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04-02-2013, 06:57 PM   #1
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DA 18-135 same IQ as DA 21mm ?

Here's one for you. Is the Image Quality of the Pentax DA 18-135 at 21mm focal length = to the Image Quality of the DA21mm? Reason I ask is that I already have the 18-135 and am willing to part with it for better IQ and especially sharpness if the 21mm fits the bill.
The only other lens I own is the FA 43 which hardly leaves my camera. I'm looking for a wider quality prime lens that will complement the FA 43. I think the DA15 is a bit too wide for my tastes. I don't really end up using the longer focal length of the zoom very much and I like the small compactness of the Primes. But if the IQ is the same, I'll just keep the 18-135. I'm sure the Starburst is much better on the 21 though.

04-02-2013, 07:31 PM   #2
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I have both lenses and the 21 is way better for IQ as you would expect from a prime. The 18-135 is a decent walkabout lens with WR but for the best result at 21mm I would take the Limited, it is also light and compliments the other pancakes.
04-02-2013, 08:22 PM   #3
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Of course the DA21 or the FA20 will give you better IQ.

I prefer to use primes, but there are times when I just need a zoom, which is why I eventually ended up with the 2 DA* zooms to cover the 16-135mm range.


The FA*24/2 is another nice lens you might consider - not quite as small as the FA21, but a reasonable size and significantly faster. I also happen to like the 24mm focal length. My poor FA20 usually gets neglected in favor of the FA*24 and DA15.
04-02-2013, 08:58 PM   #4
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I have all the lenses you mention. I love the zoom buts as stated above the 21 is much better. I was amazed at how sharp it was when I first bought it. The 21/43 Combo is sweet and compact. I had the 15 and agree it was too wide for me. Even the 21 may be too wide for what I like to shoot. But it s great to have.

04-02-2013, 10:27 PM   #5
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In my experience (ie my gut says ) the 18-135 is almost as good as the DA21 at 21mm, and in fact if you look at photozone tests the 18-135 is actually sharper than the DA21 at f/5.6 in centre, borders and extreme (I averaged the 18mm & 24mm results). The DA21 has less CA though and in my experience better flare control. Distortion is probably the same (@ 18 it is more, @ 24 it is less).

All in all it seems IQ is a wash. I no longer own the DA21 so can't post a side by side though.

Last edited by twitch; 04-03-2013 at 02:04 AM.
04-03-2013, 04:54 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
the 18-135 is almost as good as the DA21 at 21mm, and in fact if you look at photozone tests the 18-135 is actually sharper than the DA21 at f/5.6 in centre, borders and extreme (I averaged the 18mm & 24mm results). The DA21 has less CA though and in my experience better flare control. Distortion is probably the same (@ 18 it is more, @ 24 it is less).

All in all it seems IQ is a wash. I no longer own the DA21 so can't post a side by side though.
There's more to IQ than center sharpness. I've used both (and own the 21) and there is no contest that the 21 is better. Colours, saturation, contrast, bokeh are many steps above (though for bokeh it's a judgment call, the 21 deosn't have your typical bokeh).

A friend owns the K-5 and 18-135, and recently bought the 21. He is now looking for occasions to leave the zoom at home and use just the prime...
04-03-2013, 06:15 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
In my experience (ie my gut says ) the 18-135 is almost as good as the DA21 at 21mm, and in fact if you look at photozone tests the 18-135 is actually sharper than the DA21 at f/5.6 in centre, borders and extreme (I averaged the 18mm & 24mm results). The DA21 has less CA though and in my experience better flare control. Distortion is probably the same (@ 18 it is more, @ 24 it is less).

All in all it seems IQ is a wash. I no longer own the DA21 so can't post a side by side though.
The only thing I could add to that is, my 18-135 performs nothing like the one being tested by Photozone. Their lens performed quite poorly through the test and through my personal experience, is not a good representation of what the (my) 18-135 can do.

But I still like to believe the DA21 can be sharper, better flare control, less fringing than the 18-135. (The last 2 being non-issues in my case)
04-03-2013, 06:22 AM   #8
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I use both, and like twitch (for once) I don't see a lot of difference between the 21 Ltd and 18-135 at 21mm. There is enough difference that I take the 18-135 off the camera after capturing a couple shots with the 18-135. Where I love the 21 is as a walk around lens on my K-01 used as a second body.

I love going for nature walks with the 21 on the K-01 and the 40 XS in my pocket.. and the A-400 on the K-5 pre-mounted on my tripod carried like a rifle over my shoulder.





Here's a couple shots taken the same day with the two lenses although possibly not at the same time. I doubt you can tell which is which without looking at the exif.

04-03-2013, 06:34 AM   #9
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Sorry, one of those shots was taken on the way in and one on the way home.... so the light is different.
04-03-2013, 06:40 AM   #10
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I'm in the same position as the OP, except I've decided to get the DA 21mm. (I've also considered the new Sigma "C" 17-70mm.) The 18-135mm seems to be an excellent and very versatile lens, but I'm sure the DA 21mm's IQ is decisively better. Primes just give better pics, which is not always evident in pics posted online by people with very different photographic skills (including PP-ing skills). And, as bdery pointed out, it's not about sharpness. My humble SMC Tak 28mm is clerarly less sharp than my 18-55mm kit lens toward the borders, even at f8. I think the kit lens is better with respect to flare, too. It is well known that the kit lens fares rather well around 24-28mm at f8 sharpness-wise, and I PP my pics with DxO, which further improves the kit lens' output. Still, I prefer my Takumar's rendering, by far. The Tak 28mm yields a pronounced 3D feel which the kit lens is simply incapable to produce. Again, if I pixelpeep (especially at the borders), the kit lens wins in absolute terms; yet if I look at the pics as such, those taken with Takumar have much more life in them than the ones taken with the kit lens. (If only DxO supported the Takumars...)

The DA 21mm is tiny and lightweigh, so for me the versatility of the zoom is to some extent offset by the portability of the prime.
04-03-2013, 06:46 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by causey Quote
I'm in the same position as the OP, except I've decided to get the DA 21mm. (I've also considered the new Sigma "C" 17-70mm.) The 18-135mm seems to be an excellent and very versatile lens, but I'm sure the DA 21mm's IQ is decisively better. Primes just give better pics, which is not always evident in pics posted online by people with very different photographic skills (including PP-ing skills). And, as bdery pointed out, it's not about sharpness. My humble SMC Tak 28mm is clerarly less sharp than my 18-55mm kit lens toward the borders, even at f8. I think the kit lens is better with respect to flare, too. It is well known that the kit lens fares rather well around 24-28mm at f8 sharpness-wise, and I PP my pics with DxO, which makes the kit's lens even better. Still, I prefer my Takumar's rendering by far. The Tak 28mm yields a pronounced 3D feel which the kit lens is simply incapable to produce. Again, if I pixelpeep (especially at the borders), the kit lens wins in absolute terms; yet if I look at the pics as such, those taken with Takumar have much more life in them than the ones taken with the kit lens. (If only DxO supported the Takumars...)

The DA 21mm is tiny and lightweigh, so for me the versatility of the zoom is to some extent offset by the portability of the prime.
I'd certainly agree with all of that despite my post above. I wouldn't sell my 18-135, but I'm not selling the 21 either. When you nail a shot that suits the 21

Shots like this one...

IMG]http://i1132.photobucket.com/albums/m579/Norm_Head/Pentax_forum/Sample_by_lens_name/21_ltd/Kilaloo_foot-bridge-3.jpg[/IMG]

Without trying to define it too much, for a nice pastoral scene like this, the 21 is just better. I've tried to define why a pile of times and just can't. It just is.
04-03-2013, 06:52 AM   #12
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The image from the above post.

04-03-2013, 08:29 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
Here's one for you. Is the Image Quality of the Pentax DA 18-135 at 21mm focal length = to the Image Quality of the DA21mm? Reason I ask is that I already have the 18-135 and am willing to part with it for better IQ and especially sharpness if the 21mm fits the bill.
The only other lens I own is the FA 43 which hardly leaves my camera. I'm looking for a wider quality prime lens that will complement the FA 43. I think the DA15 is a bit too wide for my tastes. I don't really end up using the longer focal length of the zoom very much and I like the small compactness of the Primes. But if the IQ is the same, I'll just keep the 18-135. I'm sure the Starburst is much better on the 21 though.
Well, you aked the question and you got all the usual answers - useless quotes from Photozone reviews, some oversharpened and downsized shots, opinions from people who'd never used it and so on.

Surely you would not be buying the DA21 for IQ alone ? It is sharp, but there are sharper lenses in that focal range. What sets it apart is its size, build, lens hood design, AF speed, useability wide open etc.
04-03-2013, 08:43 AM   #14
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QuoteQuote:
Surely you would not be buying the DA21 for IQ alone ? It is sharp, but there are sharper lenses in that focal range. What sets it apart is its size, build, lens hood design, AF speed, useability wide open etc.
That's exactly the issue, there's all the numbers and then there's image rendition, as far as I can tell rendition is as much personal taste as anything else. Twitch and I see the lens the same way, he sold his, I kept mine, there's no "right or wrong" about this. It's "do you like the way the lens renders images for you." and "will you use it." Probably the only way to do that is to use the lens. Whether or not a lens gets used is ultimately everything about the lens, and that's personal.

Once you get to the level above kit lenses, other things besides IQ start to become important, because they all have great IQ.

The lens is useful because of it's size and it's unique rendering properties. The rendering properties are totally subjective. 10 different people will have 10 different opinions of whether or not it's worth it and in what circumstances.
04-03-2013, 12:24 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by kh1234567890 Quote
Well, you aked the question and you got all the usual answers - useless quotes from Photozone reviews,
LOL. I see alot of that here.

QuoteOriginally posted by kh1234567890 Quote
What sets it apart is its size, build, lens hood design, AF speed, useability wide open etc.
Good points, all of them.

So far the lens tally is 5 for the DA 21 and 2 against.

I'm going to go out this week and take more shots with the 18-135 in the 21mm range, or as close as I can get. Maybe I could post a few here......
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