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03-07-2010, 01:05 PM   #1
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New to this and need some lens advice

Hey, I'm ordering my first DSLR today (K-7) and I will be looking to get some lenses to go with it.

I'm going to shoot mostly portraits and closer scenes to start with and I'd really like to get into macro as well.

Now, I'm not made of money as I'm going for the K7 instead of Kx or cheaper Nikon or Canon. I'm attracted to the build quality and weather resistance features (as well as it being a great camera )

The lens part is where I need some quick advice, I've got a budget but I want to get 1 or 2 lenses to get me started but also have them good enough to take some quality photos.

I've been looking at these:

Pentax A or Asahi f1.7 50mm prime (I see em all over the place for a good price and everyone has told me a 50 prime is mandatory kit)
Pentax SMC M 75-150mm F4 (looks like a sweet zoom)

I can find these around a few places for less than a hundred each. The manual thing is a plus, it will force me to learn photography properly

Comments? Anything else I should get instead?

03-07-2010, 01:15 PM   #2
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If you're looking to get in to macro, the newly released DA F 100 might be an idea? It could feasibly be used for portraits (maybe a touch long on a cropped sensor though?).

I would also argue that having older M lenses isn't going to help you 'learn' photography. Any lens, with the CAMERA set to manual, will help you learn quicker. I started off with the DA 16-45 and I came on leaps and bounds with the camera on manual. That said, I do like my old glass, but don't assume its a tool to help you learn.
03-07-2010, 01:28 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ouroboros Quote
Hey, I'm ordering my first DSLR today (K-7) and I will be looking to get some lenses to go with it.

I'm going to shoot mostly portraits and closer scenes to start with and I'd really like to get into macro as well.

Now, I'm not made of money as I'm going for the K7 instead of Kx or cheaper Nikon or Canon. I'm attracted to the build quality and weather resistance features (as well as it being a great camera )

The lens part is where I need some quick advice, I've got a budget but I want to get 1 or 2 lenses to get me started but also have them good enough to take some quality photos.

I've been looking at these:

Pentax A or Asahi f1.7 50mm prime (I see em all over the place for a good price and everyone has told me a 50 prime is mandatory kit)
Pentax SMC M 75-150mm F4 (looks like a sweet zoom)

I can find these around a few places for less than a hundred each. The manual thing is a plus, it will force me to learn photography properly

Comments? Anything else I should get instead?
Welcome to the club!! Can't speak for the zoom but the A50 f1.7 is a very nice lens. It'll make a decent short portrait lens and is good for gatherings in a larger room. In Small spaces however, 50mm is a little long. Once you set the lens on A (Auto), the only thing it's going to force you to learn is how to manually focus. As mentioned, any lens can do that but the 50f1.7 is a joy to use (IMO). As is the A50 f1.4 (and A50 f1.2 ).

A 90 - 105 mm macro lens also makes a fantastic long portrait lens. I don't know if you want to go for the DFA100mm WR at this point, it's an $800 lens. If you have it and don't mind spending it by all means have at it. Instead I'd suggest for macro, one of the offerings from Tamron (90) or Sigma (105). Both can be had for under $400.

03-07-2010, 01:45 PM   #4
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If your leaning towards macro photography then in my opinion I would kinda skip the 50mm F1.7 and go all out for a macro version of a 50mm lens as they can double as a portrait lens as well. Since the main reason for a 50mm prime lens from what I read is that it makes an excellent portrait lens. In addition the macro lens can focus closer compared to a non macro version I believe.

I can't comment on either of the lenses in terms of image quality but I would hazard to guess that they aren't going to be terrible.

As for manual being a better way to learn perhaps you are right about that but any lens can be used as a manual lens even the newer ones plus you have the added ability to go automatic if you get lazy or in a hurry for a shot.

03-07-2010, 02:57 PM   #5
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over river, through woods

Long ago and far away, when 35mm full-frame (35/FF) shooters used Plus-X and Tri-X and Kodachrome, before zooms and autofocus, those wanting to cover a range of situations might fill their bags with certain lenses. These can be approximated on contemporary APS-C cameras, with a 1.5 crop factor, like this:

35/FF APS-C usage
------- ------- --------
24mm 15-18 (very wide)
35mm 21-24 (somewhat wide)
50-55 35mm (longish normal)
90-105 70mm (slight tele portrait)
135mm 90mm (longer tele portrait)

In either format, shorter macro lenses (28-50mm) are good for studio work, while longer (90-105mm) are better in the field.

Some of those 35/FF focal lengths are expensive to approximate now, but many GOOD old reasonably fast manual lenses can be had for VERY decent prices. More on that below. Anyway, a good working kit that won't require robbing convenience stores might include:

21/3.5 (stopped down to f/5.6, it's great for daylight street scenes) OR
24/2.8 (somewhat wide) OR
28/2.8 (slightly wide 'normal')
35/2.8 (slightly long 'normal')
50/1.8 (or faster -- great short portrait and low-light lens) OR
58/2.0 (the Russian Helios-44 is another great portrait lens)
100/2.8 (macro version - long portrait, moderate tele) AND MAYBE
135/2.8 (reach out and grab someone)

Some of these are easily found in PK (Pentax bayonet) mounts, some in M42 screwmounts requiring adapters (and search these forums for the adapter arguments). Some Pentax glass is plentiful and not too costly, but some prices have spiked lately. Other (usually) good quality glass might be badged as Vivitar (sometimes iffy, sometimes great), Mamiya-Sekor (most often very good), Ricoh (but watch out for the infamous pin -- ask here before buying), Sears (made by Mamiya or Ricoh). And then there are the Russians -- except for Helios and Jupitar, ask here first. And read this: Pentax Lens Review and Specification Database - Main Index and this: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-lens-articles/59245-pawnshop-lense...ers-guide.html

Good cheap glass? See this thread: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/50524-why-no-l...iya-sekor.html where (at the end) I note that, in the last 24 hours, a 'minty' 55/1.4 sold on eBay for US$51, and a couple of 50/2's did (and didn't) sell for around $10. TEN BUCKS!! I should also mention that you can buy cheap extension tubes for macro work, where fast lenses are irrelevant and a sturdy tripod is essential.

I won't try to tell you which lenses to buy. I'll just point out some types that many shooters have found most useful. Faster lenses give you more leeway in setting exposures. Slower lenses are often quite sharp. Kodachrome didn't have a lot of exposure latitude, nor did it forgive softness, so lenses of the 40s-70s were often crisp and clear. Before spending money, read everything you can on lens usage, and read the lens reviews. Have fun!
03-07-2010, 03:04 PM   #6
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For your portraits and "closer"..macro? just need one lens to start 50 and it doesn't need to be the WR version either.
03-07-2010, 07:47 PM   #7
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I don't think a 50 is mandatory. On a $350-$500 budget, I think a DA70 is far better for portraits, and a DA40 far better for general duties. I think you're better off getting 1 quality lens than 2 ones that may not be ideally suited. I guess it depends on what/who you're taking portraits of, for candids, kids and pets then AF is pretty handy to have, posed adult photos are where the older 50s shine.
03-08-2010, 10:57 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ouroboros Quote
Pentax A or Asahi f1.7 50mm prime (I see em all over the place for a good price and everyone has told me a 50 prime is mandatory kit)
It was on film, and before the advent of high quality zoom lenses. Now I'd say it's still a very good lens, but hardly mandatory. My advice is to get some experience first to see what focal lengths attract you, and then buy lenses as appropriate. 50mm is not high on my personal list for APS-C.

I didn't if you said you were getting "kit" lens (eg, 18-55) with the camera. If not, that's the first thing I'd pick up. You need something to give you a sense of what the different focal lengths are. If you're really thinking of getting the lenses you mention *instead* of something more generally useful, I'd *strongly* urge against this - or at least, to *also* get something in the "normal" range for APS-C, instead of two telephotos as you have proposed. That is, something in the 30-40mm range. There's a reason the camera is typically sol with an 18-55 - it's a greta way for people who don't already know exactly what focal lengths they want to gain experience.

QuoteQuote:
Pentax SMC M 75-150mm F4 (looks like a sweet zoom)
I guess, although it's a fairly slow and completely manual focus zoom for which SR can't determine focal length, so you won't get maximum effectiveness unless you constantly go into the menu to change it. There are modern zooms that should be more useful for not much more money - Tamron 70-300, etc.

03-08-2010, 01:11 PM   #9
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If you've ordered the K7 for the weather resistance then a good choice might be to get the wide-to-mid WR kit lens (DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6AL WR)... it will complement the K7's durability... give you the 50mm (and the 50mm equiv for the smaller sensor... i.e. 30-35mm... due to the crop factor) ... and will let you determine your preferred focal lengths in the wide to mid range...

For macro + portraits... the tamron 90mm 2.8 is a great deal... and a very good performer for its price.

Manual focus can be fun to play with... but from my experience (I picked a 50mm 1.7 pretty cheap to play with) you may wear yourself out quite quickly if that is the only option on the lens... and you can always set an AF lens to manual to 'challenge yourself'...
03-08-2010, 06:38 PM   #10
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I disagree with your approach. If you really want weather-sealed, I'd suggest maybe a refurb or used k10 or k200, for perhaps $300-$350, leaving money for a couple of good current-generation zooms.

The 50mm thing is a complete mystery to me unless you're doing a very specific kind of photography. I rarely used my 50mm f1.4 SMC Takumar or Canon FD during the film era, although they were both excellent lenses, and have little desire to have one now. The conversion factor might make a 50mm more useful (for portraits), but what you gain there you lose to the annoyance of manual features. There is absolutely zero benefit to manual lenses vs. automatic.

Paul
03-08-2010, 07:09 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
There is absolutely zero benefit to manual lenses vs. automatic.
Benefit 1: Money.
Benefit 2: Learning patience.
Benefit 3: Money.
Benefit 4: Learning judgment.
Benefit 5: Money.
Benefit 6: Greater variety.
Benefit 7: Money.
Benefit 8: Fewer repairs.
Benefit 9: Money.

Although it wasn't my first nor best camera, I *REALLY* learned photography with a German-made 1934 Kodak Retina I, the first 135 camera, a folder with a 50/3.5 Schneider lens. (Very much like a two-decade newer Voigtlander Vito II that I now use.) No automation, no metering, no rangefinder. I used a light meter, sure, but then I learned to judge light, exposure, distance, DOF, until changing the settings became automatic. Not a chip -- *I* was the camera's brain.

That was how Cartier-Bresson, Kertesz, Capra, Eisenstaedt worked. I am nowhere in their league, but I value that approach. Wiith dSLRs we shoot faster. Do we shoot better?
03-08-2010, 10:12 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
Benefit 1: Money.
Benefit 2: Learning patience.
Benefit 3: Money.
Benefit 4: Learning judgment.
Benefit 5: Money.
Benefit 6: Greater variety.
Benefit 7: Money.
Benefit 8: Fewer repairs.
Benefit 9: Money.

Although it wasn't my first nor best camera, I *REALLY* learned photography with a German-made 1934 Kodak Retina I, the first 135 camera, a folder with a 50/3.5 Schneider lens. (Very much like a two-decade newer Voigtlander Vito II that I now use.) No automation, no metering, no rangefinder. I used a light meter, sure, but then I learned to judge light, exposure, distance, DOF, until changing the settings became automatic. Not a chip -- *I* was the camera's brain.

That was how Cartier-Bresson, Kertesz, Capra, Eisenstaedt worked. I am nowhere in their league, but I value that approach. Wiith dSLRs we shoot faster. Do we shoot better?
My overall point was that in terms of money (and the OP did say there was a money constraint), I felt it would be better to have a relatively inexpensive K10 for a first dslr than to invest so much in one single component (a K7.) That would leave more money for lenses.

I didn't specify what I meant by "manual", but IMO features like automatic aperture and wide-open metering - if for no reason other than the time they save - can help most of us take pictures that we otherwise couldn't, no matter how much experience we have or practicing we do. I too once used a camera with no rangefinder, but what value does guessing distances have when we now have tools to do that more precisely than any person can? And how can we know that the vast majority of those photographers you mentioned wouldn't have used more automation if it had been available when they were first learning photography? I doubt they would have been worse photographers for using it. I do think that some of them may have been influenced by the speed of the automation of their day. For example, they might have correctly felt that taking out an exposure meter, making a reading, and then transferring it to the camera, was such a slow process that they could have made their own settings, taken the picture, and moved on. But that may not apply to the technology of today.

As a practical matter, given Pentax sensor sizes, there are just not a lot of inexpensive manual wide-angle lenses floating around. So I'm not sure the greater variety argument has merit. I don't know what it would cost today, but I'm not sure that my 17/3.5 screw mount Vivitar would outperform an 18-55mm kit lens at 18mm, except maybe for some brighter corners. I think my 17/4 FDSC might, but move up a little to a 16-45mm and again I'm not sure. And when you look at telephoto lenses, really good manual glass is often still priced pretty close to newer automatic glass, perhaps partly because it's often used wide open.

The repair issue goes both ways. Yes, some of the HSM lenses in particular are pretty complicated. But, an old manual lens that's been through a long life can have issues too. Maybe some people can do maintenance work on those old lenses themselves, but probably not everyone can or wants to.

Paul
03-08-2010, 11:16 PM   #13
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I am going to suggest a little bit different solution,

IF portrait is your no#1 priority I suggest DA 70mm Limited,
and Raynox 250 for macro.
You will not have a true macro solution, much? lower depth of field,
but will get suprisingly satisfiying result.

Here, have a look at these and you decide -- all with Da70+Raynox 250
Alper Alaca Photography : Photo Keywords : raynox dcr250- powered by SmugMug

note: you will need 49mm-->52mm step up filter ring.
03-09-2010, 12:25 AM   #14
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Original Poster
.

Thanks for the advice everyone, some of you have mentioned the cost of the K7 and it being my first camera might not be the best choice, I know what you're saying and buying an older camera was something I considered. What I didn't mention was that I work in a store that has a supply contract with Pentax and I can scoop this up for cost price with no retail markup, saves me a few bucks right there and I can get a 5 year warranty for only (what works out to) $100US with my store that will cover me for wear and tear as well as the usual manufacturers guarantee. I think it's worth it and I've already put in the order.

As for the lens advice, I'm taking notes and working out a budget to suit my needs. I know this next question will probably start another argument but should I spring for a dedicated macro lens or should I start off with a set of macro tubes? And if tubes, what lens is best to put on the end of them? I don't mind getting up close to the subject, but being able to get a good shot from a few feet away would be handy as well.

Last edited by Ouroboros; 03-09-2010 at 12:46 AM. Reason: More info
03-09-2010, 07:33 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ouroboros Quote
I know what you're saying and buying an older camera was something I considered. What I didn't mention was that I work in a store that has a supply contract with Pentax and I can scoop this up for cost price with no retail markup,
When choosing my first dSLR (a K20D) I first decided what lenses I needed to do the shooting I wanted, then picked the best body, with a major criterion: Will I Be Happy With It For Some Years? I wanted the most capable platform I could afford, one that wouldn't call for upgrading soon. That you can get the best current body at wholesale is GREAT!

QuoteQuote:
...should I spring for a dedicated macro lens or should I start off with a set of macro tubes? And if tubes, what lens is best to put on the end of them? I don't mind getting up close to the subject, but being able to get a good shot from a few feet away would be handy as well.
You seem to prefer field rather than studio macro work. In the studio, manual everything is great, and I'll put old M42 or enlarger lenses (long or short) on tubes or bellows. In the field, a bit of automation may be called for, especially when using a ringflash (which is VERY handy!) with a longer lens. Without flash, I'll use a heavy old M42 Vivitar 90/2.8 macro (US$3 on eBay) -- it goes to 1:1.

A good fast new AF macro lens, around 100-105mm, is a general-purpose tool, and quite flexible. You'll probably be happy with its all-around results: macro, long portrait, medium tele, all with good IQ. If you want to travel light, this is the way. And check KEH for used ones.

If you need more magnification, you can add something like a Raynox DCR-250 (very popular and respected here). I don't have an auto 100mm lens, so I use the Raynox on an old lightweight FA 100-300 (WD / working distance: 5"; magnification is maybe 1:1 to 3:1) -- with a ringflash.

From what I've seen, auto-tubes aren't cheap, and neither are auto-Telextenders / TeleConverters. Some people knock the glass out of cheap TC's to use as auto-tubes, but such extension really only works on short lenses. (Longer lenses need longer tubes for the same enlargement.) And tubes mean getting close. How close? I just put a 35mm lens on a 36mm tube for 1:1; WD was 2 inches. With 68mm of tube for 2:1, WD was under 1 inch.

There are many ways to do macro, and everyone has their own preferences. Be wary of anyone's opinions, especially mine!
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