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Old Apr 8, 2007, 7:18 AM   #1
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Hello members and guests of this greatforum,

I am looking foran ideal dSLR body and lens solution for low light photography without a flash usage. I mostly shoot indoors under very typical challenging lighting conditions that requires me not tofire aflash. I photograph interiors without a tripod when I am on the move since I often find it somewhat inconvenient to set up one when Ineed to movefrom places to places quickly. There is often not much time for me to stay in one place for too long when I am doing interior photography. Nonetheless, I will always be using a tripod whenever I can afford to set up one. That is when I can.

I do need adSLR-lens solutionthat can assist me in those times when I cannot afford to set up a tripod as mentioned. From my experience, typical indoor settings would require me to use ISO 400 and above with an F/2.8 lens to avoid handshake blurring without a tripod. I would also like to mention that the wide end of the lenswill bevery crucial for my photography. I will need a bare minimum of 24mm (35mm equivalent) "at least" and preferably lenses with image stabilizationof F/2.8 or less, and with good enough quality wide open at the wide end. It would be ideal if I could fire a flash in such a situation,so thatI can stop down the lens toits optimum aperture, but I have been told that flash photography is not allowed in the venues.

Depending on the ISO quality of the camera, if I can push its ISO levelto 400 or 800without much lost in quality, then I might consider my requirement for an F/2.8 or fasterlens to be optional. I will be performing large enlargements, so the ISO quality of the camera will be crucial {especially from ISO400upward}. Having shot in this field before, some form of image stabilization would have beenhelpful to counter those minute vibrations that my hands often producewith such settings, which tend to show up in the final shots as minutefuzziness in the details.

HaveI mentioned my budget? If not, my max budget fallsat anything less then US$1500. I amalso looking to get only one body and one lens without anything else extra exceptthe factoring in ofalarge capacity CF/SD card for the time being.

To make the long storyeven longer, I will also beshooting architecture and landscapes during my free time, so you may like tokeep those in mind as well. Generally when I shoot landscapes and architecture,the shootouts willalways all be done in the broad daylight, or else I will always bedepending onsome form of a support to place my camera on, or use thetripod when I have it with me.With that, I will alsobe stopping down the lenstothe optimum aperture.

I plan to get the camera and lens some time down the road before June, so I guess I will still have some time to figure out what my needsarealong the way. Right now, I would just like to hear some of your suggestions. {Sitting back and having a cup of drink now}

shutterbug
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Old Apr 8, 2007, 4:23 PM   #2
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Your requirements are well matched by the Pentax K100D. It has built in stabilization, very good high ISO quality (800 looks great and 1600 is usually usable for 4x6 prints), is quite affordable and has a very broad lens selection.

The wide angle lens would likely be the most cost prohibitive part. I took a quick look at what B&H Photo has to offer and they have 16mm lenses (24mm equivalent on the K100D) as well as some 14mm lenses, and one 16-50 f/2.8, but all were rather expensive. If you search pentax and 16mm though you'll get a couple lenses that are unavailable but that they are taking orders for which are more affordable.

One advantage of the Pentax though is a wide variety of used lenses that are compatible with the camera, so usually you could find something to suit your needs if you have the patience. If you don't mind manually focusing, you should be able to find a bargain.

There's also the option of getting a wide angle converter to attach to the front of a lens. I have no first-hand experience with one of those, but I've heard they can be a good alternative to the cost of the wide angle lenses.

Definitely check out the other brands though. Perhaps it would cost the same to get a Nikon or Canon with a stabilized wide angle lens, but I've never looked into it myself.
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Old Apr 8, 2007, 9:42 PM   #3
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Quote:

Your requirements are well matched by the Pentax K100D. It has built in stabilization, very good high ISO quality (800 looks great and 1600 is usually usable for 4x6 prints), is quite affordable and has a very broad lens selection.

The wide angle lens would likely be the most cost prohibitive part. I took a quick look at what B&H Photo has to offer and they have 16mm lenses (24mm equivalent on the K100D) as well as some 14mm lenses, and one 16-50 f/2.8, but all were rather expensive. If you search pentax and 16mm though you'll get a couple lenses that are unavailable but that they are taking orders for which are more affordable.

One advantage of the Pentax though is a wide variety of used lenses that are compatible with the camera, so usually you could find something to suit your needs if you have the patience. If you don't mind manually focusing, you should be able to find a bargain.

There's also the option of getting a wide angle converter to attach to the front of a lens. I have no first-hand experience with one of those, but I've heard they can be a good alternative to the cost of the wide angle lenses.

Definitely check out the other brands though. Perhaps it would cost the same to get a Nikon or Canon with a stabilized wide angle lens, but I've never looked into it myself.




Thanks for the informations Corpsy,

Would you mind listing down some links to the lenses you have mentioned? I think they soundpretty idealto me.

Ido not feelsocertain about the PentaxdSLR system though, but I am ready to be open minded.

Iam just wondering whetherarethereany solutions in the Canon and Nikonsystem as well?

It will alsobe agood idea if I couldleave out any form of attachments to the lens, since image quality may degrade according to some photographers.

Your help will be much appreciated.

shutterbug

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Old Apr 9, 2007, 12:18 AM   #4
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When I shop around for new lenses, the first place I check is B&H Photo (bhphotovideo.com). As far as I've seen, they have the best selection of lenses of any store. Amazon has a lot as well (including outside retailers affiliated with Amazon), but I tend to look at B&H first.

Here's a link to Pentax lenses they carry: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...Q=&ci=8458

If you select "super wide" from lens type you'll get a listing of just the really wide angle lenses. You can also try using the search tool and search, "Pentax 16mm", or "pentax wide" or similar searches and sometimes you'll get additional results.

Also be sure to check out keh.com. They have a decent selection of used lenses available. Just search "Pentax wide". Then of course there's always Ebay.

I can't give you much advice when it comes to individual lenses. I only have two wide angle lenses myself, the 18-55 kit lens which probably isn't fast enough, and an old Tamron 28mm f/2.8 which isn't wide enough. I'd recommend you try the Pentax Lenses forum to ask about specific lenses, I'm sure you'll find a lot more first-hand experience there.
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Old Apr 9, 2007, 1:29 PM   #5
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I like the features and price on the K100, and the lens selection too....but, Steve's review lists the shutter lag on the k100 at 2/10 prefocused and as high as 8/10 of a second with auto focus. Isn't that kind of slow for an DSLR?

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Old Apr 9, 2007, 3:20 PM   #6
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jpmann66 wrote:
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I like the features and price on the K100, and the lens selection too....but, Steve's review lists the shutter lag on the k100 at 2/10 prefocused and as high as 8/10 of a second with auto focus. Isn't that kind of slow for an DSLR?

john
Here's what it says in Steve's conclusion on the K100D;

"Shutter lag, the delay between depressing the shutter and capturing the image, was 1/10 second when pre-focused, and between 2/10 and 8/10 second including autofocus time for a high-contrast subject, depending on the degree of focus change."
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Old Apr 9, 2007, 4:01 PM   #7
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John,

Neither Canon or Nikon offers IS/VR in a zoom lens as wide as you are suggesting. They tend to offer it in longer focal lengths, where it is more often needed, for example when you might need it to shoot with even a 1/100 sec speed using a 200mm equivalent lens. But for the light conditions you are suggesting, it would be useful on a wide angle.

The closest solution from Canon would be the 17-55 f2.8 IS, a very nice lens designed for digital, which costs about $1000. But that only gets you about a 27mm equivalent focal length (EFL).

The Pentax 16-45 f4.0 is a very nice lens for the money. You might want to check out the Photozone survey, where it scores very well based on 30 user inputs. The 12-24 f4.0 would likely work even better, giving you a much better wide angle of 18-36mm EFL. But that might be too short if you really want a single lens solution overall. Though you could simply use a kit lens in addition for when you want more reach and for less serious work.

The other option might be Olympus, but only if you are willing to wait. The E-510 with IS in body won't be available until June. And even then, it will likely be at least a half stop worse at higher ISO shooting. The 11-22 f2.8-3.5 lens, however, is a good half to full stop brighter than f4.0, and covers the 22mm-44mm EFL with very sharp glass. The 14-54 f2.8-3.5 is almost as good (28-108mm EFL). There's an outstanding 7-14 f4.0, which would however eat up your entire budget. And there is a new 12-60mm f2.8-3.5 lens on the way (though you might have to wait nearly a year for that.) The current E-500, however, is not good in low light, with noticeable noise by ISO 800, and often poor low light focus as well. The E-330 is a better on both counts, but still lacks IS and is better for tripod use than handheld. But if you aren't looking at buying immediately, it might be worth watching the early reviews on the E-510 (and E-410 which will be the same without IS) to see if they deliver on what they are promising.

Pentax looks like the best overall choice right now. One thing with wide angle on digital is that you normally get the best results with a designed for digital lens, because of the shorter back focus distance (the back of the lens is closer to the image sensor). The Pentax lenses discussed so far are all DA lenses which are designed for digital.

As long as you are not planning on any action shooting, autofocus speed probably isn't a critical need. If you need to shoot many moving subjects, however, then you should probably turn your attention back to Canon and Nikon, and forget IS. The Pentax and Olympus autofocus are both a bit slow but very accurate. But Canon has been a leader in quick autofocus including on their film cameras for near 20 years. Canon and Nikon still have the most sophisticated autofocus systems in their higher end cameras, with more autofocus points, quicker performance, and more lenses with ultrasonic high speed focus motors. And the entry level Canon 400D seems to have the same advanced focus system as the higher end 30D.

But, if you are shooting interiors, is this really critical? How much will the walls move in half a second while waiting to lock focus? If focus accuracy is more critical than speed, I think you'll do best with the K100D.

I'll add that in shooting interiors or architecture with a wide angle zoom, you will experience some distortion. A fixed focal length lens would show less. You may be interested in using software to correct distortion for serious architecture shots.

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Old Apr 9, 2007, 5:32 PM   #8
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Thanks! That information is useful to me! -- john
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Old Apr 10, 2007, 1:51 PM   #9
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kenbalbari wrote:
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John,

Neither Canon or Nikon offers IS/VR in a zoom lens as wide as you are suggesting. They tend to offer it in longer focal lengths, where it is more often needed, for example when you might need it to shoot with even a 1/100 sec speed using a 200mm equivalent lens. But for the light conditions you are suggesting, it would be useful on a wide angle.

The closest solution from Canon would be the 17-55 f2.8 IS, a very nice lens designed for digital, which costs about $1000. But that only gets you about a 27mm equivalent focal length (EFL).

The Pentax 16-45 f4.0 is a very nice lens for the money. You might want to check out the Photozone survey, where it scores very well based on 30 user inputs. The 12-24 f4.0 would likely work even better, giving you a much better wide angle of 18-36mm EFL. But that might be too short if you really want a single lens solution overall. Though you could simply use a kit lens in addition for when you want more reach and for less serious work.

The other option might be Olympus, but only if you are willing to wait. The E-510 with IS in body won't be available until June. And even then, it will likely be at least a half stop worse at higher ISO shooting. The 11-22 f2.8-3.5 lens, however, is a good half to full stop brighter than f4.0, and covers the 22mm-44mm EFL with very sharp glass. The 14-54 f2.8-3.5 is almost as good (28-108mm EFL). There's an outstanding 7-14 f4.0, which would however eat up your entire budget. And there is a new 12-60mm f2.8-3.5 lens on the way (though you might have to wait nearly a year for that.) The current E-500, however, is not good in low light, with noticeable noise by ISO 800, and often poor low light focus as well. The E-330 is a better on both counts, but still lacks IS and is better for tripod use than handheld. But if you aren't looking at buying immediately, it might be worth watching the early reviews on the E-510 (and E-410 which will be the same without IS) to see if they deliver on what they are promising.

Pentax looks like the best overall choice right now. One thing with wide angle on digital is that you normally get the best results with a designed for digital lens, because of the shorter back focus distance (the back of the lens is closer to the image sensor). The Pentax lenses discussed so far are all DA lenses which are designed for digital.

As long as you are not planning on any action shooting, autofocus speed probably isn't a critical need. If you need to shoot many moving subjects, however, then you should probably turn your attention back to Canon and Nikon, and forget IS. The Pentax and Olympus autofocus are both a bit slow but very accurate. But Canon has been a leader in quick autofocus including on their film cameras for near 20 years. Canon and Nikon still have the most sophisticated autofocus systems in their higher end cameras, with more autofocus points, quicker performance, and more lenses with ultrasonic high speed focus motors. And the entry level Canon 400D seems to have the same advanced focus system as the higher end 30D.

But, if you are shooting interiors, is this really critical? How much will the walls move in half a second while waiting to lock focus? If focus accuracy is more critical than speed, I think you'll do best with the K100D.

I'll add that in shooting interiors or architecture with a wide angle zoom, you will experience some distortion. A fixed focal length lens would show less. You may be interested in using software to correct distortion for serious architecture shots.
Thanks, I assume this post was meant for me looking at its content.

From my experience, the speed of the auto focus is not very important since I will mostly be using infinity focus for landscapes, architecture, and larger interior spaces. For smaller interior spaces, I will normally use center auto focus and fire a flash when it is allowed.

Plus, does the Pentax K100D have a accurate auto white balance system? I need precise auto WB for those times when I am faced with some mix lightings together with a tight schedule. I would just shoot using the auto white balance and post process the images later on.

The accuracy of the auto white balance will be crucial for such moments.

Lens wise, I am still very uncertain. I wonder should I give up the 24mm and below rule (35mm equiv.) and go for some slightly longer but faster (F/2.8) zooms.

Now it is between going ultra wide with a slower aperture or going slightly longer with F/2.8 at the wide end, or in the entire focal length.

What if I make 28mm as my minimum wide angle requirement?
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Old Apr 10, 2007, 2:12 PM   #10
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shutterbug.us wrote:
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Plus, does the Pentax K100D have a accurate auto white balance system? I need precise auto WB for those times when I am faced with some mix lightings together with a tight schedule. I would just shoot using the auto white balance and post process the images later on.

The accuracy of the auto white balance will be crucial for such moments.
Unfortunately AWB is one of the areas where the K100D doesn't do too well indoors. The camera has a tendency to make the images quite orange looking under artificial light. Fortunately, in most cases setting the WB to Tungsten usually does a good job in these cases. You could of course set the WB manually if you wanted to, but I don't consider that a practical workaround for your uses.

I can't say which cameras might excel at AWB. I've heard that comparable DSLRs perform similarly, but I find that hard to believe since my Panasonic FZ30 had great AWB.

One thing to realize in any case though is that if you're working with mixed lights, if the lights are significantly different temperatures, even if not apparent to the naked eye, they will be problematic to any camera no matter how good the AWB. Even the most accurate auto white balance will have to choose a temeperature, and that could mean whitening the warm light and creating a cool image, doing the opposite, or leaving both colors intact. In mixed light you'll probably want to set the WB manually with any camera you use to ensure your photos are consistent.

Of course, you could always shoot RAW and correct the WB in Photoshop or some other software, but I can't really say how practical that would be for you. If you have CS2 though I can give you a breakdown of a decent workflow for this kind of stuff.
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