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06-20-2017, 02:48 PM   #1
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Which versatile lens?

I have a K-3ii with a sigma 10-20 (very useful), a sigma 17-50 f2.8 (a really good lens), and a new 55-300 ED PLM WR RE (also a great lens). I also have a selection of LTD lenses - so I am actually a very happy bunny. However, I frequently go for long walks ('hikes'), days out in the hills and lakes etc where I really don't want to spend time changing lenses and carrying kit around. So I am looking for a versatile, flexible lens which takes OK to good photos (not competition standard) and which is easy to carry along with a day's survival gear.

The 18-135 seems to be much loved. Many Pentaxers like the 18-270. A more recent (and popular?) choice is the Sigma 18-300. The 18-135 has a useful range but limited on the long end, is a WR spec, and can be bought used. The Sigma has a really useful range and gets pretty good reviews and is also a new/modern lens. WR is helpful but not decisive.

I would appreciate people's comments about the choice between these three and wonder also if I am missing any other obvious candidates.

Thanks in advance for your comments - this forum really is the 'bee's knees'!

06-20-2017, 03:21 PM   #2
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When I went looking for a one size fits all lens I landed on the Sigma 18-250. I don't have it in front of me, but I think it's this one.

Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro HSM Lens Reviews - Sigma Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database

I think there is a review on the forum somewhere that looked at the Sigma, Tamron and Pentax all-in-ones and the Sigma, at that time anyway, seemed the best.

Good luck.
06-20-2017, 03:56 PM   #3
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my favorite walk-around lens in the DA 18-135mm; if I know that I'll need a longer lens, I'll pack a long prime or maybe toss the DA 55-300 in the bag...
06-20-2017, 05:01 PM   #4
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I'm a big fan of the 18-135. You already have the 55-300 so you have all you really need...

06-20-2017, 05:03 PM   #5
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The bigger the factor of zoom, the worse the image quality. With modern lens designs this is getting slightly better. I don't use a superzoom, I don't use any zoom at all, just primes. But if I wanted a superzoom, I would grab one that is a recent design and has WR. Fast aperture would be the next priority
Lens reviews section can be helpful as well as the sample photo gallery. Good luck
06-20-2017, 05:55 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by manstanox Quote
flexible lens which takes OK to good photos
Too bad about this criterion, otherwise I'd say the 16-85mm rocks, with good to excellent IQ across the board i.e. way better than OK to good. The only weak attribute is the f5.6 max aperture at the long end. And although you already have 17-50mm covered, the extra FL at either end is not insignificant.
06-20-2017, 05:59 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by pepperberry farm Quote
my favorite walk-around lens in the DA 18-135mm; if I know that I'll need a longer lens, I'll pack a long prime or maybe toss the DA 55-300 in the bag...
QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
I'm a big fan of the 18-135. You already have the 55-300 so you have all you really need...
+ 1 and that WR is really good for hikes
06-20-2017, 06:00 PM   #8
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I'd go with one of the WR lenses. The 18-135 is a great outdoor poor weather lens. Inside I prefer fast primes anyway.

06-20-2017, 06:28 PM   #9
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My choice is the Sigma 18-200. It had very good reviews from Popular Photography before it went under. Not quite as long as the 18-250/300, but better at the long end.
06-20-2017, 07:24 PM   #10
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Another vote for the 18-135.
06-20-2017, 11:23 PM   #11
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+ 1 for the 18-135; yes, the primes are always better, but if you want a very décent (if not very good) versatile zoom, go for the 18-135
06-21-2017, 01:06 AM   #12
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I had a Tamron 18-250 as my only lens for a number of years. It's the same as the Pentax DA 18-250, and probably fairly typical of superzooms (ie lenses covering wide-telephoto focal lengths, with a focal length range of 10x or more). The Tamron was regarded as a significant leap at the time of its release in about 2006.

I now use the DA 18-135 as my main lens for a hike. If wildlife is a possibility I will take the 55-300 and swap them or take two bodies. The image quality from this combination is significantly better than from the 18-250, but at the cost of extra weight and bulk and more inconvenience. That's the trade-off.

The superzoom did suffer a lot from focus breathing, so the actual magnification for birds etc was a lot less in practice than its maximum focal length (250mm) would suggest. I understand the same is true of the DA 18-270, which is a rebadged version of Tamron's successor to the 18-250. Not sure about the Sigma 18-300 in this regard.

Despite its limitations, I got plenty of worthwhile shots with the superzoom, even though in those days I relied on jpgs only. See examples here (post #6): Opinions and experience with the 18-250mm? - PentaxForums.com
The convenience and weight-saving of a superzoom makes it very handy as a one-lens travel option.

If you shoot in RAW, some of the shortcomings (distortion, vignetting, CA etc) that are characteristic of these lenses can be worked on in post-processing.

FWIW, Lenstip, which is usually unimpressed with superzooms, was reasonably kind about the Sigma 18-300: http://www.lenstip.com/427.1-Lens_review-Sigma_C_18-300_mm_f_3.5-6.3_DC_MACR...roduction.html
It was less impressed with the Tamron 18-270: http://www.lenstip.com/251.1-Lens_review-Tamron_AF_18-270_mm_f_3.5-6.3_Di_II...IF)_MACRO.html
Don't give too much weight to these reviews, but they add something to the information mix.

Last edited by Des; 06-21-2017 at 07:51 PM.
06-21-2017, 04:26 AM - 1 Like   #13
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I had the 18-135 as a walk-about but found it too short at the long end. Sold it and got a Sigma 18-250 and have found it very satisfactory when on tours. Long enough to be useful when visiting a zoo but wide enough for many (not all) interiors, and it's not too bad for close-ups. I suspect the newer Sigma 18-300mm will probably have the pretty much the same IQ at the overlapping focal-lengths, plus adding a little extra at the long end.

and BTW: The 18-250 Sigma is nothing like the really outstanding Pentax 16-85, the second best wide-to-modest-tele lens I've ever used. BUT AS ALWAYS, selecting a lens is always balancing convenience against quality. A set of primes will almost always give the best IQ, but for a walkabout where you need wide to intermediate telephoto with minimum bulk and weight, a lens such as a Sigma 18-300mm is the way to go. If we all insisted on absolutely the best IQ above all other considerations, we'd probably all be hauling 8X10 view cameras with an APO lens that by itself cost four digits.
06-21-2017, 06:47 AM   #14
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Hey WPRESTO, you say the 16-85 is the second best wide-to-modest-tele lens you've used, so what's the best from your point of view?
06-21-2017, 08:07 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by manstanox Quote
...I frequently go for long walks ('hikes'), days out in the hills and lakes etc where I really don't want to spend time changing lenses and carrying kit around...
I suggest the 18-135 or 16-85. for a crop sensor like the K-3. The extra 2mm of the 16-85 can be a big help if you like wide angle landscapes. Both of those lenses are good quality and not heavy.

Superzooms with a range like 18-300 tend to have lesser image quality and not offer WR. It does, however, offer the ability to get wildlife photos without changing lenses.
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