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09-17-2014, 11:06 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Spyhopper Quote
I am in the market for a new zoom lens - something with a good range (very wide angle <20mm up to around 200mm), sharp, and somewhat fast with good bokeh. Any strong suggestions? I am semi-professional and looking for something of good quality. There are so many back-and-forths out there in lens reviews, but I am just wondering what people are really in love with. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

P.S. I shoot with a Pentax K5iis.
QuoteOriginally posted by Spyhopper Quote
I have the 55-300mm which I use quite a bit, but it's not wide enough. I've looked at the 18-135 quite a lot (it would work quite well for me), but have heard mixed reviews on it. Thoughts on that?
Let's be realistic, for $600 it is just not happening. You say you want sharpest and fastest? The sharpest and fastest 300mm lens starts at $2500 and goes up from there. A sharp fast zoom to 300mm? Well there's only one for the Pentax mount, the Sigma 100-300 F4 and that is a rare beast but will cost you $1000+ if you can find it. I own both the DA55-300 and the Sigma and I can tell you unequivocally the Sigma beats the DA into submission, its in a different league.

You want a sharp fast UWA? That alone will be minimum $300 and that will get you to 50mm if you go with the Tamron or Sigma 17-50. Wider? Well the Sigma 10-20 costs $400 plus. If you want pro results from 20-300mm, you need to buy 2-3 lenses, one lens at a time and be prepared to probably triple that budget.

If you want to know what is in my kit: Sigma 10-20/Tamron 17-50/Sigma 20-40/Sigma 70 Macro/FA50 Macro/FA100 Macro/Sigma 100-300 - That's my "Go everywhere be prepared for anything, all stuffed in one bag" kit.

Other lenses I would consider would be the DA*60-250 or finding a discontinued Sigma 70-200 and/or Sigma 50-150.

That's a lot more than $600 worth of glass and as a self described "semi-pro" myself, these are really MY only options. This is based on nearly 10 years of buying/selling/using/testing lenses to fit my shooting style and IQ needs.

The real question should have been, "I have $600 and I want to start building my pro level kit, what do I buy first?" - the easy answer then is something in the 10-50mm range. And the options have all been mentioned (Sigma/Tamron 17-50 a Sigma 10-20 or maybe a used DA* 16-50) that's all that's in that price range unless you find discontinued glass somewhere. Regarding the 18-135, its slightly better than a kit lens as far as I'm concerned, so it should not be in a "pro" kit unless you are hiking Mt Everest and can only carry one lens.


Last edited by nomadkng; 09-17-2014 at 11:34 AM.
09-17-2014, 01:55 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Spyhopper Quote
I am in the market for a new zoom lens - something with a good range (very wide angle <20mm up to around 200mm), sharp, and somewhat fast with good bokeh. Any strong suggestions? I am semi-professional and looking for something of good quality. There are so many back-and-forths out there in lens reviews, but I am just wondering what people are really in love with. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

P.S. I shoot with a Pentax K5iis.
My vote would be for tamron 17-50 or Sigma 17-50. Alternative would be 16-45 or 17-70. I picked the former due to a possibility of AF motor failure on 17-70.

For telephoto your only choice is probably 55-300mm which is ok, roughly similar to a kit lens, except on the wide setting where it's roughly similar to 16-45 imho.
Less common choice would be a SMC-F 35-135 F3.5-4.5, which has an advantage of being reasonably fast and very cheap. For longer range FA 100-300 F4.7-5.6 is a good one too.

I am on a budget too, and these were my choices with prices:
10-20 F4-5.6 ($300)
16-45 DA ($189)
28mm Sigma mini wide F2.8 II, manual ($29)
40mm DA ltd ($230)
55-300 DA-L ($189)
55mm F1.8 SMC Tak ($25)
90mm F2.8 Tamron macro ($199)

Ranking: 40mm DA > 90mm F2.8 > 16-45mm > 55mm F1.8 > 10-20mm F4-5.6 > 55-300mm > 18-55mm WR (sold).
Not sure about the 28mm, waiting for it to ship.

Last edited by rrstuff; 09-17-2014 at 02:02 PM.
09-17-2014, 02:12 PM   #18
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Lenses are all about compromises, and finding a long zoom, sharp, fast lens under $600? Thats a tall order. I've got the DA 18-135, and I was originally really worried because of all the negative reviews. However, I actually really like it. It is definitely soft in the corners, but the center is surprisingly sharp for such a long zoom range, and the bokeh is quite nice, despite being on the slow end. The only other issue I've had with it is CA's but that's not too much a problem with most photo editors.
I also have some experience with the Sigma 18-250. Its doesn't handle as nicely, but image quality is comparable and you get a more versatile range and closer focus. That said, the bokeh tends to be very busy on it, and I prefer my DA 18-135 over all.
09-17-2014, 02:28 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by nomadkng Quote
Well there's only one for the Pentax mount, the Sigma 100-300 F4 and that is a rare beast but will cost you $1000+ if you can find it. I own both the DA55-300 and the Sigma and I can tell you unequivocally the Sigma beats the DA into submission, its in a different league.
As a former owner of an excellent copy of the Sigma Ex DG 100-300mm f4, I can echo the above statement. Dhe Da 55-300 (a not always but often underrated lens) is an great (dare i say amazing lens) for its price range. I think it outperforms the Tamron and Sigma offerings in its category (70-300mm). It would not be fair to compare the Sigma 100-300mm f4 to the Da 55-300mm because right now the Sigma is 7-8x as expensive (and 130-140% better IQ wise if one can even make such a statement) If you're on a budget of $400 or less, the Da 55-300mm is best choice. (equal to the Sigma 120-400mm dare I say) The Sigma 100-300mm sits with the Da* 60-250mm in terms of IQ and price.

09-17-2014, 04:42 PM   #20
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I'll agree with most out here... 2 zooms minimum.

Wide end - Pentax 16-50 ($$$$), Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4 or 17-50 f/2.8 or Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 (Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 if you're going longer)
Tele end - Pentax 50-135 f/2.8 or 60-250 f/4, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8

I have the old Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC. Its a 'decent' walkabout / utilitarian lens, but not the sharpest or fastest lens it the toolbox.

On the 'not so sharp/fast' but affordable...

Sigma 18-250mm (not fast)
Pentax 18-55 + 55-300 (L)
Pentax 18-270 (not really affordable)
18-55mm + a Sigma/Tamron 70-200mm (slow) - purple monster.

Here's the cheapest...
https://www.keh.com/242734/kiron-28-210mm-f-4-5-6-macro-a-manual-focus-lens-...tax-k-mount-72

Last edited by formercanuck; 09-17-2014 at 04:52 PM.
09-17-2014, 05:57 PM   #21
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Another one too look for is Sigma 75-200 F3.8. Reasonably fast and $150 if you are lucky on ebay.
09-17-2014, 08:54 PM   #22
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If I were you, I'd spend my budget on primes. Get the Sigma 30/1.4 or the Pentax 35/2.4 and the Pentax 50/1.8, add in the 55-300 used for a couple hundred more. If 30's not wide enough, save up for the DA21 or 15 Limited.
09-18-2014, 03:05 PM   #23
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You have a budget. You also already own the 55-300 which is a very reasonable performer in the medium to long tele range. With your budget anyone recommending the (16-50 mea culpa - this is available used in the price range) , the 60-250, etc isn't paying attention. There are fantastic lenses all over the map but out of your budget - so stop worrying over those choices they don't fit. As for the 17-70 options, take a look here: Re: Pentax 17-70 f4 or 18-135 WR: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review for what appears to be a well informed opinion from someone who owns or has owned several of the options in that focal length. He prefers the 18-135 hands down over the Pentax 17-70 and dislikes the other 17-70's for various reasons.

I think there are three... er, four... really great choices you can make with your budget:

1) Get the 18-135 and enjoy. It will not be money wasted. Even with a great prime like my F100 f/2.8 Macro I still shoot my 18-135 more than any other lens I have. Please note that in this basic range I have a DA 18-55 (series 1), an F 35-135, an F 100 f/2.8 Macro, an A* 85 f/1.4, an M 50 f/2, an FA 80-320, a DA 50-200... and still I shoot most pictures with the 18-135 because it is simple, light, has great color rendition, good center sharpness, is weather resistant, etc.

2) Get an 18-55 WR or series II used and save the money until you determine what focal length is your favorite and then buy a prime in that range or an upgraded zoom that covers that range well. You'll have to swap lenses more often due to the lack of overlap between the two lenses but it covers the same range and saves money. The 18-55 WR is considered a very good kit lens - much better than the Cannon or Nikon kit lenses.

3) Wait to see what the new 16-85 will cost and hope you can afford it. It is likely to be on par with the existing options or better and it will be a nice quiet speedy focusing lens like the 18-135. You will get a little wider field of view but a slightly bulkier lens. https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/16-pentax-news-rumors/273213-16-85-vs-18-...ml#post2943647

4) As above but buy a 16-50 f/2.8 used.


Last edited by UncleVanya; 09-19-2014 at 12:59 PM.
09-18-2014, 03:41 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by bradshea Quote
With your budget anyone recommending the 16-50, the 60-250, etc isn't paying attention.
Ummmm My DA*16-50 cost me $600. Used.... its within his budget. The only "new" lens I ever purchased was the FA 43. So if you're willing to buy used you can afford it.
09-18-2014, 08:49 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by Spyhopper Quote
I have the 55-300mm which I use quite a bit, but it's not wide enough. I've looked at the 18-135 quite a lot (it would work quite well for me), but have heard mixed reviews on it. Thoughts on that?
+1 for ditching the single zoom lens idea. Not sure you'd get many jobs with a bridge camera, no matter how convenient it would be for you!

You're semi-professional, with only a $600 budget? If you've got that longer end covered, you can get the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 for the other.

Then start saving, and at some stage get the 70-200 f2.8 and you'll have a fine two zoom lens lineup ... Weddings R Us!
09-19-2014, 12:57 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
Ummmm My DA*16-50 cost me $600. Used.... its within his budget. The only "new" lens I ever purchased was the FA 43. So if you're willing to buy used you can afford it.
Ooops! I looked for pricing and forgot to check to see if they were new or used. You are right used that lens may sell around his budget price. The f/2.8 is a real draw and the lens is pretty well respected. That is a great option 4 - much like waiting on the 16-85 pricing but with better low light performance. That still leaves a small gap between 50-55mm so my thoughts on the lack of overlap in the lens ranges applies to this combo but it's probably one of the top choices to make if you really want to get better low light performance.
01-28-2015, 03:34 PM   #27
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I have the Tamron 18-250 i bought while in Thailand while traveling there.. It's been a great lens.
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