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01-29-2011, 08:55 PM   #1
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WR and reliability: 18-135mm, 16-50mm+60-250mm, or wait for SDM fix?

Hi all, I have been shooting with a K-7 and two lenses, a DA* 55 and a DA 18-250. This is a versatile combo, but the zoom sees the most action for sure and is not WR. This is fine for around home and a great lens for it, but I have put two fly fishing trips in the books for later in 2011 where I will be around saltwater, waves, splash, etc and want the extra protection of a WR lens. If I had any faith in SDM reliability for zooms I would try and save the funds to get a DA* 16-50 and then add to it the DA* 60-250. With my limited budget though I get way too nervous about the SDM reports in the zooms. There is of course the new DA WR 18-135. So my question: if you were me and looking to cover the normal range with WR glass, would you take the chance on current SDM zooms, get the 18-135 instead, or sit tight with the unsealed 18-250 in hopes of new and improved glass to come like the rumored DA* 25-350 and the WR 12-35?

Thanks all, advice received here is always appreciated -LE


Last edited by Loren E; 01-30-2011 at 12:45 AM.
01-30-2011, 12:39 AM   #2
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Loren,

I shoot often outdoor including in very bad weather, mud, rainstorm, dust storm, salty conditions... For example, I was out shooting during the recent Queensland floods. in bas weather, I use K-7 + DA18-250mm for daytime consdierations. I can recommend the DA18-250mm on the K-7: I had not a single problem despite some very bad, atrocious conditions. (In low light, my all-weather combo is the K-7 with the Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4.)

The DA18-250mm is truly robust, and you should see for example:
K-7 and Steve Kroeger climb Aconcagua (6962m)
Steve Kroeger mit der Pentax K-7 auf dem Aconcagua | fotointern.ch - Fotografie Nachrichten
Yes, the lens on Steve Kroeger was the DA18-250mm!

Based upon my own experience, let me share a few relevant advices:

* in foul weather, I use only one camera and one lens. Full stop. I do not swap lenses in foul weather.

* I do not believe that you need a WR lens. WR is not waterproof. You need a robust, sturdy lens that has a solid track record. Instead of a WR lens, you are better off selecting a very sturdy lens that does the job.

* A rain jacket, or a platic sleed, is another good idea for a zoom lens like the 18-250mm. During the pumping action, there is some risk to get some dust, dirst, water in the lens and the sleeve may protect your lense. I do not use myself a rainsleeve, but I wipe regularly the lens, especially before zooming out. (In fact I carry a small wipe in my bag all the time.)


As for SDM: I carry often the camera & lens around my neck when I walk and the system needs to be very sturdy. Until the SDM technology has a proven track record, I would pass for now.

You may also be interested to read also the recent thread:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/130662-k200d-weath...nt-lenses.html


In summary:
*I do not believe that you need the 18-135WR unless LBA (Lens Buying Addiction).
*The DA18-250m has a more versatile focal length range; it has a proven track record.
*Consider a sleeve to protect the zoom 'pump' section, if you cannot (or do not want to) wipe regularly the zoom.


Hope that the comment will assist and that you like the post....

Last edited by hcc; 01-30-2011 at 12:45 AM.
01-30-2011, 03:03 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
Loren,



* I do not believe that you need a WR lens. WR is not waterproof. You need a robust, sturdy lens that has a solid track record. Instead of a WR lens, you are better off selecting a very sturdy lens that does the job.
...
Hey thanks for your reply! Wow that is impressive that the 18-250 made it through all that! I would have been worried about dust intrusion. So in regard to the above quote, what about the build quality of this lens makes it any sturdier than any other good pentax lens (DA*, WR, or similar DA designs)? I guess my concern is I am standing on a reef or in the surf and a wave splashes all over the lens....aren't DA* lenses supposed to be the sturdiest built of all? This does give me more faith in my current lens for future travel though.

Thanks -LE
01-30-2011, 07:15 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Loren E Quote
what about the build quality of this lens makes it any sturdier than any other good pentax lens (DA*, WR, or similar DA designs)? I guess my concern is I am standing on a reef or in the surf and a wave splashes all over the lens....aren't DA* lenses supposed to be the sturdiest built of all?
Loren,
You are right that the DA* lenses are better built quality, while the WR lenses have seals. But... neither the DA* nor WR lenses are waterproof, saltproof or splashproof. Check the fine print: WR = weather resistant, not waterproof.

I shot a number of times on the coast, from the beach with water waves leaping my knees, from a dinghy, on rocks with wave breaking around... A plastic sleeve (or soft wipe/cloth) help to protect the zoom. If I fall in the water, I would no more faith in DA* lenses and WR lenses than in my DA18-250mm. I have shot outdoor incl. on coastal zones for over 10 years with P&S and then the K-7. My cameras got splashed but never went underwater. On the other hand, all my cameras got some knocks and bangs on rocks and other hard surfaces.... The built quality and solidity of the lens is a great asset.

Enjoy your DA18-250mm. And if you want a robust prime for low lights, I can recommend very strongly the Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4. An incredible lens, very sturdy and solid, all metallic and great IQ.

Happy shooting.

01-31-2011, 07:27 AM   #5
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I find the replies in this thread quite surprising.

Sure, non-WR lenses can survive difficult situations. But the comments suggests that WR makes absolutely no difference. That is misleading to the extreme.

A WR lens has seals in many places. First, at the junction with the camera, there's a seal which is reason enough to use a WR lens (otherwise water can get inside your camera from there). Second, the tighter tolerances of all manufactured components and the seals in all openings do make a difference.

There are multiple videos of people putting WR lenses and cameras under a shower or running water. While I've never done that, I've submitted my K20D and WR kit to rain, snow, sand, without problems. I've been shooting in situations where other brands' users were running for cover.

Long story short, I'm sure non WR lenses are good (and I own plenty) but don't undersell the relevance of WR.

Now, to answer the questions asked previously, I'd say:

1-SDM problems such as they are seem completely under control now

2-the 16-50 is large and heavy (but also a great performer)

3-the 18-135 seems to be an excellent lens, and covers more of the range of your 18-250 than the 16-50

So I'd recommend the 18-135 based on your experience. I'm sure you'll be happy with it.
01-31-2011, 07:49 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
...Sure, non-WR lenses can survive difficult situations. But the comments suggests that WR makes absolutely no difference. That is misleading....
You are correct that, in general, a WR lens is likely to survive some harsh conditions when most non-WR would possibly not.

However it is important to stress again (and again) that;
* WR does not mean waterpoof despite some Youtube videos; anyone interested in WR lens(es) should read the fineprints. A WR camera with a WR lens is not a 'waterproof' camera system....

* some non-WR lenses are built like a tank, and are as solid and sturdy than 'offical WR' lenses. Not all, off course, but some (and probably a few only).

Ultimately the most important (in my opinion) is a proven track record of the lens, and the experience of people using the lens outdoor in foul-weather and difficult conditions.
01-31-2011, 01:48 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
WR does not mean waterpoof despite some Youtube videos; anyone interested in WR lens(es) should read the fineprints. A WR camera with a WR lens is not a 'waterproof' camera system....
Right, we agree here. Waterproof (to me at least) means it can be put underwater.

WR, to the best of my understanding, means that it can sustain any condition where no pressure is applied (under a rain shower is fine, underwater is not).

It's still the best WR lineup any manufacturer offers. And the wx0 line is a fine truly water resistant compact companion to any WR setup.
01-31-2011, 04:05 PM - 1 Like   #8
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The utility of WR cannot be understated. It can withstand the usual austere conditions we can inadvertently (or even purposely) find ourselves in with the camera.

Onto SDM issues - they are in the minority. Really. Only there will be a lot of noise created by users who've experienced a failure. Longevity may be a significant issue with the SDM, however it's unlikely SDM will be 'upgraded' - and perhaps the necessary improvements have been made already (of that we'll never know) since there has been a considerable drop in failure reports on this forum (if that's any indication). Sure there are a number of factors influencing such statistics, but there's no point in overanalysing all this - bottom line: if you're after weather sealing, get yourself the 16-50 + 60-250 and get them insured with extended warranty - then you can go out there with confidence and not have to baby the lenses for fear of SDM failure. Everything else about these DA*s is as rock solid as you can get in a modern lens.

02-01-2011, 03:01 AM   #9
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Ash, would you mind clarifying your opinion on SDM a bit for me? you said longevity might be a serious issue, but also that SDM sufferers are likely a minority. I would be content with a very good chance of a DA* 16-50 going 4-5 years before needing servicing. There have been reported failures of 60-250s but certainly they are pretty rare, so I am not so nervous about that lens. It is getting a 16-50 (something I said I wouldn't do) that makes me nervous. Is it unreasonable to think I could get 4-5 years of solid work out of one? Seeing as my budget is tight, would I be best off laying down the $ for a new one and extended warranty or getting a used one and one of those Mack 2 year warranties for used lenses? They are only $30 but I'm curious if anyone has any experience with these warranties for used lenses......?

Barring SDM, it would just take an UWA like a DA* 8-14mm F4 to round out the sweetest set of three there could be for me.

Advice on warranties with a 16-50 appreciated! (for that price maybe I should get a warranty for the 60-250 as well)
02-01-2011, 04:12 AM   #10
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My opinion is shaped by my experience, which has been a good and bad one, but also by a less emotive stance on seeing what people report here.

On my own experience, I've had a 16-50 and 50-135. Optically the best zoom lenses I've ever owned by far. But now I gave up the 50-135 early on in the piece in favour of the Tamron 70-200 for more reach - no regrets there, but the SDM on it never missed a beat. The 16-50 I had was a mixed bag. I loved the lens, even for its quiet AF, but it always had a problem fixing focus at infinity. Then I left it without use for about 4 weeks once, and it gave me a scare when I tried to get it to AF again - it wouldn't move, until I gave it a 5th or 6th go, and it finally cranked. I dismissed that as being an insignificant glitch of underuse. But now I decided to sell this very prized lens in place of completing the FA ltd series, of which again I have no regrets, but unfortunately for the buyer of the lens, which was working just fine when I sold it, developed an SDM failure about 3 or so months into the new buyer's ownership. I felt ashamed and remorseful, pitying him for having the statistic being passed onto him.

So I see the motor (at least from the first generation batch of lenses) lacking the permanence expected of fine lenses due to their fragile SDM, and it's almost inevitable that at some stage of a DA*'s life the motor will fail - I have absolutely no proof or even conviction of this, just a supposition that is impossible to substantiate.

This is why I suggest that for any DA* purchase, strongly consider insurance - long term one at that. And consistently, and frequently use the lenses to help manifest any SDM issues early and prove their longevity in this way. Hands down, the 16-50 and 50-135 (and even the 60-250) are excellent pieces of equipment, and yes, even worth the money they go for. It's protecting yourself from SDM failure that you must do to avoid disappointment.
02-01-2011, 04:39 AM   #11
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QuoteQuote:
SDM problems such as they are seem completely under control now
Would you bank on that?

My local shop hardly bothers stocking the 16-50 now due to the problems they have had with it.

I bought a used SDM lens recently, which worked but didn't quite focus (I found that odd - surely it is the camera which does the focusing, with a feedback loop control system??) but it had another obscure fault: if you manually focused it at the shortest distance, the motor would refuse (most of the time) to move it off that position.

For now I am sticking with my 16-45 DA which just keeps working... did a careful test last night of F4 v F8 (shooting a printed page) and the difference in sharpness is only just just just barely visible.

QuoteQuote:
strongly consider insurance - long term one at that.
However, that won't help you on a holiday if you have just that one lens.
02-01-2011, 04:56 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by peterh337 Quote

However, that won't help you on a holiday if you have just that one lens.
Not for AF function. But a lens that has just suffered an SDM failure is not totally useless. MF works just fine. And what are the odds? I'm not the strongest advocate of Murphy's law...
02-01-2011, 06:15 AM   #13
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Regarding insurance, in Canada at least most major credit card issuers will give you free extended warranties with no hassle. It's not even a question for me.
02-02-2011, 08:28 AM   #14
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The feeling I get, speaking to people, is that the 17-70 DA is a lot more reliable than the 15-50 DA* even though both have the "SDM" focus motor.

Would anybody concur?
02-02-2011, 08:42 AM   #15
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Yeah, it feels like the 16-50 is the real problem child. The 50-135 has some problems and the rest are more or less OK. The 16-50 and 50-135 are also the oldest DA* lenses.
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