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07-27-2014, 09:12 AM   #1
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A fast, sharp zoom lens that doesn't break the bank?

Like the title says, I'm looking for recommendations for a fast and sharp zoom lens anywhere in the 18-200mm range that's sharp from at least f3.5, but one that's not too expensive. I already own the 35mm f2.4 (sharp from f3.5), the 50mm f1.8(sharp from f2.8), the tamron 70-300mm (sharp from f7.1) and the kit 18-55mm lens (sharp from f8). Both primes are amazing in low light, but sometimes I need a zoom lens, and neither of the ones I own are good stopped down to f3-5. I'm doing mostly night club photography so far, but plan to do some smaller weddings after I get the zoom.

Any advice is appreciated.

07-27-2014, 09:32 AM - 1 Like   #2
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Tamron 17-50mm f2.8
You want fast, sharp, zoom, and cheap. Four things. But you can get a maximum of three at a time

Last edited by Na Horuk; 07-27-2014 at 09:41 AM.
07-27-2014, 09:43 AM - 1 Like   #3
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And Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 AF XR Di LD Macro SP Lens Reviews - Tamron Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database

I think that's pretty much it if you want to buy lenses that are currently available new and can autofocus, depending on how you define 'break the bank." Both tamron zooms are about $500 new and can be found for less used.
07-27-2014, 09:46 AM   #4
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Sigma 17-70/2.8-4 Contemporary


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07-27-2014, 09:53 AM   #5
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Isn't there a rule... Sharp / Fast / Cheap ... choose two

The Tamron Na Horuk mentioned isn't too bad as per user reviews. Sigma's 17-70 is decent too, you can get a V1 or a V2 for little money but you only get 2.8 in the very wide range, but it is sharp.
07-27-2014, 09:57 AM - 2 Likes   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by fgaudet Quote
Isn't there a rule... Sharp / Fast / Cheap ... choose two
Yep. That is the guiding principle for all of us who are not independently wealthy and/or cannot fund our gear from sales of our work.


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07-27-2014, 10:32 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Tamron 17-50mm f2.8
You want fast, sharp, zoom, and cheap. Four things. But you can get a maximum of three at a time
The only cheap F2.8 Pentax zoom IMHO.
SMC Pentax-AF 35-70mm F2.8 Reviews - M Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
07-27-2014, 12:08 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Tamron 17-50mm f2.8
You want fast, sharp, zoom, and cheap. Four things. But you can get a maximum of three at a time
I agree

a sample https://www.flickr.com/photos/82601786@N03/14396150606/

07-27-2014, 02:04 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by jogiba Quote
Given the clunkyness of operating that lens manually on a DSLR, almost every user would be better served by an F 35-70. Although f/3.5-4.5, it can AF, auto aperture and is quite good for its price.
07-27-2014, 02:50 PM - 1 Like   #10
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Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 is the closest you will get to what you want.
07-27-2014, 03:11 PM   #11
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Guess I should listen to the VoiceOfReason

Thanks for your replies everyone. It helped a lot. The Tamron 17-50mm seems to be very close to what I'm looking for, and the reviews are mostly positive, so I think I've found my next lens. I also like the Tamron 28-75mm, but I notice Sigma seems to have equivalent lenses at similar prices; Any difference there? Or would Tamron be the better choice?
07-27-2014, 03:51 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rayn Quote
Guess I should listen to the VoiceOfReason

Thanks for your replies everyone. It helped a lot. The Tamron 17-50mm seems to be very close to what I'm looking for, and the reviews are mostly positive, so I think I've found my next lens. I also like the Tamron 28-75mm, but I notice Sigma seems to have equivalent lenses at similar prices; Any difference there? Or would Tamron be the better choice?
Tamron was mine. Sigma sample variability was a factor, too, in this particular case (see the Sigma results at ePhotozine/ photodo). And you'll really like the compact size and very light weight of that non-VC version for Pentax, if you're not hung up over its unsuitability for dropping onto concrete from chest height.

You would probably find a 28-75mm zoom lacking at the wide end on APS-C for getting all the wedding shots you'll want.
07-27-2014, 04:08 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rayn Quote
Any difference there? Or would Tamron be the better choice?
Both have their advantages and both have their shortcomings... They are very similar IQ wise and I think it'll all come down to a personal preference. In general I prefer the Sigma's rendering but that's just me, some don't like it. Sigma gives you HSM where Tamron is screwdrive... Silent focus (HSM) can be a great feature for weddings but is not really required in night clubs. Typically Sigmas are better built but are heavier. Also their zoom is backwards from Pentax/Tamron (CCW instead of CW).

If you can try them out and see how they fell and perform.
07-27-2014, 06:34 PM   #14
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The "silent focus" for weddings is a good point in favor of the Sigma. Maybe that depends on how shy vs. aggressive you are! It was not a big factor in my case -- a detriment, in fact, given the substantial size & weight differential and the fact that I'll be carrying primes.

Just curious, fgaudet: how would you characterize the difference in rendering between the Sigma and the Tamron; and compared to the DA15 and FA31 I'll have "flanking it" in focal length? I'm only just getting around to direct evaluations, following a pretty intense gear acquisition project.

Last edited by Kayaker-J; 07-27-2014 at 06:43 PM.
07-28-2014, 06:03 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kayaker-J Quote
Just curious, fgaudet: how would you characterize the difference in rendering between the Sigma and the Tamron
It's hard to explain and it is far from scientific... It's the way the lens captures skin tones (and bare wood tones). I always run a simple test when I get a new lens. I take a shot of one of my wall (log home). So far, I never liked the way Tamron rendered these specific colours, they always turned out a bit more neutral (tried 28-200, 28-75 and 70-300). But I always liked the Sigma in this colour range (I own a 18-200, 17-70, 10-20, 120-300 and a 35). So far, Pentax lenses are always good in this range too (18-55, 18-135, 50-200, 50-135, 50). But this is all a question of personal taste and as I said it is not very scientific.

Ask me about my "Dog Hair / Chromatic Aberration Test" (*Patent Pending)... If you want to know more about unscientific lens testing.

In all other regards, on a normal day to day basis, on a normal size medium (i.e computer screen at 1680x1050), it is pretty hard to tell the lenses apart IMO.

And regarding the DA15 and the FA31, I cannot tell you how they would compare.

Try before you buy is my motto (or make sure you can return/exchange easily). Not only you should like the way a lens renders but also you should like how the lens handles. Even if it is the sharpest and fastest lens in the world, if you don't like using it, you probably won't be using it.
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