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07-30-2010, 03:31 PM   #1
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Why not 18-250mm?

I am getting closer to buying a new camera. More and more leaning toward a K-x. Like many others, I'm concerned that weight, portability and convenience may affect my enthusiasm for a DSLR over the long term.

I'm wondering why not just get a body and an 18-250 lens as a starting point, rather than the two lens kit with the 55-300. I've heard great things about the 55-300, but when I think about hiking with two lenses and changing between lenses on the go, I'm thinking that a superzoom would make more sense.

Besides the obvious cost considerations are there any compelling reasons why this setup would not be a good idea?

07-30-2010, 03:51 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bertrand Quote
I am getting closer to buying a new camera. More and more leaning toward a K-x. Like many others, I'm concerned that weight, portability and convenience may affect my enthusiasm for a DSLR over the long term.

I'm wondering why not just get a body and an 18-250 lens as a starting point, rather than the two lens kit with the 55-300. I've heard great things about the 55-300, but when I think about hiking with two lenses and changing between lenses on the go, I'm thinking that a superzoom would make more sense.

Besides the obvious cost considerations are there any compelling reasons why this setup would not be a good idea?
This sounds like a very good idea for you. If you are concerned with having to switch lenses and portability then the 18-250 is the best way to go.

The optics on the 18-55 and 55-300 may be a little bit better but you are trading a little IQ for more portability and less switching. The Pentax 18-250 is a very good all purpose lens and you will not be disappointed, whereas the 2 kit lens may be more specific (55-300 will be better for wildlife than the 18-250 just as an example).
07-30-2010, 04:08 PM   #3
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For a general purpose lens, I find the 18-250mm to be the best. I keep a Pentax on my K20D and a Tamron on my K7. Pentax quit making the 18-250 and I think Tamron did also. Sigma still makes one and is availible from BH photo and Adorama. You will not be disappointed, the IQ is pretty good on these lenses for their large span of focal lengths. Great lenses!
07-30-2010, 11:51 PM   #4
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I had a 18-250mm. I replaced it with a 16-45mm + 55-300mm.
The 18-250mm is slightly better than 18-55mm, but the 55-300mm is visibly better than the 18-250mm, just as the 16-45mm is visibly better than either the 18-55mm or the 18-250mm. (Of course, I'm comparing IQ at the same focal lengths.)
Still, the difference isn't huge among all of these lenses. You can take fabulous pics with any of them, and if changing lenses is a pain for you (it isn't for me, as I rarely shoot beyond 45mm) the 18-250mm has a clear advantage.
All of these lenses are (or will be soon) supported by DxO, a very capable piece of software which can greatly improve the quality of your images--I guess the differences among the mentioned lenses will be even smaller after being DxO-ed. (Use the search function for PF threads about DxO Optics.)


Last edited by causey; 07-31-2010 at 01:48 AM.
07-31-2010, 12:01 AM   #5
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I bought my K20D a couple years ago with a basic lens set: the DA10-17 fisheye, DA18-250 superzoom, and FA50/1.4 fast prime, just what I needed for a long drive across Mexico. I now own 80+ lenses mountable on the K20D, but the 18-250 is still my most-used. On a recent long USA car trip, with 25 lenses packed, I almost exclusively used the 18-250 and a Zenitar 16/2.8 fisheye, with occasional use appearances by a SMC-M 28/2.8 for landscapes and the FA50/1.4 for low light. I hit a county fair today, carrying a few usual lenses, but only used the 18-250. It's just the most flexible all-around tool.

One of our members here is a top fashion photographer, based in Paris, and he swears by the 18-250. Some other members swear AT the lens, because it does embody some design compromises, isn't the best for all purposes. It's not for low-light; it's not for serious birding, or deep-space astronomy, or SPORTS ILLUSTRATED submissions. The zoom creep can be annoying. But I manage to nail most of what I aim it at, especially when I don't have time to switch to a special lens for special circumstances. It's there when I need it.

Remember: The best lens is the one you use; the worst is the one you don't use.
07-31-2010, 12:12 AM   #6
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If I didn't need the WR I'd have a 18-250 no question, my two DA's probably aren't of the best optical quality, and I could just use that as throw on lens and get a bunch of DA limiteds when I want to worry about quality.

The best part about the 18-250 is that you'll learn what focal lengths you use most, and when it comes time to upgrade to faster or higher quality lenses, then you'll know which focal lengths to upgrade first, and that will be especially convenient if you use a few specific focal lengths more often, then you can upgrade to primes instead of zooms

For instance I used my kit lens most of the time and based on that I got a Sigma 10-20mm and a DA 40 limited to cover my most used focal lengths with high quality glass, now that those are covered I'm temped to ditch the DA WR's and just get a superzoom like a 18-250
07-31-2010, 02:20 AM   #7
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You already received some good advice. Let me add my own experience. I bought my K-7 camera body together with a DA18-250mm and I do not regret it. (I did not buy any kit lens.)

I like to work with a simple system (1 lens and 1 body) to travel light with a small bag and avoid lens swaping. I shoot outdoor incl. actions (waves, birds, surfers, storms). I do not want to change lenses, especially when the weather conditions are poor. Let keep it simple! My basic setup is the K-7+DA18-250mm, and the DA 18-250mm is perfect for my needs. It covers a wide range (18-250mm)and the DA18-250mm is also a sturdy lens as long as you take care of it.

More generally, the DA18-250mm is regarded as one of the best all-around lenses among all brands incl. Canikons and co. It has been discontinued but you can find some good 2nd hand lenses on the market. It is a rebadged Tamron 18-250mm. Both the DA18-250mm and Tamron 18-250mm are excellent. They are not prime lenses, and suffer some distortion that can be easily fixed with PP (eg. PTLens software); but otherwise, these two are excellent lenses that are used by professionals as well as newbies.

You may be interested to read these to threads by professionals:
*Pentax DA 18-250mm Lens, and
*K-7 and Steve Kroeger climb Aconcagua (6962m))

Yes, the DA-18-250mm is the lens used on Mt Acongagua by Steve Kroeger with his K-7!

The only real weakness of the DA18-250mm is the low light. But there, you really need a fast prime lens, because no zoom lens can compete with a large aperture (eg f1.4) fast prime lens for such low-light conditions. In my case, I got some excellent advice from this forum. I bought a Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4 for the low-light outdoor situations at dusk and dawn, and the lens is a beauty.

Hope that the experience will help....

Last edited by hcc; 07-31-2010 at 09:10 PM. Reason: Typos
07-31-2010, 09:17 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bertrand Quote

I'm wondering why not just get a body and an 18-250 lens as a starting point, rather than the two lens kit with the 55-300. I've heard great things about the 55-300, but when I think about hiking with two lenses and changing between lenses on the go, I'm thinking that a superzoom would make more sense.
What?!? You really only want one lens?!? Madness!
Someone silence this infidel before our wives get word of this "super zoom solution"!
You have a lot to learn, kid.
(walks away mumbling, "One lens." and let's out a kooky laugh)

I am just having some fun. Of course you can get by in many situations with a single lens with good range in focal length. But there are some situations where
the limitations of the lens might make you regret having such a general use lens.
Many people do find that for the images and scenes they capture can be achieved with such a "super zoom". And others do not.

07-31-2010, 10:00 AM   #9
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I have a K200D, an M 50mm 1.7, the 18-55 kit lens, a sears 135mm, and a Tamron 70-300mm. I wanted the convenience of a wide range of reach in one walk around lens. I keep the 18-250 attached all the time, carry it with me every day, and bought a smaller case logic case to carry camera and lens in. I am very glad that I went ahead and made the purchase of the 18-250. It doesn't quite have the reach of my Tamron, but I still have a pretty good zoom reach with it, and actually like the quality of the photos at the long end more. I'm very happy with my 18-250!
07-31-2010, 06:26 PM   #10
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Thanks for your input everyone. I appreciate all your responses. My question has been answered.
08-01-2010, 12:14 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bertrand Quote
I am getting closer to buying a new camera. More and more leaning toward a K-x.
Good choice.

QuoteQuote:
I'm wondering why not just get a body and an 18-250 lens as a starting point.... Besides the obvious cost considerations are there any compelling reasons why this setup would not be a good idea?
No.

I've owned both the Tamron and Pentax versions of this lens. Both were at least as good as the kit lens in the 18-55 range and everywhere else. For "normal" use, for what I imagine to be YOUR use, these are quite decent lenses. They may save you some money, will certainly save you the hassle of carrying 2 lenses around, and they will also keep you from having to worry so much about dust.

Now, having said that, I'll say something that I've said on this subject before. Buying a DSLR, that is, a camera whose raison d'être is, in large part, its ability to take different lenses, and then slapping a superzoom on there and leaving it there, seems somewhat to defeat the point. I mean, for personal use now I have a Panasonic FZ35, which has a zoom range that's even greater than the 18-250. (The FZ35's zoom range = 18-324, in Pentax DSLR equivalence.) And the FZ35 shoots raw and takes photos that are just as good as those I got with my 18-250 on a Pentax K20D, at least much of the time. It's a fact of life that cheaper cameras can, especially when the light is good, take photos as good as or very nearly as good as the photos you'd take with a bigger, more expensive camera. This works both ways. I take comfort in the fact that my K20D takes photos that are as good as those taken with, say, a Nikon D700, at least about 85% of the time.

Here's a photo taken with the FZ35. The shot would not have been better if I took it with the K20D and the Pentax 18-250.



If the light gets low, the DSLR will smoke the fixed-lens camera, because the latter's pictures are pretty noisy once you go much over ISO 200. But the truth is, I very seldom shot with the 18-250 in bad light.

But that's playing devil's advocate. There IS a reason—there are many reasons—to buy a DSLR instead of a compact camera. The ability to use interchangeable lenses is one of the most important of those reasons, if not THE most important advantage of SLRs and DSLRs; but it isn't the ONLY advantage. Under no circumstances will your K-x take WORSE photos than you could get with a high-end compact camera, and in some circumstances it will take better photos. And then there's the fact that K-x is a far superior picture-taking tool.

So don't worry about it. Get the 18-250 and enjoy it. I will predict that, after a while, if you enjoy taking photos with the K-x, you will start to think about buying lenses with smaller zoom ranges and just a little better technical image quality. Or you might even think about buying a prime lens or two. But that can come down the road. In the meantime, a K-x with an 18-250 lens offers a combination of versatility and image quality that is very hard to beat with anything else.

Enjoy.

Will
08-01-2010, 08:10 PM   #12
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Great analysis! But one more devil's advocate comment:

QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
Under no circumstances will your K-x take WORSE photos than you could get with a high-end compact camera
I'd just point out that some are put off at first by the shallower DOF of a DSLR, which can be a disadvantage in some cases.
08-01-2010, 09:31 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
I'd just point out that some are put off at first by the shallower DOF of a DSLR, which can be a disadvantage in some cases.
Ah, true, although shallower depth of field is an option, not a requirement. We're not talking Ansel Adams large format cameras here, where the story has it that they had to shoot at f/64 to escape the camera's tendency to slice the depth of field deli thin!

And if you factor in the APS-C sensor's better performance at higher ISO, then it's easy to imagine that, if a correct and relatively noise-free exposure on the compact camera required, say

f/2.8, 1/125th sec, ISO 100

then you could get a similar exposure on an APS-C camera with something like

f/5.6, 1/125th sec, ISO 400

and probably get about the same depth of field. I've actually not tested this and perhaps I should. I have it in my head, for some reason—perhaps for no reason!—that there's a 1 to 1.5 stop difference in "performance" as you move from compact sensor, to micro-4/3, to APS-C, to 36x24 FF. So my Pentax K20D can get pretty much the same shot—same exposure, and with no more noise—as an LX3, with 2-3 stops less light. (And it's my sense that the 36x24 FF cameras have a roughly 1.5 stop advantage over my Pentax K20D.)

Anyway, to return to the OP's question: I think any one of the 18-250 lenses makes a perfectly reasonable alternative to the 18-55 kit lens. The lenses are about equal in image quality and speed, and the 18-250 is vastly more versatile. OF COURSE THERE'S ALWAYS A COMPROMISE IN THERE SOMEWHERE, and this is no exception. The advantage of the 18-55, compared to the 18-250, is in its price. The 18-55 is very close to being free. And many of us who don't shoot for Audubon Magazine routinely find that 18-55 covers the focal lengths we need more often than not.

Will
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