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03-05-2013, 11:16 PM   #1
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As much grief as the 16-50 (used to) get, is it in its own class?

First of all, it probably mostly gets grief because it was the first SDM lens (am I remembering this right?) and we were expecting it to compete with the best Canon/Nikon glass out there...

But today I was thinking about it... Is there another lens made by Pentax, Sigma, Tamron, anybody, that can match this lens on a K mount?

Think about it, it is weather sealed, covers a standard zoom, is f/2.8 constant, and has SDM. Remove SDM, I still don't know if any can compete. The 18-135 is a strong lens, but not as fast as the DA* at any focal length, the Sigma 17-50 or 17-70 would be another strong showing but no weather seals... Tamron 28-75 same boat.

So, since weather seals are important to me (and others)... can anything compete?

03-06-2013, 12:12 AM   #2
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as soon as you add weather seals to the requirements, then it rules basically everything else out.

sigma + rain coat would probably be a decent match in the rain. But still no weather seals.
03-06-2013, 01:00 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Buschmaster Quote
So, since weather seals are important to me (and others)... can anything compete?
If you get a good copy of this lens, and are prepared to live with the SDM risk (failure frequency documented here on PF) then the DA*16-50 rocks hard. It is a very versatile lens. I had my one with me in the Nordic countries June last year - and it was just at home outside in rain, as it was in dimly lit cathedrals. I was very happy with what I got with it.
03-06-2013, 01:09 AM   #4
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First and foremost in any lens buying consideration is the optics, and the DA*(undeserved) 16-50/2.8 just don't cut it. Weather seal, if you have it, great! A clear plastic bag taped/elastic banded around the lens hood worked for me in the 80's, it works for me now.

03-06-2013, 01:18 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by excanonfd Quote
First and foremost in any lens buying consideration is the optics, and the DA*(undeserved) 16-50/2.8 just don't cut it
I have a pretty good set of primes (Pentax Limited, Zeiss, Voigtlander and others) and would be the first to admit that the 16-50 doesn't match the best primes, but then I have also got good images with it.

Example: Zenfolio | Ross Waugh's Photographs | Pentax DA* 16-50mm f2.8

The answer comes back to what you looking for - the 16-50 provides flexibility, WR, reasonably fast aperture, and reasonable IQ, oh and the SDM risk
03-06-2013, 01:26 AM - 1 Like   #6
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Yes it is in its own class, the dunce class, unfortunately it's worse optically than every other f/2.8 zoom currently on the market including those from third parties.
03-06-2013, 01:56 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
Yes it is in its own class, the dunce class, unfortunately it's worse optically than every other f/2.8 zoom currently on the market including those from third parties.
As a lens it works for me, especially when I travel. It is compact enough and I like the WR for bad weather. I also take my 55-300 for reach, and a couple Pentax Limited's to give me higher IQ options when I want them. None of my other lenses are WR. I have also considered the 18-135 WR for travel, but as always there are compromises.

My opinion, for the very little it is worth, is that you have to work out what you are looking for in a lens, and what compromises work for you individually - then, well informed, you can make a decision as to which lens is the best one for you
03-06-2013, 02:37 AM   #8
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Well, it really depends. If you value reliability and corner sharpness, minimal vignetting and low distortions on the wide end of the zoom range - the picture may look rather different. Not to say that this is an excellent lens, but it is not without its flaws either.

03-06-2013, 02:52 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Boris Quote
Well, it really depends. If you value reliability and corner sharpness, minimal vignetting and low distortions on the wide end of the zoom range - the picture may look rather different. Not to say that this is an excellent lens, but it is not without its flaws either.
Which is why I carry a DA15/4 Limited as well - with this but - if you are in very low light, a dimly lit cathedral being a classic example, - with the exception of the the DA14/2.8 what else is there at the wide end say 10-18mm with fast apertures. The DA14 is problematic when travelling as it is quite a chunky lens. That leaves again the 16-50, the Sigma 17-50, or the Tamron 17-50. Helpfully there is a PF indepth review of all 3 DA* 16-50mm vs. Sigma and Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 Comparison - Introduction - PentaxForums.com

All three would be fine for the Cathedral scenario and in reality you would have the Sigma or the Tamron over the Pentax if that was all you were using the lens for. The huge advantage the Pentax has is it is WR, and if you can pick up a good copy second hand as I did (just under half new price) then the Pentax makes a lot sense.
03-06-2013, 04:30 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
Yes it is in its own class, the dunce class, unfortunately it's worse optically than every other f/2.8 zoom currently on the market including those from third parties.
Strongly agreed.

To point out to the general audience...

When paying that much for a lenses; also one of Pentax's supposed flagship lens; then one just might expect it to perhaps focus or even zoom. Yet both of those are issues with the Pentax 16-50.

When I go out and look for a lens; optics are the number one consideration; aperature is also up there somewhere on the list. But if the lens is incapable of automatically focusing and has completely failed & locked-up and is no longer capable of auto focusing (btw the same lens also has major issues with zooming); then what would be the point of having the added perk of a form of weather resistance.

The lens that the user just paid well over one thousand for might as well be a manual focusing lens.

There are also more than a fair share of third party lenses (as quoted) such as the Sigma 24-70 (also constant aperature in the same exact range) f2.8; and also let me clearly add - also much superior to the Pentax offering in the areas of; optics, construction, and reliability. There are also many other Sigma zoom lenses which are also better than the Pentax 16-50. And that's the current offering. Go back into the past and find many, many more from Sigma and other third party companies. But it gets better, just wait and see what the near future is for Sigma's future lens offering.

Sure Pentax does have items like the FA's and other versions of lenses - some of which offer perk types of features such as forms of weather resistance and also compact sizes and all. But I'll stick with a lens that can actually perform and doesn't have a widespread proven history of failure - as the Pentax 16-50 is nothing short of a massive failure that Pentax has never addressed
03-06-2013, 04:39 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Buschmaster Quote
But today I was thinking about it... Is there another lens made by Pentax, Sigma, Tamron, anybody, that can match this lens on a K mount?

Think about it, it is weather sealed, covers a standard zoom, is f/2.8 constant, and has SDM. Remove SDM, I still don't know if any can compete. The 18-135 is a strong lens, but not as fast as the DA* at any focal length, the Sigma 17-50 or 17-70 would be another strong showing but no weather seals... Tamron 28-75 same boat.

So, since weather seals are important to me (and others)... can anything compete?
As others have said the only thing going for it is the weather-sealing. For any other criteria (sharpness, distortion control, weight, size, price) you can get equal or better performance with a Sigma 17-50 or Tamron 17-50.

The Pentax has good colours, noticeably better than the Tamron, but the Sigma is pretty good in this respect as well.

Furthermore, at smaller apertures - say f8 or so - the Pentax 18-55mm kit lens is a competitor for the 16-50. And it's also weather-sealed, and costs 10% of the price.
03-06-2013, 04:44 AM   #12
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Overall I have been pleased with my copy. I picked up a used copy on the forum market. I would not pay the current price for it, but I am very happy with the results I have been getting. I have used for portraits, with the excellent center focus, it takes great photos. I love my prime lenses, but it makes a great walk around lens when you want wide angle with some zoom. My only issue has been some lens flare, but show me a lens at any price that does not have some weakness, It works for me and that is what counts the most.
03-06-2013, 04:57 AM - 1 Like   #13
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It's a good lens when used correctly. Don't listen to the naysayers.

Yes, its good at f2.8, but it's fantastic at f8.
03-06-2013, 05:43 AM   #14
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At 16mm f/2.8 it's indeed very bad but at 35mm+ wide open it's actually quite good.

And the colours and contrast are good as well.
But i only bought it since it's a good match with the DA*50-135 that i love, i almost bought the Sigma 17-50 instead at the time...
03-06-2013, 06:14 AM   #15
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I really like mine, never lets me down optically and I work very well with it. Super sharp at all apertures (never really felt the extra sharpness of the DA15/35 or FA50 added anything useful in comparison). But it is over priced. Its not the lemon everyone days it is though
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