables to achieve your target ideal image or to get it with more consistency.
02-15-2008, 07:05 PM   #13
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Hello and welcome

It sounds like you take the same types of photos as I do. ...and like you are starting out the same way I did, on a budget! I think my biggest mistake was jumping in and buying too many manual prime lenses, just because the price was reasonable and I wanted to save money. BUT I was never REALLY happy manually focusing, it's just too hard when you are chasing kids and dogs around!

My house is pretty dim, and lighting always seemed to be a challenge, so I bought the AF360FGZ a couple months ago and I think I have mounted on my camera four times.

MUCH more useful has been my new FA 50mm 1.4... it hasn't left my camera since I got it. I can even take sharp photos in our den when it's darn near dark!


So...long story longer I recommend the 50mm over the flash
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