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02-10-2010, 07:22 AM   #1
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Looking for lens advice

I'l looking for some advice about lenses.
I have read reviews on the SMC Pentax-DA 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 ED AL [IF]. I have two questions about this lens. 1) Tamron makes the lens for about $75 to $100 cheaper. Is there a significant difference between the Pentax and Tamron? 2) Is there a comparble lens that may have been developed since this one. The primary complaint with this lens seems to be the locking button. I'm wondering if that has been addressed in a newer model, or if there is another zoom comparable to this one. I currently have a 28-200 Sigma f3.8-5.6 and Pentax K10D.
Thanks

02-10-2010, 08:50 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Reconman-1033 Quote
I'l looking for some advice about lenses.
I have read reviews on the SMC Pentax-DA 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 ED AL [IF]. I have two questions about this lens. 1) Tamron makes the lens for about $75 to $100 cheaper. Is there a significant difference between the Pentax and Tamron? 2) Is there a comparble lens that may have been developed since this one. The primary complaint with this lens seems to be the locking button. I'm wondering if that has been addressed in a newer model, or if there is another zoom comparable to this one. I currently have a 28-200 Sigma f3.8-5.6 and Pentax K10D.
Thanks
I owned the Tamron 18-250 a while ago, sold it, and then more recently decided I needed a superzoom, and I purchased the Pentax 18-250.

I've been told they are mechanically the same lens - that the Pentax is "simply a rebranded Tamron." I know I've read those words here a number of times. However, the words "simply rebranded" must be understood to include the fact that the whole outside of the Pentax lens looks different. Even if you turned the lenses so you couldn't see the words "Pentax" and "Tamron" on them, you could instantly tell the difference from the outside. I've never really been clear about what it means to say that the Pentax is a rebranded Tamron, but I'm guessing that it means that Pentax has bought the innards of the lens - all the stuff that matters - from Tamron, and then wrapped it in its own outer shell. Would love to have this clarified by somebody who knows more.

As far as image quality goes, I noticed no difference between the lenses. Both fall into the category that I call "pretty good", which for me means that they're good enough for serious work, within their limitations.

I have found that the Pentax pretty much HAS to be locked when I'm carrying it around. The barrel mechanism seems pretty loose to me and if I don't lock it, it will slop out all the way and look a bit obscene if it is hanging low enough on my chest. I don't remember having this problem with the Tamron but I can't say that I didn't: I might just not remember.

Keep in mind that, in some ways, a superzoom lens almost defeats the point of a digital SLR. If the point of the digital SLR is to have interchangeable lenses, allowing you to get the best quality lens for the particular job, then a superzoom, which is by its nature a jack of all trades, is a perverse choice. And in fact, I don't use my 18-250 very often. I think of it as my lazy choice, the lens I take when I either can't make up my mind what else to bring or when I am just too lazy to carry more than one lens and/or more than one body. That said, I admit that it is a good choice for, say, a daytime (good light) visit to the zoo. I actually used it at a wedding reception last year, as well. The light was not good but I was using flash for all the shots. Results were okay but I don't think I'll do that again.

If I can't use one of my primes (all currently under 100mm), then I will usually prefer one of my other zooms. I'll take the Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 macro if I'm shooting in reasonably good light - it's another good zoo lens - and if I don't expect to need to go long. If I'm shooting wildlife that I can't get close to, I'll probably prefer the Tamron 70-300 f/4-5.6.

One final point. For reasons that I'm sure made sense to me at the time, but which I can no longer fathom, several years ago when I was in a lens-buying mood and trying to figure out what I needed and liked, I purchased first a Sigma superzoom (18-200), then the Tamron counterpart (18-200), then I sold the Sigma because I realized I didn't need 'em both and at the time I had more Tamron lenses than Sigmas; then I upgraded to the Tamron 18-250. IN retrospect, I think all of that buying and selling was probably a waste of effort and money. I suspect that the Sigma 18-200 was about as good and as useful as the three lenses I have purchased since to replace it. In short, I'm suggesting that, if you have the Sigma 28-200, you might think about sticking with it. The difference between 18 and 28 can be important, but the difference between 200 and 250 is not a big deal. See attached test shots taken with K10D and the Pentax 18-250. The tighter fireplace shot is recorded in the EXIF as being made at 29mm - close enough to 28 to see the difference from 18. Slight post-processing for contrast etc but no cropping or straightening.

Will
Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K10D  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K10D  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K10D  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K10D  Photo 
02-10-2010, 09:20 AM   #3
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Will:

Thanks very much! I feel like I just got a great tutorial for free.

I guess the only three reasons I have been considering the 18-250 was 1]. to get the lower focal range. (I shoot mainly crime scenes and thought it would be a little more versatile than my Sigma 28-200.) 2] My minimum focal length on the Sigma prevents me from getting closer than about 3 1/2 feet from my subject (so I have to do what the SLR was designed to do and change lenses...and discard my laziness) and 3] I have begun to shoot some wildlife and thought the 250 range would be an advantage. (Probably not enough to justify $450.00 though.)

Thanks for taking the time to make the comparisons and show me the difference. (I'll take the money I was contemplating using for a new lens and buy my wife a Valentine's day Gift.)
J.T.
02-10-2010, 09:43 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Reconman-1033 Quote
Thanks very much!
J.T.,

You're welcome. I'm hoping someone else will chime in here too and supplement my comments (or correct my mistakes, if necessary).

QuoteQuote:
I guess the only three reasons I have been considering the 18-250 was 1]. to get the lower focal range. (I shoot mainly crime scenes and thought it would be a little more versatile than my Sigma 28-200.)
Perfectly reasonable. The difference between 18 and 28 is indeed significant. But do you have the kit 18-55 lens? It will give you that wider-angle that you want, no? If not, you might consider the Pentax 16-45 f/4, which is a really good lens, constant max aperture, and bargain priced.


QuoteQuote:
2] My minimum focal length on the Sigma prevents me from getting closer than about 3 1/2 feet from my subject (so I have to do what the SLR was designed to do and change lenses...and discard my laziness)
Do you really need to get so close? Can't you just zoom to 200mm? I just eyeballed a shot at 200mm from 3.5 ft away. I'm not a crime-scene photographer but it seemed to me like it would suffice to capture good detail, especially if I were able to make good use of flash.


QuoteQuote:
and 3] I have begun to shoot some wildlife and thought the 250 range would be an advantage. (Probably not enough to justify $450.00 though.)
Right, that's the tricky part here. 50mm isn't NOTHING, but if you're looking for a lens for photographing birds or other wildlife, well, you should consider getting something that goes to 300mm like the Tamron 70-300. It's available right now (2-10-2010 10:38AM) from Amazon for an almost ridiculously reasonable $165. (Like the Pentax 16-45, the Tamron 70-300 is normally one of the better bargains out there, but this is the lowest I've seen.)

Of course, if you want to get really serious about wildlife photography, you'll want a 300 f/4 prime or one of the Sigma lenses with longer reach. But I think the Tamron 70-300 is the most cost-effective way to get to 300 for the Pentax cameras.

Will

02-10-2010, 10:39 AM   #5
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Will:

Actually I do zoom in on subjects where I need to get a little closer shot and that generally works pretty well. Once in a while I'm in cramped quarters, but then I switch to a different lens. So, its really just a matter of not wanting to crawl out from under a truck, or out of a culvert, swap lenses and crawl back in...i.e laziness)

I will consider the Pentax 16-45 f/4. Since so much of what I shoot is at 35 mm that might be a good consideration.

Thanks again.
J.T.
02-10-2010, 12:38 PM   #6
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I've asked this before, and am asking again: give your threads more descriptive titles, please.
02-10-2010, 12:42 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
I've asked this before, and am asking again: give your threads more descriptive titles, please.
Yeah, J.T. I meant to mention this myself. The reason you haven't gotten more responses already is that you gave this thread a lousy title. Unfortunately I don't think you can edit it after the fact...

Will
02-11-2010, 01:13 PM   #8
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Bad title. Bad, BAD title. Woof.

OK, superzooms. When I'm rolling around, I have a Domke bag behind or beside the driver's seat, packed with various primes & zooms & bodies & flashes etc. When I'm afoot, I carry an Ameribag stuffed with small cams & batteries & film & filters & tools & the K20D & a couple extra PK lenses & meds & TP & hat & scarf & radio & torch & maps & maybe a mini-notebook & micro-messkit etc.

If I *know* I'll be in certain situations, I'll carry appropriate lenses & maybe a ringlite. If I don't know for sure, the K20D will mount the DA 18-250 and the bag will contain the DA 10-17 and FA 50/1.4, with all that other stuff.

I can only cram just SO MUCH into the Ameribag and still stroll nonchalantly for any length of time, especially in Guatemalan mountain towns. (Ameribag foils pick-pockets, so far anyway.) The superzoom is my optical Leatherman, a vital tool that ain't perfect, but it's THERE and it's GOOD ENOUGH. That's how I travel. So sue me.

(If anyone's interested, the other small cams include: Sony DSC-V1 for everything; Minolta D300-IR for infrared; Canon SS-80U 35mm P&S; Ikonta 6x6 folder. I'm looking for a good cheap 645 folder to replace the Ikonta.)

02-15-2010, 06:32 AM   #9
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Yes that was a bad title. It was unintended. Being new to the forum I inadvertently typed my user name in the title bar. By the time I realized what I'd done it was in stone.

Can't say it won't happpen again, but probably not.
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