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04-17-2013, 11:36 PM   #1
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Upgrade for my 18-55mm kit lens

Hello,

It's been 2 years I purchased the K-x with 18-55mm and 55-300mm kit lens combo. Now with better financial situation, I want to upgrade my 18-55mm kit lens to something better.

Below are the areas which I would like to have in the upgraded lens -

1. Better IQ (of course) - better sharpness, better bokeh, pleasing colors
2. Longer reach (18-135mm lens qualifies here) - I've only used the 55-300mm lens only twice in last 2 years because of hassle of switching lenses. I even find my 18-55mm lens limiting in terms of reach sometimes.
3. Faster lens for indoor portraits during family/friends get-togethers. Nice bokeh would be nice to have for portraits.
4. Preferably good at macros but not really a must have. I have the Raynox DCR-250 macro, which is very good but difficult to use.

My main photography is for landscapes and portraits as you can see on my flickr page - Flickr: RonakG's Photostream (you won't find portraits here, they are only shared with family/friends).

Based on these things, I have following options -

1. Pentax SMC-DA 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] WR - IQ just slightly better than 18-55mm but longer reach and WR (for future body upgrade) are very nice.
2. Sigma New 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro HSM
3. Pentax SMC DA 17-70mm f/4

Please help me decide which one is better for the criteria I've mentioned above. Any lenses which I've not listed are also welcome as suggestions. I'm open to new and used lenses. I plan to keep the 55-300mm lens for those once a year trip to zoo/safari etc.

04-18-2013, 12:37 AM   #2
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i use a combo of da16-45 for general & landscape and da70 f2.4 for portraits / indoor.
for macro, the da 16-45 can focus quite close in wide angle, but not true macro ofcourse...
just a suggestion.
04-18-2013, 12:41 AM   #3
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I recently got myself a Tamron 17-50, and I think I'm in love.

It's sharp enough that at 50mm you can crop if necessary and still get good shots.

Way lighter (weight wise) and cheaper than its main rivals (DA* 16-50, Sig 17-50).

Will work indoors quite well thanks to the fast speed.

The only problem is my copy needed a -6 AF adjustment before it became silly sharp.
04-18-2013, 12:47 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by grispie Quote
i use a combo of da16-45 for general & landscape and da70 f2.4 for portraits / indoor.
for macro, the da 16-45 can focus quite close in wide angle, but not true macro ofcourse...
just a suggestion.
I don't want a two lens combo and I'm willing to compromise a little. I would've used the 55-300mm for portraits at it's wide end but I'm too lazy to change lenses.

QuoteOriginally posted by EarlVonTapia Quote
I recently got myself a Tamron 17-50, and I think I'm in love.

It's sharp enough that at 50mm you can crop if necessary and still get good shots.

Way lighter (weight wise) and cheaper than its main rivals (DA* 16-50, Sig 17-50).

Will work indoors quite well thanks to the fast speed.

The only problem is my copy needed a -6 AF adjustment before it became silly sharp.
Tamron 17-50 did appear in my consideration but I removed it because of the ff/bf issues it has. I can't really adjust AF in K-x, so Tamron 17-50 is out of my list.

04-18-2013, 12:54 AM   #5
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I was in a similar boat to you Ronak after a couple of years of ownership and trying different lenses. I found the 18-55 not long enough and so would have the 55-300 on but it's not that fast for indoors and sometimes not short enough. Therefore lots of swapping around. I also found that the more zoomed I was with the 55-300 the harder it becomes handheld (which is obvious).

I have recently acquired a Tamron 28-75 2.8 Macro and am loving it. I find the range is perfect as walkabout. It doesn't reach out so far that you're starting to need a tripod and the macro capability means you have pretty close focus. Therefore sounds like a good one to add to your list for researching based on what you have said. Drawback for me is lack of quick shift as I do find it sometimes front focuses and needs a slight tweak. However, there is a really easy way around this. Whilst you still have your shutter release half pressed down you just press the lens release button in with your right hand little finger and you can then move the focus ring without having to switch to manual focus. In fact that is a tip that applies to any non quick shift lens I picked up on here somewhere.

I will most likely now leave my 18-55 and 55-300 at home unless I specifically want to do wide angle or more extreme zoom, which is rare for me. Mostly take photos of the family. Therefore my kit is now much lighter with the Tamron on the camera along with the fairly small DA 35 2.4 and A 50 1.4 when I want to mess about with primes.
04-18-2013, 01:07 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by RonakG Quote
I don't want a two lens combo and I'm willing to compromise a little. I would've used the 55-300mm for portraits at it's wide end but I'm too lazy to change lenses.
ok, that's honest :-)
But then, (just out of the box thinking) why not something else than a dslr? Your kx is not state of the art anymore
e.g. the new mx1 (or similar from another brand) may be an option. good overall focal range, indoor use, good at macro....
don't want to chase you away from pentax, but in this category, there are a lot of options out there.
04-18-2013, 01:54 AM   #7
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Ronak - I use a DA16-45+Tamron28-75+Sigma 70-200.. covered at f/2.8 all the way out to 200mm. Try the DA16-45 + TAmron 28-75 combo, you will be pleased.
04-18-2013, 04:52 AM   #8
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Yeah, 1, 2 and 3 are basically impossible to combine without changing lenses. Though I don't even see the need for a DSLR in your case if you want more without switching lenses.
The only thing I can think of is something like the Pentax 17-70 as an upgrade.

04-18-2013, 06:18 AM   #9
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I would pick one of the 17-70s myself - I've owned the original Sigma (f/4.5 at 70mm) and the DA18-135. My copy of the 18-135 was best in the 18-80mm range anyway without lens corrections enabled, which can be done on the k-x I believe.

You mention longer reach, but how often are you in the 18-24mm zone when you shoot? That would allow another lens or two into the mix. Longer is hard while retaining the wider focal lengths, which you see already makes for a really short list. I went with more primes myself, the opposite of your preference but a common answer here.

Good luck with your choice, at least the three you have listed are good ones!
04-18-2013, 07:32 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by RonakG Quote
I don't want a two lens combo and I'm willing to compromise a little. I would've used the 55-300mm for portraits at it's wide end but I'm too lazy to change lenses.



Tamron 17-50 did appear in my consideration but I removed it because of the ff/bf issues it has. I can't really adjust AF in K-x, so Tamron 17-50 is out of my list.
Don't let FF/BF stop you. Just send your lens and camera in together for calibration. Worked perfectly for my kx and Sigma 30. Before calibration, it was terrible, now it is perfect. It is inconvenient, but not a big deal to be without your camera for a week if you have a great lens afterwards. I only had to pay shipping to Sigma, the service was free. I think Tamron will do the same. Send them an email and ask.
04-18-2013, 07:59 AM   #11
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I think you need to think very hard about what your priority is. Range such as 18-135 always means a slower lens from what I found when looking into it. You can then get F2.8 for lenses such as the Tamron 17-50 or 28-75 but you then miss out on some range. You can't have the moon on a stick so just figure out what your priority is.

You said 18-55 isn't long enough reach so not sure how the Tamron 17-50 will help... Therefore you need to look at something that goes wide to longer (17-70 or 18-135) but is slow, or something where you lose a bit of wide angle but is faster e.g. Tamron 28-75 (perhaps with a small prime for wide angle). Again, depends on priority and what you shoot the most.
04-18-2013, 09:24 AM - 1 Like   #12
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I have several Pentax lenses at the moment which cover "the most used" focal lengths. As already mentioned before you really need to figure out what focal lengths and aperture values you use the most. If you buy a zoom and it doesn't do what you are used to or expect it to, it only frustrates you and you end up searching the new one. As you can't get everything with one lens, just figure out what you need and it will be easy then on.

DA 18-135WR/3.5-5.6: Good range, excellent center sharpness at all focal lengths (bit soft after 100mm though), pretty good at corners 24~70mm, weather resistant and good build quality, reasonable size and weight. This is ideal kit lens replacement if you need weather resistance as it gives more reach. Changing lenses in bad weather may not be possible, so longer reach may be a big plus. At least my copy seems to perform best ~F5.6. This is ideal hiking/walkabout lens. Bokeh is pretty good.

DA*16-50/2.8: Bit soft overall at F2.8, especially at 50mm, but center sharpness is excellent. CA is noticeable at F2.8. Excellent build quality and handling, big and bit heavy. Only weather resistant normal zoom available which can do F2.8. If you don't need 16mm wide end, F2.8 and weather resistance, buy something else. Otherwise you don't have much choice and buy this. Bokeh is very nice for a zoom IMO.

DA17-70/4 SDM: Falls between the previous ones. Faster than 18-135WR but shorter focal length and lacks WR. Longer focal length than DA*16-50 but slower. Has the most balanced (very good) sharpness across the frame at all focal lengths. Build quality is worse than the previous ones (zoom creep and doesn't feel as good put together). Is bigger and bit heavier than 18-135WR but smaller and lighter than DA*16-50. This is the best compromise. Bokeh is quite good also.

DA18-250/3.5-6.3: Quite good across the range (maybe best somewhere around 28mm-135mm) but as you can guess can't really compete with previous ones. Very usable at F8, even at 250mm. Ugly bokeh though. Build quality is pretty good and has zoom lock. This has it's uses when really only one lens is needed/can be taken (long day walks, when you are too lazy to change lenses). But as said before, cannot beat the previous ones. If you don't need the 135-250mm range, buy something else.

So those all has their uses. Some are better in other areas and some in other. Just pick the features you prefer/need most and choose based on that. There are also third-party lenses but I don't have experience on those other than Tamron 17-50/2.8, which is very nice lens for a very nice price. Best value normal zoom lens IMO, unless you want Pentax branded or need weather resistance. Very usable even wide open and build quality is also good. Size is also pretty small and weight is reasonable. DA*16-50/2.8 is much bigger, especially hood attached. Search and choose well and enjoy using what you choose.
04-18-2013, 10:08 AM   #13
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Thanks for all the suggestions and advice. I'm torn between DA 18-135 and Sigma 17-70 2.8-4 lens. 18-135's extra reach and WR is tempting because I'll definitely upgrade to a WR body in a year or so (probably K-30 or it's successor). It wouldn't really help me take better portraits compared to my kit lens. That's where Sigma comes into picture. It should be 2-3 stops faster than my kit lens at 55-70mm range. It's macro capabilities are also better.

I'm looking at all my photos right now and more than 70% of them are landscapes, so I don't mind a slower lens like 18-135 but those 30% portraits of friends and family are confusing me between the Pentax and Sigma.

I have some more thinking to do.
04-18-2013, 03:01 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by RonakG Quote
Thanks for all the suggestions and advice. I'm torn between DA 18-135 and Sigma 17-70 2.8-4 lens. 18-135's extra reach and WR is tempting because I'll definitely upgrade to a WR body in a year or so (probably K-30 or it's successor). It wouldn't really help me take better portraits compared to my kit lens. That's where Sigma comes into picture. It should be 2-3 stops faster than my kit lens at 55-70mm range. It's macro capabilities are also better.
Unfortunately not, I'm afraid... more like one stop (4 vs. 5.6) in this range.
04-18-2013, 03:16 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by sTi Quote
Unfortunately not, I'm afraid... more like one stop (4 vs. 5.6) in this range.
Exactly, that is why I say that the lens asked for is an impossible one to get. I just find it hard to see why to use a DSLR with those requirements, no DSLR will suit that list.
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