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03-14-2012, 10:15 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by zosxavius Quote
Looking at the photozone results...all the wide to tele zooms are beat by the pentax 17-70 f4 at the widest. The sigma 17-70 looks like the optimized it for the tele end. It looks like they sacrificed center sharpness for better edge to edge coverage slightly as the 18-135 is sharper in the center. I think I am going to shoot for the pentax 17-70 next. All the other lenses are far too soft in the corners for my liking. This should keep me in ok shape until I can start saving for a 12-24 and boy did prices on that lens go up.
Technically, from Photozone, the 16-45 is better than the 17-70 F4 on the 16-24mm end. And the Sigma/Tamron 17-50s are better than the 16-45 all-around.

But once you stop down to F8 on all these normal zooms, they are all very hard to distinguish from each other.

03-14-2012, 10:17 AM   #17
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I would feel that 18mm wouldn't be wide enough.
03-14-2012, 04:03 PM   #18
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Hmmm. Poking around, it appears that the new version of the Sigma 17-70 with stabilization tests worse (SLR Gear) for sharpness than the old non-stabilized version. The non-stabilized version is no longer in production.
03-14-2012, 04:20 PM   #19
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I would like to add that my kit lens is the old formula version. The dal version 1. I wish I had known this when I bought it, because I could have picked up version 2 for the same. I finally looked at the resolution numbers and it seems that the first version was pretty awful in the corners, so at this point even an 18-200 would probably be a decent upgrade in iq. I think I am going to try a copy of the 17-70 first. I could care less if sucks at 70mm. There was a thread on dpreview where they compared the sigma and pentax and then someone compared them to a fa 28-90 or so and the full frame lens blew them both away.

Quite eye opening. I'm convinced that lenses designed for full frame are the way to go as you are generally pulling from the sweet spot. A lot of aps only lenses seem to make a lot of compromises to reduce their weight. Maybe I will wait and see what they come out with. A lot of people want something better than just average in this focal length range. It replaces the classic 28-100 zoom range. I'm realizing now how kind of crappy version 1 of the kit lens was. Its not terrible, but version 2 looks almost worth the $100 to upgrade. Sorry for any typos....

03-14-2012, 04:28 PM   #20
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I'm kind of into adaptalls, so I was going to try the 35-80, which by most counts is possibly one of the sharpest zooms ever created. I've seen some really stunning shots from that lens. However that doesn't leave the possibility of going wide, but would be a great lens for different things than I need in a walkabout. That lens would probably be a stunner on full frame.....My tamron 23a 60-300 has also given me some great shots, but is really heavy and quite slow optically. Plus its a dust sucker.... lol

I've heard so much good about the pentax 55-300 and I think I will get one for autofocus if nothing else. Wish they made a weather sealed version.
03-14-2012, 04:34 PM - 1 Like   #21
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I don't say this with pride but I've tried a mess of these: DA18-55s and 16-45s (a few of each over time) and 18-135, Sigmas 18-50 f/2.8-4.5 (currently in the marketplace, hint), 17-70 1st-gen and 18-200. Not a one of these qualified as worse than very good in my estimation, even the 18-200 needed just a bit of sharpening at times. I was not fanatical about corners though, so if you look hard enough for reasons to avoid a lens you'll find a few. My copy of the 18-135 was a very nice 18-100 before getting too soft & fringe-y; the 18-200 was its equal at the wide end and excellent at the long end. Many later copies of the 18-135 have been regarded highly, so I got a lemon or the first batch wasn't its best. That original 17-70 Sigma was excellent, and I loved that it could be shot point blank throughout the range; some of my favorite shots were 17mm and an inch off the glass. The 18-50 is quiet and talented, but let's face it: once I became used to quick shift it's hard to go back. If the 16-45 were more tightly built I'd grab my 4th copy - but the ones I had were pretty loose, the least WR of any zoom going just by the feel of it.

In the end, quick shift and WR have convinced me to hold onto the 18-55WR.

p.s. Oh, if we each had a nickel for the 55-300WR request..

p.s. MarkII - Hey your last post reminded me of my excellent Vivitar 28-105 f/3.5-4.5. Other than zoom creep it was most impressive. The 77xxxx s/number implied a Kobori manufacture, and it had the 'A' aperture setting.

Last edited by jimr-pdx; 03-14-2012 at 04:40 PM.
03-14-2012, 06:11 PM   #22
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My zooms in ascending order of sharpness:
DA 18-55
DA L 18-55
DA 18-250
DA 18-135
DA 55-300
DA 16-45
03-14-2012, 07:18 PM   #23
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Try a SMC Pentax Shift 28mm F3.5SMC, it's pretty damned good.

03-14-2012, 07:19 PM   #24

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It may also be worth considering which lenses are supported by the RAW processing software you use (if you shoot RAW). If you use Lightroom, check which lenses have available correction modules for the lens you choose. Ditto for DXO Optics Pro. It can make a big difference, especially for architecture.

DXO's lens/body modules are particularly good in this regard, automagically improving sharpness as well as correcting geometric distortions and CA.

Currently the following Pentax wides have K-5 lens/body modules for DXO:

- DA 14 mm f/2.8 ED (IF)
- DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited
- DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited

- DA 12-24mm
- DA 16-50mm f/2.8 ED AL (IF) SDM
- DA 16-45 mm f/4 ED AL
- DA 17-70mm f/4 AL [IF] SDM
- DA 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3
- DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL
- DA 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6ED AL (IF) DC WR
- DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II
03-14-2012, 07:29 PM   #25

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QuoteOriginally posted by zosxavius Quote
I finally looked at the resolution numbers and it seems that the first version was pretty awful in the corners, so at this point even an 18-200 would probably be a decent upgrade in iq
I would be skeptical of this, regardless of what any numbers might say. An 18-200 would have huge amounts of distortion at the wide end, which would not be good for architecture; and if edge to edge sharpness was good at a testing distance, that doesn't mean it would be good at longer distances. Cheap and/or older zooms can all be a bit prone to decentering issues, which can lead rez tests astray.

QuoteOriginally posted by zosxavius Quote
I'm convinced that lenses designed for full frame are the way to go as you are generally pulling from the sweet spot.
That may be true for Nikon and Canon, where they have newer FF lenses designed to perform on digital, which is more demanding on resolution than film (because of the ease of pixel-peeping). But a lot of the Pentax FF zooms are older, and they can be very inconsistent throughout the zoom range, performing remarkably well in the middle of zoom range and not as well at either end. My FA 28-105 f3.2-4.5 is quite good between 45mm and 120mm, but at the wide end, even on APS-C cameras, it has edge to edge sharpness issues. I've seen tests of other FA zooms, and except for the two FA* zooms, none of them test out with any sort of consistency through their focal range.

I recently replaced the DA 12-24 with the DA 16-45. I find the 16-45 to be at least as good, if not better, in edge to edge sharpness as the 12-24. I would expect any of the constant aperture zooms currently available to provide comparable performance.
03-15-2012, 02:06 PM   #26
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Primes. Manual-focus primes. Manual-focus manual-aperture primes, even. Why? Because except in active seismic zones, 'scapes and buildings tend not to move around a lot, so focus and aperture automation aren't critical. Superb old manual primes can be had for a fraction of the cost of new AF glass. In my collection (233 lenses) the differential is about 20:1 -- average AF lenses cost US$300, average MF lenses cost US$15.

OK, I'll admit that MF lenses down to 28mm can be cheap; down to 24mm, not so cheap; and shorter than that, definitely not cheap. My favorite in the UWA realm isn't a prime, it's the Tamron 10-24, a very useful range, with good optics and the best warranty around -- and it's not hyper-expensive.

If you are concerned about distortion, look for a good 28-30mm prime. Every lens wider than 28mm that I've put on my K20D shows some edge distortion. If necessary, shoot a series and stitch them together into a pano. If distortion is no bother, go wider. My inexpensive Panagor 24/2.8 and Tokina 21/3.8 are quite sharp. The sharp and not-too-costly (but somewhat fishy) Zenitar 16/2.8 is good especially for exaggerated verticals, but I wouldn't use it for anything representing straight reality.
03-15-2012, 03:21 PM   #27
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For me distortion isn't so much of an issue since I shoot raw and use lightroom. I can usually correct distortion in the most severe places. The profile for my kit lens works well, and using the formulas for m primes seems to work well on some of the older lenses. To be honest a bit of distortion is to be expected at the wider angles. I'm usually more ok with barrel distortion the moustache, but both have interesting effects. I fully intend to buy as many small wide primes as I can possibly afford and I think I might end up looking for the tamron 17mm 3.5 sp and the 24, since I am kind of falling in love with my old adaptall lenses, but a nice af kit lens replacement that takes competent pictures at the wide end would be great. That 12-24 is mighty sexy, but not exactly cheap day..... I do love primes and a tamron 28mm is on my body just about constantly, but for walking around an area and taking shots you start to wish for a zoom after a while. I'm not a huge fan of changing lenses constantly. I do it enough as it is. I'm ok with sacraficing versatility for optical quality a bit. If you shoot wide though, of course you want the best options you can afford. I've heard the zenitar is a real gem. Id love to have one. I think if I had a good 24, 20, 17 and a 15 I would be very covered. I'm going to just keep hunting for super deals on old primes. I've been pretty lucky so far. I use the kit lens a bit because its convienient and has af. I've gotten some stunning shots from it at times, but I don't think anything sastifies the thirst for something better, especially when some decent pentax lenses are under 500.

I was looking at a canon 70-300 shot today off a 5dmk2. For what the l f4 sells for, I'm not all that impressed. I think my tamron in sharper in the edges. I guess I need to ease up on my drive for perfectionism.....
03-15-2012, 04:35 PM   #28

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QuoteOriginally posted by zosxavius Quote
I guess I need to ease up on my drive for perfectionism
'The perfect is the enemy of the good'.
'to attain a perfect thing, whatever that is, becomes infinitely more difficult as you near it'.
'perfection in complex systems is unattainable'
'Aiming for excellent is OK, but aiming for perfection is plain bad engineering (and business) practice'.
06-20-2012, 10:23 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by paulh Quote
The DA 16-45/4 is one I'm interested in - how does its sharpness compare with the other lenses mentioned?
Yes, I'm considering selling my mint Pentax 16-45, for the Pentax 17-70, simply for the extra reach for an upcoming trip. If the 17-70 is as good as my 16-45, particularly for sharpness, I'll be a happy camper!
06-20-2012, 10:33 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by kerrowdown Quote
Try a SMC Pentax Shift 28mm F3.5SMC, it's pretty damned good.

he did say he's on a budget. never mind finding one of these puppies is not easy. they are also far superior on a FF (ie film since no sensor is there to use them) for fully functional tilt shift on apsc it would need to be wider than the 28 (that being said I have been looking at one in a local shop it's just more than i will spend for it at the moment)

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