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03-12-2015, 09:01 AM   #1
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Covering mid range, prime vs zoom

Started looking at what focal length we are using the most. It seems the mid 20mm to around 70mm is the go to for roughly 80% of the keepers. I have a 18-135, but want to try out some better glass.
I was going to pick up a DA50 1.8 and a DA32 2.4 while they are on sale. Then I started looking at the FA43 1.9ltd. Will the 43 cover those two focal lengths or will I be always in the middle and never quite right?
The I started looking at the Sigma 24-70 2.8 SMC, the focal length is perfect, but it has mixed reviews. I also LOVE the Pentax color rendering and don't want to loose that.
What say you, wise Pentaxians?

03-12-2015, 09:21 AM - 1 Like   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by nonstopnick Quote
Started looking at what focal length we are using the most. It seems the mid 20mm to around 70mm is the go to for roughly 80% of the keepers. I have a 18-135, but want to try out some better glass.
I was going to pick up a DA50 1.8 and a DA32 2.4 while they are on sale. Then I started looking at the FA43 1.9ltd. Will the 43 cover those two focal lengths or will I be always in the middle and never quite right?
The I started looking at the Sigma 24-70 2.8 SMC, the focal length is perfect, but it has mixed reviews. I also LOVE the Pentax color rendering and don't want to loose that.
What say you, wise Pentaxians?
I would say two lenses are going to do a better job than one in the middle. But the 43 is a special lens character-wise. I'm hoping for a refresh with DC motor and HD coating when the FF comes out. The 50 and 35 are the cheapest lenses, especially on sale, and they are both fantastic. But there is the inconvenience of changing lenses which, depending on what you shoot, might not be a problem.

The sigma 24-70 is a good lens. I haven't used it but I do have several other sigma lenses that are fantastic. I think the main complaint against the sigma is that, like many other f/2.8 lenses, it needs to be stopped down to get sharp. If you can live with f/3.5 as the widest usable aperture, then it would probably be your best bet.
03-12-2015, 09:40 AM   #3
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The other thought is the Sigma 17-50 2.8, to get most of what I need, but I get conflicting reviews on its sharpness wide open as well.
03-12-2015, 09:40 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by nonstopnick Quote
Then I started looking at the FA43 1.9ltd. Will the 43 cover those two focal lengths or will I be always in the middle and never quite right?
Hmmm... I've had the 18-135 and know what you mean. I've also owned the plastic fantastic DA 35 2.4, its nice and sharp but flat without that nice rendering the FA limiteds give you. The FA 43 was my first limited lens purchase. It's light years ahead of the zoom and also renders pictures better than either of the DA's. The 43 would replace the 50, but the 35 is a bit wider. I'd get the 43 anyway because of the IQ and pixie dust it creates

FA 43



03-12-2015, 09:42 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by nonstopnick Quote
I have a 18-135, but want to try out some better glass.
what is your definition of better?
what would you like to be improved? what apperture (fx.y) are your shoots for the 25-70mm range. what are you shooting (landscape, people, etc.)? where is your subject close or far?

i would buy all of them ;-) (severe LBA)
03-12-2015, 09:49 AM   #6
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What about the new DA 16-85?
03-12-2015, 10:07 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by max_pyne Quote
what is your definition of better?
what would you like to be improved? what apperture (fx.y) are your shoots for the 25-70mm range. what are you shooting (landscape, people, etc.)? where is your subject close or far?

i would buy all of them ;-) (severe LBA)
My particular 18-135 is sharp at the long end, but less so below 70mm.
We live in a ranch, so most of our "at home" shooting is livestock, dogs, kids - call it "life on the farm photo journalism". In fact, you can go to our web site and see a lot of photos: havenranch.weebly.com

I would like a brighter lens(es) possibly with more charictor and dimensional rendering.

What's important to my wife, who is not a camera buff but quite talented with a camera, is a sharp lens that's accurate, and a fast auto focus.

---------- Post added 03-12-15 at 10:09 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
What about the new DA 16-85?
Great focal range, but not fast enough.
03-12-2015, 10:16 AM   #8
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DA 40 XS f/2.8 might be a nice option. It's dirt cheap and slightly wider than the 43. Trying it would be cheap and if you didn't like it - sell it.

03-12-2015, 10:17 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by max_pyne Quote
what is your definition of better?
I would agree with this question.

I purchased the 18-135 mainly to cover 20-60 mm with a WR lens at an affordable price. I think my copy has very good optical qualities in that range. As others in the forum have mentioned, the lens is robust, has a quick, postitive focus, and it's relatively compact for its FL range.

"Better" might mean faster apertures, absolute sharpness across the frame, smaller, lighter, or all of these. But a 35 mm lens or a 43 are not wide angles, and 50 mm isn't a telephoto. It's the usual trade off - several excellent single focal length lenses vs a single zoom that has slightly less appeal optically.

You might find the 43 Ltd to be too "limited." as a single-lens solution. I would recommend re-considering your 18-135 (i.e., what don't you like about it?), or consider one of the zooms mentioned here.

Edit: OP posted some anwers in Post #7. Perhaps ignore my comment on the 18-135.


- Craig

Last edited by c.a.m; 03-12-2015 at 10:22 AM. Reason: Comment on OP's post #7
03-12-2015, 10:31 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by nonstopnick Quote
Great focal range, but not fast enough.
Then DA*16-50 or one of the 17-70's either Pentax or Sigma. Or wait until fall and get the DFA*24-70
03-12-2015, 10:45 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Then DA*16-50 or one of the 17-70's either Pentax or Sigma. Or wait until fall and get the DFA*24-70
DFA*24-70?!!!!!

Don't tease me like that!
03-12-2015, 10:50 AM   #12
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If you want the best get the DA or FA limiteds. They cover your range and are about as good as it gets. Of course you have to change lenses when you are shooting those primes.

Otherwise, the zooms mentioned are a good option, but I'd also note that with the exception of the unknown DFA* lens just mentioned above, the other zoom options aren't necessarily going to give you performance that is miles ahead of what you have already with the 18-135. The 18-135 is definitely better than your average kit lens. I have it and a Tamron 17-50, which is about as good as a standard zoom lens can get (comparable to the DA*16-50 and the 17-70's). They are good lenses, but the difference between them and the 18-135 is not often enough to make me leave the 18-135 at home.

In other words, if I am looking for the convenience of shooting a zoom, I generally stick with the 18-135 unless I know I won't need anything beyond 50 mm or if I know I'll be carrying another telephoto lens anyway. But, I'm more than willing to limit myself to a kit of all primes and make them work (zoom with my feet) when it really matters. If I want quality I choose primes instead of zooms. In those cases I usually pick two of the following (15, 21, 31, 43) and make it work. Occasionally I'll take the 77 mm with me in addition or take a different third lens.
03-12-2015, 11:07 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by nonstopnick Quote
My particular 18-135 is sharp at the long end, but less so below 70mm.
We live in a ranch, so most of our "at home" shooting is livestock, dogs, kids - call it "life on the farm photo journalism". In fact, you can go to our web site and see a lot of photos: havenranch.weebly.com

I would like a brighter lens(es) possibly with more charictor and dimensional rendering.

What's important to my wife, who is not a camera buff but quite talented with a camera, is a sharp lens that's accurate, and a fast auto focus.

---------- Post added 03-12-15 at 10:09 AM ----------



Great focal range, but not fast enough.
Sounds like the FA 43 would make a great lens for you then. Impeccable IQ, nice rendering and very sharp.
03-12-2015, 11:23 AM   #14
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The question of whether one lens will give you want you want would need you to go back and further analyse your keepers, as the way to 'zoom' with a prime is to use your legs.

So, could you have 'zoomed' by changing your position relative to the subjects?
03-12-2015, 11:30 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by nonstopnick Quote
Then I started looking at the FA43 1.9ltd. Will the 43 cover those two focal lengths or will I be always in the middle and never quite right?
I use the FA*24, FA*85, and F*300 primes the most.

So the FA*24 and the FA77 or FA*85 would be a good choice. I don't need focal lengths in the middle as much. Some others have found the same thing, and you might too.


But if zoom is desired, the DA17-70 or DA*16-50 (or maybe Tokina AT-X 280 AF PRO 28-80mm f/2.8 or Tamron 28-75/2.8) are good solutions until the next "more perfect" zoom comes along. The prices are pretty reasonable compared to a couple of premium primes (even the DA*16-50, if you get it used). But it's hard to beat a zoom when you want very good (but quick and easy) photos to document the landscaping around a house or something - I really like my DA*16-50 for that. You just can't beat the convenience in that kind of a situation.

Last edited by DSims; 03-12-2015 at 11:41 AM.
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