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12-29-2009, 09:48 AM   #1
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Standard (or walkaround) zoom lens comparisons

I know there are other comparison threads and I've read through them, but my needs are more unique and I thought it wouldn't hurt to have a comprehensive list of all the standard zooms and their pros and cons with each other.

As of right now I have a K110D and my walkaround lens is the kit lens (first version, non-WR). I'm buying a K20D any day now and I will need a walkaround lens for it as well, and while I have been impressed with the kit lens (and I think I have a particularly good copy) I really want a better lens. Now, the only thing is, I haven't decided what "better" might be yet. That's why I'm talking out loud and hoping for some pointers as well. So, here we go...

(I'll continue to add to this as time goes on, but feel free to post any thoughts!)

Pentax SMCP-DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL and AL II
"The kit lens"
Price new: ~$120
Average price used: ~....

Pros:
-Bang for the buck
-Not "slow" speeds
-Fair sharpness

Cons:
-Not fast speeds, either


Sigma 18-50mm f/3.5-5.6 DC J
Sigma's counterpart to the kit lens
Price new: ~$130
Average price used: ~....

Pros:
-Like the kit lens, not "slow" speeds
-Price

Cons:
-Once again, not fast speeds either
-You lose 5mm on the long end

Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL WR
The weather resistant kit lens
Price new: ~$170
Average price used: ~....

Pros:
-Weather resistant
-Good price
-If you buy a K7 and this lens you get it for a very low price

Cons:
-Not fast

Tamron 28-200mm f/3.8-5.6 XR Di Aspherical IF Macro

Price new: ~$270 (before $50 MIR, expires very soon)
Average price used: ~....

Pros:
-Lots of zoom
-Internal Focus
-Macro
-Decently fast on the long end
-Zoom lock

Cons:
-Macro is only 1:4 (If we can even call that macro)


Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di-II LD Aspherical (IF) Macro

Price new: ~$290 (before $60 MIR, expires very soon)
Average price used: ~....

Pros:
-Lots of range
-Internal Focus
-Macro
-Decently fast on the long end
-Zoom lock
-Low Dispersion version

Cons:
-Macro is only 1:3.7 (Slightly better, though)

Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8-4.5 DC OS HSM

Price new: ~$300
Average price used: ~....

Pros:
-Internal Focus
-Faster than kit lens
-Macro is almost as good as Tamron lenses above (1:4.1)
-Optical stabilization
-HSM (SDM)
-Compact

Cons:
-Still not as fast as some would like
-Not very close focusing
-Some range is lost

Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Aspherical (IF)

Price new: ~$320
Average price used: ~....

Pros:
-Internal Focus
-Decently fast on the long end
-Lots of range

Cons:
-Still not as fast as some would like
-Not very close focusing
-Slightly higher cost than Tamron counterpart

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di

Price new: ~$390 (Before $50 MIR that ends very soon)
Average price used: ~....

Pros:
-Lots of range
-Reaches all the way to 300mm
-1:2.9 magnification

Cons:
-Moderate to slow speeds
-Not very fast considering its cost
-Some closer ranges are lost

Sigma 18-125mm f/3.8-5.6 DC OS HSM
Price new: ~$340
Average price used: ~...

Pros:
-Good range
-Fairly compact for its range
-Internal focus
-HSM (SDM)

Cons:
-A bit on the slow end

Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8 EX DG
Price new: ~$350
Average price used: ~...

Pros:
-More reach than the kit lens
-Fast: Constant at f/2.8
-EX Markings

Cons:
-No HSM (SDM)
-Doesn't cover the closest end of focal lengths like some of the others do

Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC Macro
Price new: ~$370
Average price used: ~...

Pros:
-A pretty great range compared to the kit lenses
-Fairly fast
-Macro (1:2.3)
-Largely thought of as a great replacement for the kit lens
-Sharp
-Internal Focus

Cons:
-No HSM (SDM)
-Not f/2.8 constant, although f/4.5 isn't terribly slow for 70mm.

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di

Price new: ~$390 (Before $50 MIR that ends very soon)
Average price used: ~....

Pros:
-Lots of range
-Reaches all the way to 300mm
-1:2.9 magnification

Cons:
-Moderate to slow speeds
-Not very fast considering its cost
-Some closer ranges are lost

Pentax 16-45mm f/4 DA
Price new: ~$400
Average price used: ~$225

Pros:
-Starts very wide
-Focuses very closely (.28m)
-Fast AF
-Constant aperture
-Very sharp

Cons:
-Constant aperture is somewhat slow
-Some CA
-Some distortion at 16mm
-16-45mm isn't a very long range
-A bit bulky
-Loud AF

Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro
Price new: ~$420
Average price used: ~$...

Pros:
-Starts wide
-Macro (1:3)
-Fast (f/2.8 constant)
-EX markings

Cons:
-Doesn't have quite the same range as some of the others
-No HSM (SDM)
-Macro a bit on the weak side (1:3)

Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di-II LD Aspherical [IF]
Price new: ~$450
Average price used: ~$...

Pros:
-Starts wide
-Fast (f/2.8 constant)
-XR Markings
-Internal focus
-Zoom lock

Cons:
-No SDM

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF)
Price new: ~$460
Average price used: ~$...

Pros:
-Decent reach with 75mm
-Fast (f/2.8 constant)
-XR Markings
-Internal focus

Cons:
-Doesn't catch all the lowest focal lengths
-No SDM

Tamron 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 Di-II LD Aspherical IF Macro
Price new: ~$470
Average price used: ~$...

Pros:
-Holy range, Batman
-Internal focus
-Zoom lock

Cons:
-No SDM
-Seemingly low speeds compared to other lenses of these prices
-Value could be an issue

Pentax SMCP-DA 17-70mm f/4 AL (IF) SDM
Price new: ~$480
Average price used: ~$...

Pros:
-Decent range
-Internal focus
-SDM
-Quick shift focus
-Solid build

Cons:
-Slower than some other lenses at f/4.0 constant


Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5 - 6.3 DC OS HSM
Price new: ~$530
Average price used: ~$...

Pros:
-Great range
-HSM (SDM)
-Optical stabilization

Cons:
-Not incredibly fast apertures for the price class

Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro DF
Price new: ~$570
Average price used: ~$...

Pros:
-Decent focal length on the far end compared to the kit lens
-EX Markings
-Macro
-Fast (Constant f/2.8)
-Dual focus

Cons:
-Misses some of the close focal lengths

Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM
Price new: ~$900
Average price used: ~$...

Pros:
-Fast (f/2.8 constant
-HSM (SDM)
-Internal Focus
-EX Markings

Cons:
-Misses some of the closest focal lengths

Pentax SMCP-DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 ED AL (IF) SDM
Price new: ~$1000
Average price used: ~$...

Pros:
-Starts very wide
-Fast (f/2.8 constant
-SDM
-Internal Focus
-* Markings

Cons:
-Finishes slightly wide as well compared to some others
-Cost


Last edited by Buschmaster; 12-29-2009 at 11:17 AM.
12-29-2009, 10:05 AM   #2
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Pentax 16-45mm f/4 DA

Price new: ~$400
Price used: ~$225

Pros:
-Starts very wide
-Focuses very closely (.28m)
-Fast AF
-Constant aperture
-Very sharp

Cons:
-Constant aperture is somewhat slow
-Some CA
-Some distortion at 16mm
-16-45mm isn't a very long range
-A bit bulky
-Loud AF



12-29-2009, 10:07 AM   #3
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Thanks, I'll toss that in now!
12-29-2009, 10:39 AM   #4
m8o
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Why none of the constant f/2.8 lenses covering from the mid-teens to about 50mm or mid twenties to about 70mm or 80mm from Pentax, Sigma or Tamron? You mention having the kit and liking it, but I'm not so sure much of your list will be much of a 'step-up' over the kit's quality or ability to take shots in challenging lighting situations sans flash.

12-29-2009, 10:40 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by m8o Quote
Why none of the constant f/2.8 lenses covering from the mid-teens to about 50mm or mid twenties to about 70mm or 80mm from Pentax, Sigma or Tamron? You mention having the kit and liking it, but I'm not so sure much of your list will be much of a 'step-up' over the kit's quality or ability to take shots in challenging lighting situations sans flash.
They're making their way onto the list now, I'm basically going from low to high price as I add them to the list. Just wanted to start the discussion sooner rather than later.
12-29-2009, 10:40 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by m8o Quote
Why none of the constant f/2.8 lenses covering from the mid-teens to about 50mm or mid twenties to about 70mm or 80mm from Pentax, Sigma or Tamron? You mention having the kit and liking it, but I'm not so sure much of your list will be much of a 'step-up' over the kit's quality or ability to take shots in challenging lighting situations sans flash.
Probably because he just hasn't gotten around to adding them! You're welcome to add it yourself
12-29-2009, 11:18 AM   #7
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I think I'm done adding for a little while.

Next up I'll link them each to their review in the review database and bring those into consideration in the pros and cons.
12-29-2009, 11:49 AM   #8
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Another con on the 16-45 is that the built-in flash is blocked by the lens till about 20 mm. Lens is longest at 16 mm, shortest at 45.

12-29-2009, 12:03 PM   #9
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I see you got to mine on the list - Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. I'm surprised to see today's list price [which is near the b&h street price] for this plastic fantastic. I definitely started and did most of my purchases at the right time, 2 1/2 years ago. Would be great/unbeatable if the 17-50 and 28-70 were combined. I think a 18-80/2.8 would be my perfect walk-around'er. I guess getting one of the zooms that start wider, then cropping is a good enough alternative; especially if you have the extra pixels of a K20/K-7 to 'burn'.
12-29-2009, 12:24 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by MGV Quote
Another con on the 16-45 is that the built-in flash is blocked by the lens till about 20 mm. Lens is longest at 16 mm, shortest at 45.
That would be the same with any wide-angle lens that is anything other than pancake-sized. It's not a specific detractor of the 16-45.
12-29-2009, 08:03 PM   #11
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I'd say for a high-quality walkaround the best package is with the Sigma 17-70. The WR kit lens makes sens if you live a dangerous life. I own both

the teles and superzooms are good in good light. They are never amazing. The constant f2,8 are more expensive but usually better. The 28-somethings are not very wide. The third-party "kit lenses" should be avoided. That's about it.
12-30-2009, 09:22 AM   #12
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I've got my search down to a few lenses, I think...

Right now I like the look of the following lenses:
Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5
Sigma 18-50 f/2.8-4.5 HSM
Sigma 28-70 f/2.8
Tamron 28-75 f/2.8

Keeping in mind that I'll still have the kit lens as well for my other body, I feel like the bottom two make great sense.

A 2.8 constant would be great, and I'd get a different range with the bottom two. The Sigma 18-50 with HSM would be nice, but mostly because of the HSM, and I would lose the constant 2.8. Also, I could only use that body on my K20D I'll be getting, not on the ladies K110D.

Lots of things to consider yet...
12-30-2009, 10:31 AM   #13
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You also forgot the Sigma 28-200mm and 28-300mm.
12-30-2009, 10:34 AM   #14
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Just from a personal standpoint, I couldn't use a zoom as a walk around if it started at 28mm. I just use the 16-18 end a lot, whereas I can give up the long end pretty easily.
12-30-2009, 10:35 AM   #15
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Well, I'll still have the 18-55 and I could always add another lens later if I find that I miss the short end too much. The 28-75 has received glowing reviews and adds something different than what my current lineup has.
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