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10-19-2009, 09:06 PM   #1
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Low Light Photography

I'm a newbie who just got the k2000 package with 18-55mm and 50-200mm lenses and it's been great so far. I've been trying to stick to Manual or Aperture Priority mode for just about every shot as I don't want to use my slr like a point and shot.

These lenses have been good so far but I've noticed it's pretty hard to get good shots without flash indoors in dimmer lighting. I've gotten some decent ones but it wasn't easy considering I had to set it to pretty slow shutter speeds and I wasn't using a tripod.

I don't have a ton of money right now so I'm just looking for a good lens to use in low lighting that won't break the bank and will hold me over until I can afford a really nice one. I'm mainly taking pictures of family indoors so I guess a lens with a fixed focal length in the range of my first lens (18-55mm) should be good.

Right now I'm looking at these two prime lens.
SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.7
SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.7

I'm seeing the M much cheaper than the A in most places and it seems like the perfect cheap option for me. I've read that the only difference is that with the M, I'll only be able to use it in manual mode and with the A I'd be able to use it in Aperture mode and such. Is this correct? The only problem I'd see with these lenses is that I'd have to rely on manual focus but I like the fact that I'll be in total control of what I'm taking pictures of by being in manual mode and manual focus. Sure there will be a learning curve but that's part of the fun when it comes to SLRs.

I'd appreciate anyone's input regarding these lens or other lens recommendations. Thanks.

10-20-2009, 12:59 AM   #2
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Welcome.
The kit lenses just don't have a wide enough aperture for a lot of indoor work.

The 50 f/1.7 is a good lens , either the A or the M.
The only difference is the A has the contacts to communicate with the camera on the aperture.

Here's a couple of threads that will help explain how to use those types of lens.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-beginners-corner-q/59272-shooting-...x-dslrs-f.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-beginners-corner-q/60081-usage-green-button.html

If you want to use the lenses you have, you could try one of these - Amazon.com: Designers Edge L-18 Home Light One-Light 500-Watt Halogen Portable Work Light: Home Improvement you may have to play around with the White Balance a little but they do a pretty good job.
Be warned though, they get hot.
10-20-2009, 03:53 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Damn Brit Quote
Welcome.
The kit lenses just don't have a wide enough aperture for a lot of indoor work.

The 50 f/1.7 is a good lens , either the A or the M.
The only difference is the A has the contacts to communicate with the camera on the aperture.

Here's a couple of threads that will help explain how to use those types of lens.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-beginners-corner-q/59272-shooting-...x-dslrs-f.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-beginners-corner-q/60081-usage-green-button.html

If you want to use the lenses you have, you could try one of these - Amazon.com: Designers Edge L-18 Home Light One-Light 500-Watt Halogen Portable Work Light: Home Improvement you may have to play around with the White Balance a little but they do a pretty good job.
Be warned though, they get hot.

Hmm, that light sounds like an interesting idea but it'd kind of be a pain if I'm going to a friend's house and I'm walking around with that haha. I read the article(which was very helpful) and now I'm debating if I should just go with the A lens. The reason is that I have the k2000(k-m) and it doesn't have a green button. I'm not sure if I can do stop down metering. I'll have to look some more info on my camera. Thanks.
10-20-2009, 04:26 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Iann Cannon Quote
Hmm, that light sounds like an interesting idea but it'd kind of be a pain if I'm going to a friend's house and I'm walking around with that haha. I read the article(which was very helpful) and now I'm debating if I should just go with the A lens. The reason is that I have the k2000(k-m) and it doesn't have a green button. I'm not sure if I can do stop down metering. I'll have to look some more info on my camera. Thanks.
Try this:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/51727-stopping-dow...ses-k2000.html

10-20-2009, 04:29 AM   #5
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I find the A version lenses a LOT easier to use regarding exposure (they have the same auto-exposure functionality of the newer lenses, including auto flash adjustments.)

I have a 50mm F 1.7 auto focus lens that I like a lot - I think I paid about $150USD. I'm not sure that a faster lens would help me much because of the shallower depth of field.

Dave in Iowa
10-20-2009, 04:39 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Iann Cannon Quote

Right now I'm looking at these two prime lens.
SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.7
SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.7
Unless there is a HUGE difference in price (>50% or so), I'd go with the A. Both are excellent lenses, but I personally think the "A" has the edge IQ wise (tho to be absolutely truthful, a mouse could probably starve on the difference) But the big advantage of the A is it's simplicity to use. You can use it in all modes (and there are times when Tv and TAv are nice to have. Yes you can approximate those modes in M but the dedicated modes are simpler. I don't know about the K2000 but both the K10 and the K20 have some problems metering with M and K lenses in manual mode. This can be corrected for by using exposure bias, but again it's easier if you don't have to. In addition I find it much easier to adjust aperture using the rear wheel and watching my shutter speeds change in the VF. With an "M" lens I have to look at what I set the lens to and then re-position the camera to my face and recompose.
There will be some who say that they can count the 'clicks' of the aperture ring and know exactly where they are, but I'm not there. I'm sure if I used K or M lenses all the time I learn, but I have a mixture of K, A, FA, and DA lenses and don't stay with fully manual lenses long enough to learn that.
I have no problem with the "stop down" metering system that is used for manual lenses, I don't find that particularily bothersome, and manual focusing isn't that hard, but I do like the ability to change my aperture with the thumb wheel while I'm looking thru the view finder, and the ability to use Tv and TAv modes. It makes things simpler.

NaCl(KISS KISS )H2O

Last edited by NaClH2O; 10-20-2009 at 04:44 AM.
10-20-2009, 07:56 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Iann Cannon Quote

Right now I'm looking at these two prime lens.
SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.7
SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.7
Well taking a look at evil bay, the f1.7 A goes for about $150 US. Also, just as an aside there are a couple of DA 50 f1.2 for $850 each, and an A 50/f1.4 for $370 . But going with a slightly lower speed A lens - f2.0 brings the price down to about $70. So, overall the prices rises with the A model with speed.

Going to the manual lens M, the prices are a bit different

M f2 - $10 to $40
M f1.7 - $25 to $50
M f1.4 - $160 to $220

There is also another way to pick up these lenses. Look for an old Pentax film camera (K1000, ME, MX, etc.) with lenses, on evil bay. I saw a few with 50/f1.7 lenses going for about $10 (camera body included). Sometimes they come with multiple lenses. There are M 28mm f2.8's plentiful in this way also.

So the M's can be significantly lower in price, especially with a camera body attached. I picked up an M 50/2 awhile back for $7 and several months later found an M 50/1.7 for $12. The prices have risen a bit, the f2's are plentiful, with the faster lenses a bit less so. A somewhat less expensive M 50/2 or 50/1.7 will get you by for the present, until you can find an A model that works for you.

... by the way - I sent you a PM (private message).

hope that helps.....

Last edited by interested_observer; 10-20-2009 at 08:13 AM.
10-20-2009, 11:09 AM   #8
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Thanks for the great and quick replies. I was looking at the m lens because the difference in price is so great between M and A, as interested_observer pointed out. I was trying to get the cheapest lens for low lighting I could right now so that I could save up and buy a much nicer one later on. I just need something to hold me over in the meantime. Thanks for the link on the k2000 stopping down. Thanks again for the all the replies everyone. People weren't kidding when they said the Pentax community was helpful.

I also replied to your PM interested_observer.

10-20-2009, 11:50 AM   #9
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Try to get the FA version, otherwise you'll miss autofocus. Manual focus kinda sucks.
10-20-2009, 12:09 PM   #10
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No way should the A50/1.7 cost anyone more than $100. Keep looking; it shouldn't be hard to find one for less.

Since you use the K2000 owner, I'd be especially inclined to hold out for the A version, since A and M lenses work differently even in M mode. With A lenses, you can set the aperture using the camera just like you do with your current lenses, and the aperture displays in the viewfinder along with a meter reading that shows you how much over or under you are just as is the case with your current lenses. With M lenses, you set the aperture using the ring, meaning it won't display in the viewfinder, and more importantly, the amera can't display a meter reading. The +/- button still works to set shutter seed (like the Green button on other recent models), but the meter is only active for that brief moment that the lens stops down - it won't keep showing you a reading as you scan around the scene change aperture or shutter speed, or as the light changes. With all models *but* the K2000, you can do an optical DOF preview to get this "live" meter, but the K2000 lacks that. So there is no way to get a "live" meter reading on an M lens with the K2000.
10-20-2009, 12:35 PM   #11
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If you get the M lens there's a trick that'll help with exposure. Fool the camera into thinking the lens is a A type.

If the camera thinks the lens is an A type, and you tell the camera the lens is wide open, then auto-metering will be correct for any aperture preset on the lens (and autoflash exposure will also work). It works because you've told the camera you want the lens wide open so the camera does not try to close the aperture at exposure time.

This trick is easiest to pull off with older lenses that allow one to preset the aperture as desired (Like Takumar lenses with an adapter.) You must be able to manually close the aperture for this trick to work.

All you need do is to short out the recessed pin on the camera mount - the A pin. A minor, reversible modification of the camera will accomplish this easily:


Now when you mount a lens, F2.8 or something will appear in the viewfinder; use the ewheel to decrease this f-stop indicator to its lowest value, like F 1.2. The camera will now properly meter thru the lens regardless of the lens' actual aperture setting.

The major downside of the trick is that it makes focusing more difficult if you close the lens aperture. But this would be a rare problem for a fast 50 since you'll be using it for low light.
10-20-2009, 02:14 PM   #12
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If you really want to try your hand at low light, I suggest pushing for a f1.4 regardless if its a M, A, FA, or Tak. Considering a tight financial situation, look into a Super Tak, S-M-C. or SMC Tak or maybe even one of the 55mm f1.8 Taks.
10-20-2009, 03:08 PM   #13
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Dumb question, but since you are all new to this, as you said ('coz you might have missed this and it wasn't mentioned too), have you first ever tried changing the ISO to a higher one?
I'm not sure if this can be done with the K-m but I assume it should be able to.
Set it to 1600 maybe?
10-20-2009, 04:00 PM   #14
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You'll laugh at me...

... but here's what I do with my M 50: I usually have a little bit of an idea of what shutter speed I need in a given situation, so I set that and fire away. I then review the histogram in the LCD, see how much I'm off in terms of desired exposure, and adjust shutter (or possibly ISO) accordingly. Yeah, I know, it's kinda lame...


QuoteOriginally posted by impact Quote
Try to get the FA version, otherwise you'll miss autofocus. Manual focus kinda sucks.
I guess you aren't capable of focusing manually. Many of us can do so just fine.
10-20-2009, 04:04 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by impact Quote
Try to get the FA version, otherwise you'll miss autofocus. Manual focus kinda sucks.
Autofocus kind of sucks. If you miss on manual, you are too slow or you need your eyes testing.
I was slow to catch on but I now get a lot more keepers.
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