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06-27-2022, 09:02 AM   #1
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Please recommend a standard-ish APS-C lens

Greetings! I was wondering if the wise and kind members of Pentax Forums could help me with picking a lens.

About five years back, back when I got my Pentax K-3 II, upgrading from a K-200D, I also upgraded to a used Pentax SMC DA 16-50mm f/2.8 lens. It had the SDM-to-screw drive conversion done. I quite liked the lens at first, and then it started to become quirkier and quirkier, and developed a focus ring getting stuck problem, so I had it serviced. It developed the same stuck focus ring problem again, just when I needed it the most, in the Canadian Rockies. I'm giving up on that lens this time. Bad lens! No more trips to Precision Camera for you!

I have been using a good old 18-55mm lens (the AL WR one) lately as my "standard" lens. I like that it is lightweight and quite decent, but I would like a lens with something "extra", optically speaking. I am looking at these:
  1. Pentax HD DA 20-40mm f/2.8-4 ED Limited.
  2. The new Pentax HD 16-50mm f/2.8 ED.
  3. Pentax HD DA 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6.
I'd like to stick to Pentax for the WR, and for not confusing myself with similar options from Sigma and Tamaron.

Option 1 is apparently described as a "stack of primes". Ooooh, I like that! I love my 31mm, 35mm, and 50mm prime lenses. But I'd also like a little wider coverage, I think, because I've been mostly using the other two lenses at their 16mm/18mm end. Maybe I could also get a 15mm lens to complement this one? Or maybe the the 20mm end would turn out to be good enough for me?

Option 2 is heavier, and pricier, but it has also fixed the known problems with its former version. It seems to be a known devil, to me.

Option 3 seems to be a fairly popular upgrade from kit lenses, but I'm not sure know if this has got the "extra" that I imagine I want. I like that it is cheaper and lighter than option 2, while having 16mm at the wider end.

What if I find myself at the pretty streets of Quebec City, or Canada's Atlantic provinces this summer? Would I despair if I don't have a wide enough lens? What would you do?

06-27-2022, 10:08 AM - 1 Like   #2
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Of your 3 options, I only own the HD DA 16-85mm, but I do use it is my main walk-around lens. I can't tell you if it has that "extra" you are looking for, but it produces great images in my opinion and is said to be all around sharper than the 18-55mm kit lens you are currently using. Obviously it doesn't have the F/2.8 aperture that the new HD 16-50mm f/2.8 PLM offers, but it is a superb lens for its price range.
06-27-2022, 10:29 AM - 3 Likes   #3
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If you really want something special - the 20-40 LTD is killer.
If you want the fastest focusing and latest optics/tech - the 16-50 PLM is killer.

If you want just an upgraded kit lens, I might suggest the 18-135mm.
It's not as fast as your other options, so it might not be as 'artsy' but having the extra reach really improves the versatility.
06-27-2022, 10:34 AM - 1 Like   #4
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The DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 PLM hands down. It's way better than the older version in every respect.

06-27-2022, 11:17 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by sajith Quote
I was wondering if the wise and kind members of Pentax Forums could help me with picking a lens.
QuoteOriginally posted by sajith Quote
What if I find myself at the pretty streets of Quebec City, or Canada's Atlantic provinces this summer? Would I despair if I don't have a wide enough lens? What would you do?
All three lenses that you've listed have strengths and relative weaknesses. However, I think any of them would provide excellent outcomes. The new D 16-50mm PLM, of course, has the highest optical quality, but its mass is around 750 g with the hood, it's bulkier than the others, and it costs about 2.5 times the DA 20-40. The DA 20-40mm Limited also has superb optical quality, and weighs around 280 g.

I have the DA 20-40 but neither of the other ones. You might be interested in my review of the lens, which you'll find here: HD Pentax-DA 20-40mm F2.8-4 Limited DC WR Reviews - DA Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

A wide angle-of-view might be crucial in specific settings, and there's quite a difference between 20mm and 16mm. When I travel, I usually bring my DA 20-40, DA* 50-135, a fast prime, and my DA 15mm Limited. I rarely use the DA 15, while the DA 20-40 is heavily used in urban or city settings -- I find that it's wide enough. During my trips to London, Munich, and Quebec City, I took a lot of pictures with only my DA 35mm Limited.

- Craig

Last edited by c.a.m; 06-27-2022 at 11:28 AM.
06-27-2022, 11:26 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by The Squirrel Mafia Quote
The DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 PLM hands down. It's way better than the older version in every respect.
...except price, size, and weight. Obviously we're not going to get everything we want, are we?
06-27-2022, 11:41 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by sajith Quote
Greetings! I was wondering if the wise and kind members of Pentax Forums could help me with picking a lens.

About five years back, back when I got my Pentax K-3 II, upgrading from a K-200D, I also upgraded to a used Pentax SMC DA 16-50mm f/2.8 lens. It had the SDM-to-screw drive conversion done. I quite liked the lens at first, and then it started to become quirkier and quirkier, and developed a focus ring getting stuck problem, so I had it serviced. It developed the same stuck focus ring problem again, just when I needed it the most, in the Canadian Rockies. I'm giving up on that lens this time. Bad lens! No more trips to Precision Camera for you!

I have been using a good old 18-55mm lens (the AL WR one) lately as my "standard" lens. I like that it is lightweight and quite decent, but I would like a lens with something "extra", optically speaking. I am looking at these:
  1. Pentax HD DA 20-40mm f/2.8-4 ED Limited.
  2. The new Pentax HD 16-50mm f/2.8 ED.
  3. Pentax HD DA 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6.
I'd like to stick to Pentax for the WR, and for not confusing myself with similar options from Sigma and Tamaron.

Option 1 is apparently described as a "stack of primes". Ooooh, I like that! I love my 31mm, 35mm, and 50mm prime lenses. But I'd also like a little wider coverage, I think, because I've been mostly using the other two lenses at their 16mm/18mm end. Maybe I could also get a 15mm lens to complement this one? Or maybe the the 20mm end would turn out to be good enough for me?

Option 2 is heavier, and pricier, but it has also fixed the known problems with its former version. It seems to be a known devil, to me.

Option 3 seems to be a fairly popular upgrade from kit lenses, but I'm not sure know if this has got the "extra" that I imagine I want. I like that it is cheaper and lighter than option 2, while having 16mm at the wider end.

What if I find myself at the pretty streets of Quebec City, or Canada's Atlantic provinces this summer? Would I despair if I don't have a wide enough lens? What would you do?
For the K-3 II I would say the 16-85 is a good option. It used to be the kitlens of the K-3 II and that is the combination I bought many years ago. The 18-135 is also very good and is the one I like more. The 20-40mm is indeed a special one: It is the 1st Ltd zoom, 1st ltd that is WR and the results are very good and it has its looks as well. I own all three lenses and for general use I prefer the 18-135. In my opinion the new 16-50 is too expensive for what you get, so the 16-85 is the best buy in that case. I use the 20-40 mm and the 18-135 mostly on my KP, because that camera makes them shine. The K-3 Ii: 16-85.

06-27-2022, 12:03 PM - 2 Likes   #8
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A good-copy DA16-85 should equal or even slightly better the old DA*16-50 IQ-wise. It doesn't have the DA* battle-axe build (which hasn't saved you from your stiff focus ring), nor is it fast-aperture, but it's at least WR, and gives you generous range and flexibility. The DC auto focus can't compete with the PLM but otherwise should be pretty decent. And the images from the DA16-85 should remind the DA18-55 AL WR kit zoom of its place in the line-up. If value for money, impeccable performance, and versatility were major goals, I think the DA16-85 would be my pick.

In fact, it has been my pick for a standard zoom. A bit more wideangle matters more to me, given that the telephoto department is well covered by the 55-300 PLM. Both pics showcasing the 16-85 at the short end at F8 (processed to taste):




Last edited by Madaboutpix; 06-28-2022 at 03:11 PM. Reason: Sample images added.
06-27-2022, 12:07 PM - 2 Likes   #9
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I like the HD DA 16-85 mm too. I bought a brand-new copy last winter and it performs brilliantly.






06-27-2022, 12:31 PM - 3 Likes   #10
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I own the older 16-50/2.8 sdm, the hd 20-40/2.8-4, an 18-135 and the hd 18-50 RE all of these are good - depending on what you want to accomplish. The 18-50 is the lightest and smallest, the 20-40 is light but not super compact, the 18-135 is a do everything lens.

The 16-85 is a bigger lens than the 18-135 and if wider appeals more than longer it would be a good choice. The 20-40 has excellent iq but a limited range. The range on the 20-40 is surprisingly good compromise compared with many other options. But if you must have a wider wide end this lens wonít do it all. Personally a lot of time it is wide enough in practice for me. The 18-50 makes excellent images and itís small and the focusing is quick and silent.
06-27-2022, 01:18 PM - 1 Like   #11
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I have both the 20-40mm Ltd and the 16-85mm. I use the 20-40mm mostly in urban settings, and the 16-85mm when wide angles are required. Both are very fine lenses, so it comes down to your specific use cases.
06-27-2022, 02:09 PM - 1 Like   #12
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When I transitioned from my Pentax 18-55 I chose the Pentax 16-85. I use it for both people and landscape. The lens provides amazing image results, is weather resistant, and is well styled/built.
06-27-2022, 02:11 PM - 1 Like   #13
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I remember seeing some really excellent shared images from the 18-50. It's an odd lens but I can see some appeal, especially if a good used copy was available at a good price.

I own a copy of the 18-135 and I do not look for anything else to replace it besides when I'm wishing for a good portraits zoom. The 18-135 isn't that fast and sometimes out of focus highlights can get busy.

The 18-135 and a good wide prime like the DA 15 is a favorite paring of mine for a do-everything-everyday kit. Add a fast 50 or some kind of longer macro lens for something really capable that fits nicely in a not so large camera bag.
06-27-2022, 03:03 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by sajith Quote
What if I find myself at the pretty streets of Quebec City, or Canada's Atlantic provinces this summer? Would I despair if I don't have a wide enough lens? What would you do?
I would look for a unobtrusive lens, something like the 18-50. I own this one too and in the right hands and with the right light you can make beautiful pictures. It has a DC motor, just like the other you mentioned except for the new 16-50. The only PLM lens I own is the 55-300 and I do not experience that it is faster than the DC motorized lenses. I do experience a difference but that is body related, on my KP AF is always faster than with the K-3 II. But to be honest I can not complain about the AF speed because I always stated that Pentax bodies are fast and I still think so. For the streets of Quebec City the 18-50 or the 18-135, you cannot go wrong there. The 18-135, when not zoomed out, is smaller than the 16-85. Would you despair? I think not, I will despair if the reach is to short, not on the wide side, 2mm the difference is not that big, 50, 85 or 135, well that is what I call a big difference. Hope this helps...
06-27-2022, 03:09 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by RICHARD L. Quote
I like the HD DA 16-85 mm too. I bought a brand-new copy last winter and it performs brilliantly.
By the look of the blues and those dazzling white snowflakes you must have KATEN incorporated in your camera and 16-85.
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