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12-01-2009, 09:48 AM   #1
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16-50 vs. Primes

Hi All,

I will be travelling to New York (from Spain) early January and will likely take the opportunity to drop in to Adorama/B&H to make some lens Purchase/s.

I currently have the 18-55 AL2, 50-135, K50 1.4 on a K20d (still being repaired as we speak)

After a short time with the kit lens (18-55) I had the intent of increasing range so bought the 50-135, and then something for low light so bought a secondhand fast 50. Really love the 50-135, great build quality, quiet SDM, is a bit big and heavy but worth every ounce... I do find though that I force myself to use the 50-135 when something wider would be more useful... the natural next step was/is the 16-50 as replacement for the kit lens. I appreciate the weather resistance and need something faster than the kit lens.

I have been questioning though after checking on this forum... a lot of people seem to have a preference for the Limited primes, When I make the comparison however I would likely need the 15 f4 and 40 f2.8 to cover the range... and pricewise this runs up to approx 900$... while the 16-50 is currently 750$.

here I have tried to lay out how I see it.

For 16-50:
- Versatile zoom
- faster at wide end than 15 f4
- weather resistance
- price (in comparison)

for Primes:
- Small & Compact... 2 primes still smaller than 16-50
- avoidance of potential SDM issues

Now on the subject of potential SDM issues (no problems as of yet on the 50-135), I see that I can get a 3yr protection plan with Sagemax for 83$, 5yr for 160$.

On to my questions....
- What view do you have in comparison between 16-50 and primes... other alternatives I should really think about?
- What primes would best fill this gap?
- Any experience with the B&H Protection plans? or alternatives... specifically valuable if European Experience.

Thanks in Advance

12-01-2009, 11:08 AM   #2
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It's funny because I had the exact same situation as you.

I have those three lenses as well and was looking at getting the 16-50mm when the price really detered me and I was concerned about getting one of those bad copies. I understand that the bad copies were the older ones, but still...

So I looked at the 16-45mm, but then considered some primes.

Same situation as you, I looked at what single prime would best fit that gap between 16-50mm.

People tend to love the 31mm ltd, but I looked at the DA 35mm macro, because it also offered some closeup capabilities that none of my other lenses have.

The reason I ended up with the DA 35mm LTD was because it translates to 52.5mm in full frame which is the original range for the 50mm back in the day. This offers an extremely versatile range that you can use for pretty much everything. I purchased it as a walkaround lens for my recent trip to Japan and I'm glad I did.

The low 30's offer a great range and if you want the macro bonus, I'd say go with it. Not great for insect macro due to how close you have to get but you can do everything from landscapes to portraits with this lens.

For samples, check out my flickr below and look at the "Tokyo" or "Macro Shots" sets.

Just another note. Those who end up with the 16-50mm (good copies of it) seem to love it, but there's something different about a limited lens that doesn't quite compare to anything else out in the market, even from canon, nikon, olympus... etc.
12-01-2009, 11:23 AM   #3
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If you want to avoid SDM, then consider the Tamron 17-50 - certainly not as well built as the DA* 16-50, but IQ is very good. Then you have the 16-45, which may be f/4 but is still very good.

Really depends on your focal length preferences but for primes (if you can afford it), the combination of DA 15, 21, 70 with FA 50 or 43 combination might cover all your wide to mid-tele range requirements.

So many options, though. You'd have to look at what's best for you.
B&H are most highly recommended, both for their swift service and uncompromising customer service.
12-01-2009, 11:23 AM   #4
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yes, was thinking along those lines also. As I dont have a macro in the lineup the 35 limited could be a good choice, also quite reasonable price being that it can fit 2 of my gaps....
the other is the 31, all those who talk of it say how great a lens it is.... but, very expensive, dont think I could stretch to 31 + 15 (unless someone convinces me otherwise ) and 31 alone would still leave quite a gap in the lineup.

12-01-2009, 01:11 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by paulelescoces Quote
When I make the comparison however I would likely need the 15 f4 and 40 f2.8 to cover the range...
You could of course consider the DA21 instead of the the DA15 - unless you are sure you need wider. I opted for the 15 myself, but I am not sure I would have if I didn't have a 28 to fill the gap between 15 and 40. If I were trying to fill the 16-50's range with only two lenses, I think 21 & 40 would be my choices. *Maybe* 21 and 35, but that increases the cost quite a bit. Whereas adding a 28 to the 15 & 40 combo can be done for under $50. I'm liking my 15 a lot, and know now I did the right thing - 21 might be more versatile, but my 28 has me covered there, and the 15 is just too much fun. Regarding speed, really, it's not like one would want to shoot a super wide angle at f/2.8 all that often anyhow. Usually you stop down for more DOF, and if you're shooting indoors, you don't really need particularly fast shutter speeds to handhold successfully.

Anyhow, the choice is the perennial prime versus zoom choice; I can't see that this particular version is any different. Either you just like the idea of primes or you just like the idea of zooms, and no amount of rationality is going to change that.
12-01-2009, 01:29 PM   #6
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Da* 16-50 is an all-round lens but I preferred Da 15 f4 for landscape work.

Seriously I have yet seen a photographer using f2.8 to do landscape work. For me, I usually look for the extent of diffraction when a landscape lens stoped down to either f22 or 32 if possible. I like to blurr water with long exposure.

So the widest aperture logic does not really apply here.

Da* 16-50 has a problem and it is not the SDM problem that most are worried about. It is its relative vignetting even at f4. Plus the purple fringeing in the junction of sky and tree tops are always a night mare to deal with. The autofocus is dodgy in rainny days and backfocusing at 1 metre distance close up focus. Still, I can get by using this zoom but slowly this lens is becoming my street candid lens instead of landscape lens...

On the other hand, Fa 31mm ltd can stop down to f32 without much problem of diffraction.
12-01-2009, 01:29 PM   #7
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What will work for you depends on what you photograph. I use the DA* zooms (16-50 and 50-135) when in unpredictable, quickly-changing situations, like when I'm doing a motorcycle story or photojournalist assignment.

I use the DA Limiteds (21, 35, and 70) in slower-paced, more predictable situations. I take them traveling and when I'm taking photos for my own enjoyment.

There are also situations like street photography where the small size of the DA Limiteds come in handy and often override the flexibility of the DA* zooms.

They all are capable of taking great photographs - that part is up to you!
12-01-2009, 03:10 PM   #8
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I will definitely bring my DA*zooms (16-50 & 50-135) for traveling purpose.
Last time I went to Hawaii, the DA* zooms are so convenient.
Yes, they are bigger than most primes but way more versatile and safer from unpredictable weather.

This doesn't mean I against prime lenses. If I go to shoot something that I have planned, ex: portrait session, I will get my Limited or FA* lenses only for sure ..or maybe DA* 50-135 (this is one of the best DA* zoom lenses).

12-02-2009, 03:20 AM   #9
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I am thinking along the lines that as some point I would likely want/need to get both the 16-50 and some of the limiteds... I mean, how can you have pentax with no limiteds and the combination of both the flexibility of the zoom, with the quality/portability of the limiteds... I guess is maybe more a question of "what next"

Whats swaying me away from the 16-50 is the SDM issues and other QA issues, I guess some of the QA issues I could check for in Adorama/B&H if I take the body along (any guidance on what I would need to check for would be appreciated)... I am also thinking that if I make another purchase.. and hold off on the 16-50 a more robust alternative may become available.

On the other hand... the more I look I am taking a real liking to the FA31ltd, is a bit more expensive than I would have wished but with the Build Quality & 35mm compatability I would imagine it would retain value... I can tell the boss its an investment

Marc, I have seen a number of your shots on these forums (great by the way), you do a lot of lowlight concert shooting, does the f4 of the 15... and softness wide open not hold you back here?... I guess with a wideangle there is less handhold shake effect.... and coupled with SR, but enough to make it usable?

On what I shoot... well, I like to travel, Cycle, Hike... so find myself with Landscapes, Streetshooting (is also here where weather resistance is interesting)... I also like people so take quite a few portraits and group party shots. Only area I am truely happy I have covered is the portraits with the 50-135, I miss the same quality wider... also, party shots are typically indoor with regular lighting... I also prefer to handshoot (carrying around a decent tripod I dont find practical) so something decent in lowlight is a priority (so I would likely prefer the 31 ltd above the 35/40 LTDs), unsure of the best wide option (15 vs 21 vs...).

Thanks for the help this far... and apologies for the longwinded post
12-02-2009, 03:36 AM   #10
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Just been checking the prices in B&H and Adorama online... anyone know why the 31ltdp is a clear 40% more expensive than the 43ltd... and 19% higher than the 77? is this the standard pricing or a short term variation?...
12-02-2009, 12:00 PM   #11
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The 31 has always the most expensive of these primes.
12-02-2009, 12:31 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by paulelescoces Quote
Just been checking the prices in B&H and Adorama online... anyone know why the 31ltdp is a clear 40% more expensive than the 43ltd... and 19% higher than the 77? is this the standard pricing or a short term variation?...
It has the better bokeh out of them all, as well as being f/1.8 at 31mm.
12-02-2009, 01:09 PM   #13
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Paul it sounds like the DA* 16-50 is for you - suits your purposes quite well.
If you're really concerned about SDM, and rightfully so, then just take out an extended warranty with B&H/Adorama or whoever you buy from.
12-02-2009, 05:37 PM   #14
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Buy what you need instead. Fa 31mm ltd is great because of its pricing and quality comparing to the competitions in its league.

Seriously, Tamron 16-50/2.8 would be a great lens to start before you home in any of the pentax lenses.
01-11-2010, 05:25 AM   #15
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Hi, just back from NY.

Picked up the 16-50, in addition to a 540 flash.
Very happy with the purchase... actually, as I had never actually seen one in the flesh it was actually smaller and lighter than expected (I have the 50-135)... I was also positively surprised with the focus speed in poor light, from the tests I made dont seem to have any significant BF/FF/alignment issues.

I guess with all the negative press I was expecting less from the 16-50, very happy till now.... also think that size, weight, focus speed are all relative... I was obviously relating to the 50-135...

on the flash... the 540 is my first flash and have no idea on technique... with the popup I would go to extreme lengths to avoid using flash... and when used I would typically try and "repair" though PP... I really bought it so that I could learn an area which I am very much lacking. Anyone can help with links to resources to get me started? I need the basics.

thanks all for your help.
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