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11-14-2011, 04:45 AM   #1
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Lens Advice for a Beginner

For Christmas this year I've decided to invest in a Pentax K-r. I'll probably just end up buying the body with the kit lens but I do want a couple of other lenses. A wide-angle lens for shooting landscapes and seascapes, obviously I want a quality lens but I also want it to be as cheap as possible. I also want a decent zoom lens for nature/sports photography, cheap but good quality is what I'm after. Any suggestions as to what lens I should get would be greatly appreciated. I am a complete beginner in the world of d-SLR's, so any advice no matter how obvious it might be will be beneficial. Cheers 'en.

11-14-2011, 05:13 AM   #2
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When you consider thenscale of landscapes having wider than the kit lens is not a necessity. Going ultra wide makes many far off things seem insignificant. I use ultra wide for architecture and interior shots. In would suggest play with the kit lens first on landscapes
11-14-2011, 05:21 AM   #3
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It seems that for what you want the kit lens duo (18-55 and 55-300) would be a great place to start. It gives a range for landscapes and zoom you might want for sports. It's cheap and by getting a big focal range you'll see what kind of range you'll like more to give you an idea on what lens to buy next. Another great place to look is the lens database. Great reviews and pictures from actual owners of the lens your interested in. Just be aware you'll soon might be spending more in lens that you expected if you hang around there too much.

I got my K-r a couple months ago, and it was my first DSLR too. I got the 18-55 kit lens and the 100mm Macro (my wife loves macros, and I seem too be sharing her passion for it now as well). A few days ago I got a polarizer (Marumi DHG Super Circular PL.D 52mm) to put on the 18-55 to get more of my landscape shots. Now I'm looking for my Christmas present (I've been a good boy ) that is pending between a 10-17mm fisheye or a 50mm 1.2f (love the shallow depth of field). As you can see don't over think too much your first purchase. As you take more pictures you'll see what kind style you like more and that will show you what future lens to purchase.

Hope this helps and good luck!
11-14-2011, 05:40 AM   #4
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Ahhh thank you Luiz and Lowell, it does sound like a good idea getting the two kits lenses. I'll have a look at the reviews on some of the cheaper lenses and see if anything catches my eye.

11-14-2011, 06:29 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by luizpaulo Quote
It seems that for what you want the kit lens duo (18-55 and 55-300) would be a great place to start.

I second that advise wholeheartedly! No need to look further, 18mm is plenty wide for landscapes. UWA's wider than that are extremely hard to get to grips with and quite expensive too. The 55-300mm is very competent and at its price-level it is unbeatable no matter what camera brand you look at. The combination of both gives you a range from very wide to serious tele, 27-450mm in old pre-digital terms - that's a whopping 16X zoom range! Should cover 99% of your needs for at least the first two years.
11-14-2011, 07:04 AM   #6
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I've been looking at the dual kits, I live in the UK and I went online to Jessops and they have this: Tamron 70-300mm F4/5.6 DI LD Macro (Pentax AF). An adequate replacement for the other lens? If not, could you link me to a UK site with that 55-300mm lens please?
11-14-2011, 07:14 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by olliedell Quote
I've been looking at the dual kits, I live in the UK and I went online to Jessops and they have this: Tamron 70-300mm F4/5.6 DI LD Macro (Pentax AF). An adequate replacement for the other lens? If not, could you link me to a UK site with that 55-300mm lens please?
I don't want to sound harsh but what's wrong with doing the legwork yourself?

Pentax smc DA 55-300mm f4.0-5.8 ED Lens - Only 269.00 - SRS Microsystems

There's tons more on Google UK.
11-14-2011, 07:25 AM   #8
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Pentax kit lenses privide excellent quality in strong light, and 18mm sometimes is too wide for landscapes, though about right for most. More expensive lenses have features you may not appreciate at this point. In fact, faster, more expensive lenses may cause you problems or confusion at first, just as some have problems stepping up from a P&S to a DSLR and trying to use it the same way. After you learn more about photography and develop a style, you'll know what you want.

11-14-2011, 08:02 AM   #9
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I did have a look but that's pretty expensive, I was thinking there'd be a pentax lens close in price to the Tamron (130) that you could recommend.
11-14-2011, 08:17 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by olliedell Quote
I did have a look but that's pretty expensive, I was thinking there'd be a pentax lens close in price to the Tamron (130) that you could recommend.
You wanted, and I quote: "obviously I want a quality lens but I also want it to be as cheap as possible". I believe the 55-300mm fits that bill near-perfect but I cannot look into your wallet obviously.

If that still is out of budget, a couple of steps down would be the Pentax 50-200mm which I believe can be had for prices comparable to the Tamron you were looking at. I honestly believe this particular Tamron is one to be passed up due to excessive CA, slow focussing and below-average build quality. The 50-200 is quite a deal softer than the 55-300mm but certainly suits the "budget" requirement and seems to be better than the Tamron.

Some shopping around might even find you the FA-J 75-300mm which is passable (barely) at least up to 200-250mm, but still trumps the Tamron and at an even lower price.

Now, I've been in these discussions before and if you have already set your mind on the Tamron and want confirmation you made the right choice, you will not get it from me. Likewise if you already bought it and all you want is reassurance that it's a great lens in order to justify your purchase - again, I'm not going to provide that.
11-14-2011, 08:23 AM   #11
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Apparently the K-r with 55-300 kit is no longer available in the UK. I would suggest buying the 50-200 kit and then selling the 50-200. You can then buy the DA L version of the 55-300 on eBay.
11-14-2011, 08:26 AM   #12
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Looks like I'll be saving for that Pentax then or should I look into the past for a decent yet cheap lens and go second hand?
11-14-2011, 09:10 AM   #13
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If you look at published photos of 'scapes (land, sea, sky, town, etc) you'll see that most are shot in focal ranges equivalent to 18-55mm. The DA18-55 is weakest at its extremes, but between 21-50mm it's pretty good when stopped down to to f/8, and pretty damn good between 24-45mm at f/11. See the KIT LENS CLUB here for good examples.

As mentioned, wider lenses make the distance seem small -- mountains become molehills, urban skylines become ragged bumps. Ultrawide lenses (shorter than 18mm) are good for emphasizing what's close. For wider 'scapes, I use a 28mm lens (or set a zoom to 28-30mm) and shoot a series in portrait (vertical) mode, then stitch them together into a pano. That focal length has minimum distortion on an APS-C dSLR.

The DA18-55 plus DA55-300 is a helluva deal, price-performance-wise. I recommend that pair even though I personally dislike the combination. I shoot a lot between 35-70mm and I hate swapping lenses at 55mm. One way around this is to use a cheap old F35-70, a very crisp and agile lens that can often be found for under US$50. (How to find it cheap: look for MV- or SF- series cams with that 'kit' lens mounted.)

Yes, decent old lenses are still a bargain -- if you've done some research, have patience, and get lucky! My rules for lens-buying: Bid low; bid often; lose 99% of auctions; don't worry, another will be along shortly. Ask, and you will be given tonnes of advise about which lenses to look for depending on your budget. If you are comfortable with manual focus, especially if you don't mind using adapters, stupendous deals can still be found. With the 2- or 3-lens kit I listed (DA18-55, F35-70, DA55-300) you'll mainly want faster and sharper lenses at critical focal lengths, including:

* a fast 28, like a Vivitar 28/2 or 28/2.5, or Tamron or Sigma 28/2.5
* a fast Fifty: Sears or M50/1.7, Rikenon 50/2 or 55/1.8, Helios-44 58/2
* a fast headshot lens (85/2) or macro lens (90-105/2.8) but these aren't cheap
* and of course any good Takumar or Pentax lens! see the reviews for info

Many other options exist, but those are good places to start. Have fun!

Last edited by RioRico; 11-14-2011 at 09:24 AM.
11-14-2011, 10:13 AM   #14
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Thank you so much Rio! All of that was really useful, especially the part about bidding. A friend advised me to go to car boots, charity shops and markets to look for old lenses on the cheap. With an adapter is pretty much any Pentax lens going to be compatible with a K-r? One of the reasons I want one is I thought all of Pentax's lenses could be put onto a K-r with some kind of adapter.
11-14-2011, 10:24 AM   #15
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Skip the Tamron 70-300, the CA in high contrast will really annoy you. Other than that, it does work quite well. Speed and accurate focus don't make up for purple fringing, IMHO.
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