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06-12-2014, 01:47 AM   #16
Des
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bertminator Quote
I have to be honest, so far (I know it's ONLY a kit lens), but I'm not that impressed with some of the photos coming out of it. Now maybe it's just because some of the photos I see on this forum, are post-processed to look AWESOME!, but mine are not that great. Maybe I should get into Post processing more, but I don't know. My point & shoot Canon, took AWESOME photos, and it has (at least in my mind), a lens that should not even touch the quality of ANY dslr lens (my WR kit lens included)
What is it about your 18-55 that you are really dissatisfied with? Is it that the photos are not sharp, or that the colours or contrast is wrong, or something else?

It might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but the 18-55 can produce very good pictures. If you look at the finalists in the recent photo contest here you will see that a number of the photos were taken with an 18-55.

The reason I ask is that often when people say that their lens is not sharp, the problem turns out to be something else, such as motion blur or inaccurate autofocus or using an inappropriate AF point. It is worth going back to basics, to eliminate other issues:
1. Set your AF point to centre spot.
2. Check whether the AF is front- or back-focusing, and use the lens adjustment to fix it if it is.
3. Check that the diopter in the viewfinder is set correctly for you.
4. Try some photos of the same subject using the viewfinder AF, live view AF, and manual focus. Is one better than the others?
5. Try using faster shutter speeds with and without shake reduction and see what effect that has.
6. Fix a low ISO setting, put the camera on a sturdy tripod, and use a remote release. If you haven't got a really sturdy tripod, use a table or something siimilar and use delayed shutter release. See whether that makes the photos better - if so you may need to work on reducing motion blur.

Once you have gone through these steps you should at least have some photos in which the subject is pin sharp.

Try a few high contrast and low contrast subjects to see whether contrast is right for you. Adjust the camera's contrast settings if necessary.

Is the exposure right? Try auto-bracketing, using different increments. If the over-exposed or under-exposed photo is consistently better exposed, adjust the exposure accordingly.

Next step is to stop down the aperture a stop or two from the max. That should improve the resolution.

If the focus and exposure are right, and you have stopped down a bit, but you are still dissatisfied, shoot some photos in RAW and try some basic adjustments in PP. Changing basic things like white balance and contrast can make a huge difference. (Resist the temptation to play with the colour at this stage, except maybe try a few B&W conversions.) The supplied software is fine for this. In fact it can do a lot more besides (like fixing CA, vignetting and distortion).

By this point,most of your photos should be at least technically satisfactory. If you still want more, then, and only then, think of upgrading the lens.

My own view is that a lot of people overdo the PP - in particular colours are often over-saturated and the unsharp mask is overdone. Often less is more.


Last edited by Des; 06-12-2014 at 05:24 AM.
06-12-2014, 01:57 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Not much more. The 55-300 is an excellent size and weight and is affordable.
OK, here we go again.

The DA55-300 is much bigger and heavier than the DA50-200WR. I have both. If the OP is just starting up and is after something to complement their DA18-55WR then the DA50-200WR is a good affordable choice. There is not a great difference in IQ or sharpness with my copies.
06-12-2014, 04:14 AM   #18
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FWIW, the first lens I got after 18-55 was 50-200 and I remember I was impressed with the quality of shots. That probably had more to do with the focal length and ability to get a portrait using the whole resolution instead of cropping + with 50-200 (some) bokeh is easier achieved than with 18-55.
The shortcomings of 50-200 (and 18-55 for that matter) manifest themselves as low IQ photos, but they are IMO mostly the consequence of shaky hands and inappropriate aperture and shutter speed; you want to keep the ISO low so you open up and reduce the exposure, your photos turn blurred (motion) and soft (wide open). But shoot at f11 and 1/1000 and the story is completely different.


Now, you can't do that all the time. But for a walkaround lens on a reasonably sunny day the IQ is, for me, satisfactory. And I suppose (as I don't have it) 50-300 both won't be much better on such a day, and will suffer the same problems in low light.
06-12-2014, 05:55 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
OK, here is the label peeled off. Something plastic and sharp would be useful here, because the edge of the front element is right there. The four screws are JIS type, a little annoying if you don't already have a JIS screwdriver. They weren't too tight.


IMGT9405
by just1moredave, on Flickr

The part with the 8 holes is the threaded carrier. You can see a felt seal drooping down in the upper left, part of the WR. This part unscrews.


IMGT9407
by just1moredave, on Flickr

The shims are gold colored, so easy to spot here. The front element needed to be closer to the sensor for infinity focus, so a shim had to be removed. I took one out and that was enough to allow the lens to focus slightly "past" infinity. I think that AF lenses need to be able to overshoot and back up, so they are supposed to be set up this way. It keeps the AF motor from frequently hitting a hard stop.


IMGT9408
by just1moredave, on Flickr
thank you so much for that!

---------- Post added 06-12-14 at 08:00 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
What is it about your 18-55 that you are really dissatisfied with? Is it that the photos are not sharp, or that the colours or contrast is wrong, or something else?

It might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but the 18-55 can produce very good pictures. If you look at the finalists in the recent photo contest here you will see that a number of the photos were taken with an 18-55.

The reason I ask is that often when people say that their lens is not sharp, the problem turns out to be something else, such as motion blur or inaccurate autofocus or using an inappropriate AF point. It is worth going back to basics, to eliminate other issues:
1. Set your AF point to centre spot.
2. Check whether the AF is front- or back-focusing, and use the lens adjustment to fix it if it is.
3. Check that the diopter in the viewfinder is set correctly for you.
4. Try some photos of the same subject using the viewfinder AF, live view AF, and manual focus. Is one better than the others?
5. Try using faster shutter speeds with and without shake reduction and see what effect that has.
6. Fix a low ISO setting, put the camera on a sturdy tripod, and use a remote release. If you haven't got a really sturdy tripod, use a table or something siimilar and use delayed shutter release. See whether that makes the photos better - if so you may need to work on reducing motion blur.

Once you have gone through these steps you should at least have some photos in which the subject is pin sharp.

Try a few high contrast and low contrast subjects to see whether contrast is right for you. Adjust the camera's contrast settings if necessary.

Is the exposure right? Try auto-bracketing, using different increments. If the over-exposed or under-exposed photo is consistently better exposed, adjust the exposure accordingly.

Next step is to stop down the aperture a stop or two from the max. That should improve the resolution.

If the focus and exposure are right, and you have stopped down a bit, but you are still dissatisfied, shoot some photos in RAW and try some basic adjustments in PP. Changing basic things like white balance and contrast can make a huge difference. (Resist the temptation to play with the colour at this stage, except maybe try a few B&W conversions.) The supplied software is fine for this. In fact it can do a lot more besides (like fixing CA, vignetting and distortion).

By this point,most of your photos should be at least technically satisfactory. If you still want more, then, and only then, think of upgrading the lens.

My own view is that a lot of people overdo the PP - in particular colours are often over-saturated and the unsharp mask is overdone. Often less is more.
I guess for me I find that some shots lack that WOW factor when it comes to crystal sharp focus. I mean it's not bad....but it's not great either. Two days ago I took a shot of the moon (just to see), and manual focused to inifinity, and yup it wasn't clear at all. I mean....it's infinity...not 30 ft away, so what went wrong...that's why I asked "Just1MoreDave" to post the steps to his lens correction.

---------- Post added 06-12-14 at 08:02 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by kh1234567890 Quote
OK, here we go again.

The DA55-300 is much bigger and heavier than the DA50-200WR. I have both. If the OP is just starting up and is after something to complement their DA18-55WR then the DA50-200WR is a good affordable choice. There is not a great difference in IQ or sharpness with my copies.
do you mean not a great difference between the 18-55mm & the 50-200? or the 18-55mm to the 55-300? People commenting prior to your comment seem to say that the 55-300 is superior in image qualtity. OH...and what is OP?

06-12-2014, 06:19 AM   #20
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OP = Original Poster aka you in this case.

Moon shots are not as easy as you'd think. The camera is great at picking up atmospheric haze which your eye tends to ignore. I have plenty of aircraft pictures which are perfectly in focus, but hazy and poor resolution. They're not at all what I thought I'd get when looking through the binoculars or just with the mk. 1 eyeball.

Do check your calibration at infinity, though, so you at least have some confidence in the lens. The summer isn't the best time for celestial work because of the humidity, but standing outside in 5F weather is no picnic...until Pentax gives us good wireless tethering!
06-12-2014, 06:30 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bertminator Quote
do you mean not a great difference between the 18-55mm & the 50-200? or the 18-55mm to the 55-300?
DA50-200WR and DA55-300. But there are some good and bad samples of each about.
06-12-2014, 05:09 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bertminator Quote
I guess for me I find that some shots lack that WOW factor when it comes to crystal sharp focus. I mean it's not bad....but it's not great either. Two days ago I took a shot of the moon (just to see), and manual focused to inifinity, and yup it wasn't clear at all. I mean....it's infinity...not 30 ft away, so what went wrong...that's why I asked "Just1MoreDave" to post the steps to his lens correction.
What about sorting out images at closer focus first? Try these:
- a cat or dog, focusing on eyes (fine hairs are a good test)
- a still life, like a bowl of fruit (good for contrast, colour, resolution)
- shoot along a clothes line with coloured pegs on it - using a wide aperture, focus on a particular peg, and see how accurate the focus is, how the colours and contrast comes out, and the bokeh.

Sure it won't be like a FA 31 or DA*55, but it should at least tell you whether something is wrong.
06-12-2014, 06:40 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
What about sorting out images at closer focus first? Try these:
- a cat or dog, focusing on eyes (fine hairs are a good test)
- a still life, like a bowl of fruit (good for contrast, colour, resolution)
- shoot along a clothes line with coloured pegs on it - using a wide aperture, focus on a particular peg, and see how accurate the focus is, how the colours and contrast comes out, and the bokeh.

Sure it won't be like a FA 31 or DA*55, but it should at least tell you whether something is wrong.
Here's a photo I took of the Piano keys...tell me what you think about the focus on it.

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06-12-2014, 08:01 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bertminator Quote
Here's a photo I took of the Piano keys...tell me what you think about the focus on it.
Depends which key you were focusing on!

The focus point should be very middle of the zone in focus. If not, assuming you were using AF, you would need to do some fine adjustment. (See the manual.)

Given that the aperture is wide open (f3.5), the shutter speed is 1/20th of a second (presumably hand-held with SR on) and the zoom at its widest, the photo doesn't suggest to me anything wrong with the lens.

Of course, you are testing the limits of the lens: like most zooms, this lens performs best when stopped down a bit, and 18mm is probably not its best focal length. In the circumstances I think the result is quite acceptable. (I doubt you could have got this result with the same settings on your P&S camera.) In less testing conditions (e.g. outdoors with good even light, 35mm, f8, 1/125th second, ISO400) I don't see why an image could not have the Wow factor you mention.

If you want more ready access to Wow! photos, including in difficult conditions, try a good cheap prime (e.g. DA35 2.4 or one of the many nifty 50s). If you can live with manual focus (but with the convenience of auto aperture), the Pentax A series are lots of fun - the A50 1.7 (around $50 or so) provides cheap Wow! Here is an example:
06-12-2014, 09:52 PM   #25
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I took this one tonight using my "old" Pentax "M" 80-200mm with 2x vivitar tele-converter. I did a bit of post processing using photoshop.
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06-12-2014, 10:54 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by kh1234567890 Quote
OK, here we go again.

The DA55-300 is much bigger and heavier than the DA50-200WR. I have both. If the OP is just starting up and is after something to complement their DA18-55WR then the DA50-200WR is a good affordable choice. There is not a great difference in IQ or sharpness with my copies.

KH, they're both small, slow consumer zooms. Bless 'em, they have important jobs to do in the lens lineup!


The DA55-300 is about 4cm longer and 200g heavier than the 50-200. Much shorter and lighter than the 50-135 and 60-250, let alone the 200 or 300 primes.


I've had both, too, and no longer use the 50-200. Maybe Photozone had the same copy as me!


Pentax SMC-DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 ED - Review / Test Report - Analysis
06-13-2014, 12:16 AM   #27
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Considering the conditions, I'd say that piano photo is good. You were pushing it by being on the edge in three parameters (focal length, aperture, shutter speed). This is pretty much the worst place in parameter space to be, and it's still perfectly usable.

---------- Post added 13th Jun 2014 at 10:19 ----------

BTW, the Moon is hard, and not a very good target to judge lens/sensor quality. Motion blur and atmosphere are dominant factors for IQ here.
03-02-2015, 11:27 PM   #28
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Just wanted to share a photo I took with my kit lens. Not bad for a kit lens if you ask me.
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03-03-2015, 02:46 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bertminator Quote
Two days ago I took a shot of the moon (just to see), and manual focused to inifinity, and yup it wasn't clear at all. I mean....it's infinity...not 30 ft away, so what went wrong...that's why I asked "Just1MoreDave" to post the steps to his lens correction.
Modern lenses can focus past infinity meaning that if you turn it completely to infinity side, it is actually past infinity. The infinity indication on the lens is, in that case, also not aligned.
So if you used that approach for that moon shot, it's no surprise that it was not very sharp.
03-06-2015, 06:47 PM   #30
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I never had the 55-200 but the 55-300 is surprisingly small for a 300mm lens. It does tend to get a bit long when fully zoomed out but nothing that makes handheld shots awkward. I have the HD WR version and I really enjoy it. It is easy to use hand held and sharp when stopped down a little. All of the 55-300 lens have the same lens configuration as stated earlier, the only difference in the HD version is the newer coating and the weather sealing. I got very lucky on my HD 55-300 WR last year when the Pentax webstore had them for $250. I snagged one of the first ones I think. I only wish I could get a 300mm prime, maybe someday.
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