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04-13-2016, 11:05 PM   #1
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First DSLR & Lenses

Hello everyone! I take most of my photos on a KM and occasionally, a P645. I use K28 f3.5/50 f1.4/55 f1.8/135 f3.5 lenses on 35mm and enjoy shooting and developing B&W film every now and then. I've used compact digitals in the past and in recent years, have been happy with my phone for snapshots.

I'd like to purchase a DSLR to shoot more and to review and share my photos daily. I'm also expecting my first child in June so now is as good a time as any to buy one. I like shooting street scenes, buildings and nature and often go on hikes through the rainforest. I live in the tropics where it's hot, humid and wet all year round.

I hope to use my K series lenses on the DSLR and possibly, the 645 lenses with an adapter -- I'm not sure how practical this might be though as the 645 ones are bulkier and Pentax DSLRs look fairly compact. Thoughts on this, please? I also wish to add a weather sealed zoom to the system and an AF prime for starters. Given my existing crop of lenses, what should I purchase?

Like many on these forums, I've been following the news of the K-1's imminent release with interest. Something for the future maybe, but certainly not now. Considering my inexperience, I'm more inclined to pick-up a used K-5 (one can be had on the local market for approximately USD 250-300), learn the ins and outs of a DSLR and invest in some good lenses instead. Possibly FF compatible ones for any future upgrades -- maybe the D FA 28-105 and the Limited 77 which I could also use with my KM. Is this a reasonable approach?

I'd be grateful for camera and lens recommendations or any input on the above. Thank you for your thoughts.

04-13-2016, 11:20 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by rud Quote
I hope to use my K series lenses on the DSLR and possibly, the 645 lenses with an adapter -- I'm not sure how practical this might be though as the 645 ones are bulkier and Pentax DSLRs look fairly compact. Thoughts on this, please? I also wish to add a weather sealed zoom to the system and an AF prime for starters. Given my existing crop of lenses, what should I purchase?
A good starter WR lens is the 18-135mm. Since you already have a lot of primes, I'd just add the one zoom for now. As for the body, the K-5 is a good choice, but it's a little bit dated so you might want to consider other options like the K-S2 or K-3, depending on how much you're willing to spend. The K-3 would definitely last for years.

645 lenses are indeed bulky. I don't see much of a reason to adapt them except for telephotos or specialty lenses.

As for the 28-105mm, it really isn't that wide on APS-C, so I'd go for the 18-135mm. You can always sell the latter if/when you decide to go for the K-1 The 77mm, on the other hand, is great on both formats. Hard to go wrong with it!

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04-13-2016, 11:37 PM   #3
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I transitioned to digital from film and my first dslr was K20d. Initially I used my Pentax screw mount lenses (28mm f/3.5, 50 mm f/1.4, and 200 mm f/4) before purchasing K mount lenses, and that worked well. I think the K-5 is the best of the Pentax dslr's, for the transition from film to digital (I BTW have the K20d, K-x, and K-5). But I don't use AF on any of my dslr's, so that was not a consideration in any of my Pentax's.

If you plan to use the f/1.4 and 1.8 lenses near to full aperture a screen optimzed for faster lenses would be useful. Usually these are split screen and the drawback is spot metering will be off if metering at about f/3 and more closed--but you can work out the adjustments (I get on my K20d about e.v. adjustment of 0 at f/2.8 and below, -1 at f/3.5, -2 at f/4, -3 at f/5.6 and above). So you may want to look for a used K-5 that has such a (non Pentax) screen installed--although this may be an unlikely find.

I have no experience adapting anything but FF (35 mm film) lenses. Also I would caution that you may find the more recent AF lenses, and especially the zooms, quite terrible in feel compared to what you are used to. And on the primes some no longer have depth of field or even distance markings.

BTW since you metioned the D FA 28-105 mm lens, I think the FA 28-70 mm f/4 is an outstanding lens (optically, not physically), and a real bargain. I use it for theater photography (in MF mode)--generally on my K-5. Just make sure it is returnable, as I understand some suffer from lens separation.

Last edited by dms; 04-13-2016 at 11:45 PM. Reason: Add about FA 28-70 f/4 lens.
04-14-2016, 04:03 AM   #4
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The K-5 had known AF issues and I'd rather go for a K5 II or K3, depending on the price. The 28-105 is not very wide-angle on APS-C, and I don't really see the point in buying a lens that has limitations on your new APS-C camera just because you may or may not upgrade to FF in a couple of years. The HD DA 16-85 appears to be a great lens and better optically than the 18-135. It costs a bit more, has less tele but more wide-angle.

For street scenes a 31 f/1.8 Ltd. may be more useful than the 77 f/1.8 Ltd., but the latter will give you better portraits of your child.

04-14-2016, 04:40 AM   #5
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I have the K-3 II and the K-S2. Both have proven to be wonderful cameras. I don't know anything of the K-5 cameras other than what I have read. The K-3 II would seem to have better AF from everything I have read and if Astrophotography interests you it has a GPS and pixelshift technology. I think I read somewhere that the SR gives you a half or maybe even a stop more shake reduction.
As far a lenses go, I agree that a good WR zoom would be beneficial. I personally went with the 20-40 Limited. It is an outstanding lens though it lacks in the zoom range. I may get a 16-85 some day for the greater range. It seems to be rating well among users for IQ.
04-14-2016, 08:23 AM   #6
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I bought a K3-II bundled with the 16-85 and for value/performance I couldn't be happier. Might be worth keeping an eye out for similar deals?
04-14-2016, 10:39 AM   #7
rud
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Thanks for the replies everyone!

QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
As for the body, the K-5 is a good choice, but it's a little bit dated so you might want to consider other options like the K-S2 or K-3, depending on how much you're willing to spend. The K-3 would definitely last for years.
The K-S2 seems like a great choice. A concern, perhaps unwarranted, based on what I read from PF's review is that it's smaller compared to the K-50 & K-3 (I have long fingers) and that it may be difficult to handle with heavier lenses. The 18-135 was cited as an example of a lens that causes "slight discomfort" when paired with the K-S2. Has general user experience matched this assessment? "Slight" seems bearable though and I'll try to get a feel of each of these cameras at a shop to see what the differences are like. I'd certainly want a camera that feels good in my hands. I've never handled a Pentax DSLR but they all look larger than manual focus film bodies. I imagine they're more comfortable, too? How would the K-S2 compare to an LX with a grip? I used to shoot on one until it developed sticky mirror issues. It was the most compact SLR I've owned.

As I've just learned, the K-5 I was looking at has a shutter count of 52k. Is this cause for concern? The used market for Pentax equipment here is small and my options are limited. I may have to look elsewhere or just buy new. I wouldn't mind getting a K-3. Like the K-5, it's more tech than I can handle but I have the time and inclination to learn. It would certainly preclude an upgrade to FF in the near future and that's fine. I saw the used K-5 as a cheaper option in the interim before the jump to FF. But if I get a new K-3 now, that jump would come much later, if at all. I'd just like a camera that feels solid, handles well and produces good images. The K-3 & K-S2 seem more than adequate.

QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
If you plan to use the f/1.4 and 1.8 lenses near to full aperture a screen optimzed for faster lenses would be useful. Usually these are split screen and the drawback is spot metering will be off if metering at about f/3 and more closed--but you can work out the adjustments (I get on my K20d about e.v. adjustment of 0 at f/2.8 and below, -1 at f/3.5, -2 at f/4, -3 at f/5.6 and above). So you may want to look for a used K-5 that has such a (non Pentax) screen installed--although this may be an unlikely find.
Thanks for the info. I stumbled upon a massive thread about a Canon EE screen while running searches on manual focus. I didn't really know where to begin but I'll look into it once I've got the camera. Perhaps I'll just try a magnifier to start with. I doubt I'd be very comfortable messing with focusing screens. Then again, I don't actually know how complicated the procedure is. As for the build and handling of AF zooms -- I'd certainly prefer something close to the feel of my MF lenses (which I absolutely love) but I guess those come at a premium. I'm not completely certain about zooms either but I figure the weather sealing would come in handy when I'm out on the trails.

Why aren't there more weather sealed primes? I've only seen two -- the D FA 100 Macro and the H DA 560.

QuoteOriginally posted by FantasticMrFox Quote
The 28-105 is not very wide-angle on APS-C, and I don't really see the point in buying a lens that has limitations on your new APS-C camera just because you may or may not upgrade to FF in a couple of years. The HD DA 16-85 appears to be a great lens and better optically than the 18-135.
You're right. I don't see the point either and hadn't thought it through. Best get something that's optimized for APS-C. I'll certainly consider the HD DA 16-85. Thanks.

QuoteOriginally posted by sarge Quote
I have the K-3 II and the K-S2. Both have proven to be wonderful cameras.
How did you find the K-S2 with the 20-40 Limited? Does it feel balanced? I understand it's a compact zoom so perhaps it's lighter and more usable than the 18-135 or 15-85 would be on a KS-2. Thanks!

QuoteOriginally posted by veato Quote
I bought a K3-II bundled with the 16-85 and for value/performance I couldn't be happier. Might be worth keeping an eye out for similar deals?
Unfortunately, the K-3 II is available as a body-only option over here!
04-14-2016, 11:07 AM   #8
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No matter which Pentax DSLR you end up buying, you may need to adjust the viewfinder shims if you want to achieve precise focus with your manual lenses. If distance L1 is not equal to distance L2 (see diagram) your shots will be misfocused. So, do some testing before you shoot for real. <= voice of experience



04-14-2016, 11:28 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by FantasticMrFox Quote
The K-5 had known AF issues and I'd rather go for a K5 II or K3, depending on the price. The 28-105 is not very wide-angle on APS-C, and I don't really see the point in buying a lens that has limitations on your new APS-C camera just because you may or may not upgrade to FF in a couple of years. The HD DA 16-85 appears to be a great lens and better optically than the 18-135. It costs a bit more, has less tele but more wide-angle.

For street scenes a 31 f/1.8 Ltd. may be more useful than the 77 f/1.8 Ltd., but the latter will give you better portraits of your child.
I agree - go with the K5 II, IIs, or later for the better focusing (AF). Or even one of the cheaper K-50 or newer models.


Then pick up a DA35/2.4 - it's a very good lens, no need to spend more right now. Even if you can afford the FA31/1.8's right now, it's an unusual animal which you'll need to wrest under your control. Save that for later, someday; it's an interesting experiment you may or may not like.

OTOH, the FA77/1.8 is something you'll appreciate immediately. However, I'd consider the DA*50-135/2.8 instead - it takes wonderful portraits as well. I've never looked at the photos from it and thought "gee, I wish I'd used my FA77!" (or FA*85/1.4 now) - even though those are my favorite lenses. It has WR and the pricing is now quite reasonable.


The FA28-105/3.2-4.5 takes very nice photos and is much cheaper than the new model, although mine does have AF issues at times. I'll bet the photos from the new one won't even be as nice to my taste (hope I'm wrong, though).

However, I'd really recommend the DA17-70/4 or DA*16-50/2.8. The DA17-70 takes pretty nice photos, and it's "semi-WR" (it has a small rubber seal at the mount).




In summary, I'd look for something like this:

K-5 IIs
DA35/2.4
DA17-70/4 (or DA*16-50/2.8 if you can afford it)
DA*50-135/2.8
04-14-2016, 11:55 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by sarge Quote
I have the K-3 II and the K-S2. Both have proven to be wonderful cameras. I don't know anything of the K-5 cameras other than what I have read. The K-3 II would seem to have better AF from everything I have read and if Astrophotography interests you it has a GPS and pixelshift technology. I think I read somewhere that the SR gives you a half or maybe even a stop more shake reduction.
As far a lenses go, I agree that a good WR zoom would be beneficial. I personally went with the 20-40 Limited. It is an outstanding lens though it lacks in the zoom range. I may get a 16-85 some day for the greater range. It seems to be rating well among users for IQ.
I'm pretty sure that Adam has said that it is his belief that the SR improvement was a spec change due to change in the measurement test applied not an actual improvement. I have never seen any shoot outs that show both and show improved performance for K3ii over K3.
04-14-2016, 12:09 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by rud Quote
The K-S2 seems like a great choice. A concern, perhaps unwarranted, based on what I read from PF's review is that it's smaller compared to the K-50 & K-3 (I have long fingers) and that it may be difficult to handle with heavier lenses.

As I've just learned, the K-5 I was looking at has a shutter count of 52k. Is this cause for concern? The used market for Pentax equipment here is small and my options are limited. I may have to look elsewhere or just buy new. I wouldn't mind getting a K-3.

But if I get a new K-3 now, that jump would come much later, if at all. I'd just like a camera that feels solid, handles well and produces good images. The K-3 & K-S2 seem more than adequate.
QuoteOriginally posted by rud Quote
Why aren't there more weather sealed primes? I've only seen two -- the D FA 100 Macro and the H DA 560.
QuoteOriginally posted by rud Quote
You're right. I don't see the point either and hadn't thought it through. Best get something that's optimized for APS-C. I'll certainly consider the HD DA 16-85. Thanks.

In light of this, let me slightly re-state my earlier post:


Put all your money into the DA*50-135. Everything else you get doesn't matter - don't spend too much time fussing over it. Any digital K-mount body will work. This will give you outstanding photos.

Next get the DA*300 - another excellent lens, which (like all DA* lenses) is also weather sealed. Or get the DA*55/1.4 if you prefer something shorter.




This is all assuming you simply want outstanding photos - which most of us do. There's no "awesome" 16, 17 or 18 to 50+ zoom, so just get something decent (although the DA*16-50 is better than the others - or simply get a good copy of the DA16-45).

If you don't believe me you should see for yourself at the Pentax Photo Gallery: http://www.pentaxphotogallery.com/photos/gallery/query?camera=&lens=2050

Last edited by DSims; 04-14-2016 at 12:21 PM.
04-14-2016, 01:08 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by rud Quote
As I've just learned, the K-5 I was looking at has a shutter count of 52k. Is this cause for concern? The used market for Pentax equipment here is small and my options are limited. I may have to look elsewhere or just buy new. I wouldn't mind getting a K-3. Like the K-5, it's more tech than I can handle but I have the time and inclination to learn. It would certainly preclude an upgrade to FF in the near future and that's fine. I saw the used K-5 as a cheaper option in the interim before the jump to FF. But if I get a new K-3 now, that jump would come much later, if at all. I'd just like a camera that feels solid, handles well and produces good images. The K-3 & K-S2 seem more than adequate.
I would avoid a K-5 with that high of a shutter count. If it ends up needing a repair, it will most likely cost you just as much as a used K-3 would, if not more.
mera is
Some people are fine with the K-S2's grip, and while it's bigger than the LX's, the camera itself is also considerably heavier. There's no question that camera camera is solid, but as an upper entry-level model, it's also not built as tough as the K-5 or K-3.

My recommendation would be to check for used K-3's and see if you can get any good offers. Since that body would last you a while, it would let you save up for the K-1, and you could perhaps get one toward the end of the product cycle, when it's cheaper.

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04-14-2016, 03:44 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by rud Quote
How did you find the K-S2 with the 20-40 Limited? Does it feel balanced? I understand it's a compact zoom so perhaps it's lighter and more usable than the 18-135 or 15-85 would be on a KS-2. Thanks!
The 20-40 balances just fine on the K-S2. The 20-40 is not a lightweight lens though. It is all metal construction. The K-S2 is a solid feeling camera though so I think they pair well together.
The K-S2 is my wife's camera mainly. When I got it for her I ordered the kit that includes the 18-50 WR kit lens. That lens is not spectacular but it does a decent job for a walk around lens. It does have a plastic mount. The main reason I went with it was the deal I got on it. It was only $50.00 more as a kit. I tend to keep the 20-40 on my K-3 II.
My wife loves her K-S2 and I have been very pleased with the images it has produced.
04-14-2016, 11:21 PM   #14
rud
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Thanks everyone. Appreciate the input. I'm going to take some time to do more reading and check out the reviews of everything that has been suggested in this thread. I'll probably have more questions when I'm done. Thanks again.
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