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09-14-2013, 04:08 AM   #1
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Need advice on kit lens upgreade

Hi!

I decided to create a new topic because I want to be specific here, and most of the similar topics I have read somewhere on the way said, "please say what exactly do you want" so I decided to start with this.

I have spent a lot of time researching, read a lot of reviews, tests, specs for various lenses but you can't read, find everything don't even mention trying it out and comparing different options - so please if you had a chance to compare different lenses share your experience. I tried to avoid mentioning specific lenses I have considered because I think that this would impact the possible choices and recommendations.

What I want to buy - universal lens that I can carry everywhere that will not be harmed if I just throw the camera into a backpack from time to time (sealed?). And possibly a Wide angle lens in near future.

The easiest thing - How much do I want to spend?

For the universal lens around 800$ but up to $1200 if the more expensive lens is far superior.


OK so lets start:

I am using the 18-55 kit lens and I am quite satisfied with the range and quality (for a kit lens) but:

- I don't use the wide end a lot due to distortion, I usually start at 24mm;

- I often experience vigneting around 24mm but maybe thats my fault not the lens;

- I would like the tele end to be longer, around 75-80mm;

- I wold like the lens to be brighter;



So tu sum up:

- start at 18mm if the distortion is minimal if this is costly or impossible I will be happy to start around the mentioned 24-25mm

- end around 75-80mm, I have seen few lenses that end at 50mm with good reviews I would go with this if this would be worth it - but reaching the 75mm is quite important for me;

- I want it to be bright, possible constant light through the range;

- weather sealed/ resistant feature is welcome even if costly;

- I want it to be my main walk-around lens but it does not have to be very compact. If it is around 600-800 grams I don't mind carrying it around;

- It has to have AF;


Additional info:

- I am considering buying a wide angle lens, I have seen zoom lens ultra wide and wide to normal, but now I am leaning towards the 15mm limited and a good and cheap older lens around 28mm, I want it for landscapes mostly so I don't need AF. - please correct me if you think I could choose better. i also love portraits shot withe wide angle.

- I have already started buying older primes with MF - SMA 50mm f2, TAKUMAR 200mm f4 and SIRUS 135mm f2,8 - really positively surprised with the last one for macro. I want tele for wildlife mostly so a bright and sharp prime would do best for me. Buying a zoom tele with constant light is a plan for the long distance; - again if you think I could do better please tell.

- The concept is to have as much primes as possible and a universal zoom for main lens and situations when I can/want to take only one lens with me. Most of the time I will have the universal lens on and one or two other lenses in a bag; So this will be the main part of the set.

Thanks in advance for all help!

09-14-2013, 05:12 AM   #2
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Well, the 18-135mm is the classical "everything" Pentax zoom lens. It has a little of everything, it is WR, and it doesnt cost too much. And its a little better than the DA L 18-55mm.
Higher quality, maybe a DA* 16-50mm, but get a new copy that way recently produced, because the first batches sometimes had SDM problems. There is also the 17-70mm that some people like for its convenience.
Other than that, Tamron and Sigma are the ones that make a lot of zoom lenses. Pentax is more of a compact prime kind of brand.

This is what you should really take a look at:

DA* 16-50mm vs. Sigma and Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 Comparison - Introduction - PentaxForums.com

Pentax 17-70mm Lens Comparison - Introduction - PentaxForums.com
09-14-2013, 06:04 AM   #3
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This ideal lens may not exist. When you go for a zoom from 18 to at least 70, it seems that it only shines either at the wider or the longer end. The pentax 18-135 is pretty decent, but if you use the longer end to take pictures of something far away it goes downhill. At least in my experience. But if you are only thinking of trying to use it up to a length of 70, it might work fine.

If you did not need WR, there would be more options from third party sources.
09-14-2013, 07:09 AM   #4
jac
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Bought my wife the 18-135 a few weeks ago and she loves it. Seems pretty decent in the mid-ranges and the fall-off is only marginal on the borders. She's doing a 'walk-around' in a near blizzard right now, trusting in the WR

09-14-2013, 07:12 AM   #5
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You could go back a bit to the film lenses such as the FA 28 - 70/f4 Its autofocus and relatively inexpensive with good reviews and a reasonable rating.
09-14-2013, 07:12 AM   #6
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I would recommend the 18-135 because it is weather resistant, reasonable IQ, and reasonably light. The 15 is a great choice for wide angle and is very light
09-14-2013, 07:37 AM   #7
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+1 for the 18-135. If the distortion bothers you, use Lightroom and just check the Profile Correct button, and presto, your 18mm distorted picture becomes about a 19mm distortion free pic. You loose just a bit around the edge. I will agree that the 135 end is less suitable at a distance. At 50 yards or closer it's really quite good, but quality starts to drop off further than that. Or you can pick up the 15mm for an even wider, nearly distortion free companion. Everything they say about it is true. It's by far the most beautiful lens in my collection, but it does take some getting used to. If you have $1200 to spend, this is what I would get:
DA18-135 $400
DA15 Ltd $550 used
Sigma 30mm/1.4 $350 used (for low light and/or shallow DOF)

That's $1300, but a brilliant kit

As for one perfect lens for everything, it doesn't exist, or we'd all just use that one!
09-14-2013, 08:04 AM   #8
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-1 for the 18-135 lens.

I guess I'm the one dissenter here. I would not recommend the 18-135. It's only marginally better than the kit 18-55 and has no "Wow" factor. (At least my copy was). If you shoot in inclement weather alot then yea go for it but don't expect great IQ. I sold mine and bought a used DA*50-135 for $625. There is NO comparison. Even a mediocre amateur photographer at best like myself can take very nice pictures with that lens. The limited prime lenses like the DA and FA are fantastic. Quality over quantity I say. Buy that one great lens and use it till your hands go numb

Here's a close shot with the DA*50-135


And here's a bit more wider.....


I would get the DA 15 for the wide and either a zoom like the DA*50-135 for portraiture and the like or maybe one of the DA's or FA's in the 43mm to 77mm range. Both could easily be had for less than $1,300 used.


Last edited by Driline; 09-14-2013 at 08:11 AM.
09-14-2013, 10:55 AM   #9
jac
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
-1 for the 18-135 lens.

I guess I'm the one dissenter here. I would not recommend the 18-135. It's only marginally better than the kit 18-55 and has no "Wow" factor. (At least my copy was). If you shoot in inclement weather alot then yea go for it but don't expect great IQ. I sold mine and bought a used DA*50-135 for $625. There is NO comparison. Even a mediocre amateur photographer at best like myself can take very nice pictures with that lens. The limited prime lenses like the DA and FA are fantastic. Quality over quantity I say. Buy that one great lens and use it till your hands go numb

Here's a close shot with the DA*50-135


And here's a bit more wider.....


I would get the DA 15 for the wide and either a zoom like the DA*50-135 for portraiture and the like or maybe one of the DA's or FA's in the 43mm to 77mm range. Both could easily be had for less than $1,300 used.
Having trouble seeing the elements of critique in the two posted examples. DOF/f-stop, exposure and contrast problems in the upper; alignment, shutter speed, contrast in the lower. Both are sharp enough in the center for most purposes. And yes, I love my DA*16-50 and DA*50-135's.
09-14-2013, 12:15 PM   #10
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I'm not sure why no one is giving you the obvious answer:

Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM AF

I don't know that it's weather sealed. I don't think Pentax makes a "fast" weather sealed lens that covers the middle ground (e.g. you need two, 16-50 and 50-150).
09-14-2013, 05:46 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by jac Quote
Having trouble seeing the elements of critique in the two posted examples
Apparently you missed my original post.
QuoteOriginally posted by jac Quote
Even a mediocre amateur photographer at best like myself
09-15-2013, 05:30 AM   #12
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Wow, thanks for all the replies.

I considered the 18-135mm only for a short time and will probably chose something else.

WR is not obligatory, it would be good to have it but I can do without it - I can always take the kit 18-55 for extreme weather.

Here is what is on my list (including price estimate for a new copy in Poland):

SMC Pentax-DA 17-70mm F4 AL [IF] SDM << $640
Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM << $560
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM AF << $1000
Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 AF XR Di LD Macro SP << $470
and
DA 15mm Limited << $875

The SMC looks worse than both Sigma's in the tests.

Has anybody used both Sigmas mentioned? The price difference is considerable is the image quality also that big?

Also nobody mentioned Tamron 28-75mm. It looks good in the reviews but did not have a chance to have any of the Tamrons in hand so I don;t know how they feel.

Did anyone have a chance to ise the Tamron 28-75mm and Sigma 17-70mm and can share some thoughts?

I am leaning towards Sigma 24-70mm now but also considering buying both Tamron 28-75mm and the 15mm limited.
09-15-2013, 06:12 AM   #13
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I have a Tamron 28 - 75 2.8 coming in next week and now own a Sigma 17 - 70 2.8-4.5 . if you haven't made a decision I will try to help you out

Cheers and good luck with your search

Randy
09-15-2013, 06:44 AM   #14
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I have 3 of the mentioned lenses above.

-Sigma 17-70 is a very good workhorse (I have the old version bought as an upgrade from the old da18-55), the range is very usefull as a walkaround and being F2.8 at the lower end is good for indoors. It is reasonably sharp but it also has distortion (17-19mm). But this is unavoidable in zoomlenses with this kind of reach. I`ve bought this lens second hand around 5 years ago and it`s my most trusted travelcompanion. It delivers in 90% of the cases, only real macro or tele isn`t an option.

-smc DA* 16-50: This is a great piece of glass (if you don`t worry about the SDM). Colors, sharpness and rendering are all A+, defenately a big step up from the kitlens. IQ is also much better than the Sigma17-70 but it is shorter. It produces some nasty flares from time to time but if used correct IQ does have a little magic to it.

-smc DA15 limited: Being a wide angle prime it`s totally different then the other 2, I use it mostly for landscapes. It has little distortion, sharpness is good for a WA and IQ is pretty darn good. Being a limited it also has it fair share of pixiedust
It has some CA but nothing that can`t be corrected in post. It`s small and has a terrible screw-on lenscap which I replaed with an old 49mm pinch-type.
It`s was expensive but I only regret not buying it earier.
09-15-2013, 08:41 AM   #15
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Of the lenses you listed, I have had the Tamron 28-75 and the Pentax 17-70.

I actually bought the Pentax to replace the Tamron. I ran the Tamron alongside the Pentax 16-45 to cover the wideangle, but I really wanted a lens that combined the reach of those 2 lenses and was willing to sacrifice speed at the time. It's more expensive than the Sigma, but I like it a lot. Though I have heard the Sigma is just as good, and it's a bit faster at the wide end. However, I believe the Tamron is superior in terms of sharpness, especially stopped down (that's where the extra stop comes in handy). But I have no regrets swapping it for the 17-70. That range was so much more convenient to me.

As for the 18-135: it's smaller and lighter, has weathersealing and a greater range, but it's not as fast; I believe it's already near f/5.6 at 70mm. Plus, according to some reviews, after 70mm its performance in the corners leaves something (a lot?) to be desired. So I decided to stick with my 17-70 for those reasons. Besides, I already had the 55-300 for the longer end.

I still have the 17-70 (and 55-300). Although right now I also have the DA* 16-50 and 50-135s. So I may end up selling the 17-70. But I'm not there yet.

Keep in mind though, that any zoom lens will distort at the wide angle. But it's easily correctable in e.g. Lightroom. This is actually where I feel non-100% viewfinders may be better: you lose a bit of the frame anyway when you correct for distortion. But I digress.
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