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12-12-2020, 10:25 PM - 5 Likes   #61
Des
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Not a first-choice birding lens, but with excellent centre resolution and very good AF, it can do well if you are close enough.

36mm f9 (Orlando, our friendly resident Grey Shrike-thrush, perched on my leg)


60mm f4.5 (Grey Shrike-thrush chick)


100mm f6.3 (Romola, Orlando's partner)


100mm f7.1


115mm f5.6 (Eastern Yellow Robin)


115mm f6.3


135mm f5.6


135mm f5.6 (Red Wattlebird)



Last edited by Des; 12-13-2020 at 03:36 PM.
12-12-2020, 11:20 PM   #62
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
Not a first-choice birding lens, but with excellent centre resolution and very good AF, it can do well if you are close enough.
WOW!!! Those are stunning! So sharp! Amazing that you could get close enough to get them!
12-13-2020, 12:16 PM   #63
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
Not a first-choice birding lens, but with excellent centre resolution and very good AF, it can do well if you are close enough.
Great photos, thanks for posting! I should definitely look into getting a 18-135...
12-13-2020, 06:00 PM - 4 Likes   #64
Des
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QuoteOriginally posted by mirceattl Quote
Great photos, the 18-135 is a great choice for an all-around lens.
QuoteOriginally posted by Oktyabr Quote
WOW!!! Those are stunning! So sharp! Amazing that you could get close enough to get them!
QuoteOriginally posted by mirceattl Quote
Great photos, thanks for posting! I should definitely look into getting a 18-135...
It takes a lot of time to build that level of trust with wild birds. When you are that close, the 18-135 is the ideal package because of its range (compared to a 16-45, 16-50, 16-85, 17-50, 17-70, 18-55 or 20-40, for example), its short MFD (the 55-300 PLM is 0.95m, the 18-135 is 0.4m) and its responsive AF (my DFA 100 is sharper, but the AF is slow and noisy).

Here are some more to reflect your encouragement, so to speak.
18mm f11


21mmm f8


21mm f11


24mm f8


40mm f9


53mmm f6.3


12-14-2020, 03:26 PM   #65
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
It takes a lot of time to build that level of trust with wild birds. When you are that close, the 18-135 is the ideal package because of its range (compared to a 16-45, 16-50, 16-85, 17-50, 17-70, 18-55 or 20-40, for example), its short MFD (the 55-300 PLM is 0.95m, the 18-135 is 0.4m) and its responsive AF (my DFA 100 is sharper, but the AF is slow and noisy).

Here are some more to reflect your encouragement, so to speak.
18mm f11


21mmm f8


21mm f11


24mm f8


40mm f9


53mmm f6.3
Stunning pictures, but you have the advantage of living in a very picturesque region of this world. On the other hand, your photos with the 18-135 are the best review of this lens for me, so I started looking for one. Thank you!
12-15-2020, 05:03 PM - 1 Like   #66
Des
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QuoteOriginally posted by mirceattl Quote
Stunning pictures, but you have the advantage of living in a very picturesque region of this world. On the other hand, your photos with the 18-135 are the best review of this lens for me, so I started looking for one. Thank you!
It's an unfair advantage - and the beauty of the subjects distracts from the deficiencies in the lens and the photographer! If you are looking for a versatile zoom, the 18-135 is very capable, but you need to consider the many alternatives and select the one that best meets your needs and your budget.

One limitation of the 18-135 is that the bokeh isn't as reliably good as for other lenses (such as the DA 20-40 Limited or the DA 55-300 PLM). It can be pleasant enough ...






... but it is prone to nisen bokeh (parallel lines) and other unpleasant qualities.




12-16-2020, 02:37 AM - 1 Like   #67
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
It's an unfair advantage - and the beauty of the subjects distracts from the deficiencies in the lens and the photographer! If you are looking for a versatile zoom, the 18-135 is very capable, but you need to consider the many alternatives and select the one that best meets your needs and your budget.

One limitation of the 18-135 is that the bokeh isn't as reliably good as for other lenses (such as the DA 20-40 Limited or the DA 55-300 PLM). It can be pleasant enough ...

... but it is prone to nisen bokeh (parallel lines) and other unpleasant qualities.
Thanks for the feedback, Des! I am looking for a decent all-around budget zoom lens, being aware that compromise is common ground for this type of lenses. Anyway, the DA 18-135 seems to produce nice results at all focal lengths (maybe stopped down a bit), so it's a good choice.

12-16-2020, 05:31 PM   #68
Des
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QuoteOriginally posted by mirceattl Quote
Thanks for the feedback, Des! I am looking for a decent all-around budget zoom lens, being aware that compromise is common ground for this type of lenses. Anyway, the DA 18-135 seems to produce nice results at all focal lengths (maybe stopped down a bit), so it's a good choice.
For someone who has the 55-300 PLM, I would probably suggest the DA 16-85, for its extra range at the wide end, HD coatings, better bokeh and better edge/corner sharpness, if it's within budget. But it's a lot more expensive, as well as being heavier and bulkier, and of course lacking the 86-135mm coverage - and as you can see the 18-135 is very capable.
12-17-2020, 10:02 AM   #69
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
For someone who has the 55-300 PLM, I would probably suggest the DA 16-85, for its extra range at the wide end, HD coatings, better bokeh and better edge/corner sharpness, if it's within budget. But it's a lot more expensive, as well as being heavier and bulkier, and of course lacking the 86-135mm coverage - and as you can see the 18-135 is very capable.
I agree the DA 16-85 looks better, but out of my budget, so I'll stick to the 18-135. If I can find a decent copy, that would do it.

Side question: how much do you usually PP your photos?
12-17-2020, 11:47 AM   #70
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I'm a huge fan of the 18-135 - it's my daily driver. But my biggest gripe is the vignetting. I'm always having to correct it in PP. Does anyone else have this problem, or do I simply have a dodgy copy?
12-17-2020, 05:15 PM   #71
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QuoteOriginally posted by paulh Quote
Does anyone else have this problem, or do I simply have a dodgy copy?
I'm not sure vignetting varies a lot between copies of a particular design. On the other hand, I've never noticed it before, so perhaps I'm acclimatized to it and unless Lightroom corrects vignetting as part of the profile for this lens, I've never bothered to correct for it.
12-18-2020, 05:08 PM - 1 Like   #72
Des
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QuoteOriginally posted by paulh Quote
But my biggest gripe is the vignetting. I'm always having to correct it in PP. Does anyone else have this problem, or do I simply have a dodgy copy?
Vignetting seems to be a common issue in wide-ranging APS-C consumer-level zooms. Presumably this is a by-product of designers trying to keep the lens compact and light-weight, which means that the image circle is small (compared to a FF lens) and there isn't a lot of correction. The DA 18-135 has noticeable vignetting (although it isn't as bad as my old Tamron 18-250, which was terrible). Vignetting is significant at both ends (less so in the middle, say 24-70mm), particularly when used wide open. It improves on stopping down, but at 18mm and even at 100mm and 135mm, it is still fairly apparent at f8.

Here is 135mm f5.6 (ie wide open)


Here is 135mm f8


As for the question of sample variation, it is interesting to compare test results. The PF test (Pentax-DA 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 Review - Vignetting | PentaxForums.com Reviews) showed vignetting to be quite obvious at the widest apertures at 18mm, 55mm and 135mm. It virtually disappeared when stopped down at 55mm, but at 135mm it was still visible when stopped down to f8. At 18mm it was quite pronounced even at f8 and f11. The infamous test by Optical Limits (formerly Photozone) (Pentax SMC-DA 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] WR - Review / Lens Test) got more favourable results on this point. Vignetting was very pronounced at 18mm wide open, significant wide open at 50mm, 85mm and 135mm, but otherwise not bad.


The results at Imaging Resources (Pentax 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] DC SMC DA WR Review) showed a similar pattern but were more favourable, with only 18mm wide open being particularly noticeable.

While the testing methods might have differed, the pattern is similar but the extent of the vignetting varies. This suggests to me some difference between copies. Although it shows a similar pattern, I think my copy is a bit better than the one tested by the PF reviewer.

Like @RGlasel; I haven't found the vignetting to be a huge problem in practice. I think there are three reasons for that: I don't shoot wide open very often (and particularly not at the wide end); the DxO lens correction profiles take care of vignetting automatically and quite effectively; and I crop many shots.

Jpg shooters should turn on the "Peripheral Illumination Correction" setting (provided in recent model cameras). This should help.

Of course you need to watch for vignetting when using filters.

Although a lot of vignetting is correctable, it would be better to start with less of it. On that score the DA 16-85 is a much better option: HD Pentax-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 Review - Vignetting | PentaxForums.com Reviews Apart from bad vignetting at 16mm at wide apertures, it is otherwise very good. Presumably this comes from bigger elements (72mm filters v 62mm) and better correction. A dedicated wide angle lens like the DA 12-24 (77mm front element) will be better again for wide angle shooting: DA 12-24mm vs Sigma and Tamron 10-24mm Comparison Review - Image Quality: Vignetting | PentaxForums.com Reviews.

Last edited by Des; 12-18-2020 at 06:49 PM.
12-18-2020, 06:46 PM - 1 Like   #73
Des
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QuoteOriginally posted by mirceattl Quote
how much do you usually PP your photos?
It depends on the image Mircea and when I processed it. I have shot in RAW since late 2013. I use DxO software (originally OpticsPro, now PhotoLab). The old versions (used to process most of the images shown here) did not have local adjustments or tools like simulated graduated filter, so really they have not had much treatment. DxO does have a very good lens correction module which automatically fixes distortion, vignetting and some CA. Beyond that I usually adjust the exposure levels for shadows, midtones and highlights, add some clarity and microcontrast and increase vibrancy. If it is shot at a high ISO I use the excellent de-noise feature to clean it up. I rarely have to change the white balance with this lens. I crop most images. Using presets as a starting point, these adjustments typically involve only a minute or two's worth of processing. The tools now available offer scope for more extensive treatment when required.

Even some modest processing can make a big difference. Here's a typical example. 24mm, f8, 1/200th, 400 ISO.
RAW image converted to jpg without processing.


After processing in DxO PhotoLab


Mostly just my standard adjustments, with the addition of simulated GND filters to allow different adjustments to the top and bottom of the image. I think the results are much better than you would get with a jpg out of the camera.

Last edited by Des; 12-19-2020 at 01:35 AM.
12-18-2020, 07:02 PM - 1 Like   #74
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
This suggests to me some difference between copies.
While I definitely appreciate all the work you put into this post (I also greatly admire the photos you post here), I would suggest the difference between reviewers/testers is much greater than the difference between actual copies of a lens. The closer one examines all the variables, the stronger the impression that everything is subjective because there is no "true" standard to measure the quality of an image or the tools used to generate that image.
12-18-2020, 07:06 PM - 2 Likes   #75
Des
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Portability and versatility make it useful for capturing the moment.

24mm f13


36mm f9


60mm f5.6


115mm f7.1


31mm f8


135mm f5.6 (a few minutes after the previous one)


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