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09-23-2011, 10:03 AM   #1
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New to photography!!

I love to take photos, of people. So my boyfriend went out and bought me my first camera, the Pentax k-r. How do I go from taking family photos with a regular point and shoot to using the k-r and taking amazing photos of people like I want to do. I have done some reading and have read that the most important piece is the lens. But different lenses take different kinds of photos. What kind of lens do I need to take the best photos of people? Is the lens that comes with the camera enough? I suspect it is not. I am such an amateur, but I want this to become something that I will excel in. Thanks for any advice.

09-23-2011, 10:25 AM   #2
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Lots of normal questions for someone new to the DSLR world. Suggestions:

1. Read your manual (usually more than once!)
2. Before you consider other lenses (and I'm assuming you have the kit lens the 18-55mm lens) learn to use it first. Other lenses will come and if you follow treads on this site you will learn about more.
3. Try working in manual mode for a bit. That will teach you how to balance the three things a DSLR has to use, f-stop, shutter speed, and ISO.
4. If there are any workshops / classes available to you on basics, take one.

Actually the important piece in photography (IMHO) is the photographer...a good one can get an excellent shot with the cheapest camera and a bad one can't get a good shot with the most expensive gear.

Welcome to the club!
09-23-2011, 10:26 AM   #3
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First, Welcome and read the posts. I have learned a lot myself from the questions and answers here on the forum. My I suggest, as a newbie myself, to use the kit lens for a while. See if it gives you what you are looking for. I went out and purchased a few lens with my first pentax and found that I should have experimented first and learned the camera. I would have not made some of the purchases I did. Good luck and keep reading
09-23-2011, 10:27 AM   #4
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It sounds like you are ernest in your pursuit.
My suggestions are to perhaps find and read a few books about photography or slr cameras. Go to your local library or find some used publications at your favorite online book store.
Read the manual of your K-r. Then read it again. Then begin to apply some of the things you have read to your ideas of what you see in your photography style.
Lenses and equipment should come once you have greater knowledge and experience. Whatever lenses may have come with your camera will be perfectly fine for now. Once you have greater understandings and experience, then you will be better to answer your own questions about where you want photography to take you and how to set upon that path.
Joining this site will help but if you are new to slr photography, it would serve you better to not think of it as a shortcut. There are many great members on the forum with a variety of experience levels, all happy to help. But you should put time into the photography most importantly.
Don't be afraid to ask questions but reading a few good books and the camera manual should come first.

Welcome to the forum.

09-23-2011, 10:28 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Waheena Quote
I love to take photos, of people. So my boyfriend went out and bought me my first camera, the Pentax k-r. How do I go from taking family photos with a regular point and shoot to using the k-r and taking amazing photos of people like I want to do. I have done some reading and have read that the most important piece is the lens. But different lenses take different kinds of photos. What kind of lens do I need to take the best photos of people? Is the lens that comes with the camera enough? I suspect it is not. I am such an amateur, but I want this to become something that I will excel in. Thanks for any advice.

First of all, go out and use that lens you have to take the kind of shots you have in mind. Do it a lot! This will give you a base-line to start from. From here you can begin to figure out what the lens is lacking that you need, and what you are lacking as far as technique and skills. Figuring this out will lay your path out in front of you, and you will be able to ask specific questions on how to achieve your desired "look".
09-23-2011, 11:15 AM   #6
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Is there a Magic Lantern book for the K-r? I find those a bit easier to read for tips, though they don't always cover everything the Pentax manual does.

The K-r's a great camera - you'll have fun. I'd learn to take pictures at different apertures with A-mode - even just changing the aperture and seeing how the camera changes the shutter speed and ISO will teach you a lot.

Keep your shutter speed up when taking snapshots, and half-press the button early to make sure the shake-reduction is active.


Don't get discouraged, don't be intimidated. Photography is half experience and half inspiration (and half patience).
09-23-2011, 12:43 PM   #7
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Taking a lot of photos is one way to get better. But most of us need some guidance to get to another step:

1. If you can learn by reading, this is the book that helped me the most:
Amazon.com: Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera (9780817439392): Bryan Peterson: Books
You can usually find it in libraries too.

2. Not sure where you live, but photography classes at community colleges etc are not bad.

I did both of the above. I am no professional. I like taking pics of people, especially family. I can say that the above two things helped a LOT.

Lens: There are lenses that can make a big difference in your 'portrait photography'. But only if you know the basics. The easiest lens to shoot pics of people is probably the Tamron 28-75 f2.8 lens. This would work for many kinds of single or group photos. If you get better at it, you can always buy one or more of the following DA 70mm or FA 77 or DA* 50-135 all of which are great 'portrait lenses'.

Best of Luck!
09-23-2011, 12:58 PM   #8
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All of this is such great advice and I will definitely use it. Keep it coming!!! I need it!

09-23-2011, 02:00 PM   #9
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Welcome to the forums and to the world of photography. In addition to books and classes, both of which can help a lot, you might see if there's a camera club nearby. Most clubs have members who like to help and one-on-one consultations can address your personal needs better than prepackaged courses.

There's been a lot of research done recently on how the brain reacts to learning. It boils down to doing a lot of conscious practice. Take a lot of photographs, but instead of just shooting, look at images soon after you took them. Figure out where the photos fall short of your expectations. Deliberately try a similar shot, focusing on what you are doing. Repeat. Practice is much more important than having the "right gear." And, your basic setup is very versatile, more than good enough to keep you going for quite a while. Actually, you'd do yourself a favor by not buying any new equipment until you've gotten very comfortable with what you have now. That way you won't be distracted with gadgets and can concentrate on learning photography.

This is how people get good. It's not a matter of native talent so much as conscious practice. Even pros who have been shooting for decades still have photos that don't quite work right. Real pros will then follow the same procedure until they get acceptable results. If the process gets a little frustrating, that's normal. We don't learn as quickly when things are too easy. But don't push too hard. In general, you'll only stick with something you enjoy.
09-23-2011, 02:20 PM   #10
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I highly suggest getting a cheap Pentax M 50 F1.7 to understand how manual aperture, manual focus works, how your camera responds to manual lenses, and to get a feel for when AF is great, and when an amazing prime is great. But it is critically important to shoot a lot with your lens (take it with you for at least 2-3000 shots), then use a program to determine the ISO, focal length, and shutter speeds you often use. That will help you to determine what your next lens should be.
09-23-2011, 02:22 PM   #11
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Welcome to the Forum.

You already received a lot of good advice. I may add a few more suggestions:

- Read the instruction manual. It was mentioned earlier and it is under-rated. It took me two weeks to read the manual and I still read from time to time parts fo teh manual ti improve my techniques, two years later.

- Set up your camera with the following:
P mode (Hyperprogram on dial)
Centre focus point
SR on

-When you use the camera with the kit lens, learn to wait for SR confirmation before shooting: the 'hand' icon takes 1-2 s about to come on.

- Learn to PP your photographs on computer. You can use PDCU (which comes freely with your camera) or another one. Some minimum PP can easily enahnce your shots and make them more enjoyable.


Lastly be patient. My first shots with my SLR were a disaster. Worst than any P&S cameras of the others. It took me honestly close to 6 weeks to improve my techniques. Now I am very happy with my shots and I know that no &S could let me achieve this level of IQ.

Hope that the comments will assit....
09-23-2011, 02:45 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Waheena Quote
New to photography!!
I don't think anyone mentioned this (or maybe I overlooked it), keep track of some of the forum threads here - if you are looking to do people pictures, one such thread would be the prime portraits thread:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/mini-challenges-games-photo-stories/14433...portraits.html

There are other threads on here that you can track that will also assist in your learning - use the search feature on the forums here to find the good threads. Also, make sure you ask questions, a lot of questions, this will also help quite a bit. Last but not least, post some of your photos here on the "Photo Critique" and "Post Your Photos" forums, this will help you immensely!

Glad to see another MD pentax shooter on the forums here (there is actually quite a few of us ) - are you in the city or just in the county? I am south of you in Calvert...




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09-23-2011, 03:18 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by JinDesu Quote
I highly suggest getting a cheap Pentax M 50 F1.7 to understand how manual aperture, manual focus works, how your camera responds to manual lenses, and to get a feel for when AF is great, and when an amazing prime is great.
I can think of some reasons not to do this right away. The first is, it can be a challenge to use the camera at first. It's nice to have some auto ability, to let the camera handle some of the adjustments while you figure out others. This lens does not allow the camera to control anything. Second, images won't have any aperture information recorded with them in their EXIF data. That can be a great learning tool. Yes, it's a great lens, it's only $50, it would be great for portraits and a lot of beginners will get one eventually. This sentence is better advice for now:

QuoteQuote:
But it is critically important to shoot a lot with your lens (take it with you for at least 2-3000 shots), then use a program to determine the ISO, focal length, and shutter speeds you often use. That will help you to determine what your next lens should be.
09-23-2011, 03:28 PM   #14
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You've already received a boat-load of good to excellent advice already. For my 2 cents, use the kit lens for now until you get comfortable with the new camera. Afterwords, you can check the photo information from the pictures to see what focal length on the lens you use the most (many photo editor applications can show you this information), so you can explore better, faster (likely more expensive) glass.

(Seems as Just1MoreDave gave the same or better information while I was typing).
09-23-2011, 05:09 PM   #15
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Practice practice practice...........Remember digital film is free and plentiful within limits of your memory card and creativeness.
By the way welcome to PF
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