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01-25-2012, 09:04 PM   #1
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Newbie looking for lens advice.

Hello everyone and thank you for taking the time to look at my thread and hopefully give me some much needed advice.
I am pretty new to photography and after a few months borrowing a canon 1000D I decided to invest in my own and i'm now in the process of receiving my K5! (so exciting)

I really want to get a prime lens as one of my first to learn with because from what i've seen they have the ability produce some wonderful images but being quite a poor student I can't afford to buy something like one of those legendary Pentax primes so I was thinking maybe a second hand 50mm or 35mm. I really don't mind that it will probably be manual focus, I don't even mind if it's a M42 thread and I have to buy an adapter but I really can't spend much at the moment as I am a poor student but hopefully later on I will be able to treat myself with something nicer.

Price: probably anything from $0 (hehe) - 200 maximum.


01-25-2012, 09:37 PM   #2
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Damon, I would recommend a nice 50mm SMC "A" lens in K mount. You can probably get one for less than $50 and they are usually available in an f1.7 or even f1.4 at a very cheap price. These were considered the "normal" kit lens when buying the K1000 or similar pentax film cameras, so there are a lot of them out there. I picked up mine for about $20.

With the reduced sized sensor (as in the K7 & K5) the 50mm gives an effect (crop factor) like a 75mm lens on film cameras, a great focal length for portraits and short telephoto work. A 55mm lens of the same type (pentax A) would also be good (approx. = to 82mm). The "A" lenses with the pentax K mount allows you to control the aperture using the adjustment dial on the camera body (K5 and K7 plus other Pentax K digital cameras with dual control dials). Pentax M lenses also work well optically, but are less convenient to use with the modern body controls.

The next lens after that might be a 100mm (150mm effect, more expensive) and a 135mm (about 200mm effect, also quite reasonable).

Good luck and hopefully you will not develop too much of an LBA (lens buying addiction)!

01-25-2012, 10:06 PM   #3
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Thanks BigDave, the lenses you advised sound great! Just what I am after.
Also one other thing - where is the best place(s) to look out for reasonably priced second hand lenses?

01-25-2012, 10:19 PM   #4
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Look right here at the marketplace. I've never had a bad experience buying here. I'll be posting a couple of 50mm lenses there tomorrow also.

Good luck and welcome to the Pentax club!

01-25-2012, 10:37 PM   #5
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The "A" lens that Dave mentions are great, the price has gone up a great deal since he bought his but they are still a good buy. For just a very little more you can get a DA 35 (not the macro one) which is a great beginner lens at a low price and yet still offers high image quality.
01-25-2012, 10:51 PM   #6
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I'm sure a community like this would also give better after sales advice than somewhere else also, thanks twilhelm, i'll keep a lookout.
Yes, I was looking at the Pentax-a 50mm 1.7 and they're around $60-100 but I still consider this a very reasonable price if the lens is in good shape.

Thanks everyone,
01-25-2012, 11:11 PM   #7
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I'll also vouch for the A 50mm 1.7. I got one used awhile back and love it.
01-26-2012, 12:14 AM   #8
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Ah, it's lens lecture time! I have a zillion (~220) lenses, most of them (~210) old manual-focus (MF) primes. I have exactly 1 autofocus (AF) prime, the FA50/1.4, my gotta-get-the-shot lens. On our dSLRs it's a short-tele lens. But I love the focal length -- I have 50 Fifties. Is 50-55-58mm a good place to start with primes? That's hard to say. We all have our own preferences. But Fast Fifties are extremely cost-effective. Some of the best are the K- or A-50/1.2, any 50/1.4, the A- or M-50/1.7, and various of the 55mm's. One of the neatest and cheapest is the Helios-44 58/2. What bokeh!

Why are these Fifties short teles? Because the diagonal of your dSLR's sensor is around 28-30mm, and that dimension defines what is a 'normal' lens for the format. 58mm (like a fabled Helios-44) is about twice the focal length and half the FOV (field of view) of 'normal'. For undistorted 'scapes, I use a 'normal' 28mm lens. All the Pentax 28s are good. Some are great. Many cheap Vivitar 28s are also fine. A fast Vivitar 28/2 or f/2.5 can be found used for under US$50.

Many of our shooters love 35mm primes. Its FOV is pretty close to a 50-55mm lens on a full-frame (135/FF) film camera. I never really liked that FOV. But the most cost-effective AF prime available is the DA35/2.4, under US$200 new. That's a good place to start.

About focal lengths: IMHO it's usually best to start with the kit lens(es): DA18-55 for sure, DA50-300 for reach. Shoot and shoot and shoot. Then run software to survey your images and report which focal lengths you use the most. But also note what you want to do that you can't do with available lenses. This can inform your prime buying. Or you can try this program:

1) Coverage -- 18-55 and 55-300 cover lots of territory. Add a 10-24 and a 500 and nothing escapes!
2) Speed -- 50/1.4 for sure; 24/2 and 28/2 and 35/2 and 85/2 and 135/2.5 will take you many places.
3) Specialty -- Fisheyes, macros, ultra-teles, tilt-shift -- these are more exotic but also lots of fun.
4) Character -- Older slower lenses (18/11, 35/4.5, 105/4.5) may give a real 'period' feel to images.
5) Mania -- I grab almost anything I can stick in front of the camera. Some sucks, some soars. More fun!

About speed: At 50mm, f/1.4 is fast, f/1.7 is almost fast, f/2 is almost slow. For a 24mm or 28mm or 35mm or 85mm lens, f/2 is fast, and f/2.8 is almost fast. Most faster lenses, which lensmakers have invested significant resources building, are decent wide-open and very good stopped-down a bit. So, faster usually means better. And more expensive. But IMHO it's good to buy the fastest primes you can.

That's all I can think of at the moment. Cheers!

01-26-2012, 02:17 AM   #9
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Thanks a ton RioRico, that's a lot of excellent information for me to process.
01-26-2012, 03:09 AM   #10
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No problem!
01-26-2012, 04:41 AM   #11
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Damon, Let me give you my 2cents as another newcomer to pentax DSLRs. I bought a K-R kit with the 18-55 and 50-200 lenses about 6 months ago. My intended subjects are mostly cute but fast-moving kids, and cute but fast-moving birds; hence the desire for better IQ and better autofocus performance and responsiveness than I have got from point and shoot or big-zoom compact digital cameras.

The lenses I have bought since then (all used) have all been autofocus jobs. I have added an FA50 f1.4; I love its speed for indoor shots and I am enjoying getting used to shallow DOF at wide apertures, but I find the focal length a bit too long to be 'normal'. I bought a Pentax FA100-300 with a view to shooting birds and wildlife; I like the extra reach this one gives over the kit 50-200 lens, at a budget price, but on the down side it is heavy, slow and much noisier than the DAL 50-200. My most recent used purchase was a Tamron 18-250. I bought this as an all-purpose daylight lens; one of the things that annoyed me most about the kit pair of lenses is the need to change lenses in the zone between 35 mm and 100 mm. After two sessions chasing the kids around with the Tamron, I like the flexibility of the big zoom range but the lens creep is a pain! Also, the autofocus seems to spend more time hunting at the long end than I have been used to with the other lenses. We'll see if this is a keeper.

The next items on my list are a shorter, fast normal prime; I am looking at the Sigma 30 mm f1.4. And maybe a long macro like the Tamron 90 mm, if I can find one at a bargain-hunter price. I will probably pick up some manual focus Pentax M or A lenses too.


01-26-2012, 05:01 AM   #12
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Just to throw a curve at you you could look into getting a DA18-55. Henry's outlet center in Mississauga (just west of Toronto ) has a whole bin of the for $40 each. While the kit lens isn't great it is not all that bad either and will give you a lot more options than a prime. Aside from that I can't argue with getting A series lenses as they will work in all modes on the camera except AF of course. At this price it is the best value for money
01-26-2012, 05:05 AM   #13
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You can get a lightly used "standard lens" as they use to call them, an FA50 1.4. for the price it is hard to beat. great for portraits, some closer up indoor sport. The very shallow depth of field is very tricky at 1.4 but once you get more experience that shoud be a blessing instead of a challenging

good luck
01-26-2012, 05:38 AM   #14
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I think a fast-fifty such as the A50-1.7 is a goog place to start...
But seriously consider an A28-2.8 instead/aswell...

If you want autofocus DA35mm 2.4 gets rave reviews... (for around the same price you can also get a used F50-1.7)

You might find 50mm 'tight' (you will however learn a lot about how you like to shoot by using one...) so a wider prime such as 28mm/35mm might feel more comfortable...

I've had a few fifties and will always have one in my kit... (probably 2 at some point) but on digital I use the 28 much much more...
01-26-2012, 07:00 AM   #15

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If you want the "normal" look there are a number of 25-35mm lenses. The DA 35mm f2.4 goes for $160 at BH, and that would go very well with your camera.

@Rico You are SO addicted

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