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03-15-2012, 12:21 PM   #1
Heie's Avatar

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Did I Make a Mistake?

For those of you who haven't stumbled upon my updates (Update Number One and Update Number Two), I am currently in Afghanistan on a combat deployment. Essayons! (Motto for the Engineers, which is my branch, specifically the combat/route clearance side of engineering)

But I made a big hassle of trying to get what I felt was the perfect (for me), all-inclusive (for me), most versatile (for me) camera/lens combinations. I have with me the following:

K-5 + grip
K-7 back up
DA* 16-50
DA* 50-135
DA 55-300
DFA 100mm Macro WR
Sigma 8-16

In the past 3 weeks, I have found that 95% of my shooting happens with the 16-50 - it just is a VERY good daily-use lens, especially for what I do.

Now while I love every one of those lenses, I was wondering, did I make a mistake in getting the 50-135 and not the 60-250? All the reviews I have read indicate the latter is of equally outstanding quality, and it isn't all that much bigger (weight isn't an issue for me). I understand the main difference is the 10mm on the wide end (I won't lose sleep over 10mm, especially since I still have up to 50 covered with the 16-50), as well as the f/4 vs f/2.8. With the absolutely astounding high ISO capabilities of the K-5, is the difference between 2.8 and 4 almost negligible? And then with the longer focal lengths, wouldn't that more than make up for the difference in apertures with regard to subject isolation/DOF?

I understand the 60-250 can be used for impromptu portraits, but that really isn't its main purpose, especially since maxed out at the wide end of 60, you are already flirting with losing the "ideal" focal length for portraiture (90mm with the crop factor as compared to the ideal of 85mm). So I was thinking that an even better combination than what I have now is the 60-250 and the DA* 55 f/1.4, the latter of which would obviously be the defacto portrait lens, and it would more than compensate for the 50-135's faster speed.

Also, I was hesitant to get the 60-250 because I was/am also seriously considering the new Bigma OS 50-500. But having both the 60-250 and the 50-500 would have been an absolute waste. But now with the recent announcement of the new DA 560mm, I think that would cover my super telephoto range perfectly, thus rendering the 60-250 once again a great addition (I could live with the 250-560mm gap for now, assuming I had both those lenses).

So, If you were able to do so financially, would you recommend selling the 50-135 and the 55-300 in order to get the 60-250 and the 55? Please keep in mind I am not looking for alternatives from third parties because I absolutely require weather sealing (Pentax doesn't make an 8-16, so I made an exception) without completely breaking the bank.

I am very eager to see what you guys have to say

Much obliged,

03-15-2012, 12:37 PM   #2
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If 95% of your shooting happens with the 16-50, I think you shouldn't sweat the longer range so much. It seems to me you've got it more than covered with what you got.

03-15-2012, 12:43 PM   #3
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First I think you're right about the high ISO capability of the K-5 negating the absolute need for all but the fastest lenses (which still provide a depth of field benefit). The 50-135mm at F2.8 is still useful for subject isolation, while at F4 you'll start to lose that ability with the 60-250mm (though being a longer zoom subject separation is still possible through distance).

The question really is do you need the weather sealing of the Pentax lenses? It seems you might appreciate it using cameras in Afghanistan! I don't think you'll get appreciably more out of switching to the 60-250 and selling the 50-135 and 55-300. The 55-300 is a great performer, and it sounds as though you don't use that length of zoom truly enough to benefit from spending that extra several hundred $ and dealing with the hassle of selling both lenses you currently own.

I do see a missing lens in your line-up is a fast lens - whether or not you would like a 50mm, the 55mm da*, or another Pentax fast prime is something you'll need to determine. For that I'd suggest downloading exposureplot (free program), and running it against all of your photos (just have to point the program to the folder your photos are stored). That will give you a graph showing at what focal lengths you shoot - getting a fast lens in the focal length you shoot the most, or think you'll use to most for something like portraits, is a good next step - I'd say after that your lens lineup is pretty much set.
03-15-2012, 01:30 PM   #4
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For reportage-type imagery, which seems to suit your style, the 60-250 would have given you the advantage of stealth, as you don't necessarily need f/2.8 to do your kind of photography there.
Nevertheless, if that isn't too much of a concern, the 50-135 will suit your needs just as well - you just have to get closer to the action and not be so stealthy in your visual documentary.

03-15-2012, 01:32 PM   #5

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My thought is that either the DA*55 and/or the upcoming 560/5.6 could be potentially more useful to you.

I wasn't so impressed with the 60-250 when I tried it in the store. The DA55-300 was a good lens, but I found I didn't get any interesting photos with it from 135 to 300mm. So I sold it and got the DA*50-135, 200mm prime (K200/2.5) and 300mm prime (F300/4.5). I don't use the 200 and 300 as often as shorter focal lengths, but I'm very pleased with the results when I do. The current DA*200 and DA*300 give nearly comparable results to my older lenses, but of course they have weather sealing.

I find that when I use the 200 and 300, the lack of zoom doesn't bother me - I can walk around with either one for a while and frame some interesting shots.

I use the DA*50-135 fairly often, and it's unquestionably my favorite zoom.

I also use my K50/1.2 often, which is why I suggested you might like the DA*55 (I sure liked it when I tried it).
03-15-2012, 01:35 PM   #6
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You have a lot of overlap between the 50-135 and 55-300. Both could be replaced with the 60-250. If you need a longer focal length, just use the 250mm end and crop in post processing. The K-5/60-250 produces stellar results and allows for a lot of cropping.
03-15-2012, 02:46 PM   #7
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For taking people photos the 60-250 gets to be very long where the 50-135 has internal focus. I have both lenses and I prefer the 50-135 for people and landscapes and the 60-250 for wildlife which is my main area of interest. I think for taking people and around people the 50-135 is lovely and compact and is why there is an outsatnding advantage when on the move compared to massive canon and nikon systems.

I have put away my bigma50-500 to collect dust. I have the sigma4.5 500 prime which is a sensational lens. My older copy of the bigma had very very soft images at the long end from about 15 m to infinity at the 500mm end. It's also a great dust sucker. Also compared with the prime it didn't pick up that much detail in the dark areas. I purchased the 60-250 to fill the gap once I had the sigma 500. I keep the 60-250 on a rapid strap so it's on my hip ready for action. It balances really well. I am not sure if the 50-135 has a tripod collar available, but out and about the second body and lens on a rapid strap works for me.

My opinion is the 60-250 focusing is far superior. So even though I use the 60-250 more, I think the 50-135 is a much nicer lens in the hand and has the edge for getting that stunning photo.

Among my 7 AF primes between 10-100mm including macros, I never use my 50.

Last edited by Bob from Aus; 03-15-2012 at 03:03 PM.
03-15-2012, 02:51 PM   #8
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First, glad you are well and thank you for your service.

If you're thinking about the 560 then I think you have your ranges covered. The 55-300 is truly a solid performer and since you don't use much beyond 50 it should serve you well. I'd like to suggest the venerable FA50/1.4 to you instead of the newer 55. The SDM issue is one I avoid, plus the 55 is bluky and reports are frequent of it having more trouble locking on than I have seen with the FA50.

03-15-2012, 03:55 PM   #9
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I've used the DA*60-250, Sigma 100-300 f/4 and i own the DA*50-135
I really don't know what pentax did with the DA*60-250, i'm not saying it's a bad lens but it simply wasn't for me. The focus is quite slow, while i'm used to the DA*50-135 but that wasn't the main problem, i just dislike the bokeh of that lens i couldn't get a decent photo with it because off that. I much more prefer the Sigma, it's super fast to focus and the bokeh is much more pleasant to my eyes.

I've the same problem with the DA*55 that i also tested all day.

As you can see it's just such a personal question you asked so the only one that can really decide is you.
I for one would never buy the DA*60-250 although the range is very useful or the DA*55 simply because i don't like the character of their images.
So go through the images on this forum and search on flickr, if you like what you see then sure buy them for the rest these lenses are really sharp and they handle quite nice.
03-15-2012, 04:04 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
The SDM issue is one I avoid, plus the 55 is bluky and reports are frequent of it having more trouble locking on than I have seen with the FA50.
Not this again.
Look at the recent SDM poll on this forum and then say what you think...
The only lenses to avoid if you're concerned is the DA*16-50, DA*50-135 and the DA17-70, all the DA* prime lenses score super in reliability and the DA*60-250 did also well.

SDM Reliability Survey -
03-15-2012, 05:00 PM   #11
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I don't get it. You already have the DA 55-300. What would the 60-250 do differently that makes you feel it would have had any use either. You don't mention using the 55-300 so I assume at this point you are fixated with shorter focal lengths. Don't sweat it you have lots of time to play with other lengths yet. You aren't going anywhere soon.
03-15-2012, 05:08 PM   #12
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I did that very thing. Sold the 50-135 and 55-300 and bought a 60-250. I am very happy with it and it gets used a lot more than the 50-135 did.I did however, repurchase a 55-300 to have as a lighter weight option for travel when I was not really anticipating a lot of wildlife shots. It is a matter of what you want. I know that if I have lenses just sitting and not being used much, they are generally out the door with another one coming in.
Good luck.
03-15-2012, 05:10 PM   #13
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The 50-135 is great indoors or for any portraits, and the 55-300 is good outdoors. That's how I use mine anyway, even with my severe case of LBA I can't rationalise buying the 60-250 as well and there's no way I want to give up f/2.8.
03-15-2012, 06:58 PM   #14
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I tried to love a couple of 60-250 lenses but in all the test shots I took none were a match for my 50-135. I decided ages ago to buy a 200 and a 300 but I would have preferred a decent 100-300 zoom for the convenience to be truthful. The actual lenses you 'need' can also depend on the way you use zoom lenses. I found that, early on, I was only using either extreme FL of the my zooms a total of 70% of the time with only 30% scattered in the middle FL's - each zoom became two defacto primes as a result. It might be easier to pick 3 primes and stick with them if you use your zoom lenses like that.

People seem to think that the Sigma 120-300 F/2.8 will magically appear in a Pentax mount around April but I have yet to see evidence of this and the Sigma website doesn't mention that lens in Pentax mount. But at 2.9kg you have to wonder if it is worth lugging it around. I find the DA* 50-135 & DA* 200 to be a standard combo for me in the city whereas I'll swap out the DA* 200 for the FA* 300 in more open space.

Out of interest: My 3 lenses weight 915 + 935 + 765 = 2.6kg anyway and that Sigma would only be 300gms heavier all up. Whilst each one is lighter and easier to use than that Sigma, if you are lugging the weight anyway it may be a better idea to go with a Sigma 100-300 F/4 (if you can find one) or that 120-300 if it ever shows.

Last edited by bossa; 03-15-2012 at 07:05 PM.
03-15-2012, 09:15 PM   #15
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First of all, thank you to everyone for the very helpful and insightful responses. This has helped a lot. Allow me to explain a bit further since I unintentionally misled you:

I mentioned the 16-50 as my 95% usage lens, however that is just because of the type of photography that I do right now - very close, portrait/reportage style photography as required by my job: the limitations of my job do not really allow/call for significantly distanced shots. I live on a military base, so there is also very, very little wildlife (although the packs of feral dogs are quite abundant and healthy, thanks to it being an Afghan base!).

However, when I travel and when I am home, I find myself using the 55-300 constantly, often at the long lend. When traveling, would most of my shots be between 16-135? Absolutely. I recognize that.

Also, a few people asked the question, "Why spend all the money to get a 60-250 if you already have the stellar 55-300?" I agree, for the price/value, size, and weight, the 55-300 is an astounding lens. It really is, and some of my most celebrated photographs are a product of it. But I truly do need the weather resistance. I do too much adventure/poor weather travel/hiking to not have the security that the WR brings along. If they made a 55-300 WR, I would sacrifice a little bit of photo quality (reluctantly so) for the size/weight advantages of the 55-300 over the 60-250.

But going back to my original question and now that you have a better insight as to my photographic style, would it make sense to replace the 55-300 and my 50-135 (which, yes, are both completely overlapping), in order to acquire the 60-250 and the 55 f/1.4 for a more complete and more versatile package without sacrificing image quality?

I came VERY, VERY close to biting the bullet and getting the 55 before the deployment, however I couldn't justify spending the money for the prime when I already had two top-notch lenses that go to 50 (16-50, and the 50-135; three with the 55-300) and the difference between f/2.8 and f/1.4, to me, did not warrant the money and extra lens to haul around. Yes I know the DOF is incredibly different between the two, but I had trouble justifying it and ultimately didn't go for it.

And then lastly, and this is 100% pure speculation and dreams, but would it make better sense to wait out the incoming 135ish-350ish that is on the lens roadmap? I know it says just a DA zoom, but what are the chances of them making it a DA* zoom, or at the very least a DA WR zoom?

What are your thoughts?

Thank you all again very, very much.


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