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06-11-2014, 04:09 AM   #1
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because you wouldn't feel COMPLETE if today passed without a challenge...

Hiya all.

Sorry to bore you all with another long and excruciating post asking for help choosing gear. But none-the-less, I am looking for any advice I can get on upgrading my current gear and have put in as much work as I can to end up in a suitably confused place, so as to not feel so bad for asking.

I have a place in mind I want to go (sort of) and some options up my sleeve (sort of), but not sure which is the best move next. It's End of Financial Year Sale time for a lot of places so I think it's a good time to make one. I know this post post may be long, but hopefully it will be informative enough to garner some appropriate responses, so please bear with me if you can :) or skip to the hi-lighted parts for points of note

I currently have an OKAY camera (decent entry level) with Sigma kit lenses from 2 cameras:
Sigma 18-50mm 3.5-5.6 DC
Sigma 28-80mm 3.5-5.6 ASP Macro
Sigma 70-300mm 4-5.6 DL Macro (DL = cheap?)
Sigma ??-300mm 4-5.6 Macro DG? (can't remember I didn't bring it on holiday as it seemed to have abnormal CA when I took photos with it last time so I retired it until further inspection. It was Macro from 200-300 though. May not have been a kit lens as I purchased 2nd hand but suspect it was)
Tamron 2xTele

Pros: It's gotten me this far. I've taken some nice shots. Camera ain't too bad. I feel like I'm pushing some of the boundaries of what I think it can do (which is a good thing).

Cons: I'm pushing the boundaries of what I think it can do, and I feel like it's holding me back (not a good thing), and I feel it's hampering my creativity and spontaneity. I'm often risking handheld camera shake or underexposing. I constantly want for faster. I constantly want for crisper. Waaay too much CA. Bokeh requires so much work to achieve even minimal levels. I feel ISO quality is pretty poor over 400. Max ISO is only 1600, which would be okay, if anything over 400 weren't mostly unusable, and the lack of unusable high ISO means it can't be used as a compositional reference point when really needed; it doesn't respond or work well in low light, yet ironically captures depressing and frustrating moments far too clearly - ie. whipping out my K200D with lense wide open and ISO maxxed out only to find my photo underexposed, meanwhile, my friend standing next to me takes a lovely little exposure with his camera phone then gets sarcastic about how much better his iPhone-what-ever is than my DSLR - admittedly, nobody was pixel peeping his image on anything larger than a 5" screen but still :/ And finally, 10.1 MP isn't as impressive a resolution as it used to be, nor when blown up, and it doesn't leave much play for cropping.

Where I'd like to go: somewhere I can maybe earn a small subsistence doing the stuff I like, ie photography. Even if it means doing the types of photography I like less; it's still better than doing something else that I really don't like at all :)

Limitations: Financial, around $2000. I could maybe rustle up 2.5k if I could be persuaded it would really be worth it.

What I would like:
  • A better camera, in autofocus, ISO range and IQ, and in point blank resolution for future aspirations.
  • A fast prime 50 with lubberly dreamy bokeh that makes angels sing, and mothers weep tears of joy at photographs of their wunderkind.
  • An ultra-wide angled lens for panoramas (and maybe nightscapes) that doesn't require me to shoot 50 x 3 shots to make a HDR panosphere, especially when the light is changing. Doesn't have to be super fast, I'm okay with image stacking for nightscapes if I have to.
  • A reasonably fast multi-situational mid-range lens - I'm not really fussed about anything over 200mm, I rarely see the need and I can always throw on my Tamron x 2 TC.
  • And it would be nice at the end of all that I could end up with 1 lens that feels like it could be a long term keeper if possible
I've tried to read up as much as I could about various lenses. I think I've hit an all time record for open tabs at around 45 atm. I've been up all night now and my head is swimming with focal lengths, apertures, prices, lens codes and reviews, so.... mistakes are bound to be made ;) I am considering some mixture of the following, and I'm willing to be advised, persuaded or dissuaded otherwise.

$930 + delivery to Australia unknown at this time
K-3 (body only) from Fumfie
- I didn't like the idea of not having the digital display on top, and from what I could gather the K-3 seemed a step up enough to be worth the extra investment over the K5-iis and K50 in terms of pixel density and IQ to be worth the extra $400 (or less for the 5-iis). Having said that, I've spent a lot more time looking at lenses than at cameras so please correct me if need be.

50mm prime:
$145 Pentax 50mm 1.8 -- SMC DA
$425 Sigma 50mm 1.4 --- EX DG HSM
- I don't see the DA coming down any further but DWI start their lens EOFYS in 2 days so if the Sigma drops in price to around $300 I would think it would be the better buy?

$475 Pentax 10-17mm F3.5-4.5 --- smc DA ED (IF)
$420 Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 -------EX DC HSM
$600 Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 --------- EX DC HSM
$390 Tamron 10-24mm F3.5-4.5 ---Di II
$375 Samyang 14mm 2.8 ------------IF ED UMC ASP
$600 If a Pentax DA14,15 or 12-24 could be found for this price it'd be in there
- I want an UW that isn't too fisheyed all the time, and I'm not completely sure some of these lenses fit that bill.

$280 Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 --------XR Di-II LD SP AF
$500 Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 --------- EX DC OS HSM

$460 Sigma 17 - 70mm f2.8-4 ----- DC Macro HSM Contemporary
$665 Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 ---------DG Macro
$346 Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 --------XR Di LD SP AF IF Macro

++$180 Tamron 18-200 F3.5-6.3 ---Di-II LD IF Macro
++$420 Sigma 18-250 3.5-6.3 -------DC HSM Macro
++I'm not sure if these final 2 would be any better than what I have but if they were on par I might consider one just to reduce the weight of my kit and give me a wide range of creative angles from a single lense and cover any range gaps.

All are the cheapest unbundled prices I could find including delivery but without hoods (unless included) or filters/protection of any kind.

I'm interested to see what you guys think and what you would do with these choices.
I CAN always leave out a particular lens for now and use my current gear to fill the gap in the mean time in order to get one of better quality rather than go for the complete range at once - in that case, which would be the keepers worth spending extra for, or are they not even on the list?

All help welcome and thanks to all in advance.

Congrats if you read all of that.


06-11-2014, 04:53 AM   #2
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You'll get plenty of advice here...... but I'll not do that. i'll just let you know what happened to me....your wrote a lot...... so I will to!

2009-2012 K200d, sigma 18-250 and sigma 10-20...... similar experience to you

2013 K5II - good step up for me... not happy with lens IQ... got Tamron 17-50/2.8. then Sigma 70-200/2.8. Sold 18-250 kept Sigma 10-20. Then a Tamron 90/2.8 Macro.
- these new zooms/lenses provided significant increas in image IQ, low light performance. Sigma 70-200 particularly (current version) showed me how good a zoom can be...spent about $2,800 on kit. Sold K200d for $250. Droped my K5II on holiday in China..... wish I'd kept the 200D as a spare second body!

2014 Really got to understand the benefits of good glass. Bought a prime or two. Really enjoyed using them. Bought DA21 then 40...oh what the hell.... bought a 15.... sold the Sigma 10-20... was to large to have with me most of the time .... use 15 now. Gee gota try a FA limited.... bought 77.... wow.... bought 31.... dont need/use Tamron 17-50 now ....sold it..... Dont use Tamron 90..... I tend to use close focus.... not macro.....sold it...... oh well might as well try the final FA limited..... bought a FA 43......... gee saw a F*300/4.5..... love at first sight..... bought that......anyway.... about $5k spent.....also found that after using/handling the FA and DA limiteds....not easy to settle for big plastic lenses unless they fill a specific need/requirement.

Oh yeah.... found out how special the K200D CCD sensor was/is...... wish I had it to try these lenses on it!

Anyway....I now have the gear to take really nice photos. Occasionally it even happens! Rarely is it mainly the camera contributing to this (K5II over K200D)..... mostly it's the glass or something I've managed to do....high ISO camera capability, shooting raw now etc helps of course. Also a few more years learning on my part.

Ok...I'm feeling complete now....bye!

Last edited by noelpolar; 06-14-2014 at 03:22 AM.
06-11-2014, 05:31 AM   #3
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Ok, much like neopolar I have made a journey that could perhaps have been shorter and less expensive, going in the same general direction from zooms to primes.

First off, with a limited budget (and who hasn't...), I would invest in good glass first, then see what's left for a new body, not the other way around.

And my lens choices would be:
- Fast fifty: FA 43 Ltd
- Wide: DA 15 Ltd (and maybe DA 10-17 but I have never tried that one)
- Flexibility: DA 18-135 WR + fast prime for low light, could be the FA 43, FA/DA 35, FA 31, FA 28, FA*24...

Might not leave room for a K-3, but without good glass there's not much point in paying for a K-3.

Edit: And if you really want something faster than the FA 43/1.9 you can always pick up a Takumar 50/1.4 to get that bokeh without having to pay too much.

Last edited by savoche; 06-11-2014 at 05:38 AM.
06-11-2014, 05:43 AM   #4
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Been there...

Since you are in a somewhat similar position, you might want to check

TL;DR K5II is really good. When it comes to lenses, it is mostly a matter of taste, once you go above kit. They'll all pretty much amaze you, IQ wise.

06-11-2014, 06:04 AM   #5
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the 10-17 is a secret weapon you should have in your arsenal. At 17 it's a super-wide, not super-fishy. AND it will take images people will want to look at far more than the camera phone images, plus you can take fisheye pictures of dogs and kids which are hilarious. Another option is the Sigma 8-16 but it's getting hard to find and expensive. It's also big, but looks really cool.

Get a camera with TAv mode, then you'll be much better with exposure when using center-weighted metering.

Explore the pancakes, they're special. I just got a 21mm and find it very nice, it gives a great view.

The 50mm is a good lens, but it's pretty tight for using in many situations, which is where the 21-35mm range is more useful - these give the "normal" eye-view on an ASPC camera, while 50mm is short telephoto range. There are plenty of fast lenses in this category, but remember you don't need super fast lenses anymore with these sensors. ISO 6400 is completely acceptable, and with TAv you can quickly adjust to keep ISO below 3000 for even better results.

Save the K200 for landscape work, from what I gather a CMOS sensor is great for this.

The other half of the photography hobby is post-processing. It will rescue over or underexposed images, recover shadows and reduce highlights, plus you can really manipulate the color balance if required. Then you'll really get images not possible with P&S cameras or phones. Oh, and shoot RAW, so you have the full image to manipulate. I like Lightroom, but do some reading on the other choices.

Oh, and look for used lenses here on the Marketplace, save a little cash.
06-11-2014, 06:36 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by noelpolar Quote
Oh yeah.... found out how special the K200D CMOS sensor was/is...... wish I had it to try these lenses on it!
QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
Save the K200 for landscape work, from what I gather a CMOS sensor is great for this.
Just on a side note... I believe the K200D has exactly the same sensor as K10D had - which is a CCD not CMOS
'>' manntax
06-11-2014, 06:39 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by manntax Quote
Just on a side note... I believe the K200D has exactly the same sensor as K10D had - which is a CCD not CMOS
'>' manntax
yes, you're correct - I mixed them up.
06-11-2014, 06:42 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
Oh, and look for used lenses here on the Marketplace, save a little cash.
Definitely. Little point in buying lenses new IMO.

06-11-2014, 07:43 AM   #9

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Unless you need better tracking AF, there's no compelling reason to get the K-3 over one of the K-5 iterations (preferably the K-5iis). The K-5 series of cameras have slightly better ISO and DR performance over the K-3 the resolution difference is close to negligible. Save some money on the camera to spend on better glass. Get the Tamron 17-50 for the "multi-situational" lens, but for the 50mm prime, go for the DA* 55. If you really want a high-end 50ish lens, why mess around? Get the best available for the K-mount. Then take whatever money you have left and put it aside to save up for a DA 15 or a DA 12-24.
06-11-2014, 07:51 AM   #10
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I love the 18-135 as a travel anywhere, do anything lens. WR is the icing on the cake. For a "fast fifty", may I suggest the Sigma 30/1.4. It's a super useful focal length, super fast lens, and it renders beautifully as long as you don't need the corners sharp (not much of a landscape lens!). Add in the DA10-17, and you have a super fun kit. For a real 50, get a manual focus 50, whichever one floats your boat. The A 50/1.7 is a great value, but of you want AF, get the DA50/1.8. I know the K-3 is tempting, but you should spend that $400 on glass and get the K-50 or K-5ii, depending on if you want focus peaking or a top LCD. For me, I use a lot of MF glass, so focus peaking was a must for me and I went with the K-30. If you don't get a WR lens, might as well get the K-500 and save even more cash.
06-11-2014, 07:56 AM   #11
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You've done your homework. Now let's play.

QuoteOriginally posted by Daniel Darko Quote
Where I'd like to go: somewhere I can maybe earn a small subsistence doing the stuff I like, ie photography.
Fair enough. I suggest then that you don't cheap out on your kit, already get the kind of stuff that will serve you well for a long time.

QuoteOriginally posted by Daniel Darko Quote
A better camera
K-3 if you want to keep it a long time. It's a revolution when compared to your K200D.

QuoteOriginally posted by Daniel Darko Quote
A fast prime 50 with lubberly dreamy bokeh
Dreamy bokeh calls for the DA*55, sigma 50 or consider the DA40 or FA43 limiteds. The DA50 and DA50 will give you fine bokeh by all means but if you want the BEST, there are better choices.

Another option is to get a FA or DFA 50 macro. Not as fast for AF, f2.8 max aperture (fully usable though) but the bokeh is to die for.

QuoteOriginally posted by Daniel Darko Quote
An ultra-wide angled lens for panoramas (and maybe nightscapes)
for cityscapes and nightscapes, the DA15 and DA21 limiteds are the best bets. Try to find the older SMC versions instead of the newer HD versions, because the older have straight aperture blades (instead of rounded) which deliver star burst effects around light sources.

QuoteOriginally posted by Daniel Darko Quote
A reasonably fast multi-situational mid-range lens - I'm not really fussed about anything over 200mm, I rarely see the need and I can always throw on my Tamron x 2 TC.
DA18-135 comes to mind if you want some reach, Sigma 17-70 otherwise.

QuoteOriginally posted by Daniel Darko Quote
And it would be nice at the end of all that I could end up with 1 lens that feels like it could be a long term keeper if possible
Why only 1 keeper? If yuo pick your lenses wisely they will all be keepers. Remember also that you can try to sell some of your current stuff to fund purchases.

QuoteOriginally posted by Daniel Darko Quote
50mm prime:
$145 Pentax 50mm 1.8 -- SMC DA
$425 Sigma 50mm 1.4 --- EX DG HSM
In that list, for the purest bokeh, the Sigma. See above however.

QuoteOriginally posted by Daniel Darko Quote
$460 Sigma 17 - 70mm f2.8-4 ----- DC Macro HSM Contemporary
That is, in my opinion, the best package for a jack-of-all-trades lens. If constant f2. is a requirement, go for the Tamron 17-50.

QuoteOriginally posted by Daniel Darko Quote
++$180 Tamron 18-200 F3.5-6.3 ---Di-II LD IF Macro
++$420 Sigma 18-250 3.5-6.3 -------DC HSM Macro
I wouldn't go there, these are convenient but you're asking for better quality. If you do need a long reach lens, then as said before get the 18-135.

In short, I think you could build a nice start-up kit with a standard zoom, a normal prime and a wide lens. For instance

Sigma 17-70
DA15 or DA21
DA40 or FA43 or Sigma 50

Getting some of those used would lower your bills. I'm afraid 2k$ is a tough request considering you'll be getting a camera body. Say 1000$ for the camera, 500$ for the Sigma, that leaves you with 500$ for the rest. DA21 and 40 would probably be close, not sure about the 15. Tamron 10-24 and DA40 would probably be close too, that could be an idea.

I think the question remaining is what exactly will the wide lens be used for. You say nightscapes, would 17m be enough for that? You could delay purchasing your widest lens until later and make do with 17 for the moment. Just an idea.
06-11-2014, 08:08 AM   #12
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Start with buying 1 better lens first and see what happens. Tamron 17-50 is good value and has a range of focal lengths you can study to see what would be next. Are you printing your images currently?
06-11-2014, 09:54 AM   #13
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Here's my the K-3, you will love it. Buy either a used F50 f1.7 or the FA50 f1.7, a used DA15 f4, and a used 18-135. You will be covered from 15mm with a SHARP prime, mid-wide to telephoto with a VERY USEFUL weather resistant zoom, and a SHARP fast 50mm. You can easily buy this setup for $2000 here on the Marketplace. Sell your other middling lenses and try to raise $900 for a FA31Ltd and you will then use that lens for nearly everything except in wet weather. That would leave you with a 15, 31, 50, and 18-135.
06-11-2014, 04:11 PM   #14
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Thanks for so much great advice.

I've had a quick read through everything and I think I feel like I'm now on the same page as a few of you. I'll fill you in on my new thoughts later today when I have the time.

(time to stop drooling over lenses and catch some quick Zees)
06-12-2014, 11:35 PM   #15
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I know opinion is the third most abundant element in the universe, but here goes.

See my lens collection in the signature. I had a rough idea where I wanted to go, but it "just growed". Your planning approach is better.

Two of my lenses stand out:
- The DFA 100 WR is just beautiful. It's a joy to hold, a joy to use, carry it around in the rain, the images are wonderful. Even the loopy AF can be excused as character. But only get a macro in the 90-105 range to shoot macro. A 100mm prime is only half as useful as a 50mm or 35mm macro as a general lens.
- Pentax DA 12-24. I thought I was a telephoto guy til I got this. Now I'm sold on ultrawide, although it does require care in composition and framing. You usually need an interesting foreground, and you need to look at the whole frame. I used it mainly for landscapes. For a pro, this lens would be ideal for building interiors. If you are patient, and the $A hits parity, you should be able to get one for about $500. One of the Sigmas would be a bit cheaper. A lot of people also love the 15 Ltd, which would also be about $500.

Honourable mention for the A50 1.7. Fun fun fun, a thing of beauty and only $75. The limitation is that MF is not easy with moving targets, like kids or pets. The better A series lenses are generally very good value.

You want a fast 50 for portraits? I guess the DA*55 is the obvious candidate, but If I were a pro portrait shooter I would look at the DA*50-135 instead. Those wunderkinden tend to move around a lot, so a zoom might actually be better. Look around this site and you will find that this lens pays the bills for a number of people. Yes it costs, but if you are serious ... it's deductible. There have been problems with the SDM, but they are said to be fixed now.

So, a Pentax pro kit for $2000 or so:
- K5IIs (bargain)
- Tamron 17-50 or Sigma 17-70 C
- Pentax DA*50-135
- Whichever of the following primes is the one you would use most: 15, 21, 31, 40, 43, 50, 70, 77. If you are really squeezed, DA35 in the meantime.

Add a 12-24 if one comes up for $500.

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