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05-02-2011, 10:17 PM   #1
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Pentax DA 18-135 or limited primes?

Hey guys. I have been using my 18-55mm kit lens, a 55-200 zoom and an A 50mm f/1.7 on my k-x. I wanna move up to a better quality lens. I mean a lens that will give me better picture quality. I am thinking about either the da 18-135 WR lens, or two or three pentax da limited series prime lenses. I know if I go with the primes, I will lose the flexibility of the zoom and will have to change the lenses often but if I get a considerably better picture quality then I am willing to live with that.
So are the primes really going to give me a much better picture quality or should I just stick with the 18-135?

Please, any advice will be helpful. Thanks.

05-02-2011, 10:22 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by haassaasin Quote
So are the primes really going to give me a much better picture quality ...?
Yes, but it will cost you more $$$
05-02-2011, 10:24 PM   #3
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They, the primes will have much better IQ, but on the other hand they aren't weather sealed or as convenient

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05-02-2011, 10:46 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Without knowing more, I'd start by posting pictures you are not happy with. 90% of the time, it isn't lens quality that's the limiting factor- it's things like shooting too slow a shutter speed, not controlling focus well, etc. The differences in IQ between lenses are usually pretty subtle compared to these much larger effects.

05-02-2011, 11:10 PM   #5
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The only reason I'd suggest choosing the 18-135 over DA limiteds would be for weather sealing. But since you have a K-x, you wouldn't be taking the K-x out in challenging environmental conditions. So for the ultimate in image quality, the DA Ltds have it all, and of course it will cost you more to have even two of the Limiteds over the 18-135.

It's important to know what focal lengths you want covered, since there is the 15, 21, 35 Macro, 40 and 70 available...
05-02-2011, 11:20 PM   #6
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I know the primes will be expensive. But if they give me much superior quality, I can start with one and buy them as I go along. The one thing I like about the 18-135 is that it can focus really close (40 cm I think) on any focal length. But again, it comes down to picture quality.
05-02-2011, 11:42 PM - 1 Like   #7
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The DA 18-135 will set you back about $500
The limited trio will run you $750 + $785 + $1000 = $2535

Given your choice of camera (Kx) I am going to make the assumption that you would be better served price-wise, and be more than happy performance-wise, with the DA 18-135.


Of course, should you choose to not limit yourself to the fabled three and instead choose more modest, manual focus takumars, K series, or other older, less appreciated, lenses I'm sure you could put together a more than satisfactory assortment of primes for that same amount. Just ask RioRico, I think you could add up the cost of the "cheap" half of his collection and it wouldn't cost as much as the 18-135...
05-03-2011, 12:36 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Go for the primes.

A prime lens gives substantially better IQ than a zoom lens for comparable price, because the zoom lens needs to designed with some compromise over the focal length range.

The 18-135WR is overpriced in my opinion. Since you have a K-x, you do not need WR and you could do as well with a DA18-250mm. (An used 18-250mm is about $360 with a much greater focal length range.)

Among primes, there are a huge choice for Pentax mount, starting with Pentax primes. Start from the beginning: get one prime around 30-35mm. This focal length (30-35mm) is very useful and convenient. Later you could consider another primes around 50-70mm.

I have both a 18-250mm and a series of primes. I love both: the DA18-250mm for its flexibility, and the primes for their IQ. Since you want better IQ, and have already a zoom lens (18-55 mm), I would highly recommend to go for some primes.

Food for thoughts.

05-03-2011, 02:38 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by RXrenesis8 Quote
The DA 18-135 will set you back about $500
The limited trio will run you $750 + $785 + $1000 = $2535
He's talking about the DA limiteds, all of which are around the $500 mark (except the 40, which is a fair bit cheaper), not the FA limiteds. Also, the FA 43 is going for $570 right now at B&H, so your figure for the FA limiteds is off a bit.

As for the OP, yes, the primes are a significant step up from the kit lenses. I'd recommend the DA 35 Macro as a start, as it is a very useful normal focal length and the most versatile of all the limiteds, able to shoot anything from (true) macro to landscapes. It's a great introduction to the general feel and technique of shooting with primes (and that Limited quality), without feeling restricted in what you can shoot.

Last edited by Cannikin; 05-03-2011 at 03:40 AM.
05-03-2011, 04:11 AM   #10
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I don't think you would gain any/much IQ with going to DA18-135 from WR kit lenses. Many folks say, that kit 50-200WR is better than the 18-135 pass 70-80mm.

besides, DA ltds are very good by any standards, any IQ wise they smash any consumer/budget zoom. So if IQ is your ultimate goal, go with ltds...
05-03-2011, 05:04 AM   #11
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I agree. I love my 18-135WR, but the IQ is on par with the two kit lenses you already have. So beyond the convience of having a single lens with great range, I'm not sure it would be enough of a step up in terms of IQ to make it worth the considerable expense.

I think picking up a limited prime would be a good choice for your next lens. As others have said, you can't really go wrong with any of them. I'd probably start with the 35 or 40. FWIW, I think I acquired them in the following order: 35, 77, 40, 21, 15, (drop 21), 31, 70, (drop 70), 43

Last edited by dgaies; 05-03-2011 at 05:40 AM.
05-03-2011, 05:15 AM   #12
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Go with the primes. You can get old manual primes, if you don't have the money for the limiteds.
Three years ago I bought a Pentax 18-250mm for my K200d--and although that lens probably still is the best super-zoom, I wasn't satisfied with the quality. Then I got the DA 16-45mm, which is a great zoom; still, I found old primes to have superior IQ. So, I sold the 16-45. I'd advise you to look for Takumars, M lenses, and A lenses (and some old third party, cheap primes such as the Sigma Super Wide 24mm and the Cosina 100mm 3.5 Macro). Read the reviews on PF--very good guide to the quality of all these lenses.
But if you need AF and have the money for the limiteds, get them, period.
05-03-2011, 05:32 AM   #13
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I agree with the advice you have already received above: you already have two capable zoom lenses that cover a wide range of focal lengths, so it seems a logical next step to see for yourself the IQ of the limited(s). A quick look through your pictures would give you an idea of what focal length you generally shoot, and as dgaies hinted, a "normal" lens in the 35 or 40mm area seems a good place to start, especially as you can get the 40 for 360USD. If you don’t feel it’s worth it to you, sell it for not much loss. I think you'll see the many benefits of the limited(s) once you use one, but if you get another zoom you'll never know (plus you are not really gaining anything with another zoom). Having said that, Marc's post is very relevant: image quality is about a lot more than the lens. A quick post showing what you're not happy with could allow forum members to give some advice/tips.
05-03-2011, 05:46 AM   #14
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I'm with the band on this one. The primes will give you better IQ than the kit lenses. But in my case I also found that the improvement in skills that goes with using primes is just as much of a factor. So you could split the difference and get some non-limited primes and still see a substantial improvement in your skills. How about starting with something like the DA-35 2.4 and a F50 1.7. Less than 500 bucks and a great start to your collection. Add a DA15 and 70 later and you're golden.
05-03-2011, 05:56 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by VaughnA Quote
I'm with the band on this one. The primes will give you better IQ than the kit lenses. But in my case I also found that the improvement in skills that goes with using primes is just as much of a factor. So you could split the difference and get some non-limited primes and still see a substantial improvement in your skills. How about starting with something like the DA-35 2.4 and a F50 1.7. Less than 500 bucks and a great start to your collection. Add a DA15 and 70 later and you're golden.
This is very good advice as well. You can certainly pick up the DA35/2.4 and a used F50/1.7 for well under $500, perhaps closer to $400 if you shop carefully.

Long before I had any notions of buying a limited (and before I knew about this stie), I owned the two kit lenses (18-55 and 50-200) and two primes (the FA35/2 and FA50/1.4). The FA35/2 in particular, which is very similar to the DA35/2.4, was my favorite lens for the first three years I shot with Pentax. In many ways I preferred it to both the DA35/macro and DA40. I only sold it when I bought the 31, and even then I had some minor regrets.
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