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Old Jun 25, 2010, 2:37 PM   #1
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Default Joined the Pentax dSLR club...looking for direction.

Hello Pentax Posse:

I recently purchased a Pentax K-X kit with both the DAL 18/55 and the 55/300 lenses. I am new to the dSLR front coming up from my Canon G9. Up until this point I have just been shooting my son playing in the backyard, but I am looking to expand my use, and try to actually learn how to get the most of my new camera, and to of course better learn the art of photography.

I wanted to know if anyone had a good site, book or place I can look to get some really good information on utilizing this camera to it's potential. General placed to look on easy to understand photographic techniques or other good "hey try this" type information would be nice. I consider myself a beginner, however I have shot about 35,000 pictures in the past 10 years on Sony and Canon cameras ranging from artist horizons, macros, animals, people and general scenary. I am very good with photoshop and enjoy post processing those "money" shots when you come across them. I took videograhy in college, understand the basics on light metering, fstops, etc. I consider myself an enthusiast that is interested in taking my hobby to the next level. This is my first Pentax and my first tru-dSLR. I have owned prosumers for about all of those 10 years including my last 2 cameras Canon Powershot Pro1 and Canon G9. Regardless, any information on photography that is a good read, books to buy for your handbag, or websites that are full over great information in one place whether general or Pentax K-X related would be greatly appreciated.

I have been browsing the threads here, and I have to say, I am extremely impressed by many of the macro shots posted. I have also seen several very wide angle shots that have also caught my eye. Because of that I am thinking about adding 1 or 2 lenses to my bag, and I am looking for suggestions on a very limited budget. Well, I can pretty much afford anything I can justify mentally. So, in other words...money is not an object, I just have to feel good about making the purchase, and I know lenses can be very expensive. I would prefer to spend as little as possible and get some good quality value out of the purchase, and as time advances I can swap out and upgrade my gear, which will most likely require a body swap at some point.

This brings me to my first real question -

What lenses will work on my K-X camera? Is there an indicator, number or letter combination that will help me search? What lenses will work with Autofocus, and what lenses will require manual...is there a way to tell the if it will work with AF? I thought when I was reviewing this camera for purchase I read that this model will work with old Pentax lenses...of course the AF would not work on these models, but they could serve as nice starter macro lenses and wide angle lenses.

Glad to be here, and thanks in advance for any info you guys can provide.

-mackloon
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Old Jun 25, 2010, 2:57 PM   #2
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Hi Mackloon, congratulations on your purchase (an excellent low light camera amongst other great features) and welcome to the wonderful world of Pentax !

Since I'm watching the football I can't make this too long or I might miss a goal

However: for macro you will need to shoot manual focus to get the best out of this branch of photography. Therefore old lenses can be used (by reversing them or adding something like a Raynox 250) as a cheap and cheerful entry into macro. If you want a dedicated macro lens then I would recommend the Tamron 90 Di 2.8 1:1 Macro which really can't be bettered for the price(ca. US$400) and as it is 'cut your throat' sharp it also makes a great portrait lens. Some older lenses (I have a few M42 'screw' type Takumars & Carl Zeiss Jenas) are superb ... but of course manual only so useless for fast action unless you pre-focus or use the 'catch-in-focus' function of Pentax cameras, they make great 'street' lenses, landscape or family portrait lenses amongst many other features though.

The 55-300 you have is a great lens and is on my 'Need' list If you want an extra wide lens I'd say first be sure you actually have a need for it .... if you do the Sigma 10-20 is a fantastic lens and will save you $100s over the Pentax 12-24.

As far as websites are concerned ... I've always found the best policy is to Google any subject you need advice on / want to learn in detail. As no one site covers everything well and opinions / techniques vary a lot.

Good luck and welcome again !

Last edited by Frogfish; Jun 25, 2010 at 3:00 PM.
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Old Jun 25, 2010, 2:58 PM   #3
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FA 50mm 1.4 works well.
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Old Jun 25, 2010, 3:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mackloon View Post
What lenses will work on my K-X camera? Is there an indicator, number or letter combination that will help me search? What lenses will work with Autofocus, and what lenses will require manual...is there a way to tell the if it will work with AF? I thought when I was reviewing this camera for purchase I read that this model will work with old Pentax lenses...of course the AF would not work on these models, but they could serve as nice starter macro lenses and wide angle lenses.
Any Pentax lens ever made. Pentax has made 2 mounts, the M42 and the K mount. The transition occurred in the mid 70s (about 1975).
M42 mount - requires an adapter on the body, runs about $30 from Pentax. A lot of the non Pentax adapters do not let the lens focus to infinity. A number of camera makes used the M42 mount among them Rioch. If you get a Rioch lens, it will have an extra pin that can get caught on the body. There is a straight foward procedure on removing the pin.
K mount - Everything produced since 1975. You will hear about "M" and "A" lenses too. These are K mount lenses that are manual focusing, and the "A" adds in automatic aperture (when in the "A" mode). FA, FA Limited, DA, DA*, ect. lenses are all K mount and work perfectly well. Here is a compatibility chart. It looks complicated, but scroll down to the bottom, the last few lines are the digital cameras and all you have to remember is the information here.
Third party lenses - Sigma, Tamron and the older Tokina, among others all support (or have supported) the K mount. So all you need to do is look for the Pentax mount label. Zeiss even supports both Pentax mounts - M42 and the more recent K - all you have to do is be able to afford them.....
Tokina has stopped making lenses for the Pentax mount. Pentax and Tokina have shared lens designs 10-17, 12-24, 16-50, 50-135 so has essentially refrained from supporting the Pentax mount.

Over 300mm, Pentax has few lenses, and the lenses there are of older designs. That does not make them any less desirable. For focal lengths beyond 300mm be prepared to lighten up your check book considerably. A A 1200mm went for $9,500 earlier this year, and it was a 20 - 30 year old lens.

Wide angle lenses are not cheap either. The DA 12-24 is excellent, along with the offerings from Sigma. Sigma has a new 8-16mm wide angle that is just becoming available.

Pentax is noted for their prime lenses. There are the FA Limited series FA 31 Limited, FA 43 Limited and FA 77 Limited. Then the DA * series, DA * 15, 21, 40 and 70mm. Here is an older article, somewhat dated - that sums up a view of the Pentax FA series....
enjoy!

Last edited by interested_observer; Jun 25, 2010 at 3:46 PM.
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Old Jun 25, 2010, 3:16 PM   #5
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Hey Mack,
Welcome to the best Pentax forum on the net!
You picked a great place to come for answers to questions of all kinds.
For starters, you have two good lenses that should let you explore the capability of your camera. The 55-300 is one of the best lenses you can get for the money.
One thing that made me chuckle, was when you said you might want to add a couple more lenses... if you can keep it down to that you'll have to let the rest of us know your secret!
Anyway, you asked a lot of questions and deserve an answer, but I'm going to give others a chance to chime in here as I have to go right now, check with ya later.
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Old Jun 25, 2010, 3:25 PM   #6
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Would and of these lenses work?

-RICOH RICONAR 55MM F/2.2 PRIME LENS FOR PENTAX K-MOUNT
-Pentax-M 50mm 1:2 Lens: K-Mount

And thanks to everyone so far for the information and direction. I did not expect such a warm welcome and immediate response. Everything provided thus far is appreciated, and I will look to review all of the great information. At this point...if I can get a cheap/decent macro lens I can explore the use of this camera in my backyard...
With a 20month and a 3 week old at home...it is tough to get away.

Last edited by mackloon; Jun 25, 2010 at 3:31 PM.
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Old Jun 25, 2010, 3:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mackloon View Post
Would and of these lenses work?

-RICOH RICONAR 55MM F/2.2 PRIME LENS FOR PENTAX K-MOUNT
-Pentax-M 50mm 1:2 Lens: K-Mount
Yes to both of them. On the Ricoh, be aware of the pin issue (refer to my last posting - with the pin in place the lens can get stuck on the camera body!!!). The Pentax M lens works just fine.

Here is a link showing how to set up and shoot manual lenses.
... and how to use the "green button"

Last edited by interested_observer; Jun 25, 2010 at 3:57 PM.
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Old Jun 25, 2010, 3:57 PM   #8
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Would that Ricoh be a good starter for macro photography...? Or is there something else I can get on the used cheap that would be better for manual macro work?
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Old Jun 25, 2010, 4:08 PM   #9
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To tell you the truth, Macro Photography is not my interest, so I am not the best one to provide information there. I will say, that in Macro - focusing is one of the critical components. Macro lenses tend to have a larger focusing span. What I mean by that is - pick up one of your current lenses. Turn the focusing barrel and you will see that within say a third or less of a turn, you run through the entire focusing range from the minimum focusing distance to infinity. With a Macro lens, you gain at least two items 1) a much closer focusing range and 2) it might take an entire 360 degrees to run from the minimum focusing distance to infinity. This provides you with a greater granularity to finely focus on your target. Macro lenses tend to have the word Macro in their name or labeling.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macro_photography

Actually, I would not be so quick to "gear up". Take 4 to 6 months to learn the camera and lenses you currently have. You can use them for macro - nothing preventing that. Along the way, you might find other additional interests too. There will be ample opportunities to feed this new found addiction - Oh, by the way - it already has a name - LBA, Lens Buying Addiction.

The 55-300 can be used for macro (its not the best - but usable in a pinch), focusing will be a bit difficult, so you will need to learn about depth of field. Also, you will find that holding it will be difficult, so a bean bag or tripod may be necessary.


Last edited by interested_observer; Jun 25, 2010 at 4:17 PM.
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Old Jun 25, 2010, 6:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by interested_observer View Post

Actually, I would not be so quick to "gear up". Take 4 to 6 months to learn the camera and lenses you currently have. You can use them for macro - nothing preventing that. Along the way, you might find other additional interests too. There will be ample opportunities to feed this new found addiction - Oh, by the way - it already has a name - LBA, Lens Buying Addiction.
As far as the specific question that you have concerning the Ricoh lens, my personal preference is to avoid Ricoh lenses because of the possibility that they could have the dreaded "Ricoh pin" that can get stuck in the AF screw drive shaft depression and cause the lens to get stuck on the body. This is pretty well documented in some threads here and on other fora, I'm pretty handy and am confident that I could remove the lens, then fix the problem, but I just don't care to deal with it, so all Ricohs are out as far as I'm concerned.

I'll echo what IO says here about taking your time. You have a pretty wide range of FLs with the two kit lenses. You'll probably find that you settle into one of two general schools of shooters -- those that see in vistas and want to get as much coverage as possible -- or those that want to "focus in" on details within the scene, and want to "see" these with more magnification. I fall into the second camp, and shoot birds and now am getting into the finer points of shooting bugs and other small critters. I own a few wide angle zooms, and really have little interest in much more in the way of lenses on the wide side of @ 35mm-- on the other hand, I'm very heavily invested in long teles and dedicated macros. . . unfortunately for my bank account, the long lenses are a lot more expensive. . .

There's a program available for free download and use called "Exposure Plot" that will extract the Focal Lengths used from the exif all the shots you take and graph the results so you can visually see your most used FL ranges.

http://www.cpr.demon.nl/prog_plotf.html

I'd suggest you stick with your kit lenses for a while, use this program to see which range of FLs that you tend to use the most, then consider whether you want to invest some money on better lenses at these lengths. Give yourself some time to acclimate to your new camera and it won't take long before you start noticing some preferences -- just go out an shoot everything -- and shoot a lot -- at some point, you'll start seeing trends in what you like to shoot, and what you'd like to see in the photographs that you can produce. Also take the time to check out the photo posts here and on sites like Flickr, Photobucket, or Zenfolio. You'll see a lot of different genres of photography, and maybe some that you'd like to emulate. The Pentax Photo Gallery is another place to see what others have done with their Pentax gear. The site is slow, and the photos are restricted to a pretty low resolution, but there are some very talented photographers represented there, both amateurs and pros.

Since you mentioned macro -- there is probably nothing that truly replaces all the qualities of a true 1:1 dedicated macro lens, but there are some relatively low cost alternatives that you can try to see if this genre of photography really flips your switch. You can get extension tubes that allow you to focus closer with the lenses that you have, achromatic (multiple lens element) diopter lens add-ons that magnify and allow close focusing by attaching to the end of an existing lens, and reverse adapters that allow you to flip a lens back to front to add to an existing lens giving you close focusing and added magnification. There have been recent threads here discussing all of these options, and you shouldn't have much trouble reading up on more details.

-- And you are always welcome to ask about subjects that you don't find any posts covering. This forum has a pretty wide range of shooters contributing, and you're likely to get some good information here. . .

Pentax is a good choice to sort things out on a budget -- there are tons of relatively inexpensive manual focus lenses that can give you a taste of different lenses for different purposes, then you can decide whether you want to take the plunge for a premium AF specialty lens -- or you might find that the MF version suits and will serve your purpose. . .YMMV, as in everything. . .

Congrats on the new cam and lenses, and welcome to the forum! I think you made some very good choices, both in the body and lenses. For many, the gear you have will be all they ever need -- for others. . . it's just a start. . .

Scott
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