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10-05-2011, 10:35 AM   #1
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New DSLR Owner

Hey guys, I'll be getting a K-r for Christmas in a few months and had a few questions about the kits available and their differences.

I really don't know too much about photography, but I've always enjoyed taking pictures. I actually have one of my own hanging on the wall next to me, blown up on a 30x24 canvas! I've seen that the K-r comes in 4 different kits; body-only, camera + 18-55mm lens, camera + 18-55mm lens + 55-200mm lens and camera + 18-55mm lens + 50-300mm lens.

I've narrowed down the one I want to either the kit containing the 55-200 or the 50-300mm lens. But my question is, what is the difference between the 2 lenses? Is it worth getting the more expensive, 50-300mm lens? I plan on using my K-r for landscapes around campus, portraits, family pictures, everyday pictures, and sports action shots at the sports events here at school. Which of these lenses will be best for what I've stated? Down the road I'm sure I'll expand my lens options and have many to choose from, but for a first time owner of a DSLR, which lens would you guys recommend?

Thanks! And any other tips/information regarding a DSLR and/or the K-r model is much appreciated!

~Jon

10-05-2011, 10:57 AM   #2
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This topic pops up from time to time and the general consensus is: try to get the 55-300 rather than the 50-200 (there is no 50-300 or 55-200) if you can afford it. The image quality is better on the 55-300, you get extra reach, and the maximum aperture is around f/4 for most of the lens zoom range.

I have the 55-300mm lens myself, and I use it to photograph my nephew's little league games, and wildlife/zoos. I have had shots in those little league games where the focal length was around 250 or 300mm so that extra reach is helpful.


As for lens advice, get the kit lenses and shoot, shoot, shoot. Then using the pictures you took, note the focal length from the exif info and you might see a trend (hanging around 18mm alot, maybe you will need a ultrawide as a next lens). Maybe you are in the middle, and find yourself using the lens aperature wide open a lot. Maybe you'll want a faster lens like a nifty fifty or DA 40, DA35, etc.
10-05-2011, 11:02 AM   #3
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+1 for the 55-300
10-05-2011, 11:13 AM   #4
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Where will I find the exif info? Is it located on the camera after I take a picture? And what does f/4 mean? I see that a lot with different lenses but am not sure what all the numbers mean.

10-05-2011, 11:39 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbuck92 Quote
Where will I find the exif info? Is it located on the camera after I take a picture? And what does f/4 mean? I see that a lot with different lenses but am not sure what all the numbers mean.
The exif info is embedded in the photographic file. Many graphics viewer softwares will allow you to see the exif info. I believe Irfanview (for Windows) has such a setting. The exif shows the aperture, shutter speed, iso, and other camera settings used for that particular shot. f/4 is an aperture setting on the lens - eg, how much light was allowed to pass thru the lens to the camera sensor. Read here for a short primer on aperture- https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Lens_aperture

As for the kit, I would go with the 18-55 + 55-300 combo - best bang for the buck. I have the 50-200, and it's a good lens, but the kit will probably offer better value going with the 55-300. A bit better lens overall, and more reach.
10-05-2011, 11:42 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbuck92 Quote
And what does f/4 mean? I see that a lot with different lenses but am not sure what all the numbers mean.
It's a measurement of how much light a lens will let through. When it's used in a lens name, it's the maximum amount of light. Because the number is a fraction, f/4 means more light than f/5.6. Most people are sloppy about the actual notation and leave parts off, so you might see it expressed as f4 or other variations. Most lenses have a set of aperture blades to control the light, so you have other settings than the maximum. Here's what those blades look like:



The amount of light is important because photography is literally writing with light. A lens that can let more light in can be more useful, but to make that lens, you need more glass area and more precision to make it. So it's more expensive, larger and heavier, sometimes by a lot. A 300mm f/4 lens might be $1000, a 300mm f/2.8 lens might be $3000, and no one makes a 300mm f/2.0 lens that I know of.

Last edited by Just1MoreDave; 10-05-2011 at 11:50 AM.
10-05-2011, 11:47 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbuck92 Quote
Where will I find the exif info? Is it located on the camera after I take a picture?
You read the EXIF data on your computer. All or part of it is displayed by many image editors and browsers, and by plugins to some web browsers. There is also an excellent free program called PhotoMe which shows the complete data.

QuoteQuote:
And what does f/4 mean? I see that a lot with different lenses but am not sure what all the numbers mean.
The f-number is the ratio of a lens' iris opening (aperture) to its focal length; a 100mm lens set to f/4 has an iris opening of 25mm. That iris size isn't really important to you. The f-number itself IS very meaningful. A smaller f-number means a larger opening, just as 1/2 is larger than 1/4. A larger opening lets in more light, so we can shoot in dimmer situations or with faster shutter speeds.

A larger opening also means the lens has thinner DOF, depth-of-field, the distance range from the camera where an image is sharp. Slow (big f-number) short|wide lenses have thick DOF -- everything is sharp. Fast (small f-number) long lenses have thin DOF -- the subject is sharp and everything else is OOF, out-of-focus. The quality of those OOF areas, whether smooth or harsh or whatever, is called bokeh. A fast lens gives us more control over DOF and bokeh.

* For thick DOF, use a wide lens, and/or a tight aperture, and/or further camera-to-subject distance
* For thin DOF, use a longer lens, and/or a wider aperture, and/or closer camera-to-subject distance

Fast lenses with wide apertures are great. And costly. I deal used lenses. With 50mm prime lenses, I might pay US$5 for a fairly slow f/2.8, US$10 for an f/2, US$20-50 for an f/1.4 (if I'm lucky) -- and the old f/1.2 I got for US$250 was a bargain!

Zooms are more complicated. For our cameras (35mm film and APS-C dSLR), there were maybe 3 models ever made that were faster than f/2.8, but AFAIK no faster than f/2.5. Long fast zooms are BIG and COSTLY. Also, zooms are often built so that the maximum aperture varies or 'floats'. The 18-55 kit lens is f/3.5 at the wide end (18mm) but only f/5.6 at the long end (55mm). A zoom with a constant maximum aperture throughout its focal range is usually optically better than a similar zoom with a floating aperture.

So the numbers on a lens tell us stuff like:

* the focal length (FL) or FL range, say 50mm or 35-70mm
* the maximum aperture or aperture range, say f/1.7 or f/2.8-4
* the front thread diameter, usually 49-52-55-58-62-67-72mm, with that number followed by theta (a slashed oh)
* the serial number, which with many 3rd-party lenses tells us who the lensmaker is

Be sure to read UNDERSTANDING EXPOSURE or some other guide to controlling exposure: aperture, shutter speed, and sensitivity (ISO). Hope this helps!

Last edited by RioRico; 10-05-2011 at 11:56 AM.
10-05-2011, 12:28 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbuck92 Quote
Where will I find the exif info? Is it located on the camera after I take a picture? And what does f/4 mean? I see that a lot with different lenses but am not sure what all the numbers mean.
Learn Photography Concepts this is a very good primer for you to read. They cover all the basics and it will help you become a better photographer. The last thing you want to do is buy a DSLR and do everything in auto mode. After you read this you'll probably have more questions, but everyone on this forum has been very helpful to me, and I'm sure they will be for you.

10-07-2011, 09:59 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the responses guys. I've been reading a bit of the links that you provided over the last few days but I'll keep on reading to get more familiar with all the different terms and way things work. I think it's a bit more confusing for me than it really is since I don't actually have the camera for me to fool around with yet.
10-08-2011, 07:48 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbuck92 Quote
Hey guys, I'll be getting a K-r for Christmas in a few months and had a few questions about the kits available and their differences.

I really don't know too much about photography, but I've always enjoyed taking pictures. I actually have one of my own hanging on the wall next to me, blown up on a 30x24 canvas! I've seen that the K-r comes in 4 different kits; body-only, camera + 18-55mm lens, camera + 18-55mm lens + 55-200mm lens and camera + 18-55mm lens + 50-300mm lens.

I've narrowed down the one I want to either the kit containing the 55-200 or the 50-300mm lens. But my question is, what is the difference between the 2 lenses? Is it worth getting the more expensive, 50-300mm lens? I plan on using my K-r for landscapes around campus, portraits, family pictures, everyday pictures, and sports action shots at the sports events here at school. Which of these lenses will be best for what I've stated? Down the road I'm sure I'll expand my lens options and have many to choose from, but for a first time owner of a DSLR, which lens would you guys recommend?

Thanks! And any other tips/information regarding a DSLR and/or the K-r model is much appreciated!

~Jon
I'm guessing you mean 50-200, not 55-200. At any rate, Get the 300mm option. 200mm is never enough. That is, if you intend to buy one of the offered kits. There are a LOT of used lenses out there that will work with your camera. Some better, some not.

I went to school with a guy named John Buck (but of course he spelled his name with the H). Welcome aboard!

10-08-2011, 10:50 AM   #11
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Yea I meant 50-200mm. How can I tell if a lens will work on my camera or not? I may look into getting some used ones if I can save a bit on it
10-08-2011, 11:41 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbuck92 Quote
Yea I meant 50-200mm. How can I tell if a lens will work on my camera or not? I may look into getting some used ones if I can save a bit on it
Basically if the name Pentax is on the lens and the lens is a K mount (Pentax's current SLR/DSLR lens to camera mount system is called Pentax K mount or PK mount), it will work on your camera to various degrees, depending on whether it has autofocus or auto aperture. There are other, older Pentax lenses with the name Takumar but they generally are M42 mount or screw mount lenses that require an adapter.

I highly recommend looking into used Pentax manual focus lenses, especially from the original K or M series (Pentax-K or Pentax-M) since they are very well built, still provide decent image quality, are small compared to today's modern autofocus equivalents and are a joy to use manually focusing.. oh, and they can be had for a bargain.

For more info on the Pentax K mount system, read on wikipedia: Pentax K mount - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
10-08-2011, 01:01 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbuck92 Quote
Yea I meant 50-200mm. How can I tell if a lens will work on my camera or not? I may look into getting some used ones if I can save a bit on it
Here's the thing about the 'kit' lenses. Optically, they are on par with the non-kit lenses. The 55-300 for instance. The DA-L(ight) that comes with these kits has a plastic mount, lacks a hood, and quick shift. The regular DA 55-300 has a metal mount, a hood ($58 for a Pentax hood last time I looked, could be different now), and has the quick shift feature. You may say, so what? Well, Here is so what.

A Hood is invaluable in reducing things like unwanted flare that can really wash out your colors. It provides front end protection from things like bumps and even water in a rain storm (if you get surprised). Think about driving your car without a front bumper. The metal vs plastic mount, the debate will probably forever rage on but I'm more of a fan of a solid piece of metal at the weak point (the mount to the camera) than a piece of plastic. Quick shift in its most useful form allows you to turn the focus ring after the auto focus has locked the lens in place. Again, you may say who cares. It's just a nice useful feature to have especially when trying to do close up photography. Quick shift is actually most useful in macro photography but it has its uses in other formats as well.

10-08-2011, 01:55 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbuck92 Quote
How can I tell if a lens will work on my camera or not? I may look into getting some used ones if I can save a bit on it
As was mentioned: If the lens says Pentax, it will work. If it's a Takumar or other screwmount, it needs a simple adapter. Whatever it says, check the lens review databases here, and feel free to ask as many questions as needed. The only dumb question is an unasked question.

Lenses that WON'T work: Any that say Canon, Minolta, Konica, Leitz.
Lenses that need minor SURGERY to work: Any that say Nikon or Olympus.
Lenses that MIGHT work but maybe not, it depends: Everything else. Ask about them.

Good luck!
10-08-2011, 03:12 PM   #15
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Some Vivitars need minor surgery too. I've found that removing the oversized guard by the aperture lever to be the simplest way. It can be cut and/or filed down as well (but take it off the lens first). That said, they made some nice lenses that are cheap now.
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