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09-17-2008, 04:37 PM   #1
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DA 16-45mm image quality

I've had a 16-45 for some time now, but I have never really gotten too confident with it. The strange thing is, everyone seems to absolutely adore it. So why don't I ?

I did search this forum looking for someone else with a similar experience, but didn't seem to find any. The only one is a guy with a review that claims it was soft. Sounds more like a back/front focusing issue than my "problem".

A lot of people talk about prime like iq on this lens, and while I do love prime lenses, I can't say my copy gives exactly the same feeling. It's quite difficult to put into words, but I'll give it a try. Most images turn out sharp, but they do seem to lack a bit of resolution. I think of it more like drawing with a thick pencil sometimes.

After studying my images taken with this lens I have found that one of the main reasons I'm not too happy is due to a rather harsh bokeh in my opinion. Out of focus areas seems to be very contrasty and full of action instead of smooth buttery cream. This is easily provoked by shooting some grass, leaves or even stone surfaces. I have checked images found online that are shot using this exact lens, and others seem to produces the same artifacts. I'm however not sure if all 16-45s produces the same amount. Images taken with the 16-50 in correct working order seems to be way better in this regard, much more like a prime lens. The funny thing is that I seem to even prefer images from my 18-55.

I will post some images later for better explanation, but I really have to get some sleep first. (it's 01:33 am local time..)

The reason for posting this is just to see if anyone else has experienced something similar with this lens. It could be that I've just got a bad copy, but I can't really say exactly what is wrong with it either. It's all just a subjective feeling I get from watching images. As long as I'm not confident with it, it will have to go, but I don't have the heart to sell it to someone if it really is a bad copy after all.

Note: Please. Dont make this into yet another stupid thread on how terrible Pentax products are, and how the world is coming to an end. I'm trying to find answers to something that has been on my mind for quite a while. I'm not bashing anything, for all I know it could just be my head there is something wrong with.

09-17-2008, 05:00 PM   #2
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I had one, and sold it as i wanted wider and sharper images. It was replaced by a 10-20mm sigma (satisfied the wider craving), a da*35mm macro and a 50mm 1.7 (at much greater expense, but satisfied the sharper craving). I too found rave reviews about the 16-45mm, but was not really happy with its performance. My suggestion would be to determine what type of shooting you want to do and then get the lens or combo of lenses that you are happy with. Lens 'performance' is a matter of preference for your style and taste. If you are not happy with the performance of the lens, all the praise for it will not make you any happier. Re the bokeh issue, a wider aperature will generally give you more control but some lenses just seem to have that buttery look that most find pleasing. Look for reviews/pics on/from those and determine if they meet your taste. I suspect the 16-50mm would provide what you are looking for, provided you get a good copy. just one mans opinion.

Last edited by ivoire; 09-17-2008 at 05:11 PM.
09-17-2008, 05:14 PM   #3
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I have one (well, I just sent it to Pentax to hopefully have some lens tube wobble taken care of). I'd say I'm pretty happy with it so far. I just went back though my photos taken with it and noticed that I don't have too many "bokeh" shots at all. The ones I do are probably consistent with what you are dissatisfied with. Here's one on flickr: Flowers on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

But it depends on what you use it for I think as to whether you will be happy.
09-17-2008, 05:25 PM   #4
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Hejsan,

I have a 16-45 on my K20d and was very very disappointed with it. Bought it for a trip back home (Sweden) and I was checking out some shots while at the airport heading there and was getting very worried since I had just sold the 18-55 believing the 16-45 would be far superior. Every shot was soft.

Then I realized it was backfocusing by quite a large amount. Spent 10 minutes testing it at various focal lengths and subject distances while at the airport and arrived at a +6 adjustment on the K20D.

It made all the difference in the world. Now it is my favorite lens and gives me absolutely fantastic results. I've put it up against some primes and it performs admirably. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Maybe you have a similar problem?

09-17-2008, 06:00 PM   #5
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No issues with mine, but I mainly use it for landscape and wider shots. No bokeh really in any of my shots either if memory serves. When I want that I use my Tamron 28-75mm or a prime.
09-17-2008, 07:25 PM   #6
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I've had one for a while and had much success and enjoyment from it. I recently upgraded to the DA* 16-50 for the F/2.8 and weathersealing, so I will probably be selling the 16-45 soon, but I've found it to be a very competent lens for the money.
09-17-2008, 08:25 PM   #7
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I just looked at a couple of hundred 16-45mm photos in my hard drive. I love that lens. It's only a small step behind the 50mm 1.4 for sharpness, just as good at colour rendition and beats my 18-55mm and 18-250mm at pretty much everything. Bokeh is not quite as good as the 50mm, but that's no surprise. The only criticism I can make of the 16-45mm is some PF once in a while. Of course I can make the same criticism of the 50mm.

I loaded some 16-45mm shots in a Picasa file. Not everyone appreciates the same things. Are there IQ issues in these photos in your opinion? Picasa Web Albums - Dan - 16-45mm
09-17-2008, 10:38 PM   #8
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I'm very happy with my 16-45. Excellent images. I've been taking pictures for over 40 years with SLR's, medium formats, Leica Rangefinder.

It's among the best lens I've had . It easily rivals my Leica lens, my Mamiya - Sekor, my takumars, Pentaxes, etc..

09-18-2008, 03:07 AM   #9
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I've found the same lack of resolution you mention, but I do my best not to let it bother me - after all, in so many other ways the lens can make photographs!
The good/bad lens thread has a couple of examples of zoom v prime, including my 43 vs 16-45 example... though the second photo doesn't seem to be loading in from pbase this morning.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/36946-differen...-lenses-4.html
My new Pentax lens on a 35mm camera! Photo Gallery by jussi at pbase.com

I haven't really seen the bokeh problem, save the limitation of f/4.

Again, on its own the lens does really well: the design concentrates on the area that humans find important to give the sense of sharp accuracy, IMO at the expense of ultimate resolution.

Either that, or there are Impostor Zombie 16-45's out there
09-18-2008, 04:41 AM   #10
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Here are a couple of images. Two of them are a bit extreme to show what I mean.

In fact both of these two doesn't really seem to be in focus at all. The problem is the focusing issue does not seem to be consistent. When I did try out the 16-45 on the focus adjust chart this summer it wasn't really much off at all. I can do another try with focus adjustment on my new K20, but from my experience with the K10 there wasn't really much to do.

Even if you ignore the fact that there seems to be nothing really in focus in these two images, I think they show the harsh rendering of out of focus areas that I don't really like.
These were shot in raw and resized and exported from lightroom with no output sharpening. I've resized them just to show that it is not just a pixel peeping issue.



This one is shot at 23mm, f4 ,1/400

The lines along the viking boathouse seems almos like motion blur and the grass and the trees in the back looks like it's shot with a very cheap point and shoot camera.



38mm f4.5 1/640

Again I find the results very messy.



45mm f4 1/1600

At least in this image there is something that is supposed to be in focus, the stone in the middle. If you look at the smaller stones back by the shore or at the grass in the back it looks rather messy to me. It's not nearly that obvious in this image though.

For the record this is not only at f4, I even have images with f8 that have the same effect on out of focus areas.

Is this really just in my head guys? I've nearly given up trying to pinpoint what this bad karma between me and this lens is all about.
09-18-2008, 05:16 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by sveinmb Quote
Is this really just in my head guys? I've nearly given up trying to pinpoint what this bad karma between me and this lens is all about.
I do find these images unpleasant to look at, but I'm not at all convinced it's anything to do with the lens. I suggest you take a couple of photos using a lens you think gets it right, then take the exact same photos with the 16-45mm to show what it does wrong. The problems I see in these photos are related to subject matter, technique and limited dynamic range, none of which can be attributed to the lens.
09-18-2008, 05:49 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
I do find these images unpleasant to look at, but I'm not at all convinced it's anything to do with the lens. I suggest you take a couple of photos using a lens you think gets it right, then take the exact same photos with the 16-45mm to show what it does wrong.
Sure. I'll take a couple of shots later today.

I don't find the same harshness in your images in the picasa album. Overall I would say you images look a lot cleaner in the out of focus areas, and way more detailed than mine. I don't think I've got a single image that has the same level of detail as your shot of the bridge with my copy of this lens.

The FA50 is of course a lot better when it comes down to out of focus areas, but that's like comparing apples and pears. The funny thing is - I tend to prefer the images done with one of my 18-55 when comparing with the 16-45. Of course it could all boil down to my complete lack of skill. I think it would have been even better if I could get the hold of another 16-45 and done some head on testing between the two, but I don't know anyone with that particular lens in my area at the moment.

I'll do some new shots and let you have a look.
09-18-2008, 06:02 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by sewebster Quote
Here's one on flickr: Flowers on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Some great images in there. Were all these photos taken with the 16-45mm?
09-18-2008, 06:50 AM   #14
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Flickr: Pentax SMCPDA 16-45mm f/4.0

You could look through the flicr group to see plenty of examples, good and bad...

Yes, the bokeh can be a bit choppy with this lens, depending on the distances involved. However it is also capable- like Dan's photos show - of really excellent rendering with a bit of care.
09-18-2008, 07:03 AM   #15
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I hated my 16-45 when i had it on the istD. Not happy with the quality at all. To soft for me.

However on my K10D it performs very nicely. I do have a bit of BF at F4 on extreme close up shots, but to get around that, i use the DA F 50 instead.

Dave
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