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01-04-2015, 10:31 AM   #1
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DA*16-50 vs DA 20-40 WR

I've read lots of reviews from all different websites, nonetheless, I'm looking to get my first higher end lens.

I'm in the military and will be on tropical islands for one reason or another, so WR is very important to me. I like shooting landscapes and for wide angle shots. I considered the HD 15mm but no WR is a no go for me, as are all the sigma options.

So my question is really what is better glass? What would you pentaxians pick and why? The DA* has a wider range and both are similar in price, and from what I understand the failing AF motor issue has been fixed. Its faster, but will the 20-40mm give me better photos overall?

Any advice is greatly appreciated, and yes I've used the search function and read lots of other threads.

---------- Post added 01-04-15 at 12:33 PM ----------

Also I have been shooting exclusively with my kit 18-55, I dont like the 50-200. I tried the 50mm 1.8 but wasnt fond of it. I love the 18-135mm, and may just go to that but really want to get a higher end piece of glass

01-04-2015, 11:04 AM   #2
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I have the 16-50 and it's an excellent lens, even with the SDM failure issue. I have an older 16-50 and my SDM failed twice. After the second time I used it as a manual lens but it's since been converted to screw drive (there's a thread on PF that tells how to do it). I couldn't recommend it enough.
01-04-2015, 11:10 AM   #3
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The 16-50 gets a bad rep due to the failing AF and that quality control has seemed spotty (some copies were great some were bad). Lately those issues seem to have been ironed out.

I will say that as a general walkaround it's pretty irreplaceable especially with full WR. It's not the sharpest at 2.8 but stop down to f/5.6 or higher and it gets pretty damn sharp. Maybe not as sharp as a prime but you can make it super sharp in post-processing. It's extremely versatile and if I had to take just one lens with me somewhere I would take the 16-50.

No comment on the 20-40 since I haven't used it but you can consider this:
It's smaller -- less intimidating for your subject (the 16-50 is pretty huge) and lighter.
It's not constant f/2.8 so you will need more adequate lighting/shoot in higher ISO. The focal range also makes it a little less versatile.
It has the DC motor (an improvement on SDM).

They're both WR but I think the 16-50 is a step above that (DA* lenses are water and dust resistant whereas regular WR is just water). Someone correct me if I'm wrong
01-04-2015, 11:23 AM   #4
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Hi Jrobe you might do some searching on the forum. This subject has come up quite a bit. Here is one thread. And there are others. Most recently, Heie did a review of the Sig 18-35 where both the 20-40 and 16-50 were also compared. I had both. And both are nice lenses. For the money, If you really want the 16-50, I wouldn't buy it new. The weaknesses of the lens are not worth the cost in my humble opinion. I still have the 20-40 and while far from perfect it delivers on what I wanted in this focal length.

01-04-2015, 11:28 AM   #5
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I would go with the 16-50mm for the wider angle of view and the constant 2.8. I've had two copies of the 16-50mm and have yet to experience SDM failure.
01-04-2015, 11:43 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dice Quote
Hi Jrobe you might do some searching on the forum. This subject has come up quite a bit. Here is one thread. And there are others. Most recently, Heie did a review of the Sig 18-35 where both the 20-40 and 16-50 were also compared. I had both. And both are nice lenses. For the money, If you really want the 16-50, I wouldn't buy it new. The weaknesses of the lens are not worth the cost in my humble opinion. I still have the 20-40 and while far from perfect it delivers on what I wanted in this focal length.
Like I said above I have searched and found a couple threads, not many have had both lens. The reviews of the 16-50 all seem to praise other lens over it, but user reviews seem to praise it less the sdm motor failures. I am considering used on the DA*, and if I may ask what are the weaknesses in your opinion besides the motor? I appreciate the responses, I keep thinking the 20-40 being smaller will be easier to lug around, but having a better weather resistance on the DA* is worth the extra size and weight. I can't help but think that Pentax will be updating the * series soon with HD coatings, I'm surprised they haven't yet with the recent price drops. I'm leaning towards the DA* strongly, but love the look of the 20-40mm haha and the reviews are quite strong at similar focal lengths compared to the 16-50
01-04-2015, 11:48 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by jrobe121 Quote
Like I said above I have searched and found a couple threads, not many have had both lens. The reviews of the 16-50 all seem to praise other lens over it, but user reviews seem to praise it less the sdm motor failures. I am considering used on the DA*, and if I may ask what are the weaknesses in your opinion besides the motor? I appreciate the responses, I keep thinking the 20-40 being smaller will be easier to lug around, but having a better weather resistance on the DA* is worth the extra size and weight. I can't help but think that Pentax will be updating the * series soon with HD coatings, I'm surprised they haven't yet with the recent price drops. I'm leaning towards the DA* strongly, but love the look of the 20-40mm haha and the reviews are quite strong at similar focal lengths compared to the 16-50
You bring up another point -- pentax might reveal some new lenses this year so maybe it's worth waiting since the 16-50 may be upgraded
01-04-2015, 11:51 AM   #8
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Realized I should have posted this in the Lens forum, sorry!

01-04-2015, 12:14 PM   #9
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You may want to compare the size of these 2 lenses as well!
01-04-2015, 01:52 PM   #10
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The DA* 16-50 is big. That comes with the constant f/2.8 aperture. It's heavy. That comes with big. I have one that I bought new in 2007, and SDM still works. If SDM quits, I won't even bother "converting" to screw drive, because at these focal lengths manual focus works just fine. The f/2.8 get you more precise auto focus, and if you change the focus screen to something that works (I use an LL-60 matte screen) rather than the overly brightened screen that comes with your camera, you will be able to see the focus point and get super shots.

On my Flickr site, you can see what a relatively early version of DxO Photo can do about the distortion and other defects.

You can pry it out of my dead hands. It won't replace my 12-24 (MUCH wider), but it is not replaceable.
01-04-2015, 04:06 PM   #11
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I have both. Just got home from a cruise. I carried 6 lenses, 20-40, 18-135, 55-300, Da70, FA31 and 10-17. I could have easily gotten by with the 20-40 and the 55-300. I have really grown to like the 20-40 for its size and IQ. It weighs half as much as the 16-50 and its volume in the bag is a lot less. For street and indoor photography, it works well. I like the 16-50 when I really need the F 2.8 and 16mm but I am finding that I really can survive without those most of the time. I used the 16-50 exclusively this weekend and I really missed the handy size of the 20-40. I would say that if you lean towards primes, then the 20-40 would be the best choice. If you like zooms and want the best IQ, then the 16-50 would be a good choice. My next trip will be the 20-40 and the FA77. That seems to be a good combo.
01-04-2015, 04:16 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by jrobe121 Quote
Like I said above I have searched and found a couple threads, not many have had both lens. The reviews of the 16-50 all seem to praise other lens over it, but user reviews seem to praise it less the sdm motor failures. I am considering used on the DA*, and if I may ask what are the weaknesses in your opinion besides the motor? I appreciate the responses, I keep thinking the 20-40 being smaller will be easier to lug around, but having a better weather resistance on the DA* is worth the extra size and weight. I can't help but think that Pentax will be updating the * series soon with HD coatings, I'm surprised they haven't yet with the recent price drops. I'm leaning towards the DA* strongly, but love the look of the 20-40mm haha and the reviews are quite strong at similar focal lengths compared to the 16-50
The weaknesses that I found with the DA* were the flare resistance, distortion, size, weight and edge sharpness. SDM is a given. I have the DA50-135 and DA300 so I'm not afraid of that possibility. I just couldn't find a copy of the DA* I was happy with and I tried a couple. Given you are looking for a weather resistant zoom, there aren't many alternatives out there. I think you can't go wrong with either lens. Both have their limitations and it is up to you to figure out whether you can work with them.
01-05-2015, 12:58 AM   #13
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Not a direct comparison, but I recently took a holiday in Hong Kong and Macau, and took a Sigma 17-50 f2.8 (comparable to the 16-50 in size and weight) for the low light capability, as well as a couple of other longer lenses (which only got used at the Macau Grand Prix). The 17-50 was all I really needed, but I did find myself wishing I had left that at home and brought my 20-40 instead. I could have managed just as well with that, and it is much smaller and lighter - much better for carrying around on a daily basis. As far as image quality on the 20-40 is concerned I find it's absolutely fine - it's sharp enough (especially if stopped down a bit) and doesn't have the penalty of size and weight of an f2.8 lens.
01-05-2015, 01:26 AM   #14
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I have owned both, and kept the DA*16-50. It has better range at both ends, it's sharper at the wide end and faster at the long end, and it has a more effective hood. Don't quote me, but I understand the weather sealing of the DA* series lenses is of a higher level then other Pentax WR lenses.

Yes, it is a little bigger (but not by as much as some people think) and the SDM has failed in both copies I have have owned, but it is a much more versatile lens. I would not be without my screw-drive converted copy.
01-05-2015, 07:16 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
I have owned both, and kept the DA*16-50. It has better range at both ends, it's sharper at the wide end and faster at the long end, and it has a more effective hood. Don't quote me, but I understand the weather sealing of the DA* series lenses is of a higher level then other Pentax WR lenses.

Yes, it is a little bigger (but not by as much as some people think) and the SDM has failed in both copies I have have owned, but it is a much more versatile lens. I would not be without my screw-drive converted copy.
The DA 20-40mm DC WR has a DC motor rather than an SDM like the DA*. It is 71x68mm (DxL) and 283 grams. The DA* 16-50 comes in at 84 x 98.5 mm (DxL) and weighs 565 grams. The DA* weighs twice as much although it is IF.
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