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05-27-2017, 03:19 PM   #1
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Torn between two lenses. Feeling like a fool.

I am having some trouble deciding between the Pentax DA 16-85 and the Tamron 17-50 2.8 (non vr)

Since I shoot a lot of weddings, I am somewhat concerned about the low light performance of the pentax lens. I have read good things about the tamron, excluding build quality.

In your opinion, would the extra focal range, wr and better performance of the 16-85 justify the nearly doubled price over the 17-50? Any other suggestions?

05-27-2017, 03:42 PM - 1 Like   #2

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I have had both lenses but have minimal experience at weddings. Without further definition of what kind of shots you want to take it's hard to say. Overall it's going to depend on which camera you put those lenses on.

Overall there isn't even a question about which is the better lens. The 16-85 by a mile.

HOWEVER for your intended use I would probably give the edge to the 17-50.

I don't know what kind of shots and images or style that you have but from my very limited experience a longer lens will be a very useful thing. If you did a two body setup with a 17-50 on one and 70-200 on the other (I would put it on a stick or something) then you could get 90% of what you are looking for. Again though, this is assuming that you are an official photographer who will go to where the event is at before hand, figure out who is going to be where, where is the best spot for photos for each scenario including the type of lighting, and will be given some measure of leeway to 'move about' along the predetermined schedule.

I tried being a wedding photographer once (it was actually a very informal wedding of a cousin) and I didn't have the luxury of scoping out the venue or moving around as needed (or making space for the photographer) and I learned real quick that weddings are definitely probably one of, if not the most challenging thing to shoot.
05-27-2017, 03:51 PM   #3

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Where the 16-85 excels at in my opinion is for a walking around lens generally outdoors. The WR is stellar and the IQ is the best of any zoom I have ever used (or close to it).

With the wedding thing though as I alluded to with my extremely minimal experience--if you aren't planning out where you are going to be standing, which focal length the zoom will be set at at each spot, predetermining the lighting, and doing a lot of other prep work, even on down to getting a ball park idea of which ISO to use... with that in mind in my experience a wedding is a lot more of a planned event.

It's not just lighting but that is a huge portion of it, but I would give the Tamron a shot since WR isn't a requirement at most weddings.
05-27-2017, 03:56 PM   #4
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Thanks for your response. The lens will be going on a k5 II. I also have a Kr as a secondary body with a 35mm prime. I do paid wedding photography, but the weddings here are in some ways, probably more challenging than what you are thinking of . For one thing, they tend to be pretty fast paced and the lighting could be anywhere from dim to outdoors in full sun. Getting close to the subjects isn't really an issue since I have full run of wherever the venue is. (usually at their homes since I do a lot of Indian/hindu weddings)
How do you find the 16-85 performs in dimmer lighting?

05-27-2017, 04:26 PM - 4 Likes   #5

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QuoteOriginally posted by Aeonflame Quote
How do you find the 16-85 performs in dimmer lighting?
It's going to depend on the camera. I have been using it on a K3 for a while now and I have taken it down to 'really dim' 'almost dark'. I have had some shots that the ISO went up to 3200 but it would depend on how it was ultimately displayed and how fast the action is moving.

This is part of the reason I want to get a K-1 because if better low light performance and a good WR zoom that is a constant aperture. That said the K3 and the 16-85 was very respectable in this regards. I will put up several samples from very low light situations so you can see for yourself.

The conditions were very low light on this one. All of these shots were hand held.

Nearly complete darkness except for the sky and a fast shutter speed.

Almost total darkness. The only light was from that smoke bomb, roman candle thing they were waving around singing with.

Very dark conditions, and fast shutter speed.

Again very dark conditions.

If it gets really really dark you need confidence to crank up that ISO. Just for me doing random street and travel photography for fun, I personally like the idea of better ISO and a constant aperture which is why I am I get all 3... WR, ISO, and constant aperture.

There were a few times where I sort of 'bumped my head' so to speak on the low light shooting using the K3 and the 16-85...if that lens has good light... there is no comparison as to overall quality of the lens.
05-27-2017, 04:28 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aeonflame Quote
How do you find the 16-85 performs in dimmer lighting?
Traditionally there has been a preference for f/2.8 lenses for two reasons: first the f/2.8 class in general implied a higher grade lens with better optics and second with sensors producing good images only up to maybe ISO 200 or 400 the f/2.8 was needed.

These days with the sensors easily being usable at ISO 400 or 800 or higher the f/2.8 is not as necessary just for the light. And the 16-85 holds it's own with most f/2.8 zooms as far as image quality. Now if you want f/2.8 for shallow depth of focus that is another issue entirely but for general use the 16-85 on APS-C is hard to beat. You might consider the 16-85 paired with something like the DA 50mm f/1.8 for shallow depth of focus or very low light.
05-27-2017, 04:31 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aeonflame Quote
Since I shoot a lot of weddings, I am somewhat concerned about the low light performance of the pentax lens. I have read good things about the tamron, excluding build quality.
Really? I thought wedding photographers use all kinds of flashes and reflectors, so aperture is mostly an aesthetic choice (bokeh in portraits)
I guess you can look at the photos you took and check their aperture info, see if you really need that f2.8
05-27-2017, 04:54 PM   #8
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If you eventually plan to upgrade the body to a KP or the next flagship (which have better high-iso performance), then the 16-85 might make more sense. Quiet focusing, wider/longer zoom range, and comparable IQ.

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05-27-2017, 05:22 PM   #9
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Hands down I would also recommend the 16-85mm. No experience with the 17-50 f2.8, but if find it very difficult to believe that any wide to modest tele zoom will beat the IQ of the 16-85mm> It is a benchmark optic.
05-27-2017, 06:04 PM   #10
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Weddings pay well enough that you should not cut corners on quality and function over price. I would recommend the Pentax 16-85mm. At the wide end, itʻs going to separate you from any 18-55mm wannabes in the crowd. And at the long end, the 85mm will produce nicer bokeh and compression above and beyond a 17-50mm Tamron.

Once you do enough weddings, you will find that the weather is a factor, and Iʻd be nervous without WR on the one lens and camera to get the job done. I think youʻll also find the WR helps the zoom to be a bit more quiet with AF than a non-WR zoom.
05-27-2017, 06:30 PM   #11

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I have the 16-85. I have used it on my K-5IIs and K-3II. The image quality is excellent. The range you are going to be covering would make the 16-85 a very useable candidate, especially if you have a flash or other lighting, which you would most likely need even if you did get the 17-50. The point here is that the 16-85 will give you more versatility in the range many scenario types can be covered with, and a flash system alone or with other lighting will give you the opportunity to get anything you need. You will most likely need more artificial lighting for groups of people if the existing light or one flash is not enough, but that would most likely be true for the 17-50 also.

A good idea is to check with the bride/groom and whoever is organizing the wedding with them to see what type shots they would like, prepare for those shots with camera/lens/lighting, and do what you can to get those images and others you may feel would be appropriate.

Last edited by C_Jones; 05-27-2017 at 06:40 PM.
05-27-2017, 06:42 PM - 1 Like   #12
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You lose either way. You gain either way. I'm not really sure why folks are trying to short sell the importance of 2.8 for low light focusing. The 2.8 is necessary for the AF system, not just for more light. Even if you shoot at ƒ5.6 or 8, your AF is going to work better with an faster lens, up to 2.8. It would seem some of the 1.8 lenses focus unreliably as well/

The 17-50, also sets you up for your next lens, either the DA* 50-135 or the tamron 70-200.

I simply cannot bring myself to recommend going into a wedding shot with no fast lenses.I Consider that lens to be the wrong lens for the job in that situation.
But you may need a longer lens to go with it.

I would think the 24-70 2.8 would be ideal on APS-c.

Lens quality is so good these days it's hard to find a bad lens. I doubt even those guys who own the 16-85 could pick out the difference between the two lenses from identical sets. To me the issue here is widest aperture needed. And as far as I know, Auto-focus is optimized for 2.8 lenses.

But Rondec;s wife shoots weddings. maybe he has an opinion.

---------- Post added 05-27-17 at 10:02 PM ----------

From the reviews....

I've shot a wedding, night concert, conferences, and now a graduation with this lens. I can say that when the image is in focus, it's extremely sharp. For the graduation photos here in Japan, I had to tone down the clarity in Lightroom because I got every single pore and skin flaw every girl had. The night photos came out great and had very nice character to them. For the conference photos, I've been torn between this lens and my Sigma Art 18-35. The Art has a 1.8 aperture and renders beautiful image quality, but is in need of calibration for front and back focusing. The Pentax has a more accurate autofocus plus the longer reach so it tens to be on my camera more often.

Read more at: HD Pentax-D FA 24-70mm F2.8 ED SDM WR Reviews - D FA Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

Last edited by normhead; 05-27-2017 at 06:49 PM.
05-27-2017, 07:05 PM - 1 Like   #13
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Torn between two lenses. Feeling like a fool.
I can't add much to help you with your decision, but kudos for the musical reference.
05-27-2017, 07:15 PM   #14
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I used the 16-85 on the K3 at an outdoor daytime wedding, and at night (outdoors) at the subsequent party. I was using off-camera flash (arm's length) with a diffuser throughout. It performed very well indeed. However, I had other lenses with me as well, including the faster DA 7 f/2.4 Limited and the 35mm f/1.4 Art, as well as the (slow) DA 55-300 for added reach. This setup gave me all the flexibility I needed.

I haven't used the Sigma 17-50, but the DA 16-85 is certainly a stunner.
05-27-2017, 07:36 PM   #15
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So far I have mainly shot primes. Including the SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.7 and the SMC Pentax 35mm F3.5
Even at 3.5 that little 35mm performs admirably in low light.

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