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04-03-2012, 09:59 PM   #1
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Hello from North Carolina USA

I've been reading a lot here lately and thought I should join the community. I probably won't post too often, but I do want to say that I appreciate all the dialogue that takes place here. It has helped me learn quite a bit in just a few weeks.

I purchased a K-7 kit from Amazon back in January 2011. I wanted to have a high quality camera that I could grow into, but not disappoint me as I became more experienced. My only other digital camera was a Pentax Optio (S7 I think...) that I got for Christmas in 2006. It served me well and continues to work just fine. But as I plan on entering landscape design, I wanted a serious camera to take the shots I would need to document progress and help business. I also wanted a great camera for my new family.

I am currently engaged to a Finn and will be moving to Helsinki in June. So combining the necessity for a camera with high shutter speed for our new family, I also desired weather sealing for my job. Weather sealing came down to Pentax and Olympus. I liked the Pentax camera the best, especially with the added knowledge that it works in cold weather.

The K-7 turned out to be my best option. The camera kit came with the 18-55 WR lens, a couple more batteries, a car charger and a cheap tripod (among other things). I loved it the moment it came out of the box. The magnesium body would turn out to be a life saver after a couple of months owning it.

I had taken a trip to Atlanta to see a friend and on the way, I met a gentleman in Charlotte who was selling some old Pentax lenses. I was really only after a Yashinon 50mm f1.4 he had. All I knew was that I wanted a fast prime for portraits. I had purchased an official Pentax adapter but it hadn't arrived in time for my trip... so when I met this ex-Reuters photographer at the coffee shop I couldn't even test the lens. That was a bummer, but he did have a few others to look at. One was a Sears 135mm f 2.8 KR mount. The seller said if could try it, but he would always want me to put the lenses on my camera. I trusted him and I put it on. Then it wouldn't come off. We tried everything we felt comfortable with but it wouldn't budge.

Being an honest man, the photographer expressed sincere empathy for my situation. Heres a kid with a brand new camera and an old lens stuck on it. He said that if I had more time, we could cut it off with a saw. I wasn't too thrilled with that idea so he pointed me to Biggs Camera, which is basically downtown Charlotte. As a consolation, he decided to give me the other copy of the Sears lens just in case we had to destroy the one conjoined with my camera. I paid for a couple of the lenses and he threw in a working Sunpak manual flash, an old Pentax Spotmatic camera (!), and a few other lenses. This man basically gave me an entire kit. Thats something you rarely see.

Once I arrived at Biggs, neither of the first two staff members could get the lens off. I was beginning to feel awful when they emerged from the back room. Another photographer had seen this before: some non-Pentax lenses weren't machined properly. All you had to do was twist really F'n hard and it slips off. What a relief! I called the man who had sold me the lens and told him I'd ship back one of the copies and I thanked him profusely for being so generous. The whole experience really endeared me to photographers who seemed ready to help newbies.

:ugh:What about that magnesium body? Well... I had my K-7 set up on the cheap tripod with a very heavy Formula 5 Gold Crown 40-90mm f 3.5 screw mount. I was being careful with my adjustments when I had a momentary lapse. I turned my back and the camera came tumbling down and landed lens first into the pavement. My heart stopped. This wasn't the "Darn, how do I get this lens of my camera?" feeling. This was: "you just busted an eight hundred dollar investment you dumb ****!" feeling." Trying to stay calm, I fired off some shots with the my kit lens it worked! I laugh about it now because that solid build of the K-7 came through for me. I can attest to having dropped my new K-7 on the pavement and surviving. Granted, the heavy metal lens took the brunt of the impact, but still. You don't just drop electronics on pavement from 4' in the air and have them work flawlessly afterwards unless its built like a tank.

Which brings me here! For the past year I've been shooting landscapes, documenting our landscape's transition, travel photographs, and even used the kit lens as the "primary" camera at a friend's wedding in Germany. That was an experience. They knew I wasn't any good, but that maybe my camera could pull some decent shots off. I think we did alright and I sent him the RAW files so he could edit them. I probably should have chosen and edited some, but I lack PP knowledge. We had a great time anyway

The reviews of the kit lens here really helped me get a better idea as how to use it. I was planning on purchasing another lens this year so I wanted to get better and see what I needed. I made a list of lenses that would be ideal for me. The digital Pentax 100mm macro with 1:1 magnification and weather sealing was at the top of my list. The IQ of that lens is stellar, its consistently rated as brining a huge "" to every owner. Since I shoot a lot in my garden and want to contribute high quality photographs of useful species, this lens would be ideal. My kit lens could cover the wide angle shots while I made portraits of the species in the garden. Perfect beginning kit for my career path.

That is until the Sigma 35-105 manual lens I had been using decided to quit changing aperture. I need this range for photographing my private life and I hadn't paid enough for it to warrant a real repair job. Now the DA* 50-135 was looking great for the price, but the SDM issues scared the crap out of me. I dug around and noticed that the 18-135 was half the price, had good IQ, and would solve my needs.

I was on the fence about it until I realized one thing- I was beginning to hit a fun stride with my kit lens. I no longer felt that I should replace my existing lens for one with slightly better IQ and softness at 135. Back in February I had made a budget that included the price of a DA* lens and I knew I could afford it. I made the decision that the DA* 50-135 would work best for me to compliment my kit lens. The reports of SDM failure seem to have dropped and odds are it'd be fine. Not great odds, but better than 60%...

After reading about the planned price hikes, I was planning to buy from B&H- regardless of my final lens choice. I wanted to avoid Amazon and help donate money to this site. Alas, when I finally made up my mind, the changes had come down the tube! Amazon was the only one left with lenses at the ridiculous low price. I did what I thought was best: I bought the DA* 50-135 from them and it should arrive tomorrow. I'm crazy excited about having those focal lengths back and with a lens, should it be fully functional, that would turn out shot after shot years down the road.

I was lucky enough to have been in the right place at the right time- which is here. If it weren't for this website, I wouldn't have known about the planned price changes. I just happened to be "in the market" and this forum gave me the heads up. I'll be donating some money to the site because I think its only fair that I give something back.

Well, that turned out to be a long story. I'm still learning and am trying to get a little better each day. I'm extremely happy to own a Pentax. Granted, I could only afford to get into photography due to the cheap online prices. But in the long run I'll be spending plenty on this system (as long as K-mounts are around I'll probably have a Pentax body!) in B&M stores where the money belongs. And I'm one more person telling others how awesome Pentax is- so if only the prices will stabilize at a competitive rate I can only see more people coming to Pentax. The quality you get is superb IMO. Pentax is probably the only brand that I have a feeling of loyalty to.

And that should say something.


04-04-2012, 02:31 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum and may I add........... that's one helluva introduction. For a moment I thought I was about to read a movie script.
04-04-2012, 04:11 AM   #3
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Welcome Finchj, from a fellow tar heel. Thanks for sharing the ups and downs of your photographic beginnings. Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials and your new life in Finland!
04-04-2012, 08:32 AM   #4
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Hah, I thought I only get to introduce myself once- besides- it was kind of fun to think back over the past year Longer than most introductions but I did study history so I tend to be a bit long winded.

Thank you baro-nite for your well wishes on the upcoming wedding. If you don't mind, which city/area are you from? I'm in Winston-Salem.

04-04-2012, 09:23 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Finchj Quote
which city/area are you from? I'm in Winston-Salem
Durham. There are quite a few active members from NC, including at least a couple in the Triad.
04-04-2012, 06:46 PM   #6
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Alright, not too far from here. Maybe I'll be able to meet local Pentaxians in due time. My DA* 50-135 arrived today and I was stunned by its IQ from the first shot. Can't wait to use it more.

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