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1 Day Ago   #1
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Crazy?? DA 21 (SMC) vs HD 18-50mm for very small walk-around lens

So I have the perfect walk-around lens (IMHO) in the DA*16-50mm f/2.8. Fast enough to use indoors, and when using it outdoors, set it at f8 and the colors, micro-contrast and overal "pop" of the images is basically as good as any good primes I have in its range. OF course it won't make me sell my DA 35 Limited or my K 50 f1.2, but overall I'm very pleased with it.

Yet sometimes I don't want to (or can't, really) take it due to size - on a bike ride for example, or when I'm going to walk around all day. For those days I thought I'd buy a DA 21mm SMC (around 200 dollars, hopefully I find it for less - the HD is out of my budget I think. I bought my 35 Limited for 179 shipped and the 70 Limited for 174 shipped, which is the reason I was able to get these fine lenses in the first place).

But the thing is, I'm not overly excited about the images from the SMC 21. The HD version, I think has subtle but noticeable improvements in contrast and micro-contrast in particular, and balancing of colors in general, which make the images as a whole more appealing. I should probably mention that I had the DA 21 before, for a couple of weeks. I got it on a trade back in my K20D days and when the other person suggested after a few days that we should revert the trade because they were not overly excited with the DA 16-45mm f4 either, I jumped on it because I was less excited with the 21 (my first Limited!!) that I thought I would be. And I also missed having a general walk-around zoom and the 16-45 was perfect for that (if the "wobble" of the internal lens barrel hadn't gotten worse I wouldn't even have bought the 16-50, I'd be happily shooting the 16-45 still).

So to make a long story short, I'm seeing a nicer look to the images in the HD DA 18-50mm f4-5.6, than I see in the SMC 21mm. I've been looking over the internet everywhere for pictures of both lenses and while the 21mm is probably much better than my initial experience would suggest, it's not on the same level as the HD 21mm or the HD 18-50mm. (the SMC 18-50mm, on the other hand, seems to be a bit disappointing in terms of micro-contrast, colors and sharpness - on the same level as the 18-55mm old kit lens).

Now I know the HD 18-50mm is probably going to require being more careful with it, as the build quality is a bit disappointing, but what I'm after is the look of the images, and a very small carry-around lens (134g for the 21mm, 158g for the HD 18-50, not much difference, and both are small when the 18-50 is retracted). Oh and the HD 18-50mm is WR.

With either one, I'd carry the SMC DA 70mm on a pocket somewhere, in case I need something longer.

Go ahead and tell me I'm crazy for considering this cheaply made lens instead of a Limited for my intended purpose.... (something small and light to carry on the K-S1 when I don't want to carry the K-3+DA*16-50mm).

Flickr search on the HD 18-50mm... Search: HD 18-50mm pentax | Flickr
Flickr search on the SMC 21mm... Search: SMC 21mm limited pentax | Flickr
(I'm viewing the images on a 32" 4K monitor, and the best SMC 21mm images seem to be taken with a K10D... the ones with newer cameras don't seem to have the same "pop").

I've looked at review pictures, the 21mm Limited threads, and in explorecams as well.

1 Day Ago   #2
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at your request, you're crazy....

(:
1 Day Ago - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by pepperberry farm Quote
at your request, you're crazy....

(:
Ok, besides that valid point... would you not agree that the HD 18-50mm images do seem to have a bit extra clarity and nicer definition when compared to the SMC 21mm Limited?
Or maybe do I need glasses? ....
1 Day Ago   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChristianRock Quote
Ok, besides that valid point... would you not agree that the HD 18-50mm images do seem to have a bit extra clarity and nicer definition when compared to the SMC 21mm Limited?
Or maybe do I need glasses? ....
I won't be able to do a proper comparison until later - currently mobile at the moment...

but I love my DA 21....

1 Day Ago   #5
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Before I bought a DA 21, I took out my 18-55 and forced myself to shoot in the 20-21mm range to see if it was a focal length that would be of value to me. Since then, I've used the DA 21 a lot. The photos have generally been taken in the same area - a small wooded area with trails. I've had a lot of fun with the DA 21 and I'm glad I bought it. But I'm not sure any of my photos have matched up to a few I got out of the 18-55. However, I'm not drawing any conclusions about the lenses from the pictures so far. My outing with 18-55 was at a different time of day, with different lighting conditions and I was on my own and had a bit more time to compose shots. The DA 21 has generally been used later in the day, with different lighting conditions and sometimes the shots have been rushed.

So the one conclusion I would offer is that comparing images is difficult because of the number of variables involved. It also helps to know the strengths and weaknesses of a lens and once you do, you can get better images even using "lesser" glass. So your views don't seem crazy. My 18-55 is my only WR lens, so if the weather demanded it, that is the lens I used. But it has often disappointed me at 18mm (and also at its long end), so if I knew I wanted to shoot only at the wider end, I'd use the 21 and at worse also carry a 40 or 50 with me if there was a chance I needed something longer, or even a 35-70.
1 Day Ago - 3 Likes   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChristianRock Quote
Go ahead and tell me I'm crazy for considering this cheaply made lens instead of a Limited for my intended purpose.... (something small and light to carry on the K-S1 when I don't want to carry the K-3+DA*16-50mm).
You are not crazy. Even if the image quality of the DA 21 is slightly better than the 18-50, the convenience of the zoom for your intended purpose over rides that. And I am not convinced that you could tell the difference in image quality in real world conditions.

I know this is heretical but the difference between zooms and primes is not so great any more. Back in film days when zooms first came out they were clearly not as good as a good prime. That really is no longer the case unless you are going to carry something like the DFA*50 or DFA*85.


The DA Limiteds are all great, fun, little lenses with excellent image quality. But they are not some magical device that transforms things into wonderful images. I had a full set of DA Limiteds and sold them on because I never used them, preferring the zooms. For what you are asking about as a use case a small light zoom like the DA 18-50 is perfect.
1 Day Ago   #7
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Easiest way to know is to buy both and sell the one you like less. There have been some really great images from the 18-50 RE shared on this forum but that lens seems to live best at f8 which is not always so easy to deal with.
1 Day Ago   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
Easiest way to know is to buy both and sell the one you like less. There have been some really great images from the 18-50 RE shared on this forum but that lens seems to live best at f8 which is not always so easy to deal with.
Ah but if I had the money to buy both, I'd just get the HD 21 LImited and be done with it

I'm just looking for a small, good quality lens to walk around with, that I can buy for an affordable price or around 200 dollars or even less, to use when I don't want to carry my DA*16-50mm (which requires the K-3 or at least my K200D, as it doesn't really balance well on the K-S1).

1 Day Ago   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by MSL Quote
Before I bought a DA 21, I took out my 18-55 and forced myself to shoot in the 20-21mm range to see if it was a focal length that would be of value to me. Since then, I've used the DA 21 a lot. The photos have generally been taken in the same area - a small wooded area with trails. I've had a lot of fun with the DA 21 and I'm glad I bought it. But I'm not sure any of my photos have matched up to a few I got out of the 18-55. However, I'm not drawing any conclusions about the lenses from the pictures so far. My outing with 18-55 was at a different time of day, with different lighting conditions and I was on my own and had a bit more time to compose shots. The DA 21 has generally been used later in the day, with different lighting conditions and sometimes the shots have been rushed.

So the one conclusion I would offer is that comparing images is difficult because of the number of variables involved. It also helps to know the strengths and weaknesses of a lens and once you do, you can get better images even using "lesser" glass. So your views don't seem crazy. My 18-55 is my only WR lens, so if the weather demanded it, that is the lens I used. But it has often disappointed me at 18mm (and also at its long end), so if I knew I wanted to shoot only at the wider end, I'd use the 21 and at worse also carry a 40 or 50 with me if there was a chance I needed something longer, or even a 35-70.
I agree that the old 18-55mm isn't as bad as some (including me) suggest. I've gone back at times and looked at 18-55 pictures that looked quite good. But sometimes you'd end up with pictures that left you wishing you had a better lens, especially at 18mm and 55mm.

The HD 18-50mm seems quite different though. Looking at pictures form different users, I can see some definite characteristics of that lens, especially the micro-contrast which compares well even to much more expensive lenses.
Add to that the fact that they made the 18mm end slightly narrower (I think that is proven by the in-depth comparison with the 18-55mm published here at PentaxForums), and made it f4, so now the wide end is "much improved". And they kept the long end at 50mm where the optical design still worked well, and got rid of the 51mm+ end where it started to suffer. All in all, they "fixed" the design by basically "cutting off" the ends in a way.

I'm not saying it's as quite as good as all the Limited lenses - I think the 70mm in particular is a killer lens at any focal distances, and the 35 Limited does not need any more praises than it already receives. But the 21 isn't the 70 or 35 either...
1 Day Ago   #10
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Then buy the 18-50 and be prepared to deal with the impact of shooting at f8 (or smaller) most to all of the time. The lens, from samples I've seen (I don't own this lens, I know I'm not supposed to be posting in threads about glass I haven't owned or used extensively) the 18-50 RE is awesome at f8 but not hot wide open. The great thing is how pushable Pentax RAW's are in post since the K-5 onwards.

That's my advice; get the 18-50 RE and f8 & be there.
1 Day Ago   #11
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II think it all depends on if you prefer zooms or primes. I have the five DA Limiteds and love them all, but then I prefer primes. Having said that though, after doing a single in I like nothing more than going out with my 18-135 or 50-200.the 50-200 wr is light, cheap and my version is nice once i had calibrated it. Mine cost me 50 and at that price I never worry about it getting damaged. Its a proper throw in the bag lens
1 Day Ago - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
You are not crazy. Even if the image quality of the DA 21 is slightly better than the 18-50, the convenience of the zoom for your intended purpose over rides that. And I am not convinced that you could tell the difference in image quality in real world conditions.
I think that for what I want, if I felt the SMC 21 was slightly better than the 18-50, I would probably get it as I'm all about the final image, and I wouldn't mind zooming with my feet. I would carry the DA 70 Limited pancake in case I needed the longer end.
The crazy reference is that I'm thinking, the HD 21 might give me better images than the HD 18-50, but the SMC version really won't...

QuoteQuote:
I know this is heretical but the difference between zooms and primes is not so great any more. Back in film days when zooms first came out they were clearly not as good as a good prime. That really is no longer the case unless you are going to carry something like the DFA*50 or DFA*85.
Well with zooms, there are some that still have compromises, and some that don't...
In my case, there are two zooms that I have where I'm so happy with the optical quality, that I don't mind that they are zooms - the DA*16-50 and the SMC-A 70-210mm f4 (full frame users might have a different opinion on that one but on APS-C, it's killer and the colors and contrast are gorgeous).

QuoteQuote:
The DA Limiteds are all great, fun, little lenses with excellent image quality. But they are not some magical device that transforms things into wonderful images. I had a full set of DA Limiteds and sold them on because I never used them, preferring the zooms. For what you are asking about as a use case a small light zoom like the DA 18-50 is perfect.
I'm not about to sell my Limiteds though... I'm more of a primes guy, I like working with their limitations (no pun intended...) and I like their output.
Which brings me back to the word "crazy" about all of this...
1 Day Ago - 1 Like   #13
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You need a 40mm limited in your life. I got one last month and it is incredible
1 Day Ago   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
Then buy the 18-50 and be prepared to deal with the impact of shooting at f8 (or smaller) most to all of the time. The lens, from samples I've seen (I don't own this lens, I know I'm not supposed to be posting in threads about glass I haven't owned or used extensively) the 18-50 RE is awesome at f8 but not hot wide open. The great thing is how pushable Pentax RAW's are in post since the K-5 onwards.

That's my advice; get the 18-50 RE and f8 & be there.
Samples I've seen from the HD version are great at f4 and 18mm, and at f5.6 and 50mm, and anywhere wide open. Honest.
The PCMag review confirms that - it even states that images are not sharper at f8 than they are wide open. See https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/pentax-hd-da-18-50mm-f4-56-dc-wr-re
If the lens was as you described it, I would never consider it.

QuoteOriginally posted by Cerebum Quote
II think it all depends on if you prefer zooms or primes. I have the five DA Limiteds and love them all, but then I prefer primes. Having said that though, after doing a single in I like nothing more than going out with my 18-135 or 50-200.the 50-200 wr is light, cheap and my version is nice once i had calibrated it. Mine cost me 50 and at that price I never worry about it getting damaged. Its a proper throw in the bag lens
Oh I can tell you right away, I prefer primes.
I could not see myself with a superzoom.

Last edited by ChristianRock; 1 Day Ago at 09:47 AM.
1 Day Ago - 2 Likes   #15
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I would also suggest you look at the hd da 20-40.
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