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11-17-2010, 01:10 AM   #1
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DA* 16-50mm vs DA 15/21/35

Which option would you choose?

Option 1: DA* 16-50mm SDM
Option 2: DA 15mm Limited + DA 21mm Limited + DA 35mm Limited

The zoom weighs about the same as the prime trio yet it costs only half as much as the combination. Besides, it is faster at all focal lengths. However, the 35mm Limited is probably much sharper wide open.

On the other hand, although DA Limited lenses are not weather-proof, they are crafted like jewels and they have supposedly magical qualities.

There are a lot of threads on SDM failures in this forum. In fact, there are so many opinions that I am confused whether newer productions are still prone so such problem. Primes have fewer moving parts and these particular ones do not have/need AF motors.

Both Canon and Nikon have 2.8 standard zooms, but it seems that premium pancake-(ish) primes are unique to Pentax. (One would be remiss if he/she does not own some of these fine creations?)

11-17-2010, 01:44 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by curiouspeter Quote
Which option would you choose?
Both (see my signature).

If I had to choose, it would be the DA 16-50. But everyone is different.

You didn't mention that the DA 35mm Limited is a macro lens, capable of 1:1 mag. ratio.

I think Pentax now has the SDM problem under control.
11-17-2010, 01:59 AM   #3
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I would always go for prime lenses. They have definitely definitely better sharpness, contrast, bokeh, distortion and the list goes on.
Pictures just look better with them. I sold my zooms and went for primes and never looked back.
11-17-2010, 03:50 AM   #4
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The primes for sure. A rule of thumb for me is that a good prime will always out perform a comparable zoom and in this case you are talking about some of the best primes out there.

11-17-2010, 04:16 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by KxBlaze Quote
The primes for sure. A rule of thumb for me is that a good prime will always out perform a comparable zoom and in this case you are talking about some of the best primes out there.
yes, but the da15 is f4, while the zoom is f2.8
11-17-2010, 04:45 AM   #6
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2.8 or 4

Assuming you are using 15/16-50 for landscape, then you are probably up at f/8.0 irrespective of the lens to get a decent depth of field. The zoom has no real advantage.

Last edited by garethwebber; 11-17-2010 at 04:45 AM. Reason: clarify
11-17-2010, 05:16 AM   #7
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A lot depends on what you shoot. I like primes a lot, but when I am on family excursions, I use zooms without fail. The DA 16 -50 is a really nice zoom lens. The weakest spot is shooting at 16 mm and I think you will find considerably more distortion there, than you would with the DA 15. Also, it needs to be stopped down to f4 minimum to avoid vignetting at the wide end.

I don't think you would go wrong with either, I just think you need to think about your style of shooting and decide if you want to be a zoom person or a prime person.
11-17-2010, 05:26 AM   #8
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Changing primes in the field sucks and can be fraught with risks. As for zooms, the 16- 50 is top notch and a lot more convenient and WR too!

11-17-2010, 05:48 AM   #9
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It's simple, really. Both setups will yield great lenses, make no mistake. The choices are:

convenience of only one lens, faster max aperture, weatherr sealing, cheaper price, vs

highest optical qualities, each lens being much smaller, possibility to bring only what you need.

So starting here it's your call. You could also get a 100$ 18-55 WR for those times when you really want WR (like I did) and go with the primes at other times. But it really depends on your indended purposes. For instance I use the Sigma 17-70 for most shoots, but when I need a low light combo I bring my 21 and 50. And when it's raining I bring my WR kit.
11-17-2010, 06:04 AM   #10
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It's about size and portability. I would buy the primes because they are tiny and fit nicely in a bag. You don't need to carry them all around, either.
11-17-2010, 06:21 AM   #11
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Since I own lots of primes and not the zoom, that would seem like the answer. It isn't the whole story. I do own the DA 17-70, and might have purchased the 16-50 instead if there weren't so much concern about bad copies of this expensive zoom a couple of years ago when I bought the 17-70.

The way it works now is that the zoom stays on the K20d most of the time (sometimes replaced by the FA77 or DA 55-300). It is perfectly balanced there. If my workhorse zoom were the DA16-50, it would be even more appropriate, since there would be weather resistance all the way around. The 17-70 on K20d is my event rig, and it often ends up connected to via bracket or wireless one or more flashes as well. SDM lenses are much quieter than the tiny screw-drive primes, which also pays off at some events.

On the other hand, the primes on the K-x are a thing of beauty--compact, sharp, balanced and feather light. The size and weight of carrying four (in my case) primes in the bag is about the same as the 16-50, but the weight and agility of the photographic instrument as I use it is another thing entirely. The camera seems to disappear, both to me and to my subject. The results are superb at any aperture. I may be seduced by the K5, but right now, I wouldn't want to travel with any other complement.
11-17-2010, 06:29 AM   #12
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It appears from the way your question was framed that you like the convenience of the zooms but that you want the feeling of owning something like a good quality prime. This is only natural: many people choose pentax for the ease and quality of the limited prime lenses.

Based on your question, get the 16-50mm lens and one of the da limited prime lenses based on the focal length you like to shoot the best. The 16-50 is a big lens, there are times when you dont want to carry that around. My favorite is the DA 70mm, its only drawback is that it cannot close focus. But I have learned to work with it. Your prime wish list is of the shorter variety. The DA 35mm is a macro lens too. Takes nice pictures. Probably your safest bet if you go the two lens route on this.
11-17-2010, 06:32 AM   #13
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Iíve not much to add to the above except some personal observations. I have the DA* 16~50/2.8 and one Limited the DA 70/2.4. I have been a fan of primes forever (see signature) as they are almost always faster, lighter and sharper than zooms. Although the DA* 16~50 is the best zoom I have ever used this still holds true. It is a little soft at 2.8 but sharpens nicely when stepped down a bit. There is also more distortion than I would like at 16mm but what a great lens. Very versatile with fantastic colours and it is in my bag at all times.

If you want the best possible image quality go with the primes. As ever the prime will be sharper than the zoom at its designed focal length. If the extra cost of the limiteds isnít an issue for you and you donít mind changing lenses they are an excellent option. They are certainly far lighter and less intimidating if you are doing a portrait. Go with the zoom if you want versatility and image quality which is almost as good. There is no bad choice here and only your budget and shooting style can make the final choice. In an ideal world get both.

Tom G
11-17-2010, 07:13 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by curiouspeter Quote
Which option would you choose?

Option 1: DA* 16-50mm SDM
Option 2: DA 15mm Limited + DA 21mm Limited + DA 35mm Limited

Option 1.
I hate zoom lenses. Big fat fugly things.
11-17-2010, 07:29 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by curiouspeter Quote
Which option would you choose?

Option 1: DA* 16-50mm SDM
Option 2: DA 15mm Limited + DA 21mm Limited + DA 35mm Limited
How important is the weather sealing to you? How important is the F2.8 for low light and subject isolation of the 16-50?

If I'm shooting people or hiking and space is a concern, I'm more likely to take along my 16-50 to shoot than I am to take my 15mm Limited, but my opinion is that the 15mm is sharper and more contrasty than the DA* 16-50mm at the wide end.

If I'm shooting landscapes though, the Sigma 8-16mm is almost impossible to leave behind.

Depending on the weather, I'll take along my FA 31 ltd, as it's sharp enough to cut diamonds, and has improved low light capabilities.

Something else to consider is a trio like the DA 15/4 ltd, FA* 24/2, and FA 31/1.8.
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