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05-04-2011, 10:40 AM   #1
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Help choosing first WR lens for K-5

Hello,

I am relatively new to photography and just purchased my first slr, a K-5.

I was wondering if anyone had a recommendation on whether a DA 18-135mm WR or DA 55-200 mm WR would be the best choice for my first lens.

What I would like out of a first lens is a WR lens which would seem to compliment
the K-5 really well, and also a nice zoom range.

My confusion is arising from how to calculate zoom. 135/18 would indicate that
lens has a little over 7x zoom capability. Whereas the 55-200 mm is about a 4x
zoom. What is confusing me is that it seems like all the longer lenses for
greater zoom capability are 300mm, 400mm, even 500-600 mm for the super long shots.

Does anyone know which of the 18-135mm lens or 55-200mm WR lenses has a greater range/optical zoom to compliment my new K-5 and/or a first lens recommendation? What I am basically looking for is to cover as big a range but with as few lenses as possible. My prelim thought was to possibly go 18-135mm WR - and then save for a Sigma 150-500mm for wildlife photography.

Thank you for any help - I really appreciate it! - Janis

05-04-2011, 10:57 AM   #2
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The 55-300 wouldn't be that useful for subjects near you, like in the house. 55mm is still fairly long, meaning you'll need a lot of room to get a full subject in the viewfinder.

For a first lens, I'd go with the 18-135. If you want longer reach, see if you can get the two-lens kit of the 18-55 and 50-200 WR (or 55-300 WR).

Don't worry about 4x or 7x or whatever. Just worry about focal length. Zoom range isn't that important when you can change lenses. Plus, in general, larger zoom ranges can compromise image quality.
05-04-2011, 11:01 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by rfortson Quote
The 55-300 wouldn't be that useful for subjects near you, like in the house. 55mm is still fairly long, meaning you'll need a lot of room to get a full subject in the viewfinder.

For a first lens, I'd go with the 18-135. If you want longer reach, see if you can get the two-lens kit of the 18-55 and 50-200 WR (or 55-300 WR).

There isn't a 55-300 WR.
05-04-2011, 11:12 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by DogLover Quote
There isn't a 55-300 WR.
Quite true, because if there was, I'd have one

05-04-2011, 11:12 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Janis Quote
What I am basically looking for is to cover as big a range but with as few lenses as possible.
That's obviously convenient, but you should know that there is an IQ penalty to be paid for this approach. Some people don't mind this as superzooms are good enough for them, but the IQ (and low-light ability) of a superzoom will never equal that of a prime or even a good-quality, more modest-range zoom. That's why these lenses exist.
05-04-2011, 03:43 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by DogLover Quote
There isn't a 55-300 WR.
I was wondering....

just too lazy to check.

My suggestion still stands (sans the 55-300 WR, of course).
05-04-2011, 03:58 PM   #7
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Original Poster
Thanks

Thank you all for your help and advice! I think I was getting too hung up on optical zoom capability as they are advertised with point and shoots, rather than thinking in terms of focal length/quality of lenses.

I may begin with the 18-55mm WR and 55-200mm WR to have the entire range from 18-200mm covered and since they should compliment the K-5 real well, and also to get experience using an SLR with these relatively inexpensive lenses to start.

Janis
05-04-2011, 04:19 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Janis Quote
Thank you all for your help and advice! I think I was getting too hung up on optical zoom capability as they are advertised with point and shoots, rather than thinking in terms of focal length/quality of lenses.

I may begin with the 18-55mm WR and 55-200mm WR to have the entire range from 18-200mm covered and since they should compliment the K-5 real well, and also to get experience using an SLR with these relatively inexpensive lenses to start.

Janis
The problem with the 55-200 is that while you have a lot of range, you don't have a very sharp lens. There is a reason why this is one of the cheapest lenses Pentax makes. It is one of the worst performing lenses they make.

If you are going to spend $1,500 on a top of the line body please don't put a $250.00 lens on it. You get sharper pictures from a Lens Baby.

If you really want to get experience buy a really good prime and learn to master that focal length. The DA* 55mm would be a good start if you like taking pictures of people and you want to get creative.

You results will never be better than the lens that you use. That is why you see people on this forum drooling over the 31mm Ltd and the 43mm Ltd. The body that you are using is not nearly as important as the lens.

05-04-2011, 04:26 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Winder Quote
The problem with the 55-200 is that while you have a lot of range, you don't have a very sharp lens. There is a reason why this is one of the cheapest lenses Pentax makes. It is one of the worst performing lenses they make.

If you are going to spend $1,500 on a top of the line body please don't put a $250.00 lens on it. You get sharper pictures from a Lens Baby.

If you really want to get experience buy a really good prime and learn to master that focal length. The DA* 55mm would be a good start if you like taking pictures of people and you want to get creative.

You results will never be better than the lens that you use. That is why you see people on this forum drooling over the 31mm Ltd and the 43mm Ltd. The body that you are using is not nearly as important as the lens.
While I won't disagree that the 50-200 isn't one of Pentax's best lenses optically, it's certainly not terrible and it's reputation is somewhat undeserved IMO. Of course you'll get better results from just about any prime in that focal range. I have half-a-dozen primes in that range that murder the 50-200 optically (A50/1.2, DA55, FA77, FA*85, 100WR, FA135). However, the 50-200 is still useful (even on a $1500 body) because it's extremely compact, relatively inexpensive and covers a pretty decent range of focal lengths. In fact it's in part because of the $1500 body and its high ISO performance that the 50-200 is even more useful as it can be stopped down a bit to get better IQ.
05-04-2011, 04:54 PM   #10
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For snap shots and images that will never be printed (JPEGs on some internet site) I will agree that the 50-200 is acceptable for that application.

I'm not just knocking the Pentax super zoom. I have yet to see any images from a super zoom that can hold up to even 8x10 prints. I'm not saying there are not really good copies (just like there are really bad copies) out there that can pull it off..... Just that I have never seen one.

I have the ability to print 11x14 in-house and people are always bringing me a "special" snap shot they want to have enlarged. Most people with super zooms are not very picky about IQ to begin with, but even they usually don't think the results are very impressive when you enlarge it.
05-04-2011, 05:13 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Winder Quote
For snap shots and images that will never be printed (JPEGs on some internet site) I will agree that the 50-200 is acceptable for that application.

I'm not just knocking the Pentax super zoom. I have yet to see any images from a super zoom that can hold up to even 8x10 prints. I'm not saying there are not really good copies (just like there are really bad copies) out there that can pull it off..... Just that I have never seen one.

I have the ability to print 11x14 in-house and people are always bringing me a "special" snap shot they want to have enlarged. Most people with super zooms are not very picky about IQ to begin with, but even they usually don't think the results are very impressive when you enlarge it.
That's fair, no real disagreement from that point of view.
05-04-2011, 06:20 PM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Winder Quote
The problem with the 55-200 is that while you have a lot of range, you don't have a very sharp lens. There is a reason why this is one of the cheapest lenses Pentax makes. It is one of the worst performing lenses they make...
What? The DA 50-200mm WR is one of the worse performing lenses? Really? Perhaps you had a poor copy.

As someone who has owned two DA 50-200mm and currently the DA 50-200mm WR as well as two DA 55-300mm, I think the DA 50-200mm WR definitely doesn't deserve such a negative label. There were slight differences between the two copies of my early DA 50-200mm (now discontinued) but I didn't find them to be not sharp, and the current DA 50-200mm WR is really a lot better imo. It definitely is a lot lighter and more compact compared to the DA 55-300mm and I find 200mm is more than adequate for casual telephoto applications. I actually use the DA 50-200mm WR more than my DA 55-300mm simply because of its size and weight and the AF hunts a lot less.

Shots taken with the K-5 and DA 50-200mm WR



Last edited by creampuff; 05-04-2011 at 06:33 PM.
05-04-2011, 08:16 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Winder Quote
For snap shots and images that will never be printed (JPEGs on some internet site) I will agree that the 50-200 is acceptable for that application.

I'm not just knocking the Pentax super zoom. I have yet to see any images from a super zoom that can hold up to even 8x10 prints. I'm not saying there are not really good copies (just like there are really bad copies) out there that can pull it off..... Just that I have never seen one.

I have the ability to print 11x14 in-house and people are always bringing me a "special" snap shot they want to have enlarged. Most people with super zooms are not very picky about IQ to begin with, but even they usually don't think the results are very impressive when you enlarge it.


I have to agree with you. It is not a done deal until printed. I am not sure posting pictures on forums and blogs prove anything about sharpness this or that.
05-04-2011, 09:01 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by creampuff Quote
What? The DA 50-200mm WR is one of the worse performing lenses? Really? Perhaps you had a poor copy.
Or it's just Pentaxian standards. I'd be pretty tempted by that 18-135 despite my mislike of slow/variable aperture lenses. One zoom, sealed, is a nice idea if you otherwise only want to shoot primes.

I admit I expect less of zooms than some, so sometimes things are a pleasant surprise. Who's comparing what to what is always a question. Sometimes it's the light, too. My old Sigma 28-105 2.8-4 is pretty cantankerous in the bright, (Not for DR fans) .... no great shakes where I'd rather be shooting fast primes rather more wide open, but keeps impressing the crap out of me in the in-betweens where I actually want a zoom.

People say 'This is better *than* this,' too much. They should be thinking what's better *for* this. And know what 'this' is.


Zooms are for not- changing lenses.

What else.
05-06-2011, 12:06 PM   #15
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My 50-200 was pretty good (sold it several years ago, though). Also, the only magazine cover I ever sold (they contacted me) was a shot taken with the Tamron 18-250 on the K100D. So I had a 6mp shot, taken with a superzoom, yet it was good enough for the cover. That's good enough for me.

The thing is, when the defects from the superzoom show up in large prints, the average viewer is already taking a couple of steps back to enjoy the entire shot, so the defects become less evident. The extreme example of this is on billboards, of course.

I'm not saying the 50-200 or 18-250 is better (or as good as) prime lenses. Just that for the vast majority of uses, they are good enough. At least that's been my experience, and the experience of at least one editor.
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