Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
06-23-2014, 09:22 AM   #1
Pentaxian
Outis's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Cambridge, MA
Posts: 916
Help me choose a lens lineup for my dad

I'm sure there are a ton of other "What lens(es) should I get" threads already, but here we go!

I recently talked my dad into letting me get him a K-5 IIs body as a present. He understands the technical aspects of photography probably better than I do, back from the film era, but he had basically been using a digital point-and-shoot with some manual controls for the past few years. So, neither of us is really familiar with the state of the lens market (my interest is pretty much just high-end primes, at this point).

His first impulse was to acquire a single zoom lens with about the same range as his current camera, which would point to the Pentax 18-270 or 18-135, or the Sigma 18-125. Of those, the 18-135 is the winner because it's weather resistant. He was a bit disappointed by the image quality after reading the photozone.de review, though, with the lack of edge sharpness and the chromatic aberration. On the other hand, I haven't seen examples of images taken with that lens elsewhere with image quality that was that poor, and other people/reviewers seem to love it-- can anyone speak to that? On the other hand, if we were to move to a zoom lens with better image quality, it seems like the first things we would start to sacrifice would be zoom range and cost, especially if he then needed multiple lenses. But, are there any other lenses we should be considering?

I think he'd also like to have a fast normal or slightly wide prime lens for the wider aperture and better image quality. Candidates for that might be the Pentax 35mm or the 21mm or 40mm Limiteds. Are there any other lenses we should consider there, too?

06-23-2014, 09:58 AM   #2
Site Supporter
jatrax's Avatar

Join Date: May 2010
Location: Oregon
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 10,770
For zooms a combination of the 18-135 and 55-300 is hard to beat without spending a lot more money. The 18-135 got a bad rap early on because of those test reports but most people who actually use it love it. My wife has one and it is noticeably better than the 18-55 kit lens. Now if you are using Limited primes and stick the 18-135 on then it's not going to look as good so you have to remember what you are comparing it to.

For primes, unless you want to go Limited the Pentax DA 50 f/1.8 and the DA 35 f/2.4 are hard to beat for the price.

One thing to consider though if your dad is a film shooter is that you need to take the time to carefully walk him through the digital workflow. I'm sure he will get the camera part just fine, but sometimes film shooters (my dad for one) have trouble with the computer part.
06-23-2014, 10:27 AM   #3
Pentaxian




Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: New York
Posts: 3,310
It depends on budget and what type(s) of photography your father is interested in exploring. Is he into hiking, city travel, documenting family events, people portraits, etc.? Does he want good photos without much effort (nothing wrong with that), or might he invest more time turning photography into a primary hobby?

The DA 35/2.4 is a great bargain in a general purpose prime lens. I would get that over the 40mm because it's a slightly wider field of view. The DA 35's biggest restriction IMO is magnification for closeups, but to remedy that you have to step up to the Limited 35 macro at 3x the price.

Don't get too down on the 18-135. It's not a perfect lens if you overanalyze, but work within its strengths and you get good photos. Stop-down and use a tripod for landscape photography and the edges will be sharp enough unless you crop a lot or print very large sizes.

(The DA* 16-50 similarly gets mixed reviews due to sharpness but is a very usable lens. The 16-50 price is currently insanely high and might be better obtained during Black Friday sales in November.)
06-23-2014, 10:35 AM   #4
Pentaxian




Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Rochester, MN
Posts: 679
Zoom-wise, the Tamron 17-50/2.8 covers a very useful range and supposedly produces images with IQ close to that of many top-notch primes in that range (though I have not had one myself). It can be had for $275 or so used at KEH Camera (a very good copy). Of course would have to supplement with a telephoto zoom if he wants more reach.

From a prime standpoint, there are tons of options depending on how much $ you want to spend. In the "normal to wide" range, there is the Da 35/2.8 limited macro (many on here love it, I found it good but for me the rendering for general use was a bit clinical and it wasn't the greatest at infinity focus, others on here would disagree), the 31/1.8 Fa limited (the gold standard in this range, but $900 used), the F28/2.8 (I've had one and loved it, 90% of the Fa 31 limited for 1/3 (or less) the price; super useful FL), the Fa*24/2 (don't have any experience), Da 21 limited (no experience), Da 15 limited (not sure if this is too wide, but it's an awesome lens...check out that Da 15 Limited Control My Mind thread). There are tons of other third party offerings and older lenses as well.

Does he know what FL he tends to shoot at? That may help narrow the prime options. If the answer is no, maybe best to get a zoom initially, then add prime(s) later on at the FL where he finds he shoots a lot and wants top-notch IQ.

Happy hunting,
Brandon

06-23-2014, 11:28 AM   #5
Pentaxian
Heie's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2011
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 960
Outis,

Some great recommendations already.

Show your father this thread if he's on the fence about the 18-135 :

Finnish Military Winter Training (40 Images)


Hope this helps.

-Heie
06-23-2014, 01:32 PM   #6
Veteran Member




Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Chicago Area
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 366
The DA 18-135 is just excellent in the center - rivaling primes. Corners are very weak in the long end, and somewhat weak wide open at 18mm. Stopped down ones top the lens is excellent from 18 to 70mm. I look at it as a weather proof do it all 18-70mm with the added bonus of going to 135mm for most purposes . Remember the WR does not help if you have to change lenses, which is one reason I like the 18-135mm a lot.

If you supplement it with a 55-300 WR you are well covered.
06-23-2014, 07:42 PM   #7
Pentaxian
Kozlok's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Albuquerque
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 1,792
Me personally, I think corner sharpness is WAY overrated, at least for my style of photography. I almost never have anything in the plane of focus in the corner any way. I have never shot a picture of a test chart. Because of that I LOVE my 18-135. No, it is not my best lens, but it is my most-used. At 135mm, the lens also focuses quite close. Nice for near-macro shots.

If you want a consumer zoom that is a bit better for IQ than the 18-135, the Sigma 17-70 is your best bet. You sacrifice the 135mm end, and the WR. For me, the tradeoff wasn't worth it for my go-anywhere kit. The Sigma 18-125 is not as nice as the Pentax 18-135, so I'd not consider it unless it were quite cheap.

If you really really want corner sharpness, the DA40Limited is unequaled in the corner, and not too expensive used. I don't use mine much.

For a fast normal, I really like the Sigma 30mm/1.4. It too is terrible in the corners, but again, not much of a concern for me. The center of the Sigma30 is probably the sharpest lens available in an APS "normal". It is just super.
06-23-2014, 09:07 PM   #8
Site Supporter
rbefly's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Denver, Colorado
Photos: Albums
Posts: 2,030
Super-Zooms?

Hello Outis, welcome to the Forum!
The general recommendation here seems to be for the DA 18-135mm and in this case I'll go along.
But my suggestion is to add a couple of inexpensive primes, the DA 35mm f/2.4 and DA 50mm f/1.8. A 49-52mm step-up ring will allow 52mm filters (CPL and ND) to be used with both. The zoom is larger, 62mm- I wouldn't suggest stepping up that far.
Both are lightweight, decently sharp wide open and great stopped down, even slightly. Available light, low-light, indoor and night photography hand-held, become real possibilities.
If you can, have him take a look at the 'Plastic Fantastic' thread. That should work!
JMO,
Ron

06-24-2014, 10:37 AM   #9
Pentaxian
Outis's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Cambridge, MA
Posts: 916
Original Poster
Thanks, everyone! Good to hear that my worries about the 18-135 are not supported by reality, and that there's a good selection of primes to choose from.

QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
One thing to consider though if your dad is a film shooter is that you need to take the time to carefully walk him through the digital workflow. I'm sure he will get the camera part just fine, but sometimes film shooters (my dad for one) have trouble with the computer part.
He's a computer engineer-- I'm sure he won't have any problems with the computer part

QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
It depends on budget and what type(s) of photography your father is interested in exploring. Is he into hiking, city travel, documenting family events, people portraits, etc.? Does he want good photos without much effort (nothing wrong with that), or might he invest more time turning photography into a primary hobby?
I'm not sure about the budget, and as for what type of photography he's interested in...everything? But mostly hiking/nature/travel photography, probably.

He is pretty much the opposite of someone who's just after photos without much effort-- our last Christmas break project was setting up a kite aerial photography rig! That was pretty great. So, the more something will let us play around with the technical aspects in depth, the better.

QuoteOriginally posted by bpv_UW Quote
From a prime standpoint, there are tons of options depending on how much $ you want to spend. In the "normal to wide" range, there is the Da 35/2.8 limited macro (many on here love it, I found it good but for me the rendering for general use was a bit clinical and it wasn't the greatest at infinity focus, others on here would disagree), the 31/1.8 Fa limited (the gold standard in this range, but $900 used), the F28/2.8 (I've had one and loved it, 90% of the Fa 31 limited for 1/3 (or less) the price; super useful FL), the Fa*24/2 (don't have any experience), Da 21 limited (no experience), Da 15 limited (not sure if this is too wide, but it's an awesome lens...check out that Da 15 Limited Control My Mind thread). There are tons of other third party offerings and older lenses as well.

Does he know what FL he tends to shoot at? That may help narrow the prime options. If the answer is no, maybe best to get a zoom initially, then add prime(s) later on at the FL where he finds he shoots a lot and wants top-notch IQ.
Yeah, I have the 31mm Limited and it is pretty much the best thing ever. Other than my fiancÚ. I think? I have the 15mm Limited, and that's fantastic, too. Maybe the thing to do would be for him to use the zoom lens for a while, and then figure out what focal lengths he likes to shoot at the most?

QuoteOriginally posted by Heie Quote
Outis,
Show your father this thread if he's on the fence about the 18-135 :

Finnish Military Winter Training (40 Images)
I did! He really enjoyed that, and so did I!
06-24-2014, 11:19 AM   #10
Site Supporter
6BQ5's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Nevada, USA
Photos: Albums
Posts: 3,109
I am a fan of the DA 18-135mm. It is very sharp at f/5.6 and f/6.3 which in daylight is a good aperture setting. Corners can be a little soft at the long end but isn't your subject in the center anyways? I find the lens is plenty sharp enough for me edge to edge at the wide end. No complaints!

If you want to get a prime then I would agree with others on the DA 35mm f/2.4. It seems like a sharp lens at a great price. I have the D FA 50mm f/2.8 which is significantly more expensive but it's a great macro lens and makes for great portraits. It is a joy to use.

Those three lenses would be good working lenses. Beyond that is just extra for limited use cases in comparison.
06-24-2014, 11:31 AM   #11
Pentaxian




Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: New York
Posts: 3,310
QuoteOriginally posted by Outis Quote
He is pretty much the opposite of someone who's just after photos without much effort-- our last Christmas break project was setting up a kite aerial photography rig! That was pretty great. So, the more something will let us play around with the technical aspects in depth, the better.
Technical aspects ... sounds like the man might be headed for the astrophotography money pit The DA 35/2.4 reportedly has little coma distortion so might be good for that. An accessory like the O-GPS1, barn door tracker (you can find plans online), iOptron Skytracker, or an equatorial mount allows long exposures without start trailing, but you can get started without it.
06-24-2014, 11:45 AM   #12
Pentaxian
Outis's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Cambridge, MA
Posts: 916
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
Technical aspects ... sounds like the man might be headed for the astrophotography money pit The DA 35/2.4 reportedly has little coma distortion so might be good for that. An accessory like the O-GPS1, barn door tracker (you can find plans online), iOptron Skytracker, or an equatorial mount allows long exposures without start trailing, but you can get started without it.
Oh man, I reeeaallly which you hadn't said all that...
06-24-2014, 11:46 AM   #13
Pentaxian
normhead's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Near Algonquin Park
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 25,836
Regardless of what the reviews say the DA 18-135 is the next thing below a DA*. Tell you dad to count the number of places the the IQ of the DA 18-135 is rated excellent, compared to any other super zoom (at least 5:1). He'll see why it's so popular. The next best super zoom to the 18-135 iin my opinion is the Sigma 18-250, and you have to want the extra range, the IQ isn't comparable.

To go with it, I'd get either the 21 ltd (pixie dust) , or the DA 50 1.8 or 35 2.4 (for low light situations.)

There are 90 DA-18135 images here, if you can find something wrong with the IQ, you've got a better eye than me. IN only a very few images have I been able to find the kind of softness in the images photo zone talks about.

There are 46 21ltd images here... just to see if you can discern "pixie dust.

Here's my lens collection represented in images.... for all my lenses. The Sigma 18-250 is a very small collection, because it's the most recently purchased, we just haven't used it that much. Select the lens on the left hand siade to see the sample images. You have to click on the little arrow thingy beside "Sample By Lens name" to see the selection.
06-24-2014, 12:52 PM   #14
Site Supporter




Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Gladys, Virginia
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 16,240
I think the 18-135 is a pretty good place to start. I used my brother's copy and found it nicely sharp (corners a little soft at the long end), but very usable throughout. Certainly nothing like the copy that Photozone reviewed. I know Dan (audiobomber) posted some photos taken with it and the 18-250 and found it to be at least as sharp throughout the range as that lens. I would suggest getting a prime or two targeted at interests that he has. I would probably get a DA 35 f2.4 as a normal lens to start with and then he can look at other things that he likes down the road.

Good luck!
06-24-2014, 05:00 PM   #15
Pentaxian
normhead's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Near Algonquin Park
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 25,836
Just to add to the debate... a couple of similar images, Tamron 17-50 and 21 ltd... which ones have the pixie dust?

Bridge





Dam



Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
camera, dad, hand, image, lens, lens lineup, lenses, pentax, pentax help, photography, quality, range
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Help me manage my prime lens lineup seventysixersfan Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 32 02-18-2014 09:59 AM
Help me choose my next manual lens! Fat Albert Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 16 12-08-2013 08:50 PM
Help me choose a lens for night photography w6wat Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 6 10-27-2013 08:09 AM
Help me choose: A summary of my research for a tele lens ... all Sigma. jpzk Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 226 04-08-2013 10:29 AM
Please help me choose a new lens for my K100D missnewzealand Pentax DSLR Discussion 13 01-14-2008 07:52 PM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 08:32 AM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top