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01-24-2009, 09:59 AM   #1
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K20D with 16-45 or 18-55 II ?

Hi folks,

I'd welcome any suggestions on choosing which kit lens to take when buying a K20D.

First, a bit of background to explain my intended usage. I used a Pentax ME Super film SLR for many users, and loved it, but after leaving it in the cupboard for too many years (film is too much hassle for me) I got a Canon Ixus 800. This wee compact has got me back into photography, and I have really enjoyed the flexibility of digital.

However, while the IXUS is great in good light, its small sensor can't cope well with the poorer lighting conditions which are what I now find really interest me, and its lack of handy exposure control makes it hard to even get the best out of the small sensor (there isn't even a persistent exposure lock, which makes stitching together panaoramas a very hit-and-miss exercise).

So I have decided to upgrade to a DSLR, and after a lot of reading of review and playing with cameras in the shops, I reckon that a Pentax K20D is my best bet. (Reasonably easy to access the necessary controls, more robust than similarly priced Canikons, and I have the option of using some of my old lenses)

My main interest is in landscapes, so I am primarily interested in wide-angle lenses. I think that I may eventually treat myself to a Pentax 12-24mm zoom, but that's too big an investment for now, when I haven't yet found how well I really get on with a DSR.

So for now I'm just going to get a body with kit lens. The choice is between a

* Pentax K20D & DA 18-55 f3.5-5.6 AL II lens
* Pentax K20D & 16-45 f4.0 SMC DA ED AL lens

The 16-45 is priced at only £84 extra, which is a lot less than the price difference if the lenses are bought separately.

Is the 16-45 a significantly better quality lens than the 18-55 II? On balance, the difference in range is neither here nor there for my intended usage, so the only real question for me is whether there is enough of a quality difference to justify the extra money?


Last edited by TwoLegged; 01-24-2009 at 10:24 AM. Reason: minor clarification
01-24-2009, 11:08 AM   #2
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I would choose the 16-45 over the 18-50 Mk II. Firstly 16mm is a lot wider than 18mm. Secondly it's constant F4 through the range and is sharp wide open. I think somebody else also mentioned that the colours of 16-45 is better than the kit lens. The price on 16-45 has dropped a lot and it's a great value for the money.

The only draw back is if you shoot wide with the on-board flash the lens will get in the way of the flash. That is because the lens extends out when it is wide. I think by 24mm the problem goes away. Somebody made a home-made reflector that solved the problem for him. If you use external flash it's a non-issue.
01-24-2009, 11:14 AM   #3
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16-45, no contest.
01-25-2009, 05:42 AM   #4
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Thanks, folks -- that seems fairly clearcut.

I'll get the K20D+16-45 kit.

01-26-2009, 08:15 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by TwoLegged Quote
Thanks, folks -- that seems fairly clearcut.

I'll get the K20D+16-45 kit.
Or maybe not.

I'm now toying with the idea of the 17-70mm instead.

After the £100 cashback available from Pentax UK, the prices for the difft options are:
K20D + 18-55 II £475.00
K20D + 16-45 £559.00
K20D + 17-70 £734.00

I am very tempted by the extra range of the 17-70, which brings it handily into portrait territory ... and in many ways it looks like an ideal all-purpose lens.

I have been looking at the reviews of the two lenses on photozone.de:
*16-45mm review
*17-70mm review

So far as I can see, the issues to compare for and against the 17-70 (as against the 16-45) are:

Pro:
*Usefully extended focal range
*Supersonic (ultrasonic) Dynamic Motor gives faster autofocus (but that's not very important for my landscape shots)
*17-70 has less vignetting at all settings
*17-70 has significantly less chromatic aberration at wide-angle and open apertures

Con:
* More elements in more groups means more complexity
* two-part extender on 17-70 may be more vulnerable
* heavier: 485g for the 17-70, against 365g for the 16-45
* Difficult manual focusing thanks to over-sensitive focus ring
* 17-70 has slightly more distortion at wide-angle, though the difference isn't huge
* 17-70 is slightly softer at wide aperture and wide-angle, but the difference is marginal
* 17-70 is quite soft at 70mm, but still in v.good range, with little fall off towards the edge

No difference:
*Bulk: the 16-45 is 72x92mm, and the 17-70 is 75x94mm

So I'm not sure. I thought that if I could justify the extra money, the 17-70 would be a good bet, but the tests suggest that it's not so clear-cut.

My instinct is still to prefer the 17-70 because the performance defects over the 16-45 are quite marginal and offset by the gains. When comparing the softness at 70mm with the data in the Photozone review of the 70mm limited, the 70mm limited is only 10% sharper, which sounds like what one should expect for a prime.

So while the 17-70 is perhaps not as good a lens at it could have been, I think that the issues come down to the pros and cons of the SDM focusing. It seems to me that it adds extra complexity to the lens, which can't be good for long-term reliability, and that the difficulty of manual focus could be a nuisance.

However, the cost increase is quite significant. I had initially miscalculated the cost of the 17-70 combo, and I now think that the marginal gains of the 17-70 aren't worth the extra cost.

Any thoughts on this?

Last edited by TwoLegged; 01-26-2009 at 09:30 AM. Reason: had miscalculated cost of 17-70 kit. I had understated the price of the 17-70 by £100
01-26-2009, 12:55 PM   #6
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As someone who has never used either, I'm not in a position to compare, but I can say the 17-70 is far more tempting to me than the 16-45. If I'm going to deal with a relatively bulky lens (compared to my primes, or my 18-55 II even), I hope to be getting a significantly greater range. With the 16-45, I'd pretty much *always* want to have a telephoto lens with me too. But I could see being OK with the 17-70 as my only lens in more situations. Still, not sure I'm any happier with that idea than with my usual three-prime kit (28/40/100) or with my 18-55 + 50-200, which I often use for hikes.

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 01-28-2009 at 01:27 PM.
01-26-2009, 01:35 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
As someone who has nevr used either, I'm not in a positin to compare, but I can say the 17-70 is far more tempting to me than the 16-45. If I'm going to deal with a relatively bulky lens (compared to my primes, or my 18-55 II even), I hope to be getting a significantly greater range. With the 16-45, I'd pretty much *always* want to have a telephoto lens with me too. But I could see being OK with the 17-70 as my only lens in more situations.
That's what attracts me to the 17-70, and if it was less than £100 extra I'd be very tempted, and that was why I initially considered stretching to it when I miscalculated the price. But since it's not available as part of a kit, it'll cost nearly £200 extra. That seems expensive, especially when there doesn't seem to much be gain in image quality.

Hard to decide
01-26-2009, 02:46 PM   #8
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I got it

For the price difference... I would get the 16-45 with camera. Use it for a month or two, then if the 17-70 is really the ticket for you... I would sell the 16-45 on this forum and pick up the 17-70 used on here. They show up quite often in the market place.

The pics I have seen from the 16-45 are really nice.

If you get the 16-45, I would even say get a lens like the Jupiter 9 for MF portraits if money is an option... at approx $125 US it is a very nice option IMO.

I think the portrait range lens should be f2.8 at the smallest and the 17-70 and 16-45 are just not fast enough for indoor flashless shots.

01-26-2009, 03:16 PM   #9
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Imho

IMHO, I`d take the 16-45

Levy
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01-26-2009, 04:10 PM   #10
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buy 16-45

or in alterntive buy 18-55 and when you will have more money you will buy a 17-70
01-26-2009, 05:36 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by gemini Quote
buy 16-45

or in alterntive buy 18-55 and when you will have more money you will buy a 17-70
I'm swinging back round to that idea, particularly after reading the favourable comments in the lens database on the 18-55 Mark II.

The thing is that until the end of January, Pentax UK are offering a £100 cashback on any K20D-plus-lens kit. After reading the small-print, it seems that this doesn't apply to a body-only K20D with a lens selected from the rack -- they have to be a camera-plus lens kit. That makes a 17-70 as only lens even more expensive than I feared --- it would actually be cheaper to buy a K20D+18-55kit plus separate 17-70 even even I immediately binned the 18-55

So I think the best thing will be to buy a kit with an 18-55 and see how I get on with it. With my sort of landscape work, lens quality may not be that important anyway -- zoom range is possibly more significant. Since the 18-55 is a very cheap lens, so I don't need to worry too much about losing money if I sell it on later, or indeed if I decide that the whole DSLR trip is more hassle than I wanted.

There's £50 cashback on a 17-70 now, which ends this week with the possibility of price rises to follow as the effect of the pound's slump starts to feed through into prices, but that's probably a bad reason to rush into the purchase of a lens I may not need.
01-28-2009, 10:47 AM   #12
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Thanks to everyone who's been kind enough to offer help and advice. I have now ordered a K20D+18-55 II kit, with a 55-300 telephoto zoom, so I'll see how I get on with it all.

By the time I got a spare battery and a pair of filters, the total bill came to nearly £700 (after cashback). It seems like a lot of money for a camera, and although I know I could have spent a lot more on a DSLR, I do regret that nobody has made a well-priced digital rangefinder with a decent sensor.

I'll report back on how it all works out.
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