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12-26-2014, 07:10 AM   #1
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18-135 replacement: DA* 16-50 and 50-135

With the current B&H sale on the DA*16-50, I'm looking at possibly replacing my 18-135 with the DA*16-50 to go along with my DA*50-135 (which I currently have) for my K-3. Anyone else go this route, and either happy with this option or regret missing the 18-135? I am pleased with my copy of the 18-135 and don't know if the IQ on the wide end of the 18-135 is worth replacing with the improved IQ of the 16-50....


Last edited by dcpropilot; 12-26-2014 at 07:17 AM.
12-26-2014, 07:32 AM   #2
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2.8 is 2.8... but if you have a DA* 18-135 you already know what the ƒ2.8 will or won't do for you, so it should be a pretty easy decision. The only reason to get bigger heavier glass, at least from my perspective is to get significantly faster or significantly better. If you shoot a lot of landscape 16mm could be nice as well. The CA numbers are pretty similar between the two (as in pretty bad) , so if you're looking for that prime quality micro-contrast you'll have to go with primes.

But how many times are you going to carry 2 relatively heavy lenses instead of one relatively light one?. That's the big question.
12-26-2014, 07:42 AM   #3
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Yes, I was in your same position last year. I sold my 18-135 to fund a used DA *16-50 with warranty for $610. I also have the DA*50-135 as well. It was a great decision. I don't miss the 18-135 at all. My 18-135 didn't seem much different than the kit lens. Maybe I had a poor copy? Regardless I am very happy with the DA*16-50 and use it quite often. I've never had a weight issue carrying both lenses around. With both theses lenses together there's not much you're gonna miss shooting
12-26-2014, 08:38 AM   #4
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Never owned the 18-135, but I replaced my 18-250 with the 16-50 and 50-135 and have been happy with the results. The 16-50 needs to be stopped down at the wide end to get the best out of it, but at the wide end you're typically stopping down for depth of field anyway. At the long end I've found it quite good wide open.

12-26-2014, 08:59 AM   #5
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How often do you jump back and forth between the 18 and 135 ends of your 18-135? If you do so frequently consider keeping the 18-135 to avoid too many lens changes. On the other hand, if you spend the day shooting mostly long or mostly wide, then the two lens 16-50 and 50-135 combo might be good for you.

I only have the DA* 16-50 of the 3 lenses you mentioned. It's my most frequently used lens. The extra 2mm width beyond an 18-whatever lens comes in very handy in cities and other tight spaces.
12-26-2014, 10:59 AM   #6
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I have both the DA* 16-50 and 50-135. I've gotten great results with both lenses, particularly the 50-135. And one can't argue with the usefulness of a constant f/2.8 aperture. But make no mistake: Both lenses are big and heavy. If that's not an issue for you and you don't think you'll be changing lenses too often, as DeadJohn writes above, then go for it. But take this for what it's worth: I purchased an 18-135 on sale well after I had the 16-50 and 50-135 simply because I got tired of the size and weight of both lenses. I still have them and still use them - but only occasionally. The 18-135 is what I'll use as a walking around lens if the shooting isn't critical in nature. I got into the DA Limited primes for the same reason and use them the most. YMMV. Good luck!
12-26-2014, 11:14 AM - 2 Likes   #7
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The only reasons to use the 18-135 is either to save money or space in a travel bag or being in a position where you can't change lenses, or, as pointed out above, you need to save weight.

No matter what it's most ardent defenders say, (ahem), it is a kit lens. It's IQ and light-gathering abilities simply cannot compete with the better lenses. One need only look at samples posted right here on this site to confirm that. It amazes me sometimes what some people will hold up as "great results" from the 18-135 that are obviously less than stellar. Have I seen some good shots with it? Absolutely. Is that the Norm? No. There have been some excellent, even award-winning shots with the lowly 18-55, too, but you're unlikely to get reliably great shots from either.

Many will say that's where skill comes into it, and they are not entirely wrong, but if it was only about skill, then why do most pros spend so much on the very best lenses available? Because better lenses "get out of your way" and allow you to just focus on capturing the shot instead of having to work around the limitations of the lens. Doing that can be a fun diversion or exercise every once in a while, but it gets old if you have to do it all the time.

Having said that, the 18-135 certainly has it's place. If any of the those first four scenarios apply to you, then it may be a great choice.
12-26-2014, 12:57 PM   #8
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You already got good advice. I would suggest another path: the newer DA16-85mm WR. Personally I would wait to read the PF in-detph review (and I understand that Adam has a copy already of the lens in testing). If the review is conclusive, the DA16-85mm would provide you a wider angle option while providing some overlap with the DA*50-135mm, and still retain WR.

My 5 cents....

12-26-2014, 02:05 PM   #9
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I came from the DA17-70 (which I liked) rather than the 18-135 before the DA*16-50. I'd put it off too long - quite frankly, I should have done it sooner.

The IQ is good enough that I don't feel like I'm "missing out" if the situation calls for a zoom rather than primes. And since it's also WR, that makes it a great all-rounder. While I still use primes more often, it can be incredibly convenient to have a zoom you need to change the angle of view quickly (e.g. when walking around photographing a house/yard as it's being remodeled).


QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
The only reason to get bigger heavier glass, at least from my perspective is to get significantly faster or significantly better. If you shoot a lot of landscape 16mm could be nice as well. The CA numbers are pretty similar between the two (as in pretty bad) , so if you're looking for that prime quality micro-contrast you'll have to go with primes.
Norm is correct. I've never looked at the CA numbers, but the CA/PF was visibly noticeable as soon as I got the lens. I'd been using only primes within its FL range for a while, so when I took my first test shots (mostly within a stop of wide-open) I noticed it right away. That's when I realized it was just the cost of having a wide-to-standard zoom capability - IQ simply wasn't going to match the primes. But when I stepped back and considered the overall appearance and IQ I was getting from the lens, it was still very good. So I'm still pleased with the lens and the results I get from it. I do, however, find that I tend to be a little more conservative in my aperture choice because of its characteristics. I often stay between f/3.5 and f/5, whereas with a quality (e.g. Pentax branded) f/2.8 prime I'd shoot between f/3.2 and f/4 a lot.



In the overall mix, the compromises with the DA*16-50 still make for a more than satisfactory lens. And for me that's saying something - because I didn't find any other zoom solution that was satisfactory.
12-26-2014, 02:43 PM   #10
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The 3 lenses you mentioned here are for different purposes. I have all 3 of them. The 18-135 WR is the lens you want if you are going to do outdoor shots and don't want to carry extra baggages. The pair of DA* lenses are mainly for indoor shots (often with or without flashes) such as events and stage photography, and I do a lot of them. I don't think you should replace one of the other, just get them all.
12-26-2014, 02:44 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by DogLover Quote
No matter what it's most ardent defenders say, (ahem), it is a kit lens.
Ahem......LOL
12-26-2014, 02:51 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by DogLover Quote
The only reasons to use the 18-135 is either to save money or space in a travel bag or being in a position where you can't change lenses, or, as pointed out above, you need to save weight.

No matter what it's most ardent defenders say, (ahem), it is a kit lens. It's IQ and light-gathering abilities simply cannot compete with the better lenses. One need only look at samples posted right here on this site to confirm that. It amazes me sometimes what some people will hold up as "great results" from the 18-135 that are obviously less than stellar. Have I seen some good shots with it? Absolutely. Is that the Norm? No. There have been some excellent, even award-winning shots with the lowly 18-55, too, but you're unlikely to get reliably great shots from either.

Many will say that's where skill comes into it, and they are not entirely wrong, but if it was only about skill, then why do most pros spend so much on the very best lenses available? Because better lenses "get out of your way" and allow you to just focus on capturing the shot instead of having to work around the limitations of the lens. Doing that can be a fun diversion or exercise every once in a while, but it gets old if you have to do it all the time.

Having said that, the 18-135 certainly has it's place. If any of the those first four scenarios apply to you, then it may be a great choice.
I agree with this post. I've seen a couple of winners with the 18-135, but as someone who is very active with the wheeling and dealing of lenses (approaching lens #50!), I've never been compelled to own a 18-135 because it never seemed like a super lens to me.

Now, for the OP. I've owned both the 16-50 and the 50-135. The 16-50 was kind of meh. A little soft wide open to me, and it was also just really big and cumbersome (HUGE hood). I currently own the Tamron 17-50 and I've found it to be much better from an ergonomics and IQ standpoint.

The 50-135 on the other hand is a SMASHING lens. Sharp wide open, extremely versatile. Its large size is totally worth the output you get from it. I regret selling mine, and I'm probably going to get another one of those next year.

Bonus - The Tamron 17-50 and the 50-135 share the same filter size.
12-26-2014, 03:51 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by EarlVonTapia Quote
I agree with this post. I've seen a couple of winners with the 18-135, but as someone who is very active with the wheeling and dealing of lenses (approaching lens #50!), I've never been compelled to own a 18-135 because it never seemed like a super lens to me.

Now, for the OP. I've owned both the 16-50 and the 50-135. The 16-50 was kind of meh. A little soft wide open to me, and it was also just really big and cumbersome (HUGE hood). I currently own the Tamron 17-50 and I've found it to be much better from an ergonomics and IQ standpoint.

The 50-135 on the other hand is a SMASHING lens. Sharp wide open, extremely versatile. Its large size is totally worth the output you get from it. I regret selling mine, and I'm probably going to get another one of those next year.

Bonus - The Tamron 17-50 and the 50-135 share the same filter size.
I agree with your post right back!

The 16-50 was always a decent lens to me, but never as impressive as the 50-135. I went another way when I replaced it, though. I always found myself wanting a tad more reach and was willing to give up some on the wide end to get it, so i got a Sigma 24-70 instead and it has worked out to be the right lens for me. Downside is that it's another huge lens. I stick the DA15 in my pocket if I think there's a chance I might need a really wide shot, but I usually go without and it works out fine. I use it primarily for event stuff and it excels at that.
12-26-2014, 04:27 PM   #14
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I've owned a few average/mediocre zooms before and have learned that it's worth the extra cost - despite the inconvenience of having to switch lenses - in order to get better, or in this case, amazing image quality with the DA* lenses. So even though I've toyed with the idea of having an all-in-one solution like the DA 18-135, I know I would have fewer tack-sharp shots than switching between my DA* 16-50 and 50-135 lenses. When I'm trying to capture a memory, second-best just doesn't cut it for me. It's better to spend a few extra hundred dollars than to have even more regrets.
12-27-2014, 07:23 AM   #15
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Thanks everyone for the advice. I don't know if I can swing the $900 this year, after getting the k-3 within the last couple of weeks. I guess the prices jump drastically after new years (from what I read). But, hopefully the price will stay down until January/February when I can afford to make the purchase. If not, I'll have to either wait until next Christmas or perhaps buy used sooner than that...
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