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03-22-2012, 09:41 AM   #1
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chose between 2 lenses

Can anyone please advise me on choosing between 2 lenses? I am a beginner and just bought a Pentax K-X at Christmas. It came with the kit lens of 18-55mm. I would like to have a longer zoom lens. I have been checking around and I believe I have finally landed between 2 lenses that fit in my price range. I can buy either a Tokina AF 70-210 1:4-5.6 or Pentax 50-200 F 4-5.6 ED. I enjoy photos that have a decent depth of field aspect to them (with the blurred background). So, can you please advise on which lens would be better for me? Thanks so much!!

03-22-2012, 09:50 AM   #2
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Neither of those is fast enough to have thin DOF for the blurry backgrounds you want unless you shoot fairly close. Something like a Sigma or Tamron 70-200/2.8 would do much better -- but probably beyond your budget. I don't know if you're brave enough for manual-focus; if so, a used Vivitar Series-1 70-210/3.5 would be excellent and well within budget, if a bit long and heavy. There are tradeoffs here: new-long-sharp-fast-cheap are mutually exclusive. Ratz...

Last edited by RioRico; 03-22-2012 at 10:05 AM.
03-22-2012, 09:51 AM   #3
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Whilst I can't advise you on comparisons between those two lenses I can say that low DoF is a product of fast lenses (wider apertures than those you are considering, e.g. f2.8 and faster) and perspective. I don't think either of those two lenses will do it for you.

It's possible the Tokina (who at one time were co-operating and producing lenses alongside Pentax, and so have many of the same lenses in their line-up as Pentax) AF 70-210 is optically the same as the Pentax F 70-210, a lens which I have. It is a little dated now but I can assure you it is very sharp and has fast (if noisy) AF and should cost you around $100 used. In fact there may even be one up for sale here on PF at the moment.
03-22-2012, 09:52 AM   #4
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Thanks. Then, without the DOF consideration...which of these lenses would you prefer?

03-22-2012, 09:53 AM   #5
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As rio has indicated neither of the lenses you point out would have really shallow depth of field, and in fact, both are quite similar, although I would suggest that at 70 mm the tonkina would be slightly shallower as it is F4 at 70 mm as opposed to the Pentax which would be slightly slower than F4 at 70 mm but the difference would be minimal. Yoou should probably find which is the sharpest of the two at a large aperture and pick that lens, because although neither has the narrow depth of field that you are looking for, you can also achieve this by correct positioning of foreground and background, in which case the lens sharpness is key

I can't comment futher as I own neither, but I do own a sigma 70-200/2.8 and the Vivitar 70-210/3.5 that rio mentions and these are both great (but big and heavy) lenses
03-22-2012, 10:46 AM   #6
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You might also think about what all you will use the new lens for. And what focal range you need. In my opinion the DA 55-300 is a better value than either of the ones you mention. If 200mm is all you will need, fine but if you are only getting one long zoom, 300mm is better. I have the F 70-210 and it is a very nice sharp lens within its range but I more often use the 55-300 as it does almost everything the F 70-210 does plus has longer range. (And it is a lot lighter). But I will second Frogfish, if you are sure 70-210 is the focal length you want take a look at the F 70-210. Very sharp, very fast AF, and very nice color rendering.
03-22-2012, 11:17 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by j2n2d1 Quote
Thanks. Then, without the DOF consideration...which of these lenses would you prefer?
I don't know the Tokina, and the DA50-200 hasn't the best reputation. I'll second jatrax's recommendation of the DA55-300. See the reviews for comments on how well it's regarded.

Another cheaper possibility if you need the reach is a used FA100-300/4.7-5.8 (silver) which can probably be had for around US$100. It's only imperceptibly slower than the 70-200/4.5-5.6's, and has great optics throughout its range, which not all 300mm zooms can claim. I'm no birder but I've got my best bird shots with the FA100-300. And it weighs MUCH less than my huge Sigma 170-500. If I'm carrying a longer zoom, it's usually the FA100-300.
03-22-2012, 12:39 PM   #8
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jatrax and frogfish...when you speak of the F 70-210...what brand? And this lens is AF?
RipRico...which brand do I look for in the FA 100-300? And this lens is AF?
Thank you so much everyone! I appreciate it!

03-22-2012, 01:03 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by j2n2d1 Quote
jatrax and frogfish...when you speak of the F 70-210...what brand? And this lens is AF?
It's a Pentax (I believe optically identical to the Tokina you are considering) and yes it's AF.
03-22-2012, 01:30 PM   #10
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The 50-70 range is useful enough (think portraits) that the 70-210 would have to be orders of magnitude than the 50-200 in other respects for it to be the better choice, in my opinion.

BTW, you *can* get decently shallow DOF with these lenses; it's just a matter of making sure your subject is significantly closer than the background (and shooting as wide open as the lens allows).
03-22-2012, 02:14 PM   #11
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While those lenses don't have a very wide aperture (to cause a thin DoF), they are very long, which means the background will often still be fairly soft. I have the Pentax DAL 50-200, which is good for a beginner (I think you can find sample pics on this forum), but I also read the Pentax DAL 50-300 is better. The DAL are also very inexpensive, so buying one, even if you only use it for a couple years, won't be a big drain on your wallet.
03-22-2012, 03:26 PM   #12
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recommend the DA or DAL 55-300. It remains F/4 thru 100mm and is sharp enough and lacking distortion to be used wide open at that length.
03-22-2012, 03:58 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by j2n2d1 Quote
jatrax and frogfish...when you speak of the F 70-210...what brand? And this lens is AF?
RipRico...which brand do I look for in the FA 100-300? And this lens is AF?
I hope I'm not RIP yet! Anyway, when we refer to lenses like Fxxx or FAxxx or DAxxx, we mean Pentax autofocus lenses. If we talk about Kxxx or Mxxx or Axxx or Taks, they're Pentax manual focus lenses.

Here is the basic chonological family lineage of Asahi-Pentax lenses:

* Takumar (including Auto-Tak, Tele-Tak, Macro-Tak, Super-Tak, SMC-Tak, but not Takumar-A or Tak-F or Tak-Bayonet) -- these are manual-focus screwmount lenses which need a simple adapter to use on modern dSLRs.
-- Takumar-A or Takumar-F or Takumar Bayonet -- these are bayonet-mount lenses, consumer-grade (cheap) versions of the K-series. Bayonet lenses need no adapters.

* K- and M- and A- and F- and FA- and DA-series -- these are all standard bayonet-mount lenses needing no adapters. K, M, and A are manual focus. F, FA, and DA are autofocus.
-- K-series just say Pentax SMC with no series designator. They work like M lenses.
-- M-series say SMC-M. These have mechanical aperture linkage, no automation.
-- A-series say SMC-A. These have automatic (electric) aperture control.
-- F- and FA-series are full-frame autofocus lenses with aperture automation.
-- DA-series are half-frame autofocus auto-aperture lenses for APS-C dSLRs.

There's more to it, like the budget FA-J and DA-L lenses, and the dual-format DFA lenses, and the new DA-XS lenses for the K-01 and future mirrorless cameras. Just know that normally, we call non-Pentax lenses by their brand name, and Pentax lenses by their series name. And we shorten Takumar to Tak, just as we shorten "Carl Zeiss aus Jena" to CZJ, or "Contax-Yashica" to C/Y. We're lazy like that.

Last edited by RioRico; 03-22-2012 at 04:04 PM.
03-22-2012, 04:04 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by j2n2d1 Quote
jatrax and frogfish...when you speak of the F 70-210...what brand? And this lens is AF? RipRico...which brand do I look for in the FA 100-300? And this lens is AF?
Both lenses are Pentax. Sorry, for using the shorthand. Usually when a lens is prefixed by M, A, F, FA, or DA it is assumed to be a Pentax lens. Those are the designations for the various series of lenses Pentax has produced in K mount. Starting with the original "K" series which has no designation on the lens, followed by the Pentax-M, then the Pentax-A, Pentax-F, Pentax-FA, and finally the Pentax-DA which is the currently produced line. There are a few other oddities, (FA J, DA L, DFA) but if you know the main codes you can quickly place a lens in both time and features. For example, K, M, and A lenses are manual focus. All lenses after that are auto-focus.

Here is a link explaining the capabilities of the various Pentax Lens series.

Oops: Rio beat me to it...
03-22-2012, 05:16 PM   #15
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Hi j2n2d1
if what you want to do is take photographs with bokeh you might consider buying later an M type prime lens such as the f/1.4 or f/1.7 which are fast lenses and are very well know for their shallow DOF when needed. You can find fine examples of them right here or in eBay for under 100 dollars.

I have one M f/1.4 alongside my Tamron 18-270 and the two kit lenses that came with my K-x.

Hope this helps or at least sparks you curiosity to learn about this.
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