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08-14-2011, 09:51 AM   #1
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What general purpose lens for K5 (16-45, 16-50, 17-70, 18-135)?)


after many years of shooting slides while travelling and occasionally using my GF's K200 for some outdoor sports and hiking with a 18-55, I feel it is time to get a K5. I just don't get around to do slide shows enough any more. Showing some shots quickly on screen, sending them to friends and printing some in large formats seems to be what I am doing most these days. I am really just a hobbyist, don't need to earn money with the kit. From the film days I have a 28-70/f4, 28-105/f3.3-4.5, 80-320/f4.5-5.6, A50/f1.4 and FA24/f2.

I am wondering what lens to get with the K5. I mainly need something for the short end. The WR is quite attractive as I often have the camera just under my raincoat when hiking and it can get a bit damp. But my MZ-5n never had an issue with that, either. I also shoot rowing where there is water about ;-) . For travelling and hiking something equivalent to 28-105 would be nice. That also is useful for rowing as a boat close up needs quite a wide lens but they move quickly and for being able to keep the frame filled a long lens is handy. On some occasions the 28-105 worked quite well on the K200. Swapping is no option. The 17-70 comes to mind but there seem to be the quality woes and it is not WR. The 18-135 seems to cover everything and has WR. While it gets quite good reviews as a kit lens, it has a very long zoom range and I am a bit apprehensive about that. Would I notice a degradation in image quality compared to my 28-70/4 or 28-105/3.2-4.5?

The 16-50 seems like a good lens, just a bit short on the long end and quite heavy. Also, there have been some quality control issues in the past. Are these solved now?
Of course there are the relative costs to consider. I am fine paying good money for good kit, but how much is too much for my needs and quality obtained??? There are a few third-party lenses as well. They don't have WR but considering that some are a lot cheaper than Pentax, shoud I just risk using them in damp conditions occasionally? After all, I never had any issues in the past...

Many thanks for reading my musings. Any input welcome,

Last edited by miho; 08-14-2011 at 09:55 AM. Reason: added another thought.
08-14-2011, 10:01 AM   #2
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My 2 cents... I like my 16-45mm. Never let me down in the image quality. Very forgiving,but... wish it was SDM and WR and f2.8, I guess you can't my hint. Good luck.
08-14-2011, 10:02 AM   #3
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Since you mention travelling and hiking then I'll avoid the heavyweights (60-250 etc.) and since you have had nearly all zooms previously I'll avoid the obvious lightweight prime kit (15, 40, 70).

Either the very sharp Tamron 17-50/2.8 or the even sharper but a little more expensive current Sigma 17-50/2.8 (don't get mixed up with the various older models) then to that add the 55-300 (slow but sharp, very light, and amazing value for money). If you want a WR lense to cover all that then the 18-135 has you covered (light, WR and OK IQ).

Personally I'd go for the prime kit though that's for IQ and weight not WR or convenience.
08-14-2011, 10:29 AM   #4
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For image quality the DA*16-50 is very good but it is a real beast to tote around. I use it more than any other lens but it is heavy. The SDM failure reports seem to have dropped off but there is no question the lens had problems earlier on. The Sigma and Tamron 17-50 f/2.8's are also quite good but without the weather resistance, or the high price.

The DA 18-135 is reported to not have quite the image quality but has more versatility and weighs a lot less. It seems you are mostly shooting outside so do you need the f/2.8? If not, and WR is important, then I think the DA 18-135 makes the most sense for you. It seems to be an excellent focal range for hiking or anywhere you might need the flexibility but not want to change lenses.

08-14-2011, 12:32 PM   #5
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For traveling, the best one-piece solution IMHO is the DA18-250 or its Tamron twin, both out of production but widely available used. Out of my zillions of lenses, my minimal travel kit is: Tamron 10-24, DA18-250, FA50/1.4, and Raynox DCR-250. Others have other preferences. Your mileage may vary.
08-14-2011, 06:08 PM   #6
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28-105 is close to the range covered by 17-70 f4.
Although the 18-55 is not far off in reality, as it covers the same wide angle as the 28 and you can step forward to reach 70.

Rather than 16-50 2.8 or 17-70: I prefer 18-55WR and DA35 2.8 macro limited. It's easier to carry, less obtrusive or in your face to your subjects, and IMHO cheaper and better. 18-55 gives you a WR lens that's good during the day, small and doesn't obstruct the built in flash. The 35 Macro is what I call a WYSIWYG lens. Photos look exactly like what you see with your eyes. There's no distortion, flare, aberrations that I've ever noticed. Also, I find I just leave this lens on as it's so 'right'. DA40 or DA 21 are the alternatives.
08-14-2011, 07:23 PM   #7
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I found that during general sightseeing with groups I usually wasn't able to get close enough with the 55mm end of the kit. tbh I've thought about getting something like the 24-90 to replace the 18-55 if I'm not using primes. But I also prefer to travel alone so it usually isn't that much of an issue.

08-14-2011, 09:50 PM   #8
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For zoom, I would go for the 16-45mm if WR is not a big desire.

But I'm a prime person, so I would go with a DA 35mm f2.8mm macro, or a FA 31mm if you have the money.
08-14-2011, 11:55 PM   #9
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If you have the FA*24/2, the FA28-70 and the FA80-320, then you don't NEED anything above 24mm unless you have LBA. A short prime (DA14 or DA15ltd) or maybe the DA10-17 or DA12-24 would fill up the gaps.

The DA*16-50 previously mentioned is WR and would be an upgrade in IQ.

08-15-2011, 02:14 AM   #10
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If you want a general-purpose lens, I say go for the 18-135 as it gives you the most flexibility.

If you'd rather have a higher-quality walkaround soom, then the sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4 is a good choice (see the lens database).
08-15-2011, 02:24 AM   #11
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Faster also means more flexible, so wide-normal zooms such as the Tamron 17-50 and Sigma 17-50 or 18-50 f/2.8 varieties are decent low-cost choices.
08-15-2011, 04:44 AM   #12
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If WR is a need, then you get either the WR kit (very good but not stellar), the 16-50 or 18-135. The "worst" optically is probably the kit, followed by the 18-135 and the 16-50. With the latter you can always crop to get a smaller field of view. The 18-135 looks quite good, but not up to the best zooms (even consumer zooms) Pentax has made.

17-70 (either from Pentax or Sigma) is a good option too. Convenient range, excellent quality. No WR.

What I personally do (see if it helps you) is use the Sigma 17-70, but select the WR kit when the conditions warrant WR. There's no question the Sigma is better optically, but the kit gives me a small, light lens with WR when needed. And it's less expensive than getting, say, a 16-50. It's probably even less expensive than getting only a 18-135.

Good luck in your shopping!
08-15-2011, 04:55 AM   #13
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I like the 16-50 personally. Despite what others might say, it is very sharp throughout most of its range (corners are weak at the wide end, but sharpen up when stopped down). Distortion is easily fixed in lightroom.

It just gives a nice focal range with weather sealing. There is quite a bit of variation in copy quality, so finding a sharp copy is the key here.
08-16-2011, 01:10 AM   #14
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I loved the 16-45 when i used zooms! One of the most price worthy lenses out there. Pair it up with the 55-300 and there is a light kit with great optical quality, for a unbeatable price.
08-17-2011, 03:28 AM   #15
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I just received an 18-135. I was a little hesitant but I think it will be a keeper. Compact, fast focusing, good image quality and it feels balanced on the K5. I am not a pixel peeper. My 4 DA Limiteds are "better' but this is a more than decent all 'rounder.

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