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08-02-2010, 11:48 PM   #1
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50mm 1.7 or 18-250mm for first new lens?

Hey everyone! Awhile ago I bought the K-X kit with the 18-55mm lens and I've been having a ton of fun with it. Although I still have tons to learn to take better advantage of the kit lens, I'm running into situations all the time where I need a different lens. Hopefully you guys can help me decide!

I've read through tons of threads, reviews, etc. and based on what I shoot most I'd like to get a SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.7 and SMC Pentax-DA 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 ED AL [IF]. The question is, which do you recommend I get first and where would be best to get them from?

I go hiking quite a bit and I'm missing out on lots of shots where I'd need a better zoom lens, but I also don't want to be swapping lenses while I'm in such dusty environments. This is what makes me think the 18-250mm would be good in place of the kit lens.

On the other hand, I really like taking "action" shots, which are usually outdoors, so I'd like to get a fast 50mm. In situations where I'm going to shoot some "action" scene I usually have a minute to "setup" for the shot (like people jumping from rock to rock), so although I don't want to swap lenses while hiking I think I'd be willing to if it meant getting a clean shot. This of course would be great for indoor stuff as well.

I'm not really sure where the best place to buy these would be and I am having a hard time deciding which one to get first, so I thought maybe I could ask you guys! Thanks for the help!

08-03-2010, 12:06 AM   #2
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Both. Or, the DA18-250mm then the fast prime.

I went a similar way. I bought my K-7 with a DA18-250mm. It is a superb lens that covers a wide range and gives excellent photographs, although it has some compromises like any zoom lens. Overall the DA18-250mm is highly regarded by Pentaxians incl. professionals, and it is considered one of the best all-around zoom lenses among all brands (Canikons, Oly, Sony).

The only weakness of the DA18-250mm is the low light. In my case, very rapidly I bought a Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4. The lens is very sturdy and excellent for outdoor. The IQ is superb and I love it. The lens is a MF fast prime and it complement nicely the DA18-250mm.

Practically the DA18-250mm is a little hard to find since it is discontinued. You may find some excellent quality 2nd hand lenses in this forum; try also www.keh.com, and even www.adorama.com. Alternately you could try the Tamron 18-250mm (K-mount). The DA18-250mm is in fact the Tamron lens rebadged by Pentax.

Hope that the advice and suggestion will help.

Last edited by hcc; 08-03-2010 at 12:22 AM. Reason: Typos
08-03-2010, 12:07 AM   #3
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I've never though of the 50mm as an action lens although the logic is rock solid.

Today I got a shot of a bird in mid air, 1/1000s shutter speed at f/5.6 and 200mm with my DA WR, it wasn't that bright (just after the sun had set) and the ISO still didn't have to go that high, maybe 1000, so don't count out the 18-250 as an action lens.

I think ultra-fast lenses for action are only for the most demanding of conditions

After having to swap between my two kit lenses a few times while in a mountain environment today, a 18-250 seems like a dream for the outdoors, I would go for that no doubt
08-03-2010, 12:08 AM   #4
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I own both lenses you mention and picked them up recently here on the Forum marketplace. Obviously they serve very different purposes but for outdoor daylight shots I don't see why the 18-250 could not handle your action. Especially considering the high iso values the k-x can handle and still shoot clean pics. Both lense are somewhat rare and it may take months to find them here. The FA50/1.4 however is sold every day it seems. I can't give you a substitute for the 18-250 as I did not find the 3rd party versions near as good. Even my Sigma 24-135/2.8 was less impressive to me than the Pentax 18-250mm. The FA50 you mention might be your dusk and sitting around the campfire lense though.

Oh....Welcome to the Forum!

08-03-2010, 12:18 AM   #5
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I recomend getting a fast 50 prime, it will make you a better photog, it will teach you more about compostion, depth of feild/bokeh than the superzoom ever will.
08-03-2010, 09:12 AM   #6
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Thanks so much for the help you guys!


QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
Hope that the advice and suggestion will help.
It did, thanks!


QuoteOriginally posted by future_retro Quote
Today I got a shot of a bird in mid air, 1/1000s shutter speed at f/5.6 and 200mm with my DA WR, it wasn't that bright (just after the sun had set) and the ISO still didn't have to go that high, maybe 1000, so don't count out the 18-250 as an action lens.

I think ultra-fast lenses for action are only for the most demanding of conditions

After having to swap between my two kit lenses a few times while in a mountain environment today, a 18-250 seems like a dream for the outdoors, I would go for that no doubt
For the most part I'd just stick with the 18-250 but there have been a few occasions where I'd love to be able to swap to a fast prime and actually had time to "setup" for the shot. Well, at least enough time to quickly swap a lens, haha.

Your mention of a bird in mid air reminds me of the humming bird I caught by accident awhile back when I was out by the pool goofing off. It came after my sandwhich and as soon as I realized what was in front of me I just started snapping and only managed to catch one frame of it out of focus, haha. Kind of a funny photo!



QuoteOriginally posted by imtheguy Quote
Oh....Welcome to the Forum!
Thank you!
08-03-2010, 10:44 AM   #7
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When I bought my K20D I didn't go for a kit lens, instead choosing the DA10-17, DA18-250, and FA50/1.4. The 18-250 and 50/1.4 are still the most-used of my (now) 80-odd PK-mountable lenses, along with the Zenitar 16/2.8. The 18-250 is just so damn flexible! I got the DA18-55 later (cheap) and use it mostly to hang various filters and add-ons.

Depending on budget, get an 18-250; then a 50/1.4, or consider fast manual (less costly) primes. 55/1.7's abound, and the Helios 58/2, all cheap, like ~US$30. For a little more reach, I got lucky: a lightweight Nikkor 85/2 (easily adapted to Pentax) was US$9; a heavier M42 Vivitar 90/2.8 macro was US$3; and a lightweight M42 Meyer Trioplan 100/2.8 was US$27.

But the 18-250 is definitely first choice as a do-almost-anything single lens.
08-03-2010, 12:17 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by jremick Quote
I go hiking quite a bit and I'm missing out on lots of shots where I'd need a better zoom lens
The 18-250 isn't a "better" zoom lens. It's a *longer* zoom lens, but quality-wise, it's basically exactly the same as the 18-55 - marginally better in certain respects, marginally worse in others. But assuming "longer" is indeed what you want, and you'd rather not be changing lenses, then the 18-250's are the obvious choice.

QuoteQuote:
On the other hand, I really like taking "action" shots, which are usually outdoors, so I'd like to get a fast 50mm. In situations where I'm going to shoot some "action" scene I usually have a minute to "setup" for the shot (like people jumping from rock to rock)
Nothing about that requires a particularly fast lens, unless they plan to do their rock jumping in the dark. And unless your experience with the 18-55 has suggested you'd like 50mm for this, I'd think that wouldn't be very appropriate - you'd want to be shooting from closer with a wider lens most of the time. So I'm a bit confused as to why you're thinking of a 50/1.7 for this task.

08-03-2010, 02:10 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
The 18-250 isn't a "better" zoom lens. It's a *longer* zoom lens, but quality-wise, it's basically exactly the same as the 18-55 - marginally better in certain respects, marginally worse in others. But assuming "longer" is indeed what you want, and you'd rather not be changing lenses, then the 18-250's are the obvious choice.
Sorry, by "better" I meant longer and more versatile in terms of range.


QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Nothing about that requires a particularly fast lens, unless they plan to do their rock jumping in the dark. And unless your experience with the 18-55 has suggested you'd like 50mm for this, I'd think that wouldn't be very appropriate - you'd want to be shooting from closer with a wider lens most of the time. So I'm a bit confused as to why you're thinking of a 50/1.7 for this task.
Most of the time my kit lens does just fine since I'm outside but I find myself in hikes where it's getting dusk or the lighting is less than ideal for fast moving situations. I usually have the space to move relatively freely so I can adjust my distance from the subject as necessary, so 50mm would be fine (I think).

But, in addition to that, I'd like to have a better lens to shoot indoors (people, animals, etc.) and from what I've gathered a fast 50mm (or close to it) would be a good choice.

Based on these two situations and my limited budget, the 50mm I mentioned seems to be a good starting point to work with both situations. Plus, I've read lots of fun things to do with a "nifty fifty", which I'd like to try.

If you don't think this is an appropriate lens do you have any others in mind that you'd recommend I look into?
08-03-2010, 05:03 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jremick Quote
Most of the time my kit lens does just fine since I'm outside but I find myself in hikes where it's getting dusk or the lighting is less than ideal for fast moving situations.
OK, but realize that with larger aperture comes shallower DOF, and that's another enemy of fast moving action. There's really no getting around the fact that if you want to stop action in low light, flash is the real answer.

Not that there is no place for fast lenses, but I just don't want you thinking that shooting 50mm and f/1.4 is going to solve these problems - it won't. There are reasons most sports photographers use f/2.8 zooms, not faster primes.

QuoteQuote:
I usually have the space to move relatively freely so I can adjust my distance from the subject as necessary, so 50mm would be fine (I think).
Shooting from far away with a 50 is not the same as shoot from closer with a wide angle - the perspective is totally different. Yu mention jumping between rocks. As it happens, I've got a shot like that taken last week with my DA15:



Had I shot this from further away with a 50, then in order to get the jumper the same size in the frame I'd have only been able to fit in roughly 1/4 as much of the surrounding scene. Chances are I could not have fit both the rock he was jumping from and the one he was jumping to in the frame at the same time without backing up far enough that he was smaller in the frame than he is here.

Now, I'm not saying that my shot above is exactly how you'd want your shots to look, but the point is, changing position has a very real effect on the picture, and you can't simply assume that a given focal length will work just because you have room to change position. You really do need to give thought to focal length.

QuoteQuote:
But, in addition to that, I'd like to have a better lens to shoot indoors (people, animals, etc.) and from what I've gathered a fast 50mm (or close to it) would be a good choice.
If you've gathered this from your own experience with your kit lens, fine - but most people would say 50mm is far too long for casual snapshots on APS-C. it was great for this on film, but on APS-C, you want something with a similar FOV - meaning something in the 28-40mm range.

QuoteQuote:
Plus, I've read lots of fun things to do with a "nifty fifty", which I'd like to try.
Now, that *is* indeed the case. Given that you can get a great manual focus 50 for about $50 or less, I do think everyone should have one - but one shouldn't expect it to be one's go-to lens for situations where it isn't really well suited.

So what I'm saying here is that you really want the 50 *and* some other gear - probably a good flash for the low light action shots, but perhaps a wider angle
"fast enough" lens like a 16-50/2.8 or just a 24mm or 28mm prime.
08-03-2010, 05:24 PM   #11
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Vote for cheap 50mm 1.7 or 1.4 then 18-250mm.

TOUGEFC is right, the 50 will make teach you a lot of things.

Marc is right, 18-250mm performs similarly on the wide end (probably better around the 55mm range), and I don't believe it is faster (for freezing shots). It is a generally good lens, especially for finding out what focal lengths you like.
08-03-2010, 05:43 PM   #12
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Buy a fast fifty right here on the forum. Everyone needs one.
08-03-2010, 08:20 PM   #13
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I'm gonna put in the heretic vote, and say a lens in the 28mm - 35mm range.
But then, I like standard lenses.
08-03-2010, 09:19 PM   #14
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I went through a similar dilemma recently and just plain gave up.

The 18-250 sounds very good and should do pretty much everything you want it to do, but depending on what you want to do most often, I would really recommend looking into a manual focus fast 50 f1.7 and/or 28mm f2.8 (or something similar, if you want to do most of your shooting indoors). These are not expensive lenses.

If you are shooting at dusk, f6.3 might get a little frustrating (in my amateur experience). You don't need to go as low as f1.7 to shoot in that kind of light, but I would keep my eye on something closer to f4. In the day time, however, 6.3 won't really be an issue.

These MF primes have taught me a tonne very quickly, and they can be found for very little. You might want to consider this unless you really want to shoot birds NOW. I found a REALLY cheap manual focus telephoto (70-200) for 30 bucks, just to hold me over. In the long run I will invest in the proper nature zoom, but I expect I will need to pay for it.
08-04-2010, 01:22 AM   #15
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Hmm, thanks for the help everyone. I think I'll go ahead with the 18-250 and start looking at options for a manual 50 and a few others to play with if I can get them at good prices within my budget. Lots more learning to do!

I really appreciate the detailed answers everyone, especially Marc!
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