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11-22-2010, 11:02 AM   #1
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Help for a newbie...

*edited* I posted before I finished oops

This is my first post and I'm new to DSLRs, so forgive me, if my questions don't make sense.
I've learned a ton from searching and reading the lens reviews and posts from the members, but I'm still in need of some advice

I've wanted to order my first few "non-kit" lenses and accessories for a few weeks but can't figure out what's next

I own a KX (and LOVE it ) with the following gear:
-18-55 & 50-200 AL kit lenses
- Temba bag
- plenty of memory cards

My questions:
Which lenses and/or gear should I look at next?

I frequently hear that EVERYONE should have a fast 50 (for low light and great IQ)

Most people talk about this one: 20817 Pentax SMCP-FA 50mm f/1.4 Standard Auto Focus Lens

but a rep told me this would be better: 21530 Pentax D-FA 50 f/2.8 Macro Auto Focus Lens

Would you agree, or do most people need something down to the 1.4 range?

What's are the benefits? One says "macro" but can't either of them do that with settings?

I enjoy shooting people mostly, architecture, and sometimes my Doberman at the park. I don't do a ton of landscape, but that may change in the future.
70% of the time I use my 18-55 and most often on the higher end of that lens.
When using the 50-200 (for games & dog pictures at the park) it's on the higher end as well

IQ is very important to me, but of course I'd like to have flexibility without carrying 100 lenses.

In my shopping cart:
1) a 50 or maybe a 40 2.8 limited,
2) AF360Z Flash
3) Tamron 18-200 (or 28-300?) - as a general use lense with great flexibility
4) RemoteF, power 2000 batteries
5) Tripod - Benro

Is any of this "overkill" and what would you add or eliminate from this list (and why) please?
I'm trying to choose wisely,
Any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated as I try to navigate through this fun maze.

Thank you in advance for your time and advice,


Last edited by MidwestKX; 11-22-2010 at 11:50 AM.
11-22-2010, 11:12 AM   #2
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What sort of focal lengths are you using most? That surely would determine what lens you get next.
11-22-2010, 11:27 AM   #3
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There is a free program called Exposure Plot that will look at the exif of all of your photos and give you statistics including numbers and percentages of FL, aperture, etc.
11-22-2010, 11:32 AM   #4
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A real macro lens allows you to get a subject (ant, fly, flower ...) real size on the sensor. E.g. a flower with a diameter of 1cm is 1cm on the sensor.

Check the magnification of both lenses in the specs below
SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Review Database
smc PENTAX-D FA 50mm F2.8 Macro Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Review Database

In my opinion, you should not listen to the stories about fast fifties. The only reason why a lot of people have them is because it's often a cheap way to get a fast lens (as there are plenty leftover from the film era). In the film era, they were the most universal (prime) lens. Because of the crop factor, their use is now more limited.

Don't get me wrong, they are still nice lenses to have for certain purposes or if you have space to move around to properly compose your shot.

I suggest that you put your 18-55 at the 55mm position (narrowest field of view) and leave it there for a week or two or three and shoot what you intend to shoot with that; if you can take the images that you want, a 50mm is the right lens for you. If you often want to change to a shorter focal length, a 50mm is not the right lens for you and you might be better of with something in the 28-35mm range.

11-22-2010, 12:43 PM   #5
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F2.8 is fine. Get the macro or the 40. The FA50 is way overpriced at this point IMO and both the macro and the 40 will outperform it. You have a camera capable of decent high-ish ISO shots, you don't need f1.4 for a room (and 50 is going to be too narrow anyway in most cases). If you want a fast 50 get a manual focus A type lens (Pentax A 50mm f1:1.7 or f1:1.4) and put the savings into something more useful.

11-22-2010, 01:31 PM   #6
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All that are very personal choices...but since you want advice..

I started not long ago too and got very involved with fotography..and i feel the first thing on your list should be the tripod (benro is good), a tripod gives you the opportunity to stop down the lenses you have, it opens up night fotography, bracketing for hdr...if you start using it you'll see that it'll become a very used item (and a good one lasts a lifetime, mine is older than me and its still in good shape)

Then i wouldn't buy the 18-200..sure its usefull, and comfortable...i spent some weeks with a similar all around lens a friend of mine lent me, and i have to say that even if its usefull i would prefer to invest my money in something different...By something different i mean a lens that will let you do things your 2 kit lenses won't..
Maybe something like a macro lens (i got a vivitar 55mm f 2,8 macro and its becoming one of my most used lenses, you can explore the textures and shapes of very small things wich is very fun, combined with extension rings you can focus very very damn small things) ..if you get into macro, you should consider what kind of things you will picture, if you're gonna shoot bugs alongside with still things you may want to consider a 100mm macro..
Or something like a fisheye...there are some pretty wide and cheap ones out there with good IQ (the Samyans/Bower/Falcon etc ).. It has very specific purposes, you gotta like it and you gotta think what will be cool with the distorsion but once you get all those 3 toghether fisheye shots are very special.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/xleskarx/ here you got the stream of a guy who has some very cool HDR and some fisheye shots.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/f3nrich/4626628707/ here's a foto where the fisheye effect adds a very special flavour.

If you travel a lot or live in a beutifull place (not my case just now XD) maybe you could consider something wide for landscapes..but then with tripod +18-55 kit lens at the 18 mm focal lenght you'll be able to stop down the kit lens and take good landscape fotos (those kit lenses are pretty decent, most reviews talk about them as ones of the best kit lenses they have seen around so i think you can stick with them sometime untill your needs take you to better, more expensive ones...)

Well hope it's usefull..and enjoy your gear.
(sorry for my english and the somehow poorly redacted, drunk like ramble)
11-22-2010, 01:37 PM   #7
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Like you, I have a small bevy of telephoto lenses that I use (da 10-17mm, DA*16-50mm, DA 55-300mm). I have a couple of older fixed length lens (from my film days), my FA Macro 100mm is my favorite but it's a bit specialized for day to day ues. Right now, I'm looking for a prime lens to use as my daily driver, my research is leaning me towards the DA 40mm Limited. From everything I've read, that is the lens to have.
11-22-2010, 02:33 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by david94903 Quote
Like you, I have a small bevy of telephoto lenses that I use (da 10-17mm, DA*16-50mm, DA 55-300mm). I have a couple of older fixed length lens (from my film days), my FA Macro 100mm is my favorite but it's a bit specialized for day to day ues. Right now, I'm looking for a prime lens to use as my daily driver, my research is leaning me towards the DA 40mm Limited. From everything I've read, that is the lens to have.
I think you may want to edit the first sentence., because you know that a 10-17 and 16-55 aren't telephotos.

The language has changed with this stuff with digital, but when I here telephoto, I think prime. Long zoom would describe a zoom with a long length.

11-22-2010, 03:52 PM   #9
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Hi Midwest and welcome to the forums.

If you are very concerned with IQ, I'd lose the super zoom (18-200) It's good as a travel lens where you are primarily concerned with weight and don't want to change lenses. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice lens for what it was designed for, ie, all in one, but like a lot of other "all in one" pieces of equipment it has a lot of compromises.
The remote, the flash and the tripod are excellent choices.
I personally would go for the FA 43mm ltd rather than the 50 or the DA 40. I think it is a better lens than either. But that is only my opinion. The "FA 43 or DA 40?" argument has been raging off and on for as long as the DA 40 has been out. All I can say is go over to the Lens forum and look up "The FA Ltd Club" thread, there are a myriad of FA 43 shots there.
I'd echo Parallax's advice on downloading Exposure Plot. It's a great tool and you will learn for sure what your preferences are.

NaCl(good luck and keep coming back)H2O
11-22-2010, 08:19 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by sterretje Quote
A real macro lens allows you to get a subject (ant, fly, flower ...) real size on the sensor. E.g. a flower with a diameter of 1cm is 1cm on the sensor.

Check the magnification of both lenses in the specs below
SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4 Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Review Database
smc PENTAX-D FA 50mm F2.8 Macro Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Review Database

In my opinion, you should not listen to the stories about fast fifties. The only reason why a lot of people have them is because it's often a cheap way to get a fast lens (as there are plenty leftover from the film era). In the film era, they were the most universal (prime) lens. Because of the crop factor, their use is now more limited.

Don't get me wrong, they are still nice lenses to have for certain purposes or if you have space to move around to properly compose your shot.

I suggest that you put your 18-55 at the 55mm position (narrowest field of view) and leave it there for a week or two or three and shoot what you intend to shoot with that; if you can take the images that you want, a 50mm is the right lens for you. If you often want to change to a shorter focal length, a 50mm is not the right lens for you and you might be better of with something in the 28-35mm range.
I've used my FA 50 one time (significantly). It was at a nighttime luau with incredibly poor lighting. Outside of that, I've used it off and on for different circumstances, but nothing that a slower lens wouldn't cover. I'm glad I had the FA 50 for the one situation, but outside of that my A 50 2.0 would have been just fine for any other situation. If I had it to do over again, I'd do the macro since it is more multipurpose.
11-22-2010, 08:33 PM   #11
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For the same price, I would buy a Metz 48 rather than that Pentax 360 for 2 reasons: 1) the 360 can't swivel which is absoltely critical for bouncing the flash off a wall to get side lighting rather than the very unflattering top lighting and resulting racoon eyes form a tilt bounce off the ceiling. 2) The Metz 48 is much more powerful the 360.
11-23-2010, 05:31 PM   #12
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One year ago, I bought the same, K-x, 18-55 and 50-200 kit. A great introduction to dSLR's.

A few months later, I bought an A50 f1.7 for $80 at a local shop. Compose with your feet, manual focus, etc. Best $80 I ever spent, and it really opened my eyes to photography and what the K-x could do. The colors, contrast, etc are very different than the kit lens.

Buy a cheap, fast A or M 50 and use it for a while. Determine what you shoot most on your zooms, and buy a Ltd prime near that range, watch bank account dwindle...

Tripod is a must, but you don't need a tree trunk - the K-x is pretty lightweight, so the lighter and less expensive tripods work fine.
11-24-2010, 07:03 AM   #13
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Original Poster
Wow - thank you ALL for the great advice. It is all very helpful!
I'm absolutely loving this forum and especially the newbie section

QuoteOriginally posted by Parallax Quote
Exposure Plot
was the perfect tool to do what so many advised - figuring out what I use most!

QuoteOriginally posted by opiet70 Quote
I'd do the macro since it is more multipurpose.
I've found I love macro shots and it will give me some fun options!

It looks like I've narrowed it down to a limited FA 43 or DA 40 based on my shooting, but I'd love to have a "macro lens" so that will probably be in the near future.

JeffJS, leadfoot, NaClH2O, Coeurdechene all helped clear the air on the 50 theories I've been reading.

Twitch- great suggestion on the flash! I'm going with that one, but I'm not sure if it has some wireless limitations...

Final shopping list:
tamron 18-200 but I REALLY want a 18-250 but can't find one as general "all in 1"
prime lens 40 or 43
benro tripod (new w/built in mono pod)
remote f
filters, rocket blower, lens pen, eneloop batteries, c9000 charger

Thanks again for all your input! If I missed anything, please let me know.
Oh - I did buy a tamron sling bag 8X if anyone's interested...I've used it once and like my temba better
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