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12-05-2008, 01:28 PM   #1
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A Christmas Kit! What to get??

So for christmas I think I can get something like $500 in equipment from my family and I'd like to know what people think would be a good addition to what I already have.

My current set-up: K10d with 18-55mm 3.5-5.6
A few older Pentax Manual lenses: 28mm 2.8, 55mm 1.4, 70-210mm 4.0
Some studio gear: White backdrop, 2-strobe kit with wireless trigger
I also have a 49mm polarizer that fits the 28mm and 55mm.

What I want from the new equipment: I'm pretty much just using it for myself to take 'art' photography of my life. I make prints for myself and my family. I've done a little freelance work, but I wouldn't say its my main motivation. I'm also shooting a friend's wedding in July, so thats something I should consider.

Basically I'm slightly torn between getting an ultra-versatile lens like the 18-250mm Auto, or upgrading my old 55mm to the newer SMCP-FA 50mm 1.4 which I've seen get outstanding reviews. Does anyone know how it compares to a 55mm 1.4 made probably 40 years ago?

I've also been having problems with my auto-focus being slightly off for my 18-55mm. I'm not sure it its the camera or the lens, but if its the camera, then I certainly would need to correct that before putting a 1.4 auto on there.

But back to the main discussion, am I going to be irritated to all hell by using the 18-250? The range is amazing, but 6.3 on the high end... I shutter to use my 18-55 right now because its so slow, and I clearly can't afford a fast Zoom.

As for other things, I'm not too familiar with good accessories for photographers that really let them take a better photo. Filters, for instance. Are there filters out there that can dramatically alter things that I should be looking at? I've also been wondering about a wireless shutter-trigger, any recommendations?

Finally, if anyone knows of any must-have piece of Pentax gear, let me know!

-Matt

12-05-2008, 03:55 PM   #2
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All of it! Seriously, you know better than we what you need. Take for example the 18-55. Do you find yourself wishing it was wider? Or longer? Do you need better low light performance? This will tell you what lens you need next. If you need wider, Sigma has its 10-20mm zoom for $479, just be careful of distortion. For more range there is Sigma's 17-70 for $339. For more length Sigma has a 50-200mm for only $149. These are just a few examples. There are other lens makers to look at also. Good luck on your choices.
12-05-2008, 05:53 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by nomadseifer Quote
But back to the main discussion, am I going to be irritated to all hell by using the 18-250? The range is amazing, but 6.3 on the high end... I shutter to use my 18-55 right now because its so slow, and I clearly can't afford a fast Zoom.

-Matt
Because we're all "wired" differently, buying a lens is a personal decision that won't translate linearly to someone else. All I can tell you is my experience. I got a DA 18-250 about a year ago, and - at first - I extolled its virtues (on this forum) -primarily, as you say, owing to its versatility. However, I find myself using it less and less and -when I need zooms vs. primes - reverting to the lens combination I started with when I entered the digital world 3 years ago: DA 16-45 and DA 50-200. As you say, the 18-250 is slow, and when extended to its full FL, I almost always have to shoot wide open (without tripod), and my copy (I can't speak for other examples) produces pretty soft stuff under those conditions. Don't get me wrong - I still use it - it's great as a snap shot lens. On a limited budget, however, it would way down on my list.

Jer

Last edited by Sailor; 12-05-2008 at 05:56 PM. Reason: After 62 years, I still can't spell 'em right the first time.
12-06-2008, 03:05 PM   #4
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If you want to upgrade your kit lens, then the DA16-45/4 is a good choice. At Adorama, you can get it for less than $300 now brand new. With $500, you could get both it and the 50-1.4 with a little cash left over.

If a constant f4 isn't fast enough for you, then there's the Tamron 28-75/2.8 that's highly regarded around here. Depending on how wide you like to shoot, you may not find it wide enough, however. If you want constant 2.8, but need wider, then you can pick up the Tamron 17-50/2.8 for less than $500.

Another option would be an upgrade (at least to me) from the 50/1.4 to the FA43/1.9 Ltd. Right now, it's the favorite lens in my bag. The FL is great for walk-around shooting and the IQ is fabulous.

If you want to get something longer, go for the DA55-300, as it definitely has the upper hand in IQ over the 18-250. I just checked Adorama and they have it for $299.95, shipped, which will leave you enough for that 50/1.4.

Anyway, those are just a few ways you can go with this.

HTH,
Heather

12-06-2008, 11:44 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies!

And pardon my ignorance, but what does 'IQ' mean in this sense?
12-07-2008, 12:07 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by nomadseifer Quote
Thanks for the replies!

And pardon my ignorance, but what does 'IQ' mean in this sense?
IQ means image quality. Have you checked that your camera is focusing correctly, you really need a tripod to be sure that it's the camera and not you. Try manually focussing as well.
You haven't said what kind of pictures you mostly take, it would be a good idea to think about that before choosing a lens. No point having an 18-250 if you don't use the full range.
If I was in your position I would probably buy the FA50 1.4 and FA35 2 because they are such good lenses, reasonably priced and because they are FF you shouldn't have to worry to much about softness at the edges regardless of what aperture you are using.
It does all depend on what focal lengths you want/need.
12-07-2008, 12:45 AM   #7
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I just tested it right now and it hit dead-on what my eye could do at a couple of distances... maybe blame the failed test on the weather?
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