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08-25-2011, 12:50 PM   #1
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Camera and Lenses options for a DSLR newbie

Hi,

Me and my wife (she's the real talent, I'm just the tech guy) are planning to by a new camera. I've been reading info and reviews, and I think Pentax is offering the best cost/benefit ratio with the K-r and K-5 cameras (at least for out needs).
Anyways, we are upgrading from a Kodak megazoom camera (nice enough that we can't go back to point-and-click cameras), and we're still talking about which one to choose. I've been reading about how it can be better to invest on the lenses than on the body (lenses stay with you for many years), so I was thinking about getting a K-r and a good lenses vs getting a K-5 with the basic kit lens.
My wife likes macros, fast motion (like water drops), portrait and some cenary, but she's not really into landscape or zoom. I like macros as well and night shots. If we were to get the K-r I was thinking to get the body only (no kit lenses) and one of these:

Pentax DA 35mm F2.8 Limited Macro: https://www.pentaxforums.com/reviews/pentax-da-35mm-f28-macro/review.html

-seems to be a good all-around lenses plus the macro my wife loves

ou these two:

Pentax-DA 35mm F2.4: https://www.pentaxforums.com/lensreviews/SMC-Pentax-DA-L-35mm-F2.4-AL.html
and
Pentax-D FA 50mm F2.8 Macro: https://www.pentaxforums.com/lensreviews/SMC-Pentax-DFA-50mm-F2.8-Macro-Lens.html

-all-around lenses plus a a more macro oriented one

As you can seen I'm trying to keep the cost at around $1000, but get a very good gear that will bring great satisfaction and possibility for futher upgrades. The K-5 purchase sort breaks the pig bank, but it's doable. But it would mean not lenses purchases for at least a while.
What do you guys think? Is the K-r + lenses a better option for learning and growing or is it better to go all out and get the K-5 and worry about lenses latter?
I appreciate any advice.

Cheers,

Luiz Paulo

08-25-2011, 01:57 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by luizpaulo Quote
Is the K-r + lenses a better option for learning and growing
Yes - if you are just starting out in the DSLR realm, the K-r with the multiple lenses is the better choice and provides a solid foundation for future growth. I would however look into getting a third lens with a little more reach, something between the 70~100 range...


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08-25-2011, 02:02 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum.

Since you are new to dSLR and come from a megazoom, you probably want to consider: (a) an all-around zoom lens like the DA18-250mm and (b) a faster prime lens. Both can be purchased second hand from the forum marketplace (The Pentax Marketplace | Sell Pentax | Photographic Equipment for Sale - PentaxForums.com), Keh (Buy & Sell New & Used Cameras ? Canon, Nikon, Hasselblad, Leica & More - KEH.com) or Adorama (Digital cameras, all other cameras and everything photographic from Adorama Camera).

Like yourself, I came to dSLR from 2 successive megazoom P&S. My first lens was the Da18-250mm and it is still my most used lens: so versatile and quite a decent zoom. The DA18-250mm and its sibbling Tamron 18-250mm were manufactured by Tamron. They can be found on the marketplace for about $350-450 in good to excellent condition. In additon to its versatility, the DA18-250,, can almost be used for macro. See for example https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/11663-tamron-1...macro-too.html.

The main wekamness of the 18-250mm (and more generally of all all-around lenses) is the low light conditions. You may consider a faster prime (f2.8 or better f1.4) to complement. I like the IQ of the Pentax-D FA 50mm F2.8 Macro, but I prefer personally a faster lens (f1.4): i have a MF lens Voigtlander 58mm f1.4.

In terms of the camera body, both K-r and K-5 are great camera bodies. If you do not need the WR (weather resistance), I believe that the K-r is possibly a better option, allowing you to invest in the lenses.

Hope that the comment will help..
08-25-2011, 02:26 PM   #4
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There is something else to keep in mind just in case you were not aware of it. If you are on a budget which it sounds like you are, know that with a few exceptions (or more appropriately lenses that require minor modification such as removing a pin or require a cheap adapter), you can use just about any pentax compatible lens ever made. There are film lenses that are very good that can be had quite a bit cheaper than new lenses (I am talking about fully automatic auto focus lenses). Going even further back there are many manual focus lenses and very high quality lenses can be had for substantially less than new lenses. Personally, I would want an auto focus lens or 2 to start with (so that the camera can do a lot of things for you while you are learning to use it). You can easily and cheaply expand on that with older manual focus lenses. You could try out various focal distances and speeds to see what lenses you like and work well for the kind of shooting you do, before getting a higher dollar lens. Image stabilization is in the body in pentax cameras too so it will work with older lenses. Do your homework though as there are very good older lenses as well as junk.
I got my first dslr a few years ago and was able to get a new body with kit lens and half a dozen auto focus zoom lenses for well under your budget. While they are not top of the line lenses, many rate 8 out of ten in user reviews in the data base here and they are decent. A better approach if you are looking for top of the line but on a budget is get a few under 50$ used lenses and once you have found ones you like, find a better one with similar range and speed. You might be surprised how good some of the budget glass is and may want to actually keep using some of it. If not, glass usually holds it value well if you get a good deal and take care of it, so you could resell lenses you didn't like and probably loose little or no money.


Last edited by ripit; 08-25-2011 at 02:38 PM.
08-25-2011, 02:47 PM   #5
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Get the K-r and the 2 lens kit (18-55 & 55-300) Be sure to invest in lens hoods. A $50 Raynox adapter will make either lens a decent macro.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/lens-clubs/74221-raynox-macro-club.html

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/lens-sample-photo-archive/153150-pentax-s...d-samples.html

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/lens-sample-photo-archive/153057-super-mu...s-samples.html

If you find you need a faster prime invest in one later. Don't be afraid of manual focus, you can save a lot of money ditching the AF.
08-25-2011, 02:58 PM   #6
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As mentioned above in greater detail, neither of you can go wrong with a K-r + 18-55 + 55-300 for starters. But if funding permits, the DA 35 f/2.4 or FA 50 f/1.4 are good creative photography choices. Then if funding still permits, a decent macro lens such as the Tamron 90 f/2.8 macro or Pentax DFA 100 f/2.8 macro would make close up photography a real joy.
08-25-2011, 03:18 PM   #7
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I do own and use the DFA 50/2.8 and also FA35/2 which is very similar to the DA35/2.4.

I love these lenses but I had a chance to play with DA35 limited macro once and actually nowdays I'd probably buy that one instead of the other two. But it was not available back then...

It gives you great short macro, even shorter than 50mm, great build quality, nicer bokeh than these two lenses and you save some money. It may not be so sharp as the FA35 and DFA50 (there are not many lenses that could compete with DFA50 in shapness) but it performs well enough for even very lagre prints.

I my FA35 and DFA50 were stolen now, I'd replace them with DA35 limited without hesitation.
08-25-2011, 05:27 PM   #8
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Hey folks!

Thanks for the input so far! It seems there's a consensus to go for the K-r + lenses rather the K-5 + kit lens. But you guys seem to want me to break the bank getting all these lenses hehe
I forgot to say I live in Brazil, but I saw that the forum marketplace is very international Buying used lenses and trading is something I'll be doing, no doubt about it. I do know that Pentax DSLR are compatible with all older Pentax lenses, which is another one of the reasons why we are choosing to go Pentax. But as newbies I think it's best to start with AF lenses for now. I'm not afraid of MF but I think it might be overwhelming at this moment.
Got replies suggesting that the Pentax DA 35mm F2.8 Limited Macro would be a better option than those two others. Also got suggestions to get the kit lens 18-55mm + 55-300mm. But would the DA 35mm limited eliminate the need for the 18-55mm? Also isn't the 55-300 more of a zoom lens? As I said my wife isn't really into zoom. Is it worth it?
Like I said, I do have I budget (unfortunately I married for love not money...), and I'm also worried about spending too much now, and not leaving some for looking at the marketplace (forum and local stores) later as we get more experience and find out which lenses are more our style. Getting the 18-55 + 55-300 + 35 limited is a bit much to start with isn't it?

08-25-2011, 05:49 PM   #9
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There are programs that can look at the data from a set of digital images from your old camera and analyze the focal lengths you've already used. Once you convert them into an equivalent focal length, you can get an idea of the focal lengths needed for similar photos on a DSLR. I probably should look up the name for the program before recommending it again.

Eventually all DSLRs will fall into your price range; it's just a matter of time and buying used. I would lean towards getting a K-r and lenses that you can use right away. I like having a lens for everything. It's also better to not spend the entire budget before realizing you need a tripod or flash.
08-25-2011, 05:52 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
It's also better to not spend the entire budget before realizing you need a tripod or flash
lol - actually, may want to look into a good bag first, that can be a rather large investment in itself



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08-25-2011, 06:02 PM   #11
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I would consider getting the "kit lens", a version of the DA 18-55mm f3.5-5.6, with the camera for a couple of reasons. One, it's cheap with the body - though you could maybe match that price used. Two, it's good enough for general purpose use, those times you never know what you need. Third, a decent lens wider than 35mm can be costly. Even if you fill in later, a kit lens can delay filling in at the wide angle for a while.
08-26-2011, 12:32 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by luizpaulo Quote
Like I said, I do have I budget (unfortunately I married for love not money...), and I'm also worried about spending too much now, and not leaving some for looking at the marketplace (forum and local stores) later as we get more experience and find out which lenses are more our style. Getting the 18-55 + 55-300 + 35 limited is a bit much to start with isn't it?
Skip the 55-300. The L version without QSF is noisy and extremely slow to focus. Better to wait and buy a better telephoto lens later.
08-26-2011, 05:38 AM   #13
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The program that analyzes camera usage (focal length, ISO, shutter speed and aperture is ExposurePlot
ExposurePlot (former Focalplot)
08-26-2011, 07:06 AM   #14
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The Catch-in-Focus feature makes manual lenses easy to use. Even the M50 f/2 lens makes a decent pseudo-macro lens. There are a lot of good macro choices out there if you want to look at older glass. It's a bit less convenient, but depending on what kind of macro work your wife likes you may get better results with the manual lenses. I shoot most with a FA 100, which doubles as a suitable telephoto when walking around. I'd like to get the DA35mm ltd. I can't deny that. Until then I'll use the 16-45 and make sure I keep a bit of distance and rely on cropping for the best captures.

I'm interested in a super-zoom, too, as my wife would like a versatile walk-around lens. That would let us use two bodies, one with a specialized lens and one with an all-purpose.

When I first bought the K-10 used a few years ago I settled on Pentax for the old lenses. They're getting hard to find (at least at a bargain) now. I think you're doing this the right way and planning how to build a kit. Who knows, your wife may decide you need to buy a second used body so you can both come home with loads of images to sit on your hard drive waiting for sorting, editing and posting....
08-26-2011, 09:09 AM   #15
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"Also got suggestions to get the kit lens 18-55mm + 55-300mm. ........... Also isn't the 55-300 more of a zoom lens? As I said my wife isn't really into zoom.Is it worth it?"

Yes it is worth it; a value that cannot be beat. Add a Raynox 150 for $70 and you have completely covered the hand-held scene size range. From a flea to a little bird far away. The ISO performance of the camera is good enough that the lenses will suffice for sports in well lit stadiums and gymnasiums.

The lenses are zooms to be sure but are good enough to stand in for a wide range of prime lenses until you can afford them.
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