Lens(es) advice/recommendations please.


DaveR

Link Posted 18/06/2007 - 13:01
Iíve been shooting for nearly 4 years, a bit of everything, but mainly macro/nature, landscape and family functions. Iíve also done a few weddings and would like to do more (to help pay for the hobby).

I started with an ist film body and consumer lens.

Current gear:

Bodies ;

ist Ė rarely used, feels like a toy compared to -

MZ-S (with a BG-10 grip) Ė my main body, pretty happy with it, feels solid and good in the hand, a good size and not heavy.

MX (from the seventies) Ė used occasionally, simple, rugged and reliable.

Flash; Pentax AF360FGZ plus off camera cords etc.

Lenses;

Tokina 19-35mm f3.5-4.5. It would probably be used more if I was in a place where I could use foregrounds in my landscapes more.

Tamron SP 24-135mm f3.5-5.6. Most frequently used. A very handy focal length range for lots of subjects particularly weddings. 24mm inside the bridal car, formal shots one moment at 40mm then an unexpected candid shot at 135mm the next.

Tamron LD 70-300mm f4-5.6. Though not used a lot, the extra reach is often handy as well as the change in perspective.

Pentax A 50mm f1.7. A nice lens that I probably should use more often.

Pentax FA 100mm Macro f2.8. My favourite!


I was after some thoughts and advice please. I think I have reached a point where my progress in photography has stalled a little and Iím questioning whether increased quality in my prints and slides is restricted by my technique or by my lenses. I hope Iím not just suffering from LBA. Also a clearer viewfinder would be nice. The 70-300 is a bit soft particularly at 300 and I suspect that itís resolving power isnít great as stopping down in some situations doesnít seem to make a lot of difference Ė it is a consumer lens. Similar comments apply to the 24-135.

Iím happy with the 50mm and 100mm Pentax lenses (although a longer focal length for some macro shots would be an advantage sometimes).

Additionally, when using Ďaperture priorityí or Ďmanualí on the MZ-S, the aperture is set on the lens. This means that the aperture changes when I zoom (as the zoom lenses I have arenít constant aperture), which can be a real pain sometimes.

I have heard it said in the past and more recently by a few that are much more experienced than I, that you can skimp a bit on your bodies, but you should use the best lenses that you can afford. Also that upgrading to better lenses will improve my photography and push me to another level.

I have done a little research on the net regarding lenses like a 24-70mm f2.8 and 70/80-200mm f2.8 and am encouraged by some of the comments Particularly the Pentax FA 80-200mm f2.8, however the last one that sold on ebay went for US$2,750 (new).

To be honest, my most used focal lengths would probably range from around 24mm to around 200mm and occasionally around 300mm. (maybe 200mm with good quality converters/extenders would suffice?)

I am after advice on:
1) my current lenses, thinking and what Iíve been told in this regard

2) other lenses I should consider a)with finances being a consideration
b)with cost not such a consideration

3) any other thoughts/comments

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

johnriley

Link Posted 18/06/2007 - 13:06
The first question I would have is are you going to go Digital?
Best regards, John

DaveR

Link Posted 18/06/2007 - 13:43
John,

Probaly not in the near future, I want to get a really good grasp on the fundementals of exposure etc., I'm not fussed on spending a lot of time at a computer and if or when i do go digital, I would probably want a body with a lot of the pro features that I have now = significant expense coupled with the same lenses I have now.

MattMatic

Link Posted 18/06/2007 - 15:45
Well,
I don't know about the Tamron, but I find the Pentax SMC-FA 24-90 a formidable lens! (That is, if you can still find one!)
Resolution is astounding and the colour and contrast are truly "Pentax"
If you ever do go digital, then the 24-90 is a very nice lens to use (don't forget that because of the smaller sensor, you have an effective crop of 1.5x the length).

If you were tempted to go digital and want the pro features, then check out the old *ist-D - it had the grip facilities and can be bought for a snip these days and will still take absolutely superb images. What I can say about digital is this: if you want to get a better working knowledge of exposure etc then digital is the quickest, cheapest, and easiest way to go by far.

Matt
http://www.mattmatic.co.uk
(For gallery, tips and links)

George Lazarette

Link Posted 18/06/2007 - 17:15
MattMatic wrote:
What I can say about digital is this: if you want to get a better working knowledge of exposure etc then digital is the quickest, cheapest, and easiest way to go by far.

Matt

Absolutely right. Test pictures on digital provide instant feedback and cost nothing. What better learning tool could you wish for?

John Riley's point was crucial. If you are planning to go digital at some point soon, then it would make sense to invest in modern digital-only lenses. Good lenses for 35mm are now very scarce, and correspondingly expensive (as you have discovered), so you could actually save money by buying a second-hand *ist D and a couple of lenses like the 16-45 and 55-200.

The only downside is that you will have to spend some time in front of a computer.

By the way, the *ist D is just as sophisticated as the MZ-S, and has the superior two-wheel interface of the Z1-P.

In your position, I would get one from Ebay, and give it a try. If you don't like, sell it again. If you do, your path forward will be rather different.

G
Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.

DaveR

Link Posted 19/06/2007 - 05:29
Thanks John,Matt and George,

You are probably right about the learning curve with digital and I will think some more on that. So the *istD is on par with the features found on an MZ-S? I assumed that it would be aligned with the film version which to me is a 'plasticky' consumer body with some good features thrown in. It's also too small for me even with a grip.

A good point about the ebay option George.

From memory the Pentax SMC-FA 24-90 isn't a constant aperture but f3.2-5.6? Not knowing much about it I had assumed (once again!) that it would be a consumer grade lens. But you're saying that it's Significantly better than that?????

It is a bit difficult for me to actually see, hold and try gear as I'm stuck in a small town in the west of New South Wales, Australia.

johnriley

Link Posted 19/06/2007 - 05:41
The SMC Pentax-FA 24-90mm is a professional quality lens, but it is indeed a variable aperture.

On digital, because of the 1.5x crop factor with the APS-C sized CCD, the SMC Pentax-DA 16-45mm f4 is the standard zoom of choice and this has a constant aperture. It will not cover 35mm frame, but actually does at most focal length settings remarkably well. Think of it as a digital-only lens though.

For something wider the SMC Pentax-DA 12-24mm f4 is superb. For something longer the SMC Pentax-DA 50-200mm is very low priced but excellent, although we have a variable aperture again.

So for digital the choices are well defined. Also, all the AF film lenses (F, FA) are useable and some of them will be superb on digital. We use the 100mm f2.8 FA Macro lens and get very nice results.

The digital route is a very exciting one, and if you take this then you may rarely look at film again. You don't need to do lots of computer work if you don't want to, but it will pay dividends to invest some time in that to get the best results.
Best regards, John

ChrisA

Link Posted 19/06/2007 - 08:15
johnriley wrote:
The first question I would have is are you going to go Digital?

DaveR wrote:
John,

Probaly not in the near future, I want to get a really good grasp on the fundementals of exposure etc., I'm not fussed on spending a lot of time at a computer

DaveR wrote:
Iíve also done a few weddings and would like to do more (to help pay for the hobby).

Is it realistic, these days, to expect to get paid to do weddings, and not end up having to spend quite a lot of time at a computer?

I'd guess probably not... so maybe that influences the film/digital issue.

George Lazarette

Link Posted 19/06/2007 - 09:46
DaveR wrote:
So the *istD is on par with the features found on an MZ-S? I assumed that it would be aligned with the film version which to me is a 'plasticky' consumer body with some good features thrown in. It's also too small for me even with a grip.


The *ist D is very different from the film version (it weighs half as much again). Construction quality is excellent (anything but plasticky) and features are equivalent to taking the best from the Z1-P (the two-wheel interface) and from the MZ-S (wireless flash), plus everything else.

Just about the only thing the D won't let you do is use manual lenses (M & K series) as seamlessly as the film bodies. But if your Tokina and Tamron lenses have A settings, that won't be an issue. If they don't, you'll have to use them in manual exposure mode - rather like using the MX.

It IS small. Personally, I like that. But it feels very solid, and I am sure you would soon get used to it. If not, buy the grip!

Good luck.

G
Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.

Pwynnej

Link Posted 19/06/2007 - 09:47
johnriley wrote:
The SMC Pentax-FA 24-90mm is a professional quality lens, but it is indeed a variable aperture.

The SMC-FA 24-90 is an f3.5-4.5 aperture lens... bought one last year when I managed to track one down and I can agree with other posters comments.... it is a fabulous lens...on the K10D,"*ist D and MZ-S it delivers....

Another lens to consider is the Sigma EX 70-200 f2.8, I have the non-DG version, a superb lens. But try to find one.

MattMatic

Link Posted 19/06/2007 - 10:58
Quote:
Additionally, when using Ďaperture priorityí or Ďmanualí on the MZ-S, the aperture is set on the lens. This means that the aperture changes when I zoom (as the zoom lenses I have arenít constant aperture), which can be a real pain sometimes.

But on the *ist-D (and Z1 etc) where you set the aperture on the body it is effectively constant aperture - except where you want to use it wide open that it
Matt
http://www.mattmatic.co.uk
(For gallery, tips and links)

DaveR

Link Posted 19/06/2007 - 14:41
Thanks everyone,

It seems the 24-90 is held in high regard.

Sticking with the MZ-S constant aperture issue for the moment, can anyone recommend something like a 24-70mm f2.8??

Re the *ist D, is it a case of the original being the best - I came across a comment that they were under rated - or were subsequent versions like the DS better, more improved or essentialy different models?

I just realised that there is a Lens forum on this site (my computer inexperience and other things are showing up now - kids can affect a bloke in all sorts of ways ). Should I have submitted my original post on the Lens forum?? Should I start again on that forum?? Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate all the input.

Regards,

Dave.

johnriley

Link Posted 19/06/2007 - 15:16
Don't worry about the lens forum issue - we can cope...


Best regards, John

Pwynnej

Link Posted 19/06/2007 - 16:01
DaveR wrote:
Thanks everyone,

It seems the 24-90 is held in high regard.

Sticking with the MZ-S constant aperture issue for the moment, can anyone recommend something like a 24-70mm f2.8??

Re the *ist D, is it a case of the original being the best - I came across a comment that they were under rated - or were subsequent versions like the DS better, more improved or essentialy different models?

I just realised that there is a Lens forum on this site (my computer inexperience and other things are showing up now - kids can affect a bloke in all sorts of ways ). Should I have submitted my original post on the Lens forum?? Should I start again on that forum?? Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate all the input.

Regards,

Dave.

I have the Sigma EX 24-70 DG 2.8 and the SMC 24-90 FA, the MZ-S works much better with the Pentax lens, the Sigma does not focus well (although it does on the Z-1p).....

Mongoose

Link Posted 19/06/2007 - 16:22
DaveR wrote:

Re the *ist D, is it a case of the original being the best - I came across a comment that they were under rated - or were subsequent versions like the DS better, more improved or essentialy different models?

The D is the most Pro oriented of the *ist series. DS and DL have upgrades in certain areas (bigger screen for example) but were both aimed at a lower price point than the original D. For this reason they lack some of the pro features like hyper modes, two control dials and (in the case of the DL) Pentaprism viewfinder.

Only the K10D can match or beat the *istD on all specs.
you don't have to be mad to post here



but it does help
Add a Comment
You must be registered or logged-in to comment.