Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
09-23-2010, 08:43 AM   #1
Junior Member




Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 42
General Lens Question

I'm a newbie here. I've been searching around with questions on lenses. I purchased my first dslr camera (k200) about 2 years ago roughly. It was sold at Ritz and they were going out of business. So I got a great deal. It came with the kit lens (18-55) and I got a steal on a quantaray LD 70-300 1:4-5:6 lens since everything was up to 75% off.

So far, I've been very happy with the lenses. However, I started shooting more and more weddings, and am finding the kit lens is not the best for weddings. (No sarcasm please! I've been told numerous times "You're shooting weddings with a KIT LENS????".

I started noticing that bridal party shots (outside) with the kit lens were not "crisp". Crisp as in old school film cameras. My wedding pictures are done with a film camera. The bridal party shot is crisp, even though the shot is far away. Its not that my pictures are fuzzy, or out of focus. Or that I'm not getting the settings right. The pictures look great, but lack that general crispness. And for weddings, I'd want something a bit better.

My problem is I'm not on a budget to drop $300 on a lens right now. If I had $300, I'd put it towards a k20.

I'd like a somewhat better lens than my kit lens....but still at a starter price. Some of those lenses out there are VERY pricey! And I know you get what you pay for. But I'd like to improve on my main lens. I think my Quantaray (70-300mm) is decent. Most people disagree with me on that one, but I'm pleased with my shots. So a zoom like that will have to wait to upgrade. I'd like something around my kit lens specs.

My problem is I don't know how to tell a good lens from a crappy lens. Its new to me. So I can look on ebay and wouldn't know a crappy $300 lens from an outstanding $100 lens.

Could someone summarize on what to look for on a lens? I'm not partial to staying with a pentax lens. I've read several websites that rate the lenses. That's all fine, but I need to know what to look for when looking for a lens besides the user rating.

09-23-2010, 08:46 AM   #2
Administrator
Site Webmaster
Adam's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Arizona
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 40,984
I don't have the time to post a complete response right now, but your best bet would be to browse the lenses in our database:

Comprehensive Pentax Lens Listings - Pentax Lens Review Database
Third-Party Lenses for Pentax - Pentax Third-Party Lens Review Database

And compare ratings/reviews.

Adam
PentaxForums.com Webmaster (Site Usage Guide | Site Help | My Photography)



PentaxForums.com's high server and development costs are user-supported. You can help cover those costs by donating. Or, buy your photo gear from our affiliates, Adorama, B&H Photo, or Topaz Labs, and get FREE Marketplace access - click here to see how! Trusted Pentax retailers:

09-23-2010, 08:54 AM   #3
Veteran Member
VaughnA's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Virginia
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 1,363
DA 16-45 is a great, inexpensive replacement for the 18-55, sharp and constant aperture. The sharpest lens in my small quiver is an old A50mm F2, 20 bucks on eBay all the time. If you can learn to focus manually you have a lot of nice inexpensive options.
09-23-2010, 08:57 AM   #4
Loyal Site Supporter




Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Bronx NY
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 5,599
Hi mishmatta and welcome to the forums. My suggestion would be to go used. We have an extensive lens database with well thought out reviews. I'd start there. Don't forget to check out the "Third Party Reviews" too. Do you require autofocus? If you don't mind manual focus I'd concentrate on the "A" (automatic aperture) K or M series lenses, as these provide the most 'bang for the buck' in regards to image quality. Good luck

NaCl(most of my lenses are second hand lenses)H2O

09-23-2010, 09:28 AM   #5
Veteran Member
chalion's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: SE Pennsylvania
Photos: Albums
Posts: 628
Welcome to the forums and i'm very impressed that you're brave enough to shoot weddings.

I agree with NaClH2O about going the used route. You can find some good deals that way. Don't forget to look around at flea markets, church and garage sales, also pawn shops.
09-23-2010, 09:39 AM   #6
Loyal Site Supporter
blackcloudbrew's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Cotati, California USA
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 3,782
Some good suggestions already and as Adam points out the lens data base is extensive and very useful. Going with used lenses is clearly a way to save money.

You have to realize though that in general you get what you pay for. Pentax has made a good kit lens but it can't compare with higher end lenses (like a DA* lens for example). Good technique can overcome some of this and evidently you've been able to do that to some extent but you clearly sound ready for more.

Personally, I'd try to get an upgraded replacement lens for your kit lens. The DA*16-50 f2.8 is my favorite but it aint cheap for sure. Tamron and Sigma make similar lenses for a bit less that are excellent. Find a used copy of one of those for starters and you will see what a difference they can make.
09-23-2010, 04:35 PM   #7
Pentaxian
Marc Sabatella's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Denver, CO
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 10,686
QuoteOriginally posted by mishmatta Quote
I started noticing that bridal party shots (outside) with the kit lens were not "crisp". Crisp as in old school film cameras. My wedding pictures are done with a film camera. The bridal party shot is crisp, even though the shot is far away. Its not that my pictures are fuzzy, or out of focus. Or that I'm not getting the settings right. The pictures look great, but lack that general crispness.
"Crisp" is not a technical term. Either the picture is out of focus, or there is camera shake, or subject motion, or the lens resolution is not sufficient, or the contrast is not sufficient - there's got to be something more specific you can say before one can really advise you. Often, it's "sharpness" - a combination of resolution and contrast - that people have in mind when they speak of "crispness". But really, used outside at apertures that would be appropriate for outside shooting, and using a hood as would be appropriate for outside shooting, and not using a image-degrading "protective" filter (as they are almost never appropriate), the difference between the kit lens and better lenses would normally be pretty minimal. And really, there is no particular reason to assume a film camera would be better at any of those things - except that you tend to not look at images from film nearly as large as we do with digital images. A 100% view of a 12MP image on a typical computer screen would be like a 4 foot wide print, and few film images shot by most people on film would look "crisp" at that size, either.

So I'd say, post some pictures that demonstrate what you are not happy with - maybe some unresized crops of the area you expect to be in focus, with EXIF not removed so we can tell what settings were used. And then maybe we can tell if there is a technique issue, an equipment issue, a processing issue, or just a matter of unreasonable expectations.

Not to say you don't want a better lens if doing weddings - but more for the *indoor* shots, where you want a larger maximum aperture. And no doubt, a better lens will be better outside too - but it should be possible to be doing quite well with the kit lens outside already.

QuoteQuote:
My problem is I'm not on a budget to drop $300 on a lens right now. If I had $300, I'd put it towards a k20.
Realistically, you aren't going to find a good general purpose replacement for the kit lens at a price much less than that. In fact, you may have trouble really improving on it for $300. Unless you are willing to enter the world of manual focus primes. But again, used correctly outside, the differences are hardly going to be night and day. So I'm guessing that if you post images, we'll end up seeing things to suggest that *don't* involve new lenses.

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 09-25-2010 at 04:42 PM.
09-24-2010, 11:28 AM   #8
Veteran Member




Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Outside of Philly
Posts: 1,564
QuoteOriginally posted by mishmatta Quote
I'm a newbie here.
So far, I've been very happy with the lenses. However, I started shooting more and more weddings, and am finding the kit lens is not the best for weddings. (No sarcasm please! I've been told numerous times "You're shooting weddings with a KIT LENS????".

.
"You're shooting weddings without proper lighting?"

Please tell me you at least have a hot-shoe mounted flash. The kit lens isn't nearly as much of a problem as using the pop-up flash.

WITH the proper lighting and knowledge, the kit lens should actually do pretty decently. I shot my first paid wedding with a slow 17-85mm f/4-5.6 that's probably fairly comparable to the kit lens (I used to shoot Pentax and had the 18-55 with my *ist DS) I knew what I was doing and the shots came out nice and crispy

Are you sure the problem is with the lens?

09-25-2010, 04:13 PM   #9
Veteran Member
benjikan's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Paris, France
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 4,309
QuoteOriginally posted by VaughnA Quote
DA 16-45 is a great, inexpensive replacement for the 18-55, sharp and constant aperture. The sharpest lens in my small quiver is an old A50mm F2, 20 bucks on eBay all the time. If you can learn to focus manually you have a lot of nice inexpensive options.
I totally agree. The 16-45 actually outperforms the venerable Canon 17-40 lens which was my mainstay lens of choice when I shot with Canon gear. I often prefer it to my 16-50. I actually like hearing the lens working and knowing when it is focusing. I find it reassuring. In a noisy environment I find the silence of the 16-50 disconcerting.
10-01-2010, 09:28 PM   #10
Site Supporter
BigDave's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Hudson Valley, NY
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 1,443
Crispy?

I agree with Marc, crisp is a hard term to nail down as it can mean a great many things. So some questions:

  • Are you shooting in RAW or DNG or are you shooting in JPG?

  • If you are shooting in JPG mode, are you shooting at the highest image quality or dropping the image quality to save memory card space?If you drop the image quality, you reduce the image sharpness at higher print sizes (in case you did not know this)

  • If you are shooting in JPG mode, are you applying any in-camera filters or image parameters (vibrant, natural, portrait, etc.) to the JPG file? If you are using the portrait setting, the images will be softer, less crisp than if using natural or vibrant.
  • If you are using JPG (if you are shooting weddings you REALLY should shoot in RAW or DNG), and are bringing the images in to image manipulation software (e.g., Photoshop), do you have the software set so that the image compression is set to minimum (giving you the largest file size)? With a JPG file and the software set to compress the image, the software will compress the file each time you open and resave it (there by compressing a compressed file over and over again until you only have a pixel of data left at some point).
  • Are you leaving the images in the camera long enough to get them crisp (this works best with muffins and pies, just kidding).
Regards,

Last edited by BigDave; 10-01-2010 at 09:30 PM. Reason: addition
10-02-2010, 05:44 AM   #11
Junior Member




Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 42
Original Poster
Thank you everyone for your suggestions and replies. I appreciate the suggestions on lenses, and everyone's input. Here are my replies to each of the posts:

1) Manual: No problem with manual at all. I just picked up 3 manual lenses (old ones, sears 28mm f2.8, 135mm f2.8 & 50mm f2.8). Not a great lens for shooting action or children, but I'm happy with them so far. So I'm open to manual lenses.

2) Marc: Thanks for clarifying the "crisp" term. You nailed it on the head. Sharpness is the term I'm looking for.

3) rdon99: I do use lighting, when needed. Not the pop up kind either. But it's not always required for outdoor shots (even for fill). And most (if not all) of the time I use it for indoor shots.
  • "Are you sure the problem is with the lens?"
    - no, I'm not sure at all! But that's why I'm here asking you guys. I really am still learning, and appreciate everyone's input. Its how *I* learn. I am focusing on the lens because of comments made about the 2 lenses I use. (that they are sub-par for pro shoots). Maybe the lenses are fine, and the photographer isn't! It's all possible.
4) BigDave: You had me cracking up by the time I hit you last question. I was answering each question eagerly and had to re-read that last one. Too funny. To answer your questions:
  • Raw or Jpg: Mostly Jpg. Experimented with RAW. My photoshop is old (5.5) and doesn't let me edit RAW files. I have the Photo Editor from my pentax camera software that opens and edits RAW files, but not many features. If I had a way to manipulate the RAW files I'd have no problem shooting RAW.
  • I shoot at the highest image quality and take many sd cards.
  • When saving the jpg, I save it at the highest quality (larger file size)
  • No filters, shooting in manual.
10-02-2010, 11:24 AM   #12
Site Supporter
BigDave's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Hudson Valley, NY
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 1,443
Re: RAW

QuoteOriginally posted by mishmatta Quote
Thank you everyone for your suggestions and replies. I appreciate the suggestions on lenses, and everyone's input. Here are my replies to each of the posts:


  • Raw or Jpg: Mostly Jpg. Experimented with RAW. My photoshop is old (5.5) and doesn't let me edit RAW files. I have the Photo Editor from my pentax camera software that opens and edits RAW files, but not many features. If I had a way to manipulate the RAW files I'd have no problem shooting RAW.
  • I shoot at the highest image quality and take many sd cards.
  • When saving the jpg, I save it at the highest quality (larger file size)
  • No filters, shooting in manual.

Your camera SW lets you process RAW, which means you can bring it in and convert it to JPG. Adjust color/white balance, contrast and brightness in the RAW converter. Do everything else with the JPG file in PS.

Find in your PS software where you can adjust the compression and set this to minimum compression. Continue on with all additional edits in PS.

Have fun!
10-02-2010, 02:09 PM   #13
Junior Member




Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 42
Original Poster
here's two cropped examples (cropped to meet website's requirements, not re-sized).

I'm not getting any EXIF readings. Its all showing up ----. I can tell you though that both were shot at ISO 100, with my 18-55mm lens. I can't tell you the speed or aperature settings because I don't remember.

I know they are in focus, because on my computer when I zoom in, I can see the bride's hair on her neck in the sunlight.
Attached Images
   
10-02-2010, 05:18 PM   #14
Pentaxian
Marc Sabatella's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Denver, CO
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 10,686
It's kind of hard to tell at the posted size; it looks like a lot of quality was lost in the downsizing. Would it be possible to post an unresized crop of an in-focus area? And perhaps by going back to the original, you'll be able to access the EXIF. it would be useful to know the aperture and shutter speed.
10-02-2010, 06:10 PM   #15
Junior Member




Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 42
Original Poster
Marc, the image hasn't been resized at all. Its just cropped to the proportions that the upload manager required (600x900).

I'm not sure if opening the image in photoshop and re-saving the jpeg erases the EXIF info? None of the images in question have this info saved. I can hunt around at some other possible images that still have the EXIF info attached.
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
camera, crappy, film, kit, lens, lenses, pentax help, photography, pictures, quantaray, shot, shots, weddings
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
I have a ... general question(I think) mdaaug58 Photographic Technique 3 01-21-2010 07:42 PM
General Lens sharpness Question-NOOB kenhreed Troubleshooting and Beginner Help 1 08-17-2009 09:25 AM
A general question and Need help Atindra Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 23 05-11-2009 10:17 PM
General lense question? schmik Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 7 05-23-2008 01:06 PM
A general Question... meyjo Photographic Technique 15 01-31-2008 06:36 AM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 11:36 PM. | See also: NikonForums.com, part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top