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01-27-2010, 04:37 PM   #1
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Getting back into photography, advice desired

Not a newbie to photography or SLR's but my last non-point and shoot camera was a Canon AE-1. My kit consisted of a 50mm/1.8, a 28mm, something like a 70-125 zoom, and a 300, it was a while back. I want to get back into the hobby and have been doing my homework. I'm thinking of a K-x, the DA 55-300, and a Sigma 10-20.

Looks like I can actually get the camera body cheaper with the 18-55mm AL than I can without, so that seem a no-brainer, but would an move-up to the DA 18-55 AL II be worth it? I never had what in my mind (I still think in 35mm film terms) is about a 28-80mm zoom in my old camera bag so I'm not real sure how often I'd be reaching for it. I'll be shooting wildlife and scenery predominately but want to be able to "play" some with my new toys... I think you all know what I mean.

On the other hand, my 50mm got used all the time. It was relatively fast, fun to play with DOF-wise, and was really the only thing I could use in lower light levels. With the ability now to dial ISO to levels that didn't even exist last time I was doing this, (and yes I understand the limitations, but still...) do I still need a fast lens? Would I be better off getting another 50, vice the upgrade to the 18-55? If so, which one?

Long rambling post, sorry, would be grateful for any comments on my logic, assumptions, and questions.

01-27-2010, 05:49 PM   #2
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Welcome.

Personally I don't think paying extra for the AL II would give you much improvement, if you were going to upgrade the kit in that focal range, you would be better off trying to find one of the remaining 16-45's. Another good choice would be Sigma 24-60 f/2.8, you won't find a new one I don't think but used ones go for a reasonable price and it's a great lens IMO.

Here's a link to the 10-20 club - https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/84539-sigma-10-20mm-club.html If money is a concern, try and find the older version (the f/4 - 5.6), that is the one that most people have experience with.

I'm sure others will offer other suggestions like the Pentax 12-24 but I'm just speaking from my own experience (I have the Sigma 10-20 and 24-60).

Yes it is worth having a fast lens still, higher ISO's won't give you shallower depth of field.
01-27-2010, 09:14 PM   #3
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Lenses for your new kit

I don't have any experience with any of the ultra wide zooms. In fact as a rule, I don't like zooms though I have and use a few. There's always some part of them that suffers somewhat. That said, the 18-55 isn't a bad lens and if you can add it for next to nothing (I think with the Kx kits, they are dirt cheap) I'd say go for it. Learn to use the camera while you shop for your 10-20.

As for the fast 50, nice but getting pretty pricey. I think you have a handle on the cropped field of view so I won't elaborate much but do keep in mind that the 50 on your APS-C won't be as useful as the one on your Canon of days gone by. Instead, you might want to seek out a 30-35mm lens. I think Sigma makes (or made) a 30mm f1.4 that seemed pretty respectable. I just got an FA35 f2 that completely rocks and if you can find one, I'd highly recommend it. Of course, if you really want the ultimate in that range, the FA31mm Limited. My carry around on the camera everyday prime lens is the DA35mm Limited.

There are of course the Manual options as well. If you want to stay in the 50mm range and don't want to break the bank, The Pentax A 50mm f1.7 is a very hard act to beat (so is the f1.4).
01-27-2010, 10:07 PM   #4
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A fast 50 is still nice, although on an APS-c body it gives a different field-of-view and therefore serves a different purpose (slightly more tele). If you want the same field-of-view, you must look at something in the 30-35mm range. However those are either not that fast (e.g. DA35/2.8) or very expensive (e.g. FA31/1.8).
Possible alternative is the Sigma 28mm/1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro that gets some positive reviews (the only negative one that I found was that it did not work at all on a Canon body).

I suggest that you leave the fast lens for a while and see how you go with the rest. If you find that you're limited in low light, you can either opt for a fast lens or for a decent flash or both, depending on your needs.

PS One of the nice things in digital is that you can change the ISO on the fly, so you're not stuck with the film that is in your camera at that moment.


Last edited by sterretje; 01-27-2010 at 10:12 PM. Reason: Added PS
01-27-2010, 11:01 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Virago Quote
...Looks like I can actually get the camera body cheaper with the 18-55mm AL than I can without, so that seem a no-brainer, but would an move-up to the DA 18-55 AL II be worth it? I never had what in my mind (I still think in 35mm film terms) is about a 28-80mm zoom in my old camera bag so I'm not real sure how often I'd be reaching for it. I'll be shooting wildlife and scenery predominately but want to be able to "play" some with my new toys... I think you all know what I mean.
I think you might be a victim of Pentax's confusing names for their kit lenses. There are three optically identical DA 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 lenses and one old version that hasn't been around for a couple of years. The K-x kit lens is the DA-L version, with a plastic mount, no quick-shift focus and no hood, but the same glass as the DA II. There's also a weather resistant version sold with the K-7.

The kit lens is typically a very cheap way to get wide angle, but if you're getting the Sigma 10-20, that's a lot wider. I still use mine for one purpose that it does better than any other of my lenses: photos of lenses I'm selling.
01-28-2010, 07:23 AM   #6
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I knew I 'd get some good feedback here, thanks folks.
The suggestions are good ones with costs a little higher than I want to go, the price of the Sigma 10-20 (f4-5.6, $479 on Amazon) is already making me wince but I really like the added capabilities it brings.

Good point on the 50mm film equivalent being in the 35mm range here, as I think about it though, I think the tight DOF capabilities of a fast lens is why I used to use my 50 that much (and of course the light gathering). Any of the older 50's would work, right? Are there any significant pros/cons I should be aware of? I’ll certainly try out whatever 18-55 I end up with first to see if it’s f3.5 will fill my tight DOF needs, I just doubt it.

As for the different Pentax 18-55’s out there, yes it’s a little confusing but I think I have it straight. I see a lot of the DA-L’s that typically come with the K-x for sale as used items, seems folks are trading up. In addition the reviews on this website give me reason to think the AL II has a few nice to have features and better construction. How much better? worth $120? I don’t know.
01-28-2010, 08:53 AM   #7
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FWIW here's what i'd do.

Firstly i'd try to buy everything used off this marketplace if possible, use 70 to 75%of the lowest new cost as a guide.

Grab the kit lens with the Kx but do whatever you can not to get the DAL version, get the proper version, the old Mark I is fine, i am yet to see anyone show me any evidence at all that the Mark II is any better.

It is hands down the best value lens in the mount, plenty sharp at f/8. focuses closely, quick shift and well built .... bargain. It also helps re-sale greatly if you have the kit lens.

Grab the DA (not DAL) off the market place here for around $300. Same for the 10-20 at well under $400.

Use the kit lens at 50mm for a while to see wha you think of the FOV, I just never got used to it and sold my 50 to buy the 35/2 before the price went nuts.
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