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04-07-2011, 06:10 AM   #1
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Whats a good low light lens for kx <$70?

I'm looking to buy a lens for low light situations, the kit lens just isnt doing it for me. Will probably be shooting inside and at near dark situations. I dont really know a lot about what lenses to choose but would like to try out a manual lens. What are your recommendations for a low light lens <$70 (and possibly where I should buy too)? Help will be greatly appreciated, thanks!

04-07-2011, 06:20 AM   #2
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I would suggest any of the "fast 50s" from Pentax. All of the "M" versions are very well thought of, and most of the "A" versions as well. You might be able to snag an A 50mm f1.7 for under $70. (I got a spectacular deal on Craigslist) but they are normally a bit more.

You can get an M 50mm f2.0 for about $20, last I looked. You can get an A 50mm f2.0 for under $40, but some people don't like those as much. I always liked mine. Check the lens reviews section for these.
Pentax M Series Prime Lens Reviews and Specifications - Pentax Lens Reviews & Pentax Lens Database
Pentax A Series Prime Lens Reviews and Specifications - Pentax Lens Reviews & Pentax Lens Database

When you get down to f1.4 the price starts going a bit more than your budget, but you might get lucky.

eBay and craigslist have these. The marketplace right here also has them pop up, and you know those are well taken care of. there may be some there right now, if you want to check them out.

If you want a zoom... these get more rare. I bought a Tokina made Vivitar on eBay for under your budget. 35-70mm. F2.8-3.8... so not fast at all focal lengths. Primes are easier to find at this price point.

You didn't mention the body you have, but if it is one that can handle high ISO, you might be surprised what an f2.0 and ISO 3200 can do.

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04-07-2011, 06:37 AM   #3
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mediaslinky reply hit on the lenses, however I believe that your problem goes beyond just a lens. Fast lenses, or lenses with large apertures - f1.2, f1.4, f1.7, etc. do allow you to take in more light, however when using these apertures, your depth of field becomes very thin, and focusing (especially in the dark), is either very difficult or impossible. Manual lenses just compound the problem.

The solution for depth of field, is a smaller aperture - f8, f11, etc. however this is the opposite of a fast lens. So you are back to needing to gather additional light, flash, turning on lamps in the room, or leaving the shutter open for a longer time, and/or increasing the sensor's sensitivity (higher ISO speed).

You can do all of this with your current lens. Increase the ISO speed to your camera's maximum value (if the room is as dark as you indicate). Increase the shutter time to 30 seconds and beyond. For this you probably need a tripod, and remote shutter release (wired or IR).

If your setting is something like a very dark night club, then a body like the K5, with very high ISO and a focus assist light. However, even with a fast lens say at f1.7 your depth of field will be pretty thing, and focusing will be critical.

If you go to faster ISO speeds, you will probably need noise reduction utilities to clean the images up a bit.

Overall, you need to provide a bit more information with what your are trying to do...

04-07-2011, 09:48 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
mediaslinky reply hit on the lenses, however I believe that your problem goes beyond just a lens. Fast lenses, or lenses with large apertures - f1.2, f1.4, f1.7, etc. do allow you to take in more light, however when using these apertures, your depth of field becomes very thin, and focusing (especially in the dark), is either very difficult or impossible. Manual lenses just compound the problem.

The solution for depth of field, is a smaller aperture - f8, f11, etc. however this is the opposite of a fast lens. So you are back to needing to gather additional light, flash, turning on lamps in the room, or leaving the shutter open for a longer time, and/or increasing the sensor's sensitivity (higher ISO speed).

You can do all of this with your current lens. Increase the ISO speed to your camera's maximum value (if the room is as dark as you indicate). Increase the shutter time to 30 seconds and beyond. For this you probably need a tripod, and remote shutter release (wired or IR).

If your setting is something like a very dark night club, then a body like the K5, with very high ISO and a focus assist light. However, even with a fast lens say at f1.7 your depth of field will be pretty thing, and focusing will be critical.

If you go to faster ISO speeds, you will probably need noise reduction utilities to clean the images up a bit.

Overall, you need to provide a bit more information with what your are trying to do...

Yes, More info as to the type of shots you want is needed. For less than $70, in any currency, you are in the M (or possibly A) 50mm f1:1.7 in the Pentax line. That lens is (still) in my opinion, the best bang for the buck. Then again, just about any prime, is going to out preform the Kit 18-55 lens.



04-07-2011, 01:45 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by RePete Quote
I'm looking to buy a lens for low light situations, the kit lens just isnt doing it for me. Will probably be shooting inside and at near dark situations.
In near-dark situations, a super-fast lens won't help you. You'll need light, and/or a tripod, and/or higher ISO, and/or something else entirely. Of the latter, I have an great setup for near-dark and total-dark situations: an old 5mpx Sony DSC-V1 P&S with NightShot (IR) mode, and an IR light. For a few hundred bucks, you can have your Kx modified for such IR usage, but you probably won't like the results.

So forget that. You can't afford it anyway. Your Kx is renowned for its high-ISO capability, so pump up the sensitivity. And don't forget the tripod. As long as your subjects don't move for 30 seconds or whatever, you can shoot in very very low light. You can speed up exposures by aiming a flashlight at your subjects and 'painting' them with its glow. Or you can just use flash.

If you insist on a faster lens, the suggestions for a SMC-M or -A 50/1.7 are right on. If you can stand using an adapter, an M42 Super Takumar 55/1.8 is superb and pretty cheap; its 55/2 twin with identical optics is just as good and even cheaper. Some third-party M42 lenses around 50-55/1.4 can still be won on eBay within your price range. Moving from f/1.7 to f/1.4 doesn't buy you a lot of light-gathering capability.

But every little bit helps, eh? Except when trying to focus with thin DOF. And you can't depend on AF or focus-confirmation or Catch-In-Focus in near-darkness, they just don't work. So we're back to adding light. Light is necessary. Remember, a day without sunshine is like night.
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