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03-09-2011, 12:24 PM   #1
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16-50mm Questions

I know we've beat this subject about, but I don't think I've heard it answered from this perspective, so I'll float the question:

Does the DA* 16-50 have "rendering" or "pixie dust"? Does any normal length zoom? I asked in a thread a while ago what "rendering" or "pixie dust" is, and there was a lot of discussion, but nothing definitive about what it really is. I have a quest to get as much "rendering" and "pixie dust" in a normal zoom as I can get, so I'm wondering if I'll see the "magic" in a 16-50. I have a DA 17-70 now, and while that seems good, the images don't convey "magic" to me. I know that if I got the limited primes (77, 31, etc.) I could achieve the qualities that I seek, but I am just not able to live a prime lifestyle at this time.


For anyone buying a DA* 16-50 - do you recommend new only? If buying used, what information should I seek (such as serial number before/after a date, etc)?

Thanks.

Glenn

03-09-2011, 12:34 PM   #2
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*From the samples I've seen* pixie dust is really in the hands of the photographer, not the lens. Sure, the FA limited's are very unique in their rendering and the DA* is not going to be as unique, but the *magic* will come from you, and I think that in some cases, you *will* get a better shot if you can very specifically define your focal length.

In other words, don't buy a lens for it's magic alone. They're just lenses after all!

The 16-50 is very good. The 50-135 is phenomenal.

If you don't care about weather sealing or silent focusing, also look at the Tamron 17-50... it's a magical lens for the meager price they ask for. It's also backed by a 6 year warranty (only 2 for the pentax) and there are no SDM failures to be seen with the Tamron. Just a thought.

Personally, if I was going to invest in a DA* lens, it would be the 50-135, because I believe it can hold it's own against the FA* 77 and the DA 70. The 16-50 less so, but it's still very good.
03-09-2011, 12:44 PM - 1 Like   #3
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The DA* 16-50 has been my workhorse lens for the past two years, and I am highly satisfied with its optical performance, which I would rate a notch above that of the DA 17-70, which I previously owned. I also own the 31 Limited and the 77 Limited, which are optically superior, but not by as much as one would think. They have a clarity that leaves one thinking that there is no glass whatsoever in the lens, and it is easy to fall in love with such lenses.

That said, post-processing can do more to affect rendering qualities than can the lens itself. This includes the choice of raw processor and its optimal application, as well as skill in the use of Photoshop. That is where the magic really happens, IMO. Developing one's digital editing proficiency, along with an artistic vision, will improve one's photography more than any lens or camera.

Rob
03-09-2011, 03:02 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by robgo2 Quote
The DA* 16-50 has been my workhorse lens for the past two years, and I am highly satisfied with its optical performance, which I would rate a notch above that of the DA 17-70, which I previously owned. I also own the 31 Limited and the 77 Limited, which are optically superior, but not by as much as one would think.
I've had the same lenses and the same experience, except that I'd say it a bit differently: The DA*16-50 is a definite downgrade from FA Ltds, but it's still good enough to be used in their place when you need a zoom. The DA 17-70, or the Tamron or Sigmas are not, in my experience.

While PP is important, and I admittedly would like to be better at it, two thoughts:

1) Sometimes PP is not appropriate. I shot our town's holiday parade last December - about 2000 shots (which just filled my 16GB SDHC card, BTW) on my K-5. I used one lens the whole time - the DA*50-135. I decided before the Parade began that I only needed JPEGs, so I took no RAW files. Then I submitted about 200 of the better ones. It was my first parade, and I learned a lot that I could do better next time, but I think I still represented myself and the parade well by using only the better shots. Mine are mostly at the beginning in each category, with Pentax file names on them. The other shooter (on a Nikon) was probably better than me, but he submitted everything (which doesn't look good) because he was spending even less time on this unpaid assignment.

2010 Parade

Sometimes PP doesn't make sense, so you simply need a good lens. There are a few shots in there I really like, and the lens is part of the reason. The DA*16-50 is a worthy companion to the DA*50-135. Just put those two lenses on any Pentax DSLR body and you've got a nice little kit.

2) You can't make something out of nothing. As hard as I try, I can't make a photo from a lesser lens look like the one from a better lens. I may get acceptable results, but it's never the same - and usually isn't as good.

03-09-2011, 03:50 PM   #5
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QuoteQuote:
I asked in a thread a while ago what "rendering" or "pixie dust" is, and there was a lot of discussion, but nothing definitive about what it really is.
The only time I use the word "rendering" is when referring to the process of boiling meat to make soup :-)
03-09-2011, 07:21 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
1) Sometimes PP is not appropriate. I shot our town's holiday parade last December - about 2000 shots (which just filled my 16GB SDHC card, BTW) on my K-5. I used one lens the whole time - the DA*50-135. I decided before the Parade began that I only needed JPEGs, so I took no RAW files. Then I submitted about 200 of the better ones. It was my first parade, and I learned a lot that I could do better next time, but I think I still represented myself and the parade well by using only the better shots. Mine are mostly at the beginning in each category, with Pentax file names on them. The other shooter (on a Nikon) was probably better than me, but he submitted everything (which doesn't look good) because he was spending even less time on this unpaid assignment.


Sometimes PP doesn't make sense, so you simply need a good lens. There are a few shots in there I really like, and the lens is part of the reason. The DA*16-50 is a worthy companion to the DA*50-135. Just put those two lenses on any Pentax DSLR body and you've got a nice little kit.
I must point out that when you shoot jpeg, you are letting the camera do the PP. Sometimes, it will be excellent, but other times not, and the latitude for adjustments is then limited. I am an amateur enthusiast who has enough time and interest to shoot in raw and do all the editing myself. Getting the absolute best image is of paramount importance to me. I do understand that such may not be the goal of most other photographers, including many professionals. Also, I would never argue against the value of high quality lenses. I insist upon them in my own use. But I still contend that artistic vision combined with a reasonably high level of digital editing skills is even more valuable.

Rob
03-09-2011, 08:03 PM   #7
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If you feel that your lens lacks pixie dust, never fear, you will soon be able to buy some....

'Pixie Dust' From Pig's Bladder Regrows Man's Finger - Health News | Current Health News | Medical News - FOXNews.com
03-09-2011, 08:25 PM   #8
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Original Poster
Thank you for the quick responses thus far. I'll be happy to get more if others have experiences to offer, including your guidance on buying a 16-50 used. Thanks. Glenn

03-09-2011, 09:33 PM   #9
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QuoteQuote:
paperbag846:*From the samples I've seen* pixie dust is really in the hands of the photographer, not the lens.
Agreed!

QuoteQuote:
robgo2: That said, post-processing can do more to affect rendering qualities than can the lens itself. This includes the choice of raw processor and its optimal application, as well as skill in the use of Photoshop. That is where the magic really happens, IMO. Developing one's digital editing proficiency, along with an artistic vision, will improve one's photography more than any lens or camera.
Rob, I agree %100. A lot of people seem to have a hangup with PPing their own images, and would rather trust the puny camera's processor to do it--So silly if you ask me. I think there are at least 2 reasons for this.

Firstly, PPing is an art, one which requires time, effort and patience to develop. Few people have or will make the time, and probably are afraid to take up the task knowing the effort needed for success is substantial.

Also, a jpeg, "straight out of camera," is a phrase used by some as if it ranked in purity with the Delphian priestesses--again, so silly. All a jpeg out of camera is, is a Raw file the camera PPed, to its pre-programmed parameters. For nailing the White Balance alone, shooting Raw is worth its weight in gold: my Pentax body gets White Balance wrong, more often than it gets it right.

Sometimes things will work out great using a camera jpeg, but almost always you can better the shot if you know how to PP--particularly if you own Photoshop.
03-09-2011, 09:50 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jewelltrail Quote
Also, a jpeg, "straight out of camera," is a phrase used by some as if it ranked in purity with the Delphian priestesses...
When I start a "Phrases I hate" thread, this will be in the top 5.
03-09-2011, 10:26 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
When I start a "Phrases I hate" thread, this will be in the top 5.
Sorry, did I offend you--hope not. I was trying to explain that I think some people do not understand a "jpeg out of camera" is the same as a jpeg out of computer--nothing special about it. Please let me know what you mean by hate the phrase--thanks.
03-10-2011, 06:23 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jewelltrail Quote
Sorry, did I offend you--hope not. I was trying to explain that I think some people do not understand a "jpeg out of camera" is the same as a jpeg out of computer--nothing special about it. Please let me know what you mean by hate the phrase--thanks.
I thought that he was agreeing with you in that he hates the phrase "straight out of the camera," because camera generated jpegs are highly processed. What is straight out of the camera, although not as pure as some would believe, is raw.

Rob
03-10-2011, 06:26 AM   #13
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Well, every lens has "rendering"... If a lens didn't render an image at all, you would get just black frames

It's the character of various aspects of how the lens chooses to render light onto the sensor that people go crazy about. As for the actual question, no idea. I generally don't think the lens matters as much as people think.
03-10-2011, 10:06 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by robgo2 Quote
I thought that he was agreeing with you in that he hates the phrase "straight out of the camera," because camera generated jpegs are highly processed. What is straight out of the camera, although not as pure as some would believe, is raw.

Rob
He very well may have been, but I still do not know. I was confused because the phrase "straight out of the camera" is only part of what is quoted--the more substantial part of the quote are my words. No response, so perhaps I'm too proactive on this one.
03-11-2011, 11:43 PM   #15
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he's probably referring to the phrase delphian priestesses.
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