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06-05-2012, 05:44 PM   #1
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Good fast lens on a budget?

Hey all I wanted to know if you had any recommendations on a fast lens trying not to go above $350. I've got the kit lens and most of my pics are right in the middle around 35mm-40mm
Thanks in advanced
Tony

06-05-2012, 05:48 PM   #2
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If you want AF then the Tamron 17-50mm is one of the best lenses money can buy. It used to be $414 but it looks like it's gone up to $474.

Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di-II LD Aspherical [IF] AF016P-700 B&H

You might be able to secure a used copy for around $350. Don't miss our in-depth review of it either!

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06-05-2012, 06:08 PM   #3
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DAL 35/2.4 or a used FA 50/1.4 would be within budget, with some change.

Used manual-focus 50mm lenses abound.
06-05-2012, 06:16 PM   #4
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If you're a prime lover, the DA 35 2.4 or DA Limited 40 2.8 might be the lens for you.

DA 35 2.4 will run you around $200-$220 new ---> SMC Pentax-DA 35mm F2.4 AL Reviews - DA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
Said to be a great budget lens with great image quality for the price, but with a cheap build. You might be able to squeeze into your $350 range if you buy a used DA 35 + F 50 1.7 (everyone should own a fast fifty!)

DA Limited 40 2.8 is around $499, but I've seen new ones from Ebay retailers and even Best Buy selling new for $387. If going for a new one, price seems to be around $300 nowadays.
SMC Pentax-DA 40mm F2.8 Limited Reviews - DA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
Very tiny metal-build lens with good IQ.

If you're looking for something versatile and are more of a zoom person, I think Adam nailed it.

06-06-2012, 07:08 AM   #5
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Thanks for the recommendations everyone, I was actually looking at the DA 35 2.4 but don't know if I'll like a prime (would be my first one) but that tamron sounds mighty nice. It would be mainly for indoor low light shots of kids and family so auto focus is a must. Thanks again!
06-06-2012, 10:09 AM   #6
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I know it's out of range, but I rented the Sigma 28mm 1.7 and was highly impressed with indoor use.

Which camera are you using? The newer ones are sensitive enough you don't really need to go all the way wide if there's fair light.
06-06-2012, 10:26 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by td186 Quote
fast lens trying not to go above $350...auto focus is a must
You'll either get a good quality fast lens or an autofocus one for that price, getting both would require a lucky used deal. In my opinion 35mm or wider is must on APSC indoors so you are looking in the right range.
EDIT: I would second Adam's suggestion actually, that's a great range and speed.
Take a day and put your kit lens zoom on 35mm focal length then tape it in place and only adjust the focus after that. If it really pisses you off to have to keep moving to recompose rather than just adjusting the zoom (you do a lot more cropping with primes which costs you image quality) you need a wide zoom which will cost you speed, otherwise you can expect that the prime will be much faster and have better image quality (uncropped) than your zoom.
Also consider that wide open most really fast primes will focus on a persons nose and not a whole hell of a lot more, very narrow depth of field. One of the strengths of the K5 was that it does high ISO so well that you can use the mid range on a fast lens and get good depth of field and still be fast.

Keep in mind that with an A series manual focus lens you still get the little green light in the viewfinder telling you when you have it in focus, this is the same focus judgement it would use for the AF lens so all you cost yourself is a little speed while you focus, though with practice I know people that focus just as fast and usually more accurately than the Pentax AF. For a little more focus speed there is also the catch in focus (or whatever its called) feature which will apparently automatically take the pic when you get the focus right but I like to do that part myself so I can control the exact moment of it better so I've never tried it.

Last edited by PPPPPP42; 06-06-2012 at 10:33 AM.
06-06-2012, 10:40 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by td186 Quote
It would be mainly for indoor low light shots of kids and family so auto focus is a must.
You might be surprised how versatile a prime can be if you choose a good focal length. Certainly, 50mm is too long for this - I mean you can get some shots, but you'd be very aware of how many you can't get. Something in the 20-40 range should work very well. Since the DA35/2.4 is both very good and quite inexpensive, it's the no-brainer way to go. Unless it turns out that, after experimenting with your kit lens and checking focal lengths, you decide you need wider. In which case, you might also reconsider your statement "auto focus is a must". If you are over 30, then somehow, your parents managed to take pictures of you without AF, and in any case, certainly your grandparents took pictures of your parents without it. Not that you *have* to go with manual focus in order to get wider than 35mm, but AF lenses - primes or zooms - that are enough faster than the kit lens to be worthwhile (ie, f/2.8 or better) will be pushing your budget.

06-06-2012, 10:58 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
Which camera are you using? The newer ones are sensitive enough you don't really need to go all the way wide if there's fair light.
Yup! You can rack up the ISO on the newer models and not need too fast a lens not unless you want a thin DOF.
06-06-2012, 11:21 AM   #10
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Sorry I didn't mention it before, my camera is a Pentax k10d. I've shot low light before with iso 800 or better but I believe 400 is about the highest I can still work with anything higher than that gets horrible noise
06-06-2012, 11:37 AM   #11
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I found the 16-45 a lot better indoors than the kit lens (old version) on my K-10. Just FYI. The advice to figure out which focal length is useful with your zoom before looking at the primes is a good suggestion.

I still use the K-10 because it has a split-focus screen, but the buttons are all in the wrong place for my muscle memory now after moving to the K-5! The screen does help with the long manual telephotos, though.
06-06-2012, 11:41 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by td186 Quote
Sorry I didn't mention it before, my camera is a Pentax k10d. I've shot low light before with iso 800 or better but I believe 400 is about the highest I can still work with anything higher than that gets horrible noise
"Horrible" is a relative term. It might be bad if you don't apply any NR and pixel peep your images at 100%, but you can get perfectly usable images at the max setting - 1600 - wen viewed or printed at "normal" sizes, particular if you spend two seconds applying a NR preset to your images in your favorite PP program. Still, even at ISO 1600, you'll need faster glass than the kit to get decent low light shots.
06-06-2012, 12:42 PM   #13
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True I use lightroom for pretty much all my PP and yes my images are still somewhat manageable? I guess I'm too picky being on a budget haha. right now I'm leaning more towards the DA35, f2.4 sounds great or the tamron. I'm going to experiment on my kit lens and I'll see what I like most.I may go manual focusing and read up about catch in focus. Thanks for everyones help
06-06-2012, 01:58 PM   #14
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FA35 f2 would be a great lens, very similar to the DA35 but a tad faster, probably able to grab for $350 2nd hnd
06-06-2012, 03:30 PM   #15
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DA 35/2.4, fast, auto focus, and cheap (within your budget) as a new lens goes. Oh yea, a great performer! There's a lot about it you can find in the forum, or look at the sample at Pentax Photo Gallery.

Last edited by ramseybuckeye; 06-06-2012 at 07:00 PM.
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