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01-02-2010, 01:22 PM   #1
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Is there any type of third party lens hierarchy?

I was just wondering if someone has ever put together a list that ranks the different third party lens manufacturers in regards to Pentax mount lenses. I mean, like Maker A generally ranks above Maker B, etc, in areas of performance, satisfaction, etc.

I see a lot of third party brand lenses available for the K20, but some of them have to be better than others, and sometimes the better lenses may be cheaper. Which companies are better, which ones should I stay away from? Which companies make lenses that offer more "bang for the buck", and which companies make junk?

I know some may not wish to badmouth any companies, so maybe even just suggestions as to which ones to consider the most.

01-02-2010, 01:33 PM   #2
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Just have a look through the third-party lens review database and compare average ratings

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01-02-2010, 01:38 PM   #3
Damn Brit

All makers of lenses have good and bad lenses. Third party lenses tend to be cheaper and have longer warranties, that gives them a head start over Pentax if those are factors that you are taking into consideration. A Pentax lens for example might be better than an equivalent lens from Sigma but the Pentax lens might be $300 dollars more expensive. It would be up to you decide if the Pentax lens was $300 dollars better than the Sigma.

There are some existing discussions going on at the moment regarding the merits of the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 and Sigma 50-150 f/2.8 vs the Pentax 50-135 f/2.8. Because of the SDM failures with the Pentax lens, I wouldn't even consider buying a Pentax lens with SDM. That leaves me with the Tamron or Sigma to choose from if I was looking for a zoom of that nature and when you consider that they have 6yr and 4yr (respectively) warranties compared to the 1yr of Pentax, it makes them very attractive compared to Pentax.

Last edited by Damn Brit; 01-02-2010 at 01:48 PM.
01-02-2010, 01:57 PM   #4
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Honestly, both Sigma and Tamron (the two main 3rd-party companies) both make fantastic and poor lenses.

In my experience, though, more Sigma lenses I've owned have been less stellar than their Tamon counterparts. Mainly having to do with quality control, rather than lens design. Again, this is just my experience.

01-02-2010, 02:06 PM   #5
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the top lenses from both sigma and tamron are very good, and in some instances, such as 70-200 F2.8 zooms pentax has noting to offer.

I think you need to consider every lens range separately because what was done well in one instance may not be carried over to the next lens range.

one observation I do have however, is that for some reasons tamron don't have the same feel of build quality than sigmas, although in both cases the lenses I am referring to are 4-5 year old designs now,
01-02-2010, 02:11 PM   #6
Damn Brit

QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
one observation I do have however, is that for some reasons tamron don't have the same feel of build quality than sigmas, although in both cases the lenses I am referring to are 4-5 year old designs now,
I know some people don't like the finish on the Sigma lenses but I think they look great and it gives them an up to date professional look. The Tamron lenses look old fashioned to me.
01-02-2010, 06:13 PM   #7
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Hiya Jeryst,
There are premium grades and mid-grades amongst third party manufacturers as well. So some premium grade lenses would naturally fare better than entry-mid level ones from another 3rd party manufacturer.

For example, the premium line for
Sigma => Sigma EX
Tamron => Tamron SP series
Tokina => AT-X series
01-02-2010, 06:13 PM   #8
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There *used* to be one, which went roughly ATX-Kiron-Tamron-Tokina-Vivitar-Sigma, as the usual suspects went, apart from a few sleepers and dogs. But that was a long time ago, and it's entirely mixed-up now. I've just deliberately bought two Sigmas in a row, which eighteen year old me would make fun of me now for. If I cared at eaither age.

01-02-2010, 08:00 PM   #9
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As you might have figured out from a few of the above comments, there are a few clear trends and a lot of muck. It would be very difficult to make a hierarchy based on brands. There is also this matter of taste. There is no accounting for it. I like the images from my XXYY lens. Another guy thinks it is OK except for a color cast when used on certain days in October. Go figure...

Rather than depending on a brand hierarchy, what I have found useful is to be an active browser of the various club threads. When you see particularly striking photos consistently coming from a particular lens, that is usually an indication of something worth having. That is how I came to own my three most prized optics. Beware, however, that certain forum members can generate striking images when shooting with the bottoms of Coke bottles for lenses!


(If anyone would have ever suggested that some of my best glass would have come from Minsk...)

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