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10-08-2011, 06:10 AM   #1
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Many Questions in Ohio

Hi All - I am just revving up my info search in preparation for buying a Pentax DSLR, most likely a K-5. I want to verify that choice and to spend some time digging through posts on this forum in search of my best general purpose lens. I might use my very old Takumar lenses (from a '70's Spotmatic!) for fun sometimes, which is what made me shop Pentax in the beginning. But I have since fallen in love with the K-5 and I will probably be getting one in the next few weeks.

I am trying to figure out if the kit lens is of high enough quality to own, or if I should just buy the body and a better quality lens to start. On my other frequent forums I would be eaten alive for starting a thread with this kind of question without first searching, searching, searching - so I am holding back. It does get old to see the same newbie questions posted over and over, when they have been dealt with numerous times already. But if anyone would like to toss out any suggestions I would love to hear them.

Thanks,

Jim

10-08-2011, 07:02 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by JimDickinson Quote
I am trying to figure out if the kit lens is of high enough quality to own, or if I should just buy the body and a better quality lens to start.
The kit lens is pretty good. It all depends on your preference and budget.

As far as zoom lenses go, there are some safe bets from Pentax:
18-55 is a good value and not horrible
16-45 ƒ/4.0 can be found used for $225 and occasionally new for $320, and is a definite step up in quality for a nice price
16-50 ƒ/2.8 is fast, weather resistant, and many people think it is worth the price (around $700), but also check out the competition in this thread: Comparative Review: Fast Normal Zoom Shootout - Introduction
The Tamron from the above test tips the scale for value.
50-135 ƒ/2.8 is an amazing lens for portraits, but it starts to get big and heavy. Very nice lens.

For primes, many options exist:
First, you can use your old lenses with a little work
35 ƒ/2.4 costs about $180 and is the bargain champ
35 ƒ/2.8 macro, very highly regarded, somewhat expensive
40 ƒ/2.8 is one of my favorites
70 ƒ/2.4 or 77 ƒ/1.8 are both amazing for portraits

For my money, in your shoes (i.e. probably preference for zoom lenses), I'd go for the Tamron 17-50 (from the shootout linked above) and the 50-135.
For my money, in my shoes (i.e. preference for primes), I have the 16-45, 40/2.8, and 77/1.8. And I only occasionally miss the 50-135.

Finally, you'll need some time shooting to really figure out what you like. Once you start finding the limitations of the kit lens you can decide which option fills the gaps the best. In this sense, the kit lens is a really good place to begin.

QuoteOriginally posted by JimDickinson Quote
On my other frequent forums I would be eaten alive for starting a thread with this kind of question without first searching, searching, searching
Ask whatever questions you'd like, most people are friendly here.
10-08-2011, 09:42 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by JimDickinson Quote

I am trying to figure out if the kit lens is of high enough quality to own, or if I should just buy the body and a better quality lens to start.
Thanks,

Jim
The kit lens is cheap enough to own, I guess, but I did not get one. I'm assuming you are looking for high quality shots on a consistent basis if you are getting a top body, so I would suggest a different lens soon, or now.

The Limited primes have nice IQ, but are not really wide enough for me, so the 12-24 always makes it onto my recommended list - especially for travel and particularly in towns. I like the fisheye and it was in fact my first Pentax lens and helped push me toward Pentax in the first place. It's not for everyone. the Tamron 28-75 is great in that range. Just about all current macro lenses provide excellent IQ, so it will likely be the handling and price that might make the difference for you.

If you want to go out with just one lens, the 17-70 range is just barely wide enough for tight streets and long enough for portraits and some detail.

Cheers and happy shooting.
10-08-2011, 01:11 PM   #4
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My story again: When I moved from an advanced P&S to a dSLR ~3.4 years ago, I asked myself: What do I want to do that I can't do with what I have? The answers were ultrawide, quite long, and low light. So my first K20D kit were the DA10-17 fisheye, DA18-250 superzoom, and FA50/1.4 Fast Fifty. Several hundred lenses later (I deal lenses on eBay), I've replaced the fisheye with a Tamron 10-24 for common use, but that's still my basic lens lineup. I bought an DA18-55 later (CHEAP!) and don't dislike it, but I use it mostly for hanging adapters, filters, etc --a nice test-bed.

When I started accumulating lenses, I had a basic 3-point program:

1) Coverage. The 10-24, 18-250, and a Lil'Bigma 170-500 sure do cover the focal range well!
2) Speed. Besides the Fast Fifty, I like fast (manual)(cheap) lenses at 24-28-35-58-85-135mm.
3) Character. Specialized lenses (fisheye & macro) and weird ones (also often cheap) are great.
4) Mania. Whatever cheap optical materials I can obtain and stick into a bellows. Fun fun fun!

Woops, that 4th point just slipped in there! On bellows and tubes, I can mount many enlarger-projector-copy-process-etc lenses, and lenses scavenged from medium-format cameras and other sources. A rule for buying old lenses is: If it costs less than a sandwich or burger, buy it. If it costs more than a supreme pizza, think hard about it. And if it costs more than a fine dinner out with your partner, ask us about it!

But I digress. Think about what pictures you want to make. Where do you want to go? What will get you there? And how much can you spend for happiness? One way to decide on focal lengths: Buy, borrow, or steal an 18-250. See what focal lengths you shoot at. Buy fast superb primes there. But don't think, What lens should I get for this camera? Think instead, What lens will produce the images I want? The answers may surprise you. Hint: The F35-70 is cheap and sweet.

10-09-2011, 06:51 AM   #5
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Original Poster
Thanks for the responses - three replies and already I have a lot of good things to think about. A friendly and knowledgeable forum is a good find. I have a lot of reading and learning to do. I was a pretty serious amateur film photographer but I have only really used point and shoots for digital images, or even just my cell phone!

I think a very good point for me to consider is just what I want to shoot. All of my point and shoots have obviously been zooms and I have found that to be convenient. But I seldom used zoom lenses with my 35 mm film cameras, largely because of the weight and size limitations.

I am considering just getting the kit 18-55, based on comments like Aegon's that it is "a good value and not horrible" - it is really very inexpensive and that was why I was worried about getting it. That would give me a starting point and allow me to get familiar with the body while I figure out what I really need. But the Pentax 16-50 /2.8 sounds intriguing and I will check that out. I need to spend some time reading the normal lens shootout - I am pretty certain that the K-5 is the body I want - now I just need to sort out my initial lens choice.

I generally only used primes with my film cameras - and that might very well end being my preference for a DSLR too. I know that I will want a few high quality primes, at least one macro lens and perhaps a decent quality zoom. I always thought that I would eventually get a zoom for my SLR, but the fact that I never quite got around to it gives me a clue on lens needs for my DSLR as well.

Thanks for the input.
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