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09-09-2010, 08:33 PM   #1
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Need some advice concerning beginner-calibre lenses

Ok, here's the deal.

I've decided to bite the bullet and get myself a Pentax K7. I do not, however want to get a kit lens, as I've been dissuaded by many mates who regard them as rubbish. Fair enough! But there's a small problem.

I've never owned a DSLR camera before, let alone a Pentax. So this is all very new for me. Having trawled the internet for hours searching for a couple of good starter lenses, I am at a loss.

The primary use for my camera will probably be portraiture with minimal landscape shots, and anything else. So at this stage I probably think getting two lenses: some sort of macro/prime lens as well as an all-purpose lens.

So I need some advice as to what I should get. My budget is probably $500 per lens; don't reaaally want to spend any more than that. As I said, this will be my first DSLR, so I want to be modest when I do lash out and buy this stuff.

Would appreciate a bit of advice/feedback!

09-09-2010, 10:25 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Hello from a fellow Aussie.

Just one little hint, Price the lens you are interested in with B&H or other USA retailers, as I assure you the prices in Aust. are horrendously expensive.

So long as you are buying something declared under $1000, you will not be charged Customs Duty.

It might be best if you spell out here the type of lens would be your priority e.g. Macro. Wide angle, zoom telephoto.
What type of photos do you think you will be concentrating on?
That way you will get more applicable advice here on the forums.

For a good range check out ;

Pentax DA (or Sigma) 17-70 and couple that with the Pentax DA 55-300 and you will find you are covering a very good range. Just a starting suggestion
09-09-2010, 10:40 PM   #3
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G'day mate and welcome here.
You're after a decent camera and you'd want a decent lens with it - fair enough.
You'll be surprised, though how good Pentax's DA 18-55 kit lens really is - of course, it is still a beginner's lens but it outdoes the competition's kit lens offerings.

Nevertheless, there is a marked improvement in quality once you get to Pentax's DA 16-45 f/4 lens (for a wide to normal zoom lens). 16mm is wide enough for starters as a landscape lens, but in some instances, particularly architecture, 16mm won't be wide enough. I'd still recommend it above the kit lens, if money's not an obstacle. I second the recommendation for the DA 55-300 as it is more versatile and of better optical quality than the other kit lens, the DA 50-200.

Then I'd go a step further and suggest the FA 50 f/1.4 for all your low-light and background separation shots - that is if you're keen on that kind of photography.

All the best and enjoy your K-7 and hope you get what you need from this fine forum.
09-09-2010, 10:45 PM   #4
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The kit lens is great, and it's also water resistant, how water resistant you ask? here's your answer

Also I'm sure that the kit lens is rubbish compared to $2000 lenses, but it's a lens, it takes pictures and if anyone can't take good pictures with it then that's a problem with the photographer and not the gear

09-09-2010, 11:31 PM   #5
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Yeww for Aussies! lol.

Ok, I'll mainly be using the camera for shooting photos of people. All in all, that's where my interests lie so that's what I'll probably use it for most. That's why I was interested in researching macro/prime lenses.

Having said that, I'll probably be using it for nature shots as I go camping/hiking a fair bit. So with that in mind, would the SMC DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED lens be suitable for being a good all-round camera that I can use when I go hiking?

Still looking for a good macro/prime lens, but thanks for the suggestions, I've checked them all out.
09-09-2010, 11:38 PM   #6
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Consider the Sigma 70/2.8 macro or DFA 100/2.8 macro WR if funds permit. These two have got to be the pick of the bunch for value for money. Otherwise, specifically for portraits, the FA ltd series is your creme-de-la-creme choice.

Hiking with the 55-300 isn't bad, but what about wide angle shots? Any interest in landscapes of this sort? If so, you may be more inclined to something like a superzoom (18-200 or 18-300). Hard to advise without some more specifics and a budget.
09-09-2010, 11:54 PM   #7
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The Sigma 70/2.8 macro looks okay, it's certainly a contender, albeit a little old... but hey, newbie here, so it may not be an issue for me. Also because it's my first go, I probably don't want to spend tooo much on a beginning lens. I'll leave that til I'm a bit more practiced!

You make a good point with the wide-angle note there. Yeah, I probably will want a lens that can do landscapes well, and yeah, that will mean I should look at a wide-angle lens. Probably will worry about that a little later down the track.
So, for the moment, I'd like to concentrate on close-up and portrait capable lenses!


EDIT: Having checked out the Sigma 17-70mm and am considering it as an entry-level mid-range lens. Not too fussed on the Sigma 70/2.8 macro, but am fairly flabbergasted at the DFA 100/2.8 macro WR!! That thing is amazing. Considering going over-budget and actually aiming to get that...

Last edited by Rainy Day; 09-10-2010 at 12:26 AM.
09-10-2010, 03:58 AM   #8
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Godday mate,
You already received some good advice. Let me share my own experience. My K-7 was my first dSLR after 10 years of digital P&S ultrazooms. I decided from the beginning to miss the kit lenses that did not correspond to my needs.

Chronologically, I bought: (1) an all-around lens Pentax DA18-150mm, (2) a fast prime lens Voigtlander Nokron 58mm f1.4 for low-light conditions, and (3) a macro lens Tamron 90mm SP. So far these covered my initial needs as well as my interests to learn more.

You may be interested by my geographical purchase pattern. I bought the DA18-250mm as a 2nd hand lens from www.keh.com, the Nokton 58mm from Adorama and the Tamron 90mm from Photo continental in Brisbane. At the time, the DA18-250mm and Nokton 58mm were cheaper overseas, while I got a good deal for the Tamron at the local store.

Overall, my usage is 60% for the DA18-250mm, 30% with the Nokton 58m, and 10% with the Tamron 90mm. I love the flexibility of the DA18-250mm and its decent IQ for such a zoom range. I would not go without it. The Voigtlander Nokton 58mm is a my favorite: I love it, and I learned a lot with this MF lens. The IQ is outstanding. I am still learning with the Tamron: it's the last lens that I purchased. I could do probably without but I intend to learn to use it more.

Hope that the experience will be of interest.


09-10-2010, 06:26 AM   #9
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I bought the K-7 (my first Pentax also), body only, last January. After much research I got the DA35 Ltd along with it, thinking it would make a good starting point for a small "kit". Fast forward nine months and it's still the only lens I have. I'm sure I'll buy one or two more primes eventually (I dislike zooms), but so far, after a LOT of shooting this year, it's proven to be the perfect all purpose lens. Macro, portraits, landscapes, architecture... it excels at all those things and more. Obviously you'd need something longer for wildlife and sports, but I don't do any of that kind of thing these days. For me it's the perfect all-purpose lens on the K-7, and I highly recommend it. I'll also add that the K-7 has proven to be a fantastic camera - I love it.
09-10-2010, 10:09 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rainy Day Quote
Ok, here's the deal.

I've decided to bite the bullet and get myself a Pentax K7. I do not, however want to get a kit lens, as I've been dissuaded by many mates who regard them as rubbish. Fair enough! But there's a small problem.

I've never owned a DSLR camera before, let alone a Pentax. So this is all very new for me. Having trawled the internet for hours searching for a couple of good starter lenses, I am at a loss.

The primary use for my camera will probably be portraiture with minimal landscape shots, and anything else. So at this stage I probably think getting two lenses: some sort of macro/prime lens as well as an all-purpose lens.

So I need some advice as to what I should get. My budget is probably $500 per lens; don't reaaally want to spend any more than that. As I said, this will be my first DSLR, so I want to be modest when I do lash out and buy this stuff.

Would appreciate a bit of advice/feedback!
1A_Compare 28 to kit lens - a set on Flickr

Actually, the K7 WR kit lens is a decent lens for what it is. I don't know what experience your friends speak from but I'd definitely say they are wrong. If you're hell bent on avoiding it though, any of the 16-50ish or 17-70 options will be a suitable replacement. The 16-50ish are typically f2.8 throughout. The Pentax 17-70 is an f4. I think the Sigma is f2.8-f4.5. All will fit your budget. Just pick one.

09-11-2010, 01:53 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by slinco Quote
I bought the K-7 (my first Pentax also), body only, last January. After much research I got the DA35 Ltd along with it, thinking it would make a good starting point for a small "kit". Fast forward nine months and it's still the only lens I have. I'm sure I'll buy one or two more primes eventually (I dislike zooms), but so far, after a LOT of shooting this year, it's proven to be the perfect all purpose lens. Macro, portraits, landscapes, architecture... it excels at all those things and more. Obviously you'd need something longer for wildlife and sports, but I don't do any of that kind of thing these days. For me it's the perfect all-purpose lens on the K-7, and I highly recommend it. I'll also add that the K-7 has proven to be a fantastic camera - I love it.
Could I possibly have a look at some pics you've taken with the DA35 lens?
09-11-2010, 09:04 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rainy Day Quote
Ok, here's the deal.

I've decided to bite the bullet and get myself a Pentax K7. I do not, however want to get a kit lens, as I've been dissuaded by many mates who regard them as rubbish. Fair enough! But there's a small problem.

I've never owned a DSLR camera before, let alone a Pentax. So this is all very new for me. Having trawled the internet for hours searching for a couple of good starter lenses, I am at a loss.

The primary use for my camera will probably be portraiture with minimal landscape shots, and anything else. So at this stage I probably think getting two lenses: some sort of macro/prime lens as well as an all-purpose lens.

So I need some advice as to what I should get. My budget is probably $500 per lens; don't reaaally want to spend any more than that. As I said, this will be my first DSLR, so I want to be modest when I do lash out and buy this stuff.

Would appreciate a bit of advice/feedback!
I think your mates have been giving you rubbish advice. Nothing wrong with the Pentax Kit lenses, many consider them the best in the business and best bang for the buck. Instead of trawling the internet, look right here at the images taken with them.
09-11-2010, 12:01 PM   #13
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You haven't said what you'll be doing with these portraits, in terms of output size, and what types of portraits they'll be. Most commercial portraits don't have the objective of showing every tiny pore, and a lot of the differences in lenses you're worried about may be offset by software you'll probably apply to most commercial portraits anyway.

I have the first version of the kit 18-55, and the 16-45. I can't really see the difference, except for the worse fringing in the 16-45, and less even illumination in the 18-55. The 2mm on the wide side makes a huge functionality difference, of course. Previously in the film era, I had SMC Takumar fixed lenses, (28/3.5, 35/3.5, 50/1.4, 135/3.5, and 200/4), and couldn't see the difference between them and the Canon FD consumer zooms I replaced them with. You have to consider that for landscape situations, you're usually stopping down, which tends to minimize differences. Just as importantly, the very precise cropping you can get with the zooms partly offsets any performance advantage of fixed lenses.

At some point as you get higher sensor resolution, differences in lenses do become more important. I can see more difference with my 10mp camera than with my 6mp, and I'm sure if I had a 20mp camera I might see even more differences. But my observations hold for file (Kodachrome and Velvia), and my cameras up through 10mp.

Paul
09-11-2010, 10:16 PM   #14
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So if I want to have a look at some pictures taken with the lenses you guys are listing above, where can I go? I think that's an overall selling point quite honestly.
09-11-2010, 11:13 PM   #15
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