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02-17-2011, 03:44 AM   #1
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Lens and Tripod for K-5

Good Morning,

Over the last 2 months I spent a great deal of time researching cameras and have decided to purchase the k-5. Having recieved some gift certificates for a store that does not carry the k-5, I have decided to purchase the body separately and then use the certificates to get a lens or 2.

Also want to get a new tripod and eventually a flash. As this will be at least a couple thousand dollar investment, I want to make the best and most informed choices possible. This is where all of your experience comes in place. Love to hear your suggestions on what is the best equipment to start?

Here are some details about me. I am a city planner and mom and take lots of photos for both parts of my life including:
  • City planner photos -- buildings, landscapes, people, community meetings, and parks. Use in presentations, reports, and plan documents.
  • Family photos -- my toddler, his friends, our family, and our vacations.
  • Travel photos -- Disney, fireworks, camping, campfires, hiking, hockey games, and the beach.
My budget is $250 - 400 for the tripod and $250 - 500 for the lense(s). Of course saving money would be great -- and may allow me to get a flash now rather than later. That said, would prefer to buy quality items that will last than be cheap and have to make another purchase sooner rather than later. This is a starting point, which will certainly expand in the years to come.

Thanks for your advice everyone!

02-17-2011, 10:42 AM   #2
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Kathie(?), Welcome to the forums.

Tripods... You need not spend $100s on one though you do get to some extent what you pay for. Just pick one that is easy for you to operate (assuming you have the chance to try one out), is solid when completely extended (doesn't wobble), and isn't so heavy that you'll opt to leave it at home all the time. Unless setting up to take photos of myself for some reason, I rarely find I have any use for one. Fireworks would be the one exception to that.

Lenses. I am always going to tell people to go for the Prime lenses. I would suggest something in the 35-40 mm range for general type stuff The DA35 f2.4 is well regarded around here as is the DA40 f2.8 Limited. Those are going to be about the least expensive options in that range for an Auto focus lens. If you want to walk on the wild side and go Manual focus, you can fill your camera bag with lenses for the money you're looking to spend. See the Pentaxforums lens database for your many options. A lot of the user reviews have photos attached to them showing what the lenses are capable of.

If you want a general walk around lens that is capable of catching just about everything on your list, the DA18-135 looks like a good option (though I have no experience with it).

02-17-2011, 11:44 AM   #3
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Hey there, I'm sure you'll get lot's of opinions on this subject (tripods/lenses). If you currently have no lenses, you may want to instead allocate some of the tripod money to the lens fund. Realistically, a budget between $250-500 will barely cover 1 lens if you're looking at brand new from the store. I think the 18-135mm that Jeff mentioned would be a good starter considering the type of photography you've expressed interest in (essentially shooting everything). It would be wide enough for most buildings and landscape photography, as well as long enough for traveling, portraits, etc. I wish Pentax would actually package the 18-135 as the kit lens with the K-5 in the US like they do internationally. It's not the fastest lens in terms of aperture, but the dynamic range and high ISO abilities of the K-5 would still make it shine. It's also about $500 even at most retailers.

As for tripods, you'll probably be stunned at the variety available in addition to quality and pricing. IMO, if you plan on traveling light, then a carbon fiber tripod is the way to go. Additionally, most carbon fiber tripods are "legs only", meaning you still need to find a good ballhead to grip the camera and a plate to mount the camera on the ballhead. I use and recommend Feisol tripods. You can't buy them locally, but you can order them online from either Really Big Cameras or The CT-3441S is a great tripod for traveling. It's made of carbon fiber, weighs only 2.2lbs, can hold 22lbs, folds to 16.9" (well below carry-on size), and has a max height of 5'8". It costs $299, which may sound expensive, but it's all relative when compared to other brands like Gitzo.
02-17-2011, 12:03 PM   #4
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I think Einstrigger has everything just about spot on. I don't own anything from feisol, but if I had to buy a tripod over again, I would give them serious consideration. I have a set of Gitzo Basalt legs - it is their cheaper alternative to carbon fiber and they are still fairly light, though not compact at about 25 inches folded.

I also recommend really big cameras - I bought my photoclam ballhead from them (which, if you are looking to get a tripod and need a ballhead as well, I would easily recommend).

On the subject of the lens - I would suggest to start with the 18-55mm WR kit lens. Even though it is a kit lens, it is still a solid start. After a month, see whether you enjoy shooting wider angles or would like more telephoto reach (not to mention things like faster lenses, primes, macros, fisheyes, etc). While the 18-135mm would be a great all-around lens, you may find you want something more specific, and right now you are paying the retail/MSRP premium since it is a brand new lens.

02-17-2011, 12:22 PM   #5
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Hi Kathiewe,

To come back on the lenses, the DA 18-135mm will serve you well for your kids, beach and other photos. It is weather/dust/sand proof pretty sharp and does a fast AF.
For your city planning thing (one of my sons is a city planner), in many situations 18mm is too long. Have a look at the two Sigma 10-20mm zooms with HSM AF drive.
The f3.5 zoom is not cheap but gets very strong reviews.

Chears, Bert
02-17-2011, 12:27 PM   #6
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Here is a great tripod ball head combo. It will be plenty. Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod Legs (Black): Camera & Photo Manfrotto 498RC2 Ball Head with Quick Release Replaces Manfrotto 488RC2: Camera & Photo
02-17-2011, 01:06 PM   #7
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For $1000 I would reccommend splitting the money more along the lines of $150-200 tripod, $800-$600 lenses.

You can get a good setup from a dedicated tripod maker (think: manfrotto), sturdy aluminum tripod with a solid ball head for about $200.

For lenses... man, you have a lot of options. Unfortunetly pentax does not make tilt-shift lenses anymore!

For a single lens solution I would reccommend the Pentax DA* 16-50mm f/2.8. It will do literally EVERYTHING but hockey (not quite long enough for sports), and it will do it with outstanding quality and speed. If I could do it all over again and only pick one lens, this would be it.

02-17-2011, 03:08 PM   #8
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Thanks for the advice everyone.

Sounds like I should shift money around and go for the better lens. I should also mention that I have $250 from a gift certificate to add to the lens kitty so that should help.

Yes the number of tripods out there is amazing -- much different from when I bought one for my SLR back in college. Trying to read all the different advice on line has made my head spin and going to stores hasn't helped much because there are so many option is so many price points, so its good to talk to real people who are using this equipment.
02-17-2011, 03:37 PM   #9
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Another tripod + ballhead to check out might be the Manfrotto 190PROB + 496RC2. More basic, not as tall, but also somewhat cheaper than the 055 + 498RC2 combo, yet still quality stuff.
02-18-2011, 12:48 AM   #10
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Some tripods have a brace between the legs, some do not, and some (or maybe all) of the ones without braces let you splay the legs different amounts. Mine is like that and it's incredibly useful in some situations, like using it on a narrow rocky ledge above a river.

Mine also has a quick release plate that stays attached to the camera, I suspect they all do, but with my previous camera I had to take the plate off to change the battery. The only way you can find out if a plate will be OK on your camera is to go to a shop with plenty of tripods and try them out. It will also let you see how heavy they feel.

Also consider getting or making a tripod bag - it makes them much easier to carry around.
02-18-2011, 01:03 AM   #11
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Referencing the above, For the record: you can get the battery out of a K-5 with a manfrotto RC2 (square) quick release plate... Not that you would ever need to, seeing as the battery doesn't ever run out.
02-18-2011, 01:18 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by RXrenesis8 Quote
Referencing the above, For the record: you can get the battery out of a K-5 with a manfrotto RC2 (square) quick release plate... Not that you would ever need to, seeing as the battery doesn't ever run out.
It doesn't? You discovered perpetual motion?

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