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05-01-2012, 10:10 PM   #1
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SMC Pentax-DA* 50-135mm F2.8 Price and Build Quality

Hey everyone,

I'm about to purchase (I think) the SMC Pentax-DA* 50-135mm F2.8 ED [IF] SDM for an upcoming trip to Disney World with the family. This is for my K-5 body. I have a couple of quick questions I'm hoping to have answered ahead of time:

(1) Why is the price at B&H and Adorama pegged at $1599 but Amazon and a bunch of other places range from $800-$1200?
(2) How is the build quality? I got a little spooked by some of the reviews on sites other than the two photo sites mentioned, where people are complaining about the autofocus going out. Don't want to spend this much on a lens and have it go bad on me.
(3) Would the Sigma 70-200 f2.8 be a better choice? This lens will mostly be used for all-round use, and my daughter's volleyball and soccer games. Eventually I'll get a fast prime for indoors, and I still have the 18-55 kit lens.

Thanks in advance!

05-01-2012, 10:52 PM   #2
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(1) This is due to pentax USA's new pricing strategy Brutal Pentax Lens Price Increase: 15-90% - Pentax Camera News & Rumors - PentaxForums.com
(2) I hope this survey helps calm your nerves, It's really not a big problem (so it would seem) SDM Reliability Survey Results - PentaxForums.com
(3) I have the sigma and it is fantastic. Super good AF and IQ (maybe a tad soft wide open at the long end) but you've probably read the reviews HERE (EX DG Non OS Version). It will give you that extra reach for soccer although you might need a bit more than 200 for coverage of a soccer field.
Edit: The sigma's only short fall would be the lost 50-70mm range which might be handy around Disney world
05-02-2012, 01:47 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by SomeClown Quote
Hey everyone,
Howdy!

QuoteQuote:
I'm about to purchase (I think) the SMC Pentax-DA* 50-135mm F2.8 ED [IF] SDM for an upcoming trip to Disney World with the family. This is for my K-5 body. I have a couple of quick questions I'm hoping to have answered ahead of time:
Awesome!

I LOVE this lens. And the camera

QuoteQuote:
(1) Why is the price at B&H and Adorama pegged at $1599 but Amazon and a bunch of other places range from $800-$1200?
I honestly don't know why the differences. There are theories that abound (i.e. those stores don't mind no longer getting Pentax gear and are clearing house), but I don't think anyone truly knows. As long as you can find a respectable seller, I would go with the cheapest. My efforts to search (I usually type the model of whatever I am looking to buy in google and go to the Shopping filter and that checks a lot of the web quickly) yielded a few under $950. If you can pay with paypal, I would be more comfortably taking a risk because they protect you against fraud, and if you for some reason never received it, Paypal should refund you after they confirm the site is not legit. If you have the luxury of time, shop around, do your research, and confirm Paypal's buyer protection. If not, pay the little extra from Amazon, etc for the peace of mind and be free of any hassle.

QuoteQuote:
(2) How is the build quality? I got a little spooked by some of the reviews on sites other than the two photo sites mentioned, where people are complaining about the autofocus going out. Don't want to spend this much on a lens and have it go bad on me.
Granted I have not had the lens for very long (<6 months), but I can personally attest to the astounding build quality of the DA* lenses. I have two, the 16-50 and the 50-135, with another on the way - the 60-250 - I found an amazing deal a few weeks ago ($1076 Like New from Amazon) and I just couldn't ignore it in good conscience. But I have had both DA*'s in the rain and dust. And by dust (this place would rival the U.S.'s GDP if dust was a commodity), today was a perfect example. I was taking pictures of helicopters as they were flying in and out of the airfield we were at, and to give you some perspective, I was less than 50m away from the incoming birds, and the rotor wash (the wind kicked up from the rotors and the encompassing dirt, sand, rocks, etc that fly with it), was so strong that I had to turn my back to the birds for fear of rocks impacting with the lens element. My hat that I was wearing was blown to over 100m away, and when all was said and done, I was COVERED in sand, dirt, and rocks. Four hours later I am still finding the crap in my hair. And not a single issue with the 50-135 that was mounted on my camera. I am of the personal philosophy that the SDM issue is a thing of the past, and I refure to allow myself to get caught up in the hoopla that would otherwise have prevented me from owning 2 (soon to be 3) of the most amazing lenses I have ever gotten my sandwich clamps around.


QuoteQuote:
(3) Would the Sigma 70-200 f2.8 be a better choice? This lens will mostly be used for all-round use, and my daughter's volleyball and soccer games. Eventually I'll get a fast prime for indoors, and I still have the 18-55 kit lens.
I can't comment on the 70-200 as I have never had it, however I would guess for soccer it would be better because of the longer reach, however the 50-135 would serve you better indoors. Also, the 50-135 is much smaller than any 70-200 f/2.8 ever made, so portability and not being so distracting to your daughter (think monster camera/lens combo vs less conspicuous combo) might be beneficial to you also. And then lastly, some will argue that the 50-70 range that you lose with the 70-200 is the prime portrait range on APS-C that you will be sacrificing.

QuoteQuote:
Thanks in advance!
If you would like to see some more anecdotal evidence of my time with the DA*'s, please stop by any of these, which chronicle my deployment to Afghanistan with my camera gear (everything you see in my signature). I have been in country almost 3 months now, so they have endured quite a bit already, to no issues. I will have Update *Six* posted by today (I'm in the middle of it now).

Update Number *One* From my Afghan Deployment

Update Number *Two* From my Afghan Deployment

Update Number *Three* From my Afghan Deployment

Update Number *Four* From my Afghan Deployment

Update Number *Five* From my Afghan Deployment

I hope this helps.

-Heie
05-02-2012, 04:18 AM   #4
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For Disneyland, I suggest you bring a super zoom that covers wide end to tele end.
50-135 is great, and I took that lens with me to Disneyland, but I found myself often changing the lens to Sigma 30mm, because I wanted a wider end to capture many things happening at once.
If you don't mind changing lenses, paring 50-135 with a wider angle lens of your choice would be optimal, but it's really bothersome and annoying to change lenses with so many people around and time spent changing meant time lost at the park.
Also, you can't always find a place to set your gear down for 'safe' changing, so I often found myself tucking lenses in my armpit whilst changing. It really isn't safe to do that with so many people around, because you never know when a person, probably an overly excited child bump into you and you can potentially drop your gear.

But the price/build quality, it's one of the best.
I got the lens before the price hike, and B&H was selling it for $850 brand new. I don't think it's worth the price Pentax is asking for ($1,600), but under $1,000? Maybe.

05-02-2012, 04:43 AM   #5
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I have all three da* zooms and you will be pleased. Having wr is great for amusement parks and the speed will be great for night shots. If you budget can handle it, I would also suggest getting the 16-50 as well.

The price difference is because of the above mentioned new pricing strategy pentax started last month. These prices will eventually even out, but I would consider the forum marketplace as an alternative. I was worried about quality with the 16-50 (in retrospect, I shouldn't have been worried, I would have been fine new), so I purchased used. That way I knew that copy of the lens worked and could get sample pictures taken with it.
05-02-2012, 05:30 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by SomeClown Quote
(3) Would the Sigma 70-200 f2.8 be a better choice? This lens will mostly be used for all-round use, and my daughter's volleyball and soccer games. Eventually I'll get a fast prime for indoors, and I still have the 18-55 kit lens
The Sigma 70~200 OS FLD (the newest one) is a fantastic lens, IQ and sharpness is outstanding, even wide open at 2.8 this thing is outstanding.

The only issue with the Sigma is the size, it is rather large and very heavy. Here is a size view comparison of the two lenses:



As you can see, the 50~135 would fit better for a walk around lens. As for the price, I would not pay over $1,100 (new) for a 50~135mm.
05-02-2012, 08:41 AM   #7
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Hi,
I have 50-135. It's a great lens.
As for it's use in DW I'd recommend something wider.
I just came from there (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Seaworld and Universal). About 90% of the time I used 16-50. The main reason for that is crowds - you need to be as close to the subject (especially if it's family) as possible otherwise you'll have everyone and their uncle in your pictures.
In any case, enjoy and have fun.
05-02-2012, 09:33 AM   #8
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I was at Disney World this Jan and I brought the following setup:
DA 15, FA43, and DA 50-135

I used the 43mm most, but depending on the park (Like the Animal Kingdom), the DA 50-135mm is a winner. I didn't use the DA 15mm too much not because I didn't want to, but because my gf had her Sony NEX 5n with 16mm so we have a more well rounded photo collection at the end.

Some shots with 50-135mm







05-02-2012, 01:21 PM   #9
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Original Poster
Wow. First off, let me say that this forum is great! I didn't think I'd have so many helpful responses so quickly. Thanks to everyone who responded; I'm still digesting everything.

Secondly, just a quick question that came out of reading all of the responses: Is there a competing 50-135mm or so lens from Tamron or Sigma that is as good or better than the DA* model from Pentax? I have a friend who has multiple Nikons and several lenses, and he mixes and matches between the three brands.

Thanks again!
05-02-2012, 02:05 PM   #10
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autofocus on 50-135 is not ideal for sports.
you would better go for sigma 70-200 if you will do a lot of sports.

the competing model of 50-135 is sigma 50-150, sigma 70-200, tarmon 70-200. but sigma 50-150 is no longer in production.
05-02-2012, 05:43 PM   #11
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@SomeClown: I agree with those that said a 50-135 is probably too long (in terms of focal length) for Disneyland, unless you want to focus on closeups.

If you want to bring only one lens, consider a super zoom like a 18-250. The only problem with a lens like this would be low-light shoots (indoors and in the evening).

If you want to shoot low-light scenes and want to bring only one lens, I'd get a Tamron 17-50/2.8 or an equivalent Sigma. Pentax priced its 16-50/2.8 out of a reasonable value/money ratio and it is also known for decentering problems and in particular SDM problems.

BTW, the 50-135 also had its fair share of SDM problems. In 2008, 42% of users who took the poll had an SDM problem. That's too high for my taste.
05-02-2012, 06:06 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
BTW, the 50-135 also had its fair share of SDM problems. In 2008, 42% of users who took the poll had an SDM problem. That's too high for my taste.
I know it comes down to personal preference, but I think it should be made clear that:
A) People who had the problem would have been more likely to vote as most people don't complain if its ok (and probably never come across the poll as a result)
B) This statistic was from 2008, and as the poll does indicate the % of reported failures has dropped significantly.
C) It's clear that there has been some improvements made in the design/manufacturing & QC procedures. As lens purchased recently will have been (most likely) manufactured recently, most of the issues will have been fixed, or testing will ID the problem components before they are assembled. Therefore a very small % of bad lenses will be shipped. Having said that, people are still justified to have this concern, but that is easily covered but getting extended warranties.

Just some food for thought.
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