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12-10-2010, 11:43 PM   #1
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DA* 16-50 or Sigma 17-50 or Tamron 17-50

OK I have made a decision on my next two lenses, the 60-250 (for a very specific purpose next year) and something missing from my range ...... one of these three before Xmas !

I have seen the 16-50 thread here and absolutely loved it ..... however I'm becoming very worried about the SDM issue. Pros though are great build quality and WR.

Then I go over to the reviews here and to Photozone, SLRgear and DPR and check all the ratings / reports / comments and the numerous threads and see that both the Tamron and Sigma seem to be technically higher rated (especially on DXOmark, Pentax tested on a K20d, Tamron & Sigma tested on a 50D as the nearest equivilant). Which confuses me considering how people rave about the 16-50 (and with good reason it seems from the 16-50 thread) especially with CA and distortion better in the 3rd party brands.

Then there is the price issue, over here (Shanghai) it's US$900 for the Pentax, US$330 (non VC) and US$400-450 (VC) for the Tamron and US$500 for the Sigma. That's quite a range for three supposedly very similar lenses.

It must be a constant 2.8 so I've decided the reduced range (so no 17-70 suggestions please ) will give me higher quality, so which one should I go for ? Is the Pentax really worth the extra money or is it just brand premium ?

Note : I should mention I have the Sigma 10-20 and the 43 Ltd so this is to fill the gap.

N.B. 2 - I wanted to add a poll to this thread but the option doesn't seem to appear anywhere (I have checked the thread on how to add a poll) - Not above the thread, nor in advanced options nor in the text options when creating the thread. Would be very appreciative if a mod could add a poll for me. Thanks !

Last edited by Frogfish; 12-11-2010 at 12:35 AM.
12-11-2010, 12:42 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Frogfish Quote
Is the Pentax really worth the extra money or is it just brand premium ?
Erm, not really a premium, maybe just extra for features you don't seem to care about (WR, SDM, build). If you don't really need those things, you will likely do better with a 3rd party (heck, you could buy a portrait lens with the money you would save).

All I can really add is that some people have noticed that the Tamron 17-50 is darker than your average 2.8 lens, and performs "more like a f3.3" in the words of a poster I cannot remember.

Otherwise the examples I have seen from that lens are stunning!
12-11-2010, 01:35 AM   #3
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I don't have experience with the Sigma, but have with the Tamron and the DA*.

If you don't need weather sealing and silent focusing then the Tamron is a good choice - assuming you get a good copy. It's focusing faster than the DA*, much cheaper (in my country DA* costs 2.5x more), lighter, IQ is very close (and imho wide open it's better), CA and distortion is also better. It's a great lens for its price. I was using a good copy for several day and really enjoyed the lens.

Now the bad thing: you may have to try several copies to get a good one The major issues with bad copies seem to be: decentering (from center to border the left side is becoming very soft while the right side is becoming sharper), heavy front focus, other focus issues (e.g. different focus (FF or BF) at wide and tele end and/or at close and far subject distances). I tried several copies and all of them were bad, showing the previously mentioned issues. Of course, you can be lucky and get a good copy at first or second try. After trying and returning all copies in the local shops, I gave up finding a good copy and swallowed the price of DA*.
So it's up to you if you're willing to try several copies to get a perfect one.

DA*: weather sealing is nice, although in any weather where the sealing would be useful I'm sitting in my nice warm room SDM, well, it's just SDM: silent and not really fast, and I can hope it won't die right after running out of the ridiculously short 1 year warranty. CA and distortion is quite heavy for a top of the line lens in my opinion, IQ from f4 is good, but to be honest it isn't that great wide open - I've seen cheaper (and "inferior" by fanboys) lenses doing better wide open. To be honest I wanted to avoid this lens due to SDM and it being overpriced for what it gives. I know a lot of people rave about this lens here in this forum, but imho it's not that fantastic lens. This is my subjective opinion and YMMV of course

Rent both lenses for a week or long weekend if you can, then you get some idea which suits you better.
12-11-2010, 02:06 AM   #4
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My Tamron 17-50 seems to underexpose towards smaller apertures so that this is about -0.5EV with f=11, other than this and the mentioned bad copies with FF/BF issues this would seem like a fine piece of kit.

12-11-2010, 04:21 AM   #5
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I have the Tamron and love it, but like many others mine front focuses. With my K20d I had enough fine adjustment to use it, but it's un-usable below f4 with my K5d. I'll be sending it in to Tamron after the holidays.

I'm probably going to get a DA*16-50 soon for the weather sealing.

12-11-2010, 08:02 AM   #6
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In my opinion, the DA*16-50 is the best lens I own and use. My daughter has the Tamron 17-50 f2.8 in a Canon mount. It's a very good lens too but I think the Pentax lens gives better IQ and it's weather sealed. I say that after just getting my lens back from Pentax repair to replace the SDM contacts. I believe I'll continue to feel that way if it has to get repaired again. It's just so useful in my shooting.
12-11-2010, 10:54 AM   #7
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Original Poster
Just to point out that money isn't the main issue here but I don't see the point in putting down hundreds more if a) the lense is going to be unreliable (or should I say more so than the competition) and b) I can get something just as good (and that is the point) for virtually half the price.

I have to say I am really confused by the number of technical reports I am seeing that say both the Tamron, & especially the Sigma (exceedingly sharp), are better than the Pentax. And a number of people above are testifying that the Tamron is a great lense as well but those FF/BF and QC issues are worrying too.

I have put this question out on a number of forums and I'm getting some great feedback - however it does seem that the SDM problems are not a thing of the past, a number of people are reporting lenses bought recently (within the last year) that have problems - and I only get a one year guarantee over here. I was almost ready to pull the trigger on the 16-50 but this issue - and the technical reports - have me spooked.

I don't know if it makes a difference but I'm using the K7 now until the K5 arrives in January (I'm thinking particularly about the Tamron and the K5's high ISO capabilities).

Thanks again for the responses and keep 'em coming !
12-11-2010, 12:52 PM   #8
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I faced the same problem as you before. Now I ended up with da* 16--50.

I did try 3 copies of Tamron before the DA* because of the supposedly better IQ and price, but all 3 just front focus which my k-7 cannot microadjust. The performance of Tamron is excellent, though, if you get a good copy.
Then I had to buy the DA*. I admit that the sharpness is at most on-par, or simply worse, than the Tamron, especially wide open, but the color, contrast are definitely better(which I care more than the sharpness wide open). The center sharpness is on-par with the Tamron, corners are much worse(f/2.8--f/4). So IQ wise, i would say Tamron wins, but not much because of DA*'s color and contrast.

The build quality and weather-sealing are the best parts of the DA* which you will love for sure(personally, the first time I saw the DA*, I decided to give up the Tamron as long as the IQ is not that bad). SDM is super silent, and not an issue in most cases. Also, the DA* has 16mm.

You are using k-7 now and k-5 in the near future, so my suggestion is that a weather-sealed duo is what you may finally want to get.

12-11-2010, 01:37 PM   #9
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My suggestion is, since money is less of an issue, to buy the 16-50 and take out long term insurance to guard you from any impending SDM issues.

It really is worth the doe.
Whist I don't have head-to-head experience to compare the lenses, I do know that even between the 16-50 and Tamron 28-75 I consistently favour results from the 16-50 - and to be fair, those of the 28-75 are absolutely excellent (and is my go-to wedding lens).

Last edited by Ash; 12-11-2010 at 01:49 PM.
12-11-2010, 01:43 PM   #10
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Wider 16 ftw! Also currently have the Tamron but probably will definitely look into the 16-50mm in the future for weather sealing.
12-11-2010, 11:59 PM   #11
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I made this choice over 2 & a half years ago. I carefully researched for over 2 months. I am a big hiker, was leaning towards WR for that reason. But the reviews, technical and owner, kept pushing me to Tamron. The SDM thing did nothing to help the Da either. I heard ff/bf can be an issue with the Tamron, but my 1st copy from B & H was spot on, no needed adjustments. Buy new, from a reputable dealer, and you will get a great copy! The lens just gets better the more it is used. As for weather sealing, who needs it--I have taken the Tamron up & down the mountains of the Eastern US, in all 4 seasons of the year--not a problem to report. The real selling points are fundamental though:

The Tamron is better wide open--why else buy a 2.8 lens
The Tamron handles ca/distortions better
The Tamron has a 6-year Warranty
The Tamron is a lot lighter

Of course, the Da is a great lens too, so either choice makes you a winner--as well as the Sigma option. Have fun!
12-12-2010, 12:26 AM   #12
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I have Tamron 17-50, I got lucky to purchase a good copy online without testing. It is right in focus with my K10D, and with friend's K-x. Very sharp across the whole frame, but to be honest I do occasionally miss that 1mm at the wide angle of 16-50 Pentax lens. Still, if 1mm costs more than 400 Euros (in Europe), I am happy with only 17mm
I wonder if FF/BF problems are more related to body problems. I have to try my Tamron with friend's K7.
12-12-2010, 01:28 AM   #13
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ich habe mir die Tage das
DA * 16-50, gekauft. Bin damit zufrieden.
Gekauft habe ich mir , weil man damit unbeschwert bei jeder Witterung Fotografieren kann. Wenn ich nur bei "schönen" Wetter unterwegs sein würde, hätte ich mir ein anderes Objektiv zugelegt, da die ohne dem Sternchen weit aus günstiger sind.
12-12-2010, 02:47 AM   #14
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There are two more small things that I don't like in the DA*: its ridiculous oversized monster hood and the 77mm filter size. The lens looks so pathetic with the monster hood (you should have seen my wife's face after attaching the hood to the lens)... which is almost bigger than the K-5 on the other side of the lens. It's also causing some issues putting the lens into my bags. Really makes me leave the hood at home.
12-12-2010, 02:52 AM   #15
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Simico: There are two more small things that I don't like in the DA*: its ridiculous oversized monster hood and the 77mm filter size.
Yes, +1 for introducing this--I should have mentioned the Tamron uses 67mm filters, a big savings for Grad nd & Polarizing filters. The hood on the Tamron is just right if you ask me.

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