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06-29-2012, 09:22 PM   #1
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The itch for more lenses

I recent got a K5 and picked up a DA 18-135mm as my first lens and having lot of fun, but I'm starting to feel I might need something else.
I find myself taking a lot of close up / macro shots but would like to closer. Would a more powerful zoom or a macro lens be better and whats the real difference? I see things like "50mm f2.8 macro" in the macro section and "50mm f1.8" in the prime section.

I have also noticed more wanting to use it at night, so I'm thinking a fast prime with auto focus?

Thing is, there so many lenses out there I just don't know where to start.

06-29-2012, 09:40 PM   #2
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Oh,oh. Another one on the road to LBA hell.
06-29-2012, 09:40 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nervosa Quote
but I'm starting to feel I might need something else.
This is called LBA (lens buying addiction), be very careful once you have contracted this there is really no cure.

As for macro, I think there is no substitute for a real macro lens but there are other ways. See this article by RioRico Cheap Macro by RioRico Macro is a much more complicated endeavor than you might think. It can be done simply and cheaply or it can be one of the most technically demanding types of photography, depending on what results you want.

As for night shots, that depends on what you mean. Night shots to me means long exposure on a tripod. It is possible to take pictures with nothing but starlight or less if done properly and the lens is less important than the tripod and other gear. However, if you mean pictures in low light then yes a fast prime such FA 50mm f/1.4 is the way to go, but remember with such large apertures (f/1.4) the depth of field becomes extremely small.

If you want to research lenses (and you should before spending any money) then check the lens database here. Also, just ask, this is a friendly forum and you will get good advice. Especially about lenses, we love to help people spend money!!
06-29-2012, 09:56 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
However, if you mean pictures in low light then yes a fast prime such FA 50mm f/1.4 is the way to go, but remember with such large apertures (f/1.4) the depth of field becomes extremely small.

If you want to research lenses (and you should before spending any money) then check the lens database here. Also, just ask, this is a friendly forum and you will get good advice. Especially about lenses, we love to help people spend money!!
Sorry guess I should have stated low light, hand held.
Say dusk time, outback on the deck, only light coming from lawn torches and whatever is in the sky.
I did some snooping around the lens database, lots of reading when you're first starting out.

06-29-2012, 10:08 PM   #5
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Join the club.

Its technically called "LBA" or "lens buying addiction"....as others have mentioned...

I am kind of in your same boat but after shooting about 3 or 4 times a week for a month I am starting to learn a little more...please take what I am saying with a grain of salt because I am new to photography for all intents and purposes.

At first I was fixated on getting the long lenses. I wanted at least a 500mm lens but since I bought the camera (K-5) I am actually finding myself going the opposite direction. Now I want ultra wide. Yes I probably could use a longer lens but for right now my priorities changed. (Don't get me wrong, I will get it but just not right now).

Lenses need to be purpose driven and have features you know how to use. I went on a buying rampage there for a bit but in the end I am kind of glad I did...but on the other hand it can get expensive. I still need to learn more, a lot more before I can really say "I get it"...

If I were you I would replace that kit lens that came on your camera with something from Tamaron or Sigma that is a lot sharper. I have a Tamaron 17-50 on the way...the lens I am hoping can be way more sharp than the kit lens and can act as a walking around lens until my skill level increases and my pocket book recovers.

For me I want lenses that will be sharp and fast (with a broad f stop range).

I also have several manual focus lenses...a few 50mm and an 85mm...its good to have some manual focus lenses with good apertures because these lenses can be your 'creative lenses' or your 'portrait lenses'. Not every shot will be some on the street snapshot requring autofocus...some pictures you want to be able to map out where what is in the frame (well every shot is like this actually for the most part)...what parts are in focus, what parts are out of focus, how much depth of field you want, how much blur you want and so on and so forth...to really get what you want you are going to need to do it manually.

You basically have to envision your end product and plan it out before you snap snap snap... but you need lenses to do what you want to do...

Lenses have features too... for example it takes quite a bit of know how to use a lens wide open at close range...say my f1.4 50mm...the DOF is really thin... before you start hauling off and buying lenses (like I did) you might want to experiment with and read up on different apertures and depth of field and so forth...but in the end there is no way around trial and error.
06-29-2012, 10:55 PM   #6
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Your 18-135 has a maximum magnification of approximately 1:4. If that is not enough, a real macro lens that goes to 1:1 is the easiest option; or you can consider all the other options that are mentioned in RioRico's article. A longer lens will not necessarily give you more magnification; e.g. the DA55-300 only gives a slightly better magnification.

In the Pentax camp, there are the DA35Ltd, DFA50 and the DAF100WR macro lenses. Longer focal length makes that you can stay away a little further from the subject which has its advantages. Sigma has / had 50, 70, 105, 150 and 180mm macro lenses (some available for Pentax) and Tamron has the 90mm. All are very good.

With regards to primes, you need to determine the focal length (field of view) that works for you. Put your 18-135 for a week on 30mm, a week on 35mm, a week on 50mm. See if you can get the shots with those settings in those situations where you intend to use the prime(s). If you have limited space to move around to frame your shots (e.g. indoors and possibly on your deck), I think that the wider options are the better (read: more universal) ones; Sigma 30/1.4, Pentax FA31Ltd and Pentax DA(L)35/2.4. The latter is not that much faster than your 18-135.

For your deck example, you can also test which aperture you need. Put the camera on ISO 6400, aperture on f/5.6, lens on e.g. 35mm and check the shutter speed. You can work back from that shutter speed which aperture you need at a more normal ISO. Assuming your shutter speed would be 1/60 (a thumb-suck number), changing ISO to 800 will require f/2 for the same exposure. And if you're more comfortable using 1/125 at ISO800, you need a f/1.4 lens.

I would seriously consider a decent tripod for your deck example; I'm always disappointed in the shutter speeds that I need at dusk / dawn and often have to crank the ISO up.
06-29-2012, 11:13 PM   #7
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I would buy a cheap, fast 50mm to get used to the feel and possibilities of a fast lens, one of the Pentax 50/1.7 lenses comes to mind as they can be had for just a few dozen dollars, are very sharp and quite fast. Also consider the wonderful SMC Takumar 50/1.4 (it uses the M42 mount so you will need an adapter to use it on your camera but that adapter can then be used for the many thousands of other M42 mount lenses). These are both MF lenses of course but you can use them, learn from them and then sell them on for whatever you paid for them at no virtually no cost to you.

That said Pentax have just released a new 50mm which at f1.8 is no slouch and since it's an AF lens and quite fast it's aimed fairly and squarely at shooters such as yourself, to lead you safely into the world of fast primes ... where they can then introduce you to those not so inexpensive prime lenses

The lens comes out this month I believe and has a manufacturers' price of $250. It may well be a little cheaper on the street.
06-29-2012, 11:17 PM   #8
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Got Cash? Go for a 50/1.4.(Or the 1.2, should you be in the mood for purchasing a lens you'll never replace), however, if macro matters - Go for a 50/28 or even the D-FA WR 100 2.8.(It's WR, so you can shoot in heavy rain that will no doubt counteract the optical quality of the lens...never got that)

Also: If you're broke, aim for something like a Chinon 55/1.7, flares like no other, but has some nice....attributes.(Bokeh, great center sharpness, sharp all over stopped down past F4)

Edit: Agreeing with past warnings. Once you get lens envy or LBA, you'll be stuck buying lenses forever...got a friend who's been in the business 40 years, still buys random junkers just to play around.

06-30-2012, 04:20 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nervosa Quote
I recent got a K5 and picked up a DA 18-135mm as my first lens and having lot of fun, but I'm starting to feel I might need something else.
I find myself taking a lot of close up / macro shots but would like to closer. Would a more powerful zoom or a macro lens be better and whats the real difference? I see things like "50mm f2.8 macro" in the macro section and "50mm f1.8" in the prime section.

I have also noticed more wanting to use it at night, so I'm thinking a fast prime with auto focus?

Thing is, there so many lenses out there I just don't know where to start.
Sounds to me like you have hit a plateau and you are just getting bored. This is a common problem all of us face. May I suggest that you simply set some new goals for yourself, like "Acquire and totally master Lightroom 4.1, etc?" Your K-5 paired to an 18-135 kit is excellent. It's doubtful that your skills have developed in a well-rounded way to the point that they are now better than your gear.

Anyway...

Given the settings you describe, if you feel a new AF lens is really really necessary, I'd not consider anything slower, or much faster, than f/2.8. Once you ramp up your pp skills, you will discover the K-5 has the dynamic range overhead needed to over come most low light obstacles that once required f/2.0, or faster lenses. Getting specific: For settings that call for a 'normal focal length' lens in low light, I'd start watching for an F 28/2.8 (awesome lens, read this forum's reviews... a real sleeper). For macro there's only one to consider... the incredibly versatile DFA 100/2.8 WR (or non-WR)... Bite the ol' bullet and buy it. You'll never be happy in macro to short tele land until you do.

...my 2 cents...
06-30-2012, 05:59 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Michaelina2 Quote
Sounds to me like you have hit a plateau and you are just getting bored. This is a common problem all of us face. May I suggest that you simply set some new goals for yourself, like "Acquire and totally master Lightroom 4.1, etc?" Your K-5 paired to an 18-135 kit is excellent. It's doubtful that your skills have developed in a well-rounded way to the point that they are now better than your gear.

Anyway...

Given the settings you describe, if you feel a new AF lens is really really necessary, I'd not consider anything slower, or much faster, than f/2.8. Once you ramp up your pp skills, you will discover the K-5 has the dynamic range overhead needed to over come most low light obstacles that once required f/2.0, or faster lenses. Getting specific: For settings that call for a 'normal focal length' lens in low light, I'd start watching for an F 28/2.8 (awesome lens, read this forum's reviews... a real sleeper). For macro there's only one to consider... the incredibly versatile DFA 100/2.8 WR (or non-WR)... Bite the ol' bullet and buy it. You'll never be happy in macro to short tele land until you do.

...my 2 cents...
Sorry Michaelina but I really disagree with you on two points there as IMHO you seem to have over-generalised:

a) there is a world of difference between a fast f1.2 - f1.8 lens and f2.8. And without going into every aspect, when fast lenses (f1.2 to f1.8) are stopped stop to f2.8 they are usually extremely sharp whereas lenses starting at f2.8 are not yet at their prime (excuse the pun) and often show softening, in the borders at the very least but likely in the centre too. And that is just the start, to say nothing of lower ISO in low light, low DoF and so on for fast lenses (f2.8 is not that fast in my book). Whether f2.8 for the OP is enough or not only he can say.

b) there are certainly a lot more lenses (and more reasonably priced) than the DFA 100/2.8 to consider for macro. Any of the Sigma or Tamron macro lenses are totally superb and the equal of the Pentax. Nobody really needs WR for macro !
06-30-2012, 08:02 AM   #11
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well, well, well, I hope you guys didn't set fire to the smoke eh? hahaha

Nervosa, I'm just ahead of you for a few months.

I bought my K-r last March and my DA 15mm is on its way here at my place (https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/lens-clubs/86234-15mm-limited-controls-my-mind-club.html). Seriously, prime lens are superb!

Hmm, I forgot! A colleague of mine will have his smc-m 50mm f/4 macro sell to me this coming Monday. That gives me a set of: 50mm f1.4 / 135mm f/3.5 / 50mm f/4 macro for SMC-Ms, K 55mm f/2, plus my DA 40mm Limited and DA 15mm Limited.

Did I mention Remote Control, extension tubes and 49 and 52mm reverse ring? A nikon sb-25 vintage flash added to my kitlens?

Hey, I just started last March!! You're up to a very dangerous road bro...

Last edited by trunk; 06-30-2012 at 08:11 AM.
06-30-2012, 08:14 AM   #12
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One thing that's getting me is the wording.
When I look at macro lenses I see some labeled with "macro". How do they differ from a prime of the same focal length?
06-30-2012, 08:19 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nervosa Quote
One thing that's getting me is the wording.
When I look at macro lenses I see some labeled with "macro". How do they differ from a prime of the same focal length?
It lets you focus closer to your subject.
06-30-2012, 08:21 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nervosa Quote
One thing that's getting me is the wording.
When I look at macro lenses I see some labeled with "macro". How do they differ from a prime of the same focal length?
The minimum (and in a rare case the maximum) focusing distance and the magnification (a 'true' macro lens will be either 1:2 or 1:1 magnification, the later being greater magnification of course).

The longer the lens the more working distance you have from your subject. e.g. 200mm will give you more room to work in than that 35mm which is really much too close for most skittish insects. So 200 > 180 > 150 > 125 > 105 > 100 > 90 > 60 > 50 > 35. Though for minor differences in fl mm there is no practical difference at all (e.g. 105/100/90).

There are a lot of lenses out there labelled 'macro' which is BS. They are really just close focusing, check out the magnification before buying (or being conned) !
06-30-2012, 08:52 AM   #15
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There is a cure to this problem of wanting more lenses.... Ask your wife!

cheers

randy
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