Monday, December 18, 2006

Typical Photographic Kit

Almost any photographic kit starts with my two Pentax K10D bodies with D-BG2 battery grips. I only use SMC Pentax lenses unless otherwise specified. First off, I almost always take the DA 21/3.2 Limited and DA 70/2.4 Limited lenses. For one, they are pancake lenses which means they are quite small. They also provide excellent optical quality. I typically also carry the DA 12-24/4.0 and FA* 28-70/2.8 lenses. I like to carry the FA* 80-200/2.8 lens if weight is not too much of an issue. I often like to be prepared for macro shots which sometimes causes me to take along the A* 200/4.0 Macro lens. To top it off, I often carry the FA 50/1.4 lens because it is my fastest lens and produces very good pictures in extremely low light. I carry most of this gear in a Lowepro Magnum AW camera bag.

The last part of the kit consists of my A* 400/2.8 lens along with A 1.4x-L, A 2.0x-L, and F 1.7x AF teleconverters. Due to the significant weight, I only carry the A* 400/2.8 if telephoto shots are going to be a major part of my pictures. Most of the time, I also carry the Gitzo 1325 tripod with the Kirk BH-1 Ball Head. If the A* 400/2.8 lens is coming, I also bring the Wimberley WH-200 Gimbal Head and I put much of this extra stuff into a Lowepro CompuTrekker Plus backpack.

2 x Pentax K10D Bodies with D-BG2 Battery Grips
SMC Pentax-DA 12-24/4.0
SMC Pentax-DA 21/3.2 Limited
SMC Pentax-DA 70/2.4 Limited
SMC Pentax-FA* 28-70/2.8
SMC Pentax-FA 50/1.4
SMC Pentax-FA* 80-200/2.8


SMC Pentax-A* 200/4.0 Macro
SMC Pentax-A* 400/2.8
SMC Pentax-A 1.4x TC-L
SMC Pentax-A 2.0x TC-L
SMC Pentax-F 1.7x AF TC

SMC Pentax FA* 28-70/2.8 Lens Arrived!

The SMC Pentax FA* 28-70/2.8 lens arrived today. I am very glad to have finally acquired this elusive lens.

My Photography Equipment

On this page I list the photography equipment that I own and use. I am currently using a Pentax digital SLR system based on the Pentax K20D digital SLR.

Pentax Camera Bodies

2 x Pentax K20D Bodies with D-BG2 Battery Grips
Pentax K200D Body
Pentax K2000 (on order)

Pentax DA* Lenses

SMC Pentax DA* 16-50/2.8
SMC Pentax DA* 50-135/2.8
SMC Pentax DA* 55/1.4 (on order)
SMC Pentax DA* 60-250/2.8 (on order)
SMC Pentax DA* 200/2.8
SMC Pentax DA* 300/4

Pentax DA Limited Lenses

SMC Pentax DA 21/3.2 Limited
SMC Pentax DA 35/2.8 Macro Limited
SMC Pentax DA 40/2.8 Limited
SMC Pentax DA 70/2.4 Limited

Pentax DA/DFA Lenses

SMC Pentax DA 10-17/3.5-4.5 Fisheye
SMC Pentax DA 12-24/4.0
SMC Pentax DA 14/2.8
SMC Pentax DA 17-70/4
SMC Pentax DFA 50/2.8 Macro
SMC Pentax DFA 100/2.8 Macro

Pentax A*/A/FA Lenses and Accessories

SMC Pentax A* 200/4.0 Macro
SMC Pentax A* 400/2.8
SMC Pentax A 1.4x Rear Converter S
SMC Pentax A 1.4x Rear Converter L
SMC Pentax A 2.0x Rear Converter L
SMC Pentax F 1.7x AF Rear Converter
SMC Pentax FA 50/1.4
3 x Pentax AF-200T Flashes
Pentax AF200FG Flash
Pentax AF360FGZ Flash
Pentax AF540FGZ Flash
Pentax AF160FC Ring Flash (on order)

Soon to be sold

SMC Pentax DA 16-45/4.0
SMC Pentax FA 24-90/3.5-4.5
SMC Pentax A* 300/4.0
SMC Pentax A 400/5.6


1 x Nikon SB-26 Flash
2 x Nikon SB-25 Flashes
2 x Vivitar 285HV Flashes
LumiQuest Snoot
3 x PocketWizard Plus II Transceivers
1 x Dyna-Lite Compact Retractable Lightstand
1 x Manfrotto 3373 Compact Lightstand
2 x Photoflex Shoe Mount Multiclamps with Umbrella Holders
3 x Westcott 43" Optical White Satin Collapsible Umbrellas
3 x Westcott 43" Soft Silver Collapsible Umbrellas
2 x Westcott 43" Convertible Umbrellas

Carrying Solutions

Domke F-2 Ballistic, F-3X Ballistic, F-5XB, F-5XC, F-6, and F-6 Ballistic
Domke F-3 Backpack
Domke J-3, J-5XB, J-803, and J-Series Belt Bag
Domke Tan and Black Photo Vests
Lowepro CompuDaypack
Lowepro Stealth AW II
Think Tank Airport Airstream
Think Tank Airport Ultralight
Think Tank Urban Disguise 10, 20, 30, 35, 40, and 60

Tripods, etc.

Gitzo 1325 Tripod with Kirk BH-1 Ball Head and Wimberley Head
Gitzo GT-1531 Tripod with Kirk BH-3 Ball Head
Gitzo GM-2540 Monopod with Kirk QRC 1.75 Platform
Kirk Mighty Low Boy Tripod
Overxposed OX Mini Pro Plate

I have really been enjoying using my Canon G9 kit. I use the following items with it

Canon G9 Kit

Canon G9
Canon ST-E2 Flash Controller
2 x Canon 580EX Flashes

I still own some Canon equipment but I hardly ever use it. I find my Pentax bodies to be much more to my liking and I like the Pentax lenses better.

Canon Digital SLR System

2 x Canon EOS 20D Bodies
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi
Canon EF 24-105/4.0L IS USM
Canon EF 70-200/2.8L IS USM
Canon EF-S 17-85/4.0-5.6 IS USM
Canon Extender EF 1.4x II

Sunday, December 17, 2006

2 x SMC Pentax-FA 28-200/3.8-5.6 Lenses

I picked up two more SMC Pentax-FA 28-200/3.8-5.6 lenses today which brings my total up to three. I am going to give one each to two of my friends. I also bought a Pentax ZX-7 body with one of the lenses. I will probably give it away. I really have no need for film bodies anymore. In any case, two out of the three lenses do not have hoods with them but fortunately one I bought today does have the hood.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

SMC Pentax-FA* 28-70/2.8 Lens

Earlier this week, I purchased the SMC Pentax-FA* 28-70/2.8 lens on eBay. It will be arriving this Monday. I have been wanting to acquire this lens for some time now and I am glad to finally get it. This means I now have both the FA* 28-70/2.8 and FA* 80-200/2.8 zoom lenses. These are probably the best two zoom lenses Pentax has ever made.

The Story of My Pentax Digital SLR System

I started learning photography a number of years back with Pentax equipment and I have always liked their equipment. Back then, I was using film like everyone else primarily with K1000, MX, and LX bodies. They all worked very well and I especially liked the size of the MX and everything about the LX. Later, I used a ZX-5 and ended my film career with the MZ-S. I entered the digital era with a little Pentax Optio S point-and-shoot. It worked well but just does not have the capabilities I am used to. Three years ago, I finally decided to jump to a digital SLR with the Pentax *ist D. The name was terrible but the camera was pretty good. It was a six megapixel semi-pro level camera. Its biggest flaw was probably the exceedingly slow speed of writing to compact flash. The *ist D has been the only Pentax digital SLR to use compact flash. Everything else uses SD cards.

Earlier this year (2006), Pentax surprised everyone by bringing out the K100D. The K100D really fits into the slot filled by the *ist DL and *ist DS. The interface is essentially like the *ist DL but its claim to fame is SR or Shake Reduction. The K100D is the first Pentax SLR to have any type of Shake Reduction (Pentax term), Image Stabilization (Canon term), or Vibration Reduction (Nikon term). At around the same time, Pentax also brought out the K110D which is a K100D without Shake Reduction.

Early in 2006, I was frustrated with the lack of progress that Pentax was making in the digital arena. The *ist D had many pro features. The *ist DS slimmed those down and then the *ist DL really slimmed those down. Because of the state of Pentax digital SLRs at that time, I jumped ship and bought two Canon EOS 20D digital SLRs. Along with the cameras, I also bought some very expense Image Stabilized lenses such as the EF 70-200/2.8L IS USM lens and the EF 24-105/4.0L IS USM lens. All in all, I acquired nine very expensive Canon lenses. I had a range from 16mm to 420mm.

I took this kit to both Belize in March and Egypt and Cyprus in May. The Canon kit worked pretty well but I was disappointed in the optical quality of many of the lenses and the physical size and weight of the kit made hauling equipment a major hassle.

During the summer, the Pentax K100D surfaced and made me regret getting out of the Pentax system. Fortunately, I did not totally leave my system behind. Over a number of years I had accumulated almost fifty Pentax lenses. Many of these I was not using on a regular basis. Realistically, you will not use very many lenses most of the time. Lens upgrades also make your former lenses shelf bound. Early in 2006 I sold off all the lenses I was not using. The only three I somewhat regret selling are the SMCP-FA 31/1.8 Limited, SMCP-FA 43/1.9 Limited, and SMCP-FA 77/1.8 Limited. They were such nice lenses that I never took them on any major trips because I did not want to damage them.

Anyway, I did not sell my most-used favorites. I was planning on selling off the rest of the Pentax equipment that I owned when the K100D information suddenly surfaced. That did it! I started using the Pentax *ist D again and all the great memories of using my Pentax gear started flooding back. I also became aware of how slow the *ist D wrote to compact flash cards after using the Canon EOS 20D. When the K100D came out, I immediately ordered it. The Shake Reduction was amazing especially since, unlike Canon or Nikon, it works with all your old lenses because Shake Reduction is in the body, not the lenses. I very much enjoyed using the K100D but it was definitely a step down from the Canon EOS 20D from a specifications standpoint. The smaller size and weight as well as supreme optical quality of the Pentax glass more than made up for the slight inconveniences.

Soon after the K100D came out, rumors started surfacing about a new Pentax body in the 10MP range. This had my attention. After all, this would give me a resolution upgrade from the Canon EOS 20D as well as the capability of using all my Pentax glass. Once I found out a little more about the Pentax K10D, I realized that this would be an amazing and groundbreaking camera for Pentax as well as a serious competitor to Canon and Nikon offerings at the prosumer as well as the lower-end professional level. Because of this, I decided that it would be worthwhile to add Pentax digital camera sales to my current ISP and consulting business. The town I live in is quite small and has no camera store besides Wal-Mart and Staples. Of course big retailers like those two have no real motivation to help their customers and the employees often know nothing about digital cameras at all. Also, no one carries digital SLRs except for the Canon Digital Rebel series and its kit lenses.

On November 21, 2006, I finally received my first shipment of K10D cameras. I am keeping one K10D and so I immediately set upon getting used to the camera. This camera is better than I could have imagined. I am once again firmly committed to Pentax as my digital SLR system. That was a short (or maybe somewhat long) history of my photographic odyssey.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

SMC Pentax-FA 28-200/3.8-5.6 Lens

This past week, I bought a very interesting lens. It is the SMC Pentax-FA 28-200/3.8-5.6 lens. I am looking forward to it arriving.