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02-21-2013, 08:56 PM   #1
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Beginner Setup for under $700


I am looking to buy a DSLR and lenses. I have previous experience using DSLRs and shooting in manual mode through borrowing equipment.

For my first, personal DSLR I am looking to get a body and a few lenses for around $700. I want to buy at least one auto focus lens and a few older manual prime lenses.

My current options are:

1. Used Pentax K-r with 18-55mm lens for $400. This would leave $300 for a longer zoom lens, and a few prime lens.

2. New Pentax K-30 with 18-55mm lens for $620. This would leave only $80 for any additional lenses.

Would the K-r be better with more money leftover for lenses or the k-30 with fewer lenses? Any other combinations to consider in the price range?

Also, would I outgrow the K-r?


02-21-2013, 10:05 PM   #2
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Two questions:
What do you shoot?
Do you need WR?

If you need WR, go for the K-30 with a DA18-55mmWR.

There are plenty of cheap MF lenses for Pentax mount, that you can add to option 2 within your budget.

On the other hand, if you need to use zoom lenses or tele lenses, these are expensive. You mihgt consider option 1, but your budget will not be enough IMHO because good quality zoom lenses and tele lenses are expensive.

IMHO, I would go for the K-30 + 18-55mm WR to start. After a few months, you may review what you like, what you want to shoot. You should consider some legacy lenses because Pentax has a lot to offer. By then, you may have a better 'picture' of your needs.

My 5 cents...
02-21-2013, 10:15 PM - 1 Like   #3
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A) It is going to cost more than your budget, regardless of what that budget is.

Option 1, and a used 55-300 (good IQ, autofocus) may happen for $700. Primes should come later. (If you get a manual zoom, you will always wonder what focal length to enter for the SR :-)
02-21-2013, 10:54 PM   #4
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This question depends a bit on where you are and what you intend to shoot. I assume from your OP that you have some idea of how to shoot but you are looking to explore wider possibilities of what to shoot once you get your own gear. I went with a K-x and 18-55 when i was in your position a couple of years ago. These comments are based on that experience, so some observations are highly personal and may not be relevent to you.

Of the two options you give, I would definately get the K-R. As I said, I went for the K-x a couple of years ago, but there was no real equivelant of the K30 back then which complicates things (I reckon the K-30 represents amazing value just now). If you get the K-30, you'll certainly have a great body and a decent kit lens but not much else. You'll have a bit of cash left over for a really cheap second hand zoom, or macro or prime... or, more realistically, a memory card, a cheap bag and spare battery.

With the K-R you'll get a damn good beginner's camera, and money to buy some extras that are often overlooked by people starting out.See below for details included in the alternative I suggest.

However... do consider starting with an older second hand body, maybe a K10d, or K100. It'll be even cheaper than the KR but you'll get a good solid body with PLENTY of room to grow into. But... you'll have more cash to spend on stuff like a couple of cheap second hand lenses and... drumroll... a tripod and some software! A decent tripod can be had for $100 (yes, its true... not the best, but decent) and you can scrounge an older copy of elements or lightroom (or Gimp for free if you have the knowhow!). Seriously, tripod, software and a few little odds and ends like a remote shutter release will make a world of difference to the things you can shoot and what you can do with your shots. Yes, okay, they won't be limiteds, and you WILL grow out of them... but you'll be growing out of cheap gear able to get the job done and will have more opportunity to explore wider photographic possibilities in the meantime.

For cheap lenses, lots of people seem to be flogging of MZ series film cameras that often come with two kit lenses; a Sigma 28-80 Macro and a Sigma 100-300mm zoom or similar. A good set of those can be had for $100 round here and are more than capable of letting you explore until you figure out what you are really into. Lenses and tripods are similar in some respects; go cheap early to find out what floats your boat... but after that make sure you get the best you afford.

If I know if I had my time again, that's the way I would spend my first $700. I left it way to long before i found out why a tripod is so essential, and bought a pretty good zoom before I had a chance to figure out that a good portrait prime was what I really wanted...

But, hey... either way you are going to have fun, so enjoy!

02-21-2013, 10:59 PM   #5
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You fail to mention what your background is in photography (film?), and what you want to shoot.

For myself--coming from extensive experience in film and none in digital--my choice was to minimize the lenses as a start. But I had 3 older pentax lenses (screw mount) so I started with a K20d. I have since purchased a used k-x and about a dozen lenses and based on my experience my suggestions is as follows.

I suggest an auto focus 50mm f1.7 and a manual focus (K) 28 f3.5. [Of course substitute whatever focal length you want but I suggest one of the lenses be an A or FA or DA lens. For the wider angle lens it is likely less important. My feeling (prejudice) is the cheaper AF zooms are not really acceptable--either in handling or image quality.

And either a k-x or K20d. Handle the camera to see what feels right. Their picture quality is quite good.

This should (e.g., from KEH or B&H--my experience is good with these) likely cost you about $500-600.. And it will allow for you to get familiar enough to decide where to go later.
02-21-2013, 11:55 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
A) It is going to cost more than your budget, regardless of what that budget is.
Now--- there is a piece of timeless photography wisdom !!
02-22-2013, 12:03 AM   #7
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I have been casually shooting with Sony and Canon Entry to Mid level DSLRs for several years and have taken a few classes. I also work extensively with editing in Photoshop.

I am looking for a camera for travel shots, landscapes and also to expand into portraits. I currently own a Nikon V1, 10-30mm and 30-110mm lens for more portable shooting. I want a larger body to work with for better quality photos, a larger sensor and more variety of lens with image stabilization in body.

I like the idea of getting the Sigma 28-80 Macro and a Sigma 100-300mm zoom. For primes, I was thinking of starting off with the manual focus SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.4 and thinking about some of the M42 screwmount Takumar lenses.

Also, any preferences between the K-r or 20d, given that both are roughly the same price from B&H used?
02-22-2013, 12:19 AM   #8
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I'd suggets the k-30 with a 18-135mm kit lens. It doesn't fall in your current budget, but hey, what does and the 18-135 is a very versatile lens.
Then, make a new budget for new lens, and then another for more lenses, and then fall into a LBA like everyone else here
simple isnt it?

Probably cheapest here?
K-30 Lens Kit w DA 18-135mm WR Glossy Crystal Black

and answering part 2 of your post, yes you would outgrow the k-r. especially if you plan to shoot long-term.
I bought a k-5, and I plan to keep it for many years.
If you get a k-r now, you'll have to upgrade it later. Might as well go for the bigger shoes now, and slowly grow into it.

02-22-2013, 02:59 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
A) It is going to cost more than your budget, regardless of what that budget is.

Option 1, and a used 55-300 (good IQ, autofocus) may happen for $700. Primes should come later. (If you get a manual zoom, you will always wonder what focal length to enter for the SR :-)
I had to like that.
Photographer's "budgets" can make Silvo Berlisconi look cautious and restrained.
02-22-2013, 03:30 AM   #10

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Raise your budget a bit, get a K-30, and save a bit for a good prime, such as an FA35. If you can't swing that, the DA35 2.4 is an ok stand in.

If you're looking to really get into photography and learn how to be creative, a prime is where it's at.
02-22-2013, 06:16 AM - 1 Like   #11
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You can get a used K-x for $200-250--which leaves you about $500 for lenses. Great camera. I'm using one
02-22-2013, 06:42 AM   #12
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A good lens on a K-r will give better IQ than a cheaper lens on a K-30.
I had a K-r and they are great value and work great. The AF and WR is better on K-30. I would spend less on the body more on lenses. A versatile zoom and some primes. You can always buy a K-5 or K-5II later for less than they are now.
02-22-2013, 07:58 AM   #13
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Have you thought about picking up a K-01? Bit better than K-5 IQ due to less AA filtering, and only about $300 for a brand new body.
02-22-2013, 10:46 AM   #14
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I have both the K-r and K-30. The K-30 is a much better camera. The K-r was a wonderful camera to learn on, but the IQ of the K-30 is better as well as the level of control. The AF is much more accurate as well.

You can get the kit you mentioned and then pick up a DA 35/2.4 used for not much more than your $700 budget.
02-22-2013, 05:25 PM   #15
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I would not get a K-r simply due to the fact that it doesn't have two control wheels, they make a camera so much easier to learn and use in my eyes.

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