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07-30-2010, 02:01 PM   #1
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New pentax K-X owner! need some lenses

Hello! I am super excited to get my pentax, I chose it because it seemed like the best bang for the buck. Now I am moving out of state soon and I wanted to take some pictures of landscapes - buildings/cities/ streets -- places that I had fond memories

I am on a tight budget because after buying the camera I dont have much money left. I just looked at a thread were people were using older manual focus lens -- one in particular had phenominal pictures. K mount 55mm 1.8 I found this lens on ebay mint for $39. What im concerned about -- how do i tell the quality of the glass? Should i be looking for a certain word like "prime" limited " , DA/FA/SMC? i dont know what that stuff means.

I am fine with manual focus, im not in a hurry to take these pictures but I want them to be crisp, clean, and look amazing. auto focus is nice, but if i can get a manual focus lens that takes amazing photos for $40 id rather do that. I have a cheap tripod and just the 18-55mm kit lens.

please advise.

07-30-2010, 03:30 PM   #2
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Ive already been looking at that database and really impressed with the SMC K 55mm F1.8 but reading good things about the SMC M 50mm 1.7

I see them on ebay for $40-60 shipped ill probably place an order tonight, I think im going to also need an adapter to mount it on my K-X right?
07-30-2010, 04:16 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by buttons Quote
Ive already been looking at that database and really impressed with the SMC K 55mm F1.8 but reading good things about the SMC M 50mm 1.7

I see them on ebay for $40-60 shipped ill probably place an order tonight, I think im going to also need an adapter to mount it on my K-X right?
You will not need an adapter for either of those 2 lenses.

If a lens is an M42 mount lens (there are tons of them out there) then you would need an adapter. Any lens that says K-mount does not need an adapter.

A note on the M 50mm 1.7, I have this lens and it takes some of the sharpest pictures I have seen. I got mine here in the market place for $50 and can say once you learn to focus manually this lens will produce amazing results.
07-30-2010, 04:48 PM   #4
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Some of the lenses for sale on the forum's Marketplace might just be a wonderful place to start. Look for a seller that has some solid Marketplace feedback and has a respectable post count. Carefully consider the remarks they make about the lens in their sale post and you should begin to understand what the condition of the lens will be.
Of course you should always be cautious on eBay or here but you should always look here first. Not only to compare quality and prices of lenses but you may wish to trust longtime forum members above an eBay seller.
Just my opinions.

07-30-2010, 06:04 PM   #5
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"prime" means a lens with a single focal length (i.e. not a zoom lens) e.g. 50mm,
Mostly in auctions you need them to say "excellent" or "no fungus" "no scratches"
You probably aren't interested if it has cleaning marks or haze. Also be wary of "dust". A little dust is normal, but a lot of times that's someone who doesn't know what fungus looks like calling their fungus "dust"
Ideally you want someone with a return policy, but mostly you just want there to be a description of the lens as "excellent" or "clear" or something similar. If they send you a crappy lens, do not hesitate to tell them you want a refund. Even if they have a no refund policy, you can file a "significantly not as described" with paypal and get your money back (don't forget to use delivery confirmation when sending back). Keep in mind some descriptions "mint", "like new", "excellent" have specific connotations, whereas "really good shape" is a bit more vague. If the 55 really is mint, and shipping isn't more than $10, it would be a good starting point, but if you get it and the glass isn't crystal clear or the screws have any signs of being touched, be ready to send it back (unless you try it and the images blow you away - in that case keep it.

Last edited by kxr4trids; 07-30-2010 at 06:11 PM.
07-30-2010, 06:42 PM   #6
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Hi Buttons,

Let me throw this out to you. There is somewhat of a backwater on evilbay for Tokina lenses (for Pentax, they have the K mount so that they would be the equivalent of M or A Pentax lenses). A couple of friends have told me that they have found these to be quite good for the price. Tokina has a RMC or Pro line that is suppose to be extremely good, while their EL line is their entry line.

I have seen some extremely good prices. They are older lenses, usually made out of metal, with glass lenses, built like a tank and a tad heavy, usually very sharp. In the lens data base they run from a rating of about 7.0 to 10.0. Pentax and Tokina have been sharing designs, thus the more recent Tokina lenses do not come in the Pentax K mount.

The forum has them in their lens data base for third party lenses...
also watch out for the Ricoh pin on non Pentax K mount lenses for Ricoh. If you run in to one, just avoid it... since the lens can get stuck on your camera.

Good hunting ...

Last edited by interested_observer; 07-30-2010 at 07:07 PM.
07-30-2010, 07:04 PM   #7
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Welcome!

The 55mm f1.8 (if it's a K mount) is a "K" lens, the first series of K mount offered by Pentax. I don't own THAT one but do own a couple other K lenses. A 30mm f2.8 and a 135mm f2.5 and in terms of sharpness and detail, I would put them up against anything else out there. The K lenses have become cult-like classics so I would say $39 for the 55 is probably a good price. The M50 f1.7, I will tell anyone who asks is THE best bang for the buck (as long as the buck doesn't get too big). I've owned more of them than I care to count and not one has ever let me down. I've only let them go because I have the Pentax A version of the same lens. For your budget, I don't think you could go wrong with either one.

Here are a few photos from my SMC Takumar 55mm f1.8 (similar, I'm sure to the K55). Bear in mind that these are only test shots for things like focus, bokeh, flaring, purple fringing, etc.

55mm SMC Takumar - a set on Flickr

For Other lenses, Heed the warning about the Ricoh Pin.

07-30-2010, 11:19 PM   #8
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Lots of good advise here. If you intend to go hunting for lenses, read this: PAWNSHOP LENSES (and other used lenses) - A Buyers' Guide. This could also help you evaluate any lenses you buy by mail and are unsure about.

More on the lingo:

SMC means Super Multi-Coated. Commercial lenses are complicated beasts, with numerous hunks of glass glued together or separated by air. Every glass-to-air edge causes refraction, lowering contrast and imparting other nasty effects. So, many years ago, lensmakers learned to coat those surfaces. First one coating, then multi-coating (MC). Pentax chemists worked up superior coatings, called SMC, long regarded as about the best stuff around. Uncoated or singly-coated lenses are susceptible to flare and low contrast, which can lend a nice 'period' effect to pictures -- not so good if you want sharpness and clarity, eh? All Pentax lenses are coated, but those labeled SMC are often the best. But not always -- see the lens review database.

PRIME has nothing to do with quality of lens or meat -- it just means a fixed focal length, as opposed to a ZOOM or vari-focal lens, which works (more or less well) over a range of focal lengths. Modern zooms are exquisite tools, even the much-maligned DA18-55 "kit lens". Zooms always embody design compromises, trying to make the lens work well at all focal lenghts, and are usually weakest at their extremes -- which is where most people use them! Primes have more esoteric design compromises, usually related to speed (maximum aperture) and cost.

DA and FA are prefixes used by Pentax for lines (series) of lenses. Of the bayonet (PK-mount) glass, the historical sequence generally goes: K (actually no prefix) and M, manual focus and aperture; A, manual focus and auto aperture; F and FA, auto focus and aperture, for full-frame (film) cameras; DA, auto focus and aperture, for half-frame / APS-C digital cameras. There are also some minor variants: FAJ and DFA and DAL. See the lens review database for details.

Have fun!

07-31-2010, 04:54 AM   #9
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Thanks for the Info. i think im going to get an M or K prime lens. i love the metal construction and they seem to be extremely sharp image quality wise.
07-31-2010, 09:10 AM   #10
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One more observation - unless your experience with the lens you already have has convinced you that a 55mm lens wouldbe appropriate for the type of landscapes and city scenes you are interested in (and this would be extremely rare), then you'd be much better off getting a prime lens in a focal length that actually suits you.

My guess is that you're really wanting something more wide angle, and that doesn't come cheap. Realistically, you are most likely going to be better off just using the lens you already have unless you've got at least several hundred dollars budgeted.
07-31-2010, 09:19 AM   #11
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Buttons, do yourself a big favor and make sure you have one of these in your camera bag:

PentaxWebstore Mount Adapter K(35m m Screwmount to Bayonet)

It allows you to use M42 screw mount lenses, and if you come across an M42 lens that you want, you're going to kick yourself for not having the adapter. Plus, Pentax doesn't always offer this for sale (it's been known to vanish for months), although cheaper knock-offs are out there. But you want the original adapter.
07-31-2010, 09:23 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote

My guess is that you're really wanting something more wide angle, and that doesn't come cheap. Realistically, you are most likely going to be better off just using the lens you already have unless you've got at least several hundred dollars budgeted.
This is extremely true, and has been my situation for a long time:

Anything wider than the 18 end of the kit is a lot of bucks, which is why I don't own anything wider. (My crappy 8mm Peleng doesn't count.)
07-31-2010, 12:12 PM   #13
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Not just wider than 18mm - anything wider than 24mm is going to cost hundreds, and even that 24mm is going to cost quite a bit more than than the 55mm the OP is looking at. The widest lens one can normally find under $100 is a 28mm. Depending on what his experience with his kit lens tells him, that might be wide enough for his purposes, but it also remains to be seen just how much better than than the 18-55 any particular 28mm lens is going to be. I can see a difference between my kit lens and my M28/2.8 if I pixel peep really hard, but mostly, I like the 29 for its larger maximum aperture, smaller size, and better MF ring - not because ti really makes much of a difference in IQ.
07-31-2010, 07:15 PM   #14
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A slight correction, Marc: anything wide THAT IS NEW AND AUTOFOCUS will cost mucho dinero. On eBay, I just won a Vivitar 25/2.8 for US$2.25 +$8 shipping. My Lentar (Tokina) 21/3.8 cost me US$23 total, and I see its like (badged as Vivitar or Soligor) selling for under US$100m now. True, wider than that will cost more -- the widest 'bargain' is still the Zenitar 16/2.8 semi-fisheye for under US$200 shipped, and that's not to everyone's taste. But with some perseverance, wide lenses can be found that don't require minimart robberies.

As for using non-superfast primes in the kit-zoom range: No, that 21/3.8, and my Sigma 24/2.8, and SMC-M 28/2.8 and Super-Takumar 35/3.5, don't offer great speed advantages nor vastly improved IQ compared to the DA18-55 or DA18-250. Almost any 50-55mm prime will beat the kit's speed noticeably; and my Isco Westron 35/2.8 and Industar 50/3.5 seem to render qualities not found with the kit, and that's a major reason to use primes: their individual flavors.

But the other big reason is discipline. (You know this, Marc; I'm just blathering for beginners now.) A prime forces you to see and think differently. Maybe many users are just interested in capturing images with the least amount of bother; automatic cameras and zooms are great for that. But using primes helps with learning the craft of photography. With (manual) primes, I must think about what I'm doing, about where objects are, about effects that transcend automatic programming. And the practice is deeply satisfying.

Last edited by RioRico; 07-31-2010 at 07:35 PM.
07-31-2010, 09:21 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
But the other big reason is discipline.
Worst thing I did for my photography back in school was when my Oly with the 50 prime died bought an auto everything Canon with kit zoom lens. I'm not sure if it was the zoom or the AF that was worse. Didn't help that the lens itself was inferior either, I'm sure, but yea, discipline is the right word.
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