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07-25-2021, 08:04 PM   #1
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Do I *need* to upgrade from the "kit" lens?

Yeah, I know there's no good answer. I do know how to use Google, as well as the search function here on the forum. But, It's Sunday night, I did some shooting today, and sometimes Google+Forum+eBay aren't your friend.

By way of background, I have the DA 18-55 I "kit lens." Seems decent to me. Seems like a nicer piece of glass than its counterpart from Canon. I don't know from Nikon (or Sony or Fuji...). But LBS is a thing, and while I'm in semi-remission, getting the announcement from Ricoh about the revised 16-50 put me looking for the current one. Sorta surprised to find that that one isn't so highly regarded. That led to the comparison of that vs the Sigma and Tamron 17-50s. Which led to the search for used prices on the two aftermarket lenses.

The Tamron is pretty scarce used, but still available new. The Sigma is available new and used, but is (as when new) more than the Tamron. The reviews say what they say. So, if you own/owned one of either of these "alternatives," and still have it, broke it, gave it away, sold it, or dropped it in the lake, and if you got one to replace the Pentax 18-55, what do you say? Other than as a result of boredom or a promiscuous checkbook (which I hope to not have), is there a good reason to "upgrade?"

Thanks much, hope you enjoyed the weekend and good luck on the coming week.

07-25-2021, 08:18 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Hiya!

I strongly recommend you get a DA 50mm f/1.8.
They can be had for an extremely fair price.

Then do side-by-side comparisons with the DA 50 1.8 and you kit lens at 50mm.
Now slowly step through the apertures together.
You'll notice that the 50 1.8 has a much decent faster aperture compared to the kit 50 at 5.6.

Now if you like that looks of the faster aperture, you'll want to see that effect across more focal ranges, which will warrant upgrading to better glass.
07-25-2021, 08:33 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Thanks, @FozzFoster! That's an interesting exercise. I have the F 50/1.7; I can try it with that.
07-25-2021, 08:39 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by MXLX Quote
Yeah, I know there's no good answer. I do know how to use Google, as well as the search function here on the forum. But, It's Sunday night, I did some shooting today, and sometimes Google+Forum+eBay aren't your friend.

By way of background, I have the DA 18-55 I "kit lens." Seems decent to me. Seems like a nicer piece of glass than its counterpart from Canon. I don't know from Nikon (or Sony or Fuji...). But LBS is a thing, and while I'm in semi-remission, getting the announcement from Ricoh about the revised 16-50 put me looking for the current one. Sorta surprised to find that that one isn't so highly regarded. That led to the comparison of that vs the Sigma and Tamron 17-50s. Which led to the search for used prices on the two aftermarket lenses.

The Tamron is pretty scarce used, but still available new. The Sigma is available new and used, but is (as when new) more than the Tamron. The reviews say what they say. So, if you own/owned one of either of these "alternatives," and still have it, broke it, gave it away, sold it, or dropped it in the lake, and if you got one to replace the Pentax 18-55, what do you say? Other than as a result of boredom or a promiscuous checkbook (which I hope to not have), is there a good reason to "upgrade?"

Thanks much, hope you enjoyed the weekend and good luck on the coming week.
I too started with that kit when I purchased my first Pentax, a K-S2. From there I purchased a used Sigma 17-50 f2.8 EX DC HSM. Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC HSM Lens Reviews - Sigma Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database
I have a review in the reviews section with my thoughts on it. Bought it used for about $200 and was my go-to lens for so many trips. It was a huge improvement for all the reasons I list there. Low light capability across the range, sharpness were my big pros. Since then I got a 20-40mm that is a bit more lightweight, waterproof and great results (I hike a lot so those were benefits for me). But it's way more expensive too. I still shoot the 17-50, especially in low light and nice weather, and would make that upgrade again in a heartbeat. Hope this is of some help to you

07-25-2021, 08:46 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by MXLX Quote
... is there a good reason to "upgrade?"
To me, the join to get a new lens, try it or just look at them, etc., are the good reasons to upgrade lenses.
I know it is not the answer you are looking for, but hey, we are not using a phone. We don't have to pay for a new body just to get to try a new lens.
If I could pay for it, I would go for it.
07-25-2021, 08:47 PM - 5 Likes   #6
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You don't need to BUT you want to!

Usually I don't know what I am missing until I get a better lens and then think to myself - 'why didn't I get it sooner?'
07-25-2021, 08:50 PM   #7
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For me, the best upgrade for the 18-55 was the 18-135. I use it for photos where lens quality is not too important, which happens a lot for me. For these shots, I don't need f2.8 either, I just bump the ISO. I even kept the 18-55 because it's light and small. Now if you were a pro, rich, on a once in a lifetime trip, etc. you're going to want something better for the most common range, and to pair that with other high-end lenses.

07-25-2021, 09:10 PM - 2 Likes   #8
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I think everyone should spend some time with a prime!
You say you have F 50 1.7, and I agree with FozzFoster's idea to try that for a while. Not just because of speed or DOF or IQ or handling considerations, but also the different approach to composition that a fixed focal length will give you.

I know it makes little sense, but to me when I have a zoom lens on my camera, finding an inspired shot/composition from a given location is like finding a needle in a haystack. 'You mean I can take any picture I want of this?'
The same subject with a (relatively appropriate focal length) prime, and I will say to myself 'Ahah! There is a perfect shot of this subject! I just need to be standing over there..."

Now, not everyone is inspired the same way. (And of course you can't always stand in the right spot and get your shot. Zooms are more versatile.)
But if the inspiration or vision for the shot never comes to the shooter's mind, the shot may never get snapped.

And how will we know what gear inspires us if we don't try new lenses?
07-25-2021, 09:35 PM - 2 Likes   #9
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Have you read this? DA* 16-50mm vs. Sigma and Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 Comparison Review - Introduction | PentaxForums.com Reviews

None of the there lenses was bad. The knock on the 16-50 is really three things:

1) size and weight

2) image quality wide open at 16mm

3) sdm motor failures

Item 1 comes with the territory. The replacement Pentax lens is even larger and heavier. The comparison to shorter zoom range (DA 20-40), kit lenses DA 18-55, DA 18-50 RE, and primes (DA 15 for example) make the lens seem larger than it is.

Image quality wide open is expected to be great on DA* lenses. But the 16-50 doesn’t quite line up to expectations. It isn’t bad, it just isn’t “as good” as it is slightly narrower or stopped down. This annoys people when they pay a lot of money for statement glass. The newer 16-85 has lower expectations and when it was reviewed and they said it rivaled the 16-50 at 16… no one seemed to think that was anything but a compliment.

Sdm… the good news is that the lens can be converted to screwdrive, The bad news is that conversion is needed more often than most would hope because of sdm failure.

There are reasons for an f2.8 zoom in the range covered by the 16-50. But the majority of shots in that range typically can be shot with the kit lens. I own the 16-50 and an 18-50 and an 18-135 and the 20-40. I sold my 18-55 years ago. I use all of them from time to time.
07-25-2021, 09:55 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
the best upgrade for the 18-55 was the 18-135.
This ^^^ And, you DO want to upgrade! I had 2 or 3 18-55s that came with various cameras, and they did not last here for very long!

I have the (original) Pentax 16-50 - it has not been on my camera(s) since I got a Sigma 17-50, and the 18-135 is now what lives on my K-3. It is versatile, covers a lot of zoom range, and for me is is quite acceptable optically.

I am unimpressed by my copy of the 50/1.8 - the focal plane is not flat. I can not find any f-stop at which it performs adequately. Lots of others rave about this lens, but not me. I think your 50 / 1.7 will outperform it.
07-26-2021, 12:41 AM - 5 Likes   #11
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My take on the subject:
The quality of a picture depends on motif, angle of view, lighting and exposure. An interesting picture without perfect sharpness is much preferable over a boring depiction made for pixel peepers.
So if you want better pictures, work with your brain rather than your wallet.
That being said, there are differences between lenses. Large apertures often comes with a price tag, but also accompanied with good build quality and handling. Star lenses has a star for a reason. My own collection is built around carefully chosen HQ lenses over many years. BUT! The lenses doesn't make me a better photographer. What they do is giving me some joy while shooting. The resulting images could probably have been as good with "lesser" and cheaper lenses. And of course, if the resulting images aren't any good, I know it depends on the photographer (who can improve!), and not the lens (which is already top notch).
Kjell
07-26-2021, 12:47 AM - 6 Likes   #12
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I've had a complicated relationship with the 18-55mm over the years.

When I first started moving from slide film to digital I utterly hated the 18-55 because it had a rendering style so far away from what I was used to with film era lenses, and I threw it in the bin. Literally. Instead I shot with Takumars and loved the film-like look they gave me with a CCD sensor.

Somewhere along the line I decided some weather resistance would be useful, so I tried the 18-55mm WR and hated that too. I ended up sandpapering the front element to try to give it more of a vintage lens rendering style -- which actually helped to some extent. Then I tried the 16-45mm/4.0 and hated it even more (lot of hating in this post; sorry about that).

But over time I started getting tired of lugging around a bag full of heavy metal Takumars, no matter how much I loved their rendering style, and a year or two back I decided to give the 18-55mm another try. I put a lot of work into custom .dcp profiling to bring the colour rendering closer to what I wanted, and I enjoyed the light weight and the convenience of the zoom. Today I do almost all my photography with the 18-55mm, and it suits my present day needs perfectly well. Like you, I've considered the 16-50mm but looking at sample photos online hasn't convinced me that I'd get enough of an improvement for the extra size and weight and cost. Also like you, I've considered the Tamron and Sigma alternatives but again the sample photos that I've looked at haven't made me want to switch.

The one lens that I really would consider switching to is the DA 20-40mm, because whenever I look at shots taken with that one I think it would really suit me.

So anyway, sorry about the long post. The takeaway message is, no, you don't really need to upgrade from the 18-55mm. Not unless you need something wider or longer or faster. But if there's another lens that you really think will suit your photographic tastes better then yes, absolutely, go ahead and make a change.
07-26-2021, 12:52 AM - 2 Likes   #13
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Tamron 17-50 is relatively cheap (~360 EUR new) and significantly sharper and faster than kit lens. What it lacks is a wow factor - it's a reliable workhorse lens producing sharp images. I got it in 2014 and it served me well for what it is.
Getting primes is fine and dandy (I have a bunch) but you need that standard zoom. There are pricier and better options, but this one is the cheapest of 'good' upgrades.
07-26-2021, 01:06 AM - 1 Like   #14
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[Hello MXLX, you speak about an upgrade, get the Pentax 18-135 and yes we have an upgrade. But I agree with FozzFoster, the 50mm F1.8 is a nice one and the other Plastic Fantastic the 35mm F2.4 is a marvel for the money. I own a Sigma 17-50mm, but it is not that often on my camera. Another more expensive upgrade is the Pentax 16-85mm . The Sigma is not that rich in colour as the 18-135 and 16-85 are. I own these latter two and especially the 18-135 is worth the price new as well as second hand. The 16-85 I bought in the kit with the K-3 II. But I like the 18-55 very much which was on my first digital DSLR. Very nice in close focusing. But the 18-135 is better especially silent focusing is a lovely thing to have. No audible detection that you are making a picture works wonderfully well with people and animals alike. The 20-40 is a marvelous lens, but compared to a 18-135, expensive. You do not need to upgrade, but if you want to I think you should have a look at the 18-135. You could try out the way FozzFoster directed you to (do), but the F 50mm F1.7 is a very different lens to the 50mm 1.8. Both the 50mm 1.8 and the kit lens are optimized for APS-C and the F version is not. But the F version will give you brilliant pictures on your K-3. I upgraded my kit lens because I wanted to get to 135mm, because that was the focal length next to the 50mm that I learned to make pictures with. And I bought it for the Samsung GX-10, the sibling of your K10D and it was the first WR lens I bought just to complete my WR set then. The original kit lens to both camera's was the first version 18-55 and was not WR. But again, there is no need to upgrade unless you have a wallet that is overflowing.

Last edited by AfterPentax Mark II; 07-26-2021 at 03:15 AM. Reason: unquoting the quote and elaborating (again)
07-26-2021, 01:09 AM - 1 Like   #15
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Count another vote for the Tamron 17-50/2.8 here. It's sharp, not too heavy and while rendering is nothing out of this world, it's a very competent lens. Like cxdoo just said, a workhorse.
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