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Old Oct 26, 2006, 12:19 PM   #1
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OK, so I have decided to make the jump into the DSLR world and have given myself around $1000 to do so. I have a decent working knowledge of digital cameras and technology in general. I have a P&S Canon which I am going to keep for day to day, out on the town etc, so the DSLR will mostly be for me to learn on and hopefully reach a higher level of proficiency with photography in general. I anticipate shooting primarily outdoors, both day and night (night will be city-scape type stuff), indoor shooting will be limited and probably well lit. I would like to get a decent telephoto lens because I am a structural engineer (good at math, bad as speling)and I will probably be doing a lot of architectural photography and will want to get shot of details on buildings and bridges etc. I was also thinking I may eventually invest in a extra-wide angle at some point (for 'dem big buildings) but will stick to the basics for now.

I am about 90% decided that I want a K100D. I like the quality, ergonomics (I have handled Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Oly in the store), I.S., and I feel the price point is good for an entry level newbski like myself. Plus the Pentax seems highly regarded on these forums.

That being said, this is what I have come up with to spend my money on, and I thought I would offer it up in these forums to find out if the more learned shooters out there may know of a better "bang for your buck" in terms of lens, flashes etc.

K100D with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 : $600ish

Pentax AF360FGZ Flash: $150 (after rebate)

Pentax DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 ED : $180 (after rebate)

Pentax Electronic cable release : $30

Total : $960 (probably will also buy a nice bag to hold all this kit)

I already have decent tripod (hence the cable release). I think my main question would be regarding the flash and telephoto, is this the best way to spend my remaing $350-$400? I saw a Tamron AF70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD for $190, would this be better than the pentax 50-200mm? (I know it's gonna get me closer, but how does the quality compare?)

Anyway, I have been reading these boards for months and have come to find many knowledgable users, and hope some of you decide to chime in. Thanks in advance.
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Old Oct 26, 2006, 1:55 PM   #2
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Sounds like a good setup to me, but I dont know anything about those two lenses in particular. With non-moving subjects and a tripod you dont need fast glass, so the only question is if you could upgrade quality for a similar price (again, not knowing those lenses I cant say if you'd need/want to).
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Old Oct 26, 2006, 2:30 PM   #3
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I have the DA 50-200 and like it. It's a good, utilitarian type of lens that is reasonably priced. I'm not a flash person (don't own one), but if you'll go to the Pentax dSLR discussion part of this board you'll find quite a bit of discussion about a Sigma flash that is cheaper, it might be a better bet. I'm not the person to answer that, since the little flash I've needed has been handled by the on-board flash (wimpy, I know).

There's also people therethat use the Tamron and a Sigma lens that are similar (70-300), you can probably get some idea of what type of pictures you would get. I originally got the DA 50-200, then added a used A*300 f4when I found that I wanted something longer. The A*300 lens is a very nice lens, but big and heavy, so it's nice to have the light 50-200 lens for "walking around." You might want to think about doing that - any time you get a large zoom range you have to compromise somewhere, and often it is at the 300mm end. Though since you are talking about taking pictures of bridges and structural details, you'd most likely need that 300mm range right away, in which case the Tamron might be the right idea, though when I first got my DS I had thekit lens and a Kiron 80-200 lens. It drove me nuts not to have something between 55-80.

The kit lens is pretty wide and a nice lens - it would probably do quite well for most of your buildings. How much do you know about photoshop? It drives me nuts to have the "falling awaylines" of buildings, so I always adjust them in CS2. Just something else to think about.
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Old Oct 26, 2006, 5:12 PM   #4
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That's good advice about the flash, I will check that forum out. I'll admit that is one thing I know nothing about, but thought it would come in handy as I have found onboard flashes to be a bit lacking in the past.

As far as photoshop is concerned, I know that basics but nothing to write home to grandma about, that is another aspect in which I would like to become more proficient. I do a fair amount of post-processing with the P&S, but again it's only basic stuff - tweaks here and there.

I'm still undecided how I want to go with the telephoto lens, I have no problem spending a little more if the cost is justified by increased quality or capability.At least I have heard great things about the kit lens that comes with the Pentax.
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Old Oct 26, 2006, 8:37 PM   #5
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On flashes, there is three ways to go. 1) Fully manual 2) Auto-thryristor, where the flash itself measures and controls its power output after you tell it your camera settings, or 3) Dedicated TTL (through the lens metering)

The third option is what your looking at, its the most expensive but the easiest to use. Dedicated flashes only work with a couple camera models. The second option has the potential to work just as well, but the flash dosent need to be made for your camera, there are universal models. The first option, full manual, isnt bad if you have time to make a few guess/check exposures.

Dedicated flashes usually offer manual mode too, but manual and auto-thyristor flashes can be found for $30-$80 and can even be fitted with optical slaves to give wireless operation (or more expensive radio transmitters).

I just wanted to mention the alternatives because I had to spend a lot of money before I figured it all out! With digital its pretty easy to get things right, the benefit of dedicated ttl flashes is mostly speed and fully-automatic operation (when the work right).
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Old Oct 27, 2006, 6:04 AM   #6
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That's good to know about flashes, and I don't think I mind paying a little more for something I don't have to think much about. I would prefer to concentrate on leaning the camera, at least at first, especially since I will probably only be using the flash 10% of the time. Having said that, I do want nice exposures that 10% so I think the $150 would most likely be well spent.
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Old Oct 27, 2006, 8:34 AM   #7
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Hey Bigben, welcome to the forum! It sounds like you're making a great choice. I love my K100D. I am going to be getting the Tamron 70-300mm Di LD lens myself very soon. You can get it brand-new with full warranty on ebay for $149.

As for the size/weight concerns of a bigger lens....I HIGHLY recommend the Optech Pro Loop Strap. I recommend it even if you don't have a heavy lens. I got one from a dealer on ebay for around $20 (includes shipping) and I love it. It is 10X more comfortable than the stockstrap Pentax gives you with the camera. I got it with the intention of only using it for long hikes, but it's so nice, I'm leaving it on. I'll never go back to the stock strap.

Good luck with your decision and purchase. I'm sure you'll be very happy with the Pentax K100D if you get one. MANY people on here are!
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Old Oct 27, 2006, 8:48 AM   #8
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Thanks for the input G-nut, it's always good to hear raves about something I am thinking about buying. That strap sounds nice, I will definitely look into it. One of the other reasons I want to get and learn this gear is I am going to the Bahamas for 2 weeks in Feb to get married, and the scenery down there is astounding, but a lot of it you have to hike to get the best shots, so a comfy strap would be a nice purchase, something I didn't even consider!
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Old Oct 27, 2006, 9:05 AM   #9
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Wow...that sounds like a nice trip! Yeah, I bought the strap because I knew I had a camping trip coming up and I knew I'd be hiking a 12 mile trail on rough terrain. I like to keep the camera out and ready, so a comfy strap seemed to be the way to go. It has far exceeded my expectations. Here's a link to the one I got (it's also the person I got it from):

http://cgi.ebay.com/OpTech-Pro-Loop-...QQcmdZViewItem
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