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09-09-2012, 09:15 AM   #1
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Lens recommendations for K20D

Okay... so a little bit of background first (bare with me please....). I bought a K20D 3 years ago because I wanted a good DSLR that I could afford AND that would hold up to my accident "proneness". (The first month I owned it I dropped it into a bowl of baked beans). I HATED it from day 1! All of my pics were soooooo dark! I often used my sisters Canon D50 and had pretty good results so I convinced myself that it was the K20. I really didn't want to spend the money on the Canon because I didn't think it would hold up to ME so I just trudged on with my K20. As my kids started getting older I realized that I had not taken 10% of the pics that I had taken before I switched to DSLR so I decided that I would sell my Pentax and just switch over to Canon. I had a little time left on my factory warranty so I sent my camera in to be serviced and when I got it back VIOLA!!!! I LOVED it!!!!
Now... if you have endured my rambling.... I want to add a couple of new lenses but I don't want to spend a fortune. I really am a novice but I do pretty good with my kit lens 18-55. I do shoot in manual almost exclusively. I am attaching some of the photos (if I can figure out how to) that I have taken so you can get an idea of how I do and can recommend something you think is suited to me. Also--my daughter (who is 9--not too much action and no cage.) competes in jui-jitsu and muay-thai and I would really love a lens that I could use inside.

Thanks in advance for the advice and taking time to look.
(Sorry pics are huge.... I am new at uploading to this site. I originally linked to Flikr but then I wondered if you could view info?? would that have been a better way to load?

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Last edited by chrislewis2; 09-09-2012 at 09:34 AM. Reason: add photos
09-09-2012, 09:23 AM   #2
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I'd use ExposurePlot to analyze the photos you have taken already. It will give you an analysis of the focal lengths in the 18-55 range that you have used the most and that can guide you to the most informed decision about what lens to buy next. Now, if you want to reach out further there are a host of zooms to choose from and ExposurePlot will not help you there (unless you see a lot at 55 and wish they were even closer/tighter).

If you are doing a lot of manual focusing and want a faster lens there are a LOT of K-mount lenses around that are <f2 and would add a LOT to your ability to take photos indoors in lower light. The 50s are, for me, a bit too long for indoor work generally. I'd suggest a 28 because it was the next most commonly made lens length back in the day (many had 28-50-135 as their 3 lens kit) and that means there are LOTS of them to look through and prices are more reasonable. The M28/2.8 is pretty good and inexpensive.

Good luck.
09-09-2012, 09:52 AM   #3
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Thanks for the advice and for the next stupid question.... I googled ExposurePlot and that is a free dl? is that the right one??
Also, what do you think about a zoom? We live on the lake and are super outdoors but sometimes my 55 is at the far end and I would love to be closer. Here are some more pics:
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09-09-2012, 10:00 AM   #4
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Yes, EP is a free download. It's a good program, I used it a lot in my early decisions.

I'd say that a 55-300 or 70-300 might be an excellent choice for you. The consumer zooms have f's in the 5-6 range at the 55/70 end but are perfectly good in daylight situations. I have a Quantaray up for sale that is a 100-300 that's pretty economical but there are a lot of choices in that range. I find that 200-300 gets used a LOT with kids and sports/outings.

09-09-2012, 10:33 AM   #5
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My recomondations

This is what I would recomend:

1) Da 16-45 f/4 Better colors, much sharper.

2) Da 40 f/2.8 limited edition. Because its always nice to have a normal fixed lens.

3) Pentax D Fa 100mm Macro WR. Then you have a lens for those rainy days, and a very nice macro.
(Tamron 90 macro and Sigma 105 macro are alternatives)


If you need something longer, think, try, buy. Long lenses are expensive.
09-09-2012, 11:50 AM   #6
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I can see that you usually use M mode for manual exposure, but when you said
QuoteOriginally posted by chrislewis2 Quote
I do shoot in manual almost exclusively.
did you also mean that you often use manual focus? This is important, because as Docrwm said, if you use manual focus you have many more reasonably priced options.

As far as Auto Focus lenses, for indoors, I'd consider the following:

DA 50/1.8
DA 35/2.4
Tamron 17-50/2.8
Tamron 28-75/2.8

or, if you want to spend the money and get photos that really stand out: DA*55/1.4, FA43/1.9, or FA77 (choose one)


For outdoors, consider:

DA55-300
F70-210/4-5.6 (or better yet, the cheaper Takumar version).


For manual focus, consider excellent lenses like the M50/1.7 and M100/2.8. Also, these are considered very good: A35-105/3.5, A70-210/4, or Vivitar 70-210/3.5.
09-09-2012, 11:55 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
I can see that you usually use M mode for manual exposure, but when you said did you also mean that you often use manual focus? This is important, because as Docrwm said, if you use manual focus you have many more reasonably priced options.

As far as Auto Focus lenses, for indoors, I'd consider the following:

DA 50/1.8
DA 35/2.4
Tamron 17-50/2.8
Tamron 28-75/2.8

or, if you want to spend the money and get photos that really stand out: DA*55/1.4, FA43/1.9, or FA77 (choose one)


For outdoors, consider:

DA55-300
F70-210/4-5.6 (better yet, the cheaper Takumar version).


For manual focus, consider lenses like the M50/1.7, M100/2.8, and (based on others' experience) A35-105/3.5, A70-210/4, or Vivitar 70-210/3.5.

Good suggestions. If I were advising a friend on their first AF prime I'd tell them to get the 35/2.4. It's an absolutely outstanding lens optically and its the least expensive modern AF Pentax lens available. That makes it a most outstanding bargain among the AF Pentax lenses.

If that same friend wanted a zoom with macro I'd suggest the F35-70 Macro. It too is very inexpensive, comes available frequently, and is outstanding overall optically.

For a longer zoom, that same friend would be asked a few questions. If price is the major issue than there are some very nice 70/100-300 lenses made by Sigma with various names on them. If price were only moderately an issue then it is tough to find a better performer in the moderate cost range than the Pentax DA L 55-300.

On the Manual Focus front there are even more choices and even better bargains to be had. For a FAST lens the older SuperTaks at 1.4-1.8 are outstanding if you don't mind using adapters.

M manual focus lenses are cheaper than their A counterparts. In many instances the optics are the same, but not always. It's best to read the lens reviews carefully. Also, there are some outstanding non-Pentax offerings in the K mount. There is an entire Club devoted to the Sears offerings for example. In the more modern realm the Samyang MF lenses are pretty uniformly well regarded. I can vouch for the excellence of the Vivitar 85/1.4 version of the Samyang 85 personally.

Last edited by Docrwm; 09-09-2012 at 12:01 PM.
09-09-2012, 11:58 AM   #8
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Welcome to the Forum and sorry it took 3 years to get the K20 tuned up so that it performs as it should have out of the box - it must have been the baked beans the disagreeded with it. You have a LOT of options, across a number of focal lengths. Actually, the kit lens (18-55) is a very good lens, and I don't read that you are having any complaints with it. Your ability to manual focus, does provide you with some additional opportunities, at a lower price.
  • DA 50-200 or DA 50-200WR - This is the other half of the kit lens, the telephoto one. Pentax has added a WR or Weather Resistant capability to it. This would complement your K20 in that the body is sealed, and having a sealed lens would help around the water. The standard - non WR is pretty inexpensive, around $100 and you can find them on the Marketplace here on the Forum for a reasonable price.
  • DA 55-300 - This lens extends the focal length range out to 300mm. It is a consumer grade lens, does not currently come in a WR version, and is much better than the 50-200. It also costs more.
  • A 70-200 - This lens is circa 1980, but is relatively inexpensive. In that you are handy with manual focusing lenses, this may be an opportunity. It is rated better than the DA 50-200 and sells for a bit less.
  • Others - there is a wide range of other third party lenses in the 50-200/300 range that may also fit your needs and pockebook.
As others have pointed out there are a host of primes within the 18-55mm focal length that could fit what you may be looking for. But since you appear somewhat satisfied with the kit lens, you sound like you might wish to extend into longer focal lengths (telephoto). Also, don't bypass using your existing kit lens to stitch images together for a wider angle view. You can use free software like Microsoft's ICE to do this easily.


09-09-2012, 12:12 PM - 1 Like   #9
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Muay thai and Jiu jitsu? Feisty little girl you have there

I`ve done muay thai for over 12 years, even saw the inside of the ring a couple of times and I don`t agree on the options mentioned earlier for the indoorshooting. It`s usually dark or horrible light with fast moving subjects and as a parent or supporter you cannot get close to the ring. Jui jitsu is a little different but also bad lighting. 50mm is not enough.

Not sure what the budget is but I think a sigma or tamron 70-200 F2.8, a sigma 50-150 F2.8 or the pentax DA* 50-135 F2.8 are the better choice given the exif in the 2 sportshall pictures and my own expirience. Maybe the Pentax might be your best pick since it is also weathersealed so you can use it for your tele lakeshots. All 4 lenses are excellent performers but with the DA* 50-135 you get 2 birds with one stone
09-09-2012, 02:43 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by TenZ.NL Quote
All 4 lenses are excellent performers but with the DA* 50-135 you get 2 birds with one stone
It's true that the DA*50-135 seems expensive at first, but you get an outstanding lens that really performs. It will do well both outdoors and in. And being able to zoom back out to 50mm when people suddenly get closer to you can be very important. It's worth what it costs, and it's so versatile that you really don't need any other lens in this zoom range. You just have to decide how important those photos are to you.

You also can't beat the value of this: Bower 85mm f/1.4 Manual Focus Telephoto Lens for Pentax SLY85P In fact, you should probably get this and try it - if you don't like it you can return it or resell it without loosing much money. The capabilities you'll get and the experience you'll gain can't be matched, and even if you lost <$100 reselling it it'd be worth it for what you learned. It's made by Samyang and is also sold under the Rokinon (and I believe Vivitar) brand names.

Even if the 85/1.4 doesn't get as close as you want you should get high quality crops, and you'll have the best chance of avoiding motion blur with the fast f/1.4 aperture. I use my Pentax FA*85/1.4 to take indoor shots of my daughter in plays. Sometimes I have to revert to manual focus anyway, so you can save a lot of money with the Samyang. In fact there's only one lens that's slightly better indoors - Canon's 85/1.2 - but it costs $2000. So you're really trying the best that's possible for only $300!

Last edited by DSims; 09-09-2012 at 02:57 PM.
09-09-2012, 05:29 PM   #11
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WOW!! lot to think about!! thanks for the input from everyone. When I originally posted I did mean that I use m exposure but I also normally manual focus too. I guess that carried over from my 35mm days. In fact, it took me sometime to learn to tap the shutter button to focus and I have NEVER gotten used to AF on the back. It does however scare me to think about a lens that is only manual. When I read the threads I see alot of people talking about problems with focus. Is it really a big problem?
I have looked at all of the lens listed here at Amazon and some at B&H. I just don't know if I am ready to drop a grand for a lens that is worth WAY more than my camera but haven't totally ruled it out. I may try the Bower 85mm like DSims suggested first (if I don't have any luck you may see me in the sale bin!!) and a manual zoom.
I'll post pics when I decide!!
Thanks again to everyone who took the time to respond!!
09-09-2012, 05:36 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by chrislewis2 Quote
WOW!! lot to think about!! thanks for the input from everyone. When I originally posted I did mean that I use m exposure but I also normally manual focus too. I guess that carried over from my 35mm days. In fact, it took me sometime to learn to tap the shutter button to focus and I have NEVER gotten used to AF on the back. It does however scare me to think about a lens that is only manual. When I read the threads I see alot of people talking about problems with focus. Is it really a big problem?
I have looked at all of the lens listed here at Amazon and some at B&H. I just don't know if I am ready to drop a grand for a lens that is worth WAY more than my camera but haven't totally ruled it out. I may try the Bower 85mm like DSims suggested first (if I don't have any luck you may see me in the sale bin!!) and a manual zoom.
I'll post pics when I decide!!
Thanks again to everyone who took the time to respond!!
Good luck. If you do go with the 85/1.4 realize that it has been rebagged as a LOT of different brands. I own the Vivitar version, which I like better based on looks, but its the same lens optically and mechanically. I got mine on the Marketplace, used, in great shape for $230. They show up in the Marketplace pretty regularly.
09-09-2012, 05:39 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
Good luck. If you do go with the 85/1.4 realize that it has been rebagged as a LOT of different brands. I own the Vivitar version, which I like better based on looks, but its the same lens optically and mechanically. I got mine on the Marketplace, used, in great shape for $230. They show up in the Marketplace pretty regularly.
I just pm'd you about the Quantray. I was looking for it in the marketplace and couldn't find it. (I should've been born blond... forgive me if your a blond) Also, why do the 85's show up in the Marketplace regularly? Do people not like it for any particular reason?

Last edited by chrislewis2; 09-09-2012 at 05:49 PM.
09-09-2012, 05:49 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by chrislewis2 Quote
I just pm'd you about the Quantray. I was looking for it in the marketplace and couldn't find it. (I should've been born blond... forgive me if your a blond) Also, why do they show up in the Marketplace regularly? Do people not like it for any particular reason?
The Quantaray lenses that I have up are rebagged Sigmas with good reputations that are really cheap. So, if you aren't sure about a focal length they are not a bad way to test the waters without spending too much. I got the two in a package deal with several items I wanted. Since I already have lenses that do what they do I have them up for sale to support my LBA. I'll go check my PMs.
09-10-2012, 04:17 AM   #15
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I almost bought the Samyang/Bower/Rokinon/Vivitar 85/1.4, but chose to go with the Pentax M 85/2 instead. Despite the auto-aperture advantage of the Samyang(etcs), I found myself thinking that I would be second guessing myself and thinking "what if I'd gone with the Pentax M 85/2..." and so got the 85/2 and paid a bit on the high end for it. The Samyangs are widely available though and I figured if I didn't like the 85/2 (I love it) I could just sell it and the Samyangs would still be available somewhere.

Do keep in mind that the only thing manual about the Samyang 85/1.4 is the focus. Everything else is auto, so that means you can put it in Av mode and control the aperture to get the depth-of-field that you want, and then the camera sets the rest. The wide aperture will let you get faster shutter speeds in sub-optimal lighting conditions. I imagine that it shows up on the marketplace a lot because maybe it takes some practice (that some aren't willing to put in) to focus at 1.4? Also, it is huge compared to the Pentax 85/2.

If you are on a budget, I heartily suggest looking for older manual focus lenses. I don't think that older Pentax lenses are as cheap as they used to be, but they are still mostly cheaper than their modern AF counterparts. If you do go manual focus lenses, you really ought to get a better focusing screen. Focusing screens in today's DSLRs are very sub-optimal for manual focusing. I myself have a Katzeye focusing screen with Optibrite treatment and am very pleased, although it was a bit expensive. If I were going to get another focusing screen, I would give focusingscreen.com a try.

I'm not sure about the problems with focus that you mentioned. If it's back focusing or front focusing, I think it's less likely to be an issue with manual focus lenses. (I could be mistaken about that)
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