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03-20-2019, 06:40 PM   #1
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Am I wrong to hate the DA* 16-50mm?

I've used the Canon 17-55mm and 17-40mm L, the Sigma 17-50mm on 3 systems, and the Tamron 17-50mm on 2 systems, and I had 3 16-50mm SDM lenses, and I am very disappointed with the lens. It is not very sharp wide open and has problems with high contrast edges that doesn't go away until F5.6; even using flash indoors is a large chore, I have to bounce off the opposite wall to get the soft light otherwise it flares/ghosts (or whatever it's called when high contrast edges are fuzzy), which makes it hard to determine AFMA because it's hard to tell what is soft and what is out of focus. I think my favorite of the bunch is the Canon 17-55mm, followed by the Sigma. The Tamron has a loud focus motor but is pretty good otherwise. the 17-40mm is fine but not a great range of zoom on an APS-C sized sensor. It's the only weather resistant lens of that bunch. Which brings me back to the 16-50mm's performance, or lack thereof.

It's provides a great general purpose range of AoV, but it's not a 2.8 zoom lens. It performs like a f4 lens that got overextended into a f2.8 optical system, and I wish there was another weather resistant choice at f2.8 for the APS-C Pentax systems. Oh, and don't get me started on the SDM focus system....
If there was ever a lens that I felt undeserving of the * designation, this would be at top of the list.

03-20-2019, 06:44 PM   #2
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I think most people have considered it the weakest modern star lens. There's been talk about a refresh in that range, which would be great to match up with the new amazing 11-18.
03-20-2019, 06:58 PM   #3
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03-20-2019, 07:12 PM   #4
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I think you might be wrong to hate it, but perfectly at liberty to be dissatisfied with it. For some considerable time, it's been known to be inferior optically to both the Tamron and Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 lenses, and the SDM issue is well documented. Definitely due for replacement with an improved version or all-new model... and yet, I've seen awesome photos taken with it too, and unlike the Tammy or Sigma, it is AW rated. One thing's for sure... it's the best 16-50 f/2.8 available in K-mount

03-20-2019, 08:14 PM   #5
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Had one. Loved it and hated it. Great within its limits, but its limits seem excessive for a * lens.
03-20-2019, 09:14 PM   #6
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Don't know about the 16-50, but I have a 16-85. Good image; lighter, shorter, takes a smaller filter, weather-sealed, has a x5 zoom, and is cheaper. If you can get a copy try it out. Best APC lens I have. A real sleeper and a carefully kept secret, for some reason. (Speed kills).
03-20-2019, 11:08 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Lotta people have issues with this lens. For me (and I have had mine for 10 years only one repair too), it's been a wonderful lens, I've gotten many excellent images from it. However, SDM failures for many, seem to make many take a love/hate viewpoint. You need to realize that as a * lens, for a long time until the K-1 and DFA lenses hit the scene, this lens was supposed to be the best workhorse zoom out there. Personally, I've shot many things with the DA*16-50 and DA*50-135 lenses being the only lenses in my bag. Bottom line here is that if it works for you go with it, if not, no worries move on.

03-21-2019, 12:30 AM - 3 Likes   #8
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Hate is a pretty strong word.

But sure, the two copies I had of this lens both suffered from Sudden Death Motor syndrome, and neither were particularly great at the wide end outdoors. Once aware of the optical limitations it can be a really useful workhorse though.

Can Pentax do better? Sure. I'd love to see a new DA*18-50 to dovetail the (new) DA*11-18 and (brilliant) DA*50-135 with something better and maybe a little more compact.

In the meantime I'll use the considerably better DFA24-70 on the K-1.
03-21-2019, 05:21 AM   #9
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I think getting a good copy is key, especially for wide open performance. I actually sent the first two copies back due to decentering for exchange, but the 3rd was the proverbial charm, and I've had good results with it. Is this a new acquisition? If you got if from B&H or Adorama, and it's within 30 days, you might want to do some test shots for decentering and exchange it for another one. B&H is where I got mine from, they are great to work with - no issues with exchanging a bad copy.
03-21-2019, 05:47 AM   #10
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It is very prone to flare and ghosting in certain circumstances (of which I'm not sure what is cause sometimes it doesn't!)
03-21-2019, 06:30 AM   #11
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As a 18-50mm f4 lens it isn't too bad, but Pentax makes one of those that is a fifth the price and one third the weight.

My most disappointing Pentax lens, even before the SDM broke.
03-21-2019, 06:45 AM - 1 Like   #12
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If you've had three copies of that lens and have been disappointed with all of them, then chances are it isn't the lens for you and thus you are well within your rights to dislike it. I've never used one, so I cannot make any pronouncement on its quality or suitability for my needs.
03-21-2019, 07:21 AM   #13
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You may want to check excellent comparison by fellow Pentaxian Heie - it covers 16-50, 16-85 and 18-135.
03-22-2019, 09:17 AM   #14
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RE DA* 16-50
I've had one since 2007 when they first came out and it's my most used lens, spending much of it's time on a small boat in a saltwater environment.

I returned the first one due to minor focus issues at infinity @ f2.8 (which would rarely be used in real life).

The next lens was about the same but I figured I would keep it since it was so good otherwise. However it stopped working properly with my K10D so I sent it to Pentax under warranty. It came back supposedly fixed, but was not. I sent it back with my camera body (per their instructions on the original repair receipt).

Since then (early 2008) everything has been perfect.

These tribulations weren't unreasonable considering, in 2007, it was a brand new lens design for a new weather resistant system (K10D).

In real dollars, lenses are much less expensive and better now than ever before due to better automation, economies of scale, etc. However fine hand tuning and calibration of each lens prior to sale is a thing of the past due to cost, so it's up to the consumer to carefully test a new lens upon receipt.

Last edited by rogerstg; 03-22-2019 at 11:39 AM.
03-22-2019, 09:33 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
I think you might be wrong to hate it, but perfectly at liberty to be dissatisfied with it. For some considerable time, it's been known to be inferior optically to both the Tamron and Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 lenses, and the SDM issue is well documented. Definitely due for replacement with an improved version or all-new model... and yet, I've seen awesome photos taken with it too, and unlike the Tammy or Sigma, it is AW rated. One thing's for sure... it's the best 16-50 f/2.8 available in K-mount
For its size, I would partially agree with you Mack. I prefer the 16-45mm even though it's older and larger because it renders better. The gimmick of the 16-50mm is its compressibility, but by doing so, the plastic, lightweight (albeit weather resisant) body of the lens feels cheap, particularly at the $300 price point. On the other hand, I have taken excellent shots with it. I concur that barrel distortion and flaring is prevalent wide open, but I bought a UV haze filter for it as well as rubber wide angle collapsible hood for it and that has helped tremendously. I find most inexpensive Pentax DAL lenses do well with a quality UV filter, but others may (and do) differ on that point.

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