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09-17-2010, 01:54 PM   #1
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18-55mm one more time

I know this lens has been kicked around the block many times but this is sort of a request for advice if you guys will please bear with me.

Like most everyone states; for the price its not bad. However, if you need it for low light situations, you'd better have other glass to shoot thru. At least that is how mine performs. I know not all lens are equal and don't roll off the assembly line performing exactly the same.

I bought this lens on my K10d (which is the camera I still shoot) and all the other lens' I own are older manual lens (manual in every way and with my eyes I probably need to stay away from manual focus). Like I mentioned above, when trying to shoot indoors in low light (I guess any low light situation) its just not satisfactory. I've been contemplating purchasing a new higher end lens such as the Pentax DA 12-24mm f/4 ED AL (IF) which was recommended to me by one of the featured Pentaxians on the Pentaxian website. I've also heard that this lens has shown to be rated better than the primes in that same range.

However, I'm just a little reluctant to invest that kind of money. I'm almost considering switching camps to Niks or the Cans. I know, shame on me, right? I'm under heavy pressure form my son who shoots weddings and he's in the Canon camp after trying Nikon for a while.

I suppose everyone has a loyalty to one brand or the other for whatever reason. I've been with Pentax for years (film cameras). This K10d is my first digital. Some might say that I'm playing with an outdated model but some people still give high regard to even earlier models.

So that is the cross road I'm at. Do I invest in a newer lens and hope that it produces better results or do I look into another brand ( I like to call the others - aftermarket brand, the same way I consider motorcycles that are not Harley Davidsons ) Can I expect much better quality from, for example the 12-24? I'm not talking composition, as I know a lens can't do your thinking for you. I'm talking image quality. Or maybe the sensor is my problem and not the lens.

With the risk of much adversity, I post this hoping that I can get some helpful feed back from you guys. However, I do know that some will likely choose to bash me for even considering the change. But God did give us freedom of choice, good or bad, right?

Thanks in advance for any advice you kind folks might offer.

Best Regards

09-17-2010, 02:12 PM   #2
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Well, I am not the most experienced photographer, but I'll share my thoughts. It is completely up to you whether to solve your dilemma with Pentax or another brand -- either would work.

With Pentax, you have three approaches: upgrade body, buy a faster zoom, or invest in AF primes.

Update your sensor -- to k-x, k-r, or k5 -- and you would probably see enough improvement in ISO performance that you could continue to shoot with a kit lens.

Alternatively, you could upgrade lenses, either to a fixed-aperture f2.8 zoom or to AF primes (mostly depending on how you feel about the 'convenience' of zoom.) The new 35/2.4 would probably work nicely (and cheaply), and add a 50/1.4 and one of the wide Stigma primes (like the 24/1.8 or the 20/2.8) and you have a normal, a portrait, and a wide for less than the cost of an FA Limited or a big Canon zoom. :-)

Pentax has less of a cost advantage for AF primes than it had two years ago, but they are still a viable option if you are prepared to invest or to choose carefully. And with either zooms or primes, Pentax can meet or exceed the IQ of another brand at a given price point.

Last edited by Impartial; 09-17-2010 at 02:18 PM.
09-17-2010, 02:24 PM   #3
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Thank you Impartial for your point of view. I do appreciate it.
09-17-2010, 02:44 PM   #4
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My solution to an identical problem & maintain budgetry constraints is a Pentax M28 f2.8. I use it more than the kit. I also use the Supertak 50mm f1.4 & was fortunate enough to score an F50mm f1.7 very cheaply for autofocus. There is a Pentax 28mm f2.0 but it's a fortune.

09-17-2010, 02:57 PM   #5
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If you are shooting your k10d with just the kit lens, quite honestly any new lens will expand your horizons - significantly. My first Pentax (I used to be a Minolta film shooter) was the k10d and while I've added a k20d and a k100ds to the mix, the k10 is still my friend and will be for some time to come but even so, regardless of the brand, bodies come and go but good glass stays for a long time. I have - now - a large collection of lenses and use most of them for specific times and purposes. The DA 12-24 - for example is an outstanding UWA lens that I've used often over the past year. The constant aperture (f4) feature is really a help too. I traded a lens to get the DA 12-24 and am glad I did. What I've done with my k10d though is switch out the viewfinder to a Katzeye split image viewfinder and I use it with all my older MF lens. The split image viewfinder has really helped with using older glass.

OTOH - since I upgraded my kit lens to the DA*16-50 f2.8, my kit lens is not used that much. I was never unhappy with it but it's not a good as a * lens and that's that.

However if you have access to more glass through your son switching could make sense. I get that you are at a crossroads. Personally, I love Pentax color and creature comforts. My daughter is in the Canon camp and I hate her camera (40D).
09-17-2010, 03:22 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by FishrOfGrizz Quote
Like I mentioned above, when trying to shoot indoors in low light (I guess any low light situation) its just not satisfactory. I've been contemplating purchasing a new higher end lens such as the Pentax DA 12-24mm f/4 ED AL (IF) which was recommended to me by one of the featured Pentaxians on the Pentaxian website. I've also heard that this lens has shown to be rated better than the primes in that same range.

However, I'm just a little reluctant to invest that kind of money. I'm almost considering switching camps to Niks or the Cans.
I'm not a fan of the original 18-55 at all. The newer versions are better, but you could consider keeping it and adding a prime lens like the new DA 35mm F2.4.

The 12-24 is a nice lens but not something I would consider to replace the 18-55 as it is too specialized (wide angle only) and not significantly faster. A DA*16-50 would cost less and be a more suitable replacement, also giving you a fully weather-resistant setup. It is an ideal wedding lens, and much cheaper than Nikon and Canon equivalents. Another possibility would be the much lower priced Tamron 17-50, but do ensure you get a good one and it focusses properly on the K10.

The Pentax 16-45, 17-70 and Sigma 17-70 are better than the kit lens, but not really fast enough for indoor use without a flash.
09-17-2010, 03:28 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by FishrOfGrizz Quote
Like most everyone states; for the price its not bad. However, if you need it for low light situations, you'd better have other glass to shoot thru. At least that is how mine performs. I know not all lens are equal and don't roll off the assembly line performing exactly the same.
Actually, to the extent that is relevant to low light photography, all DA18-55's *do* actually perform exactly the same. They are all f/3.5 at the wide end and f/5.6 at the long end. You want better performance in low light, that all about one thing and one thing only: a larger maximum aperture.

QuoteQuote:
I've been contemplating purchasing a new higher end lens such as the Pentax DA 12-24mm f/4 ED AL (IF)
While that's a great lens, it has a *smaller* maximum aperture than the kit lens - f/4 versus f/3.5. So it's actually a step backwards in that department.

To get better results in low light, you need a lens with a larger maximum aperture. Practically nothing else matters. The new DA L 35/2.4 is an obvious choice, as is the DA40, the various manual 28/2.8's out there, or anything you can find that is f/2 or better in a focal length and price range you are comfortable with.
09-17-2010, 03:39 PM   #8
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I also have Canon shooter at home, but still I bought few better lenses for my K10D. This camera can do much better when adequate lens is attached.
The choice is abudant and you can experiment. I recommend to try out FA28-70/4, DA16-45/4 and tamron 17-50/2,8 that provide great value for the money.
I personally think the DA* 16-50 is not overpriced - I prefer it to Canons EF-S 17-55 and this one is even more expensive.
However I'm prime oriented person. In my bag the DA14, FA24, FA35 and DFA50 replaced the kit zoom.

You don't have to use manual focus lens with Pentax. There are more fine AF lenses available than most photographers ever need.

09-17-2010, 04:05 PM   #9
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First, let me say how grateful I am that everyone has been extremely polite and considerate of what I'm asking. I've read many forum threads where only about every 5th comment is of any value and the rest are just taking shots at what everyone else is saying. Thanks

Very good suggestions indeed. I had read earlier about the Katzeye split image viewfinder and will look into that. Is that something I can change out myself or do you need to send it in? Looking back at my original post where I said I was reluctant to make such an investment as is required for some of the newer lens, what I meant was that I was reluctant w/o being able to test one first. You can rent Nikon and Canon lens but as far as I know, you can't rent Pentax lens. That would be great if you could so you could try before you make the full investment. Can't have everything.

In the first post 'Impartial' mentioned updating the sensor. Did this imply that you can update only the sensor or does it in fact mean just replacing the K10d with a newer model camera?
09-17-2010, 04:21 PM   #10
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I've found that after the first time opening my k10d's viewfinder, replacing it was relatively simple. The first time was hairy as I didn't quite know what to expect. Practice on the stock model. Katzeye has got good instructions on it. They do installations of course but you can to it yourself. That's not so true for a k100d, I can tell you but the k10/k20 are simple. Good luck.
09-17-2010, 05:01 PM   #11
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The sensor change that Impartial mentioned (as an option) is referring to an entirely new camera body. The k-x, while considered to be an "entry" level camera, is reported to have fabulous low-light capability. I do not have a k-x, but the test in dxomark.com affirms its high iso capability. That camera alone would be notably less expensive than the 12-24 which, as Marc points out, might not actually get you the low light capability that I think you are seeking. Best of luck to you in sorting through your options.
09-17-2010, 06:15 PM   #12
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You have a rather plain version 1 Pentax 18-55 and want to know if going to another brand and their plain 18-55 will be much better?

No.

Contrary to some dismissing the 12-24 as "too specialized" (yet recommending a fixed FL :-), I find it very useful for a wide variety of subjects from architecture to cars, and it works out to about the same moderate wide angle (35mm) at the long end that we used in film days. It is a tad slower than the 18-55 only at the wide end of the 18-44 but not enough to matter...If I'm only taking 2 lenses, the 12-24 is nealy always one of them.

If you "can't invest that type of money" (maybe 600 used), how on earth will you afford Canikon and their lenses?

Still, almost any quality 17/18-50/55 f2.8 upgrade will be significant. Unless you want features not found in Pentax (such as snappier AF), or very long lenses, I would not bail just yet.
09-17-2010, 06:47 PM   #13
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I recently upgraded from the 18-55 kit lens which came with the K7 to the DA*16-50 and haven't regretted it for a second..

These seem to hold their value reasonably well too.. selling here second or third-hand for only a hundred or so less than new, so even if you're unsure about spending the money on better Pentax glass instead of switching camps, you probably won't lose out much if you still decide to do so.

My bet though is that having experienced the DA*16-50 you won't switch

Nick
09-17-2010, 06:51 PM   #14
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Well, remembering that I kind of hated the kit lens that came with the K10d, I would say go ahead and upgrade your lens. I haven't tried it on my K10d yet but I don't think there is any contest, in terms of image quality, between the Original kit lens and the DA12-24. These were all done with either the K7 or my IR K20d (you'll be able to tell the difference).

Pentax DA 12-24 - a set on Flickr

I find it very capable, even in low light situations. If you use a flash however, be aware that you'll want a shoe mounted flash for this lens. That said, I would think the 12-24 would be a good Addition to a kit. For a Replacement of the kit lens however, the DA*16-50 may be a better choice if you want to keep it in the family. If SDM concerns you, keep your K10d at firmware version 1.20 and the lens will screw drive focus just like your others. If I were buying one today, I would just make sure I had an extended warranty and from there, wouldn't worry about it.

Used on several Pentax bodies..

Pentax DA*16-50 SDM - a set on Flickr

If SDM Really scares the bejesus out of you, the DA16-45. These, I've seen used on ebay for well under $300 quite often.

09-17-2010, 06:56 PM   #15
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Point well taken SpecialK.
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