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01-04-2013, 08:58 AM   #1
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I feel like I am missing a Lens

Hey everyone,
Sorry for not introducing myself yet but i have consumed myself with just sitting in the shadows and reading everyone's responses to questions. Well my name is Sig, Iím a Active Duty Marine stationed in Maryland. In the past 4 years I have spent just over 3 of them in Afghanistan. The Marine Corps decided I needed a break so they sent me up here to get some time in the states. Before any of you thank me for my service, i please ask that you don't. Reason being is that if it were not for people like you that support what I do, then my job would not be worth it. So in the end the real thanks goes to you.... the supporters. It is because of you that every morning I feel a strong sence of pride while i dawn my uniform knowing that there are people like you that are grateful for what I do. Thank You!

Ok now down to Brass Tax (what ever the hell that means). I finally have a question to ask (keep in mind I research this site for days to find the answer before I post). I know that there is no single 100% answer to this so I am more than willing to hear personal input, past experience, jokes about how dumb Marines are, jokes about me being a newb haha... (I have a sense of humor so bring it on!!). So here is the deal, I have a Pentax (be you could not guess that!) K10D, currently I have the SMC-DA 18-55mm kit lens, Sigma 70-300mm, Pentax-M 1:2 50 mm, and a fisheye lens (donít like it so far, for some reason i get black around the edges of the picture as if the lens ring was being shown).

I feel as if I am missing a lens for the "general" picture taking.... Now wait i know your going to say there is no such thing, I know that... what I am looking for is a lens that I can carry most of the time for general daily shooting. For example this weekend I am heading to Washington for the international motorcycle show, so I will be in a city environment then indoors for the show. As of right now i primarily use my 18-55 but i cant help but feel there is a drop in quality with the lens. My 70-300 has great quality but is horrible for indoor shooting when it comes to small locations like a house. Lastly the F-Stop on my 18-55 is only 3.5 (i think), I would love to have a 1.5 or lower. I do a good amount of night shooting with regards to light painting and other trick photography. I have normally used my 18-55 for this since i do not have a cable release and only have the 12 sec timer to get to where i need to be for the shoot. Soon i will have the cable release and will try switching to the 70-300 for night and see how that works out, but that lens only has a F/4 so I am going to have to bump up the ISO to get that nice color saturation to make up for the lack of F-Stop.

So yea that is the long story longer haha, I would love to hear your input about a additional lens that I could use for my general "run of the mill" (whatever that means!) picture taking. If you feel that I am using my lens incorrectly please by all means call me a dumb ass and let me know what you think I should try.

Thanks in advance for you help

Semper Fi
-Sig

01-04-2013, 10:00 AM   #2
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@Sig0431

FWIW, It should be "Brass Tacks" - i.e., fundamentals, not rot (as opposed to steel tacks that rust )

My experience says the 18-55mm kit lens is the answer to your question without getting more specific as to subject. For max sharpness, recognise the need to stay in or close to the lens sweet spot between f8 and f11, adjusting ISO if needed for the exposure. Also, use RAW and deliberately underexpose by 1/2 to maybe a full stop to avoid blowing out the highlights and then correct the exposure and sharpen in post-processing...

John279
01-04-2013, 10:03 AM   #3
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Unlike the Lord of the Rings, there is no one lens to rule them all. To me what's missing from your tool box is 1) the cable release, 2) something in the ultra wide end like the Sigma 10-20, Pentax 12-24, or Tamron 10-24, and a more general purpose lens like either the DA 17-70 f4 or the DA 18-135. Having a faster lens for light painting to me (once you have a cable release) isn't really necessary because you are likely to want to stop down anyway. Back in 2008 with my K10d I had an initial set up sort of like your and I picked up the Sigma 18-125(as I recall), it gave me a nice walk around range more so that the kit lens. It's gone now but the DA17-70 was it's replacement. Anywho, I think you need a UWA lens nonfishy and either the 17-70 or 18-135. $0.02 USD.

Tim (LCDR USNR-retired )
01-04-2013, 10:07 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sig0431 Quote
Ok now down to Brass Tax
I think that is Brass Tacks, as in the shiny sharp things. And when you get down to them you know, especially in bare feet.
QuoteOriginally posted by Sig0431 Quote
I feel as if I am missing a lens for the "general" picture taking..
Several lenses to look at there besides the kit lens (and you are right it is OK but not stellar) Look at the DA*16-50 f/2.8 or the DA 18-135 or the DA 17-70 f/4 from Pentax. I have the DA*16-50 and like it but it is heavy. My wife currently uses the DA 18-135 and it is a noticeable improvement over the DA 18-55 and has a really great range for just general photography and it is WR if that matters.
QuoteOriginally posted by Sig0431 Quote
Lastly the F-Stop on my 18-55 is only 3.5 (i think), I would love to have a 1.5 or lower.
F/2.8 is the lowest in zooms that I am aware of. So to get below f/1.5 (usually f/1.4) you need to go to primes. Pentax has several 50mm f/1.4s that are just fine, if you need wider then Sigma has a 30mm f/1.4 but wide and fast are rare and expensive.

And thanks for your service anyway. I have a number of relatives current or past service and I thank them too.

01-04-2013, 10:12 AM   #5
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John279: Damn I never knwe it was Brass Tacks..... Told you I was not the brighest. I will head home soon and take your advice about the F8-F11 range and see what changes. But I still do not like the 55mm constraint for when I am walking around. I have found at times with being in the city that 55mm can be just shy of the perfect distance for a shot. But i will never knock down free advice, I will let you kow how it works out.

Blackcloudbrew: As for your comment on the wide end, are those lens that you are reccomending for the light painting? I like your idea of the 18-125, I have been looking at the Tamron 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 for a while now, I will have to research those lens and see what benifits I can get out of them.
01-04-2013, 10:18 AM   #6
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Well that is now two comments for the 18-135. I did find the follwoing post about the 18-200 and it seems that atleast a few people are very postive about it. I guess in the end my main problem is that even though the 18-55 has great up close quality, it continualy lacks when pushed out to 55mm. Either the image quality will decrease of there is just not enough zoom left to get that picture you have in your head. I am going to do soem mroe research on the 18-200 and see what downsides there are as well as what name brands are better than the others.
01-04-2013, 10:26 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sig0431 Quote
I feel as if I am missing a lens for the "general" picture taking.... Now wait i know your going to say there is no such thing, I know that... what I am looking for is a lens that I can carry most of the time for general daily shooting.
Well...I'll tell you what I tell everyone who asks me this question. Pick up a fast, normal lens and learn to use it for everything. What's a normal lens? It's a lens that has the same field of view as your eyes. It's close to "What you see is what you get". On a 35mm camera this would be a 50 to 55mm lens. On an APS-C like your K10D it would be in the range of 28 to 35mm. As for F stop, well "fast 50s" are cheap, but your not going to get a lens in the range of 28 to 35 that's faster then f2.8 without spending a little bit of cash. But that's OK. Millions of great photos have been made using a 50mm 2.8 lens, or an 80mm 2.8 on medium format.

So why do I tell people to pick up a "normal" lens. Because shooting with one focal length forces you to learn composition and technique and does it with the most versatile lens you'll ever own. There's a reason why the kit lens that used to come with film SLRs was a 50mm. That's all I used for the first year I was into photography. It makes you "see" every picture before you press the shutter. You'll develop an instinct for photography this way. And you'll learn exactly what you need to continue your hobby without falling victim to LBA (Lens Buying Addiction). You'll learn from your photos as you progress that you need a wider or tighter lens and you'll learn it using your style. Because it's your individual style that determines the equipment you need.

I hope this helps.
01-04-2013, 10:33 AM   #8
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I'll third the DA18-135, it is a very capable all around lens that can handle everything I throw at it; indoors it will still need flash for best results.
It is a great replacement for your kit, and with your K10D you will have a weather resistant combination.

As for your Fisheye lens, it sounds like my old Sigma 8mm Circular Fisheye that will show the partial circles, it is actually intended to show a complete circle on a full frame body.
It can be used effectively if you crop out the edges, though.

01-04-2013, 11:03 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sig0431 Quote
Blackcloudbrew: As for your comment on the wide end, are those lens that you are recommending for the light painting? I like your idea of the 18-125, I have been looking at the Tamron 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 for a while now, I will have to research those lens and see what benefits I can get out of them.
The recommendations on the UWA end were more to flush out your kit, versus a specific thing like light painting. With an UWA lens you can get close and/or get a lot in. Here is one I did recently with my 12-24 (I note that this was shot at 24mm but that's because I was working farther away wanted to dial in on the sparks, as 12mm I' have had the whole beach.) :


01-04-2013, 11:38 AM   #10
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Normally I would be on the lens side, however there is a balance between the combination of the body and lens in photography. The 18-55 kit lens is pretty good, and yes its f3.5. Moving to a faster lens, is a possibility, however it will be much more expensive, and physically larger and heavier. I doubt that f1.5 is in the cards, probably more in the f2.8 range. That said, it all depends on the focal length that you are looking for. The 16-50/f2.8 lens is a chunk of change, and larger to boot. The Tamron 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 is still in the same aperture range as the kit lens, and when coupled with your K10 body, will still have the same light performance.

On the body side, now may be the time to look at a body change/upgrade. Why, it comes down to ISO - sensor sensitivity. The K10 is great - in the low ISO range - the color is specular (with the CCD sensor). However, as the ISO increases, the noise also increases - and hence your question. With the K5 being cycled out, the prices are down and the ISO is exceptional in the higher ranges. With a higher cleaner ISO, your current lenses would be much more effective in the lower light situations that you are concerned with. The K5, K30 or even the K-01 - you have an excellent selection with out paying a premium.

Photography is all about finding a reasonable compromise - a balance across all the components. There are times for lenses, however - there are also times of bodies...

01-04-2013, 11:50 AM   #11
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FWIW, I grabbed a cheap FA28-90mm when I was facing similar issues. I won't suggest the 28-90 unless you're on a hell of a budget restraint like I was, but it solved my 'must go longer' issues nicely for me for quite a while. The 18-55mm only came out after that when I needed the extra width.

I've been lusting after the 18-135mm because it would basically add even more length for me, probably get better results then my 18-55/28-90 setup I have now, and is weather resistant to boot.
01-04-2013, 12:13 PM   #12
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Another vote for the Pentax DA 18-135!
Another option is to upgrade your camera. The newer models can do much better with higher ISO so you wouldn't need quite so fast of a lens. On a budget, my K-x has really performed admirably with very good quality up to 2500ISO, acceptable up to 4000ISO and usable up to 6400ISO.
01-04-2013, 12:23 PM   #13
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I almost never use zooms - but then I've had a good collection of single-focal-length lenses from way back. Pentax lacks fast inexpensive lenses (Nikon is better off in that area with their 35 f1.8.) But the lens I use most on my K-5 is the DA 35 f2.4. Decently fast and inexpensive, small and easy to carry around.
01-04-2013, 12:25 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by TomB_tx Quote
I almost never use zooms - but then I've had a good collection of single-focal-length lenses from way back. Pentax lacks fast inexpensive lenses (Nikon is better off in that area with their 35 f1.8.) But the lens I use most on my K-5 is the DA 35 f2.4. Decently fast and inexpensive, small and easy to carry around.
In my case, the issue here is having a 2 year old and a 7 month old. They're both only going to get more and more mobile, and having to chase them down with a prime attached to my camera isn't something I'd look forward to. Kicking back and tagging them from afar with a zoom is far, far more pleasant sounding to me.
01-05-2013, 09:44 AM   #15
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I'll also vote for the 18-135. I have the 18-55 and 55-300. So I've got everything covered between 18-300 ... only twice now I have been a guest at wedding receptions and find myself to be about 25%-30% on the wrong side of 55mm with no opportunity to relocate myself, much more often than I like. Both times I've finally given up on lens changes and stuck with the 18-55 and cropped if I needed something less than 100mm. The issue with cropping (aka 'digital zoom') is you sacrifice image quality.

While I can't justify the 18-135 right now, I did recently pick up a F 35-70 at a good price. I'm thinking it will become my most often used lens for banquet room type events.
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