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02-09-2013, 06:22 PM   #1
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HELP!: Best budget UWA & Norm-Tele Zoom?

I have a K-01 with the 40mm lens

I wanted to buy an UWA (prime or zoom) & a normal - telephoto zoom to cover all my needs (from environmental portraits to studio to outdoors)

Priorities are:
1) Budget: less than $400 each
2) Sharpness
3) Overall IQ (color rend, contrast)
4) Max Aperture (Fast)

Now, It'll be a non-refundable investment since I'll have them bought & brought with someone from abroad (nice rhyme!)

So I desperately need a decisive, precise & experienced verdict:
Given the price range & online reviews: I settled the Samyang (Rokinon, Bower, Vivitar, Walimex) 14mm f2.8 & Pentax 55-300mm f4-5.8

What do you think? How do they fill the before-mentioned priorities?
Do you have another recommendation even outside the $400 range per lens? and how are they better?

02-09-2013, 06:31 PM   #2
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I really like the result I've got with my DA 16-45 on my K-01.
I'd recommend that as a more all purpose lens.
02-09-2013, 06:45 PM   #3
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Those are nice enough lenses, but there's a lot of real estate between 14mm and 55mm.
02-09-2013, 06:46 PM   #4
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You want the DA15 Ltd. Over budget, but why should you settle for less than the best. Only zoom I have is the lousy 50-200 DAL kit lens, works well enough and you would save enough cash to pay for the 15.

02-09-2013, 06:51 PM   #5
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If you're on a budget, then you may want to look at the Samyang/Bower/Rokinon/etc 14mm prime for your UWA. Everything else is at least a hundred bucks or more more expensive, at which point you're hitting the old version Sigma 10-20mm and Tamron 10-24mm.

I just went through the same decision process you are, but due to having some extra cash sprung for the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 (the newer 10-20mm). So far I have no complaints, and from what people say the older 10-20mm may even be better optically than the newer one. I just needed the extra bit of aperture at the long end (heh... 20mm being long) and the extra aperture blade for my style of shooting or I would of gone for that myself.
02-09-2013, 06:51 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by ElJamoquio Quote
Those are nice enough lenses, but there's a lot of real estate between 14mm and 55mm.
I'm usually a fan of shooting the widest possible frame then cropping the best frame i want out; hence why the overall sharpness
That's also why I shoot super wide stitched panoramas with the 40mm I have then crop them out (really awesome btw but only works in landscape with fixed lighting & content)
02-09-2013, 06:56 PM   #7
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I would miss the 10mm end of my (old style) 10-20mm Sigma. 10mm is just so much different from 14mm. I'm sure 8mm is different yet, but for various reasons (including it not being introduced at the time) I chose to draw the line at 10mm. The older Sigma or the 10-24mm Tamron is not too far above your $400 limit.

However I would caution against buy a non-returnable lens you cannot test before buying. The first two copies, fresh-from-the-factory, of the 55-300DA I bought had significant left-side weakness. The third copy, which I've decided to keep, is very slightly weak on the right side, but really pretty good. If I lived where I could buy/test/return more easily (and without paying return shipping), I might continue trying until I got a perfect copy. From previous experience, it can be an uphill battle trying to get a manufacturer to tweak your lens - their idea of "within tolerance" and yours might not coincide. So it's definitely better to get at least a decent copy in the first place if at all possible. When you say image quality is important to you, the individual variance in performance can be more significant than theoretical differences in lens design.

It sounds from your post like you consider 55mm "normal", and it's not even close by almost any standards. Actually at least my copy is either not 55mm, or... well either that or my 18-55mm isn't telling the truth, because comparison images at 55mm have obviously different coverage. But the point is that something like the 16-45 would be much more appropriate if it's the only lens you have to accompany that 55-300.

Paul
02-09-2013, 07:06 PM   #8
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If you want a long zoom, you may want to consider the Sigma 18-200 or 18-250mm. They would give you the telezoom option and more, and right now (for the next week) they're on sale at B&H (and probably elsewhere) at $150 off putting both under $400. This would give you an incredibly versatile 'carry around' lens that you could use for just about anything.

02-09-2013, 07:19 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sagitta Quote
If you want a long zoom, you may want to consider the Sigma 18-200 or 18-250mm. They would give you the telezoom option and more, and right now (for the next week) they're on sale at B&H (and probably elsewhere) at $150 off putting both under $400. This would give you an incredibly versatile 'carry around' lens that you could use for just about anything.
But what about the sharpness? both are not receiving that much of good reviews (the Sigma 18-125 is though, any thoughts?
02-09-2013, 07:25 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
I would miss the 10mm end of my (old style) 10-20mm Sigma. 10mm is just so much different from 14mm. I'm sure 8mm is different yet, but for various reasons (including it not being introduced at the time) I chose to draw the line at 10mm. The older Sigma or the 10-24mm Tamron is not too far above your $400 limit.

However I would caution against buy a non-returnable lens you cannot test before buying. The first two copies, fresh-from-the-factory, of the 55-300DA I bought had significant left-side weakness. The third copy, which I've decided to keep, is very slightly weak on the right side, but really pretty good. If I lived where I could buy/test/return more easily (and without paying return shipping), I might continue trying until I got a perfect copy. From previous experience, it can be an uphill battle trying to get a manufacturer to tweak your lens - their idea of "within tolerance" and yours might not coincide. So it's definitely better to get at least a decent copy in the first place if at all possible. When you say image quality is important to you, the individual variance in performance can be more significant than theoretical differences in lens design.

It sounds from your post like you consider 55mm "normal", and it's not even close by almost any standards. Actually at least my copy is either not 55mm, or... well either that or my 18-55mm isn't telling the truth, because comparison images at 55mm have obviously different coverage. But the point is that something like the 16-45 would be much more appropriate if it's the only lens you have to accompany that 55-300.

Paul
That was the risk i took when i chose Pentax; literally, 2/10 recognize the name here (Egypt)!
Even the lens caps i have to wait over a week for replacement

But that's why I asked in this thread: I wanted to know which brand had the most consistent performance among all copies

So you're saying that the 55-300 is not that consistent and most likely it'll be a sub-par copy?
02-09-2013, 09:13 PM   #11
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I have a 55-300 and compared it to a Tamron 70-300 and my shots at the long end have been good in contrast and sharpness given its a zoom compared to a prime lense. The consistency has been good. I shot a bald eagle from a few hundred metres perched with nice detail. Even at the short end its not bad for sharpness, a little soft and dark exposed but fixable in post processing.
02-10-2013, 05:04 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kozlok Quote
You want the DA15 Ltd. Over budget, but why should you settle for less than the best. Only zoom I have is the lousy 50-200 DAL kit lens, works well enough and you would save enough cash to pay for the 15.
My good man The 15mm Ltd alone is $100 short of the price of the Samyang 14mm & the DA 55-300mm 'combined'!
Also, it's max aperture is f4, one whole stop slower
02-10-2013, 10:32 AM   #13
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Just get the DA 12-24mm f/4.
If you got no money find the discontinued DA 16-45mm f/4.
02-10-2013, 01:12 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by dstructor Quote
That was the risk i took when i chose Pentax; literally, 2/10 recognize the name here (Egypt)!
Even the lens caps i have to wait over a week for replacement

But that's why I asked in this thread: I wanted to know which brand had the most consistent performance among all copies

So you're saying that the 55-300 is not that consistent and most likely it'll be a sub-par copy?
I can only tell you that I've owned 3 of them, purchased new from authorized dealers here in the US. The first two were obviously soft on one side, and that side was weaker than comparable lenses (50-200DA, for example) that I have. I'm fairly satisfied with the third copy.

But this issue isn't unique to Pentax. As I explained I've had the same issue (inconsistent performance across the frame, with one side weaker than the other) with Sigma, and I've read reports of people having the same problem with Tamron. I don't follow Canikon or others as closely any longer, since those lenses don't fit my Pentax cameras.

I'm not aware of any statistical evidence that one brand is better or worse in this respect than another, and I'm not aware of any solution to the problem for someone who can't return a product after examining it. You certainly can't conclude from my testing that 66.6% of 55-300DAs are defective.

Paul
02-10-2013, 03:30 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
I can only tell you that I've owned 3 of them, purchased new from authorized dealers here in the US. The first two were obviously soft on one side, and that side was weaker than comparable lenses (50-200DA, for example) that I have. I'm fairly satisfied with the third copy.

But this issue isn't unique to Pentax. As I explained I've had the same issue (inconsistent performance across the frame, with one side weaker than the other) with Sigma, and I've read reports of people having the same problem with Tamron. I don't follow Canikon or others as closely any longer, since those lenses don't fit my Pentax cameras.

I'm not aware of any statistical evidence that one brand is better or worse in this respect than another, and I'm not aware of any solution to the problem for someone who can't return a product after examining it. You certainly can't conclude from my testing that 66.6% of 55-300DAs are defective.

Paul
Agreed

I'm just gonna cross a lot of fingers and hope for the best

Samyang (Bower) 14mm & the Pentax 55-300mm it is then

Last edited by dstructor; 02-10-2013 at 03:44 PM.
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