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12-21-2015, 02:36 PM   #1
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Opinions and experience with the 18-250mm?

I acquired a SMC Pentax DA 18-250mm ED AL (IF) lens last week. I've read the reviews, but I'd like to hear some stories of personal use with this lens.... it's strong points, it's weak points and your overall satisfaction ( if any?) and opinion of it. The weather has been dreadful here and that, coupled with some health issues have prevented me from doing any testing on my own. So, I'll turn to the guys who've "been there, done that."


It appears to be fairly well made, albeit with a fair amount of lens creep. Thanks for anything you might pass along to me.


Merry Christmas and a Happy and prosperous New Year to you all!


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12-21-2015, 05:10 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Let's admit the flaws up front. It's not weather sealed (but back when I got it, I dont't think anything was), and it's terribly slow (f/6.3) at the long end, which makes it not very good in low light or indoors without a fairly heavy duty flash. Under those circumstances, focus tends to hunt a bit and it doesn't have the quickshift it really needs then. BUT... that being said, supply it with plenty of light and an unthreatening environment and it's hands down the single most versatile lens I've ever owned and worth the size and weight. I think it was intended to be a sunny-climate one-lens-does-all travel package, and if used within those limitations - thus enabling the ISO of the cameras it was designed for to be held well down - it can turn out some really stunning pictures.

The achilles heel really is that terribly slow maximum aperture, right when you really want to push the shutter speed as high as you possibly can to hand-hold the thing and make full use of the zoom range. My digital body is the K-5, and I've found that if I turn the ISO up to increase the guide number of the onboard flash and put shake reduction on, I can actually get the occasional useful hand-held shot across a gymnasium or a tight-cropped and well lit candid shot at closer distance. I asked Santa for a Very Good Flash for Christmas, and we shall see what that does in terms of increasing its usable range and flexibility in low light.

For the person who wants a one-does-all solution for bright-light work, who doesn't anticipate needing WR, and who doesn't mind screwdrive lenses (or whose camera body does not support DC), a second-hand DA18-250 is a real bargain. Mine spent a lot of time on my *ist-DL before it died (the camera, that is, not the lens). Someone who wants wide apertures and the ultimate in optical quality in long normal to mid tele range needs to be looking at the 60-250 or the upcoming 70-200.
12-21-2015, 05:18 PM   #3
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Dewey - I have a copy of this lens and I love it...

it is a great superzoom and is pretty much my walk-around lens when I am traveling or hiking, etc...

It is not a DA* or a D FA, of course, and it does not like low-light situations... the manual-focus ring is also pretty typical for the time and is awful... lens creep can be a pain, but there is a zoom-lock that helps..

my copy is with dcshooter right now, for a CLA...he's removing some debris and also solving the lens creep...

here is my flickr album of shots with it:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pepperberryfarm/albums/72157657263909384
12-21-2015, 05:31 PM   #4
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it's a one does all. That is the strong point. My first lens and I loved it. It does a lot. It's what it doesn't do that is why you get another lens. Not low light, not spectacularly sharp, not fast focus
Perfect for the family gatherings where you capture memories or the zoo. If I want that picture of pictures it's not up to the task. That fox that came up to me is not a picture, slow, bad AF in that low light. That great spur of the moment landscape is just neat instead of breathtaking. Coming from a point and shoot I loved it. Knowing what a dslr is capable of its limiting.

12-21-2015, 06:29 PM   #5
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I have one that used to be my Super P&S combo, first with my K200D, then on my K5,
Good but not great lens, slow and not great sharpness at the long end. Noticeable barrel distortion at 18mm.
I could cover 90% of my shooting opportunities with it, and no lens change needed.

When I bought my K3, it came with an 18-135, a markedly better lens, I've paired it with a 55-300 HD, and that combo covers the same range much better with the downside of a lens change needed.

I still have the 18-250, and my wife likes it paired with the K5, for outdoor use, it's a little too slow for much indoor use.

If you want a lens that can cover many opportunities, and don't want to haul a big bag of other glass along, there are not many options, this is a good one, not a great one.
Learn it's weak points and work around them.
12-21-2015, 06:32 PM   #6
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For those who don't know, the Pentax DA 18-250 is a rebadged version of a Tamron lens. The Tamron represented a big leap in design and quality in super-zoom lenses over the earlier 28-300 and 18-200 models.

The Pentax-badged version has the advantage of working with in-camera jpg correction on more recent Pentax DSLRs.

I've had the Tamron-badged version since 2007. It was my only lens for 6 years. It's versatility is its main virtue, but centre sharpness and colour rendering are also surprisingly good. It's at its best at the wider end, particularly from about 24-70mm. Minimum focus distance is 45cm (about 18"), so it's good for close shots. I actually prefer this lens to the 55-300 at its wide end (say about 55-85), because sharpness is similar and I like the colours better.

It's slow of course - about a stop slower than the 55-300 for example through most of their common range. Widest apertures are:
18-34mm f3.5
35-49 f4
50-69 f4.5
70-99 f5
100-199 f5.6
200-250 f6.3
Given that (like most zooms) it's best stopped down by a stop or two, it's obvious that this is a lens for good light, especially at the long end.

Of course there is a lot of distortion at the wide end. That might bother some people, but not me: it's easily corrected in PP. The automatic correction in DxO Optics Pro does wonders.

My copy also has zoom creep (it doesn't bother me). As Dewman says, construction is generally very good. After 7 years of use, mine has no barrel wobble or other problem.

Now I have a range of other lenses, the 18-250 has been relegated to use as a travel lens or where carrying other lenses or changing lenses is a problem. It does that role very well.

I would also recommend either the Tamron or Pentax 18-250 as an alternative to the 18-55 and 50-200 kit lens combo. Only slightly more weight than either of those lenses, and less than the two combined, image quality is better, maximum aperture is about the same and no need to change lenses. The only disadvantage is the lack of the weather-resistance provided by the later versions of the kit lenses.

Here are some examples from the Tamron 18-250. The first, fourth and fifth are OOC jpgs taken with my old K100D Super. The second and third were shot in RAW with the K-30 and PP'd a little. They aren't put forward as technically stellar, just as examples of the versatility, and the sort of results available in ordinary use.


Last edited by Des; 12-22-2015 at 02:00 PM.
12-21-2015, 08:16 PM   #7
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I have had a DA 18-250 for a few years and I would have to say it quickly became my most used lens. When I go out wanting to take pictures but not certain what I will encounter, I always take the 18-250 because the focal range will satisfy most situations.
At 18mm, my copy has trouble attempting focus; it just hums when I press the shutter so I manually focus often when shooting wide. If I zoom out a bit to even 20mm, it has no issues.
Zoom creep is quite annoying also. I keep one of those rubber wrist bands to help create resistance. I also have a complaint or two about the hood. I was the second owner of my copy but when I first got the lens, you had to be fairly deliberate and get the alignment right when putting on the lens hood. Now, the notches and groove stops are worn and I am more practiced so the hood goes on and unfortunately even comes off accidentally, though not often.
I use to use a Sigma 28-300 has my mutli-purpose lens. That thing is crap compared to the Pentax 18-250. The DA 55-300 gets a lot of love around this site as well but it's range just does not satisfy like the 18-250.
I am feel certain you are going to get the lens. I am also just as certain that you will not regret it.
12-21-2015, 08:24 PM   #8
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It's a surprisingly good lens, one of the two lenses I bought along with my first serious-ish camera (K100D) . I probably would have stuck with it all these years except the other one was the FA 43 ltd, which got me hooked on the high-class glass.

12-21-2015, 10:10 PM   #9
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It's the worst lens I wish I'd never sold.

I called it my "zoo lens"; I mounted it any time I was heading out in daylight, on an excursion with the family, or just by myself. It is/was strictly a daylight lens, but my copy was dead sharp throughout the range of aperture & focal length. A tad distorted on the long end, but not to the point of distraction.
12-22-2015, 03:47 AM   #10
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Very sharp in good light considering the zoom range.

It needed the least fine focus of all my lens.
12-22-2015, 04:55 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by dadipentak Quote
It's a surprisingly good lens, one of the two lenses I bought along with my first serious-ish camera
Interesting. I bought mine together with the 40 Limited.At the time, they were probably the largest and smallest consumer level lenses you could get in the Pentax system. The 40 served me well for indoor work when I wanted a fancy point-and-shoot that wouldn't intimidate people, while the 18-250 served me well for just about everything else. Given that the 43 isn't much bigger, I guess you might have had similar reasoning.

Not that long after, I added a 100WR because I wanted macro, and I was happy. Then I discovered this forum, and my signature line tells the rest of the tale. Despite this profusion of glass, it's still my go-to for when the environs aren't hostile and I need ultimate focal length flexibility & can't afford to miss shots when swapping lenses.
12-22-2015, 09:32 AM   #12
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Thanks for all the comments and opinions on this lens, fellas. They are much appreciated. This lens has the greatest focal length range of all the lenses I own. The only one I have that comes close is my Sigma 28-300mm. Unlike Nowhere Matt's experience with his, mine has proved to be very sharp, but I haven't had the chance to compare it to the new-to-me Pentax 18-250mm. We're suppose to get a little sunshine next week, so I'll finally have a chance to get out and play!


Us picture takers are an odd lot, are we not? We split hairs down to the thinnest of margins, paring the pros and cons down to the bone! But, I LOVE IT! Having been a man who worked with wood using my hands all my adult life, I did the same thing with the tools I used. In order for me to do my finest work, I had to use the finest tools and wood I could get my hands on.


Unfortunately, I can't exactly do that with lenses as my budget/income won't permit me invest in the *- labeled lenses or the Limited's or some of the terribly expensive more exotic ones, but through some judicious horse trading and combing different sources, I've been fortunate enough to accumulate a few that I personally consider mighty fine.
12-22-2015, 09:49 AM - 1 Like   #13
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Well, to a great extent, you can make up for not having the finest of tools by taking great care in the use of the ones you have.
12-22-2015, 09:58 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dewman Quote
The only one I have that comes close is my Sigma 28-300mm.
Compared to that, I think the 18mm to 28mm range is going to be one you notice the most on APS-C. Some of us would envy you the last fifty millimetres on the Sigma, but it depends very much on the pictures you take. The ideal in this world is the 16-300, which I think is a Tamron, but they never saw fit to make it in K mount, it isn't weather resistant, and either way it would be quite pricey.

Used Limiteds come up in the Marketplace on this site quite a bit, and some of them (especially some of the older SMC variants) can be quite affordable, especially when people have gone on buying frenzies for the HD versions and are now getting rid of their superceded models (which IMO are still really excellent glass).
12-22-2015, 10:15 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by dadipentak Quote
Well, to a great extent, you can make up for not having the finest of tools by taking great care in the use of the ones you have.

Absolutely! I couldn't agree more. The intuition as to what makes a good photograph can very often overcome less-than-optimum quality lenses and/or cameras.
If that "whatever you want to call it" is missing, the finest lenses and equipment on earth will be left wanting.


But, I'll STILL take my old Milwaukee 1/2" drill motor over any Black & Decker ever made!
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