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04-14-2019, 07:59 PM   #1
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How good is the DA 16-85?

I posted about going to Glacier National Park a short time back.Right now here is the decision I have to make. I can get the DA 15mm limited to go along with my 21mm limited , F28 2.8 and F50 1.7. or I can get the DA 16-85 and forgo the 15mm limited. The 16-85 is at the top of my price range . The 15 is $100 less. For mostly landscapes what do I lose using the 16-85 image quality wise compared to the 15?

04-14-2019, 09:02 PM - 1 Like   #2
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It depends on what you are looking for. I'd say the 16-85 may be sharper in the corners. The 15 has something else; whatever those Mind Control people are going on about all the time, the 15 has it. The sunstars from the old DA15 (green ring) are magical. The colors from the 15 may be better, but the 16-85 is pretty good too. The 16-85 is more useful. On the move, I prefer the 16-85. I somehow always like the images from the 15 better, though. I think maybe because when I have the prime on, I need to move around more to compose, while with the zoom I get lazy and just turn the zoom ring to give me whatever framing I want. The zoom is WR, so you can shoot in any weather.

I think my 15 had become decentered, the front ring came loose and it hasn't been the same since, so I can't really post A-B shots.
04-14-2019, 09:37 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I’ve found the 16-85 very versatile for travelling, so personally I’d be looking that way. Depends how much time you have really.

Like all zooms, the 16-85 seems best mid range, so it all rather depends on what you are shooting and if you always need wide angles and need it at wide aperture etc.

I tend to think versatility and WR beats pure IQ when travelling, within reason.

Last edited by richandfleur; 04-15-2019 at 02:14 PM.
04-14-2019, 09:48 PM   #4
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how about a Sigma lens, 17-50/ 2.8. this is pretty sharp. and currently a really good price.
Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM Lens for Canon EF 583101 B&H

04-14-2019, 10:31 PM   #5
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The WR alone of the 16-85 should make it your choice for a national park. Certainly, the DA 15 Limited is magical, but the DA 16-85 @ 16 is no slouch. It would be my choice for hiking etc.
04-15-2019, 01:55 AM   #6
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See what it can do here

DA 16-85 WR,show us what it can do. - PentaxForums.com

I used it as the only lens on my K5ii on a ten week trip around Asia a few years back and never felt I'd missed out with having no other option.

My favourites from Asia Trip | Flickr
04-15-2019, 02:15 AM - 1 Like   #7
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I own both and, though I like prime lenses more (especially when they DA limiteds), I have to admit that the 16-85mm is a more versatile lens, probably with overall superior IQ too. It's not quite as wide but is a bit faster and has WR, which can be a big plus when traveling.

The biggest downside of the 16-85mm is occasional mis-focusing when using the viewfinder. AF confirmation beeps but the image is visibly out of focus. When it does this I re-focus using live-view and that sorts it.

As you already have the 21mm (optically superior to the 15mm) I would say get the 16-85mm as it will add the ability to shoot in poor weather and flexibility of a zoom, and the IQ really is superb, probably the best I've ever seen from a zoom. If you really like the limited lenses for wide landscapes then stitch multiple shots with the 21mm.
04-15-2019, 02:43 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Probably get the 16-85. As others have said, it is a nice lens that is just quite versatile. Comparing the DA 15 is not easy. To me, the DA 15 is a tripod lens for the most part, needs to be stopped down at least to f5.6 and has nice colors and excellent flare resistance. The 16-85 probably has better corners at similar apertures at 16mm but does lack a bit in the flare department.

Anyway, I would just use a combo of your 21 and 16-85 and forego the DA 15 for the moment. You can always find a used copy down the road to try out and see why people like the 15 so much, but I don't think it would be as useful for your purposes as the zoom.

04-15-2019, 04:14 AM   #9
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if I were you, I would investigate the cost of renting the lens you don't have, or if you have neither lens currently, the cost of renting both or buy one and rent the other.

You may find that you can have the best of all worlds.

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

I have only had experience with LensRental myself and they have been very good to me.

my advice:

- get the best protective options available and

- consider picking up the rental at the local office of the shipping service unless you can be sure to be able to sign for the shipment upon arrival.

Last edited by aslyfox; 04-15-2019 at 04:20 AM.
04-15-2019, 04:49 AM - 2 Likes   #10
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The 16-85 is excellent. I have it, the limited 15 and the DA 14. The 14 is noticeably wider than the 16-85 but the 15 is only slightly wider. I actually think that the zoom is a bit sharper @16 than the 15. Itís also a little faster. For travel itís a better bet with itís WR seals etc. it is the most versatile zoom I own so the 16-85 and 55-300 PLM with K-3 is my preferred travel kit.
04-15-2019, 05:00 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by robert Quote
I posted about going to Glacier National Park a short time back.Right now here is the decision I have to make. I can get the DA 15mm limited to go along with my 21mm limited , F28 2.8 and F50 1.7. or I can get the DA 16-85 and forgo the 15mm limited. The 16-85 is at the top of my price range . The 15 is $100 less. For mostly landscapes what do I lose using the 16-85 image quality wise compared to the 15?
With one minor difference (I have FA version of the 50mm f1.7) I have all of the lenses in your post. I originally bought a used 16-85 to supplement my primes only for the times I wanted only a single lens with quiet reliable autofocus. What happened instead is the 16-85 became my primary and most used lens over the primes. The IQ is equal to, if not even better than the primes, especially the older ones.
On a recent outing I brought and used on my K-3 the SMC DA 15 Limited, the 61-85 and the DA 100 macro WR. When I looked at pictures taken with all three lenses, I could not at all see which lens was less sharp than the others, even with cropping.
The perfect scenario for you in my humble opinion between the 15 Limited and the DA 16-85 is to have both, but get the 16-85 first. I took a similar trip to the Utah and Wyoming national parks and the zoom was by far my most used lens. The only downside to the 16-85 is that it is a bit bulky, especially compared to the compact primes. If you will be photographing wildlife also consider the 55-300 PLM

---------- Post added 04-15-19 at 08:03 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by pentax syntax Quote
the 16-85 is excellent. I have it, the limited 15 and the da 14. The 14 is noticeably wider than the 16-85 but the 15 is only slightly wider. I actually think that the zoom is a bit sharper @16 than the 15. Itís also a little faster. For travel itís a better bet with itís wr seals etc. It is the most versatile zoom i own so the 16-85 and 55-300 plm with k-3 is my preferred travel kit.
mine too!
04-15-2019, 05:33 AM   #12
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All this love for the 16-85, how about sharing some of your pics here?

DA 16-85 WR,show us what it can do. - Page 62 - PentaxForums.com
04-15-2019, 12:47 PM   #13
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The 16-85 was probably the first "modern glass for modern sensors" lens. In that sense it's design criteria were much more demanding than previous lenses. It should hold up on new sensors for years to come.
04-15-2019, 02:04 PM   #14
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Here's a fun challenge; go get the older SMC DA 15 used from somewhere and try to make it flare in a way that is actually disappointing. Shoot straight into the sun stopped well down. Shoot with the sun peaking out around the corner of a building. Shoot a long exposure of a street light.

I can't get the thing to actually make me upset when I do stuff like the above. Meanwhile it creates starbursts like it's a paying gig. It's small and wonderful to handle.

The 16-85 seems very nice and it covers an extremely versatile range. It's not overly large, images seem pretty sharp, and it seems "competent" (for lack of a better word) over a high percentage of its zoom range. But with the SMC DA 15 in my kit as well as the DA 18-135, I don't really envy folks with the 16-85. The DA 15 is more of an "art" lens, to me, vs. a "recording" lens that is accurate but kind of lifeless (recording lens ex: DA 35 f2.4).

An SMC DA 15, a good 28, and a good 50 (or maybe the DA 70) is an awesome kit on crop. I wouldn't bother with the HD DA 15 simply due to the curved aperture blades that takes away a lot of the nice quality to the starbursts that the SMC DA 15 can give you.
08-22-2019, 05:17 AM   #15
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Here's a bit of an extreme shot taken at f22 so as to show the motion. Technically, note the next bird on the fence (bluejay) at the extreme right. Quite sharp--esp. at full res--even though it is somewhat farther away (of course f22 partially helps with that).

Seems a very happy pic to me, somehow at least. I just smile to see it. f22, 1/60s, 53mm

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