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06-03-2013, 10:40 AM   #1
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Help me decide: which QUIET zoom lens for everyday shooting?

Hi all,

Just joined the Forum yesterday and already have a question that I would appreciate any insights. I have a K-01 and currently use DA limited primes. But sometimes when I travel or go out with the family, I would prefer the convenience of a zoom lens. So I want to add a short zoom in the 17-70 range. A key criteria for me is that the zoom have a quiet focusing motor. I like how stealthy the K-01's shutter is, and it would defeat the purpose if I attached a dentist-drill like the Tamron 17-50 or 28-75 to it, even though I know those lenses have lots of fans for their affordability and IQ.

So, as I see it, my options are, within a budget up to $500:
  1. Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 HSM - I like the constant f/2.8 across the range but worried it's a bit big/heavy for the K-01? Plus could be a bit short for a portrait shot (50mm)?
  2. Old Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4 HSM -- goes up to 70mm, opens up to f/2.8 at the wide end, but could also be a bit too heavy like the Sigma 17-50...
  3. New Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.0 HSM Contemporary lens -- could be the Goldilocks "just right" lens for me? Not many reviews yet, so worried about its performance and image quality-- I may not want to be an early adopter!
  4. Pentax 17-70 f/4.0 SDM - worried about SDM failures, also a bit heavy, and not as fast as options above, but it does give "Pentax colors"
  5. Pentax 18-135 f/3.5-5.6 DC - since I have a K-01, WR isn't critical to me, nice range up to 135mm but definitely not as fast as above lenses. Nice compact size and the most lightweight of all these options, which make it attractive to mount on K-01.
I'll be using this zoom for travel, weekend outings with the family, maybe some indoor shots of friends and family. (I've ruled out the DA* 16-50 because it's too expensive, way too big for the K-01, and SDM and some IQ concerns I've read online worry me.)



Thanks for any comments or opinions. Let me know if I'm missing any options, but I think I have found all the ones that are currently available that satisfy my criteria.

06-03-2013, 10:50 AM - 1 Like   #2
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I can attest that the 18-135 is VERY quiet, and it gives pretty good IQ. It also works well on the K-01, thought it's more often attached to my K5 as a great walk around lens while out on the street or hikiing when I want to travel light with only one lens.
06-03-2013, 11:06 AM   #3
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Thanks for the quick response! I see that you have the Tamron 17-50 also, may I ask how much "louder" that is compared to your 18-135? Like, you wouldn't want to use the 17-50 at a wedding or inside a church, right? I really think I want a lens that goes at least to 70mm which is why I'm ruling out most of the zoom lenses that end at 50mm. Also I really do want a quiet zoom. My DA limiteds don't make too much intrusive AF gear noise because of their fast/short focus throws, so I wouldn't want anything louder than that on my K-01...
06-03-2013, 11:11 AM - 1 Like   #4
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The Tamron 17-50 has great IQ, but on the K-01 it is loud! I think it sounds louder on the K-01 than it is on the K5, so I wouldn't want to use it for shooting inside a church or at a wedding, but if noise isn't a concern it's a good one. The 18-135 is dead quiet.

06-03-2013, 11:12 AM   #5
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The 18-135 is dead silent. I gather the Sigma HSM lenses are as well.
06-03-2013, 11:15 AM - 1 Like   #6
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Of the lenses you listed, I only have the DA 18-135 and have never even tried the others. The 18-135 works great on my K-01 and balances nicely. Low light is not that great, which is when I would switch to my FA 35 f/2.0 or FA 43 f/1.9. But I see that you have only DA limiteds right now, so you might want a faster aperture lens for your zoom. The new Sigma Contemporary 17-70 might be perfect for you, compact, nice range, good IQ, quiet focusing.

Very positive reviews here:
Review: Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM (Nikon F Mount) - The Phoblographer
Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM C Lens Review
Fstoppers Reviews the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 Contemporary Lens | Fstoppers
DxOMark - Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM C Canon review - The Above ?Standard? Zoom
http://slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1560/cat/31

Not as encouraging review but still not bad:
Sigma C 17-70 mm f/2.8-4.0 DC Macro OS HSM review - Introduction - Lenstip.com

The Sigma 17-50 is also an option but you said you didn't want the extra weight. It's definitely heavier/bigger than the 17-70 models because of the extra glass to keep it f/2.8 constant. If you can live with variable aperture, then the Sigma 17-70 models may be the way to go.

Hope this helps!

Last edited by seventysixersfan; 06-04-2013 at 08:53 AM.
06-03-2013, 11:21 AM - 1 Like   #7
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DA Limiteds make a lower pitched hum noise and focus throw is short. (Tested my DA21)
I currently only have the Tam 28-75 and the sound is a bit higher pitched whine and a little louder, but it also has a short throw so not a big issue. If it was hunting you woud notice it.
DA135 is silent compared to the other 2. Also at 70mm the 18-135 can do f4.5.

Last edited by crewl1; 06-03-2013 at 11:29 AM.
06-03-2013, 11:37 AM - 1 Like   #8
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I would be concerned with the older Sigma 17-70 HSM on a k-01. I know that mine will not focus (focuses on the k-x, though), and I do believe I have seen one or two other people mention that their Sigma 17-70 HSM doesn't work on the k-01. Don't know why exactly, but it hasn't been a bother to me since I don't use my 17-70 anyways.

With regards to the Sigma 17-50, I do not know if there are any reports of it not working on the k-01. It is a very nice lens, but it is also quite expensive.

With regards to the new Sigma 17-70 A lens, I would really consider this lens. It's supposed to be quite sharper than my 17-70 HSM, and comes with the ability to microadjust with the new Sigma software system. I'd suggest getting it and trying it out, and if it doesn't work on the k-01 then you can return it.

My secondary suggestion would be the 18-135WR - which is a nice lens with a longer range than the rest. While it may be 1-2 stops slower, the k-01's high ISO is quite good and a lighter camera combo can be held steadier than a heavier camera combo.

06-03-2013, 11:53 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the replies so far, all very helpful! Looks like my decision may come down to the new Contemporary Sigma 17-70 or the DA 18-135. (The Sigma 17-50 is more than $500 brand-new, so I'd have to get that used if I wanted to stay under my $500 max budget). Very tempted to just get the DA 18-135 and boost the ISO and be done with it! But I wonder if the IQ of the 17-70 will be better-- I assume the shorter range means the zoom should produce better image quality than the 18-135, right? And it looks like the 17-70 has a bit closer focusing capability for a pseudo-macro in a pinch. Still, I see that some people have sold off their older versions of the Sigma 17-70 for the 18-135 and were happier with the Pentax lens-- not sure why, maybe it was just for the WR? (or maybe their Sigma 17-70s were the first, non-HSM version?)
06-03-2013, 11:59 AM   #10
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Check out this thread for some 18-135 examples. https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/179869-da-18-1...at-can-do.html

I know it's small, light, and is definiately usable indoors.
06-03-2013, 11:59 AM   #11
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nobody can vouch for the Pentax DA 17-70 SDM? Has the DA 18-135 basically made that lens obsolete? Or is the better image quality of the DA 17-70 worth it, IF you take out WR from the equation? I see the prices for both lenses are about the same, but the 17-70 is heavier and longer, despite having a shorter zoom range.
06-03-2013, 12:00 PM   #12
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I know that my 17-70 HSM performs pretty well for a cheaper lens - it's a little bit sharper than the kit 18-55 at all equivalent focal lengths and apertures, but by F8 - everything is pretty much equal. At 50-70mm, the lens takes a quick dive in sharpness, but it's still usable. The new contemporary version is supposed to be better than my version by a good margin. The DA-18-135 should perform as well as my Sigma 17-70, with it's sweet spot being around 20-40mm.

The nice thing about my Sigma 17-70 is that it has 7 aperture blades, which makes for very lovely starbursts when shooting long exposure night shots. On the other hand, both the 18-135 and the new Sigma 17-70 A have 7 aperture blades also, so you will have the same pleasure.
06-03-2013, 12:01 PM   #13
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Yep, thanks, I have already posted a question on that 18-135 thread, wanting to know how many people regularly used the lens on a K-01 and were satisfied by the performance, especially indoors. But I guess since the K-01's sensor is similar to the K-30 and K-5, the indoor capabilities of the lens would be about the same... right?
06-03-2013, 12:04 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by JinDesu Quote
The DA-18-135 should perform as well as my Sigma 17-70, with it's sweet spot being around 20-40mm.
That's great to know, thank you. I want to shoot more pictures between 20-40mm, as my only prime lenses are at both ends of that range and sometime I want to take a shot that is a bit wider than my DA 40 allows, or a bit closer than my DA 21.
06-03-2013, 12:04 PM   #15
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I don't have any examples handy, but the 18-135 is definitely usable indoors with the K-01. I was messing around shooting pictures of my roomates cat and had no problem at night with just the overhead lights on.
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