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05-11-2012, 11:38 AM   #1
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Buying a K-5, need guidance on choosing a lens

Hello everyone,

I am an amateur. I finally decided to go with the K-5. My first DSLR was a Canon 350D with a kit lens which was later replaced by a 50D.
I had 2 lenses for the 50D, a telephoto lens 70-200 and a 35mm lens. Both were great and they served their purpose. I travelled regularly
and the places I visited along with my 50D inspired me to take some good pictures.

Now I have a little daughter and obviously my lifestyle has changed. I decided that I did not need a DSLR any more and I swapped it for a
Fuji X100. I found it great for everyday photography but not so great for taking pictures of my baby. Obviously the autofocus is painfully slow
and many picture opportunities ended up wasted. My X100 went berserk with the blades issue a week ago and it's in for repairs now.
I still like this camera but having found myself with nothing but an iPhone at the moment I started thinking about replacing the X100 with something
more versatile.

I tortured myself with Nikon D8000, Canon 60D, Sony NEX-7, Olympus OM-D M5, hell even Pentax K-01 and finally I decided to keep the X100
and buy a Pentax K-5. Now what about lenses?

I am considering buying a K-5 body and one limited lens for starters. I decided to pass on the kits since I'm not into zooms really and I feel much
more at home with prime lenses. I need something sharp and fast for taking pictures of the baby indoors, sometimes in low light, and also during
the walks in the park outside.

I have 3 lenses on my radar:

- 35mm f/2.8 Macro ltd (my wife loves macro, she photographs her perfume bottles for perfume enthusiast forums
- 40mm f/2.4 2.8 ltd
- 70mm f/2.4 ltd

And I can't decide! I would appreciate any advice from you guys.

Last edited by Pelicashka; 05-11-2012 at 12:03 PM.
05-11-2012, 11:49 AM - 1 Like   #2
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The 40mm is F2.8, not 2.4, FYI. It's definitely a great lens, but I don't like this particular focal length on APS-C, as it's not wide enough and not long enough.

If you want the most versatility, go for the macro. Another (even better) lens that I'd like to recommend is the FA 31mm:
Pentax smc Pentax FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited (Black) 20290 B&H Photo (add it to cart to see the actual price)

Here's our review of it:
Pentax-FA 31mm Limited F1.8 Review - Introduction -

This lens, together with the DA 15mm limited, makes for an excellent wide-angle kit. You might also want to read this review if you're seriously considering the 70mm:
DA 70mm vs FA 77mm Limited - Comparison: Introduction -

Choosing primes is always hard. For me, the FA 77mm (or FA* 85mm) suffices as an all-purpose lens, as it makes me focus on composition rather than document everything I see around me.

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05-11-2012, 11:58 AM - 1 Like   #3
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Agree with the 35 macro - sounds like it suits both you and your wife's needs. 35mm is a good general focal length for APS-C but for great portraiture a 70 ltd or 77 ltd would be even better. All depends on your budget.
05-11-2012, 12:26 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Sigma 28/1.8 is fast and has (not-true) macro (1:2.9). It's a good lens. The Sigma 30/1.4 is also supposedly good (and much cheaper than the FA31). The 30 doesn't have close-focus though. Everyone's complaint with the DA35ltd is that it is slow to focus since it has so much focus range (that's one reason why my set of limiteds doesn't have it).

05-11-2012, 12:26 PM   #5
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I like the FA 43mm LTD. Maybe it's my eyes, but I usually seem to prefer to 'be closer', and the max aperature is a fast 1.9 for indoor use, it has fast AF, nice ltd quality (and FF capability if...).

Of course macro could negate that choice for you, so 35mm would be the next 'logical' choice, though not w/o normal use issues (AF as mentioned). This time around the 43mmm beat that one out (already have the more practical 100mm for macro), but then the 43mm price was still reasonable 1.5 weeks ago.

Often the 70mm is too much for close-in candids and works (ideally) for more mid-telephoto purposes (individuals or small groups across large rooms, pools, staged portraits, etc.). I think out in the park it could be fine, but indoors not so much.

Last edited by jmg257; 05-11-2012 at 01:01 PM.
05-11-2012, 12:31 PM - 1 Like   #6
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Agreed - but get a WR kit lens ...

QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Agree with the 35 macro - sounds like it suits both you and your wife's needs. 35mm is a good general focal length for APS-C but for great portraiture a 70 ltd or 77 ltd would be even better. All depends on your budget.

The 35 Macro is very good, but let me be the devil's advocate and suggest a D FA 100mm f2.8 Macro WR ... with it you get WR which goes everywhere, a great portrait lens that does not put you in the face of your subject, a super macro with a real working distance, and a "short" telephoto ... this lens has everything except "limited" on it (which it should). I love mine and use it a lot ... more versatile that one would initially imagine.

Allez & bon courage, John le Frog

PS - Get a "WR kit" lens if you do settle for a non-WR lens ... so you can shoot in rain or shine!
05-11-2012, 12:49 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Read this review on the 35mm macro:The DA 35mm will work great for your wife's macro shooting but you will have trouble using it for shooting pics of a little kid-
Pentax SMCP-DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited User Review

In short:
"The DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited is one of the best macro lenses I have ever used. It absolutely blows everything away within 2 feet of the front of the lens....This incredible focus range (infinity to 0.139M) is the DA 35 Macro’s Achilles heel. It is very deliberate and accurate when shooting macro but becomes slow and laborious when taking snap shots. If the camera misses the focus point it will usually run all the way to one extreme of the focal range and then back to the focus point where (hopefully) it will lock on. If not, it will continue on to the opposite end of the focus range before heading back to try again.... I missed a ton of snap shots with the kids while this lens oscillated back and forth the focus scale on me".

From a practical point of view, the most likely way this issue happens is when you focus on something really close and then try to take a picture of your kid doing something at a distance. That is when this lens run all the way throught the focus range. Manypeople just manually turn the lens to focus at the longer distance and then let it autofocus in those situations.

If you can live with the longer range of the 70mm, its a great lens that I used quite a bit with my kids. I dont own the DA 40mm but the reviews say that its one of the fastest focusing lens in the pentax line and that the image quality is almost as good as the DA 70.

Best of luck.
05-11-2012, 01:06 PM   #8
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Many thanks to all of you for your helpful comments. It looks like the DA70 would be a better option to start with. I like the images I am seeing from the FA77, however in these parts of Europe it costs over 500 dollars more than the DA70 and I can't really justify the price difference. The FA31 is super cool, but too expensive for my pocket at 1500 USD. I know I can get it cheaper on the web but I don't want to wait and I feel that the DA70 would be better for taking pictures of people of all sizes. As for the DA35 Macro, I think it would be the second lens we get.

Thanks again.


05-11-2012, 02:32 PM   #9
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I had the same dilema when we had our second child. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the DA*55. I feel like this is the most like a conventional prime lens, compared to the FA 31 Ltd and DA 21 or 15 Ltds (which I also have), in terms of overall size (i.e., handling) and a generous focus throw, and is faster (f/1.4) than those as well. Not sure how fast the SDM focusing compares to the others, I think they are all plenty fast to capture my little kids when they are running around, anyway. I just slap on the lens I feel like using and fire away. The DA*55 price is in the ballpark with the Ltds and is weather resistant too. Plus, it is a little shorter than the 70/77, which might make it a little more versatile.

I figured, since I want to take portraits of my children, so might as well get ..... a desginated portrait lens!
05-11-2012, 03:04 PM   #10
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+1 with the 100mm macro. I have the 100 and the 35, and like the increased working distance the 100 offers. That said, I use it mainly outdoors and shoot insects, plants, etc. Try before you buy.

As for the other choices, I note you want primes but don't dismiss zooms. I prefer zooms for their versatility and the DA* lenses are up there with the Ltds in my opinion. Consider the 50-135 f2.8. Not light, but great lens. As a walk-about, look at the 17-70.
05-11-2012, 05:57 PM - 1 Like   #11
Brooke Meyer

Tamron 28-75/2.8. The notion that there is much difference between zooms and primes is tepid at best. Most of it is you. Sometimes you can't back up and sometimes you can't move in close. The important thing is, make the photograph. I wish Pentax made something like it, weatherproof.
05-11-2012, 09:39 PM - 1 Like   #12
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Based on your comments above (you want prime, macro, children, low light) I'd recommend the Sigma 30/1.4 and Pentax 70 Ltd (starting with the Sigma). The Sigma is a great lens in low light (1.4 gives exciting low DoF shots and the lens is sharp from wide open) and TBH on a K5 you can easily crop this to a 70 (or much more) FoV without compromising on the IQ, AF is very fast, so it is the first lens I'd buy. Note that it is not as sharp (but perfectly adequate for most) in the borders so isn't a dedicated landscape lens by any means ! Check out the Sigma thread on here for some gorgeous shots from the Sigma.

If you are happy with MF lenses for your low light work then for under US$100 you can buy the superb SMC Takumar 50/1.4 instead.

For macro you can buy the excellent Raynox 150 or 250 (I use the 250) and add this to virtually any lens (making all your lenses 'macro' lenses). They cost around US$50 - 70 each. The 250 is best for small insects and the 150 for flowers etc. IQ is superb, they do not detract from the host lens' IQ at all.

Good luck and welcome to Pentax !

Last edited by Frogfish; 05-11-2012 at 10:00 PM.
05-11-2012, 09:48 PM - 2 Likes   #13
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Just buy all the lenses that we have recommended. You will do this eventually, anyhow.
05-11-2012, 10:27 PM - 1 Like   #14
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If I were buying only one prime it would be the 40. The 70 is a wonderful lens but not as versatile. The focal 30-40mm focal length works well on the crop sensor. I don't have the 35mm macro, but generally macro lenses are much slower to focus.

If you really want a portrait lens and a macro, the Sigma 70mm is one of the sharpest lenses made by anybody. It's not a Pentax limited with the metal body, but lenses don't come much better.
05-11-2012, 11:52 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Among my other strategies, I have a numerological approach to kit-building: each lens has about twice or half the AOV of its neighbor. This eases pre-visualizing the effect of a lens swap. So focal-length Ltd combos may include:

* 15-31-70
* 15-35-70
* 21-40-77
* 21-43-77

Or, just buy all the Ltds. Then the FA* and DA* glass. Then all the Takumars. Etc. Hay, it's only money.

QuoteOriginally posted by Tanzer Quote
Just buy all the lenses that we have recommended. You will do this eventually, anyhow.

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