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11-22-2010, 10:04 AM - 4 Likes   #1
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Hands-on w/ SMC DA 18-135mm/3.5-5.6 Lens (Many Photos)

Got this lens a few days ago, didn't really have time to do a thorough review, here I'm just sharing some hands-on experiences, and some sample photos taken w/ it on a K5.

The lens is much smaller than I expected, just a little bit bigger than the 1855 kit lens. But it seems to be very well built, feels solid and sturdy, no shaking even when the lens is fully extended. I don't have the DA17-70 w/ me anymore, but I do feel this new 18-135 lens is better built than the DA17-70.

AF speed is very fast, faster than any SDM lens I've ever used, and I've used all the current SDM lenses. AF is very quiet too, similar to the SDM if not quieter. Focusing ring does not turn during AF, which is a big plus to me. Oh btw, it does feature quick-shift for eash AF/MF shift. Focusing ring is located close to the camera body end, not like all the other Pentax lenses, which I think is a very clever design 'cause we won't be using the focusing ring much for a lens like this, better just put it somewhere out of the way.

The lens can focus pretty close, about 40cm all the way from 18 to 135mm, pretty useful when using it for some closeups. The round shaped aperture blades do help getting smoother bokeh. Aperture is still pretty decent at near 70mm, here is the max apertures at different focal range:

18-20mm:F3.5
21-28mm:F4
29-68mm:F4.5
69mm-135mm:F5.6

Optically the lens is pretty sharp through out the focal range, performs the best from 24 to around 100mm, sharp enough even used wide open at the wide or tele end, if focused properly. It produces very nice contrasty photos w/ pleasing colors, plus its small and compact size, fast AF, great built quality and weather-resistant design, it's one of the best travel or walkabout lens Pentax currently is offering I think.

Oh I forgot to mention, the lens looks very nice too, especially when mounted on K-5:






Here are two comparison photos between this new 18-135 lens and a 18-55 kit lens:






I didn't spend too much time taking serious review samples, all the following photos are just some random photos taken either under my flat or around Orchard Rd - the busiest shopping street here in Singapore. All photos were taken in RAW, converted with Pentax Photo Utility v4.30.

Here are a couple of comparison photos to show the focal range this lens covers:

18mm end:


135mm end:


Here are another pair:

18mm end:


135mm end:


You can see the lens covers a great range of focal length, very convenient for travel or walkabout.

Is the lens sharp enough? I think it is. Here is a shot at 48mm:



A 100% crop of the above photo:




Some wide angle samples:


















Some closeups:
















Some street people shots:














Here are a couple for my kids to finish the review samples:








That's all for my quick review. Hope you like it.

Cheers!

11-22-2010, 10:12 AM   #2
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Nice review and photos too. Seems like a very good walk-around lens. Any PP done on those photos besides the RAW converting?
11-22-2010, 10:16 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by KxBlaze Quote
Nice review and photos too. Seems like a very good walk-around lens. Any PP done on those photos besides the RAW converting?
Thanks

I'm not too much of a PPing guy, but most photos did have some minor post process as my usual simple routine: level/curve adjustment, that's all.
11-22-2010, 10:54 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by frank Quote
AF speed is very fast, faster than any SDM lens I've ever used, and I've used all the current SDM lenses. AF is very quiet too, similar to the SDM if not quieter. Focusing ring does not turn during AF, which is a big plus to me.
This is very exciting. I was curious how the whole DC thing would turn out. I'd bet that DC *IS* SDM II, w/o the associated problems. Also accounts for the higher cost of this lens.

11-22-2010, 10:59 AM   #5
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I know you said this was just a very simple hands-on review but I was wondering if you had any plans on doing a controlled test of the lens? That 100% crop at 48mm looks very good and would be very curious to see a 100% crop on a tripod.
11-22-2010, 11:08 AM   #6
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Quite a lot of PF... :-(
11-22-2010, 11:17 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by elho_cid Quote
Quite a lot of PF... :-(
It's interesting you mention that. I wonder how easily it would clean up. I've seen really well regarded lenses with this amount of PF (granted, they are faster-aperture).

Would you mind posting a RAW file? I it would be great to see how it reacts to some post-processing.
11-22-2010, 11:38 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by elho_cid Quote
Quite a lot of PF... :-(
A lot? I don't see that. There is some in the bokeh, but it's pretty well controlled in the subject. Distortion seems to be very good for a zoom, let alone a superzoom. PF and distortion were deadly with the 18-250. Colours look better too. This lens is clearly in a different league.

Frank, thanks for all the photos. How would you rate this lens compared to the 18-55 or some other standard zoom that you're very familiar with (i.e. sharpness, colour/contrast, distortion, AF)?

11-22-2010, 11:44 AM   #9
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Wonderful! I have been waiting for a post like yours before ordering my beach walk-around lens. Thanks for the shots.
11-22-2010, 12:27 PM   #10
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Thanks for the review!

Looks really decent for a super zoom. With WR, good bokeh and fast SDM it seems like a really nice deal as a kit with the K-5.

Furthermore, I am of the opinion that the DA 55-300 should also be released with WR. Those two lenses would make an awesome all weather travel combo.
11-22-2010, 12:34 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by wowtip Quote
Furthermore, I am of the opinion that the DA 55-300 should also be released with WR.
I'm wondering if they should make a 150-300 WR zoom, for higher quality over a shorter zoom range (maybe a faster maximum aperture..!)

The 55-300 is half of the cost of the 18-135, so they could easily make a 150-300 f4.5 or something as one of the upper-tier vanilla DA zooms.

This 18-135 looks like a really ideal sports / hiking / beach / etc. lens when you want to keep your expensive primes safe from nature .
11-22-2010, 12:40 PM   #12
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I see some fringing at the extreme wide and long ends, but certainly no more than any other kit zoom. Looks great to me, and nice writeup, Frank.

Mine ships today... excited to get it soon.
11-22-2010, 12:42 PM   #13
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Excellent review, just what I needed to decide for a small WR zoom between that and the 18-55. The bokeh is not bad at all BTW. It should be a great replacement for my sold Tamron 18-250mm.
11-22-2010, 03:13 PM - 3 Likes   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by elho_cid Quote
Quite a lot of PF... :-(
Most if not all Pentax lenses have some PF issue, this one isn't worse than most other cheap zoom lens imo. It won't be a problem if you choose the subjects properly, or if you don't look at the PF specifically

QuoteOriginally posted by KxBlaze Quote
I know you said this was just a very simple hands-on review but I was wondering if you had any plans on doing a controlled test of the lens? That 100% crop at 48mm looks very good and would be very curious to see a 100% crop on a tripod.
Sorry I'm not really interested to do this 'cause I still prefer actual shooting. If the results are good enough from my shaky hands, it'd be better from a tripod Besides, I'm sure we'd see a lot better reviews in next a few days.



QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
A lot? I don't see that. There is some in the bokeh, but it's pretty well controlled in the subject. Distortion seems to be very good for a zoom, let alone a superzoom. PF and distortion were deadly with the 18-250. Colours look better too. This lens is clearly in a different league.

Frank, thanks for all the photos. How would you rate this lens compared to the 18-55 or some other standard zoom that you're very familiar with (i.e. sharpness, colour/contrast, distortion, AF)?

To be honest, I'm not fond of slow zoom lenses, but I did use the kit lens and 18250 lens before. Sharpness wise this new lens is definitely better than the other two, it produces better colors w/ smoother bokeh as well. AF is definitely faster than the 18250, but probably just a little bit faster than the kit lens, which by itself is pretty fast already. I didn't do side by side comparison, let's wait for our forum's review, which should be out soon
11-22-2010, 04:03 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Frank, thanks so much for your post. I was anxious to see how the new lens performed. I think you did a great write up and you expressed you impression on the new lens quite well.
If you ask me, I much prefer to have the opinion of a photographer that used the lens in real life, in a situation where the lens was designed to be used, than a bunch of test charts pictures... Thank you and enjoy your new lens!
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