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10-30-2012, 10:42 AM   #1
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WR lens advice

I recently sold off all my Olympus & Canon gear, bought a Nikon D600 as my main body, but now need something to fill the weather sealed void left now that my Oly gear is gone. I am still debating between the K-30 and K-5 II for the body, but my biggest challenge is finding a good weathersealed lens to use on a body. This camera/lens combo will be my primary kit for backpacking (lots of dirt, dust & a bit of rain), and also for travels to places that absolutely require weather sealing, such as New Zealand. I keep looking at the 18-135 as the answer, but it seems people and reviews both say it is somewhat soft on the wide end & a few other things. The lens I used with Olympus for these situations was the 12-60, which did not have CA (that I could ever find), was pretty sharp at all focal lengths and apertures, and started with 2.8 at the wide end. The WR 18-55 won't cut it as it sounds like a very marginal lens. The 16-50 could be ideal, except that it isn't really rated much better than the 18-135, lots of CA/PF, 2.8 isn't exactly sharp & I'm very paranoid about having the SDM failure (never had a lens fail on me). I don't see anything from Sigma etc. that would fit the bill and offer weather sealing. Primes are out because I need the latitude of being able to zoom in or out, even if it is a small zoom range. It also has to start preferably at 24, although I could deal with the less wide 27.5 of the 18-135.

To sum things up, there are 2 great weather sealed bodies I can choose from, but I'm just not finding anything lens-wise that offers weather sealing and has stellar reviews. I know this has most likely been beaten to death, but I could really use some valuable input, suggestions, personal experience, etc.

10-30-2012, 10:53 AM   #2
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I would disagree that the 18-55 WR is a marginal lens ... it's a kit lens, but probably the better on the market from what I've gleaned. Good close focus and not bad over all ... and if you going into rough country, it would not be a big loss to somehow damage this lens. I would suggest a K-5 (II) with the 18-55 WR bundled ... and then later a top-shelf optic ... for what it's worth, J
10-30-2012, 11:13 AM   #3
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I would also say that the 18-55 is better that its price and it's designation, kit lens, suggests. Also the 50-135 that my brother got a while ago is a small (considering the specs) wonder that renders beautifully. If we are to believe Pentax the 50-135 made 2012 should have a good SDM.
10-30-2012, 12:04 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jean Poitiers Quote
I would disagree that the 18-55 WR is a marginal lens ... it's a kit lens, but probably the better on the market from what I've gleaned. Good close focus and not bad over all ... and if you going into rough country, it would not be a big loss to somehow damage this lens. I would suggest a K-5 (II) with the 18-55 WR bundled ... and then later a top-shelf optic ... for what it's worth, J
I'd prefer the best quality from the start. Would you say the 18-55 is the best lens out of the 18-135, 16-50 & any other weather sealed zoom I may have missed? I have seen positive posts about all 3, but I have also seen negative posts about all 3, which is not making my decision any easier.

10-30-2012, 12:07 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by VisualDarkness Quote
I would also say that the 18-55 is better that its price and it's designation, kit lens, suggests. Also the 50-135 that my brother got a while ago is a small (considering the specs) wonder that renders beautifully. If we are to believe Pentax the 50-135 made 2012 should have a good SDM.
The 50-135 & other tele zooms are a bit longer than what I need, but I do have that one & a couple others in mind if I decide I need a tele in the future. I appreciate the feedback.
10-30-2012, 12:17 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by NVSteve Quote
I'd prefer the best quality from the start. Would you say the 18-55 is the best lens out of the 18-135, 16-50 & any other weather sealed zoom I may have missed? I have seen positive posts about all 3, but I have also seen negative posts about all 3, which is not making my decision any easier.

The DA*16-50 is way better, but also much more expensive.


-Tim
10-30-2012, 12:42 PM   #7
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The 18-135 is a fantastic walkaround lens. It's certainly better than the 18-55. If you want something of higher quality, you'll need to spend a lot more. I have been very impressed with the 18-135, especially given the mixed reviews I'd read. It may not be the sharpest lens ever, but it seems to sharpen up very well in PP. I really have no qualms. The only slightly negative thing I can say is the distortion is pretty heavy on the wide end.
10-30-2012, 12:56 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by NVSteve Quote
I'd prefer the best quality from the start. Would you say the 18-55 is the best lens out of the 18-135, 16-50 & any other weather sealed zoom I may have missed? I have seen positive posts about all 3, but I have also seen negative posts about all 3, which is not making my decision any easier.
The 18-55 WR is obviously not the best of the three (unless you count bang-for-the-buck ratios IMHO) ... I do not think that you've missed anything and I would not put too much credence in the user reviews on PF (other than some more knowledgeable PF members) ... I'd suggest that you delve into the professional press reviews ... Good luck, J

10-30-2012, 01:00 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by NVSteve Quote
I'd prefer the best quality from the start. Would you say the 18-55 is the best lens out of the 18-135, 16-50 & any other weather sealed zoom I may have missed? I have seen positive posts about all 3, but I have also seen negative posts about all 3, which is not making my decision any easier.
Check out some of the evaluation data from photozone:

DA 18-55 WR
DA 18-135 WR
DA* 16-50 WR

At the widest end and wide open, none of them are stellar at the borders or extreme borders (fair to good), but the centres are very good for the 18-55, and excellent for both the 18-135 and the 16-60. If you stop the *16-50 down to the initial aperture range (f/3.5-4) of the other two lenses at the wide end, the borders are "bordering" on very good. Each of the three improves in the borders appreciably at f/5.6 - f/8, and the 18-135 seems to be better here than the 18-55.

The 18-135 pretty much stays ahead of the 18-55 through out the rest of APS-C "normal" to short portrait range 24mm - 50mm. The 18-135 arguably also gives the *16-50 a run for the money at f/4-f/8 through out the rest of the same focal length range. However, the resolution on the borders for the 18-135 seem to drastically reduce on the longer end of the focal range. The *16-50 while giving you a wider aperture at f/2.8, is also quite a bit more expensive, and is 30% heavier than the 18-135.

The DA* 50-135 is weather sealed, and a fantastic lens, however it does not cover the focal range you are looking for, it is very expensive, and it is also larger and 40% heavier than the 18-135. I personally do not own the 18-135 (not yet at least), but if you look at some of the photos that have been taken with it by the K-5, they look very nice. What are you intending to do with your photographs ? As a general "hike-around" lens to capture moments that will be viewed on-line and/or produced in small prints, I am sure it would be very nice. If you are looking for professional-grade results to be put into large prints, you may need to haul more substantial glass and camera stabilization with you for that......
10-30-2012, 01:04 PM   #10
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From what I gather the 18-135 beats the 18-55, it's motorized and quiet as well. It's been a solid performer for me but I don't have the 18-55 WR to compare with.
10-30-2012, 01:16 PM   #11
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The 18-135 is a great all-around lens.

It is true that at the extreme ends of its zoom range IQ may not be perfect edge to edge, but it is very good in the middle ranges.

If you are looking for a wide angle lens to have a perfect one shot landscape image corner to corner without crop then the 18-135 won't do - however you can always just turn it to portrait orientation, zoom in a bit and stitch the images in that case.

As far as cameras I have not tried the K-30 but the 18-135 is a perfect complement to my K-5 for a go-anywhere kit.
10-30-2012, 02:10 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Santoku Quote
Check out some of the evaluation data from photozone:

DA 18-55 WR
DA 18-135 WR
DA* 16-50 WR

At the widest end and wide open, none of them are stellar at the borders or extreme borders (fair to good), but the centres are very good for the 18-55, and excellent for both the 18-135 and the 16-60. If you stop the *16-50 down to the initial aperture range (f/3.5-4) of the other two lenses at the wide end, the borders are "bordering" on very good. Each of the three improves in the borders appreciably at f/5.6 - f/8, and the 18-135 seems to be better here than the 18-55.
First of all, thanks to all who have responded so far. Even though I've been a member of the "other" forum since the dawn of time, I rarely post there because of the insanity. My gut feeling is to buy one of the kits that includes the 18-135 and see if I can live with the lens. Unfortunately, the only time I ever saw a Pentax body locally was a while ago (the *1 something or other). I have never seen the K-5 in person, let alone any of the other recent and less recent models.

QuoteQuote:
The *16-50 while giving you a wider aperture at f/2.8, is also quite a bit more expensive, and is 30% heavier than the 18-135.
The size and weight are of no concern since it will be a tiny fraction of the entire weight of everything else I'd be carrying while out and about. The cost doesn't matter, although it does matter if I find something to be far overpriced for what one gets, or the chance of said expensive item to fail on me.

QuoteQuote:
The DA* 50-135 is weather sealed, and a fantastic lens, however it does not cover the focal range you are looking for, it is very expensive, and it is also larger and 40% heavier than the 18-135. I personally do not own the 18-135 (not yet at least), but if you look at some of the photos that have been taken with it by the K-5, they look very nice. What are you intending to do with your photographs ? As a general "hike-around" lens to capture moments that will be viewed on-line and/or produced in small prints, I am sure it would be very nice. If you are looking for professional-grade results to be put into large prints, you may need to haul more substantial glass and camera stabilization with you for that......
I put a few of my travel type snapshots online for friends and family to view, but I also have had a number of my shots published, so overall quality is my primary goal. My D600 should cover most of my needs, but I'd still like to be able to submit photos from the K-5 or K-30 from some of the more adventurous stuff. On paper, none of the lenses would really fulfill my needs, but many of the sample photos I have seen have proven otherwise. To give you an idea, some of my recent snapshots are here: fascination30's photosets on Flickr

The whole thing is giving me a headache. There is nothing more liberating than being able to shoot in horrible weather conditions without a care. Likewise, I've wrapped prior non-weather sealed cameras for rain exposure in the past & have sworn never to go down that ridiculous path again.
10-30-2012, 02:32 PM   #13
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I was happy enough with the 18-135 but decided instead to use the funds on 18-55wr in bad weather and Limited primes for the rest. The 18-135 is a great deal in a new kit and worth doing, but a used one and a used da70 are pretty much a $wash. I prefer hiking with lighter glass myself, and the 18135 is reasonably light but bulky.
10-30-2012, 03:10 PM   #14
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I do a lot of outdoor work with my gear and I just don't seem to acquire dirt in the K5. I have a cleaning kit that I often used on the K10 and K20. I used a Nikon 7000 and it looked like it had been in a dust storm. maybe you underestimate the sensor cleaning system on the new pentax.

I am a pack 15kg of kit person myself so you wouldn't want to do what I do. The best WR option is the 16-50 and 60-250 pentax lenses. For the price of the 16-50 you can buy a lens for half the price and if by chance it's destroyed you can buy a second one. it sounds like you won't be happy with the 18-135, but it will provide the best lightweight option.
10-30-2012, 03:14 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by NVSteve Quote
To give you an idea, some of my recent snapshots are here: fascination30's photosets on Flickr
Nice pics! I looked very quickly and it looks like your images tend to be on the wider side than the longer end. Since you likely have a decent tripod and are likely to shooting at decent apertures the 18-135 might be pretty ok.

QuoteOriginally posted by NVSteve Quote
There is nothing more liberating than being able to shoot in horrible weather conditions without a care.
Very true! I remember shooting a few weeks ago some soccer shots with the 50-135 and the K5 in blizzard like rain. All the other photogs [none of us are professionals] stopped shooting. I was out and about in the rain and got some fun shots. The only problem was that I had to remember not to shoot pointed upwards as its a pain to clean the front of the lens if it gets wet in the middle of a rainstorm. I had the 18-135 as a back-up with an older body for some wide angle and decided I had to take a pic of my trusty old WR combo while it was lying in the rain:



That said, when I know I have to get some nice landscape shots I travel with the tamron 17-50 and the pentax 50-135. The former is not WR. I did try the pentax 16-50. Not as sharp but not bad either, I was just too paranoid to travel with two sdm lenses, not that I have had any problems with the 50-135 but I did get an extended 7 year warranty on that lens. 3 years and so far so good...

best of luck!
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