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07-14-2010, 07:36 PM   #1
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Yet another "what lens to buy" thread

I recently had the misfortune of having my cameras stolen in a house break-in.
Clouds have silver linings, and my insurance company has kindly agreed to a massive upgrade to current model gear. My Samsung GX10 is considered equivalent to a K7 body , and the old Sigma 28-105 (f4-5.6?) that was on the camera can be replaced by a Sigma 18-125 f3.5-5.6.
Now we've agreed on equivalent replacements, I get a store credit to that replacement value to spend on whatever I want - not necessarily the exact items quoted.
We also had some old P&S cameras taken (including some so old and outdated that I had given them to my 2 year old to play with), so the store credit is quite a handsome value.
So... what to buy?
The K7 body is settled. It will be mine . I just need to pick a lens (or lenses).
I still have the Schneider 18-55 kit lens from my Samsung, and a bag full of old manual-focus glass. Nothing exotic... mostly just cheap finds I accumulated over the years.
I tend to take photos as they happen - I rarely go out on photography expeditions with a bag of lenses looking for photos as some of you do. 95% of the time I'll pick a lens before I leave home, and only use the one lens. I travel light - at least, as light as I can with an SLR. That's why I loved that 28-105; it wasn't anything special, but it was a really handy general-purpose lens, especially for outdoors.
I use an SLR so I can get the shots I want, when they happen, without being limited by my gear telling me what I can or should do. My first ever camera was a K1000 copy, and I've never been comfortable with having the camera make decisions for me. I prefer natural light and like using a shallow DOF, so I like a reasonably fast lens. I'm a cyclist and outdoors person, so the prospect of water resistance has significant merit.
I'm honestly not all that fussed by the technical differences between a reasonable and a superb lens. I'm not shooting pictures of test cards to quantify barrel distortion.
The 18-125 Sigma lens that they've quoted me sounds like a brilliant "do everything" lens that would suit almost all of my needs - I'd probably sell my 18-55 if I got this, because I can't imagine it would get much use. To pick a fault, it could open up a little wider (although I don't want to lug around a big f2.8 monstrosity), and it's not water resistant.
The 18-55 WR lens that comes in the K7 kit is tempting for its water resistance and price (especially comparing body only v kit)... but I'd like something with more reach. I seem to spend a lot of time in the 70-105mm range.
Twin WR lens kit (18-55 and 50-200)? I'd need to carry two lenses - 50mm just isn't wide enough to be a general-purpose lens.
Any suggestions or comments?
Cheers,
Tim
Ballarat, Australia

07-14-2010, 11:33 PM   #2
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Jack of all trades = Pentax 18-250mm with some compromises on IQ but nevertheless a fine lens considering the supreme flexibility

Better IQ, lesser FL - Pentax 17-70mm

Non Pentax option: Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 - excellent IQ, good range, a bit of compromise on the wide end (FL wise) but the best IQ compared with the previous two.
07-15-2010, 12:31 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by kytra Quote
Jack of all trades = Pentax 18-250mm with some compromises on IQ but nevertheless a fine lens considering the supreme flexibility
+1 for the DA18-250mm. A great lens with better IQ than the kit lens.

I am extremely happy with the DA18-250mm together with the K-7. The only real weakness of the 18-250mm is the low-light and I have a small fast-prime for the dusk and night time situations.

The Tamron 18-250mm is another excellent alternative: indeed the DA18-250mm is based upon the Tamron 18-250mm.

Last edited by hcc; 07-15-2010 at 12:40 AM. Reason: Typos
07-15-2010, 01:28 AM   #4
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New Lens choice

I totally agree with hcc - the 18-250mm is a great lens (not sure if it's still available though?) Only down side for me is that I found it made me lazy! Sigma 30mm f1.4 is awesome and I wouldn't be without mine.

07-15-2010, 06:03 AM   #5
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Hmmm. That 18-250 does look like an amazing lens.

But... it's not cheap. Indicatively, it's probably going to cost me more than double the price of the Sigma 18-125. The difference would put a big dent in the bill for... say... a 30mm f1.4 Sigma prime.

Yes, I know, that wasn't part of the original brief, but I reserve the right to change the rules

Yes, my first need is for a "do everything" lens. But any of the 18-xxx zooms will do that. So what do I need more - a phenomenal tele range on my everyday lens... or some glass-credits to put toward something different?

Is the Pentax/Tamron megazoom that much better than the Sigma? Can you really use the 125-250 range without a tripod anyway?

For special purposes I have (old manual focus) lenses in my bag that will do both jobs - like a Tamron 70-210 f3.4-4.0, and a cheap f1.7 50mm.

If I need quasi-telescope capability, the Tamron will do it. On a tripod, when I've packed all my gear.

But I almost never use my 50 - mainly because the main virtue of a fast(ish) prime is the main limitation of a manual focus lens... it's hellish to focus accurately with a shallow DoF in low light. I can see that autofocus would be a godsend in a fast prime. I've never been there because I've never been able to justify the investment. Now it's in reach, and I'm tempted.

Given that I also need to replace a few other cameras (a P&S for the Mrs, a basic camcorder, blah blah), it looks like my share of the insurance pay out will cover:

K7 with 18-55 WR kit lens [1]; Sigma 18-125 f3.5-5.6; Sigma 30 f1.4 (or 50 f1.4?).
OR
K7 kit; Tamrax 18-250 f3.5-6.3; some change (but not enough to get anything really interesting).

I think it's pretty clear which way I'm leaning... talk me around if you think I'm going wrong!

tim

[1] keep or sell... hardly makes sense to get just the body when the kit is only ~$100 more. A WR lens would be nice to have. I'll offload my old kit lens.
07-15-2010, 06:47 AM   #6
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The Tamron 18-250 is the Pentax without SMC but, because you put it vs Sigma you'll not get the SMC anyway.

The other option seems wiser however, because you get the fast 1.4 and a wide-mid tele included, so go for it. My only caveat on Sigma - I did not find their coating to be very reliable and durable so keep a filter always on and do not clean the glass surface very often - when you do, do it very carefully.
07-15-2010, 08:24 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by kytra Quote
The Tamron 18-250 is the Pentax without SMC but, because you put it vs Sigma you'll not get the SMC anyway.

The other option seems wiser however, because you get the fast 1.4 and a wide-mid tele included, so go for it. My only caveat on Sigma - I did not find their coating to be very reliable and durable so keep a filter always on and do not clean the glass surface very often - when you do, do it very carefully.
I also think this is your best option. The Sigma 30 gets grief sometimes for being soft in the corners but unless you're shooting critical architecture shots or a select type of landscape, I can almost guarantee you it will not be an issue. As most people who actually have the lens will tell you, I love mine. It's extremely sharp everywhere but those corners and can produce really nice bokeh. I think 30 is a better focal length for indoor shots than 50, too, and obviously one of the main reasons we need a fast prime is for indoor use. Plus, the 30 is in the EX line, and that means excellent build quality and a long warranty (4 years here in the states, not sure what it is there).

I can't really attest to the Sigma coatings being less durable, as I almost never have to clean any of my lenses. I keep clear protector filters on all of them for that very reason. I would much rather have to rub on a filter than a lens coating. I sometimes get disparaged for this stance, but I stand by it. If you use either Hoya PRO1 or Marumi Super DHG clear protectors, they will not degrade your image in any way. Put them on the lens the minute you take it out of the box (and verified them as clean) and only take them off when shooting into bright lights or the sun when they could introduce flare. A quick squeeze of a rocket blower before replacing the filter and you should never have to clean the lens.

I also agree that 18-125 is a great range for an all-in-one lens. You're right, any longer than that and you're gonna need a tripod, or at least I do. Absolute IQ will be somewhat compromised but you've accepted that.
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