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02-07-2012, 06:29 AM   #1
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Pentax SMC DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 ED vs kit lens?

Is the high priced Pentax SMC DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 ED worth the upgrade over using the standard Pentax kit lens?

02-07-2012, 06:38 AM   #2
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There are several choices to replace the kit lens, not only the DA* 16-50mm. Also in the frame are similar lenses made by Tamron and Sigma and the 17-70mm lenses made by Sigma and Pentax, together with the slightly older Pentax 16-45mm. It all depends on your style of shooting, how much you want to spend and whether certain features are important to you such as full weather-sealing or quasi-macro close-focusing. And, of course, it may also depend on how often you'll be using the lens. For example, if you are mainly a prime lens user, then the kit lens may be ideal for the occasional foray and a more expensive one hard to justify.

To declare an interest: I have the DA* 16-50mm and am perfectly happy with it. However, it has been the last thing I've upgraded over the kit lens and not the first. For several years I built up some second-hand primes and used the kit lens every now and then.

Only you can decide what "worth" means. There's no objective gauge. Yes, to my eye the DA*16-50mm does deliver superior image quality to the kit lens though in good light at f8 there is not that much difference in sharpness viewing a picture on a typical PC monitor. The difference lies in the overall rendering and in the bokeh. But this is a subjective judgement. The kit lens isn't bad in any way even though there are other lenses most would consider better for one reason or another.

Last edited by mecrox; 02-07-2012 at 06:45 AM.
02-07-2012, 06:45 AM   #3
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'Worth' to me, would be a big upgrade in noticeable sharpness and optical performance over the kit lens.
02-07-2012, 06:53 AM   #4
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Plus 1 ^^ to mecrox

I'll add that improvements in quality are rarely accompanied by linear price increases. The DA*16-50 is certainly an excellent lens (and probably the best of the current crop of available lenses) but you could easily see improvements for far less.Like said it depends on how you shoot. I picked up a used older Sigma 24-70 2.8 a few years back to give me low light zoom with good range (and it is a more useful range IMO in many cases) But I shoot mostly primes because even with the old primes the iq is tough to beat and they are reasonable.
All that being said Provided you have no SDM issues (and it doesn't seem to be as big an issue with the latest lenses) build quality will be tough to beat and iq is about as good as zooms get. (the Sigma 24-70 in it's current incarnation is actually more money BTW - but i like having the longer reach and 24 is wide enough to be useful - I do have a DA 14 i back it up with though )

02-07-2012, 07:01 AM   #5

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For me it was certainly worth it (note that I upgraded from the DA16-45/4, which was already a step up from the first version of the DA18-55 kit lens).

Advantages of the DA*16-50/2.8 over the DA18-55 kit lens:
- Optically better, better contrast and sharpness, esp no vignetting. Though some distortion at 16mm (easily corrected either in camera (JPG) or in software such as Lightroom).
- Build Quality, especially the weather sealing
- Wide angle: 2mm is quite a difference (more than the 5mm difference at the tele end)
- Brighter view through the viewfinder (thanks to f/2.8)
- SDM: mixed bag. For my feeling it's a plus. I like it because it makes AF much quieter. But some users seem to have had some problems with it (esp in older copies, though mine is an old one too?) and some complain it's not faster than screw driven AF. At least it's not slower either...

It's just in another league.

02-07-2012, 07:42 AM - 1 Like   #6
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I thought about this long and hard before buying my K-5 and I started out with the DA* 16-50 and just skipped the kit lens. So I can't really say how much of an improvement it is, but I can tell you that I am very, very pleased with my 16-50. My example is everything that I had hoped it would be.

I plan to probably pair it with the DA* 50-135 soon and then add some nice primes. I can see the lens addiction starting and potentially costing me a good bit of money, but there is little use in having a nice camera body unless you have quality glass to go with it IMO. I guess it all comes down to what you want and how much you are willing to spend, as usual.
02-07-2012, 11:47 PM   #7
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If you are looking for high quality I would recommend prime lenses. You cannot take account of both high quality and convenience.
I upgraded my kit lens to DA 17-70 and I like it very well. The maximum focal of kit lens is 55mm, which is a little bit short for me. I really enjoy the experience of my DA 17-70, it is my mostly used lens for travel.
02-08-2012, 02:07 AM   #8
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DA* 16-50mm vs. Sigma and Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 Comparison - Introduction - might be of interest. If WR is not of importance, I would not choose the DA*16-50.

If you opt for the DA*16-50, I would seriously consider getting an extended warranty with regards to SDM failures; the situation might have improved but piece of mind is worth the extra bucks.

Last edited by sterretje; 02-08-2012 at 02:19 AM.
02-08-2012, 04:42 AM   #9
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I have been looking on various upgrades on my kit lens.
If you need 2.8 and 16mm then the kit can not compete, even if it is good considering it's kit add on price.

I have been considering the Tamron due to cost.

But the pixie dust that comes with the DA* is priceless!

02-08-2012, 05:06 AM - 1 Like   #10
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There is no doubt the 16-50 is sharper, brighter and simply better than the kit lens in every aspect but value is indeed determined by you.
Between these two lenses there is no comparison. Enjoy the difference.
02-08-2012, 07:10 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Matcha Quote
If you are looking for high quality I would recommend prime lenses. You cannot take account of both high quality and convenience.
I upgraded my kit lens to DA 17-70 and I like it very well. The maximum focal of kit lens is 55mm, which is a little bit short for me. I really enjoy the experience of my DA 17-70, it is my mostly used lens for travel.

I decided to go with the 17-70. Thanks for the idea!
02-08-2012, 07:19 AM - 1 Like   #12
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FWIW, I'm getting my DA* 16-50/2.8 at week's end, after renting if last fall online. The image quality seemed to be top shelf, and I've owned the DA 12-24 too. I suspect you'll really like that lens! Since I was only shooting landscape, no formal results shooting with the lens wide open at 16mm. I finally decided to go with as many weather sealed lenses as possible when traveling, etc.

Also own the 18-55 WR and 50-200 WR lenses, but they're for informal use and/or light travel option when photography is secondary on a trip.

02-08-2012, 08:24 AM   #13
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any chance pentax will upgrade 16-50 in 2013?
02-08-2012, 05:59 PM - 1 Like   #14
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I got my new 16-50 2 days ago. I still have my kit lens and I've got to say the 16-50 much sharper and brighter. The lens is not as big and heavy as some people make it out to be. With the hood it looks bigger but just by itself it looks slightly bigger than average but not noticeable. I love the SDM, plenty of people complement the k-5 for its quiet shutter speed, but that quiet shutterspeed is useless with the loud AF noise, with the SDM its quiet focusing and quiet shooting. The weather sealing is also a great bonus, you never have to worry when it starts drizzling. With regards to the failures, buy something like a Mack 7 year warranty 1017 Mack 7 Year Warranty for Lenses Valued $600.00 to $1000.00. you can find it cheaper at ebay I got mine for just over $20. That's 7 years knowing if the SDM fails you are covered, the Mack warranties are also transferable ($20 fee if I'm not mistaken) so if you do decide to sell it you can still say it has a warranty and makes moving it much easier.

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