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01-31-2012, 08:38 PM   #1
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New to photography, looking for a new lense :)

Hi! I'm pretty new to photography and i have a Pentax K-x that i LOVE!! its pink Ive done some senior pics, a couple weddings (as a second photographer), and lots of family pics (many of my own children and now people are calling left and right to take their pics!! Sooo... i have a good eye and all, but now i'm trying to learn the ins and outs techinally!! where do i go next with... a new lense possibly? And any suggestions for editing software? the lenses i have are the ones it came with... the 18-55mm and 50-200mm i believe ... true newbie ANY info would be GREAT!! Thank you!!!

01-31-2012, 09:13 PM   #2
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How much are you planning on spending? I think my first addition was an FA 50 F 1.8 but looking back, a 35 macro 2.8 or 21 ltd could have been good also. A good idea might be to go through a lot of your pictures and look at the exif info to see what focal length you use most. For software I'm on a mac so I don't know as much about PC software, but elements or Lightroom come to mind as common suggestions, not that I've used either of them. On a MAc just get Aperture and pixelmator. Or possibly Graphic-converter. The film photographers who have colour darkroom experience seem to do well with Graphic-converter. give yourself 20 hours to learn to find your way around in whatever software you buy. Photo software is never really intuitive. You have to know what the concepts are.
01-31-2012, 09:38 PM   #3
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Well, i dont want to spend too much... maybe $400? and great idea as to what focal length i use most!! Lightroom is what i was planning on for editing... i have heard lots of good things about it i'm really looking for something to help with "family photography" or "senior photos" stuff like that. I do love landscape pics... but i have so many people interested in me doing their pictures i want to get a lense that would be best for that for now
01-31-2012, 09:42 PM   #4
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Shoot with what you have until...

You keep backing up a few or many steps (get a 12-24, 16-45, DA 15, etc)

You wish you get closer (trade the 50-200 for a 55-300).

You want to get really close to flowers and small objects (get a macro lens like a Tamron 90).

You want better image quality (IQ). Trade the kit 18-55 for a similar range lens that has a constant f2.8 over the zoom range, or use primes, and/or trade the 50-200 for the 55-300 (see above).

01-31-2012, 09:46 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by kmill7 Quote
but i have so many people interested in me doing their pictures i want to get a lense that would be best for that for now
A Tamron 28-75 works well for "people" shots. They sometimes show up in the marketplace for $300-350. Good image quality and relatively fast.
01-31-2012, 09:51 PM   #6
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I am also impressed by the Tamron 28-75 for image quality and versatility. It's often not wide enough on Penax dSLRs but for people shots it's definitely very good value for money. Otherwise you may be looking at a fast fifty like an FA 50 f/1.4 if you can find one or a Sigma equivalent. With portraiture a fixed focal length lens like an FA 50 or better still an FA 43 Limited is a very good choice due to their relatively superior image quality and your ability to zoom with your feet.
01-31-2012, 10:01 PM   #7
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If I was in your shoes and had 400 bucks to spend on improving my photography, here's what i'd do:
1. Grab a FREE copy of the lightroom 4 beta and see how it works out for your workflow.
2. Buy the book Understanding Exposure by Brian Peterson (about 15-20 bucks) and read it again and again and again.
3. Buy a cheap yongnuo yn460ii flash (50 bucks), a decent lightstand (20 bucks), a 43 inch convertible umbrella (30 bucks) and a set of cactus v5 triggers (60 bucks)
4. Go onto strobist.blogspot.com and read their lighting guide again and again and again
5. throw the rest of the money into a future purchases fund. I've learned the hard way that you should try to buy once and go for the best (or at least until LBA settles in). For this to work, you need to....
6. Shoot a ton more with what you have until you know exactly what you want next. If i was in your shoes, i'd be saving up for my DA*55 all over again
01-31-2012, 10:14 PM   #8
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Thank you everyone!! you are all so on top of things! @adpo- i did get the free lightroom a few months ago and really liked it for the amount of time i got to use it your other suggestions are great! i didn't even think about lightstands/umbrella/etc @ ash&specialk - the Tamron 28-75 has popped up a lot as i have looked and looked online for a new lense... total newbie question but, it will fit on my pentax right? aslo, ive seen 18-50 f2.8 sigma... good one too ?

01-31-2012, 10:39 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by kmill7 Quote
total newbie question but, it will fit on my pentax right? aslo, ive seen 18-50 f2.8 sigma... good one too ?
Pretty much any zoom with a constant f2.8 is "a good one". Tamron and Sigma make lenses for Nikon and Canon as well as Pentax. However, if it is for Pentax it will fit your camera.
01-31-2012, 11:27 PM   #10
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lol, thanks are you make fun of my "a good one" lingo? remember i'm new!! you are a huge help! thanks
02-01-2012, 02:14 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by kmill7 Quote
Thank you everyone!! you are all so on top of things! @adpo- i did get the free lightroom a few months ago and really liked it for the amount of time i got to use it your other suggestions are great! i didn't even think about lightstands/umbrella/etc @ ash&specialk - the Tamron 28-75 has popped up a lot as i have looked and looked online for a new lense... total newbie question but, it will fit on my pentax right? aslo, ive seen 18-50 f2.8 sigma... good one too ?
Again another vote for the Tamron 28-75/2.8 (if it says for Pentax or has PK on it, then it will fit your camera). They don't call it the Wedding Photographer's lens for nothing !

Mostly as the second shooter you are not going to have time to set up stands/umbrellas unless you also have an assistant but the Yongnuo 560 as suggested is an excellent manual lens (you, not the camera, adjusts the settings) and adding a small portable softbox can give you almost guaranteed great exposures whilst just walking around.

The new Sigma 17-50 and the excellent, and much cheaper, Tamron 17-50/2.8 are both better than the older Sigma 18-50.

You might also like to have a low light prime in your bag for those quiet moments (no flash allowed) in interiors such as the Church. All are MF only unless you want to spend most of your $400 on an AF lens, however there are excellent 50mm lenses such as any of the 50/1.7 or Tak 50/1.4 versions that will do you well for just a few dollars (all in the $10 - $100 range).
02-01-2012, 04:14 PM   #12
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I'd like to cast a vote for the 50 f/1.4, and for Understanding Exposures too. The 50 f/1.4 costs a bit more than the f/1.8, but you'll see where those few bucks went once you look at the pictures.
However, I'd disagree that it's a "portrait" lens. Yes, a normal 50mm lens on a cropped-sensor camera is the equivalent to an 80mm portrait lens on a full-frame (FF) camera. But only in that they will both give the same angle of view. What you'll notice is that the image taken with the 80mm on a FF will have a shallower depth of field (smaller area in focus) and that the perceived depth of the image (the relationship between near & far objects) will be compressed more than the 50mm. So things in the foreground and mid-ground will look closer to each other than they would with the 50mm regarless of what type of camera you're using.
It's this compression of the depth that actually enhances people's facial features by flattening them, while the 50mm gives a "normal" perspective, which is why it's called a normal lens and the 80mm is a portrait lens. But don't let that make you feel that you shouldn't use the 50mm for portraits. Use what ever focal length you feel is right to you based on how you want to tell the story of your subject.
I find that when taking portraits there are two basic types: 1. formal, and 2. environmental. The formal is your typical shot found in year books taken with a lens in the traditional 85-135 range. By 85-135 I mean the actual focal length and not an equivalent to FF conversion number. While a environmental portrait includes the subjects surroundings to tell a story about him/her, which is taken with wide or ultra-wide angle lens like a 14-24 range on a FF camera.
So for me the two lenses that I'd want to have are a ultra-wide zoom, and a telephoto zoom. The 17-50 for me on a cropped-sensored camera could be wide enough for environmental portraits. I'd like to have something a little wider angle like a 10-17mm, 10-20mm, or Tamron's new 10-24.
For the telephoto lens: If you can afford a telephoto with an aperture that opens up to f/2.8, then that's the one to get. If you don't know, then you will later.
I used to sell photo equipment, and I can say for certain that the after-market brands are as good as the name brand ones in many cases. Tokina AT-X pro series is probably the best after market choice, then Tamron, and then Sigma. Be careful with Sigma lenses since they seem to be fragile and not as well built as the others.

Also certain filters like star filters, graduated filters, and polarizers will have different effects when turned.- Always check to make sure that the front element of which ever lens you buy does not rotate as the lens focuses. Otherwise your filter will move as the focusing changes.

Last edited by FrankC; 02-01-2012 at 04:22 PM.
02-01-2012, 08:38 PM   #13
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whew... getting a little overwhelmed!! lol in a good way i think though i def have A LOT to learn!! ok and i have a couple questions for whoever has the time
1) the difference between f/1.8 and f/2.8 or f/1.4 i know chosing apature while i'm shotting... but the difference in the actual lens is confusing me a bit.
2) lets say the sigma 17-50 and the older sigma 18-50... to me these number are so similar! :-/ what so different lenses?

again... i'm sure rediculous basics i'm sure... but i'm from a small town... no real classes i can take... just trying to figure it out on my own
02-02-2012, 09:47 AM   #14
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I'm not quite sure about #1. Are you wanting to know the difference between some lens that comes as either a f/1.7 or f/1.4? Typically if a lens comes in two different versions where the only apparent difference is a larger f/stop, then the one w/ the larger f/stop is better (sharper, lower distortion, etc...) but not always. It's just that when lens mfgs make lenses for the pro-sumer or pro markets, they'll design lenses w/ larger lens openings because of the needs of their target consumers. So, take a look at the two links below and that'll answer your questions, and probably generate a lot more. It's all good - you're learning so don't be shy about asking.

As for #2: There is a 6% difference between 18mm and 17mm. But don't just look at zoom range and f/stops. Sure they're very important lens specifications, but when looking at these two lenses that are so similar, there just might be other differences in performance that won't be printed on the box.
To get a detailed examination of the lenses performance:
Sigma 18-50 - Sigma AF 18-50mm f/2.8-4.5 DC HSM OS (Nikon) - Review / Test Report - Analysis
The mount here was a Nikon, but the results for the lens is the same regardless of mount.

Sigma 17-50 - Sigma AF 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM OS - Review / Test Report - Analysis
While you're there, take a look at other brands with similar zoom ranges. Then you'll have an unbiased understanding of the performance of the lenses that you're interested in.
02-02-2012, 03:46 PM   #15
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1. each aperture has it's own optical design. Generally, what this means is that a bigger aperture will give you more light, making it easier to get shots in low light and to give you additional control over depth of field (the book Understanding Exposure covers this pretty well). However, bigger apertures also mean that designers have to push lens designs even further in order to get the bigger aperture. This typically results in the bigger aperture lens having better sharpness at equivalent aperture settings in comparison to a smaller aperture lens. However this is not always the case. Also note that a lens is always softer wide open than stopped down, and really wide-aperture lenses tend to be a tad soft wide open, along with exhibiting quite a bit of CA wide open due to how much they are pushing the limits of lens design.

2. There is actually quite a large difference. The 17-50 is a newer revised optical formula from sigma that is simply better (sharper, less CA, etc) than the older 18-50. You also get HSM in the 17-50, which is sigma's silent autofocusing motor.
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