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07-29-2015, 06:47 AM   #1
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Some Opinions, please

I have a K-5 II, bought about two years ago.

In the interests of carrying as little about with me as possible, I also bought a SMC Pentax-DA 18-135 Zoom.

In terms of convenience (and price) brilliant! In terms of picture quality, something about it always seems to disappoint.

This was thrown into sharp focus (pun sort of intended) when I recently resurrected my Pentax-M 85mm f2 portrait lens, left over from my pre-digital days. I've always thought this a wonderful lens, and it doesn't disappoint today. Wonderfully clear. The down side comes when stopping down. Being totally manual, in bright sunlight (particularly) it can be a pig to see properly in order to focus.

So two (linked) questions come to mind:

If I were to buy an up-to-date lens today, with all the bells and whistles useable on my current K5, is there a single zoom lens which will give me the convenience of the 18-135, together with the clarity of my old portrait lens?

Alternatively, given the sort of clarity I'm looking for overall, what are people's views on the following:

Pentax-DA* 50-135mm F2.8
Pentax Telephoto SMCP-FA 77mm f/1.8.

The main questions for me are:

Will the 50-135 be an improvement over my 18-135?

In terms of the 77mm can I expect the same level of clarity as I get on my old manual portrait lens, or is there a trade-off in clarity to be made against the convenience of a fully automatic lens?

Thanks, people.


William

07-29-2015, 07:02 AM   #2
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I don't have the 50-135, but it's pretty big and heavy compared to the 18-135. It's also slower to focus, if that matters to you. However, by all accounts, the IQ is great.

I do have the FA 77 and it is my favorite lens. I can't imagine you would be disappointed with it.

Then again, I love my 18-135. I usually carry it with me when I go on a day trip, along with the FA 31 and a couple other primes, figuring I'll want to put the superior lenses on. And I rarely bother to change lenses. Could I get slightly better photos from the primes? Probably. But the 18-135 is just so convenient. And good enough for my purposes.
07-29-2015, 07:23 AM   #3
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The 77 will be better, and zooms are always compromises. Of course the 18-135 may need to be adjusted in-camera, too.

A DA 50mm might be a less expensive option, it's supposed to be nice.
07-29-2015, 07:27 AM   #4
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Can you post some examples of what you mean? By all accounts, the 18-135mm is a "decent" lens. For about a year I used a Nikkor 18-135mm on my Nikon D200 and got excellent results from that combination. I'm wondering if you just need to make some minor changes to adjustments/techniques?

Michael

07-29-2015, 07:47 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by sophie100 Quote
In terms of the 77mm can I expect the same level of clarity as I get on my old manual portrait lens, or is there a trade-off in clarity to be made against the convenience of a fully automatic lens?
There is no trade-off at all, the lens is sharp wide open and is a perfect for portrait, it's better than any manual lens you might had
07-29-2015, 07:59 AM   #6
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I have the Pentax 50-135mm F2.8 and IQ is great. In all fairness though it focuses a bit slow and its big/weighs a bit. Not as much as my Pentax 60-250 F4 but still ....
IQ on the 50-135mm will definitely be sharper than the 18-135mm
Pentax 77mm is legendary and a beautiful piece of glass. I would think you would be happy. For pricing reasons and macro, I went with the Sigma 70mm F2.8 and I am very happy.
Just a thought if money is an issue .....

You may find that carrying a small set of primes or near primes may work best (F50 1.7, FA35/2.4, FA31, etc)
07-29-2015, 08:29 AM   #7
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To cover the 18-135 you'd need the Pentax 16-50 f/2.8 (or the Tamron or Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 lenses) and the Pentax 50-135 f/2.8.

If I want the sharpness and clarity for that range I have my Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 Art, Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 HSM, and Tamron 70-200 f/2.8, but each one is heavier than the 18-135. Also, make sure your focus is spot on with your 18-135 because I can pixel peep with mine on my K3. Check out the thread on here about showing us what the 18-135 can do.
07-29-2015, 10:04 AM   #8
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Thank you, all of you, for some really helpful comments. Food for thought which I now need to go away and digest.

Wishing you all well,


William

07-29-2015, 11:18 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by sophie100 Quote
I have a K-5 II, bought about two years ago. In the interests of carrying as little about with me as possible, I also bought a SMC Pentax-DA 18-135 Zoom.In terms of convenience (and price) brilliant! In terms of picture quality, something about it always seems to disappoint.

This was thrown into sharp focus (pun sort of intended) when I recently resurrected my Pentax-M 85mm f2 portrait lens, left over from my pre-digital days. I've always thought this a wonderful lens, and it doesn't disappoint today. Wonderfully clear. The down side comes when stopping down. Being totally manual, in bright sunlight (particularly) it can be a pig to see properly in order to focus.
First - have you tried manual focus on the 18-135? Is it possible that the Autofocus is front or back focusing it? Second is the difference in the shots you like more from the 85 f/2 based on sharpness, color, contrast, Depth of Field? Maybe post a few 18-135 blah and a few 85 f/2 wow shots to get some feedback. Have you tried setting the 18-135 on 85mm and just doing some A/B comparison shots also?

QuoteOriginally posted by sophie100 Quote
So two (linked) questions come to mind:

If I were to buy an up-to-date lens today, with all the bells and whistles useable on my current K5, is there a single zoom lens which will give me the convenience of the 18-135, together with the clarity of my old portrait lens?
First the 18-135 is pretty up to date. Not sure what you mean. The 16-85 lens is a bit higher in terms of quality of image in some head to head comparisons but not enough to abandon one for the other unless you never need 86-135 in my opinion. The 17-70 is an older lens with similar minor improvements in IQ that again I would not jump to unless the constant f/4 speed is needed or the extra 1mm width is required or the 71-135 range is never used.

QuoteOriginally posted by sophie100 Quote
Alternatively, given the sort of clarity I'm looking for overall, what are people's views on the following:

Pentax-DA* 50-135mm F2.8
Pentax Telephoto SMCP-FA 77mm f/1.8.

The main questions for me are:

Will the 50-135 be an improvement over my 18-135?

In terms of the 77mm can I expect the same level of clarity as I get on my old manual portrait lens, or is there a trade-off in clarity to be made against the convenience of a fully automatic lens?
Yes the 50-135 is an improvement over the 18-135. I have owned both simultaneously and the 50-135 is sharper and has greater edge to edge performance. It's also faster optically speaking at f/2.8. It is however slower to focus sometimes and larger and covers a more limited range (short tele to mid tele vs. wide to mid tele).

The 77 supposedly holds its own against the best portrait lenses ever made for Pentax. I own the A* 85 f/1.4 and find it to be supremely sharp and yummy but I typically preferred shooting the 50-135 over that lens due to simplicity. The results of the f/2.8 vs. f/1.4 depth of field were about the only real delta between the two lenses at 85mm. Put another way the 50-135 is a stellar lens for portraits and other photography where the 50-135 focal length fits. But for an all around lens? You would give up 18-49mm... not great if you need an all around lens.

The 77 also is NOT an all around lens by most definitions. In a fixed prime the Pentax FA Limited 31 or the DA 35 Limited Macro would make a good all around lens since it is close to the normal lens focal length. Personally the 18-135, the various 17-50/70 lenses, or the 16-85 are the best choices for all around shooting.
07-29-2015, 04:02 PM   #10
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Your kind of asking for an all around zoom with the quality of a top notch prime.Choosing lenses is about compromise,to get one thing you have to give up something so the question here is for you to answer.What am i willing to give up?
07-29-2015, 04:16 PM   #11
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It is hard to see the difference in terms of what you are seeing without sharing some photos so we (the community here) can provide helpful hints or suggestions. If you are comparing the zoom lens and prime, each one is designed with a different goal in mind. So, it is not unusual that it find it disappointing if you choose the wrong one.
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