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01-04-2014, 09:02 AM   #1
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New Pentax User - Lens Selection Help


I have been a Canon shooter for a couple of years (Rebel XT, then 60D, then 7D (sold), then 6D), and have been long disappointed with the noise / DR of the Canon sensors. I have a modest investment in Canon glass, which is why I have stayed with the Canon system for so long. I have been envious of the DR made possible by the Sony sensors in the Pentax/Nikons, and of the Pentax weather sealing. I like gripped cameras, and Canon has zero weather resistance when gripped, especially slung upside down from a Black Rapid. I do have a Lens Coat Rain Coat, but find it bulky and not pleasant to use. As a result, I have been watching Pentax on and off for a while.
The K-5 IIs was an interesting camera, but really didn't attract my eye because of the limited number of AF points. Then, yesterday I finally noticed that Pentax released a new camera (the K-3). Has the Sony sensor, a good number of cross type AF points, etc, incredibly rugged, etc. I don't have a good camera store near me, so I bought a silver K-3 sight unseen from B&H, while they have their current free 50mm 1.8 promotion. (Arrives in a few days.)
(In comparing the K-3 to the D7100, the K-3 has a number of features that I was looking for, such as more FPS, more cross type AF points, PC sync, etc.)

This is still mostly a hobby, but I am interested in lens recommendations to get the most out of the new K-3, in particular to help me make a decision to either stay dual system, or to sell off the Canon gear to fund more Pentax gear.
I like doing studio type (controlled lighting) portraits the most, so my lens selections will be on the telephoto side primarily (FF + 70-200 = favorite working range). As such, the DA* 50-135 is definitely the first lens I am looking at. (And I am a little miffed I just missed all the great sales, so I wonder how often Pentax lenses go on sale?) However, aside from the DA* 50-135, what is recommended to make the most out of the K-3? Especially a recommendation for a weather sealed walkabout lens, and a recommendation for a full body portrait lens.
(Side question: What are the differences in IQ between the Limited primes and the DA* zooms?)

I have read on the forum that people work with the zooms, but vacation with the primes. That seems very intriguing, but the DA Limited lenses do not have weather sealing, is that correct? Is that a problem for people?

Thanks in advance for any recommendations.

01-04-2014, 09:45 AM   #2
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I'm one of those older photographers who uses only the manufacturers' own lenses. Weird, I know. Here is my working line up, check the ratings in the site database, and all but the 100 macro have test shots on my Flickr site.
DA 12-24
DA* 16-50
DA-L 55-300
M 100/4 "Dental" macro (1:2, but have 50mm tube)
M 400/5.6

The two M lenses require post processing work for CA and PF, have exposure quirks, and can only be used in Manual mode, but are otherwise just fine, and I am on a retired budget.
01-04-2014, 09:58 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forum!

Well if you like portraits, you started with an excellent lens. There will be one other prime you will acquire sooner or later. The 77 limited.In terms of sales, as you said - you just missed them. Black Friday and then leading up to Christmas. So, you have about a year to wait. Through the marketplace here on the forum, good prices can be had on carefully used equipment.
____ _______________

You asked about weather sealing. The DA * zooms are weather sealed (well resistant) and the limiteds are not. Then there is the famous video from Heie (who is here on the forum also)....

Last edited by interested_observer; 01-04-2014 at 10:26 AM.
01-04-2014, 12:51 PM   #4
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If you like portraits, the FA 77 or DA*55 would be excellent choices. I have both, though I'm not a portrait photographer (unless you count cat portraits! lol). The 55 is weather sealed, if you like that. The FA 77 has slightly better bokeh, IMO. The 50-135 is a fantastic lens, or so I've heard. I suppose if you get that, you might not need either of these primes, but it is also a heavy lens if that bothers you.

01-04-2014, 12:57 PM   #5
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For a weather sealed walk around lens there is the DA 18-135 WR, which is sharp, silent, and I like it alot. If you're wanting one of the higher end ones then the DA* 16-50 f/2.8 gives you better glass, faster and constant aperture, WR, but a shorter range. Any of the DA* lenses are WR, and if I am not mistaken the new 20-40 limited may be, but don't quote me on that one!
01-04-2014, 03:18 PM   #6
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Thanks all for the recommendations. Heavy setups don't bother me much, that is what the black rapid strap is for.
A lot of votes for the FA 77 it seems, I will have to look into that. (Are these votes for the old Japan model, or do they apply to the newer Vietnam models as well?)
01-04-2014, 03:54 PM   #7

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Have a look around here, should have answers to most if not all your questions: Pentax Lens Reviews | Pentax in-depth reviews |
01-04-2014, 10:33 PM   #8
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Which lens(es) did you use on the Canon for portraits?

From a focal length perspective, a Tamron 28-75 seem the perfect portrait zoom lens to me. Wide end for fuill body, halfway for upper body and long end for head/shoulder portraits. If you don't mind the lack of 17 or 18mm, it also makes a nice walk around lens. Sigma and Tamron 17-50 can be the alternatives. I don't have experience with any of those.

A prime for full body portraits would be the FA31Ltd; I'm quite sure it will blow you away (as well as your budget) It's my general purpose walk-around lens and I sometimes end up with a full body portrait with it.

None of the above are WR; personally I don't care too much.

When buying DA* lenses, I would seriously consider buying an extended warranty for them. Although things seem to have improved, there are still reports of failing SDM motors.

01-06-2014, 05:07 AM   #9
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For portraits, I am used to the standard two lenses from the 'holy trinity'. (A Sigma 70-200 F2.8 at first, and a Canon 24-70 F2.8L added much later)

Do people have any issues with the FA lenses not having a full time manual focus override?

Thanks again!
01-07-2014, 07:10 AM   #10
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Really for walkaround WR lenses, the 18-135 has a lot going for it. You'll like it - the focus is fast and silent. It's also a good lens for the price. I like it as a general walkaround lens, even if you have better quality specialty lenses this one will see use.
01-10-2014, 10:48 AM   #11
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In order of sharpness: 16-50 DA* f/2.8 WR; 20-40 DA f/2.8 WR; 18-135 WR

In order of sharpness if you ignore WR: Sigma 18-35 f/1.8; Pentax 16-50 DA* 2.8 WR (see below); Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 OS; Tamron SP 17-50 f/2.8; Pentax 16-45 f/4;Pentax 17-70 f/4; Pentax 18-135 WR.

Someone's bound to disagree with me on here. ( has the Pentax 16-50 1 MFT point above the Sigma 17-50 in peak sharpness, but the Sigma is better optically. Pentax forums side by side review gives the Sigma the win).

HD Pentax-DA 20-40mm Limited - Introduction -

DA* 16-50mm vs. Sigma and Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 Comparison - The Bottom Line -

Pentax Lens Reviews | Pentax in-depth reviews |

QuoteOriginally posted by Sienna Quote
(Side question: What are the differences in IQ between the Limited primes and the DA* zooms?)
I don't own either, but as far as I know, the primes are a little bit sharper, wider for better low light performance and bokeh, better color and contrast and less distortion and other problems associated with zooms.

That 50 1.8 you're getting is very good optically, you don't need to worry for now about primes, just pick some zooms carefully, just go one at a time and ask plenty of questions.
01-10-2014, 11:07 AM   #12
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I have found DA* 16-50/2.8 (already expensive, I know, but I bought mine in 2007) run through DxO Optics Pro (about $150) comes out really rather good. I really like the lens. On my K10D with grip, it balances well, but it does weigh a bunch. After DxO gets through correcting distortion the field of view is a hair less - I'd say about 16.5mm. It's still my walk about.

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