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12-08-2011, 10:55 AM   #1
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Lens upgrade for K-5

I've had my K-5 with the kit 18-55 WR lens for two weeks and I'm starting to think about lens upgrade options. I have a few lenses already, mainly from my Pentax film days, but nothing that fits what I currently need. This is what I currently have:

Pentax-M 50 F2
Pentax-M 80-200 F4.5
Pentax-F 50 F2.8 macro (razor sharp)
Tokina AT-X 280 Pro (28-80) F2.8
Pentax-DA 18-55 F3.5-5.6 AL WR (K-5 kit lens)

I'm looking for a replacement for the kit lens... basically a walkabout, everyday lens. Something I can leave on the camera while traveling and not need to carry all my kit around. A versatile wide-normal or wide-tele is what I want, and now that I have a K-5, WR is a requirement for this lens. So that seems to rule out 3rd party lenses. My budget is open and not really limited, if I need to save a bit more before getting the lens, then so be it. These are the lenses I am considering:

DA* 16-50 F2.8 ED AL (IF) SDM
DA 18-135 F3.5-5.6 ED AL (IF) DC WR
DA 17-70 F4 AL (IF) SDM

Starting off, it's not clear to me if the 17-70 is WR, it's not mentioned in the specs but at least one lens review site said it is weather sealed. If it is weather sealed, then it moves to the top of my list. At the moment, I'm favoring the DA 18-135, due to it's longer reach, lighter weight and lower cost (compared to 16-50). Drawbacks are the non-fixed maximum aperture, if it was a constant F4 I'd be all over it is a millisecond. The 16-50 gives a bit wider end with a weight penalty and a good maximum fixed aperture. My main concern with the 16-50 are sometimes negative reviews, compared to the 18-135. Weight is not really an issue... I used the Tokina AT-X Pro on my ZX-5n, and it outweighs the 15-50 by quite a bit I believe. It is one big hunk of glass and built like a tank.

Looking at the cost, the 16-50 is roughly 50% more expensive than either the 17-70 or 18-135, both of which are about the same price. I'm willing to pay the premium if this lens has strong advantages over the others, however it's hard to justify if the only advantage is the larger maximum aperture.

Subjects are very broad... architecture, landscapes, cityscapes, nature, interiors. No sports and not many people shots. I do plan on getting a longer lens at some point in the future for long-tele use.

So fellow Pentaxians... any recommendations?

12-08-2011, 11:06 AM   #2
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I'm not a fan for the 16-50. I am a bit soso for the 18-135mm. So I would take the 17-70 out of this three. It is not WR, but has the sealingring at the bottom, so no dirt coming in the camera at the mount.
12-08-2011, 11:07 AM   #3
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I'm going through the same process and my main concern with 2 of your choices is the poor reliability of the SDM. I've just about settled on the 18-135 because it uses the newer DC drive, is WR, and has a really good reputation for solid AF.
12-08-2011, 11:09 AM   #4
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I don't have any of the lenses you're looking at, but understand the IQ of the 18-135 and 16-50 isn't as good as the 17-70. Also, the 16-50 seems to have a poor history with regard to SDM failures.

12-08-2011, 11:14 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by cbope Quote
My main concern with the 16-50 are sometimes negative reviews, compared to the 18-135.
Make no mistake, the 16-50 is a considerably better lens than the 18-135. It's just that it's being held to a higher standard than the 18-135. People expect the 16-50 to be a superior lens, and for the most part, it is, but they're kind of surprised, it would seem, that the 18-135 is pretty decent, too.
12-08-2011, 11:18 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by JohnX Quote
I don't have any of the lenses you're looking at, but understand the IQ of the 18-135 and 16-50 isn't as good as the 17-70.
Um, no. The 16-50 is the best of the 3, followed by the 17-70, with the 18-135 bringing up the rear.
12-08-2011, 01:19 PM   #7
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Given your stated criteria: "basically a walkabout, everyday lens. Something I can leave on the camera while traveling and not need to carry all my kit around." I have no hesitation recommending the 18~135. Aside from the truly useful range at both ends, it does remarkably well for close ups as well. It's lightweight, compact and very versatile.
12-08-2011, 01:35 PM   #8
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Looks like it's a shootout between the 18-135 and the 16-50, the lack of WR drops out the 17-70. I live in Finland and this lens will get a workout in all types of weather, especially cold and wet. WR is the main reason I went for K-5 vs the K-r, so my main lens needs to keep up the same standard.

Still looks like a nearly even split between the remaining 2 choices... anyone else?

12-08-2011, 01:57 PM   #9
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I would stay away from the 16-50 because of the sdm problems. You will also have more reach with the 18-135.
12-08-2011, 02:03 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by cbope Quote
Looks like it's a shootout between the 18-135 and the 16-50, the lack of WR drops out the 17-70. I live in Finland and this lens will get a workout in all types of weather, especially cold and wet. WR is the main reason I went for K-5 vs the K-r, so my main lens needs to keep up the same standard.

Still looks like a nearly even split between the remaining 2 choices... anyone else?
There was a review someplace, sorry trying to recall where, that put the WR on the 18-135 as better than that of any other Pentax lens due to some changes Pentax put into place (it is the newest WR lens). Anyone else read that and recall where it was?
12-08-2011, 02:10 PM   #11
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I bought into the Pentax system for trips in the Scandinavian mountains and I am very satisfied with the DA*16-50. Perhaps because I don't know what I'm missing. I only have the non WR kit lens to compare it with. I don't worry to much about the SDM quitting on me in the middle of a trip. Certainly for landscapes manual focusing shouldn't be a problem as a short term solution. And if the SDM fails I still would have had almost four years of trouble free shooting and the pictures to prove it!
12-09-2011, 12:02 AM   #12
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I believe I'm going to go for the 18-135 for now, pocket the savings on the 16-50, and hope that Pentax comes out with an improved DA* 16-50 F2.8 II or similar in the next couple years. It just seems a bit too risky of getting a bad one or losing the SDM motor at some point, not acceptable to me at that price point.

According to the limited number of reviews on the 18-135 that I have found so far, it is a worthwhile upgrade over the kit lens in both reach and IQ. Since the K-5 has really good high ISO performance, the speed of the variable aperture is less of an issue. I guess I'm still stuck in the film mindset that I *need* an F2.8 lens, because I used to shoot a lot of Velvia at ISO 40
12-09-2011, 09:54 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by rockmaster1964 Quote
I would stay away from the 16-50 because of the sdm problems. You will also have more reach with the 18-135.
I think the SDM issues are overstated...... I"ve been very happy with mine for a very long time.
12-09-2011, 10:06 PM   #14
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There is no doubt that the 16-50 is at least 2 grades higher than the 18-135 which is basically a slightly better version of the kit lens (which is also very decent) with more reach (the 17-70 being one grade higher). One is a pro-level lens and the other a consumer lens that has as many so-so reviews as good ones though I have to say I have seen as many excellent shots taken with it as poor ones so maybe it comes down to sample variation or even user technique.

If your primary concern is more reach (over the kit lens) with WR then the 18-135 should be fine (especially on a K5). However if you are also looking for a noticeable improvement in IQ AND WR then save your pennies and get the 16-50 and 50-135 for a fantastic set-up IQ-wise as well as excellent WR. If you are buying new and worried about the SDM of both of those lenses then get buy cheap extended warranties.
12-09-2011, 10:18 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Frogfish Quote
There is no doubt that the 16-50 is at least 2 grades higher than the 18-135 which is basically a slightly better version of the kit lens (which is also very decent) with more reach (the 17-70 being one grade higher). One is a pro-level lens and the other a consumer lens that has as many so-so reviews as good ones though I have to say I have seen as many excellent shots taken with it as poor ones so maybe it comes down to sample variation or even user technique.

If your primary concern is more reach (over the kit lens) with WR then the 18-135 should be fine (especially on a K5). However if you are also looking for a noticeable improvement in IQ AND WR then save your pennies and get the 16-50 and 50-135 for a fantastic set-up IQ-wise as well as excellent WR. If you are buying new and worried about the SDM of both of those lenses then get buy cheap extended warranties.
Let's see. $425 or so for a 18-135 with WR or $849 for the 16-50 + $949 for the 50-135 = $1798! Wow. Oh, and where are there "cheap extended warranties"? At Amazon the 50-135 has about a $150 price tag for the warranty, so if you add $150 for it and $120 for the 16-50 you now are up to $2068!!! Jikes!
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