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09-03-2016, 10:54 AM   #1
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experiences with 16-85mm

I'd previously reported that I'd found a relatively good copy of the 16-85mm on my fourth try, and now that I've used it for few months, I've been happy with it overall. It's definitely an improvement over the 16-45mm and the 18-55(I) that I have, and is close, at least, to the Tamron 17-50mm. Observations:

1. I get some of the odd refusal to lock focus that others here have reported. Generally either power-cycling the body (k5 or k5ii), or sometimes just pointing it at various targets until it locks, and then returning to the original target, gets it going again. It's annoying but not as bad as my 17-50mm Tamron, which drives both my bodies into M focus mode regularly. On the other hand, the Tamron is dramatically easier to focus manually than the 16-85. I'm essentially unable to use the 16-85mm without AF, so thankfully it doesn't have as severe an AF issue the Tamron does. And unlike the Tamron, which needs at least -10 on both bodies on the rare occasions when it is actually able to autofocus, the 16-85 AF seems to need no micro-adjustment at all as far as I can tell. I'm annoyed that Pentax won't give us +/-20, but that's another story.

2. At normal focus distances I find consistent sharpness between edges/corners, which is a relief compared to so many other lenses I've used. At close focus the lens needs a little help: I need to shove the front of the barrel in one direction at 85mm and the other at 16mm. I can't remember which way, so I've labeled the hood with arrows accordingly (yes, that gets confusing if I leave the hood reversed on the lens), but that procedure resolves a weak right-side issue at 85mm+close-focus, which I use somewhat often. Keep in mind, this lens isn't like the 16-45, where the lens wobbles breathtakingly at full extension (it's fully extended at 16mm, vs. the 16-85, which is extended at 85mm.), The amount of movement of the front barrel in the 16-85 is tiny, but significant in my copy. It would probably be more obvious on a >16mp body, but I don't have one to test.

So overall, it's been a good lens for me, despite some annoying quirks. I'm just posting this in case the info helps someone else.

09-03-2016, 11:31 AM   #2
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This is an interesting update - thanks for posting it.

Although there are plenty of those with problem-free copies, the 16-85 does appear to have three more commonly appearing issues; the focus problem (fixed by pointing at something else, or pointing the lens up or down), de-centering to a lesser or greater extent, and (one that you don't mention) sideways or up/down movement of the frame in the viewfinder during AF (as if an element is loose somewhere). I don't think any of these is common, but there have been several reports of each. I experienced the de-centering and the "loose element?" frame movement in two copies, both brand new.

Thankfully, the issues you've experienced are outweighed by the benefits, which is good to hear.
09-03-2016, 11:43 AM   #3
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I've had nothing but good experiences with this lens. No niggles or quibbles whatsoever.
09-03-2016, 11:46 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
This is an interesting update - thanks for posting it.

Although there are plenty of those with problem-free copies, the 16-85 does appear to have three more commonly appearing issues; the focus problem (fixed by pointing at something else, or pointing the lens up or down), de-centering to a lesser or greater extent, and (one that you don't mention) sideways or up/down movement of the frame in the viewfinder during AF (as if an element is loose somewhere). I don't think any of these is common, but there have been several reports of each. I experienced the de-centering and the "loose element?" frame movement in two copies, both brand new.

Thankfully, the issues you've experienced are outweighed by the benefits, which is good to hear.
Oops! Forgot to mention the up/down movement (including during manual focus, not that I can really use that anyway), but that occurred with all four copies identically, so I was thinking it was a "feature", not a bug. You experiences may vary. It's more annoying than an operational problem for me, although it does give an impression that you shouldn't be getting with a $500+ lens.

I will say that as a practical matter I would like a focus scale, because I like to focus on something with AF, then adjust in MF to get the d-o-f closer to where I want it, and a scale helps dramatically for that... at least to make sure you're moving focus in the correct direction, even more so when you have various brand lenses that focus in different directions and don't use your equipment every day. Another thing I need to add a label for.

09-03-2016, 01:31 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
Oops! Forgot to mention the up/down movement (including during manual focus, not that I can really use that anyway), but that occurred with all four copies identically
Are you saying you purchased 4 copies of the 16-85 before you got a decent performer?
09-03-2016, 01:44 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
Are you saying you purchased 4 copies of the 16-85 before you got a decent performer?
The one I kept was the best of four, so no, only three. The others all had softness at normal focusing distances at various focal lengths. One was soft on the right side, one on the left, one in one corner - all at certain focal lengths, but not others. Most of my photos are at normal focus distances, and I have other lenses I can use for close-focus, so this was clearly the best copy for me.
09-03-2016, 01:57 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Paul the Sunman Quote
I've had nothing but good experiences with this lens. No niggles or quibbles whatsoever.
+1,no problems and very happy with the first copy of this lens I bought.
09-03-2016, 05:16 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
The one I kept was the best of four, so no, only three. The others all had softness at normal focusing distances at various focal lengths. One was soft on the right side, one on the left, one in one corner - all at certain focal lengths, but not others. Most of my photos are at normal focus distances, and I have other lenses I can use for close-focus, so this was clearly the best copy for me.
Your experience has soured me on this lens. Honestly the thought of plunking down $1,500 on three lenses, taking the time to discover which one is true, and then subsequently going to the trouble of mailing the other two back and "hoping" the return goes smoothly just seems too much to bare or am I missing something here? I pray the DFA professional lenses are a bit better in the quality control arena.

09-03-2016, 05:34 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
Your experience has soured me on this lens. Honestly the thought of plunking down $1,500 on three lenses, taking the time to discover which one is true, and then subsequently going to the trouble of mailing the other two back and "hoping" the return goes smoothly just seems too much to bare or am I missing something here? I pray the DFA professional lenses are a bit better in the quality control arena.
QC issues aren't that unusual and I wouldn't reject the lens because of that. I don't think it matters regarding whether a lens is a "pro" model or not, although some more advanced models may be more repairable if they do have problems. I have a DA* that needs at least +10 focus adjustment, which is especially annoying because I have another lens that needs at least -10, and Pentax will only give us a +/-10 range (at least through the k5), so even debug mode won't help. I tried another DA* copy that was perfect at 0, but the 0 copy exhibited clear indications of sdm failure (and I learned that at least some forms of sdm failure mean the lens won't even manually focus - ugh.) The DA* I have shows no decentering anywhere at any setting, and no indications of sdm failure yet, it just needs that extreme focus adjustment. I think we just have to get over the notion that lenses last the way they did years ago, and that part of the issues we're having are because digital now has higher resolution combined with the fact that we can test so much more thoroughly. My feeling is that what we don't spend on film today, but we spend on bodies and lenses instead, and they're consumables just like film used to be.

I didn't have all the copies at once, although I did have two at once. You don't have to pay for copies you don't want unless you time the credit card cycle wrong, and even if the retailer makes you pay to return, the cost of trying multiple copies is maybe $40 total, and that's not unreasonable.

In the case of one lens, it was only lowest priced at Amazon, and I had to convince Amazon to send a third copy, but they eventually did.

Last edited by tibbitts; 09-03-2016 at 05:40 PM.
09-03-2016, 06:25 PM   #10
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Thanks for sharing. This gives me an idea of what issues to look for if I take the plunge one day.
On paper the 16-85 is the ideal all-in-one travel lens for me and I would like it to replace my beloved 18-250.
Weather-sealing, more width and better edge-to-edge sharpness being the main reasons.
09-03-2016, 06:50 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by caliscouser Quote
Thanks for sharing. This gives me an idea of what issues to look for if I take the plunge one day.
On paper the 16-85 is the ideal all-in-one travel lens for me and I would like it to replace my beloved 18-250.
Weather-sealing, more width and better edge-to-edge sharpness being the main reasons.
I don't have an opinion on the Pentax 18-250 since I haven't had one, but the 16-85 is a very practical range, and even with the glitches I've experienced, it's been a worthwhile lens for what I use it for, which is mostly travel and static nature subjects.
09-03-2016, 11:46 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
Your experience has soured me on this lens. Honestly the thought of plunking down $1,500 on three lenses, taking the time to discover which one is true, and then subsequently going to the trouble of mailing the other two back and "hoping" the return goes smoothly just seems too much to bare or am I missing something here? I pray the DFA professional lenses are a bit better in the quality control arena.
+1 here for an excellent first copy. No need or desire to change this excellent lens nor have I experienced anything to complain about.
09-04-2016, 03:37 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Davidparis Quote
+1 here for an excellent first copy. No need or desire to change this excellent lens nor have I experienced anything to complain about.
How, assuming, you aren't dealing with a local photo store but are buying on line from amazon or ebay or the two stores recommended by this site, how do you deal with the reported issue of "multiple duds" and the need to get a keeper

Is this a known problem which happens enough to really be a worry

How do you deal with the issue when trying to find a used lens that is a true keeper

Consider me worred and confused
09-04-2016, 06:09 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
How, assuming, you aren't dealing with a local photo store but are buying on line from amazon or ebay or the two stores recommended by this site, how do you deal with the reported issue of "multiple duds" and the need to get a keeper

Is this a known problem which happens enough to really be a worry

How do you deal with the issue when trying to find a used lens that is a true keeper

Consider me worred and confused
On-line, one return/exchange is not an issue with anybody. I've requested replacements for new lenses bought from various retailers. When the lens is inconsistent between edges/corners and I can demonstrate that with actual photos (resolution test target, studio tripod, < 1/1000th), I'd consider the lens defective, and generally that means shipping will be paid by the retailer. When you go for a third copy, sometimes you'll run into some resistance. If the prices are the same you can switch to another retailer, but sometimes (actually often) they aren't, so you can argue your case if it's important to you.

The only lenses I've bought new where I've kept the first copy were the 10-17mm Tokina/Pentax, which seems perfect such as that lens is, and the 60-250. The latter was way off in AF calibration from the factory. If I could have ordered another 60-250 from another retailer for the same price I would have, but that wasn't an option. I'd feel kind of guilty just ordering two to start with before I knew I wasn't happy with the first copy of a lens, but in this case that bit me by taking me out of a discount opportunity. Others might not feel that way.

If you buy used and pay $50-70 for the lens, well, you take your chances. I've gotten some good lenses that way, and some not so good. I wouldn't buy a multi-hundred-dollar lens used from somebody other than KEH or similar, because I don't want to argue over whether a copy is good or not.

I don't think returns are usually a practical problem. I do worry that we're really pushing the precision that we can get from current technology.
09-05-2016, 11:07 PM - 3 Likes   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
How, assuming, you aren't dealing with a local photo store but are buying on line from amazon or ebay or the two stores recommended by this site, how do you deal with the reported issue of "multiple duds" and the need to get a keeper

Is this a known problem which happens enough to really be a worry

How do you deal with the issue when trying to find a used lens that is a true keeper

Consider me worred and confused
I really believe this "dud" or "flawed copy" business is totally exagerrated and grossly blown out of proportion. It is the direct result of extreme over-analysis and pixel-peeping on an anal-retentive scale measurable to the nth degree. Some people could buy 6 or 7 coffee cups from Walmart and return them after identifying a de-centered handle, a flawed enamel coating or small speck of nothing lodged in the upper-right corner. This is utter nonsense unless there is indeed a major engineering or assembly failure on a unit, which is not as common as the scaremongers want you to believe.

This can and does happen of course but by NO MEANS when you buy a lens or a camera (including Pentax) do you have to worry and wonder about how many returns you'll make, how do you handle the reverse logistics or how much frustration and testing/analysis capacity do you have. This is pure over-analysis with a negative expected outcome mentality.

It represents, to my mind, a loss of the initial purpose of camera equipment which, for some of us, still means capturing moments in time with proper technique and storytelling ability. How many millenials are returning their smartphones because the camera has an infinitesimal and virtually undetectable anamoly affecting 0.005% of its ability to capture an image? Ahhh...very few I'd venture to affirm. How many of these people are making beautiful photography with their smartphone cameras? Legions and legions.

Statistically speaking, if I were to believe the "failure terrorists" on some forums, a large portion of the equipment I currently own must certainly be faulty, misaligned, de-centered, wobbly, ugly or otherwise worthy of a series of returns to the vendor. However, I DON'T SEE THAT notably because I'M NOT LOOKING for that nor do I secretly HOPE TO FIND that in my equipment. Furthermore, the images produced by my Pentax equipment are largely sufficient and satisfying not only for my self but for others as well including one (and only one) recurring professional customer.

Either I'm one lucky SOB or I do not let the self-fulfulling prophecy and expectation mentality of purchasing necessarily faulty equipment ruin my photographic pleasure.

Last observation, when, while looking at your pictures, did anyone remark "dude, you've got a major de-centering problem in your lens" ?

Happy shooting to all.
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