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11-03-2012, 01:00 PM   #1
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Help with lens choice

I just bought a K5. I have a Pentax 18-250 lens that I use most of the time and am happy with the photos. I also recently bought a Pentax 17-70. I've ordered a Tamron 10-24 for real estate work, and I have a Tamron 90mm macro. Those are my lenses. I bought the 17-70 when I bought the K5 body, forgetting that my telephoto already covered the low range. So now I'm wondering if the 17-70 is unnecessary. I would like a more powerful telephoto. Looking for advice.

Should I sell the 17-70 and pick up a 400 or some other telephoto? Or maybe sell the 18-250 and pick up a 100-300? None of the above? Something else? I'm not that savvy on lenses and quality so I'd like to hear from the experts before I make a decision I'll regret later. Selling either the 17-70 or the 18-250 should net me somewhere around $400 and I would like to keep replacements in that neighborhood if possible.

Usually when I see questions like this folks ask what type of photography I do, so I'll tell you that I am all over the map. Most of my shots are scenic, but I also like macro and anything unusual. People, but not many portraits. Kinda hard to define.

11-03-2012, 07:20 PM   #2
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My first thought is, unless you have a specific need, a 400mm lens might not be a great idea. A specific need is birds or wildlife or aircraft. I have a 400mm prime and I do use it, but I could get along without it, even cropping a good 200mm shot. There are also only a handful of choices at 400mm, some costly*. You will also be disappointed at how little the difference between 250mm and 400mm is - I was.

Since you'll want one anyway, consider that long telephotos mean you'll need at least an OK tripod, most of the time. You may be shooting through a lot of atmosphere or pollution which can degrade the image quality. Birds in branches often mean the autofocus will lock on the branch not the bird. And the lens will probably be big, so not one you'll carry around a lot. (I think 99% of my 400mm shots were taken standing on my property, just because the lens and tripod take up too much space to carry somewhere.)

My second thought is to use the lenses you already have. I bought a lot of lenses in a short period of time, most of them well-regarded, and it took me forever to learn how to use them well. At one point I had six dedicated macro prime lenses, plus a lot of macro accessories, but only a couple of macro shots that came out well.

*I just looked at new lenses from B&H, and the closest thing is a Sigma 120-400mm f4.5-5.6 for $1000, or a 150-500mm f5-6.3 for $1070.
11-03-2012, 07:28 PM   #3
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The 18-250 is a nice lens. The 17-70 should be a little better in terms of IQ, although much more limited in reach of course. If I were the OP, I would try out each zoom for a few days, and decide whether the 17-70 gave enough improvement in IQ to justify the loss of range. The long end the 18-250 is the weakest. One could add a DA 55-300 (or the cheaper DA L version) and get better image quality at 250, and reach to 300mm. That lens would pair nicely with the 17-70, and wouldn't be totally redundant with the 18-250.
11-03-2012, 07:49 PM   #4
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Thanks Nick, I was reading about the 55-300. Kinda leaning toward selling the 18-250 and picking up the 55-300. Glad to see you think that's a good option. Waiting to see what others recommend first.

11-03-2012, 07:53 PM   #5
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Thanks Just, Some good points. I know what you mean about learning the lens. I'm still trying to get the tack sharp focus out of the Tamron macro. And I can relate to the atmosphere comment. As I noted above, so far sounds like swapping the 18-250 for a 55-300 makes most sense. See if other POVs surface.
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