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05-29-2011, 02:43 PM   #1
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Suggestions appreciated.

I just got the K-r with the DAL 18-55mm F3.5-5.6AL. I have done Google searches and searches on this forum and learned a lot, but I still have questions. I don't want to play hit and miss with money.

I originally got the camera to take pictures of my watch collection but I have problems with the glare off the crystals and shiny cases. I don't use a flash and I use a tri-pod, the pictures look good in the view finder but come out blurry sometimes. The ones that come out nice almost always have a glare somewhere. I will play around with it and figure it out but I think I need a Macro lens and remote. I would like a dedicated Macro lens for close ups that I will use only for watches and for the flowers I see on my hikes.
What would be a good choice on a Macro lens? Brand doesn't matter to me on this one. I just want a reasonably priced Macro that takes good pictures.
Any ideas on how to remove the glare off the watch pictures would be appreciated.

I also plan on setting up a tripod and getting some whale shots, cliff diving and surfing shots. I am looking at the Pentax smc DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED. Is a telephoto lens 2.2 doubler o.k. to put on this lens and get good pictures? If the telephoto lens doubler isn't a good idea what is a decent telescope lens for the K-r? I would like good whale shots that are not too far away. In my searches here, I have seen where doubler's are not recommended but I also see where some nice stacked lens shots are taken. It's a little confusing to me so I thought I'd ask and give an idea on what I would be using it for.

I am also looking at either the;
Pentax SMC DA 50-200mm F4-5.6

Pentax SMC P-DA 50-200mm: Is P for Pancake and what is the main difference between the two?
The 200mm will be my main all purpose lens, it should be the perfect lens distance for taking pictures of USAR and firefighting training. I just don't know if a P or regular one would be better.

I also plan on getting a battery adapter, two extra batteries and a remote off of Ebay. Should I be looking into a flash? If so, what would be a good choice? Most of my stuff will be done outside except for my watch collection.
I am a firefighter in the Army so I am looking at the Lowepro DryZone 200 Waterproof backpack.

Since this is all new to me, I would appreciate any suggestions as to various lenses or equipment that you think may be good for me or better than what I have listed as my interests.








05-29-2011, 03:48 PM   #2
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1) There are a number of macro lenses out there. including this one if you want new. Also a good number of used manual focus ones such as this one. Do a search in this forum for macro lenses and you will find a lot of information. I do not think auto-focus helps all that much with true macro so manual is fine with me.

2) The glare on your watches can be reduced by shooting inside a light tent such as this one. I just picked that one at random as an example. Do a search for light tent and you will find numerous examples including instructions to build your own which is what I did.

3) The Pentax Da 55-300 is highly regarded as the best consumer 300mm zoom available for Pentax, take a look at the review section here. It can be used with a 2x doubler but doing so reduces the image quality. Also be aware that doublers reduce the amount of light passing through by as much as two stops. You also need to find a doubler that passes through both the electrical contacts and the auto-focus. Not all of them do. Also be aware that at 300mm with 2x doubler you are getting a 600mm lens. No way will you be able to hand hold that and get a steady shot. Usually doublers will work OK with a long prime lens such as this one or any of the manual equivalents for Pentax. But on a relatively slow zoom such as the 55-300 I think it might not work very well.

4) As far as I know there is no such thing as an SMC P-DA 50-200. There are two versions of the 50-200 one of which is weather resistant. This lens is not as well regarded as the 55-300 as far as image quality is concerned. I think most folks get either the 55-300 OR the 50-200 but not both. So if you are going to get the 55-300 then the 50-200 is redundant and not as good a lens. Unless you need the weather resistant version. But since you have a k-r that doesn't help.

5) If you are considering getting a tripod research that well before spending money. There are a lot of tripods out there that are mostly a waste of money for a serious photographer. You need one that is rock solid and will not allow your gear to vibrate or fall. That does not come cheap. Expect to pay $200 - 300 at minimum for a decent tripod and head and double that for a really good one with ball head.
05-29-2011, 04:06 PM   #3
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what are you getting the blur from?
if your shutter speed super slow, you can always kick up your ISO and shoot at a faster shutter speed, the K-r can most definitely handle high ISO shooting quite well. You can also point more light at your subject to help bring down shutter speed
if its from your own shaking from pressing the shutter release, you can forgo the remote and just set the 2 second timer drive mode and shoot with that
there's also a chance your focus might be off. I do a lot of manual focusing when i shoot with a tripod and i use the live view mode on my k-x to help me confirm my focus.
for the glare, one thing you can do is to get a polarizer for your lens. you can also re-position your light sources.

i dont really have all that much experience with macro lenses, so cant help you there. There are plenty of great macro lenses available in the 50 and 100-ish focal length from both pentax and third party manufacturers, be sure to look into the lens database =)

as for the 50-200, i agree with jatrax in going for the 55-300, much better IQ and not all that much more expensive.
05-29-2011, 05:03 PM   #4
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Welcome ot the forums Trip!
All good suggestions previously posted so I'll just welcome you.
..and to resound what j-trax said, I don't know of any P DA 50-200 not unless it is a Public Display of Affection..
I have the DA 50-200mm and like it since it focuses faster than the 300mm.
I have the FA J 75-300mm and once it hunts focus, it usually racks back and forth on that long focal length! I guess it has a longer focus throw than the 200mm.
The DA 50-200mm usually just goes zip-zip!
..but if you need the extra reach, then go for the DA 55-300mm.

05-29-2011, 05:09 PM   #5
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If you do want to use a TC or teleconverter, go for the 1.5X or the 1.7X.
2X teleconverters aren't too good and it also doubles your max aperture opening so a 3.5 would become a 7 if you do use the 2X TC.
The Tamron 1.5X is regarded as good and also the Pentax 1.7X but be prepared to pay a high price for them if ever you find one.
I think there was a discussion here last year about these TC's. Just do a search and you will find them.
05-29-2011, 05:10 PM   #6
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Have you tried using a light tent? The best lens in the world isn't going to help you take good photos of watches until you get your lighting right.
05-29-2011, 07:30 PM   #7
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I saw the Pentax SMC P-DA 50-200mm on Ebay. After seeing that one hasn't been heard of here, I looked at it again and it is a DA L in the description but the title says P-DA. No wonder I couldn't find anything on it when I searched or Googled it.

I made a light box, I actually made two. One with black and one with white. I followed the instructions but the pictures looked worse in the box then out. I will play around with it some more.

I appreciate the info on the tri-pod, I was going to try to go cheap.

I wanted to use the 300m mostly for ocean pictures. I figured with a teleconverter I could get good shots of the whales and surfers. I also thought it would be slow, so I was wanting the 200m for action shots at work.
In looking at the prime lens, it would do for both of these though. Good to handle the doubler on the ocean and fast enough for action at work.
05-29-2011, 09:21 PM   #8
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"P" stands for Pentax. Most pentax lenses have that in their official names, but it is usually omitted since we all know it's there.

05-29-2011, 11:50 PM   #9
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Your kit lens has a maximum magnification of 1:3, which should be sufficient for most watches. If you are trying to take pictures with no glare at all, just increase the overall ambient lighting with no localized, directional light source. If there is a quartz halogen lighting in your home/studio, make sure it's diffused with the diffuser placed far enough away from the light source to blur out the lamp shape. Most light boxes are diffused but not enough to take pictures of glassed objects like crystals and watches. You can also strategically introduce glare with for dramatic effects but that will require much experimentation on your part.

Hope this helps,
05-30-2011, 07:05 AM   #10
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Da 35 Ltd macro would be my suggestion... + a faster shutter speed and use of the built in timer for tripod work...
05-30-2011, 07:09 AM   #11
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I have a K-R, 55-300mm and a Promaster 1.7X TC, works OK. Almost hand holdable with the lens at about 280mm, on a bright day at ISO 3200, f/7.1, 1/320, SR on. A tripod would be better. This TC is out of production, I believe, so you would have to find a used one. You can buy a very useable tripod for much less than $200 if you buy used. I found an old Tiltall clone (big & heavy) at a pawn shop for $20, it just needed to be cleaned up, works great.
05-30-2011, 10:15 AM   #12
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I think the blurry shots are from the reflections and glare, your camera maybe focusing on the case because of the reflections instead of the watches. I think if you look into a Polarizer Filter, it may be your cheapest, easiest answer for the glare and reflections plus portable, take anywhere. Just buy a decent one and play around with it. I've used them taking pictures of artwork under glass and it seems to help. As someone else mentioned, your 18-55 is a pretty decent close focusing lens. I think maybe around 9" or so... this should get you pretty close to your subject with decent magnification. If this is not enough magnification, I would look into good set of Closeup Filters for your 18-55mm

As far as the tripod, look around, bargains are out there. I pretty much have one of the cheaper models and if you know how to best use it, it will work in most cases.

I would just get the 55-300mm tele, a bit higher rated and probably sharper than the 50-200mm at 200mm. I think if you can get a 2x or 1.7x converter cheap, try it out. Two things to keep in mind, don't expect the images to be pristine, your max aperture is reduced, and I'm not sure about this, but it might double your minimum focus range as well. I've never had luck with my 1.7x converter.

BTW - Thanks for Serving!!!

Good luck...

Last edited by theunartist; 05-30-2011 at 10:33 AM.
05-30-2011, 10:50 AM   #13
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The 55-300 will do what the 50-200 does and better; it is 35mm longer and weighs 175g more.

I am not aware of a TC that does any better than simply cropping the 55-300; plus the lens at 300mm will almost certainly not autofocus with a TC.

OTOH please let us know if you find a TC that works well with the DA 50-300!
05-30-2011, 11:53 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by newarts Quote
The 55-300 will do what the 50-200 does and better; it is 35mm longer and weighs 175g more.

I am not aware of a TC that does any better than simply cropping the 55-300; plus the lens at 300mm will almost certainly not autofocus with a TC.

OTOH please let us know if you find a TC that works well with the DA 50-300!
Hi newarts,

On Topic: I agree with your first statement.

Going off topic, IMO, A quality TC with a very good lens is better than cropping with the lens alone in almost any instance, especially when considering center sharpness as the primary criterion for judging the image. I use TCs extensively for just this reason, but premium lenses are a prerequisite. I'm pretty fussy about optical performance, but there are many who are considerably more critical. . .


As to whether a DA 55-300 will AF with a TC, the answer is a reserved yes, but only with the K-5 in my experience among Pentax DSLR bodies. A 1.4x will probably also AF with the K-7, but I haven't tried it. The additional AF sensor sensitivity of the SAFOX IX allows it, but the AF performance is a little sketchy. In overcast daylight, a 1.4x will focus pretty reliably, but is a bit slow (probably on par with a K100, or maybe even a K10 normally). In the same lighting, the P F 1.7x AFA will focus, but not really reliably, missing focus but indicating a focus lock in about 30-40% the instances I tried it. It's pretty quick after the prefocus, and when it does lock correctly, the results are pretty good.

I haven't used this combo much as I have better performing alternatives, but I'd use it in a pinch. . .

K-5, DA55-300 at 300mm + P F 1.7x AFA (510mm), f6.7 indicated (actual effective Av= f9.9) (lens wide open), 1/250, ISO 640, focused with AF, cropped, cleaned very minimally with Topaz Denoise5 and sharpened a bit, then downsized for the web.



K-5, DA55-300 at 300mm + P F 1.7x AFA (510mm), f6.7 indicated (f9.9 actual), 1/250, ISO 1250, focused with AF, cropped, cleaned lightly with Topaz Denoise5 brightened in PP because it was underexposed (I left Ev comp at -1 by mistake), sharpened a bit, then downsized for the web.


Both were shot in jpeg, and handheld. The Sparrow was in cloud diffused sunlight, and the squirrel was in shadow.

One other thing, with my copies of the lens, AFA, and body, the AFA incorrectly converts the lens aperture in the exif using a factor of 1.16 instead of its normal 1.7, so wide open, the DA 55-300 shows f6.7 instead of f9.9 in exif and the VF. The error is consistent for every aperture AFAIK.

Scott
05-31-2011, 05:20 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
Hi newarts,

On Topic: I agree with your first statement.

Going off topic, IMO, A quality TC with a very good lens is better than cropping with the lens alone in almost any instance, especially when considering center sharpness as the primary criterion for judging the image. I use TCs extensively for just this reason, but premium lenses are a prerequisite. I'm pretty fussy about optical performance, but there are many who are considerably more critical. . .


As to whether a DA 55-300 will AF with a TC, the answer is a reserved yes,

.....
Scott
Thank you Scott,

I tested my DA 55-300 at 300mm wide open on a K-100D with and without a Kenko Pz-AF 1.5X Teleplus SHQ teleconverter using the same subject. Images with the TC were no better than images taken without the TC and enlarged to the same display magnification. I was surprised that autofocus worked pretty well.

Is the "P F 1.7 AFA" teleconverter you refer to the Pentax autofocus (screw drive) Teleconverter?

Your photos look good. Have you done a direct comparison of the same subject with and without the AFA TC? It sounds like it might be worth the investment!

Dave

PS I think this discussion of teleconverters is on topic as the original poster included a TC in his/her kit proposal IIRC.
QuoteQuote:
I am looking at the Pentax smc DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED. Is a telephoto lens 2.2 doubler o.k. to put on this lens and get good pictures?...
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