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12-14-2020, 12:56 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Third party lenses, am I missing out

Ok, this is about modern, APSC glass, my vintage stuff is well mixed. All my autofocus stuff is Pentax (10-17, 18-135, 50-200, 55-300, & 21, 35, 40, 70, all limiteds). There are countless Tamrons and Sigmas in ebayland but are any of them hidden gems? My friend has the Tammy 12-24 and that is really sharp, there are several spanning the wide range from 10mm. Then there are the hoards of 35-80s not to mention the super zooms, 18-300(?) 150-enormous. Then there are the sigma art primes.. The question is, are any of them better than what I have? Or are they just a cheap alternative?

12-14-2020, 02:02 AM   #2
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Sigma Art primes aren't cheap and aren't light or small but are seriously good. Maybe for FF rather than APSC.
12-14-2020, 02:08 AM   #3
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I have the Sigma 8-16 and I have had the Sigma 10-20. I also have the Pentax 10-17 with a Samsung label.
As rectilinear lenses the Sigma's offer something a lot less fishy than the Pentax and this suits some situations better.
Image quality very acceptable to me.
12-14-2020, 02:23 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Billk Quote
Sigma Art primes aren't cheap and aren't light or small but are seriously good. Maybe for FF rather than APSC.
The Sigma 35mm Art is a FF lens that I like on both FF and APS-C. The Sigma 30mm Art is APS-C only.

12-14-2020, 02:33 AM   #5
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It's difficult to say which, if any, are hidden gems, since what constitutes a "good" lens is rather subjective. That said...

The Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 HSM is a very decent, reasonably fast, constant aperture wide-to-very-short-tele zoom - better optically than Pentax' own DA*16-50 f/2.8. Autofocus is near-silent because of the HSM motor, but can be a little inconsistent, sometimes requiring more than one AF cycle to achieve absolute accuracy (which isn't uncommon with Sigma K-mount lenses) - but I can live with that given the optical quality. I understand Tamron's screw-drive 17-50 f/2.8 is also very good, but I've no experience with it.

The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Art is one of my favourite lenses, due to characterful rendering and build quality. It's an absolute peach, and a bargain at UK prices. It likes good light and a contrasty target for AF, and some folks have had AF accuracy issues when using off-centre focusing points. I use mine with the centre focusing point and haven't had any problems.

If "superzoom" lenses are your thing, Sigma's 18-300 is arguably the best option (optically, at least) in K-mount. I find it far better than the Pentax 18-270 I previously owned. Still, it's a superzoom and suffers from mostly the same compromises as any other... but image quality is very good in its class (even at the long end), and it can be useful lens in good light if you want to avoid changing lenses. I don't use mine much and keep thinking about selling it, but never manage to pull the trigger. I think I might miss having it "just in case".

Tamron's 90mm f/2.8 macro is an excellent alternative to the D FA100, and in side-by-side comparison shots I very slightly prefer the rendering from the Tamron (though it's extremely close). My Tamron is in Sony A-mount for my full frame kit, and I own the D FA100 WR in K-mount. Frankly, they're both very good, but the Tamron can be found a lot cheaper used. Just bear in mind that it's not weather resistant.

My most-used lens in K-mount is the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8, which many will say is a less-than-ideal focal length range for the APS-C format I use... but I'm not frequently a wide-angle shooter, and 28mm is probably my most common focal length. There's nothing particularly special about the lens, but I personally like the way it performs and renders, and it's become like a comfortable pair of shoes to me. I've said many times here that if I had to choose just one camera and one lens to keep, it would be a Samsung GX-10 (K10D) and the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8. A lot of the photography I do would be satisfied by that simple, inexpensive kit.

I also own the Tamron 10-24. It's not a bad lens... I've heard reports that it's sharper than the model it replaced... but I'm not blown away by it. Still, it covers my occasional ultra-wide-angle needs, and with a bit of post-processing work it's capable of decent images. Not a hidden gem, though...

Last edited by BigMackCam; 12-14-2020 at 05:58 AM.
12-14-2020, 02:36 AM   #6
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I have the Sigma 8-16 (APS-C, usable 14-16 FF), 30mm (APS-C), 18-35 (APS-C, usable 28-35 FF) and 150-500 (FF).
I have also the Tamron 90mm macro (FF), the Laowa 105mm f/2 Smooth Trans Focus (STF) (FF) and the Irix Blackstone 15mm F2.4 (FF).
12-14-2020, 02:39 AM - 1 Like   #7
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"are any of them better than what I have?" YES.


I would suggest that you look at the Zeiss and Voigtlander prime lenses. They are superb primes.


There are two really outstanding primes IMHO: the Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4 and the Voigtlander APO Lanthar 125mm f2.5. The former is an outstanding fat prime and all-rounder (IMHO) with all kind of lighting tough outdoor situations like fogg and smogg. The latter (VL 125mm) is the best macro lens that I know and I tested. Both are expensive, MF, all metallic and outstanding IQ. I used the VL58mm f1.5 on my K-7 and K-3, and it makes my K-7 looks like a great camera, even in low light! The VL125mm works superbly with my K-3, and MF is a breeze with such a nice focus ring.


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12-14-2020, 02:49 AM   #8
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Your lens collection covers a lot of ground. An ultra wide rectilinear might be useful.

I have the following Sigmas:
  • 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM
  • 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro
  • 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro
  • 70-300mm f/4-5.6 APO DG Macro
All of them work very well. The first two see the most use these days.

12-14-2020, 02:58 AM   #9
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One thing I forgot to mention...

Tamron's quality control on its screw-drive lenses can be rather spotty. If you buy one - new or used - check that any AF fine tuning required is within the limits of your camera and - for zoom lenses - the same or very similar at both ends of the focal length range.

I already mentioned Sigma AF issues on K-mount... it's fairly common, but not a significant problem if you're aware and prepared to work with it.
12-14-2020, 04:58 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cerebum Quote
Ok, this is about modern, APSC glass, my vintage stuff is well mixed. All my autofocus stuff is Pentax (10-17, 18-135, 50-200, 55-300, & 21, 35, 40, 70, all limiteds). There are countless Tamrons and Sigmas in ebayland but are any of them hidden gems? My friend has the Tammy 12-24 and that is really sharp, there are several spanning the wide range from 10mm. Then there are the hoards of 35-80s not to mention the super zooms, 18-300(?) 150-enormous. Then there are the sigma art primes.. The question is, are any of them better than what I have? Or are they just a cheap alternative?


that depends - are you looking to fill a niche in your lineup?

there are excellent third-party lenses available, but the list of new AF choices is dwindling...

looking for a macro lens? try a good used Sigma 70/2.8 or 105/2.8, or a Irix 150/2.8

midrange prime with sublime handling and rendering like butter? Voigtlander 58/1.4 or Zeiss Planar 85/1.4

I try to keep only the gems (of course, in my opinion) as I go through my lens adventures...
12-14-2020, 07:27 AM   #11
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The is a Sigma macro 50/2.8 manual focus with A setting that is very good. Downfall is the sticky zen coating on the barrel, but a very good lens. I have an AF Tamron 90/2.8 (di) that is a very good lens that seems to sell pretty cheaply used. I rented a Sigma 50-500 once, it was good but the DA *300 plus DA 1.4 converter is better at 420mm. I had a Sigma 17-50/2.8 which was a very good lens, ok wide open, best when stopped down, but once I got the DA 20-40 Ltd I never used it again. I had a Tamron 70-200/2.8, another good sharp lens that I just didn’t use enough, I never really “bonded” with it.
12-14-2020, 07:56 AM   #12
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OK, that pretty much covered everything lol. I have only ever bought one new lens so, unless my finances change, that will continue to be the case. The voigtlander option is a dreamy one. Something to aspire to I have a rather nice series one vivitar 105mm macro so that is covered. I think the most likely candidates would be a superzoom, so the sigma 18-300mm is going to get a coat of looking at, and a rectilinear wide angle like the 10-20mm or 10-24mm. Also, the sigma 30mm Art looks tasty, especially as for a fast lens, it is a decent price. GAS takes me to eBay on a regular basis and I see so many sigma and tamron lenses. There are also quite a few that cover mid range and it was feeling like looking for a needle in a haystack, but not any more thanks guys my wish list has three new additions

---------- Post added 12-14-20 at 08:01 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
My most-used lens in K-mount is the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8, which many will say is a less-than-ideal focal length range for the APS-C format I use... but I'm not frequently a wide-angle shooter, and 28mm is probably my most common focal length. There's nothing particularly special about the lens, but I personally like the way it performs and renders, and it's become like a comfortable pair of shoes to me. I've said many times here that if I had to choose just one camera and one lens to keep, it would be a Samsung GX-10 (K10D) and the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8. A lot of the photography I do would be satisfied by that simple, inexpensive kit.

I also own the Tamron 10-24. It's not a bad lens... I've heard reports that it's sharper than the model it replaced... but I'm not blown away by it. Still, it covers my occasional ultra-wide-angle needs, and with a bit of post-processing work it's capable of decent images. Not a hidden gem, though...
Thanks for all this info the 28-75mm is also a possibility. My favourite focal length is also 28-35mm this is covered in zoom terms by the 18-135mm and mine has recently been performing admirably, so the 28-75mm f2.8 would probably be a GAS buy, although, f2.8 throughout, .......... I do like shooting in low light ........
12-14-2020, 09:55 AM   #13
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I like the Tamron 10-24.
12-14-2020, 10:28 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cerebum Quote
Thanks for all this info the 28-75mm is also a possibility. My favourite focal length is also 28-35mm this is covered in zoom terms by the 18-135mm and mine has recently been performing admirably, so the 28-75mm f2.8 would probably be a GAS buy, although, f2.8 throughout, .......... I do like shooting in low light ........
If you're happy at 35mm and enjoy lower light photography, there's one more you might add to your list for consideration, and it's Pentax - not third party... either the older SMC or updated HD FA35 f/2. It's compact, solid, optically good enough to shoot wide open (though I prefer it from f/2.2 onwards) and image quality is excellent. It may not seem like much difference to your DA35 f/2.8 Macro Limited, but wide open it's a whole stop faster, and frankly they're just different lenses. The SMC version typically sells used for around GBP £150 - £200 (they seem cheaper in the USA - not sure why), but make sure you get the hood and original caps if paying the higher end of that. The HD version, new, occasionally drops below the GBP £300 mark, and is worth looking out for in January when the dealers are looking to boost post-Christmas sales. I got lucky with mine at £249, but haven't seen it that cheap since.

EDIT: "gwcameras" on eBay UK has an ex-display one, as new condition but tatty box, for £289 inc. 12 month warranty. You might get an unopened, pristine box, fresh-from-stock example for that kind of price in the New Year, but if you wanted the lens and money is burning a hole in your pocket, this would be a decent option. I've dealt with gwcameras before, with no problems...
12-14-2020, 10:59 AM   #15
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This site has several side by side comparison articles. Sometimes pentax comes out on top sometimes it is the 3rd party.

Third party lenses I use on a regular basis
8mm rokinon fisheye
17-50 2.8 sigma
70-200 2.8 tamron
I am getting the 10-20 4-5.6 (?) sigma which will fill a niche although it might take away shots for the fisheye
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