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06-29-2011, 12:55 PM   #1
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Better low-light performance: Tamron 18-250 or Pentax 18-135 WR

OK, I've had the Tammy 18-250 for over a year and gotten some good shots with it, but its indoor/low-light performance has been very disappointing. My 18-55 DAL kit lens is much better indoors, but doesn't have quite the reach I'd like for outdoor work. So, I've been thinking of selling/trading the Tammy to get the 18-135 WR. I don't do a huge amount of shooting above 135mm with my existing lens, so I'm willing to give up 115mm of focal length if I can get better low-light performance in return.

So, I'd like to hear from anyone who has owned or used both as to which would be your choice for indoor (think churches, museums, reception halls, etc.) shooting. Thanks in advance for any advice.

06-29-2011, 12:59 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by wedge Quote
OK, I've had the Tammy 18-250 for over a year and gotten some good shots with it, but its indoor/low-light performance has been very disappointing. My 18-55 DAL kit lens is much better indoors, but doesn't have quite the reach I'd like for outdoor work. So, I've been thinking of selling/trading the Tammy to get the 18-135 WR. I don't do a huge amount of shooting above 135mm with my existing lens, so I'm willing to give up 115mm of focal length if I can get better low-light performance in return.

So, I'd like to hear from anyone who has owned or used both as to which would be your choice for indoor (think churches, museums, reception halls, etc.) shooting. Thanks in advance for any advice.
It depends what you mean by "better". If yor mean in terms of the ability to focus in low light, I think the 18-135 would beat out the 18-250. I've owned both and as I recall and low light focus wasn't as good with the 18-250. However, in terms of (aperture) speed, the two lenses are comparable, and neither one is going to be great for low light work in that respect.
06-29-2011, 01:13 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by dgaies Quote
It depends what you mean by "better". If yor mean in terms of the ability to focus in low light, I think the 18-135 would beat out the 18-250.
Yes, sorry I wasn't more specific. I'm talking about focusing speed/capability in less-than-ideal lighting.
06-29-2011, 02:17 PM   #4
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Yes, I would expect the DA 18-135mm to outperform the Tammy 18-250mm AF speed wise...

06-29-2011, 02:40 PM   #5
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I have found that the 18-250 responds the best if there are high areas of contrast that you can use to focus. This may be more of a Pentax body thing but this was how I got my K100Ds to focus in low light when using the 18-250, I've just carried the habit along with the lens on my K-5
06-30-2011, 02:36 AM   #6
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My DA18-250 is my basic lens on my K20D, but not for low-light shooting. Its optics are a bit faster than the DA18-135 at 135mm; I can't compare the AF speed. The DA*16-50/2.8 and/or DA*50-135/2.8 would be better performers in their ranges. All you need is money.

Inside "churches, museums, reception halls, etc." I wouldn't use either walkaround. I use my only AF prime, the FA50/1.4, or use CIF with manual f/2-2.8 primes at 16-24-35-85-100-135mm. Different tools for different jobs...
07-13-2011, 10:47 AM   #7
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I recently got a Tamron 18-250 off eBay, and until I did I never realized how mediocre my Tamron 28-200 was. That was mostly used with film on my ZXL until I picked up a K200d so I wasn't one to blow through rolls of film just to test its capabilities. With digital you can take all sorts of test shots at little cost so that's nice.

Just a question to others with a Tamron 18-250 - does the manual focus ring feel a little rough on turning, friction and a "shhhh" sound like unpolished (unlubricated?) surfaces are rubbing? The 18-250 the zoom feels smooth/quiet enough but the manual focus ring is 2-3x rougher/noisier. On my old 28-200 the focus ring was about as smooth as the zoom rotation (equiv to the zoom smoothness on my 18-250).
07-13-2011, 10:58 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by donyjunk Quote
Just a question to others with a Tamron 18-250 - does the manual focus ring feel a little rough on turning, friction and a "shhhh" sound like unpolished (unlubricated?) surfaces are rubbing? .
Yes, the DA 18-250 sounds like it has sand in the gears.

Regarding the original question, I have tested the 18-250 and 18-135 in similar conditions, but not at the same time. There is a world of difference in low light AF in favour of the 18-135 WR. The 18-250 is my worst lens for low light focus, it hunts frequently and couldn't focus where my 16-45 did without hunting. The 18-135 is exemplary; focus is quick, accurate and silent.


Last edited by audiobomber; 07-13-2011 at 01:44 PM.
07-13-2011, 11:04 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by donyjunk Quote
Just a question to others with a Tamron 18-250 - does the manual focus ring feel a little rough on turning, friction and a "shhhh" sound like unpolished (unlubricated?) surfaces are rubbing? The 18-250 the zoom feels smooth/quiet enough but the manual focus ring is 2-3x rougher/noisier. On my old 28-200 the focus ring was about as smooth as the zoom rotation (equiv to the zoom smoothness on my 18-250).
Yes, the focus ring on my DA 18-250 is the same way. I don't dare use live-view with this lens, the slow focusing noise scares things away.
07-13-2011, 12:14 PM   #10
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thanks i was worried i'd have to take it in for a cleaning or something (glass looked pretty clean, only a few dust flecks internally) it's become my new "be a tourist" all in one, wide enough and long enough to cover most needs.

my 18-250 (w/ k200d)struggles a bit in low light, don't have a 18-135 to compare to, but if the numbers are the same there's only so much leeway in the speed allowable, no?
07-13-2011, 08:02 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by donyjunk Quote
... if the numbers are the same there's only so much leeway in the speed allowable, no?
Exactly.

Lenses do not obtain focus, camera bodies do.

There might be minute differences in the way a lens allows to fine tune focus and bad lens copies (decentrering) may make it harder for the AF subsystem to obtain quick / correct focus but everything else being equal the f-ratio at which the camera meters / focusses is the deciding factor how quickly / accurately it can obtain focus.

I'd be very surprised if the 18-135 would focus better in low light than the 18-250 at the same focal length in a controlled comparison.
07-13-2011, 08:11 PM   #12
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"Better low-light performance: Tamron 18-250 or Pentax 18-135 WR"

Both as bad as each other. Like asking if a spanner or a grip would make a better hammer. Just buy a hammer
07-13-2011, 10:22 PM   #13
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I own both and between the two there is not a significant difference in low light AF acquisition speed.

For the other poster, yes, the manual focus feel of the Tamron is like winding a hand crank flashlight.
09-06-2011, 11:56 AM   #14
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Pentax 18-135WR vs Tamron 18-250

Pentax 18-135 WR....WR is Water(weather) Resistant. Might make a whole lot of difference if the weather is poor.
09-06-2011, 12:09 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
...
There might be minute differences in the way a lens allows to fine tune focus and bad lens copies (decentrering) may make it harder for the AF subsystem to obtain quick / correct focus but everything else being equal the f-ratio at which the camera meters / focusses is the deciding factor how quickly / accurately it can obtain focus...
I think that f-number is the primary limitation based on the way phase focus detectors work. Slop in lens gears, mechanical overshoot, etc must contribute a bit. Finally, sharpness & contrast must also play a role.

If anyone knows a source that discusses these things in detail I'd love to see it.
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