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07-26-2014, 11:27 PM   #1
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Just Converted :) Hello!

Hello everybody!

I am a bit of a forum fanatic and I will probably be around quite a bit. My other hobby is building high powered lasers and wanting to get great photographs of the beams is what first drew me in to this photography hobby. Seeing the sheer amount of detail I was able to get sealed my fate.

I am 23, and I sell cameras at Best Buy. It is tons of fun(some days) because I am able to talk all about photography and help people to understand their cameras better. I originally started out my DSLR journey with a Nikon D3100, but I had irritations with the back screen's low resolution and the overall IQ of the photos I was able to get. Here are some:

35mm f/1.8 Lens - f/6.3 30s ISO-800


35mm f/1.8 Lens - f/14 20s ISO-100


35mm f/1.8 Lens - f/1.8 1/125th ISO-1600


35mm f/1.8 Lens - f/1.8 1/80th ISO-100


As you all can see I enjoyed my old Nikkor 35mm lens. I eventually sold my D3100 about last week or so and purchased my new Pentax K-5 II today. I also got a 49mm diameter 50mm f/1.7 Sears lens that is full manual. It is interesting but my dogs are difficult to capture at wider apertures as they won't stop moving around.

I am currently trying to decide what lenses to buy, the only reason I got that 50 is because it was 20 dollars and I needed something to get me shooting. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I need to fiddle with the white balance of this camera as well. The pics I have taken so far seem very yellow.

50mm f/1.7 Lens - f/1.7 1/25th ISO-800


07-26-2014, 11:56 PM   #2
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Oh man, your laser hobby sounds SO AWESOME!!!!!!!! Can I be your friend?

For lens recommendations, what's your budget, and what sorts of focal lengths do you want to use? I love love love my 31mm Limited, but it's not cheap...
07-27-2014, 01:01 AM   #3
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Welcome can't wait for more pictures to light up our lives 😜
07-27-2014, 02:28 AM   #4
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Welcome to the forum, theres some great lens info here on the forum to help you spend your money.

Pentax Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

07-27-2014, 02:29 AM   #5
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Welcome to the PF family, good to have you on board
07-27-2014, 05:54 AM   #6
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High powered lasers are fun! We had a 3kW IR laser we were doing some experiments on. Mostly we just started fires with it. No photos, though.

A question about your K-5 - Did you buy it used? If so, do a factory reset. And in either case, update your firmware. This should fix the WB problem. K-5's generally have accurate WB in AWB mode. All that said, there are some lenses that meter with a pronounced color cast, this may be one of them. Shoot your shots in RAW, and fix the WB in post.

Tips for dogs with a manual lens. Go into the menu and enable Catch-In-Focus. Leave the selector switch in AF mode, and then the shutter will only fire when it's in focus. Set the drive mode to HI. Mash down the shutter button, and focus away. The shutter will fire every time the shot is in focus. It's not perfect, but you will get a lot of keepers this way.
07-27-2014, 06:53 AM   #7
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Thanks guys I am glad to be here and very much glad to be taking the road less travelled, as it were. I bought my K-5 II new from Precision Camera in Austin, TX. The price was only $599, from what I gather there was a recent price drop on these?

As for firmware updates, I will have to check my manual for how to do that. The tip about how to take pictures of dogs will be instrumental for me, as I can use that for other things too, like ADHD people.


As for lenses, I will just tell you all what I want to shoot. My budget is fairly low. I can only spend about 400 or so at the moment as both my new camera and a recent laser project have left me high and mostly dry. I really want to take insect photos; which leads me to believe I need a Macro lens. I really want to be able to take pictures of distant birds or squirrels and whatnot; which leads me to believe I need a telephoto zoom or a very long prime. I also really want to take some astrophotography pictures. I want some of the moon, especially when it turns red again soon, and then I also want to take some long exposures out in an area with no light pollution and get some cool galaxy pics. For lasers I can probably make anything work, although having less distortion is preferred so I would like to keep it past 35mm. That said, I have this 50 that should be able to work for lasers.

From what I said, the girl at precision recommended to me a couple lenses:

Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM - This lens is usually 550 dollars but right now there is a 200 dollar instant rebate, so the price sounds great. Reviews seem inconsistent with this lens, but I feel a large part of that is due to differing expectations.
Pentax DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED - This lens is over 400 but not too much so. I do not like the fact that there is no macro capabilities with this lens, and I will also miss having the wide angle, but people tend to think it is a good lens.
Tamron AF70-300mm f/4-5.6 DI LD Macro - This lens is very tempting because it is only 199, and it has macro with telephoto. The downside is no wide angle capabilities.

Now, I also found a few more lenses on craigslist, so if yall have any advice on the following let me know:
Tamron AF75-300mm f/4-5.6 LD Macro - Seller is asking 50 dollars for this one. It is very tempting.
Tamron AF28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 - The Seller is also asking 50 dollars for this one. I feel kind of meh about this one though.
Sigma 80-200mm Telephoto - Not much details about this one and the photos look a teeny bit dusty. They are only asking for 25 for this one though.

Thanks for reading, let me know what you all think!
-Isaac
07-27-2014, 09:20 AM   #8
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Welcome Isaac.
Keep in mind with lenses that the wider the focal length range the more compromises have to be made. So 18-250 will have quality challenges depending on what you find acceptable.
The Pentax 55-300 is a remarkable lens for the price, paired with the DA 18-135 you have a 2 lens kit that covers 18 to 300 with reasonable quality. You would have to step up to DA* glass to get better.
"Macro" as listed on many zooms is not macro, more like close focusing. If that is OK for what you shoot fine, just do not be misled by marketing department slapping the word "macro" on a lens.
You might also look at the Pentax DA 35mm f/2.4 or the 50mm f/1.8 both well regarded and not expensive.
If you have not found it yet, please take a look at the lens database here: Pentax Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database and reviews for third party lenses are here: Pentax Lenses by Sigma, Tamron, Zeiss, and more - Reviews and Specification Database - Pentax Lens Review Database
As noted above if you bought used reset everything to defaults before starting. The K-5II AWB should be right on in most cases.

07-27-2014, 09:28 AM   #9
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I don't know how far your budget can stretch, but one of my friends has the Sigma 70mm macro, and loves it. It also gets really great reviews, and is only (I think) about $500.

I and one of my friends have managed some pretty good macro-ish shots of insects with the 55-300-- I'll post the links to the images when I have more time!
07-27-2014, 04:30 PM   #10
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I doubt I will get another prime anytime soon. Budget is going to mean I can realistically get one more lens and since I already have my 50 prime I am planning on going telephoto. Maybe there are good deals on this forum? Like used glass?
07-27-2014, 05:53 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by IsaacT Quote
I doubt I will get another prime anytime soon. Budget is going to mean I can realistically get one more lens and since I already have my 50 prime I am planning on going telephoto. Maybe there are good deals on this forum? Like used glass?
In case you did not see it yet, here is the marketplace link: The Pentax Marketplace | Buy & Sell Pentax and Photo Equipment - PentaxForums.com
07-27-2014, 10:38 PM   #12
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Yeah I have been looking through there, there is so much to choose from! I guess the best course of action for me is to spend some time up at my local camera shop and try out the various lenses to see how they perform. I don't know if I will have the wherewithal to tell what is crap though. Or atleast what is optically inferior. And that begs the question: if I cannot tell any inferiority, is it worth worrying about? I am a numbers guy, so I don't want to buy crap, but I also want to not blow my entire paycheck on a single lens haha.
07-28-2014, 04:11 AM   #13
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Welcome to the forum. I thought lasers was bad for dslr sensors?
07-28-2014, 06:18 AM   #14
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Welcome to the forum.

Budget macro options: www.pentaxforums.com/forums/177-macro-photography/262296-macro-any-means-possible.html

Pair a 55-300 with a Raynox diopter or close focus lenses and you will cover your desire for telephoto and for macro (until you decide to get a dedicated macro lens). The 55-300 comes in three versions, all optically identical: DA-L, DA and DA WR. The DA-L is the base model and can be bought 2nd hand for less than $200 (even as little as $150). It has a plastic mount, the others have metal. The DA-L doesn't come with a hood but you can get one for $5 on eBay. The DA adds quick shift (manual focus override). The DA WR adds weather resistance, so you can confidently use it in the rain and snow.

The 55-300 is a very good lens; the step up from there to say a DA*60-250 or a DA*300 adds about $1000.

The Sigma 18-250 is one of the best "superzoom" lenses - that is, lenses with more than 10x zoom range. (Other good ones are the Tamron or Pentax 18-250 and the Pentax DA 18-270.) Great versatility, saves changing lenses, but the trade off is that the image quality is not quite as good as say the 55-300 at the long end and it is significantlly slower (ie less wide maximum aperture at each focal length).

If you like primes, it suggests that you are not fussed about changing lenses. So I would suggest looking at some of the primes that have been mentioned above.

One of the benefits of Pentax is that they have used the same mount for 40 years so there are thousands of fine old lenses out there that will work beautifully on your camera.

Last edited by Des; 07-28-2014 at 09:58 PM.
07-28-2014, 08:54 AM   #15
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If you want a bargain, check out the Pentax A 70-210 F4. I got mine for $55. It is not a top shelf performer, but it does decently, and for the price its a steal.


It's not the sharpest lens in the drawer, but i really like the color rendition.
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