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01-16-2011, 07:09 PM   #1
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What's a good, cheap lens for indoor, low light situations?

Took my K-x to my friend's party last night and shot a few pictures. I mostly used my 50mm. I tried the kit 18-55mm lens for a few shots and they just didn't come out good. What would be a good lens for these situations? Also, how did you guys get good at manual focusing? It seems like I always get out of focus blurry shots. Maybe I just need to get used to focusing?

01-16-2011, 07:29 PM   #2
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Manual focusing is a skill you continually develop. There are circumstances that despite your best attempts, it's going to be hard to get sharp images in low-light or moving-subject conditions. Trap focus is one method you can use, but is not always reliable.

Otherwise you may be after an autofocus fast fifty, like an FA 50/1.7
01-16-2011, 07:38 PM   #3
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Yeah, kx is hard to do manual focus both in viewfinder and lcd screen. The viewfinder is not as large as k7. If DOF is thin, really hard to adjust focus in the kx viewfinder. And if I want do manual focus in lcd screen. again the kx screen is low spec now. 2.7in with 230k can not compare to new 3.0in 960k.
01-17-2011, 12:32 PM   #4
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A Marexar 28mm f2.8 and a chinon 50mm f1.9 have been working great for me on my k-x. First manual lenses, but I'm really starting to like them. They take good pictures, manual shooting is a fun challenge, and lenses like this can be found pretty cheap.

01-17-2011, 10:04 PM   #5
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If you want wide aperture and cheap, gotta go fifty

The "nifty fifties" are about as good as it gets on the cheap; thank heavens they cranked out skatillions of them to hang on the front of 35mm cameras, so that we can afford such excellent glass!

As for focusing, I hear you, brother. DSLRs don't have the bright finders and focus aids that we used to take daguerrotypes of Stegosaurs back in the day, but it can be done -- with care. One technique I use is to defocus, then deliberately go past the sharp-focus point and bracket in from there. Your brain and fingers learn to split the difference and find the point in between; much faster than slowly cranking until it's sharpest. And since your DOF will be minimal, select a focus point and optimize that, don't try to get the whole scene in focus.

I have to say that my reject rates are higher with manual focus, but the extra stops let me get images where I'd otherwise be dimmed out. I'm planning to get a Katzeye screen for my K-7 as soon as I scrape up a couple more bucks. You might consider that route for the K-x -- the company says that it's "not that involved" to change the screen, even though Pentax doesn't advertise it as interchangeable.

Last edited by fewayne; 01-17-2011 at 10:12 PM.
01-17-2011, 10:16 PM   #6
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the DA 35mm f/2.4 comes to mind.

cheaper then that which autofocuses as well would be the Canon and Nikon 50mm f/1.8 just that not easy to use due to it being almost 80mm on a crop sensor.
01-17-2011, 11:32 PM   #7
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cheap n low light doesn't go together haha.

50mm is too long indoor on a crop sensor, I would go for something in the 28mm or 35mm... 28mm is good enough for me, fits about 4-5 people in the shot indoor with me just a few feet away.

cheap? probably not, pentax prime are up there in price among some of the more expensive lens brand.

01-17-2011, 11:43 PM   #8
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Da35 2.4?
01-17-2011, 11:53 PM   #9
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second the motion
DA 35mm f/2.4

wud want to have one myself
01-17-2011, 11:56 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by shiner Quote
Da35 2.4?
The new lens Pentax just introduced along with K-5 . Not bad at $220 Pentax 21987 DA 35mm f/2.4 AL Lens for Pentax Digital SLR cameras: Camera & Photo
01-18-2011, 05:28 AM   #11
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Vivitar 24mm f2.8 manual using Catch-in-Focus. $70. ISO 12,800 with the Kx.
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01-18-2011, 06:24 AM   #12
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50mm is fine for those of us who like tight framing. I am one of those people and even use 85mm at the dinner table on occasion ( it is a big table).

Manual focus using the camera's beep and green hexagon works well after a little practice; I typically overshoot the beep then ease back and shoot on the re-beep. I've also had good success with an ebay split prism focusing screen but haven't bothered to put one in my K-x yet.

Regarding inexpensive fast lenses, the Pentax manual focus 50's are all pretty good, but I recommend paying extra for an A type because all your camera's automatic exposure and flash features will work properly.

For a good inexpensive autofocus lens look for the old Pentax F 50:1.7.

Note that just because a lens is fast doesn't mean it is good wide open.... it does you no good to buy an f:1.4 lens that must be stopped down to f:4 to get a sharp photo.

I think that with the good ISO of newer cameras, f:2 may be fast enough for most social circumstances.


PS lists a few A type 50's at f:2 or faster for less than $100. Do not fear their BGN grade....they are perfectly adequate optically and esthetically. I'd buy either the A 50 f:1.4 for $99 or one of the A 50 f:2's for $46.

Last edited by newarts; 01-18-2011 at 06:37 AM.
01-18-2011, 09:15 AM   #13
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What 50 were you using?

Some 50's look better than others wide open, and the ones that don't look great wide open are hard to focus without a prism.

I nail focus a LOT more with my 55 f1.8 than my 50 1.7, because it is sharper wide open. The 50 1.7 is killer sharp at f2, but I can't focus there easily.

I also would suggest shooting a few as you move the focus point very slightly, to increase the chance you get one.
01-18-2011, 09:31 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by redeleon Quote
second the motion
DA 35mm f/2.4

wud want to have one myself
Yep. Unless you want to deal with manual focus, this is your least expensive, fairly quick option.

I would expect that either wide open, or at F2.8, you'd have sufficient depth of field for a good number of keepers, and the high ISO performance of the K-x should be able to make that work.
01-18-2011, 09:32 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote

Some 50's look better than others wide open, and the ones that don't look great wide open are hard to focus without a prism.
That's a point worth emphasizing; after all , the reason for buying a fast lens is to use it open!

Further, the focus detecting mechanism for both the camera and split prism rely on a small f-number and a sharp image (image brightness isn't as critical). Therefore choose a lens that's sharp wide open as it'll aid in focusing.


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