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01-12-2008, 08:33 PM   #1
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Standard Zoom comparison and other lenses to choose from...

Last week I ordered a K10D with the SMCP-DA 18mm - 55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL...and now that I'm here I'm reading about the SMCP-DA 16mm - 45mm f/4.0 ED-AL and if I understand correctly this lens is much much better than the 'kit' lens.

Can someone tell me why it is so much better? Did I make a bad decision by going with kit lens?

And while I'm at it...

When I took photos with my old film camera I used a 50 mm f/1.8 lens most of the time.

Would I be better off getting the SMCP-FA 50mm f/1.4 Standard Auto Focus Lens as my next lens or would a telephoto zoom such as the SMCP-DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 ED be a better choice to expand the range my lens collection will cover?

Also make things even more complicated...would just getting something like a Pentax SMCP-DA 18mm - 250mm f/3.5-6.3 AL (IF) be a better choice yet to have one lens that covers it all?

Thanks...and I aplogize for making things complicated...Sprags

Last edited by Sprags; 01-12-2008 at 09:59 PM.
01-12-2008, 09:35 PM   #2
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What defficiencies have you found in your current setup? That's the real question.
01-12-2008, 09:55 PM   #3
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Welcome Sprags,

You'll have to find out what you're happy to settle for, as none of your options are bad choices, unless they won't serve the purpose for which you intend them to serve. What I mean is, if you're a hobbyist/enthusiast, the 18-55 and 50-200 combo is not a bad choice. You'll have also read that the kit lens is one of the best kit lenses among those available.

However, as I've personally found, the kit lens is good but not excellent for landscape/interior photography. So I'm upgrading to the 16-45, which is basically the same 'speed' as the kit lens, but better optics to limit vignetting, CA and softening at large apertures (my understanding - others may have better explanations).

Superzooms like the 18-250 may be good for all-purpose use but are known to exhibit less optical quality than regular zooms. Do you want decent portraits? Then go for the 50/1.4. If you need to zoom in beyond 50mm for a lot of your shots, the 50-200 is a good choice.

Then to make it more complicated (apologies in return), the DA * lenses are simply exquisite in their captures (just judging from other forum members' photo submissions). It's all about your expectations and your $$$$.
01-12-2008, 10:15 PM   #4
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Kit lenses are what camera manufacturers put on the camera so you can take a photo.
Some people say they are "good for the money", which means they are not so great but you didn't spend much for it.

They are generally slow (f3.5-5.6) so many people upgrade to a 2.8 or faster lens for low light use.
They do not have great image quality and many people upgrade to something else, including the Pentax 16-45, or Sigma 18-50 or 17-70.

You need to determine what you will be shooting.

If you like wide angle, then the Pentax 10-17 and 12-24 or Sigma 10-20 are zoom choices, and there are several fixed focal length (and generally faster) lenses to choose from as well.

The Pentax 50-200 is a nice compact zoom, but it is not very fast (f4-5.6). For low light or sports, you will want to get down to f2.8, where the price just went from $200 to $800 for a zoom.

Generally, a "do it all" lens such as the 18-250 will have some limitations - such as vignetting at the wide end, slow speed, softness at some length, size (blocks flash) etc.

01-12-2008, 10:47 PM   #5
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Spending more money doesn't always buy better glass. Look at real-world photos not charts or graphs. Go to sites like PBase, Flikr, etc and look at photos from the lenses you are interested in. So far I'm very happy with the 18-55 kit, I also just received the 50mm 1.4 and have the Tamron 70-300 LD Di on order. All these lenses are sub-$300, nothing wrong with that.

Try the lens(es) out to see if they meet your expectations, don't always rely on reviews, etc. Reviews have there place but, the numbers are put in place instead of the actual feed back you get from actually looking at the photo you took.
01-12-2008, 11:33 PM   #6
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You probably should get the 50mm f/1.4 for indoors in low light situations. Nothing wrong with the kit lens for the money. If you want some additional reach get the 50-200mm. Those three will give you and good starting point for not too much cash. Once you figure out what you really want/need then you can upgrade to better lenses with better optics and speed such as the limited primes and DA* lenses.

I got the 18-250mm for a walk around lens that I don't have to switch as often and chance getting dust on the sensor. It may not be the finest optically but it will do just fine for me and my needs.

Good luck and enjoy.
01-12-2008, 11:45 PM   #7
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Kit lens vs. alternatives


The previous responses are all basically sound. I'd add these observations from my brief experience of the DA 18-55mm as compared to earlier Pentax primes.

The close focusing performance of the zoom isn't quite as good as my old f1.8 50mm Super Takumar, and the DA manual does mention precautions to take when close focusing. I've found corner softness and a bit of vignetting to be the major differences; so far, I've not seen any big difference in chromatic aberration, but will need to make some more photos to check this further.

Most low-cost variable aperture zooms will suffer slightly (or worse) when shot wide open at their focal extremes; most will look better stopped down (f8 is almost always the sweet spot, if your subject matter and lighting will allow) and shot in the focal lengths a ways in from the extremes. That generalization being said, I've been favorably impressed with the DA 18-55 by f5.6 and from about 20-50mm (indicated) in focal lengths. Really, I think this is a fine lens within its rather broad sweet spot. Its very reasonable price just makes it all the better a value.

I would like to close with one cautionary comment about judging lens quality on the basis of images posted to the web: unless you can get high-res images to enlarge to 100% ("actual pixels" in Adobe-speak) on a good quality, preferably calibrated, monitor, you're likely to need other sources of information (measurement data and subjective reports from respected peers) upon which to base your judgments. Low-res web postings all by themselves just won't reveal everything you need to know. If you can, work with a local photo dealer or friend who can show you properly-processed prints (of at least 8X10 inches) taken by your lens alternatives mounted on a camera with resolution comparable to yours, in good lighting, on a tripod. Then you'll have a pretty good (if subjective) basis for comparisons of lens quality!

01-13-2008, 02:20 AM   #8
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DA 16-45/4 is better than DA 18-55 because it is sharper. However, it is visible if you make prints that are bigger than 20 * 30 cm.
If you were using mainly 50 mm lens on your film camera, on dslr, equivalent would be FA 35/2.
Use the lens that you are happy with, 18-250 and 35/2 for candids is good allaround setup.
01-13-2008, 06:28 AM   #9
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I own the Sigma 17-70, definite step-up from the kit lens I owned.

For indoors I bought a used Pentax 50MM A 1.7 from Ebay for very little cash, excellent lens too & well worth considering (pin sharp) - only works in manual focus though if this is an issue

01-14-2008, 10:32 AM   #10
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I've been using the SMC-M 50mm f:2 that was the kit lens on my original K1000 with my K100D. I have been extremely happy with this lens on my new camera. The lack of auto focus doesn't bother me at all, because that opens up the opportunity for pre-focusing without having to tape any contacts. With the camera in Sv mode, the lens shoots wide open and the shutter speed automatically changes to provide the proper exposure. I don't mind the lens opened up because I dig the shallow DOF.

Becides... They're probable the best value in lenses available, if you can find a clean copy!

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