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Old Nov 21, 2008, 8:33 PM   #1
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I realize what an oxymoron that subject description is .

I recently acquired a nearly new A300 with the 2 kit lenses. Tho they are adequate to get started, i can't help but feel they are actually limiting the full capabilities of the camera. I'm wanting more.

I'm sure it's been asked a million times already but i'd like to solicit recommendations on what you think the best budget 18-70 (or similar)would be. If you'd also like to add a 70-200 to that, feel free. I'd also love to own a 50mm or 100mm f/1.4 (true) macro... but geez... where does it end.

I'm really after best bang for the buck. Obviously i want to move up from the kit lenses, but can't even sit in the same ballpark with a Zeiss or even a G series. Just. Not. Gonna. Happen. Ever. Period.

So like everyone else on earth, i want good quality and i want it cheap . I'm a bit wary of buying used stuff... especially off Ebay... so not sure if i want to consider that an option or not.

Thanks for any thoughts you have.


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Old Nov 21, 2008, 9:13 PM   #2
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As has been said here many times before:

Good. Fast. Cheap. - Pick any two!

To replace the kit lens, there are a couple of reasonably priced options. I use the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 and am very pleased with it. I like available light photography, so the constant f/2.8 aperture was the clincher for me. Others seem to like the Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4.5. It's only 2/3 f-stop faster than the kit, but optically it's much better.

If your second kit lens is the 55-200, keep it. That's a Tamron, and it's quite good. If your second kit lens is the 75-300, it's not too bad, but if you're serious about that range, you might get the Tamron 70-300 Di LD. It's reasonably priced and reasonably good. The Sony 70-300 G is, of course, much better, but at $750, it should be.

If you're looking for a 70-200/2.8, the Tamron is optically better, but the Sigma focusles faster.

And, of course, there are all the Minolta lenses available used. Some are genuine classics, like the 70-210/4 'Beercan' (~$200) and the 50/1.7 (~$100).
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Old Nov 22, 2008, 3:08 PM   #3
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BanjoZeek wrote:
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I recently acquired a nearly new A300 with the 2 kit lenses. Tho they are adequate to get started, i can't help but feel they are actually limiting the full capabilities of the camera. I'm wanting more.

So like everyone else on earth, i want good quality and i want it cheap . I'm a bit wary of buying used stuff... especially off Ebay... so not sure if i want to consider that an option or not.

Thanks for any thoughts you have.

The kit lenses (from all brands) are pretty darn good in terms of performance value and match up with the camera pretty well. In general terms the camera is almost alwaysbetter than the lens, but not by a huge margin ... maybe 10,20 or 25%better.

Doubling the cost of the lens does not double the performance of the lens. It is more like a 5 or 10% improvement... if that. Spending much morehas a sharp decrease in the % ofgain, which means to match the performance ofthe camera body or to out perform the camera bodyyou might be buying a $5000 lens before you know it.

So what do you really get with more expensive lenses?

Usually faster speed,in either f stop (which is never a bad thing) or focusing speed. Sometimes. Other times it is just an improvement in build quality or maybea lot sharper at the extremes of the lens (wide open, max zoom etc). Maybe it is a larger focusing range or shoots wider etc.

Do you "NEED" a better lens? Maybe. It really depends upon what you are doing. Taking pics at your kid's T-Ball game to post to the web for the family to see? Nope, those kit lenses are way beyond the quality of any lens you will ever need. Wanting to do a large screen media presentation of your trip to a museum? Gosh darn yes, you need a better lens or three.



I would find a NEED before buying a lens. A specific weakness in the kit lenses that says buy something better, like needing a faster lens or sharper focus at the extremes.



To answer the ebay question:

I am somebody that never buys used unless I can buy in person and perform a full inspection. I wouldbuy a used car (if I can hire my own mechanic to strip search the car before the purchase). Iwould never buy a used camera body because they are impossible to fully inspect (ie do you know if the internal wiring harness is corroded from exposure to salt saturated air?). Used lens? Maybe. If I can hand inspect before purchase. This means I would never buy off ebay or any other auction site.
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Old Nov 22, 2008, 9:08 PM   #4
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KEH is a good source for used Minolta lens. They have a good conservative rating on the condition of the products and also have a return policy if you are not satisfied. Check out the Dyxum web sit for lens ratings by owners of these lens and use KEH to buy. Ebay can be a little tricky sometimes but I would not hesitate to pull the trigger on a lens if the deal was good and the seller has a great seller rating like 98% or better. I personally would stay away from anything from Sigma new or used after my totally negative experience with a new Sigma 70-300 APO. Stay with Sony, Minolta and Tamron and you should get better results. C. W.
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Old Nov 23, 2008, 4:48 AM   #5
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Really it all depends on what your going to photograph, and what your willing to accept for quality. In my case, I wouldnt buy a sigma lens if it was the last lens on earth. and I photograph wildlife so a fast 300mm and up is what I use. Dont ask me what they cost. my walkaround lens is a Minolta 80-200mm F2.8
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Old Nov 24, 2008, 8:08 PM   #6
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Yep.. Stevie brings up good points... and one's i've certainly been thinking about given the large amount of cash at stake. I'm also a musician so have been playing the same game in that realm for many, many years. Would i like to own a $5,000 Gibson banjo? Sure! Would i like to own a $12,000 Gibson mandolin? Yes! But, can i warrant that kind of money for what i do? No. No way. But... by the same token, i've been playing music (and taking pictures) for a long time and my eyes and ears know good from not-so-good. In lenses, as in musical instruments, there are a couple of "cut off" points or price tiers where we move from "adequate" to "very good" to "excellent" or "pro" level. For me, there's enough difference between "adequate" and "very good" to warrant the money, even if i'll never do anything more than shoot (or play) for my own enjoyment. And as Stevie mentioned, as you move up the price scale the levels of quality are certainly not linear. 5 times the money might only buy a 10% increase in actual quality. At that point i'm out of the game for sure... and i'm ok with that. Would i love to own a $9,000 CZ lens? You bet! Would it offer me 9 times the noticable quality of a $1000 Tamron? No way.

Anyway... i'm happy to plan on spending probly never any more than $1000 or $1500 for all the lenses i'll ever own... and be satisfied with that. It's sure fun to drool over the high end stuff tho, ain't it? :?

Zeek
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Old Nov 24, 2008, 9:35 PM   #7
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I understand and agree. This is a hobby for me, and I'm doing it on a shoestring. I have bought two lenses new. The first was the 18-200 which, initially, I was reasonably pleased with. But as I started looking critically at the results it was giving me, I realized that I wouldn't ever be happy with it. I currently own 6 lenses, only one of which I boughtnew. 90% of what I shoot, I do with 2 lenses. One is the Tamron 17-50/2.8 and the other is the 70-210/4 'Beercan' of myth and legend. Together, they cost me less than $600! The rest of my current lenses, plus the lenses I've bought and then sold, I bought used. The marketplace for used Minolta lenses is a significant resource for those of us with unlimited ambition and limited funds. Ihaven't spent $1,500 on lenses yet, and that doesn't include the money I made off the lenses I sold.

There are better lenses out there, many are better than the kit 18-70, and some are better than your second kit lens (whichever it may be) and they aren't necessarily going to cost you a lot of money. I beleive you've posted your initial inquiry because you've already encountered one or more of the shortcomings of the lenses you have. Don't let the looming threat of astronomically priced Zeiss lenses keep you from looking for something that may bea little bit better, a little more expensiove,and a lot more suitable for you than what you've got now.
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Old Nov 24, 2008, 9:55 PM   #8
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What are some good retail places to buy used gear (lenses in particular)?
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Old Nov 24, 2008, 10:17 PM   #9
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BanjoZeek wrote:
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What are some good retail places to buy used gear (lenses in particular)?
KEH.com

Adorama.com

B & H Foto & Electronics

And a number of very reputable retailers sell on eBay.

And Dyxum.com, Photodo.comand PhotoZone.de are good places to look for user reviews of lenses.



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Old Nov 25, 2008, 12:40 AM   #10
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Thanks TCAv... It's encouraging to know that it's possible to acquire some fairly decent glass at reasonable prices. I'm going to start looking around at the used market more seriously. Anything new it seems is just plain out of my league, at least for what i know i want.

Thanks also for the links... i believe i had all those but thought i'd fish for some maybe i didn't know about.


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