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10-26-2011, 10:46 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Henry, TN
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Posts: 2,910
Econ zoom kit comments

Always lookin' to define a bargain package, I recently took the time to do a quick overview of three economy class zoom lenses covering the wide to telephoto focal length range for general outdoor shooting.

I paired a K200D with the original DA 18-55 kit lens and two underrated Tamron zooms of about the same price class, the AF 28-80/3.5~5.8 ASP and the AF 75~300/4-5.6 LD Macro, to cover the 18 - 300mm FL range with a macro-type close-up capability. I've seen all three lenses regularly available used for about $50-70 each, and often for less.

Image quality for all three lenses was similar, consistent among the three lenses and surprisingly satisfactory for daylight, outdoor subjects. Focal length overlap was adequate to minimize excessive, situational lens swapping. This particular DA 18-55 was noticeably weak above 35mm and softer in the corners than the Tamron lenses but that's not surprising. The Second Generation kit lens and the WR version pretty well solve that issue for about $60 more invested.

The seven images presented here from 18 - 300mm were shot using P-mode and attempting to keep the aperture around F 8 at ISO 200 in hazy, variable daylight. PP was limited to resizing to about 300 Kb, auto color correction to "normalize" the lighting and moderate USM sharpening to compensate for downsizing - all in the Faststone Image Viewer freeware. Sample photos are shown at each end of the FL range except for the DA which I didn't feel was up to standard above 35mm. FL descriptions are in the file titles & missing EXIF.

Experience with these particular lenses in different lighting conditions, for garden variety close-ups and for family events with and without flash have produced very satisfactory results. My most noticeable difference in comparison with high end lenses can be attributed to the deliberate intent, time, effort, and concentration involved when using the "expensive stuff".

I wouldn't/haven't hesitated to recommend a kit such as this to the typical family and/or beginner wanting to get into photography at the next step above the P&S cameras. With a little patience, a second generation Pentax DSLR with SR (a K100D/DS or K200D), a very capable entry level/travel/backup kit can be assembled for less than $400 for the three lenses and body.

1 - DA 18-55 @18mm

2 - DA 18-55 @35mm

3 - Tam 28-80 @28mm

4 - Tam 28-80 @80mm

5 - Tam 75-300 @70mm

6 - Tam 75-300 @200mm

7 - Tam 75-300 @300mm

Last edited by pacerr; 10-27-2011 at 08:19 AM.

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