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07-01-2014, 01:13 AM   #1
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High grade lense advice

Hi,
I bought Macro 100WR a couple months ago and I'm totally spoiled by its IQ (not only macro capability) - so any of my lenses doesn't perform as good as this nice glass.
After I recently sold some of my unused equipement, I changed mi mind about spending my funds (originally saved for new body). Now, I'm interested in purchase some high quality lens.
I have a "travel kit": 18-135WR and 55-300WR. I have also a Fish Eye (thanks to Your advice and don't regret it).
And I have DA 35 2.4 and Macro 100WR for times, when I'm preferring uncompromised quality instead of versatility. And I have some nice old glasses too (50, 135). My budget is about up to $1200 - and I don't think that I would spend such money in future just for lens/lenses So I would take extreme care about selection this lens/lenses.

I would ask You for recommendations of some high quality lenses which will perform superb IQ and handling on k-5ii even on a new 24 Mpix sensors (in case of future body update).

I don't care about FF, I'm satisfied with APS-C.
I don't need long tele, I'm shooting wildlife only occasionally.
I'm often shooting closeups, but often is 100mm too much.
I don't know - primes or quality zoom? I don't mind changing lenses. But some type of WR will be bonus.

Is for example DA*50-135 worth primes in such FL? And what about SDM?
And what about 20-40WR limited? It will save me of buying 21 and 40?
Or is best way to go with primes?
Or something from sigma or tammy?
I prefere buying new, becouse used market in our country is near to nonexist for Pentax brand.

Thanks for all recommandations.

07-01-2014, 01:49 AM   #2
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Primes or zoom - that's really a question only you can answer. I prefer primes for "joy" shooting but zooms when travelling (so like you, versatile and not too heavy zooms). Some prefer high quality zooms over primes.

Be that as it may. You say "closeups" - as in macro/near macro, or as in e.g. portraits? For macro I suppose the DFA50 (or an older 50 macro) would fit the bill. For portrait may like the DA*55 (for WR as well), or a DA70 or FA77. The 50-135 is also very, very good, but big and heavy if that is a concern. The SDM problems are supposed to have been fixed now, so if you buy new anyway it shouldn't be a problem.

20-40 vs 21 and 40 is again a matter of preference in my view. I would choose the primes because I like primes better, others would prefer the versatility and WR of the zoom despite some extra weight. I think both would fulfil your quality needs, although I have never tried the 20-40.

Some of the lenses from Sigma and Tamron are also very good and somewhat less expensive. I think the main difference here is that they render the images slightly different from most Pentax lenses. Again a matter of preference.

A Tamron 17-50/2.8 is quite a lot cheaper than a DA*16-50, and some would say it's better (or at least sharper). But I don't think anyone will claim that a Sigma/Tamron 70-200/2.8 is better then the 50-135 - people seem to like that one very much.
07-01-2014, 02:03 AM   #3
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There are a lot of debates about zoom vs prime lenses. For me, it is a no-story. I use zoom lenses when I need versatility. I use prime lenses when I can move about my subject and want to the best/highest shots. A zoom lens is extremely versatile and useful in many occasions. But it can make me lazy and I shot my best photographs with primes.

Back to the OP' title:
-The FA Limited primes are outstanding lenses and highly regarded beyond the Pentax world. They are "High grade lenses". Everyone loves the FA31mm and this is fully justified. I have also the FA77mm and it is a great lens, although it took me times to get used to. The FA43mm is highly regarded.

-Generally Pentax offers marvellous prime lenses incl. legacy lenses. Some old prime lenses are very well regarded although they are do not need to be expensive.

-Do you need WR lenses? In the affirmative, the DA* series is worth to consider. The DA*55mm is very well considered for example.

-If there is no Pentax second market in your country, you may consider reputed 2nd hand dealers: adorama.com, keh.com. There are also some reputed Japanese 2nd hand photo store, on ebay. And... there is the PF marketplace.

My 5 cents....
07-01-2014, 02:09 AM   #4
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I would go with primes if your main focus is image quality. IMO, these lenses are truly exceptional "no compromise" lenses when it comes to IQ:
-DA 35mm macro
-FA 31mm limited
-FA 77mm limited
-Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art
-DA 15mm limited
-DA* 300mm
-DA* 55mm
-Sigma 85mm F1.4 macro
-DFA 100mm macro (which you already have )

I'd recommend browsing through the lens reviews to see what other users and our staff think:
In-Depth Camera and Lens Reviews | K-3, K-5 IIs, 645D, DA Series
Pentax Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database


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07-01-2014, 02:43 AM   #5
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Since you don't mind changing lenses and only are after truly high quality image, obviously go for primes then. Don't overlook long teles, as they're not exclusively for wildlives. You can also do some fantastic portraits with them, in certain conditions. You are "often shooting closeups, but often is 100mm too much". Seems to me like you are missing the fabulous HD DA 35/2.8 Limited then! This is not a WR lens and very noisy one indeed. Sometimes even causing underexposures on my 5IIs. But, nevertheless, this is the undoubtly high quality glass, so extremely handsome (mine in silver) and macro. You will love field of view of it, an equivalent to the standard 50mm on full frame. You will also love current pricing on Pentax lenses, to mention the SRS Microsystems website at least. Saying this I think you just need DA* 55/1.4!

Last edited by Dariusz; 07-01-2014 at 02:51 AM.
07-01-2014, 02:54 AM   #6
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Well, your stated objectives are roughly in line with my own (as is your timing); and so I have been deliberating this question pretty intensely, as well, in recent months (and making acquisitions of the resulting targets). I'm going to refrain from outlining a complete strategy, since my own plan needs to play out at this point.

But I can say that most of my agonies have centered around what is now (following recent additions) the 'gap' in prime lens options between my DA•15mm and FA•31mm Limiteds. In my case, I define this gap in terms of a relatively uncompromised prime lens (preferentially) for landscape and such. I am going with the FA•20mm/2.8 over the DA•21mm, given my own principal objectives (as a sort of "last resort"... until the next last resort 😄 )... and I plugged a nicely compact Tamron 17-50mm/2.8 into that gap, as well. We'll see how this works out; but coming into this (with a wide intervening time gap) from film photography, I need to be persuaded of the ultimate performance of the zooms.

I do appreciate, however, the strong points in their favor these days... which Is another reason why I finally decided not to economize on the infamous "walkaround" lens below the practical grade of the Tamron. Some here grouse a bit about the Tamron's build quality, but I love its size and carry weight advantage (a priority) and would only cite the stiffly 'plastic' zoom action as a concern. However, mine (from owner #1) has zero dust and virtually no sign of use, so I think the zoom ring action actually still needs a breaking in before I can really evaluate that in practical terms. Others have noticed this action improving with use.

The "big one", investment-wise, was the FA•31mm/1.9 Limited; mine came from a medical professional who only had time to use it on two occasions -- so it truly is "as new"... which feels pretty nice! The effective field of view on APS-C (K3) is longer than I would prefer -- I'd personally go for something in a FF-equivalent FL between 36mm and 42mm, given a free choice... since I used to shoot as a 'be there' with a 35mm/f.2 kind of guy in the film era. I finally had to admit to myself that I couldn't find an alternative to the slightly "too long" 31mm which fully met my anticipated needs. Again, now we'll see... I discounted the new Sigma 30mm principally because of the widely reported auto-focus issues on Canon... Nikon... and now Pentax (particularly the inconsistency factor!) and on sample variation concerns. If the FL of this "normal" Sigma introduction had fallen within my preferred range, I might have given it a go-'round, based on the cost factor.

The DA•15mm/4 thread here was pivotal in turning me in that direction, having a beautiful DA•12-24mm iteration in hand; that, plus its potential to do double duty on m4/3 as a kind of all-purpose WA (probably "glued" to f.5.6 or so). In this context, I think the FA•31mm can also be pressed into duty as an ideal MF "long normal" for my little Olympus, as required -- "horses for courses", as the Brits say.

I should add that I'm also looking at a couple of FF, narrow range WA zooms for their potential around 20-28mm nominal FL. Yep, I'm very determined about this. Here's a final point -- I ended up stretching my intended budget; at this juncture, I have tentatively concluded that to do less would represent a false or dubious economy, given my personal set of overall objectives. I'd suggest that you, too, give serious consideration to "giving in" a bit on the budget, if your own objectives leave you with a persistent sense of doubt about lesser options. You can always get there by stages [at what net cost, then, by the end?]: But that nagging sense of having sold oneself short is a bit of a beast. Life is short, and you see that with much more clarity and force when you reach my age. Good luck!

Last edited by Kayaker-J; 07-01-2014 at 03:23 AM.
07-01-2014, 02:58 AM   #7
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definitely primes over zooms. by looking at your lenses, i would get something on the wide side i.e. DA 15mm ltd and also something between the 35mm and the 100mm macro that you already have. i think either go for the DA55mm or DA70mm. another worthy lens (but very expensive) not yet mentioned is the legendary FA 85mm f1.4
07-01-2014, 03:51 AM   #8
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Unless your shooting events where you need the versatility of a fast zoom then primes are definitely the way to go in pentax land.
If your happy with your Da 35 (the limiteds might change your mind) then it looks like you would need a portrait lens like the Da*55 or the Da70 or Fa77 limiteds.
I would also look into a Da 15 or 21 on the wider end for you landscape work.
My fav is my 43ltd, which works nicely with the 21 and 100wr although I miss 70mm for portrait work. I just love wandering around with such lightweight lenses as it makes photography a pleasure!

07-01-2014, 05:45 AM   #9
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Either go with some good primes like the Limiteds or get a good set of zooms, the DA* 16-50 and the DA* 50-135 or DA* 60-250.

The primes will have better IQ for sure but getting a proper set is very expensive (21, 43, 77 for example)

The DA* zooms are pretty impressive (the 50-135 at least) and will give you very good IQ and flexibility
07-01-2014, 05:54 AM   #10
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Thanks for all your advices. There are some nice points and now i can narrow my selection - I will definitively go for some lightweight lenses with own character - so DA* zooms are out of game. I had Tammy 17-50 and I found them not so great at wide end and when i have looked at my pictures, i found, that I'm using it really little times. Maybe it has decent IQ, but simply (don't know how to express that) I don't like shooting with it. Shooting with my other lenses is far much more "fun". And when I'm worried about weather, I will grab my 18-135 WR. I'm not a pro and I don't plan to selling my pictures. But it's my really big hobby. I like shooting with primes. But I was wondering if I have the budget, whether it be a shame not to buy a premium *zoom. After reading your posts, I see that Obviously not

I have spent many hours reading reviews and user reviews here on forum. And I realize that many of DXO charts and photozone.de rewievs and MTF tables aren't too pozitive on pentax side. But I'm not going to shoot testing chart... But it make me quite disoriented.

The only zoom, which I'm now considering, is new 20-40 limited. Its nice, looks built like a tank, has DC and WR. It doesn't like all others zooms. But what about IQ? Reviews are very mixed.

20-40 is about $1000.
For that price I can get DA70ltd($750) and DA501.8 ($175). And will saving for 15ltd($700), 21ltd($700)...
That make primes in line -AF: DA15 ltd, DA21ltd, DA35 2.4, DA50 1.8, DA70ltd DA100WR And MF: cheapo 28mm average 50mm and nice 135mm.

35ltd looks nice, but since I have DA35f2.4 and it's quite good - so a will firstly upgrade FL, that i haven't covered by primes.

FA limiteds seems to be out of my reach. FA 31 is way too expensive for me and FA77? I don't know if it is real improvement from 70ltd. For price diferences I can buy another DA limited. I'm not going to go to FF, if Pentax will bring one, anyway.

Finally, I have this idea:
20-40 ($1000) - if you can consider its IQ is near to primes
DA35 - I already have
DA50 1.8 - ($ 175)
DA70ltd ($750, sometimes used appear here for $450 )
DA100WR - I already have.

It will be under $2000 ($1700) totally - and I can buy piece after piece according my financial situation. Now, I have no more than $1200 (really max).

What do you think?
07-01-2014, 08:51 AM   #11
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I used the DA20-40 for the June Single challenge. Found it to be very capable and useful zoom range for me. Feel free to check out my results in Flickr

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pbkelley/sets/72157644548814377/
07-01-2014, 09:21 AM   #12
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Since you have the 100 macro...and you have everything covered in zooms.. 10-300, to me it's all about primes.

I'd be looking at the 15 ltd or 21 ltd.. either of those would be a great companion to the 18-135, I favoured the 21 because it's faster.
You have the 35 so that covers the next step after those two.
For straight IQ, my guess is the DA*55 , although I use an FA 50 ƒ1.7 and it works fine for me. You could probably get away with the DA version.
I love my Sigma macro 2.8, it's a heavy lens, but a great performer, but made somewhat redundant by your 100 macro.
The competition there is the DA 70, general purpose and the 77 (portrait.) I don't think you can go wrong with any one of those.

My own preference would be to keep the primes as fast as possible so if price is no object... the 77 is ƒ1.8. the DA*55 is 1.4 the 31 is 1.8. I usually think range for zooms, primes for speed, so to me, since you have great range in your zooms, I'd be looking at fast primes.
07-05-2014, 03:44 AM   #13
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Thanks for your recommendations.

Finally, I had bought DA20-40ltd, DA 50 1.8 (and plan to buy 70ltd) but after 2 days of shooting, I found that 20-40 has very unacceptable IQ. Maybe it is a dud, but was only one piece on stock. So, I returned it (and the 50) and spent lot of time by testing lenses in our biggest local shop. I tested all DA limited (they haven't FA limited on stock) and DA* Zooms. And I found (to my surprise), that I like photos on 70mm from DA*50-135 more than photos from 70ltd. This, quiet focusing and AW changed my mind towards this zoom. And on testing: I was not even satisfied with 21ltd (hallo effect on white subjects, CA). And 50mm primes are not too ahead from quality of DA*50-135. 15ltd is nice, but I think its wider then I want. And 40ldt is only one, that I have not tested (too near to 35 on one side and 50 on other). On the other hand, I found 35ltd very nice, with marvelous rendering.

So I checked, that this copy of DA*50-135 was made in 2013 (I hope for corrected SDM) and took it. And started sparing to 35ltd

Thanks all!
07-05-2014, 05:02 AM   #14
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Glad you found something that works for you
07-05-2014, 05:04 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jannis Quote
Thanks for your recommendations.

Finally, I had bought DA20-40ltd, DA 50 1.8 (and plan to buy 70ltd) but after 2 days of shooting, I found that 20-40 has very unacceptable IQ. Maybe it is a dud, but was only one piece on stock. So, I returned it (and the 50) and spent lot of time by testing lenses in our biggest local shop. I tested all DA limited (they haven't FA limited on stock) and DA* Zooms. And I found (to my surprise), that I like photos on 70mm from DA*50-135 more than photos from 70ltd. This, quiet focusing and AW changed my mind towards this zoom. And on testing: I was not even satisfied with 21ltd (hallo effect on white subjects, CA). And 50mm primes are not too ahead from quality of DA*50-135. 15ltd is nice, but I think its wider then I want. And 40ldt is only one, that I have not tested (too near to 35 on one side and 50 on other). On the other hand, I found 35ltd very nice, with marvelous rendering.

So I checked, that this copy of DA*50-135 was made in 2013 (I hope for corrected SDM) and took it. And started sparing to 35ltd

Thanks all!
I find the report of your experience with the Limiteds and the DA* 50-135mm very interesting. I wonder if others here might have arrived at a not too dissimilar perspective. I am curious, though, about this implicit "cut-off" point serial number [?] -wise for getting a potentially less troublesome example of that DA* zoom. I just haven't seen this laid out explicitly in the forums as yet (I'm sure I could have missed a pertinent thread or two predating my own arrival here). As a potential purchaser of a secondhand example, I do have misgivings regarding the issue you mentioned.

I understand completely your feeling that the DA15mm might be too wide for you; but in my own case, it was the users'/enthusiasts thread here which finally demonstrated to me the true versatility and utility of this lens, thus justifying the cost.

As for zoom lenses, as a class they tend to be rather inconsistent sample to sample; and shot to shot, as well. So if you haven't put the practical virtues of the Tamron 17-50mm out of your mind completely, you might at some point consider giving one another go. They aren't selling for a great deal used these days, so having one on hand, given the compact size and low carry weight, might be worth it to you for some applications. That's the view I came to, at least.
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