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12-02-2009, 01:31 PM   #1
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If I buy the two lens kit, are other lenses redundant?

Ok, so I'm thinking about wether to get the K-x with the extra 55-300 lens. It supposedly is a "good" lens and I would never have the opportunity to get it as cheaply as in the kit bundle.

So, that would provide an 18-55mm and 55-300mm combination. Would that mean that other lenses within that range (50mm, 135mm primes, etc.) are essentially redundant and unnecessary? I've always heard that primes generally have better image quality than zooms - is that still true in 2009?

Of course it's fun to get other lenses and try them (I already have some), but is it really just diminishing returns, so to speak? Are the old M primes that much better than these two lenses?

For me personally, I don't intend to go longer than 300mm (except for a 500mm mirror) so it's really tempting to get the 2 lens bundle (as long as it's $750 or less). Actually, one real reason to get some primes (28mm or 50mm) is for the size, even though they're in the 18-55 range. The 50s are so inexpensive and it really turns it into a small camera - that is worth something despite being already in the focal length range.

I'm just wondering if having the two zooms would convince me not to get primes.

12-02-2009, 01:43 PM   #2
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Having primes or other lenses that fall within the range of zooms you will have doesn't create redundancy at all. Your zoom lenses, while good optically, are slow. At best you will have f3.5. Primes within the zoom range will be faster. They might also have macro which will enable you to take shots from perspectives that might be impractical with the zooms.

Don't buy the new lenses right away. Shoot with the zooms and understand where they prevent you from getting shots that you want. Find you biggest shortcoming and fill that one. Shoot with it awhile and then see where to explore next. You may find over time that the zooms turn out to be the lenses you use the least - especially as your style of shooting or subject matter might change. Besides that, have fun and learn!
12-02-2009, 02:30 PM   #3
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Thanks DonP.... It's a question of economy as well... I just don't think I'd have the opportunity to get the 55-300 zoom for the same price as in the kit... and I can see situations where 300mm would be fun. I just worry that getting primes then in the range would be a waste of money... Any comment on my quality question? Are primes always better?
12-02-2009, 02:43 PM   #4
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I'm a brand new spanker such as yourself getting my K-X last week and only two days later getting a Pentax-F 50mm f1.7 and i have to say it was well wort the extra cash. It is so much more fun to use especially now in the winter when the sun pops out once in a month. Taking portraits always net great results and the creativity with the small focal depth (correct term?) is amazing.

If you can spare the extra $150 or so its a must buy i think.

To be clear: I'm new to SLRs, not a pro or even an amateur.

12-02-2009, 03:09 PM   #5
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It will all depend on you and how you use the camera. They may very well be the only lenses you'll ever need. Or not. But it's certainly not a bad way to start. They are two pretty decent lenses, and their only real shortcomings are their speed. On a Kx, that's not the problem it used to be because of it's great IQ at high ISO's. But there are other reasons that you may find you will want another lens, and you won't know that until you find a lens not doing it for you. Worst case is, you end up selling them off at a small loss. 2.5 years into my first DSLR (K10D), and I still find my 18-55 and 70-300 my most used lenses, though I'm looking to upgrade the 18-55 to something faster. I have an FA 50 f/1.4 that I use when shooting low light and there's enough space, and need the speed that AF provides for me. Otherwise, I use my A 50 f/1.7 as it's a bit sharper. When two lenses aren't appropriate, and I need a bit more length than the 18-55 provides me, I use my 28-105 f/2.8-4. I just picked up a manual 135mm f/2.8 lens, mainly for the bokeh that combination of focal length and aperture produces. And I have a manual 35-70 f/28-4 that I very rarely use.

Bottom line is though, since most of my shooting is just of everyday family life, I could do away with all of them except the "kit" lenses and still get 98% of the shots I do now. And with a little work, I could probably make that 99.99%. All of the other lenses are just ones I wanted.
12-02-2009, 03:20 PM   #6
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*ARE better (sharper, contrasty, better resistant to unwanted optical effects - haze, flare)
*faster ( i'll have one 18-250/F1.4 please )
*smaller (often, 50/1.7 and 28/2.8 SMC M's are near pancakes)
*better build and operation (AF, often)
*simple and robust - less likely to out date (hammer was hammer 100yrs ago) or brake
12-02-2009, 03:25 PM   #7
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It starts with a question... one like yours. Then, out of curiosity, you buy and/or try a good prime. You see the difference... You fall in love with optical IQ. You want better, and... there's no return. It will happen! (Unless you resist the first temptation, which alone can answer your question--because no answer from someone else would satisfy you.)
The discovery of the fun you have shooting primes is a redoubtable reinforcer of the primal sin.

12-02-2009, 03:33 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Optical Illusion Quote
I just worry that getting primes then in the range would be a waste of money... Any comment on my quality question? Are primes always better?
I know of no prime in the range between 18mm and 300mm that is *not* better than those two zooms in particular, but the differences in quality would not be enough to make a prime worth it for most people. The difference in size *might*, but that's kind of a personal decision. The thing that makes a prime a *significant* improvement over those zooms is "speed" - meaning maximum aperture. Shooting in low light with those two zooms won't be fun - you'll have shutter speeds too slow to stop blur unless you always go to ISO 6400 or 12800, and that's going to get old. Primes would let you shoot in low light at lower ISO. They would also allow you to experiment with the shallow DOF you get at large maximum apertures. Thy are also usually easier to focus manually, and often focus faster with AF. *Those* are the advantages of primes. Buit that doesn't mean you are wasting your money on the zooms - most people use a prime or two to supplement their zooms, not replace them. Use the zooms for their convenience most of the time; use the primes for their advantages when necessary.
12-02-2009, 04:28 PM   #9
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Great information. Thanks for all the replies. Since I plan to never buy a prime over 200mm (like 300mm) due to size and cost, then maybe I should not pass up the chance to get the 55-300 at the kit price...

Since it's pretty clear that the consensus is that the primes are better in general, but the main advantage is speed, it clouds the story for me since I'm under the impression that I will not generally need fast lenses with a K-x (due to good high ISO performance). So... I think I see good reasons for either decision.

I can afford an $80 prime once and a while, but I could not justify $500 for any lens at this point - so the economics are certainly part of it. Thanks again.
12-02-2009, 07:16 PM   #10
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Get the 55-300! I had a few longer primes, sold them all and got an FA-J 75-300. That is all I need for a long lens.
12-02-2009, 07:44 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nick Siebers Quote
Get the 55-300!
I really agree with that--it's a nice lens and very handy. Unless you're my age, you have plenty of time to treat your self to a nice prime. And remember you can get some very nice ones very reasonably if you're willing to manual focus.
12-02-2009, 07:49 PM   #12
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With lenses, it is often a matter of what you are willing to pay for. The kit lens may give you 90 percent of the performance at 35mm as the DA 35 limited. The question is, are you willing to pay extra for that last 10 percent of performance. The other question is what you generally shoot. Some things require a faster lens, a lens that can focus closer; however if you can stop down a little, most lenses sharpen up quite nicely.

That said, I think the 55-300 is a really good value and will serve you well. The kit lens is no slouch either, although I would recommend considering a move up to the DA 16-45 f4 at some point. It's just a really nice lens and one that can be had quite cheaply on the used market.
12-02-2009, 07:49 PM   #13
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I agree with the others when they say you should get the 55-300. Especially if the kit gives you the chance to get it at a great price. Good lens, really very versatile for what it is.

Maybe I'm biased, I got the 55-300 first, now I am starting to get primes. My 55-300 certainly isn't superseded though
12-02-2009, 07:57 PM   #14
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Overlapping focal lengths doesn't automatically render one lens redundant.
The two overlapping lenses can be used for different applications. If you can justify this, you have a good enough reason to get lenses with overlapping focal lengths.

Oh, and +1 on getting a 55-300 - value for money +++
12-02-2009, 08:18 PM   #15
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Yeah, if they're a good deal, the kit lenses are a decent kit. That's why they're called 'kit' lenses.

They really just aren't going to be in the same league as primes, or better zooms, but they aren't bad to have. (And Pentax's 18-55 is actually pretty spiffy as kit lenses go. ) If the money makes sense to you, you can have those, and then spend on nicer things for what you really want to do best. Unless, really, you're wealthy or flush enough to just skip em and get better. No shame in that.

But, yeah, nearly any Pentax 50 will abso-smurfly blow a kit zoom out of the water, if you are given to naval combat metaphors.

The *nice* things about zooms is, they cover bases, at least in bright light. On a moderate budget, they can enable you to kind of forget about the extremes and get quality where you really really want it.

Last edited by Ratmagiclady; 12-02-2009 at 08:27 PM.

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