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01-01-2019, 03:13 PM - 1 Like   #1
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For a beginner, is the price premium of 16-85 lens over the 18-135 worth paying for

New to photography. Got a KS2 six months ago. I played with the kit lens for four months and then got a couple of prime lenses - 35 and 50 mm. Now that probably wasn’t a smart move as the advice usually for the beginners is to stick to the kit lens till their skills outgrow the lens. I, however, couldn’t go back to the kit lens after using the primes. The IQ is just so much better, even as a beginner I notice the difference without pixel peeping. Having been using only prime lenses for the past two months, I am however running into the limitations of the primes – mainly the flexibility of focal length. So now considering getting a zoom lens. Two contenders are 18-135 and 16-85 lenses.

I have read most of the threads on this topic and the consensus seems to be that 16-85 has better IQ. However, is the difference significant enough? As a beginner will I even notice the difference without pixel peeping. A used 18-135 is one third the price of a 16-85 – so there is a significant premium to pay.

I am still discovering the style of my photography, so not sure if I would prefer the extra zoom of 18-135 or additional width of 16-85. In fact, this is also a motivation for me to get a good zoom lens. If I keep shooting at 35 mm, I would never discover how shooting at wide focal length is like.

01-01-2019, 03:47 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gbhati01 Quote
However, is the difference significant enough? As a beginner will I even notice the difference without pixel peeping.
We have both, the 16-85 is sharper on the edges than the 18-135 but in the center not much difference.

I use the 16-85 on my K-3II and my wife uses the 18-135 on hers. Same shot, same time, same light: sometimes hers are better, sometimes mine are better.

So, IMHO opinion, for a beginner with just a general interest in photography the 18-135 is a better buy. You do give up 2mm on the wide end (which seems like nothing but in reality is very noticeable) but you gain a lot on the long end. And regardless of what you get in the future the 18-135 will always make a good travel lens.
01-01-2019, 03:55 PM   #3
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Agreed, the 18-135 is both value for money and versatile enough to be a long-term keeper of a lens. Compact, reasonably good image quality, and practical.
01-01-2019, 03:57 PM   #4
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This begs the question ... which "kit lens" was acquired with the camera? If it was one of the ubiquitous 18-50mm or thereabouts you might already have an idea as to whether the extra few degrees of wide-angle that a 16mm lens would provide would be of any use to you, or do you regularly want to get closer (or crop tighter) in which case the 135mm range might be a better option.


Don't let yourself be confused by the shallow depth-of-field provided by a prime at wide aperture giving an effect of better image quality than your zoom. Do some definitive tests on a brick wall or a wire fence at similar apertures and see what the real difference is ... you might be surprised!


Good luck

01-01-2019, 04:08 PM   #5
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On APS-C the difference between 16mm and 18mm is a significant one for me, so I'd personally go with the 16-85 over the 18-135.
01-01-2019, 04:10 PM   #6
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With a kit lens (probably 18-50 or so) and a couple of primes, you already have more than enough kit to find out what you need next. All it takes is some time to find it out.

Do you find yourself wishing you had a faster aperture in your zoom? Or do you care more about longer reach or more width?
Can you imagine yourself carrying around big hunks of glass to achieve what you want, or do you care more about space and weight?

Keep using the kit you have. Ask yourself what it is you want to do, but can't with your current kit. Ask yourself how important it is to you...wait to see if you grow out of that idea. Then, you will not need to ask a forum for advice, you will know for sure what you want.
01-01-2019, 04:28 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Which kit lens? The 18-50mm or 18-55mm WR? Well, regardless, there aren't many zoom lenses, if any, that will match a really good prime in every respect. The DA 18-135mm is better that either kit lens, and especially when you know where the lens is at its best. I suggest you visit the Troubleshooting and Beginner Help section in the thread entitled "Which K-70 package?"on P.2 to view some sample work with this lens by Des, to see its extreme versatility and its possibilities for yourself. Now, keep in mind these images are results from an experienced photographer, which you will eventually become. Please do check this out!

The DA 18-135mm is, both physically and use-wise, especially suited to a compact body like your K-S2. I've been at it a very long time, since the all-manual only film days. Currently, I shoot with the KP, the K-S2, and the K-5 IIs, which is a flagship model. I have the DA 18-50mm kit lens that came with the K-S2, and for far longer I've had the DA 18-135mm, as well as premium zoom lenses like the DA* 50-135mm f/2.8, and a whole slew of the finest prime lenses. The DA 18-135mm is still one of my go-to lenses, depending on my needs. I have no problem with its quality. It can do so many things and do them well, from portrait at around 70mm wide open at f/4.5, to closeups, to wide angle, to telephoto candid people shots. It is also great as a learner's tool, due to its great versatility. Its AF is also one of the fastest and most accurate. Build quality is very good. Amazingly compact for such zoom range. No matter what other fine lenses one has, there are times when this lens will be the one to turn to.

If you want to get as close as possible to prime lens characteristics, and do not mind having a reduced range zoom lens, the excellent DA 20-40mm f/2.8-4 Limited is an exceptional high-quality zoom lens that is especially well-designed for a compact body like the K-S2. I bought mine about 3 years ago mainly for use on the K-S2 when I did not need the range of the DA 18-135mm and wanted even more compact carrying, along with fine quality. I got mine in silver anyway, and find it looks classy on my black K-S2, but when I got my silver KP it went together like it is part of this camera, with outstanding quality imaging.

However, besides such a fine versatile zoom lens like the DA 18-135mm, since you already have the 35mm and 50mm prime lenses, it is a good idea to get used to working with just primes and their respective focal lengths, the next prime I would recommend for you would be the DA 21mm Limited, a good focal length for versatile all-around use. That said, if in your practice you find yourself going towards needing more wide angle, add the DA 15mm Limited instead.

---------- Post added 01-01-19 at 04:30 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by kypfer Quote
This begs the question ... which "kit lens" was acquired with the camera? If it was one of the ubiquitous 18-50mm or thereabouts you might already have an idea as to whether the extra few degrees of wide-angle that a 16mm lens would provide would be of any use to you, or do you regularly want to get closer (or crop tighter) in which case the 135mm range might be a better option.


Don't let yourself be confused by the shallow depth-of-field provided by a prime at wide aperture giving an effect of better image quality than your zoom. Do some definitive tests on a brick wall or a wire fence at similar apertures and see what the real difference is ... you might be surprised!


Good luck
I agree. There are various reasons why aspects of good image quality shows in certain shots. Keep in mind a smaller aperture means a larger aperture number! Mid aperture numbers are usually where the best sharpness occurs.

You see, take your 50 mm lens, which probably has a wide-open aperture of f/1.8, so for it, a mid-aperture would include f/4. But your kit lens at 50mm f/5.6 is wide open. It cannot even provide f/4 at 50mm. Mid aperture for it would be f/ 8 or 9.5 or so. If you go too much, say by f/11 then quality begins to decline again. Therefore, your prime lenses have more aperture range before there is significant decline.

Last edited by mikesbike; 01-01-2019 at 04:55 PM.
01-01-2019, 05:52 PM - 1 Like   #8
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I have both.

The DA 16-85 is optically better across the frame. Both are very good at centre.

Is the 2mm at the short end more valuable to you than the 50mm at the long end? If so, the 16-85 selects itself, if it's within your budget.

If I'm also carrying the DA 55-300, the extra 50mm of the 18-135 doesn't matter to me, so again, I opt for the 16-85.

However, if I had just one lens, or was on a hike where I wanted to carry only one lens, then I'd go for the 18-135.

01-01-2019, 06:19 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gbhati01 Quote
New to photography. Got a KS2 six months ago. I played with the kit lens for four months and then got a couple of prime lenses - 35 and 50 mm. Now that probably wasn’t a smart move as the advice usually for the beginners is to stick to the kit lens till their skills outgrow the lens. I, however, couldn’t go back to the kit lens after using the primes. The IQ is just so much better, even as a beginner I notice the difference without pixel peeping. Having been using only prime lenses for the past two months, I am however running into the limitations of the primes – mainly the flexibility of focal length. So now considering getting a zoom lens. Two contenders are 18-135 and 16-85 lenses.

I have read most of the threads on this topic and the consensus seems to be that 16-85 has better IQ. However, is the difference significant enough? As a beginner will I even notice the difference without pixel peeping. A used 18-135 is one third the price of a 16-85 – so there is a significant premium to pay.

I am still discovering the style of my photography, so not sure if I would prefer the extra zoom of 18-135 or additional width of 16-85. In fact, this is also a motivation for me to get a good zoom lens. If I keep shooting at 35 mm, I would never discover how shooting at wide focal length is like.
Here are a few things to consider.

1. I kept the 16-85 and sold the 18-135 I had previously.
2. The 16 mm vs 18 mm makes a big difference on APC cameras.
3. If you noticed substantial difference between the kit lens and the primes you had you will also appreciate the edge performance of the 16-85. Not a huge improvement over the 18-135 but it’s there.
4. Shooting wide is hard. It gets increasingly hard to maintain composition the wider you go. The old maxim about filling the frame with your target is still worth remembering. If you are interested in learning about wide angle photography the 16-85 would be a great start.

Both are great lenses so you can’t go wrong.
01-01-2019, 06:25 PM   #10
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welcome

may I suggest you consider investing some money and time to rent equipment and do your own testing:

please take a look at this thread:

Information on Businesses that offer cameras and lenses for rent - PentaxForums.com

when you decide on what you may want to purchase:

if interested in " experienced " equipment, check out what might be available in the forum's market place

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/24-photographic-equipment-sale/?security...d+States&all=1
01-01-2019, 06:26 PM   #11
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Most people get the 18-135 for convenience and travelling and it can't be beat for that. But if you're looking to become a hobbyist - and want to see what your camera is capable of producing, consider getting a single high quality zoom.

The DA* 50-135 mentioned above is a superb lense - equal to many primes (except the FA 77mm and 100 macro). A constant f2.8, and great handling with internal parfocal, will make it hard to resist. It's alot heavier than the 18-135 so you do need to figure out what are you shooting and buy lenses that match your needs.

(Just be careful if going for the 50-135, it might cause an outbreak of LBA!)

I went down your route once to expand my range and bought a cheap 50-200 to complement the 18-55. Both now sit in a drawer, because they can't compete with higher quality primes and zooms. I can't even sell the 50-200 for $50
01-01-2019, 06:54 PM   #12
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I don't own either the 16-85 or 18-135 (I have the older DA17-70 which covers most of my 'walk round' needs). If I want a longer lens, I'll use a manual focus 135 prime (something like an M135/3.5 can be found at very reasonable prices - although not as easy to use). If I want a lens longer than say 70mm, I usually want 135 or longer, not something in between.

As others have said, the difference between 16mm & 18mm on APS-C is larger than you'd think, if choosing between the 16-85 & 18-135, I'd go for the 16-85 for this reason (you can always add a longer zoom later). As mentioned, the 18-135 gives you a lot of versatility in one lens for travel etc if that's significant. I wouldn't worry about IQ differences between these zooms - I doubt either will match the primes you have (both might seem like a step down).
01-01-2019, 07:19 PM - 1 Like   #13
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Apart from the slowish maximum aperture (f/3.5-5.6), I think you'd be very hard-pressed to detect any optical weaknesses in the DA 16-85 relative to most primes in its range.
01-01-2019, 07:42 PM   #14
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Under my 18-135 for ultra wide angle I have the Sigma 8-16 an Samyang 14, 2.8. Neither the 18-135 nor the 16-85 reduce the need for those. Even the new 11-18 is considerably less than the 16-85. I wouldn't like going out with my 18-135 or the 16-85 without my DA*60-250, or the 55-300 PLM and an ultra wide.

So to me the advantage for the 18-135 to the 16-85 for the beginner is $476 at B&H to $646, or $170 difference.

Another option since you like primes so much would be the 21 ltd at $424 or the 15 Ltd at $546.

And if you wish to go longer the DFA 100 macro 2.8 is a great lens at $546.

Not quite so long? The DA 70 2.4 is one of the best for Pentax APS_c a bit better than your 35 2.4 coming in at around $500.

MY guess is, if you don't like the kit, both the 18-135 and the 16-85 are "one step above kit" lenses., I'd be a little concerned neither would be what you wanted. And the 18-50 just isn't that bad. I'm guessing adding to your collection of primes would be the safest option. The 15 is more of a niche option, the 21 is a great landscape and street photography type lens.

I'd look at your photos and find out if you shoot more images at 18mm or more at 50mm to see which prime I want first. The 15 or 21 if you shoot more at 18mm. The 100 if you shoot more at 50mm.

But with all the lenses I own the 18-135 on APS_c is my favourite one lens walk around kit. For versatility it can't be beat. But it's kind of a tight rope. The best zooms are 3:1 like the 16-50, the 16-85 is 5.3:1 and the 18-135 is 7.5 to one. IQ generally is better with a lower zoom ratio. So it's always going to be a trade off. More flexibility or more IQ. Finding your sweet spot can be difficult if you don't have access to the lenses. The 18-135 for me is the best gamble... but no one can guarantee success no matter what you choose. And the 18-135 is best at 24mm, where it's excellent centre and edge... so it would definitely extend your range in terms of IQ over the 18-50 or 18-55.

Really for a walk around lens, my biggest goal is to avoid lens changes. If I have time, or I really want good image that I can pixel peep, I'll use primes.

While people may say there's a big difference between 16 and 18mm, there's a bigger difference between 85 and 135 both in terms of ratio and in terms of field of view. The 18-135 is simply more flexible, and the 18-250 type lenses are even more flexible and even less IQ. It's a conundrum not easily solved on line.

Last edited by normhead; 01-02-2019 at 06:31 AM.
01-01-2019, 07:46 PM   #15
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(The following was already written in a couple (actually several) of the posts, but maybe said a little differently.)

As you have the kit lens you likely should explore using it to see how wide you really want to go, and just forget about the lesser quality. It is one thing to see the difference in doing A vs B, but for the photo does it really make a difference, if you only saw A? This is especially true if you print at moderate size. Personally I try to avoid doing A to B comparisons (even though I am using 3 different cameras and many different lenses to shoot the same performance—I do theater photgraphy). I only want to know if what I am using is good enough, and (for me) the ergonomics/physical construction are also very, perhaps more so, important.

Once you see what FL or FL range you are usually in, you can make a more informed decision. You may even find a wider single FL lens may serve you better (and be faster, less expensive, and better IQ).

Last edited by dms; 01-01-2019 at 07:59 PM.
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