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10-17-2012, 11:31 AM   #1
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My lens buying roadmap

Hi all,

I was wondering if I could get some input on my lens roadmap. I've been shooting for alittle over a year (started with the K-r and 18-55 + 55-300 DA L) and I'd like to upgrade out of the kit lenses. I'm finding that they leave me wanting and when I'm out and about shooting I'm switching between the two kit lenses frequently. I've been able to tame my LBA for so long - but once I have a good plan I'll be able to start buying some glass!

Where I am:
Pentax K-r
Pentax DA L 18-55mm kit
Pentax DA L 55-300mm kit
Pentax FA 50mm f1.4
Pentax M 100mm f4 (macro)
Tamron 06A 200-500mm F6.9

I usually only pull out the macro or f1.4 if I see something that tickles my fancy. I don't tend to take the Tamron out of the house (where it's normally put to work in an extreme macro rig) unless I want blurry bird pictures (I need to practice with that monster).

In the short term I want to get a super wide lens (18mm often isn't enough and from the indepth reviews I think the Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 HSM would be great).

My long term plan is to keep a superzoom on my camera for my general shooting/walking around and have a super wide zoom handy in my bag. I think this would cut down significantly on my lens changes in the field, 55mm seems to be a be an inconvenient break point. I'm not sure if I want the Pentax DA WR 18-135 or the upcoming 18-270. The WR would be nice, and I'm concerned the 18-270 might have big compromises in IQ. However, if I got the 135, I'd probably still want to bring something longer along when going shooting and then I've only moved the 55mm breakpoint to 135mm. Any thoughts, opinions, or suggestions on this?

Over the coming years I'd like to build up my prime collection and then bring those with me as my shooting requires. Does this plan make sense?


10-17-2012, 12:16 PM   #2
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Working from wide up, a 10-20 or 12-24 is good, then a 17-70 which bridges that odd 50mm break. The 55-300 is decent, unless you want speed and an IQ bump for 2-3X the cost. Primes have uses, but so do zooms.
10-17-2012, 12:16 PM   #3
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I just got the 18-135 when I upgraded from K-r to K-30 and it hasn't left the camera a whole lot. In my opinion, it's a fantastic walkaround lens. Sure, you might want longer on occasion, but I haven't needed it yet for walkaround purposes. If you know you'll want to shoot some birds or wildlife, you might want to bring the 55-300 with you. But for most purposes in my experience (and everyone's different), you really don't need something that long for general walkaround use.

Sure, the 18-270 would be even more convenient and I'm interested in seeing the reviews. But I really like having the WR capability.

If you want something wide, consider the DA 15. The Sigma 10-20 is a fine lens by most all accounts, but I believe it's pretty hefty. The DA 15 is much smaller and lighter and no problem at all to carry with you in addition to your "superzoom" (whichever one you end up with).

Good luck with whatever path you choose!
10-17-2012, 12:18 PM   #4
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WR and price are the only things to consider in regards to 18-135 and 18-270. The Tamron design made it almost better(Though I think the Bokeh on the 18-135 is much, much smoother), in some aspects than the 18-135.

10-17-2012, 12:21 PM   #5

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FWIW, I found that when I had the DA55-300 I wasn't getting any shots I really liked over 135mm. I sold it and ended up getting the DA*50-135. I use only primes over 135mm now (which actually means only 200mm and 300mm lenses, not some vast collection). The 18-270 (under the Tamron badge) is the most highly regarded lens in its class. But that doesn't mean it will give you satisfactory results over 135mm. This would mean the extra reach is just a waste. You may have to try it to see.

I decided it's worth having the split at 50mm between my two DA* zooms, because there's no other way to get the better IQ.

The DA17-70 was a lens I had and liked, as was the FA24-90 (but you need to get a good copy). They don't cause you to change around 50mm. But I shoot mostly primes now and have 2 bodies for when I need them both (one an inexpensive but excellent K200D I got used). Budget-wise a second, used K-r or K-x is very feasible for anyone who's also making an investment in more than a few lenses. So for critical, fast-paced events you can have a different zoom (or prime) on each. For other situations you usually have time to change lenses.

I'll also put in a vote for the DA15. It's so small I can put it (in it's included pouch) in my front pocket, and still fit a second lens in there with it!

My advice is to get a good 24mm (like the A24/2.8), or the DA15 or even DA21. Leave the zooms home and take it plus the 50 and 100 for the day. Possibly even add the inexpensive but excellent DA35/2.4 and use it instead of the 50 sometimes. After doing this for a while you'll gain an appreciation for how you can get interesting shots with whatever focal length you have on at the time. And then your lens roadmap should become clear to you. You'll know what you want, in terms of both zooms and primes.

Last edited by DSims; 10-17-2012 at 12:47 PM.
10-17-2012, 01:02 PM   #6
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For Ultra Wide I like the Tamron 10-24, and its the fastest of the variable ones. I'd also suggest the DA35/2.4 because its a killer lens and inexpensive (plus light). If you want WR the 18-135 is ALWAYS in my case - just in case - and often on the camera as a general walk around lens.
10-17-2012, 01:09 PM   #7
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I recently rented the Sigma 8-16 and really enjoyed it. I found myself using it much differently than the DA 10-17 Fisheye, which I also very much like.
10-17-2012, 01:19 PM   #8
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Check out the DA 15 lens club on the forum....this is one great lens. You may like the DA 40 as a nice, very small walk around lens.

10-17-2012, 01:57 PM   #9

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For wide angle, I like the Tamron 10-24. It covers a greater range of focal lengths than the Sigma or Pentax wide zooms, the distortion is manageable, and flare well-controlled (which is important at 10mm because it's so easy to have the sun or other bright light somewhere within the frame). It's good for museums, cities, and landscapes. I use it even in dark museums because wide angles let you get away with slow handheld shutter speeds.
10-17-2012, 02:05 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by athlantar Quote
My long term plan is to keep a superzoom on my camera for my general shooting/walking around and have a super wide zoom handy in my bag.
Basically you just want a super zoom, it doesn't zoom anymore than 18-270, so there is that.
Then the super wide zoom... if you want something to carry along as a walkaround, with the walkaround 18-270, then DA15 is the only way to go.
If you want to have a super wide zoom then the DA12-24 would be the way to go. At the wide end of the Sigma 8-16, ultra wide perspective may be an issue depending on what you are shooting. Good Luck with your LBA.
10-17-2012, 02:11 PM   #11
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Pentax or Sigma 17-70 would probably be the best compromise between zoom range & IQ. They're both a bit nicer than the 18-55. The Pentax is fixed f/4, Sigma is f/2.8-4 on the current (redundant) stabilized version, or f/2.8-4.5 on the older, un-stabilized version.

Unless you really want the HSM or faster aperture, you might as well save some cash and go for the Sigma 10-20/4-5.6 instead of the f/3.5. Or if you want something smaller, lighter and with better flare control there's the 15 Limited.
10-17-2012, 02:53 PM   #12
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I'm torn between two for next.

Samyang 2.8 14mm and SMC Pentax-D FA 50mm F2.8 Macro.

The latter adds convenience. The former adds a new capability to my bag.
10-17-2012, 03:16 PM   #13
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Another wide option is the sigma 15 fisheye which is fun, talented & not too fishy. I really like mine, and it is often on the market for less than the da15. Wide, f/2.8, close focus - and a little distorted, like me!
10-17-2012, 07:13 PM   #14
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You've got a lot of good suggestions here, but what fits?, beside your indoor macros, what do you like to shoot? Have you run the Exposure Plot program to see what focal lengths you tend to use the most? That's a great tool to see where your tendencies lie, especially for buying a prime. You have figured that 55 is not a good break point, but what is? And what is your budget?

Pretty much everybody has told you their favorites or their wish lists, so I will too. I shot with a K20D until acquiring a K-30 a couple months ago. I bought it with the 18-135 which has greatly exceeded my expectations and resides on the camera most of the time. When I am in a woods or anywhere shooting wildlife or birds, the DA55-300 is the walk about lens, using it at 300mm most of the time, it is far sharper than any of the Tamron and Sigma xx-300s I have had. It has a long noisy focus throw so quick shift really helps, and the K-30 makes it focus faster and more accurately while hunting less. While in the woods I usually take along a DA 100/2.8 Macro WR and sometimes the Tamron 10-24.

A year ago I was close to buying the DA15, but ended up with the Tamron 10-24 because of an event I needed to shoot. I'm not sure that was the right choice, only because so many people love the DA15. But the Tamron has a great range and I have no complaints, it's very useful for cityscapes and inside.

I've got the DA35/2.4 which is a great normal prime, it fast and sharp, I prefer it over 50mm, which I find an awkward length. '

Before I had the 18-135, I had a Tamron 28-105/4-5.6 (And a Promaster that I gave to my daughter) which were both very sharp, however it became obsolete with the 18-135 which is just as sharp, wider, longer, and WR. But that Tamron (also badged as a Pentax DA (not the Power Zoom) and Promaster) can be had for around $50, a great value. After I got the 28-105 my DA18-55 never saw the camera again. My daughter's Promaster spends the majority of time on her K-x I had a Sigma 28-105 for a while, not nearly as good as the Tamron & Promaster.

I have owned a couple of superzooms, Tamron and Pentax 18-200mm, I did not care for these, both were weak at the long end. I do not have high hopes for the 18-270 rebadged Tamron, but hopefully it will be ok.

Having just bought the K-30/18-135 combo I probably won't be buying any lenses in the near future unless I find a real bargain, so I haven't planned the next stop on the roadmap.
10-19-2012, 09:24 AM   #15
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Thanks for all the replies everyone. I've been thinking hard about this! I used the Exposure Plot program on my "best shots" folder, and it looks like I do my most exciting work around 80mm, and nothing really above the 135 mark. I don't think the difference in magnification from 135 to 270 would be that significant in the long run either. So I'm heavily leaning towards the 18-135 for these reasons and the WR.

However, I'll probably buy the super wide zoom next (The DA 15 does look amazing, but I don't think I'm quite ready to give up zoom) since that gives me a whole new experience (whereas the 18-135 just replaces what I already have).

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