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04-02-2011, 12:52 AM   #1
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longer zoom lens with IQ comparable to Pentax 12-24mm?

Hi everyone,

I'm a beginner, previously owned the 18-55mm kit lens. I'm looking to get new lenses because
1. I'd like to experiment more at both ends of the spectrum (Going traveling this summer, need wide angle for landscapes; previously dissatisfied with the 18-55mm's ability to zoom, so need a longer lens)
2. I need solid IQ for business purposes (blog photos, product showcase in online shop etc.)

I'd like to shoot mostly
- street
- landscapes
- misc. details (but not so interested in super telephoto insect/flower shots)
- closeup for handicrafts

I just bought the Pentax 12-24mm. Originally I wanted to get the Pentax 18-135mm to go with it, but after seeing some samples I feel that the IQ isn't good enough.
Someone suggested that I look at primes if I'm so concerned about IQ. But as I'm a beginner, I don't have specific focal lengths preferences yet, so I'm a headless chicken when it comes to primes... As a result, I'd like to get a zoom and learn what my preferences are.

Bottom-line Qs:

Based on my subject preferences, how long of a lens should I get? Are there options with better IQ than the 18-135mm?

Thanks!

EDIT: I have a K-7


Last edited by ardentartichoke; 04-02-2011 at 07:42 AM.
04-02-2011, 01:12 AM   #2
Ash
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You want a DA lens with good IQ? You're going to need to go to the DA*s. The DA 16-45 and 17-70 are OK but just don't have the brilliance and microcontrast of the 16-50 and 50-135.
Or if second hand FAs are OK (and you can find them), then FA* 28-70 is an excellent lens.
For cheaper, you can get the Tamron 17-50 or 28-75 depending on your FL choice, as both are of stellar quality optically (not so much in build).
04-02-2011, 01:15 AM   #3
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If you want IQ, you have to make a pick between wide-angle and telephoto, as superzooms won't deliver IQ or speed. With that said, the 18-135 is a notch above the 18-55.

Why not a 70-200mm like this tamron:
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro AF Lens AF001P-700 B&H

It's got enough reach to let you zoom in on things, but is wide enough for landscapes and especially street photography (I usually hover around 85mm).

Adam
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04-02-2011, 02:06 AM   #4
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tAMRON 28-75.

04-02-2011, 03:08 AM   #5
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If you just got the DA12-24, the Tamron 28-75 would be a good match for it and they would pair excellent together. It has great IQ and it has more reach than the kit 18-55 and the deal-sealer is that its a constent f/2.8 so will be great for subject isolation and low light
04-02-2011, 10:46 AM   #6
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Hi everyone, thanks for the responses!
I actually did take a look at the DA* 16-50mm and ended up loving it (who wouldn't...), though I did feel silly for looking at DA*s as a beginner. But since my camera will serve a business purpose, and I'm also preparing to publish a photo journal at an online magazine, I'm very OCD about the IQ issue. Tamron 28-70 sounds like a wonderful lens, but I just didn't "feel it" when I was looking through samples.
After reading some more articles etc. I'm starting to realize that I might not enjoy shooting very much with longer lenses, because my favorite subject is scenery & people in action.
My idea is that I get the DA* 16-50mm for traveling (i'll get insurance), and get a longer prime for shooting fine detail in handicrafts/artworks for my shop. If that's the case, I don't know if I need the 12-24mm at all since there'll be so much overlap. (I just placed an order on the 12-24mm, hasn't arrived yet, I can cancel/return if I need to)... Would it be a good idea to get a 3rd party wide angle prime (preferably between 10-14mm) instead of the 12-24mm?

Please don't be offended/annoyed if my idea conveys ignorance about photography... trying very hard to learn here! At the same time though, I'm getting a headache trying to figure things out when there's such a limited amount of choices. I hope you don't mind but I'm starting to wonder if Canon/Nikon provides a wider selection that'll make decision-making easier...
04-02-2011, 10:57 AM   #7
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If you don't mind manual focus I can recommend the pentax A 35-105mm f/3.5. Excellent zoom range and superior color rendition. Plus it is "macro" (more like close focus) for the entire zoom range. A good fun zoom.
The afore mentioned Tamron 28-75 is a very good lens as is it's younger brother the 17-50. Both have superior IQ.
If you want wider I can highly recommend the pentax FA 20-35, an excellent garden/landscape lens.

NaCl(or you can switch to canikon like you mentioned)H2O
04-02-2011, 11:08 AM   #8
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The 50-135 has the brilliance that you are looking for. Perfect for city streets/alleyways. but i wouldn't go much longer for streets, IMO.

04-02-2011, 12:35 PM   #9
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First of all, don't feel silly at all looking at top-quality lenses as a beginner, especially if IQ is really important to you. Many of us here have been through a multitude of lenses, looking for the keepers. Actually, I think most of us are trying to find the cheapest lenses that are satisfying to us. And there are a few "sleepers." But for the most part, you get what you pay for, especially with zooms. It is far better, and cheaper in the long run, to buy quality stuff right off the bat than to get on the lens buying/selling merry-go-round.

Secondly, I assure you that everything you need is available for Pentax. Going with either of the big boys may only "muddy the waters" for you. Your only problem is going to be figuring out just what it is that you need. Folks here on the forum can help guide you, but, ultimately, only you can decide.

Now, on to your situation specifically. I would not want to tell you to cancel your 12-24 order, because you may turn out to love that lens. It has a lot of fans here. On the other hand, I would encourage the 16-50 thought. To me, it sounds like it would be perfect for the majority of your shooting. And as you already know, it has wonderful IQ. The 12-24 will have a little better IQ, however, in the over-lapping area, as the 16-50 is weakest at its widest. Whether this is enough to justify keeping the 12-24 is one of those questions that only you can answer, as is do you shoot enough between 12 and 16. The 16-50 will likely also be able to do your "detail" shots, as it's minimum focusing distance is only 1'.

As far as an ultra-wide prime is concerned, it's pretty slim pickens here, I'm afraid, and options for Canon or Nikon would be uber-expensive. There is a Samyang 14 that is manual-focus only, and some fish-eyes. If you turn out to really need something like this, though, you should try the DA15 Limited. It is an absolute sweetheart, and the only wide-angle I have any real desire to use (I had a Sigma 10-20 that I just didn't click with). I would wait on this, though, and see how much you really need it. There is a "love-letter" thread here on the forum dedicated to this lens.

Anyway, the 16-50 is a great place to start. From there, you just have to ask yourself "what needs do I have that this lens is not meeting?" If you're really lucky, the answer will be "none."
04-02-2011, 12:37 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ardentartichoke Quote
My idea is that I get the DA* 16-50mm for traveling (i'll get insurance), and get a longer prime for shooting fine detail in handicrafts/artworks for my shop. If that's the case, I don't know if I need the 12-24mm at all since there'll be so much overlap. (I just placed an order on the 12-24mm, hasn't arrived yet, I can cancel/return if I need to)... Would it be a good idea to get a 3rd party wide angle prime (preferably between 10-14mm) instead of the 12-24mm?

Please don't be offended/annoyed if my idea conveys ignorance about photography... trying very hard to learn here! At the same time though, I'm getting a headache trying to figure things out when there's such a limited amount of choices. I hope you don't mind but I'm starting to wonder if Canon/Nikon provides a wider selection that'll make decision-making easier...
It's not silly at all for a beginner to get a 16-50 - you know what you want, and it seems to fit the bill. Now I had both the 12-24 and 16-50 for some time, and the overlap is not as superfluous as you'd think, particularly when I wanted to avoid the barrel distortion of the 16-50 at the 16-18mm end and realise how much wider 12mm is compared with 16mm. It's quite a different beast, and used in a lot of my landscape/architecture applications where the 16-50 just wouldn't suit.

But you should know whether you need/want something even wider still, in which case you'd be better off going with the Tamron 10-24 or Sigma 10-20. Canon and Nikon won't necessarily make your decisions any easier with what their lenses cost (take a look)... and it seems Doglover beat me to it with the same points.
04-03-2011, 04:42 PM   #11
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Thanks guys that was great help!

And I stand by Pentax... I've been more than happy with the K7. The Nikon/Canon thing was just a casual thought - I was looking to learn a bit more about the brands that everyone seems to go with. But I'm very confident in Pentax, especially after I joined this forum (this is only my 2nd post).
I'm starting to believe that carrying around a big zoom lens would not be a good idea for me (especially for street shots), when I'm only 5''1 and cannot carry a lot of weight... Thanks H2O & philbaum, I saw some amazing samples from the 35-105 and 50-135, if I do decide to really invest in experimenting with macro/closeups, I'll definitely come back to those two.
DogLover that was a very helpful reply! My thoughts exactly - I'd like to invest in a quality lens that I can live up to, instead of a cheaper one that I'm less confident about (like you, I didn't click with the Sigma 10-20 either)
My experience with the kit 18-55 made me realize how quickly my interest in photography has helped me to improve, so I'm confident that the money invested will be put to good use.
"The 16-50 will likely also be able to do your "detail" shots, as it's minimum focusing distance is only 1'. "
This sounds really exciting.. I'll definitely try it out once I get the 16-50 - just placed my order!

Ash - I love your photos
Thanks for the input, the fact that you've been using both the 12-24 and the 16-50 assures me that I'm not making the wrong decision.

Both lenses arrive on Tuesday, can't wait!
This is quickly becoming one of my favorite forums, thanks everyone
04-03-2011, 04:52 PM   #12
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The DA 50-135m is a beautiful lens
04-04-2011, 12:55 AM   #13
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It's funny; 18-55 is not flexible enough (can't zoom in enough) but you consider 16-50 which is even shorter. Further the 18-55 is more suitable for close up shots (1:3 magnification versus 1:5 magnification).
So the 16-50 would be the last one on my list and a DA17-70 (or similar) would be a more sensible choice (also around 1:3 magnification and a bit longer reach) as a replacement for the kit lens.

So my advice would be the DA17-70.

Below some general comments

Don't worry about overlap of focal length; overlap can be convenient as it might result in less swapping.

With the right setup and mindset, you also don't have to worry if you have a gap in the focal length; you just need to be able to pin point one lens that covers about 100% of your 'normal' needs and that can live most of the time on your camera. Other lenses become specialist lenses (e.g. 12-24 for when you go 'landscaping' or e.g. macro for close up work of your handycraft).

To demonstrate the latter (not an advice on what to buy):
The FA31Ltd lives on my camera 99% of the time; only when I want to zoom in on a detail of something far away or when I want to do macro, I will put the DFA100WR on. So for me a big gap is not an issue. And if I go to an airshow and take shots of planes taking off, I will borrow 'my' 55-300 back from my wife
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