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12-28-2010, 12:32 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by loveisageless Quote
The first version of the 18-55mm lens (which I believe the DA L version is based on) was not known for its sharpness, nor contrast. Pentax released an upgraded verison (the 18-55mm AL II) which has gotten very good reviews as a kit lens. I too remember being disappointed by the images produced by the original 18-55mm.
Really?

PopPhoto has done reviews of both the Mk.1 (as the Samsung clone) and the Mk II -
although there was some measurable improvement it was not that dramatic:


(I have a Mk2 which came with the K-x and it is just a bit sharper in my own tests than my original Mk 1 that came with the K100D -
but I continue to use the Mk 1 - because the difference was not that great, and I much prefer the stainless steel mount)

Since the OP is using a K-x it is very likely the kit zoom is the Mk II (with plastic mount) that came with the K-x - it is supposed to be a bit sharper than the humble Mk 1 that I use.

The photos above in Post #4 were all on the 18-55 Mk 1

on the humble 18-55 (Mk 1) at wide-open aperture - 6Mp K100D

ISO400, f/3.5, 1/40sec; 18mm, 6Mp K100D (hopefully EXIF still attached - PhotoBucket can mysteriously drop metadata)


Last edited by UnknownVT; 12-28-2010 at 12:12 PM.
12-28-2010, 05:37 AM   #17
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Back to the OP's photo: The light is flat, the subject is low-contrast (that it is uninteresting is almost irrelevant), and a Flektogon used instead of the DA18-55 would probably have produced the same picture. We have galleries here loaded with exceptional images shot with the kit lens. Remember the order of priority of the components of a photo:

1) Photographer
2) Subject
3) Light
4) Lens
5) Camera

A clever photographer who carefully controls light could make that same dull subject (almost a non-subject) look great when shot with a Holga. Don't blame the lens. Learn how to exploit light and shade. In this case: a shade between the subject and light source would increase color saturation, and a reflector opposite that shade would increase modeling / dimensionality and would pick out highlights and details. Or those could be simulated in PP. Whatever.
12-28-2010, 05:41 AM   #18
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I've used both the Mk 1 and Mk 2 kit lens on the same subject and the Mk 2, as indicated in reviews, has slightly better contrast, not dramatic and not worth replacing a Mk 1 lens but an improvement all the same.

Regarding the OP and his picture it looks the way it does because of lighting, exposure and lack of PP. He seems to be expecting the camera to improve the contrast - I think the camera has faithfully captured the scene. This is a shot that needs PP.
12-28-2010, 07:32 AM   #19
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I don't think it's the lens, sorry. You took a test photograph under what looks like some pretty limited lighting conditions of what looks to be some less than captivating stray foliage against a less than ideal background. That's not giving the kit lens too much of a chance to shine really, is it?

I don't have one myself as yet, admittedly, but from some of the pics I've seen on this forum I think the kit lenses for the K-x are capable of quite a bit more than they are often given credit for in the right hands with the right subject matter in front of them and some decent light. Even the best lenses can take crappy pictures in bad conditions sometimes.

My 50MM 1.7 lens is a really highly regarded kit lens from yesteryear and so far I've gotten some really nice shots with it on my *ist, but it was a kit lens back in it's day and I'm sure it probably had it's fair share of detractors back then. I don't think I've ever heard of Pentax ever making a really bad lens. From what I've seen they make pretty good lenses and often stellar lenses. Problem is when they really do it right it makes the normal middle of the road lenses look somewhat weak by comparison.

For a kit lens this lens is supposed to actually be pretty good, but it isn't a more pricey upgraded lens. It's basically their bargain "first" lens that they make so you will have something to put on the camera when you first buy it. They're fully expecting you to upgrade if you're at a level need something that can do more. This is a lens that's aimed more at beginning DSLR people who probably don't need a whole lot more than that to begin with. It's like the basic kit zooms that you can buy. They're perfectly okay for normal snaps but you can certainly do better if you're prepared to spend a bit more when you get your kit together.

Look around the forum though and you'll see quite a few really nice shots that came from people using that humble kit 18-55 lens. Those pics, they sort of belie the reputation for mediocrity that the kit lens seems to be acquiring when you actually look at what it's capable of doing in the right hands. Give the lens a chance. It may be that it's a bit better than you might think.

12-28-2010, 09:14 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by loveisageless Quote
The difference using a hood makes is quite remarkable.
Amen.
12-28-2010, 10:14 AM - 1 Like   #21
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Hi Brian,
as some others have pointed out, I think it is just a matter of boosting the contrast and saturation. Since you posted it here for feedback, I took the liberty to take your image, used the "curves" to make a "s-curve" re-mapping. I also boosted saturation and vibrancy. I might have taken the adjustements too far, but I wanted to show the difference quite clearly.

I think that when you convert yourself from RAW, you need to take control of parameters such as contrast and saturation yourself.

I have attached the adjusted image side by side to the original.

Best regards,
Haakan

Last edited by Haakan; 03-11-2011 at 10:25 AM.
12-28-2010, 10:36 AM   #22
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Brian, RAW pictures are flat and blanc by default, and that's how they're supposed to look. The JPEG engine in the camera modifies the curves and saturation and everything for the picture to look good. If you shoot RAW you need to do it by yourself.
Depending on the RAW converter you use, it can be very simple and automated so it doesn't have to be a hassle.
12-28-2010, 11:27 AM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by magkelly Quote
I don't think it's the lens, sorry.
For a kit lens this lens is supposed to actually be pretty good, but it isn't a more pricey upgraded lens.
Look around the forum though and you'll see quite a few really nice shots that came from people using that humble kit 18-55 lens. Those pics, they sort of belie the reputation for mediocrity that the kit lens seems to be acquiring when you actually look at what it's capable of doing in the right hands. Give the lens a chance. It may be that it's a bit better than you might think.
Thank you, and well said.

No the 18-55 is not the "best" lens in the world -
but exactly as you said it does not deserve the almost automatic detraction when it's mentioned.

It is a good lens -
and like someone said earlier just not a great lens.

The problem with great lenses is that any owner would expect to take "great" photographs...... ?
..... this is very obviously not true,
as RioRico quite succinctly pointed out it depends in order of importance
(top being least important, just so I'm not aping him)

camera
lens
light
subject
photographer

I do realize the OP is not asking for critique of his photograph, and this is not -
but it is hard to make any comments on the two least important items,
without reference to some of the more important aspects.


Last edited by UnknownVT; 12-28-2010 at 12:12 PM.
12-28-2010, 11:41 AM   #24
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I use Kx with tamron 18-200 lens with lens hood for convenience. I use a mac and a simple iphoto PP system. It relieves me of all the worries expressed. To me it's the result ,not the equipment that counts most. For the price, convenience of use, aa batteries, weight, and in-camera shake reduction, lens compatibilities,ease of use, the Kx fits my needs perfectly.
I dont think you are expecting too much.
If you are a PRO then you have a high end camera/lenses costing thousands. The little KX with a little PP will almost match most photo situations. HAVE FUN WITH THE KX. --- Tony/ HVL, CA
01-06-2011, 01:13 PM   #25
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Thanks all for the comments.

My one response is that a lot of mention was made of what could be done with PP etc. I'm comfortable with what I could have done with the image and how it could have been processed, and that the image could have been taken under better lighting conditions, but those weren't the issues. I accept my limitations as a photographer and in the digital darkroom, but I also expect the camera/lens combination to capture available detail, handle the available dynamic range, lock in the focus under less than ideal conditions, etc.

I've looked at a lot of the examples here and elsewhere online of the Kx/18-55; I never doubted those shots could be taken, but they weren't my shot under my conditions. If the posted image was as technically good as the Kx/18-55 gets under those conditions, that's cool, that's what I hoped to find out by asking the question. For those who commented yea/nay on that issue, thanks for the feedback; it helps me make a decision whether I want to invest more to get more (say a prime lens like the DA40 with the Kx, or upgrade both body and lens, or some other combination) or work with what I have.

For all the fanboys, lighten up, it wasn't a criticism of Pentax, just a question.

Last edited by FHPhotographer; 01-06-2011 at 01:30 PM.
01-06-2011, 05:12 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by FHPhotographer Quote
Thanks all for the comments.

My one response is that a lot of mention was made of what could be done with PP etc. I'm comfortable with what I could have done with the image and how it could have been processed, and that the image could have been taken under better lighting conditions, but those weren't the issues. I accept my limitations as a photographer and in the digital darkroom, but I also expect the camera/lens combination to capture available detail, handle the available dynamic range, lock in the focus under less than ideal conditions, etc.

I've looked at a lot of the examples here and elsewhere online of the Kx/18-55; I never doubted those shots could be taken, but they weren't my shot under my conditions. If the posted image was as technically good as the Kx/18-55 gets under those conditions, that's cool, that's what I hoped to find out by asking the question. For those who commented yea/nay on that issue, thanks for the feedback; it helps me make a decision whether I want to invest more to get more (say a prime lens like the DA40 with the Kx, or upgrade both body and lens, or some other combination) or work with what I have.

For all the fanboys, lighten up, it wasn't a criticism of Pentax, just a question.
I almost get the feeling that you want a one size fit's all photography scheme, in that you seem resistant to any kind of either post processing or in camera processing.
If you want to open yourself up to disappointment, this is the way to do it, especially with Pentax, which definitely takes a somewhat less aggressive approach to contrast, saturation and sharpening.
Your shot, under your condition, was not appropriate to the camera settings if what you wanted was a harder more saturated look.
If that is the type of condition you shoot under all the time, then you would be advised to set your camera up to give you a desirable end product under those conditions.
Or, be aware that you will have a bit of image enhancement to do after the fact.
My impression is that you aren't being especially realistic, in that you are subconsciously comparing the output from your camera to pictures taken by other photographers with other cameras, but you don't know precisely what conditions they were shooting under nor do you know what camera processing settings/post processing settings were applied to what you are comparing to.
01-06-2011, 10:27 PM   #27
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thank you, but...

QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
I almost get the feeling that you want a one size fit's all photography scheme, in that you seem resistant to any kind of either post processing or in camera processing.
If you want to open yourself up to disappointment, this is the way to do it, especially with Pentax, which definitely takes a somewhat less aggressive approach to contrast, saturation and sharpening.
Your shot, under your condition, was not appropriate to the camera settings if what you wanted was a harder more saturated look.
If that is the type of condition you shoot under all the time, then you would be advised to set your camera up to give you a desirable end product under those conditions.
Or, be aware that you will have a bit of image enhancement to do after the fact.
My impression is that you aren't being especially realistic, in that you are subconsciously comparing the output from your camera to pictures taken by other photographers with other cameras, but you don't know precisely what conditions they were shooting under nor do you know what camera processing settings/post processing settings were applied to what you are comparing to.
How dare you presume you know what another person might be "subconsciously" doing?

I'm not interested in your "feeling" about whether you think I may, or may not, want a "harder more saturated look" or anything else.

Frankly, I don't give a tinker's dam about what you feel I might have been looking for or trying to accomplish. I didn't ask for analysis of intentionality, conscious or subconscious. I asked for input and opinion about this camera, this lens and this image under those posted conditions. Was that so terribly difficult for you and several others to understand, so open to misunderstanding as to invite such wildly tangential comments?

For those who can't stick to the topic and question at hand, I suggest in all humility and due respect, butt out.
Brian
01-06-2011, 11:31 PM - 1 Like   #28
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There is no point in discussing any aspect of a picture of a few twigs from a bush.
01-07-2011, 09:50 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by FHPhotographer Quote
How dare you presume you know what another person might be "subconsciously" doing?

I'm not interested in your "feeling" about whether you think I may, or may not, want a "harder more saturated look" or anything else.

Frankly, I don't give a tinker's dam about what you feel I might have been looking for or trying to accomplish. I didn't ask for analysis of intentionality, conscious or subconscious. I asked for input and opinion about this camera, this lens and this image under those posted conditions. Was that so terribly difficult for you and several others to understand, so open to misunderstanding as to invite such wildly tangential comments?

For those who can't stick to the topic and question at hand, I suggest in all humility and due respect, butt out.
Brian
Wow.

One thing is for sure.

I'm never again going to try to help you when you ask a question.
01-07-2011, 10:10 AM - 1 Like   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by FHPhotographer Quote
This seems both flat and soft, or am I expecting too much from this setup of Kx with the 18-55 DAL kit lens?

100% center crop from the Kx with the 18-55 kit lens: RAW, no post processing other than USM 100% 1 pixel and convert to jpeg; Av natural light AWB, f/5 @ 200, ISO 200
This thread got a little goofy. Lets get back to the matter at hand - the kit lens, the setup, and your expectations.

situation: handheld, outdoors, cloudy? fairly flat light
DA L 18-55 II at 40mm (per the exif) and F5.0.
K-x: at its lowest sensitivity and 1/200

Yes, you are expecting too much in terms of sharpness and contrast from the kit lens at 40mm and F5.0 (nearly wide open).

Your expectations would have been met by stopping down to F8 and 1/50th at ISO 200, easily handheld at 40mm with or without SR turned on.

It appears you've read a number of reviews of the kit lens since you referred a 'photozone sweet spot of F5.6-F8'. That being said, unsure why you expected more from this scene at F5.0 and 40mm.
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