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11-28-2009, 09:51 PM   #1
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What kind of lenses should I get?

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first DSLR the Pentax K-x. I am wondering what kind of lenses would best suit my needs. I live near the Rocky mountains and will be doing most of my shooting there. What lenses would best suit mountain photography?
Thanks

11-28-2009, 10:28 PM   #2
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The one(s) it comes with should serve your needs very well until you figure out more specifically how you'd like to supplement what you have already. If you got the cmera with just the 18-55, you'll probably want one of the telephoto zooms (50-200 or 55-300) sooner rather than later in order to shoot wildlife. But for landscape, wildflowers, etc, the 18-55 will be fine.
11-28-2009, 11:50 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
The one(s) it comes with should serve your needs very well until you figure out more specifically how you'd like to supplement what you have already. If you got the cmera with just the 18-55, you'll probably want one of the telephoto zooms (50-200 or 55-300) sooner rather than later in order to shoot wildlife. But for landscape, wildflowers, etc, the 18-55 will be fine.

Words from the wise. /\
11-29-2009, 01:12 AM   #4
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Indeed enjoy what the kit lenses offer as they are surprisingly good performing basic lenses.
Shoot lots with them and you'll know soon enough which lenses will suit your particular needs/desires... basically what Marc said.

11-29-2009, 08:37 AM   #5
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I also do some flying and am around airplanes a lot, are there any specifics for that? I guess is what you are saying is enjoy what I have now and then try some new things later. Thanks for your replys I cannot wait to get the camera.
11-29-2009, 09:00 AM   #6
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There are only three things that really matter when talking about lenses, and one of them is hopelessly subjective.

1. Focal length. That's what the numbers mean when we see a lens listed as "18-55" or "50-200" or whatever. So if you find your 18-55 doesn't zoom in to a scene enough, you will want a lens with a longer focal length than 55. If you find it won't go wide enough, you will want a lens with a shorter focal length than 18.

2. Maximum aperture. This is what determines how fast a shutter speed you can get, as well as how shallow your depth of field is (now much is in focus at once). For landscape photography, this is not normally an issue - you'll almost never be using the maximum aperture. This is more concern to people regularly shooting in low light. If you end up doing that, you may find you can't get fast enough shutter speeds or shallow enough DOF with your existing lens(es), and will want to move up to ones with larger maximum aperture.

3. Image quality. This is the one that is hopelessly subjective. The lenses sold with the camera are very good for the price, but more expensive lenses do generally perform better. How much better, and whether it's worth the difference in price - that's the part that's subjective.

Once you get your camera, you can start shooting, and then eventually perhaps figure out what if any limitations you find yourself running into. At that point, you will be able to describe what you need (eg, "I need a lens that goes wider than 18mm" or "I need a lens that goes longer than 50mm *and* has a maximum aperture of at least f/2.8", etc.
11-29-2009, 09:21 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
3. Image quality. This is the one that is hopelessly subjective. The lenses sold with the camera are very good for the price, but more expensive lenses do generally perform better. How much better, and whether it's worth the difference in price - that's the part that's subjective.
Umm, I think you are being a bit obfuscating here. Image quality is definitely not subjective. Every aspect of image quality is measurable and definable.
This is why we have MTF charts, resolution charts, websites like Photozone, etc.
As far as the price of good optics being subjective, again, no it isn't. Good glass will cost more than poor quality or average quality glass.
Nothing subjective there.
Whether this quality is worth it to the photographer is, of course, at their discretion, but this is hardly subjective, it is merely discretionary. That good glass is better than average glass is definable and measurable, with absolute objectivity.


To the OP, your kit lens will serve you quite well, but when it stops serving you well, you would be better off to spend your money on one or two very good lenses than a slew of mediocre lenses.
I have found that good glass is much more satisfactory than average glass, and that it makes the entire process of photography more enjoyable.
11-29-2009, 10:46 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Image quality is definitely not subjective. Every aspect of image quality is measurable and definable.
True. Well, most of it anyhow - bokeh and rendering are commonly used "metrics" in describing IQ that are hard to measure. But true, lots of stuff *is* nicely definable.
Still, the subjective part is in deciding how to compare two lenses where one is sharper in the center but the other sharper in the corners, or one is sharper at f/4 but the other at f/8, or one is sharper at 100mm but the other sharper at 200mm, or one is sharper overall but the other has more PF, or where one has less distortion but the other less vignetting, etc. The individual components of IQ may be (mostly) measurable, but that doesn't always make it possible to objectively declare one lens a winner over another - it will often depend on how each individual photographer weights those various components.
Anyhow, you're right. I was needlessly imprecise, so thanks for the clarification.
QuoteQuote:
As far as the price of good optics being subjective, again, no it isn't. Good glass will cost more than poor quality or average quality glass.
I didn't say the *price* was subjective. I said the *worth* of the IQ differences was. That is, would any given photographer find a 15% increase in MTF numbers at a given aperture worth $500 to them? I say that is "subjective", you say it is "discretionary", but I'm not sure I understand the distinction being made. Either way it boils down to this: different people will legitimately have different answers to questions like that.
Anyhow, my point being, when it comes to asking about lenses, it's a lot easier to have objective discussions about which lens is wider or longer than which, or which has a larger maximum than which - and to precisely quantify the *extent* to which one is wider/longer/faster than another - than it is to have equally objective discussions of which lens is "better" than which, or just what a 15% advantage in MTF really means in practice.
QuoteQuote:
To the OP, your kit lens will serve you quite well, but when it stops serving you well, you would be better off to spend your money on one or two very good lenses than a slew of mediocre lenses.
Definitely agreed.

11-29-2009, 11:36 AM   #9
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Marc gives good advice but I have always disagreed about using the kit lens. It handicaps you in the extreme, not because it is junk (it isn't) but because it restricts your photographic experience.

However, film cameras used to come with a cheapo standard lens capable of a much wider apertures. They had excellent handling, smooth manual focus and an aperture ring on the lens itself. We call it the "fast 50".

Get one without auto-focus for pocket change. Use it for six months. Learn how to be a photographer. You will gradually realise what you need to buy. (Or maybe nothing else, perhaps.) If you only use the kit lens you will never know what you are missing.

(My own path was slightly different, since I had past experience with film cameras and standard lenses. So my first lens for DSLR was the FA43. Still a fast 50 in essence but so much more in spirit!)

Last edited by rparmar; 11-29-2009 at 11:41 AM.
11-29-2009, 04:33 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ginglesair Quote
I also do some flying and am around airplanes a lot, are there any specifics for that? I guess is what you are saying is enjoy what I have now and then try some new things later. Thanks for your replys I cannot wait to get the camera.

Are you "around" or "in" the airplane? Shouting the planes and shooting from the airplane are two different thing. If you are shooting from the plane, make sure your camera doesn't come in contact with any part of the plane while taking a picture. Doing so, the vibration will give you a blurred picture all the time. If you shoot the planes, then, you might want to invest in something a bit longer than the standard lens, something like it's sidekick (DA55-200) would do the job if you are shooting from the ground. If you are shooting flying airplane, you might want a longer reach, like a Pentax DA 55-300, Sigma 70-300 or Tamron 70-300.

Have fun with your new toy.
11-29-2009, 10:44 PM   #11
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I really appreciate all of your advice. It is nice to have a place like this where someone new is not made to feel stupid. I'm sure I will have many many more questions and I don't feel afraid to ask them here. I just wanted to say thanks.
As for the airplane pictures I fly myself and also work at a airport. So needless to say I will never run out of subjects to shoot.
11-30-2009, 05:44 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ginglesair Quote
I fly myself

What are you usually flying?

I fly a Cessna 210, Cessna (Hector) L-19 (tow plane) and sailplanes.
11-30-2009, 09:12 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
The one(s) it comes with should serve your needs very well until you figure out more specifically how you'd like to supplement what you have already. If you got the cmera with just the 18-55, you'll probably want one of the telephoto zooms (50-200 or 55-300) sooner rather than later in order to shoot wildlife. But for landscape, wildflowers, etc, the 18-55 will be fine.
QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
Marc gives good advice but I have always disagreed about using the kit lens. It handicaps you in the extreme, not because it is junk (it isn't) but because it restricts your photographic experience.
.... If you only use the kit lens you will never know what you are missing.
(My own path was slightly different, since I had past experience with film cameras and standard lenses. So my first lens for DSLR was the FA43. Still a fast 50 in essence but so much more in spirit!)
Both gentlemen are right. However, lenses that will give you better performance and image quality are considerably more expensive than your camera. A few exceptions taken.
Youve not bought a camera, youve bought a system.
Id advise you to first get some experience with the kit and a "cheap" long zoom.
Then, when and if you'd like to improve your photography and results, buy a good book, like "Understanding exposure", and find out for yourself what next you would like to get.
- Bert
11-30-2009, 10:02 AM   #14
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I will fly anything I can but mostly 172's right now. I just obtained my commercial license about a month ago. Now I just need to find some more money to get some more hours. Unfortunately there is nowhere near me to tow, gliders or banners. Hoping to run into something eventually by working at Centennial airport here in Denver.
11-30-2009, 10:15 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
Marc gives good advice but I have always disagreed about using the kit lens. It handicaps you in the extreme, not because it is junk (it isn't) but because it restricts your photographic experience.
True, but so does *any* single lens. Different lenses restrict in different ways, but until someone makes a pancake-sized 12-600/1.4 Macro, they all restrict you in *some* way. I do agree that one will have the opportunity to *learn* more by having a manual lens with a large maximum aperture. I guess I'm just not convinced that this necessarily trumps being able to take a broad range of nice pictures right away.

With regard to a 50 in particular, it's really not the most versatile focal length for landscape photography, which appears to be the OP's primary interest here. A 28 might make more sense - except the ones that are really cheap are "only" f/2.8 and thus don't give you quite the same creative control and "learning" potential as, say, a 50/1.7. On the other hand, for landscape photography, large apertures aren't really that important very often.

So I don't know - I think there is value in a lot of different approaches. I never went through a phase of just having the 18-55, either - I had the 18-55 and a 70-300 right from day one with my first DSLR, and added an M50/1.7 ($20 from a pawn shop) within days. I think I learned a lot by having all three at my disposal, and really, I had a ton of flexibility, too. So really, my inclination is to suggest that maybe others might want to look at a similar approach.

But I guess I don't see the harm in going through a stage of having the 18-55 only at first - for someone sufficiently motivated to learn, it probably won't take but a week to start figuring out ideas on how they might want to go on from there. And I absolutely agree a manual fast prime is a *great* thing to be looking at sooner rather than later.
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