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08-28-2012, 10:08 PM   #1
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Walk around lens upgrade advice

I'm eyeing to upgrade my body from K-x to K-30 mainly because of a few functions I'm missing on the K-x (e.g. timelaps, focus point confirmation, bigger display) and I'm pondering whether or not to get it as the 18-135mm WR lens kit. I have already upgraded from the kit 18-55mm lens to the Sigma 17-70mm as my primary walk around lens. Additionally, I'm seeing the Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 being available rather cheap here in Japan.

Ultimately, I'd need only one of those four lenses in my collection. Please help me figure out how they stack up against each other. Here's my thoughts:

Kit 18-55mm lens
pro: light, compact
con: IQ, slow

Sigma 17-70mm
pro: faster, bigger range
con: heavy, bulky

Kit 18-135mm WR
pro: pentax (works for in body corrections, etc), weather sealed, range, comes as kit
con: slow, IQ(?)

Tamron 17-50 F2.8
pro: fast, sharp(?)
con: range

08-28-2012, 10:48 PM   #2
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Personally, I find the 18-135 to be quite good as a walkaround, and also to be quite sharp in decent lighting.(Stopped to F8 usually provides acceptable sharpness, while F11 provides great IQ) Only issues I've noticed are barrel distortion(Easily remedied via PP or in camera corrections) and that the lens is a bit slow. I might also add that it seems to be weighted perfectly for most bodies, balancing them out pretty well(Good for walking around).

Though, if light is the issue, carrying a fast 50(or 35) is a simple solution.
08-28-2012, 11:43 PM   #3
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@svensimon, Quite sometime back, I had similar dilemma and I came with my own matrix The matrix which I wanted to get out.... | Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Finally settled for SMC DA 16-45/f4. After using it for quite some I will not repent my decision on purchasing it. It is a wonderful lens. The other lens which I might have gone (later decided) is Tamaron for faster glass.

In recent past, I have been thinking about having 18-135 for its range ( for day trips, which I do more).

Good luck with your final decision
--Sudhakar
08-29-2012, 12:23 AM   #4
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I used to have the Pentax 17-70/4 - it was a good compromise between performance and range. I never thought of it as heavy, and I liked the constant f/4 aperture which gave good image quality at f/4.5. You might consider it as well.

Out of your list, I'd favor the last two. But you can't get top quality and range at the same time (probably the closest you can come is Nikon's $1000+ 24-120/4, and some people even criticize that lens, though I think it's pretty good). So either get the nice DA18-135 and compromise a bit on image quality, or plan to split it up by getting the 17-50/2.8 now and another, longer lens at some point in the future.

08-29-2012, 12:32 AM   #5
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mine recommendation is DA17-70/4 for beauties across all aperture in center and border

Last edited by mbukal; 08-29-2012 at 12:50 AM.
08-29-2012, 04:03 AM - 1 Like   #6
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I have both the 18-135 and the 17-50. If I am carrying only one body and shooting as a walk-around:
18-135: when there is good light. 17-50 when there is not.
08-29-2012, 04:40 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eulogy Quote
Though, if light is the issue, carrying a fast 50(or 35) is a simple solution.
I keep my 18-135 glued to my K5 and when I need more light, pop on my M50 F1.7. It's a great walkaround lens for normal shooting, but it's not meant for low-light by any means.
08-29-2012, 06:02 AM   #8
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I bought the 18-135 so I could have a WR lens. The 16-45 is pretty nice but I was always afraid of damaging it.
If I'm indoors and want a zoom, I'll use the 16-45. I do like the motorized focus on the 18-135, it's really quick, IMHO. Maybe it's just because I don't hear the screw drive but it seems to have a more sure focus. I also agree it's pretty good for IQ.

08-29-2012, 06:09 AM   #9
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Hard to go past the 18-135WR as a one stop shop.
08-29-2012, 06:16 AM   #10
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You say you already have the 17-70, so I'd use that until you have a different need.

I would not call that a heavy or bulky lens, and it eliminates the weight of another lens to carry.
08-29-2012, 06:31 AM   #11
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"Walk-around" can actually be many things, depending upon the individual photographer's favourite targets.

I found my personal "walk-around-range" by noting what focal lenghts I used most whenever I carried my cheaper "kit" lenses (FA 28-80 and Tamron 18-200). Based upon that, I then recently purchased the 18-135mm and I haven't regretted for one split second.

Further: With the very good noise behaviour of my K-5 (and thus, no doubt, also the K-30) I do not find this lens too constrained even under much less than perfect lightening conditions.

But, as said, this is an idividual matter of taste and needs. Others might certainly prefer a wide but faster prime as their walk-around lens.
08-29-2012, 08:13 PM   #12
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My walk around choice is constantly changing, but I do like wr as a feature. It is not required (my current favorite is the fa43), but it opens up some nice opportunities of shooing in the elements.
08-29-2012, 09:50 PM   #13
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Wow, thanks a lot for all the great responses so far. I'm still nowhere closer to decide what to do. The main dilemma is that I'm leaving Japan soon and I feel I should get my hands on as much gear as I can afford seeing how much cheaper I can find things here. But, of course I don't have unlimited funds, so I need to make some smart decisions.

I can really see myself taking advantage of the big aperture all the way thru to the far end of the Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 as I'm often shooting in the evening and night or indoors. I'd lose the 50-70mm range from the Sigma, but I'm not sure how much I'd miss it. What's the general consensus on IQ between the Tamron and Sigma? Would the Tamron be an upgrade overall and not just for the extra aperture? Further, the build in flash doesn't reach past the big barrel of the Sigma at the shorter focal ranges. But I don't know if I'd face the same problem with the Tamron. The K-30 might do better in this regard since the flash pops up higher.

I do like to pack light, so I mostly end up with just the FA 50mm F1.4 on when I go out and want the camera with me just in case. But I missed a bunch of shots this way because I couldn't zoom out. Maybe I should also be looking into getting a wide angle prime down the line then.

If money wasn't an issue, I'd just get the K-30 together with the 18-135mm, sell the Sigma and also get the Tamron. But I'm not sure I can justify this to myself
08-30-2012, 02:46 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by svensimon Quote
Wow, thanks a lot for all the great responses so far. I'm still nowhere closer to decide what to do. The main dilemma is that I'm leaving Japan soon and I feel I should get my hands on as much gear as I can afford seeing how much cheaper I can find things here. But, of course I don't have unlimited funds, so I need to make some smart decisions.

I can really see myself taking advantage of the big aperture all the way thru to the far end of the Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 as I'm often shooting in the evening and night or indoors. I'd lose the 50-70mm range from the Sigma, but I'm not sure how much I'd miss it. What's the general consensus on IQ between the Tamron and Sigma?
The rumor is that the best copies of Tamron lenses are sold in Japan, so you may want to get one there. Everyone has his favorites, but I think Tamron is the usual pick at or around this zoom range. The choice should probably be simply whether you want the 17-50/2.8 or the 28-75/2.8. If the prices are good in Japan I'd spend the money mostly on the lens(es) rather than a camera body - even if you need to get a K-r or keep the K-x for now.


And selling the Sigma as part of the process is probably a good idea.
08-30-2012, 03:08 AM   #15
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I'm just old school these days it's either SMC Pentax-A 15mm F3.5 or SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.2, dependent on what I'm hoping to see.
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