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05-15-2016, 10:03 PM   #1
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Azhure's Avatar

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Several DSLR newbie questions

Question 1.

I got a lens off of ebay a couple of weeks ago (VIVITAR VMC 50mm F/1.8 lens), and it's manual focus only. Now I don't really mind that, except my vision is kind of fuzzy around the edges of things. Like I don't have super sharp clear vision due to pretty bad astigmatism. And since the viewfinder and my glasses don't play nice together, I rely pretty much entirely on the live view of my k-50. Unfortunately when using manual focus I end up having to do a lot of guessing as to whether I've got it as sharply focused as possible, even zooming in on the live view.

Is there any kind of magnification or something that might help with either the viewfinder or the live view that would make it bigger? My problem here is I don't know exactly what I'm asking for, just that my eyes are very annoying and make manual focus life difficult haha.

As it is right now, my solution is to just take multiple shots of the same scene and adjust the focus one way or the other if I think it's slightly off. Sometimes this works, but a lot of times it really doesn't.

Question 2.

The current lenses I own are
-DA L 18-55mm WR f3.5-5.6
-DA 50-200mm f4-5.6 ED WR
-Tamron Auto Focus 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di II LD Aspherical (IF)
-VIVITAR VMC 50mm F/1.8 lens

Are there any others that are I guess I'd say "budget" type lenses that anyone can suggest that would be good for macro photography, landscape photography, and wildlife photography? I often feel like the 200mm isn't quite enough distance to get the kind of close up detail I want for say the animals I take pictures of at the zoo, or the birds at a wildlife refuge that are skittish around people. And I've read in several places that it's good to have a wide angle lens for landscape photography but I'm not sure if any of mine qualify as that? I'm still very new to interchangeable lens cameras in general. And I'm assuming none of these qualify as a macro type lens, so I'm just wondering what I should be on the lookout for that has a decent image quality.

Question 3

I've seen on amazon and ebay "teleconverters" and I'm not entirely sure I understand how they work and what they are for. My assumption is that they double the focal length of your lens? Like if I added it to my kit lens it'd be 400mm? Or am I understanding that all wrong? Are they worth getting or is the image quality distorted too much with them? Also things like this, would that work as an interim macro and wide angle lens for someone who can't afford the "real thing"?

Sorry if these questions seem obvious, I've tried to read up as much as I can on my own but it gets to a point where you need someone to lay it out simple style lol.

05-15-2016, 10:26 PM   #2
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Question 3:
A teleconverter increases the focal length of whatever lens you have on your camera. I have the Pentax 1.4X TC, which converts my 300mm lens to 420mm. This is a top of the range TC and doesn't adversely affect image quality,although you do lose one stop of light coming through to your camera's sensor. Unfortunately, you can't really use a TC with your two longer zooms, because auto focussing will struggle.


Question 2:
Your DA 18-55mm is very wide angle at the 18mm end. It should serve most of your landscape needs, combined with the Vivitar.


Given your interests, your wish list should have a quality telephoto lens and a quality macro in first and second place.


The Pentax DFA 100mm macro is the bomb macro, especially the weather resistant version.


The Pentax DA 300mm F4 tele is the bomb, especially when you also have the 1.4 TC for those times you need even more reach.


The DA 55-300mm and DA 50-260mm also have lots of fans.


Question 1:
Check out the catch-in-focus feature. You will find a great tutorial on it on this forum.
05-15-2016, 10:32 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Azhure Quote
Is there any kind of magnification or something that might help with either the viewfinder or the live view that would make it bigger? My problem here is I don't know exactly what I'm asking for, just that my eyes are very annoying and make manual focus life difficult haha.
Yes, you can magnify the live view image by pressing the OK button.

You can also enable focus peaking in the live view menu and control panel. This adds white outlines around things that are in focus, and can be very helpful, especially when combined with a stopped-down aperture setting.

As for the viewfinder, perhaps consider a magnifier for that as well?

Finally, you could use catch in focus.

QuoteOriginally posted by Azhure Quote
Are there any others that are I guess I'd say "budget" type lenses that anyone can suggest that would be good for macro photography, landscape photography, and wildlife photography? I often feel like the 200mm isn't quite enough distance to get the kind of close up detail I want for say the animals I take pictures of at the zoo, or the birds at a wildlife refuge that are skittish around people. And I've read in several places that it's good to have a wide angle lens for landscape photography but I'm not sure if any of mine qualify as that? I'm still very new to interchangeable lens cameras in general. And I'm assuming none of these qualify as a macro type lens, so I'm just wondering what I should be on the lookout for that has a decent image quality.
You could swap the 50-200mm for a 55-300mm. That'll be your best value as far as telephoto lenses go.

Another great lens is the DA 50mm ($90-100). It's a viable replacement for the vivitar if you get tired of not having AF.

For macro, both the D FA 50mm and D FA 100mm are very good, and they're not expensive, but probably more than your existing lenses ($250-300 for the 50mm, $350-400 for the 100mm).

See the full listing of current Pentax lenses here:
Pentax Lens Search | PentaxForums.com

QuoteOriginally posted by Azhure Quote
I've seen on amazon and ebay "teleconverters" and I'm not entirely sure I understand how they work and what they are for. My assumption is that they double the focal length of your lens? Like if I added it to my kit lens it'd be 400mm? Or am I understanding that all wrong? Are they worth getting or is the image quality distorted too much with them? Also things like this, would that work as an interim macro and wide angle lens for someone who can't afford the "real thing"?
They increase the focal length by the magnification factor, which is typically 1.4x or 2x.

The price to pay is 1 or 2 stops of light, respectively. Most cheap teleconverters don't support autofocus or auto exposure, so just be aware of that.

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05-15-2016, 10:32 PM - 1 Like   #4
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1) You might try focus peaking using Live View if you don't have that turned on. For the viewfinder there is the O-ME53 magnifying eye piece which can help. But honestly focusing fast manual glass on the k-50 is a challenge for anyone. Focus peaking will be your best option.

2) Wide angle on your camera would be maybe 18 to 24 mm with anything wider than 16 starting to be ultra wide angle. So your 18-55 is a 'wide angle' at the wide settings.

Pentax has two true macro lenses the DFA 50mm and the DFA 100mm. These are excellent lenses but not budget by any means. A more affordable one is the FA 100mm f/3.5 which is only available used. The build quality is not as good as the others but for the price it is very good.

Macro, landscape and wildlife generally require different lenses. That is the reason for the interchangeable lens camera really. You might look at a Pentax F 35-70 which is a nice inexpensive lens that offers a close focusing ability (not true macro but unless you are shooting bugs you might not need true macro). Other than that if you want a longer lens look at the DAL 55-300. It is the best consumer long glass you will find for Pentax. You are better off taking your time and carefully building up a lens portfolio with good glass in it rather than buying a bunch of "bargain" or "budget" glass that will not perform well.

You might take a look at the lens database here for a good overview of available glass: Pentax Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

3) Teleconverters come under the heading of: There is no such thing as a free lunch. Yes technically they double the focal length, but they also cost you two stops of light. So using a 2x TC on your kit lenses will be possible but very frustrating. It is unlikely that they would be able to auto focus. A good modern TC will cost upwards of $400. So the cheap ones on ebay are in my opinion a waste of time and money. Note that there are literally hundreds of old used TC's on the market, because over the years everyone who bought a camera got sold one of them by the salesman telling them how magical they were. The all got used once and stuck in the camera bag never to be used again.
QuoteOriginally posted by Azhure Quote
Also things like this, would that work as an interim macro and wide angle lens for someone who can't afford the "real thing"?
These are not worth the cost of shipping. And notice that they ship for free.

05-15-2016, 11:12 PM   #5
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Da 50 f1.8 plus a Raynox DCR-150 close up lens for a cheap solution to the focus problems and macro starter.

Da 55-300 for inexpensive long telephoto reach.
05-15-2016, 11:31 PM   #6
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Thank you all very much for the answers! I am on my kindle right now so hard to look into everything in great detail atm but I will definitely be checking out these suggestions tomorrow.
05-16-2016, 06:15 PM   #7
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Question 1

As others have stated you can you use Live view with focus peaking and magnification. I use that on my K50. It is not as easy as the K3 but it does work. In Live view, press the OK center button and use the Arrows to move the image around. For the viewfinder you can try this Pentax O-ME53 Magnifying Eyecup 30150 B&H Photo Video. I use one on my K3.

Your can shoot landscapes with any lens. Your 18-55 can do well if you stop down to f8-f11 for your shots. Landscapes are best done a hour or so after or before sunset during the golden hour. Use a tripod with live view and focus peaking. You can also research Hyperfocal distance focusing for landscape shots.

Question 2 & 3

The 55-300 is simply your best bet. Stopped down to at least f8 it will give you decent results. Some people even use it with a teleconverter. The cheapest and best teleconverter is either the Tamron or Kenko 1.4TC. The 1.4TC will crop your image to a 1.4 magnification. Essentially your 300mm lens achieves the same field of view as a 420mm lens. The downside is you loose 1 stop of light. So your f5.6 lens becomes a f8 lens. You also suffer some IQ loss. Any imperfections in the lens will only be magnified by the TC. If you look around you may find a Tokina 400mm f5.6. These come in either manual or autofocus versions. The manual focus usually go for around $150 and the Autofocus one goes for around $350. I have both versions. For wildlife you will never have a long enough lens.

For macro you have a few options. There are plenty of older manual dedicated macro lenses. A true macro lens will achieve a 1:1 reproduction. To qualify as a macro you should at least have 1:3 I believe. Do not worry too much about auto focus for macro. Most macro shooters all shoot manual focus anyway. You can also use a cheap set of extension tubes to increase the magnification of any lens. These go between the lens and the camera body. With these you are in full manual mode and have to use stop down metering. Your lens must also have an apeture ring. The last way is using a decent set of close up filters. I usually recommend this option for someone starting out since it is the cheapest. This way you can see if macro is for you without a heavy investment.

Last edited by Scorpio71GR; 05-16-2016 at 06:20 PM.
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