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06-03-2010, 07:34 PM   #1
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Recommendations for replacing the 18-55mm DA-L Kit Lens...

I bought a KX 2-lens kit (18-55mm & 55-300mm) several months ago, and I'm looking to replace the 18-55mm with something that's a little better.

I've previously owned one other DSLR kit (Olympus E-500), and I would describe myself as an avid amateur hobbyist. I do a lot of shooting for my own pleasure, but also do family portraits and volunteer a lot for my children's school as well as the affiliated church.

I want to emphasize that so far I like everything about the 55-300mm, and I would like to use that as the caliber/quality of lens that I'm looking for in a replacement for the 18-55mm. I don't want to and cannot pay $1,000 for lens. I understand that type of money would get me a great lens, but I, personally, don't need that quality of lens. I mean, if someone wants to give me one or sell me one for $400 -- Great! I'll take it! But even though I know that $1,000 lens is worth every penny, it's just not for me.

So what's out there? I'm mainly looking for a direct range replacement, but I have to give something up at either end I would rather it be at the "long" end (like a 18-50mm or a 16-45mm). I've mainly be researching the various 17-70mm offerings. I like the idea of SDM or HSM, but I'm also a bit worried about it because I noticed several posts (quite a few actually) where SDM has failed and the lens had to be sent off for repair. I'm more about accurate autofocus rather than fast, but I wouldn't be too put off if I could get both. I don't mind any namebrand -- Pentax, Sigma, Tamron...whatever. The money paid just needs to show a significant improvement over the 18-55 kit lens it will be replacing.

Any recommendations/advice would be appreciated. Don't be afraid to suggest a more expensive lens if you think it the quality benefit would justify it, but don't be offended if in the end I veto it based purely on price. I have sprung for "overpriced" or out-of-budget items before when the benefit can justify it. But also keep in mind that I'm very happy with the 55-300mm, which is not an expensive lens, and if the 18-55mm would give me the same image quality I wouldn't be looking to replace it.

Thanks in advance...

-- Chris

06-03-2010, 08:46 PM   #2
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Sigma all the way.

Sigma lenses really offer a lot of value for the money. My primary lens is a Sigma 24-70 f2.8, and I absolutely love it. If you could manage to stretch your budget to price then great, if not there are several cheaper options that will be an improvement over the kit lens. My second choice would be the 18-50 f2.8 EX, it offers a fast fixed aperture size while maintaining a relatively low cost, and the EX build quality is outstanding. I would consider all of these excellent options from Sigma

24-70 mm f2.8

18-50 mm f2.8

28-70 mm f2.8

17-70 mm f2.8 - 4.5

All links are to B&H because I find that they offer some of the best prices, and amazing customer service.
06-03-2010, 08:56 PM   #3
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As people have pointed out to me, the 18-55 is actually not a bad lense. While its not my favourite lense, other than being a bit slow it is capable of producing nice images. For me, it turned out that it was the focal range not clicking with me that was the problem. I'm now mostly using a F 35-70mm 3.5 - 4.5 which is of similar optical quality to 18-55 and I'm happy with it. Unfortunately the 17-70 is outside of my budget at the moment but is on my dream list.

I'm sure owners of the 17-70 and 16-45 will comment.

Last edited by kiwi_jono; 06-03-2010 at 09:03 PM.
06-03-2010, 09:11 PM   #4
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Do you have the 18-55 AL I? or the 18-55 AL II? If its the first version, you might consider just upgrading to the second version and its cheap!

I have both the 16-45 and the 18-55 WR (based on the second version of the 18-55 AL).

The 16-45 for 300 or under blows the 18-55 out of the water overall. I love that lens. If you are not content with getting another kit lens get the 16-45 for sure... it wont break the bank either.

HOWEVER the 18-55 WR is quite impressive for the money. I just took this today.




Last edited by kalison; 06-03-2010 at 10:11 PM.
06-03-2010, 09:48 PM   #5
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This site is very useful in seeing what these lenses are capable of.

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06-03-2010, 10:07 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by dmgabe Quote
This site is very useful in seeing what these lenses are capable of.

Pixel Peeper
Nice link!
06-03-2010, 10:47 PM   #7
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Tamron 17-50/2.8 for much better bokeh and low light, fast aperture setting all the way through the zoom range. It's my "indoor" lens, but it's a very solid performer anywhere if you want that constant 2.8 aperture.

I really think Pentax needs to upgrade the 17-70 to make it a 17-90/4.0 WR for a true outdoor walkaround lens. As for SDM, not sold on that yet.
06-03-2010, 11:38 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
Tamron 17-50/2.8 for much better bokeh and low light, fast aperture setting all the way through the zoom range. It's my "indoor" lens, but it's a very solid performer anywhere if you want that constant 2.8 aperture.

I really think Pentax needs to upgrade the 17-70 to make it a 17-90/4.0 WR for a true outdoor walkaround lens. As for SDM, not sold on that yet.
17-90 f/4 WR!? I would buy that in a heartbeat! Oh Pentax, please deliver this to us! I would pay 6-700 for this. SDM with Screw backup juuuuuust incase

What I was wishing for was the Canon equivalent of the 15-85 USM. Regarded as (one of) the best EF-S lenses with "L" quality optics... but will never be "L" because its EF-S.

06-03-2010, 11:44 PM   #9
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The Tamron 17-50 and the Sigma 18-50 are pretty much even money. While everyone has their personal preference, in my experience, the Sigmas have demonstrated better build quality. Especially considering the Sigma 18-50 is an EX (Sigmas designation for pro level gear). If you are lucky enough to live in a bigger city that has a large camera shop, they will most likely let you try both so you can see which you really like better. The one Tamron lens I bought (28-75 f2.8) was quickly returned for the Sigma that I have now.

Aside from the personal preference, and past experience with build quality, the Tamron and Sigma are nearly identical lenses in terms of specs.

I am not trying to say that one brand is better than the other, just trying to inform you of my limited experience with Tamron.
06-04-2010, 01:53 AM   #10
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I replaced the kit lens with DA 17-70 because I need the extra range and wouldn't shoot much below f4 anyways. I'm very satisfied with its IQ wide open. If F2.8 is important to you then I'd recommend Tamron 17-50 as "direct range replacement" or Tamron 28-75 if you can give up on the wide end for more tele reach. I've tried both for some shots and imo both is great.
06-04-2010, 03:10 AM   #11
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You should first make up your mind what are you really looking for in the upgrade.

Is your lens too short?

Is your lens not wide enough?

Are you looking for a faster lens?

Are you looking for a sharper one?

You should review the images you've taken with your kit and see whether:

you're shooting mostly wide open (ie you need a fast lens).

you're either using the 18mm or 55mm more often (thus decide you you need a longer reaching or a wider lens)

you're not happy with the quality, like sharpness and contrast, of your kit lens.

money is burning a hole in your pocked :P

Myself i've found needing something wider than the 28mm the Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8 is offering me so I'm looking for a trade

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photographic-equipment-sale/101367-trade-...f2-8-ex-d.html

I suggest you take a little bit longer time to evaluate your needs.

$400 buys you a nice used lens.
06-04-2010, 05:19 AM   #12
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Normal zooms to consider for around $400:

Pentax DA17-70mm f4
Pentax DA16-45mm f4
Tamron 17-50mm f2.8
Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4
Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4.5

This website has very extensive reviews: Photozone.de. For the Tamron and Sigma lenses you may need to look under Nikon or Canon as these lenses are manufactured for multiple mounts.
06-04-2010, 07:04 AM   #13
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For a reasonable budget of around $250 you can get a used 16-45 - this was my first foray into higher end lenses and it has never disapointed. The F2.8 lenses are going to run over $400-500, and the Pentax 17-70 is also in that price range. The extra 1mm on the wide end is also a significant difference (extra mm's on the wide end add much more angle of view than when at telephoto lengths). Check the market place (as shameless a plug as I will go!).
06-04-2010, 07:14 AM   #14
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I went with the 16-45. For about 250 you get a big jump in IQ from the kit lens. Sharpness is noticably better but contrast and color are where the 16-45 makes the jump. I don't have the budget for the high dollar lenses so I'm planning on sticking with the 16-45 for a while. And with the K-x Iso performance the speed isn't quite as important (I know!! It's always important). Get the 16-45 and save the rest of your money for a 10-20 sigma;-) That makes for a nice selection of glass at a budget price.
06-04-2010, 02:33 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by dmgabe Quote
My second choice would be the 18-50 f2.8 EX, it offers a fast fixed aperture size while maintaining a relatively low cost, and the EX build quality is outstanding. I would consider all of these excellent options from Sigma

18-50 mm f2.8
Wow...the 18-50mm f2.8 is a really good deal at $419 (new) and seems to have excellent (if not perfect) reviews. I'm not sure how I missed this lens at this price -- I must've had 17-70mm on my mind or something. This might end up being the lens for me.

QuoteOriginally posted by dmgabe Quote
I definitely like the range of the 17-70mm, but I noticed that the f2.8-4.5 seems to have been replaced by the f2.8-4 HSM. What are you thoughts on HSM and SDM. I admit they have me a little worried with the failure rate.

Thanks for your reply. For whatever reason, the 18-50 EX f2.8 is news to me. I'm not sure how I missed it!

-- Chris
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