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03-23-2010, 08:27 PM   #1
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Kit lens replacement, going nuts

I'm going nuts trying to figure out what to get to replace my version 1 kit lens, I've read all kinds of threads comparing the many lens choices in this range. So I'm hoping that others out there can either say whether I'm making good or bad choices, whether there's things I haven't considered (such as different lenses) or anything else about this whole thing. My particular old kit lens is too soft. I thought it was fine until I got the K20 and discovered how much more resolution and sharpness there was with better lenses (I have the DA*50-135, DA*200, DA*300 and the 77 Ltd, along with the DA 12-24). While I prefer the sharper, more expensive lenses, I'm reasonably happy with the DA 55-300 for some things (and as long as I'm not also shooting with one of the DA* lenses that overlap it).

Up until about 6 months ago I didn't mind not having anything between 24 and 50 mm - I tended to either shoot very wide or telephoto. But my shooting habits and subjects have been gradually changing and I keep finding myself wanting something longer than 24 but shorter than 50 mm.

Some of my personal wants/considerations:

A. Weather sealing is a definite high priority for me. I'm not sure I'm willing to give up this capability.

B. Much better sharpness/quality over my current kit lens also very high priority to me. I get frustrated/won't use a softer lens. I've been playing around with the kit lens recently and still don't like the results I get from it.

C. I bought a DA*16-50 last summer and returned two copies, getting a refund after the second one. The first one was very fuzzy and decentered, the second one had a way too stiff zoom ring (as well as a bit of decentering, though it wasn't much - really sharp lens, still think that one might have been damaged in shipment).

I finally came up with the following options:

1. Try another round with the DA*16-50. This is probably the only one-lens solution that would cover both my high priorities. It's just that I don't want to go through buy/return lenses again, its such a time consuming process if you use the store's shipping (when I did it before, I shipped it back FedEx 2-day at my own expense, so I could get the replacement that much faster). Also, all this talk of failed SDM does make me nervous, though my DA*50-135 works fine and it was one of the first ones sold in Southern California. My other two DA* lenses are fairly new and seem to be working fine. But I'd hate to finally get a sharp 16-50, then have it fail in a couple of years (they aren't cheap).

2. Get two lenses:
a. DA 18-55 WR for the weather sealing and then a prime lens somewhere around 30-35 mm to satisfy my desire for better quality in this focal range. The FA 31 Ltd came to mind, to go with the FA 77. I'm not so sure that the "exchequer" will go along with this idea - my budget is fairly generous at this time but not necessarily THAT generous. I would most likely have to wait for this solution.

b. DA 18-55 WR and the DA 35 Ltd. This might be do-able. I don't need the macro capability as I also have a Viv S1 105 macro lens, which I am very happy with. On the other hand, I do a fair amount of macro so would probably use the extra capability. I would rather have the faster FA lens but could be happy with f2.8, assuming it's sharp wide open, as most of my use for a lens in this range will be in relatively good light.

3. Skip the weather sealing and get either the Sigma 24-70 f2.8 HSM or the Tamron 17-50 f2.8. Either one of these would be better than my kit lens. I don't think it would make sense to buy these zooms and the 18-55 WR lens as having two similar zooms seems rather redundant (not that this has ever stopped me in the past). At least with one of the prime lenses I gain a smaller, top quality prime to go along with a WR zoom. Only problem with going with just the Tamron or Sigma is that I just can't convince myself to not include a sealed lens - the times I've most wanted something wider than 50mm has been when it's been raining or snowing.

I did try the WR lens in a camera shop once. It seemed all right, I probably would be able to get along with it better than my current kit lens. But I know myself enough to know that there will be many times I'd regret not buying a better lens.

Am I crazy to consider buying/not buying the DA*16-50 again? Should I hold out for one of the two-lens solutions, and if so, which one? Or is there a different solution I haven't considered yet? I'm not so sure I want to wait forever to see if Pentax replaces the DA*16-50 with something more reliable, which is why I'm considering other options.

Please help me see my way through all this maze, my brain is on over-load!

03-23-2010, 09:10 PM   #2
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Well, sorry to hear of your problems. My DA*16-50 is my main lens (I now have many others) but it's still the best and clearly is my kit lens replacment. Second to that is the DA 17-70 f4 SDM which I use for a lot of outdoor situations. I can also atest to the quality of the Tamron 17-50 f2.8 which my daughter uses to good effect on her Canon 40D.

I really don't know what to tell you though. If you've been burned you might try again and get a good DA*16-50 and yet still be disatisfied. Personally, I'd go for another DA*16-50. If you've had this lens, you really can't go back to the kit lens WR or not. Or try the Tammy 17-50.
03-23-2010, 09:17 PM   #3
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Another vote for what you probably don't want to hear - the 16-50 (a good one) is a winner in every department. No other lens in its class is WR, nor IMO compares to its IQ.

You lose nothing other than your time in ordering another 16-50, so I'd say give it a go again and hopefully you'll land yourself a good one. There are unfortunately others who've had bad experiences with their 16-50s - not even for IQ but for failed SDM focusing - so if you're concerned about that, go for an extended warranty for peace of mind.

I've had mine for just under 2 years now, using it more than any other lens in my kit, and it hasn't skipped a beat. Great lens. The Sigma 17-70 and 18-50/2.8 just cannot compare IMO.
03-23-2010, 09:20 PM   #4
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How about a DA* 16-50 with an extended third-party warranty? It covers your needs, matches up well with your other lenses, and it's a single-lens solution.

A strong need for weather sealing really limits your choices. Even though you can supplement the WR kit lens with primes, you might not be inclined to carry or switch to them in conditions that require WR lenses. Your decision hinges mostly on the WR issue.

03-23-2010, 10:12 PM   #5
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Why no consideration of the DA16-45/ It's the one lens in the focal range that nobody complains about.
03-23-2010, 10:44 PM   #6
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Mtngal, this need not be so complicated. You list your top priorities as weather sealing & "much better sharpness quality of your kit lens."

Staying with these priorities, there are 2 choices in this focal range. Either you buy the Da 16-50 or the Da 18-55wr. If, in your opinion, the 18-55wr does not meet your 2nd priority, then you have one choice.

For what must surely be economics, 3rd party makers are not creating WR lenses.

You have these 2 options--period. Do you really need the added speed which the 16-50 offers? That really is its main advantage over its weather sealed brother.

If you were to let go of your demand for a WR lens, the sky would open & you would be inundated with choices. BTW, I hike in all 4 seasons of the year, in extreme conditions at times, and do not shoot with a WR lens--I find a little common sense easily stands in for WR--it has worked for me. There were times when all I had was a cheap little P & S, in temps below zero & blinding snow. These were done with older Canon P & S models--awesome little value for the $$--never gave me a problem. No weather resistant anything.
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03-23-2010, 10:47 PM   #7
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QuoteQuote:
seacapt: Why no consideration of the DA16-45/ It's the one lens in the focal range that nobody complains about.
because one of the 2 "top" priorities is WR.
03-23-2010, 10:52 PM   #8
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You have the range up to 24 mm well covered, and also the range 50 mm (and above). I would try a one lens solution first: the DA 35mm Ltd. (If you want to use it in the rain, snow or mist, buy disposable plastic weather sleeves). It can be used for landscape and macro (and more), and sits nicely in the middle of the "gap" you need to fill. And it's an excellent prime.

If after 6 months you still feel the need for a zoom between 24 and 50mm, decide then which one to get. As suggested above, the DA 16-45 is better than the WR kit. For one thing, the kit can deliver some very nice images, but you should keep it at F8 or higher.

But I'll bet you won't need anything more than the DA 35. If I had to do it all over again, that's the way I would go: DA 12 -24 (or Sigma 10 - 20), a DA 35mm Ltd and a DA*50-135. Too soon we get old, too late we get shmart.

03-23-2010, 11:23 PM   #9
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QuoteQuote:
snofox: (If you want to use it in the rain, snow or mist, buy disposable plastic weather sleeves).
I agree, there are common sense ways around weather resistance.

QuoteQuote:
snofox: Too soon we get old, too late we get shmart.
How true it is, generallly speaking anyways; I have met some exceptions to this truism.
03-23-2010, 11:39 PM   #10
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I think the 16-50 is a tough act to follow...

03-24-2010, 04:40 AM   #11
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I would try the 16-50 again. It is an amazing lens when you have a good copy. Unfortunately a lot of folks have to try two or three copies to get one. Pretty sad really. Anyway, it does fit all your needs and other than softness at the corners between 16 and 18mm wide open, I can't think of anything negative to say.

I would look at a Mack warranty with it however. With all the SDM complaints, it can't hurt.
03-24-2010, 06:19 AM   #12
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Thanks for all the feedback, and actually hearing that I should get the 16-50 is probably good for me to hear (it really is the solution I keep coming back to as the best one). It looks like it's coming down to the 16-50 or else skip the WR totally and get either the FA 31 or DA 35 (I really don't care if it's a zoom or not, I'm happy shooting with primes).

Perhaps the FA 31 isn't worth the premium you pay for it? It's been rather calling my name recently, which is why I was thinking of getting it with the 18-55 WR to cover those times when the weather is pretty miserable. Would any of you be out and about in lousy weather with this lens and a plastic bag for protection?

I don't normally bother with extended warranties (and didn't buy one for any of my other DA* lenses), but if I go with the 16-50, I'd definitely get one.
03-24-2010, 09:00 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by seacapt Quote
Why no consideration of the DA16-45/ It's the one lens in the focal range that nobody complains about.
I have three complaints. It does have some infrequent purple fringing problems. On specifications, it does not look like it's a lot better than the DA 18-55. The filter size is not convenient for me.

If WR is not necessary, it has a lot of positives. It starts at 16mm. It's cheap, with plenty of cheap used copies. It does a great job of covering a range where primes are few and/or expensive, and stops where primes are cheap and great.
03-24-2010, 10:24 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jewelltrail Quote
because one of the 2 "top" priorities is WR.
Yeah but was considering blowwing off WR with the Tammy 17-50 (another nice lens)
03-24-2010, 11:04 AM   #15
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QuoteQuote:
mtngal: Would any of you be out and about in lousy weather with this lens and a plastic bag for protection?
Yes, I would be--I've never used a plastic bag.


QuoteQuote:
seacapt: Yeah but was considering blowwing off WR with the Tammy 17-50 (another nice lens)
Yes, I agree, when I was in Mtngal's situation, I decided to go with the Tamron--so glad I did--here are 2 with the K20d and Tamron 17-50mm.
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