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02-28-2012, 06:00 PM   #1
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Equipment advice for a Newbie

OK, so I know that these questions have probably been awnsered 100 times but I've been reading threads for hours and I'm getting lost in the mire. So, please forgive me for starting a new thread but I could really use some help.

I've been wanting to get a DSLR for years and have never been able to bring myself to spend the money but my fiance has talked me into it cause she wants some good pictures on the honeymoon.
I've been doing research on cameras for a while and have decided to go with the K-5. For one, I want a camera that I can grow into and not feel like I need to upgrade a short way down the road. Second, I do a lot of outdoor activites and the rugged body and weather resistance are a big plus. Third, everyone says its the best value for the money.
I need help picking out the lenses and other equipment which will fit into the way I will use the camera and give me the best results possible.

My details:
-I am an outdoor enthusiast and love to go backpacking, climbing, hiking etc. l primarily be using my camera on the trail so I would like to carry a minimal amount of lenses and equipment.
-Most of the photography I like to do is outdoors or while traveling. Landscapes, plants, animals, architecture and the such. I need a good combo to get the most out of those type of shots.
-I love WIDE! My biggest reason for wanting to get a DSLR is to be able to go wider. I love pictures that take in all the details of huge landscapes or capture giant architecture in one shot.
-(I also need to be able to take decent pics of me and the fiance on our honeymoon or I wont be able to justify the purchase anymore.)

So, with those details, what kind of lenses and other equipment would you recommend?
Also, since I am new to the DSLR world, any ideas where I can read up to get more aquianted with the art of taking beautiful pictures and the technical aspects and terminology?

Thanks a lot for your help!

02-28-2012, 06:22 PM   #2
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The standard 18-55 WR Kit should get you started (the 18-135WR or several third party zooms are options). The Sigma 10-20 is a very popular wide angle (options are the Sigma 8-16, Pentax 12-24 or 10-17(careful about fish eye distortion). There are lots of wonderful primes that could fit your needs but until you gain some experience I would suggest to stay with the variablity of zooms. (OBTW, Tamron makes some wonderful lenses as well.)
My personal choices have been a Sigma 17-70 with a Tamron 1.4X TC first. This was followed with a DA*50-135, a Sigma 135-400, and then a Sigma 10-20. Along the way, I picked up a DA21Ltd followed by an SMC A 50 f1.7.
02-28-2012, 07:08 PM   #3
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I'll second what calico said. 18-55 kit lens is probably wide enough to start out with, as wide angle lenses get expensive rather quickly. Also the K5 + a 18-135 WR is a good choice, it would give you a wide range and easy to transport while out and about - or the 18-250 for even more range, but I don't think there's a WR version of that.

QuoteOriginally posted by awrauch Quote
(I also need to be able to take decent pics of me and the fiance on our honeymoon or I wont be able to justify the purchase anymore.)
:P Well for that I suppose a nice portrait-ish fast lens would be good. If you don't mind manual focus grab a cheap A or M 50 f1.7, or f2. They'll suit low-light shots, and give a shallow depth of field (blur in the background). Or something like a 24-70 f2.8 if you've got the cash.

It all depends on how much you want to spend I guess.

Oh and don't forget to think about/budget for accessories too - spare battery, memory card, a bag of some sort, and maybe a shoulder strap (something like a black-rapid strap or similar) as the neck strap can get annoying if you wear it all day, especially for backpacking.

Last edited by Tom Woj; 02-28-2012 at 07:14 PM.
02-28-2012, 07:09 PM   #4
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Although I'm not much of a zoom fan, I'd recommend you get the K-5 with the DA 18-135 WR. It's a good alrounder lens, after using it for a few months you will know better what other, if any, lenses you "need" next.

02-28-2012, 07:19 PM   #5
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Here are several more suggestions.....
  • First - you really do not need a lot of items to start. It comes with a battery and a charger. You will need a couple of SD cards - get 2 or 3 - 4GB cards they are relatively cheap ($10). Ask folks to take pictures of you in fully automatic mode (to justify the camera). Probably a bag to carry it in and you are set.
  • Second - You can take stitched panoramas with any lens. You can take them as wide as you wish. Turn the camera on its side so that you also get sufficient height and then overlap each shot by 1/4. Microsoft has free software ICE that will stitch them all together for you. This way you will not need a wide angle lens - at least for a while.
  • Next - As others have said the kit lens (18-55WR) is just fine or the 18-135WR.
  • Last - This seems to be a capital intensive hobby, so use this for a while as there is plenty of time to go broke on this later....

Have fun!!!!

02-28-2012, 07:37 PM   #6
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I'd been shooting film a long long time, and digital P&S cams for some years, before I bought my first (and only, so far) dSLR, the K20D. What drove me to Pentax was the DA10-17 fisheye -- I *really* wanted that ultrawide capability. My other first lenses were the DA18-250, and the FA50/1.4. Now I supplement the DA10-17 with the Tamron 10-24. I've accumulated a zillion lenses, but those are still my most-used. The DA18-250 is my basic lens; all others are specialty items.

Alas, the DA18-250 and its Tamron twin are no longer in production, although they're widely available used. If you MUST HAVE new gear, and value wide more than long, then the DA18-135 (WR or not) and the Tamron 10-24 cover a lot of territory. Throw in a Fast Fifty like the FA50/1.4 or (if you have the budget) a DA*55/1.4, and you're set for about 95% of possibilities. Add a Raynox closeup adapter for near-macro work. Those about comprise my minimum kit.

And yes, think of the accessories: more SD cards; more batteries; flash, tripod, remote; lens pen, sensor cleaning kit; and don't forget a good wide-brim hat.
02-28-2012, 08:14 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Compared to getting married, the camera is a small thing. It won't be however if you don't get some good pictures on the honeymoon. So practice with camera a lot before the wedding so you aren't distracted by the camera afterwards.
02-29-2012, 12:57 AM   #8
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The post above is perhaps the best advice. Practice - a lot. Then ask questions. If you have never used an SLR or DSLR, there is a lot to learn and it can be a bit daunting. Don't be afraid of the full automatic modes while learning. The "P" for Program Mode can be your friend. For a bit more control, you can move up to "A" Aperture Priority and then everything else. Start slow with the easy stuff and move up. Shoot JPG to start and get an inexpensive viewer program like Faststone Viewer which is free and can even do some basic adjustments. If you stay with it, you will eventually want something more capable.

I use my camera a lot like you envision. Travel, hiking, back country travel, etc. I have a lot of lenses and other gear that you don't need to start but if I strip down for carrying off-trail, I take my K-5, the 18-135 WR zoom and the Sigma 10-20 ultrawide zoom. I had the 18-250 but traded it in for the weather sealed tele zoom. A bulb blower and Lens Pen for cleaning, several 8 GB SD cards in a metal pocket case and a few filters (split ND grad, circular polarizer for both lenses and maybe a full ND) and a very light-weight travel tripod, and that is about it for backpacking.

Start small with a nice 1 or 2 lens kit and grow into the gear thing. For the honeymoon, you could probably get away with just the 18-135 or the cheaper 18-55 and not mess with the rest. You don't have to buy everything at once.

Congratulations on your upcoming marriage and good luck.

02-29-2012, 01:09 AM   #9
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Panasonic DMC-GX1 + G7-14/4.

Last edited by wlachan; 02-29-2012 at 01:17 AM.
02-29-2012, 06:31 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by awrauch Quote
my fiance has talked me into it cause she wants some good pictures on the honeymoon.
Valid point. And congratulations to you two!

QuoteOriginally posted by awrauch Quote
decided to go with the K-5
QuoteOriginally posted by awrauch Quote
Third, everyone says its the best value for the money
It is, by all accounts

QuoteOriginally posted by awrauch Quote
I am an outdoor enthusiast and love to go backpacking, climbing, hiking etc. l primarily be using my camera on the trail so I would like to carry a minimal amount of lenses and equipment.
I can fully relate to that, I'm in this situation too.

QuoteOriginally posted by awrauch Quote
Most of the photography I like to do is outdoors or while traveling. Landscapes, plants, animals, architecture and the such. I need a good combo to get the most out of those type of shots.
Landscapes and plants are at odds, sadly

QuoteOriginally posted by awrauch Quote
I love WIDE
Ultra-wide, or just wide?

QuoteOriginally posted by awrauch Quote
I also need to be able to take decent pics of me and the fiance on our honeymoon or I wont be able to justify the purchase anymore
That's sensible.

QuoteOriginally posted by awrauch Quote
lso, since I am new to the DSLR world, any ideas where I can read up to get more aquianted with the art of taking beautiful pictures and the technical aspects and terminology?
Seriously, browse the forum, ask questions, read comments and reviews, and most important, get your gear in advance!!! Practice, experiment, learn, practice some more.

You haven't mentioned a budget, nor where your honeymoon will take place.

Let's cover a few basics : if you want wide weather resistance, you have three choices:

18-55 : the kit lens, reliable, not fantastic but very good. I own it and use it for hiking, the beach, snowshoeing, etc.
18-135 : excellent package, also very good but not stellar optically, size and weight are great, it has silent AF, but it's expensive.
16-50 : Pentax's top AF wide zoom. Large, bulky, expensive, much better optically than the other two, wider aperture (lets more light in). Not the best choice for hiking.

Pentax also has the 55-200 WR (OK optically) and the fantastic 100mm macro WR if you want a short high-quality tele and a true macro lens. My personal hiking combo is the 18-55 and the 100 macro.

To meet your various needs, and without having more info, I would recommend a twofold kit:

18-55 WR for general photography, coupled or not with the 100 macro depending on your interest and budget (the macro is expensive)
A great prime lens, such as a 50mm or the DA 40mm limited, for your most precious moments, like portraits and such. You could also (again depending on the budget) add another wider prime, such as the compact 21mm or the wider but less compact 15mm. The 21 and 40 are lenses that literally fit in pants pockets. I personally often bring the 21 also when hiking, small as it is.

That way you would get good, compact glass for hard weather, and fantastic, compact glass for "important" moments. Note that the 100 macro is one of the best Pentax lenses currently available optically, even though I placed it in the WR group. And when the weather is not risky, the 21-40-100 combo would make a killer team.

Note that you can find many of these lenses used on the marketplace here.

If you want to learn more about the 100 macro, have a peak here:

Tamron 90mm Macro Comparative Review - Pentax Camera News & Rumors - PentaxForums.com
02-29-2012, 07:38 AM   #11
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Lots of good lens advice here, you still have to make the decision. Other items are needed here too, and they don't have to break the bank. Since you have an outdoors lifestyle and every lens isn't weather resistant get some thing like the Optech rain sleeve (costs about $10 for a two pack). You want to take photos of yourselves, you will need a wireless remote, you can get generic ones on ebay for <$3 and they work great. A tripod may be too much to carry, but you may want something to steady your camera for self shots, just in case you can't find a suitable rock, etc.

The tough choice is how to carry your equipment, there are a lot of good bags and a lot of threads in this forum about them. There are also individual lens cases that can strap on a belt, attach to a backpack strap, or be placed into a non camera bag (these run about $10-$30 each). There are also padded wraps that allow you to tote your lens in any bag. A lot of travelers prefer carrying bags that don't advertise expensive camera equipment. I have a nice Tenba sling bag that is very comfortable to wear, but I rarely use it in the field, more often I strap a couple of Lowepro or Pearstone (B&H) lens cases to my belt and head out. I use my bag more as luggage when traveling, or if I think I'll need more than 3 lenses. The point is there are a lot of good options, but what are the best for you. Fortunately you have a head start because of the activities you are into, what fits with the outdoor gear you have? For climbing you may also want to look at special camera harnesses that keep the camera from swinging but also allow it to be accessible, I don't climb so I haven't used these but they look like a good product to fill a niche.
02-29-2012, 08:45 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
there are a lot of good bags and a lot of threads in this forum about them
Good point. As a hiker, the original poster probably already has a good and reliable backpack. In that case, I always recommend purchasing a padded insert to go in that bag, instead of replacing it with a dedicated camera bag that's not as well made for hiking as a true hiker's bag. Inserts are also less expensive.
03-01-2012, 01:25 PM   #13
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Backpack?

Im a bit of a new photographer myself, and find myself doing a wide range of shooting from lightning with the 35mm ZX-7 to landscape etc on the K-X I have. What would be a good backpack that would be able to safely store stuff for when im in the field?
03-01-2012, 02:46 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by snowfox Quote
Im a bit of a new photographer myself, and find myself doing a wide range of shooting from lightning with the 35mm ZX-7 to landscape etc on the K-X I have. What would be a good backpack that would be able to safely store stuff for when im in the field?
Welcome to the forums, there is tons of information on the relative merits of equipment carrying appartus, start in the reviews, but doi a little searching and you'll find many threads with your question. By looking at some of those first you may help narrow it down, then maybe you can get more specific with your equipment, likes, dislikes, etc.
03-02-2012, 05:42 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by snowfox Quote
What would be a good backpack that would be able to safely store stuff for when im in the field?
See my previous advice. I've never seen a photo backpack that's half as comfortable as a true hiking backpack that you select according to your body size.
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