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01-10-2007, 08:17 PM   #1
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Kit Lens Alternatives

I recently posted a thread asking about both wide & tele zooms. While there is nothing really wrong with the 18-55 kit lens, the 40mm DA limited has really spoiled me as to what a really good lens feels like and how they shoot. The kit lens now feels plastic-ey, and bit rough around the edges when I handle it. I've done a bit more reading & looking at specs over and over.

I've narrowed it down to worrying about getting a replacement for the kit lens first, and dealing with the telephoto later. Most of my shooting is free hand, social pictures in varying light, often moderate to low; wider apertures quite helpful here. I also enjoy night scenes, but a tripod mitigates the need for wider apertures in this use. I've seen three lenses that appeal to me for this purpose. I'll go handle all three when I return from overseas service, hopefully within a month.

First, the Pentax DA 16-45 f/4. From reviews and specs it appears that it's a good step up from the kit lens, with gains in aperture except at the widest focal length, and only a slight loss of long end range.

Second, the Sigma 18-50 f/2.8. No gain or loss on focal length, but significant gain on the aperture.

Third, the Sigma 17-70 f/2.8 - 4.5. Improved aperture vs the kit lens, a bit more range at 70mm on the long end with only a slightly slower aperture than the Pentax 16-45. This looks to be a good compromise of improved aperture and wider zoom range.

With the expected renewal of rebates now a reality the Pentax lens beats the other two on price by about $100 US. For the extra $100 The Sigmas each offer their own benefits. Comments on any of three in terms of build & image quality, comparison amongst them, or alternatives in that price range appreciated. I hope that this new thread provides a clearer view than my previous one of what I'd like in my next lens. Forgive me if my questions are redundant or bothersome.

Thanks,
"Uga"

01-10-2007, 09:23 PM   #2
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I recently purchased a Tamron 18-200 Di-II AF/macro zoom lens to replace both the Pentax kit lens and the Pentax 50-200 lens that I was using with my K100D. I didn't like having to switch lenses so often. I am not a connoisseur of lenses so I can't give a very technical review, but my test photos tell me that the new Tamron lens does as good a job as the Pentax lenses it's replacing, perhaps a better one, and it's a lot more convenient. I'm rather happy with it. At wide angle, I think it's got the same aperture as the Pentax kit lens (f/3.7, I think).

Will
01-10-2007, 10:04 PM   #3
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I'm happy with the Sigma 18-50 f2.8, though it's a bit heavier (by a few ounces) and $75 more than the after-rebate Pentax 16-45, but it is a stop faster, so it's a trade off.

The Pentax 50-200 is a good compact zoom lens, especially at rebate prices, and with the 16-45 would cover most needs.
01-10-2007, 10:51 PM   #4
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Uga,

Sure the wider field of view is compelling to get the 16-45mm, but seeing that you don't want to be tied down by a tripod, I'd suggest the Sigma 18-50 f2.8. The bigger and constant aperture should allow you to take better night time shots with lower ISO or higher shutter speed to catch a fleeting moment.

Happy shooting!

01-11-2007, 03:21 AM   #5
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Sounds to me like you would want an f2.8 lens. If you can wait a couple of months, it may be worth looking at the new DA* 16-50 f2.8. Nothing against the Sigma, but I do prefer Pentax glass.

A couple of other options.

Tamron AF 28-75 XR Di LD

or my current favorite -

Pentax FA 28-105 f3.2-4.5 AL IF. It's a bit slower but it renders a lovely image. (and not expensive US$209.95 at B&H.)
01-11-2007, 09:08 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by roscot Quote
Sounds to me like you would want an f2.8 lens. If you can wait a couple of months, it may be worth looking at the new DA* 16-50 f2.8.
I gather that will be a very nice lens - I'm just hoping that it will be compatible with the K100. Does anyone know?
01-11-2007, 09:11 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by ugaarguy Quote
Third, the Sigma 17-70 f/2.8 - 4.5. Improved aperture vs the kit lens, a bit more range at 70mm on the long end with only a slightly slower aperture than the Pentax 16-45. This looks to be a good compromise of improved aperture and wider zoom range.
Note that the Sigma is actually never slower than the 16-45 f/4 over their common range. It (well, my copy at least) does not get to f/4.5 until 64mm.
01-11-2007, 11:14 AM   #8
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Thanks for the recommendations so far.
QuoteQuote:
Sounds to me like you would want an f2.8 lens. If you can wait a couple of months, it may be worth looking at the new DA* 16-50 f2.8. Nothing against the Sigma, but I do prefer Pentax glass.
That sounds like a great idea, but don't the DA* lenses only have hyper/ultra sonic motors, and no geared drive capability from the camera motor? From what I've read that's what I gathered, and unfortunately my K100 doesn't have the K10's sonic motor lens compatability. If playing with photography edges out my other expensive hobby - firearms - then I'll have to look at a K10. I guess I'll give it until fall of this year as a one year evaluation period.
QuoteQuote:
Note that the Sigma is actually never slower than the 16-45 f/4 over their common range. It (well, my copy at least) does not get to f/4.5 until 64mm.
RBellavance, at what focal length does the Sigma 17-70 leave f/2.8? Would it be too much trouble to ask at what the lengths the aperture changes occur? Thank you.

01-11-2007, 12:14 PM   #9
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No problem at all, see this post I made a few weeks back:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/11596-post33.html
01-11-2007, 01:16 PM   #10
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RBell, thanks for the link. Good apertures for the lengths listed, makes the decision tough. Of course I'll have to handle them once I get home and see how each lens feels.
01-11-2007, 02:04 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alvin Quote
Uga,

Sure the wider field of view is compelling to get the 16-45mm, but seeing that you don't want to be tied down by a tripod, I'd suggest the Sigma 18-50 f2.8. The bigger and constant aperture should allow you to take better night time shots with lower ISO or higher shutter speed to catch a fleeting moment.

Happy shooting!
I have the sigma 17-70mm lens and I love it.
But if I were to do it all over again, I think I would have spent the extra money for the sigma 18-50
reasons?
I am doing more indoor without a flash then I first thought I would. I really miss the 2.8 when my 17-70 is used around 50mm and longer.
at least for indoor work, I wouldn't have missed the 50-70mm range that the 18-50 doesn't have.
Now when the spring comes, I think this opinion will change..... the 17-70 has a very capable macro, and the 70mm will come in handy for outdoor portraits.

gee, I just contradicted myself again

so my opinon...
if you do more indoors without a flash, the 18-50 is the way to go.
If you do a lot of outdoor work, I would go with 17-70

cheers
01-11-2007, 02:19 PM   #12
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My personal feeling is that f2.8 is not enough for indoor available light photography. What I am considering is getting a FA35 f2 (or a Sigma 30mm f1.4 if I win the lottery) for that purpose.

FWIW, I believe 50mm is a bit long for indoor work on a DSLR.
01-11-2007, 03:40 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by RBellavance Quote
My personal feeling is that f2.8 is not enough for indoor available light photography. What I am considering is getting a FA35 f2 (or a Sigma 30mm f1.4 if I win the lottery) for that purpose.

FWIW, I believe 50mm is a bit long for indoor work on a DSLR.

RBell - the Sigma is very likely one of the fastest for this range considering it's a zoom. I agree with you though. With 1.5x conversion factor 50mm is a bit long (75mm), but makes for a nice for a closeup without being in a person's face.

Guys, I'm not picking on RBell here - I just want to know - how big a difference is .8? (ie. Aperture of 2.0 vs. 2.8) Is it that big? I can understand an aperture of 1.4 vs 2.8 can be huge for indoor and very poorly lit shots, but I don't know the value of having a nearly full stop advantage (just haven't picked around enough in low lighting to know).
01-11-2007, 07:02 PM   #14
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QuoteQuote:
I just want to know - how big a difference is .8? (ie. Aperture of 2.0 vs. 2.8) Is it that big? I can understand an aperture of 1.4 vs 2.8 can be huge for indoor and very poorly lit shots, but I don't know the value of having a nearly full stop advantage (just haven't picked around enough in low lighting to know).
It's a 1-stop difference. If you mean how important is 2.0 vs 2.8 in low light, I can't say.

However, if you use a very large aperture such as 1.4, you run the risk of missing the focus, which gets very narrow. If you decide to put it on a tripod so you can precisely focus, then the large aperture advantage is lost :-).
01-12-2007, 10:32 AM   #15
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QuoteQuote:
However, if you use a very large aperture such as 1.4, you run the risk of missing the focus, which gets very narrow. If you decide to put it on a tripod so you can precisely focus, then the large aperture advantage is lost :-).
And there's my issue. The 40mm Limited at f/2.8 is already quite narrow in depth of focus. However, to shoot effectively in diminshed light without a tripod f/2.8 is right around the tightest aperture I want. Given the K100 does a pretty good AF sensor system, at least to my novice expectations. It's looking like f/2.8 may be the best compromise to get acceptable low light exposure, while still having an acceptable focus depth. Using things like center point focus with the half-press to lock focus, thereby targeting a focal point and then shifting the frame for composition will likely be a good way to operate under these conditions. It's a catch 22, but I'll have to the best I can with equipment and then adapt my usage to the conditions.
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