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12-29-2010, 01:28 AM   #1
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Just got a K-r... now what?

So I got a Pentax K-r with the 18-55 kit lens recently, and it feels pretty good. However, I'm not sure where to go from this point. This is my first DSLR too.

I've previously done as much photography as I could with compacts and bridge cameras. However, the camera was always a limiting factor: shutter/aperture, noise, etc.

Looking back at my previous photos, I seem to take photos of landscapes, sculptures, and art the most. I like to take macro photos second. I occasionally take photos at socials, but candid photos are not my forte.

Can anyone give me some tips on where to go from here? Perhaps a resource to further improve my image composure abilities? Or maybe a lens suggestion? Thanks

12-29-2010, 02:04 AM   #2
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SRG01, first of all: welcome to these forums and congrats with your new camera. I believe you will love it!

About your question: there are many ways to improve your photography skills, for instance by searching the web for resources...there are many (probably too many?)! I'd advise you to shoot as much as you can, and post photos on these forums. I was helped a lot by the comments on my shots in the beginning! And you are most welcome to join and participate in P52, a weekly photo challenge we do on these forums every week. It will take you through all kinds of subjects and techniques. This weeks challenge can be found here: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/mini-challenges-games-photo-stories/12684...backlight.html, in the Mini Challenges subboard!

Have fun, be persistent, and you will have a very steep learning curve!

About the lens question: I would recommend a fast, manual focus lens, for instance the M 50/1.7. They are cheap, and they are fun to use!!!
12-29-2010, 02:08 AM   #3
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Just don't start from new lenses - tripod might be better . Buy a couple of books about photography and photoshop tutorial. Also there is plenty info online - like luminous-landscape or cambridgeincolour.com. Ken Rockwell site is also good, especially before buying new lenses

Regards,
A.
12-29-2010, 02:23 AM   #4
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When I saw the title, the initial thought was: take photos

Learn your camera, learn what you can do with the kit lens and what you can't do with it. That will determine which lens(es) you need in future.

If you just want close ups, the kit lens will do pretty well. If you want real macro, Raynox (Raynox conversion lenses for Digital SLR camera) is a cheap way to start.

I'll second 'luminous landscape' and 'cambridge in colour'.

12-29-2010, 02:44 AM   #5
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I second arv... Get a stable tripod.
The kit lens should do you for a while... A fast 50mm would teach you a lot but for landscapes or anything with a long exposure... Tripod should be considered more important...

If you want stuff on composition... I really like the Michael Freeman books... The Photographers Eye is a favourite...
AVA Publishing (they do a 'Basics Photography' range...) have a book called 'Composition' by David Prakel which is also quite good...

Did you shoot in manual mode when using 'bridge' cameras? If not... Tis time you take control my friend... Check out http://www.youtube.com/user/FontanaKnowledge#p/a/81112CA092D722FF/0/Dt6AvJ7WZSI
I found him very useful... He very into you doing 'what works for you' and just explains 'what works for me' and 'why'... There are 13 10minute tutorials... Very basic...

In terms of macro... If you want to get really close (physically...) you are (probably...) going to have to shell out for some glass specific to the task... The lens database on this site is an awesome resourse... I use it often...

Be warned... LBA is a serious issue which currently affects the good judgement of many a pentax user... I am in the early stages of LBA myself and may have to sell my girlfriend as a result to further feed my habit...

Most of all... just take pictures every day... Try things out... Adjust settings... exposure times... aperture, shutter speed, ISO... The Holy Trinity of 'Grabbing Light'...
12-29-2010, 05:27 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by sterretje Quote
When I saw the title, the initial thought was: take photos
Exactly. Take photos, look carefully at them when you get home, and read the manual to find out how to sort problems. Also try using Av and/or Tv mode. Consider taking the manual with you, and also consider taking test shots - for example the same scene at 100 ISO, 200 ISO, 400 ISO and so on. Or at f4.5, f8 f11, f16 and so on.

If you want feedback on your photos there is a Flickr group that might be worth joining - lurk first to get the feel of it, plus you will learn a lot by reading it.

Flickr: Photography Critique
12-29-2010, 10:45 AM   #7
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I agree with the general sentiment of taking photos. You don't want to just blast away - although it's "free", you get tired of going through the shots. Take a photo, look at it, figure out how it could be better, take another. The process can be short and technical, like check the histogram on the camera, correct and reshoot. Or it can be long, like taking a photo of an interesting tree one day, then taking it again at another time, then again from underneath.

Looking at photos from other people helps, something I never did until I got my DSLR. Remember you are not looking to judge whether that photo or photographer is better than you. You are looking at photos you like to see why you like them, unique techniques to figure out how they're done, bad photos to see what went wrong.

Don't despair if you can't immediately improve from your previous camera. Just because the new camera is better, it takes a while to learn and exploit its advantages.
12-29-2010, 11:16 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by SRG01 Quote
So I got a Pentax K-r with the 18-55 kit lens recently, and it feels pretty good. However, I'm not sure where to go from this point. This is my first DSLR too.

I've previously done as much photography as I could with compacts and bridge cameras. However, the camera was always a limiting factor: shutter/aperture, noise, etc.

Looking back at my previous photos, I seem to take photos of landscapes, sculptures, and art the most. I like to take macro photos second. I occasionally take photos at socials, but candid photos are not my forte.

Can anyone give me some tips on where to go from here? Perhaps a resource to further improve my image composure abilities? Or maybe a lens suggestion? Thanks
I would suggest that you put the lens you have on the camera, put the card you have in the camera, and participate on one of our games. Such as the next one.. .

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/mini-challenges-games-photo-stories/12675...e-january.html

You might be surprised at what you can do with what you have and already know. If you're looking for feedback about specific photo items (composure, exposure, etc) go over to the Photo Critique section and put up a picture.

As to a general suggestion, learn about exposure. Learn how Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO relate to one another. Learn to understand what your meter is telling you (if you don't already know). From there, you can rule your photography world. Plenty of recources on the web for this. If you insist on a book, one commonly recommended (though I've never read it) is one called Understanding Exposure. I'm betting you can get all the same information on the web but many seem to like the way the book is arranged.



12-29-2010, 08:52 PM   #9
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Great tips everyone! I'll definitely pick up a tripod next time I'm in a photography store...

I've definitely been shooting more -- one of my 'hobbies' with a bridge camera was to shoot at random things and manually change the settings -- but I'm still getting used to Aperture/F-stops since depth of field is more important now.

I'll take a look at the web resources, and perhaps hold off on the books for a little while. I'm more of a hands-on learner when it comes to new hobbies
12-30-2010, 12:43 AM   #10
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I have a tripod without a brace between the legs. It's a little less stable but a big, big plus is it's much easier to use where the ground is uneven, or on narrow ledges as the legs can be adjusted to stick out at different angles. The quick release plate lives on the underside of the camera and thankfully with the K7 I can get the battery out without having to loosen the plate.

When I use it I turn on the 2-second delay on the shutter as pressing the release can induce a little movement - the alternative is to use a remote release.

Incidentally having looked at Bryan Paterson's books on Amazon, Understanding Photography might be a better choice - according to the blurb it covers exposure but also 'seeing' - spotting what might make a good image - and also composition. The Amazon entry has a review that lists all the chapters, though another cautions it's all about outdoor photography.

Amazon.com: Bryan Peterson's Understanding Photography Field Guide: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera (9780817432256): Bryan Peterson: Books
12-30-2010, 01:28 AM   #11
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I'm going to go against the grain here... Only buy that expensive tripod if you're actually going to use it - I'm sure 95% of all tripods sold get used less than 5 days a year! I'm certainly guilty of leaving mine at home or in the car most of the time and it was expensive enough that I could have bought a nice new lens instead. Or a couple of weekends taking photos in new and interesting places. Remember all the money you spend on camera gear is money you could spend on photography instead.

Luminous Landscape is the best site I've found for informative articles - technical and aesthetic - and their forums are good too. This list is also quite useful reading material.

There's a debate about this (see elsewhere on this forum!) but I think for landscape stuff you want to be shooting in raw all the time. You can get the highest quality image that way, and you get more control over how it looks.

In terms of lenses, an ultrawide like a DA15 or Sigma 10-20 gives you an amazing new perspective and a lightweight tele zoom you get distant detail and opportunistic shots of wildlife in good light. Price was an issue for me so I started with a used Tamron 70-300 from Ebay, these days the Pentax DA-L 55-300 is a good bet too (optically the same as the more expensive version, just buy a lens hood for it).

There's also a whole world of interesting old lenses, some of which are cheap. And a small number of FA Limited primes which are definitely not cheap, but inspire a sort of religious fervour. The lens database on this site is excellent.
12-30-2010, 04:53 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by timh Quote
I'm going to go against the grain here... Only buy that expensive tripod if you're actually going to use it - I'm sure 95% of all tripods sold get used less than 5 days a year! I'm certainly guilty of leaving mine at home or in the car most of the time and it was expensive enough that I could have bought a nice new lens instead. Or a couple of weekends taking photos in new and interesting places. Remember all the money you spend on camera gear is money you could spend on photography instead.
I bought a Hama Omega Premium... In the UK its very mid-range... 80... very stable

You could get a tripod for 5 on ebay... My Girlfriend did... It was junk... She now uses mine or the Gorrillapod I bought her...

You could pay 200+ for something amazing... Here I aggree with Timh... Not worth it...

I tried 4 tripods out in the shop... 35, 50, 80 and 100+... 100+ was out of my price range... 35 was stable but felt like I might break it sooner rather than later... The 50 wobbled... 80 Hama was stable had all metal parts and foam leg protectors (very good in cold weather)...

Try a few out...
12-30-2010, 05:15 AM   #13
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That Hama Omega Premium looks good - and Amazon UK has it for 44 at the moment!

I had something like that - fairly stable, fairly cheap. But I didn't use it, and I thought the reason I didn't use it was because it was heavy and the head was irritating to use and it shifted the camera when I tightened it up.

So I bought a nice light tripod that's more stable, and quicker to erect. And I bought a nice smooth ball head for it. It even looks cool.

And now I realise I don't take the tripod because it's just a awkward to carry on a 10 mile hike, it takes up valuable space in airline baggage and if I'm walking with impatient non-photographers they've disappeared over the horizon by the time I've got the shot I want with it. It's also hugely conspicuous - the last thing I want in British cities is for gangs of morons to be shouting "oi! he's got a camera! show us your f**king camera!" and that's what carrying a tripod practically guarantees. (Japan is so different - pulling out a tripod there just gets smiles, as long as I'm not in the way.)

The theory of using a tripod is flawless. You get better shots, you think about composition more. But in practice, unless I'm driving somewhere amazing (and somewhere it's safe to actually stop and park) it gets very little action.
12-30-2010, 06:21 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by timh Quote
That Hama Omega Premium looks good - and Amazon UK has it for 44 at the moment!
Thats just typical!!

QuoteOriginally posted by timh Quote
I bought a nice smooth ball head for it.
Are ball heads really worth it? I've never used one but use my tripod often....

QuoteOriginally posted by timh Quote
It's also hugely conspicuous - the last thing I want in British cities is for gangs of morons to be shouting "oi! he's got a camera! show us your f**king camera!" and that's what carrying a tripod practically guarantees.
I live pretty much slap bang in the middle of a Northern British City... I don't get much hassle tbh... Sometimes the scroats will try it on... but happens very rarely... I think a lot of muggings happen due to the way the victim 'carries' himself... Young Students and Tourists in cities are always easy targets due in part to the 'vacant' and 'lost' expressions on their faces... I have been mugged in the past but have since found that these opportunists are working on the assumption you won't fight back... You need to break the mould... There's usually a point as these thugs approach where you see them weighing you up... as soon as they make that initial threatening move... you need to strike first... strike hard and continue striking until the situation changes.

The other thing you can do is get a photo buddy... Join a local society or club...
12-30-2010, 06:40 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by DaveHolmes Quote
Are ball heads really worth it? I've never used one but use my tripod often....
Clearly it wasn't worth it for me! But yes, mine is vastly superior to the pan/tilt thing I had before. The advantage is in being able to change position by moving the camera instead of by fiddling with levers and/or screwing things in and out. Just one knob to turn with a ball head.

Safety stuff, slightly off topic maybe - I agree it can be to do with how the victims carry themselves, but the muggings don't happen "due to" that - they happen due to the existence of violent thugs and of course the reason they are seemingly so prevalent in Britain is a whole other debate! The people I know who've been mugged, however, have been obviously carrying expensive kit - laptop bag, big camera, iphone, that kind of thing.

If you're in Sheffield that's, in my experience, pretty friendly.. Leeds, not so much. I move around too much to join local clubs for things, really.
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