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06-12-2008, 04:33 PM   #1
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Making the case for good glass.

This has been commented on before, but I thought I would add my own experiences.

Firstly, apologies for pixel peeping, but I was bored. (promise never to do it again).

I bought the *ist DS (& still have it) in '05 with the Sigma 18-125 as the kit lens. This combo has worked well for me and I have been generally very happy with the results. Over time I added the Sigma EX DG 24mmf1.8, Sigma 135-400, Tamron 70-300 & Pentas DFA 100mm. Also bought a DL for my wife, along the way, with the Pentax 18-55 as the kit lens.

More recently I have added the K20D to the stable.

Having now had the time to have a really good look at my/our efforts from a recent trip (1000 odd shots with the K20 & same with the DS), I have come to the following and altogether unsurprising conclusion.

K20D and good glass (Pentax DFA 100 & Sig 24mm) produces some very good results. Sig 135-400 hasn't had enough serious use to make comment on, ditto the Tamron.

Sig 18-125 is great on the DS but starts to show some softness on the K20, as does the Pentax 18-55.

I am still searching for a walk around lens for the K20, but based on my experiences so far, it has to be good, very good. So its probably the DA* series or the limiteds.

I just think its wasting money on anything less.
Cheers
Grant

06-12-2008, 04:56 PM   #2
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Good observation Grant. I just bought an istD (for Infrared experimentation mostly) and will soon have a K20D I suspect (it is now under the magic $1k mark). I know you had a thread about the DA* 16-50 - I still recommend it. The 17-70 would be an awesome walk around lens for me - if we knew about the IQ ...

I guess my lowest end glass would the Tamron 18-250 or DA 55-300 relatively new glass and I have not experimented enough with the istD to make similar observations.

It's like the old adage nobody got fired for buying IBM , (certainly not true today ), but the moral remains - nobody regrets buying good glass
06-12-2008, 05:03 PM   #3
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Rent & try some out.
06-12-2008, 07:43 PM   #4
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Funny I just came across this thread and not 5 mins ago was reading an experts review of the K20D. He also suggested sticking to the DA* series lenses with the K20D to make full use of it. He did say other lenses would give ok results however the DA* lenses were the fastest and sharpest bar none and to save dissapointment don't go spending on anything less. I must say it does go without saying that DA* lenses are the best you can get anyway so he wasn't really saying much we didn't already know.

06-12-2008, 08:09 PM   #5
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So what about older lenses? A strong selling point up til now has been the backwards compatibility. If that is no longer true, won't that potentially hurt sales?
Gary
06-12-2008, 08:45 PM   #6
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Hi Gary,
No, i dont think so. Shots taken with the Sigma 18-125 & Pentax 18-55 are quite ok, its not as though they are poor photos, quite the opposite in fact. Its not until you start this horrible business of cropping & pixel peeping that you can detect some softening of the images and even then its at the margin. I guess thats a bit of a legacy of the 14.6 mpx....it allows you to delve deeper than ever before.

Interestingly, similar shots taken with the same lenses (18-125 & 18-55) on the DS (6mpx) can not be cropped down enough before pixelating.

But when you compare them to shots taken with the better glass, the wow factor comes out. None of this is new news, people have said for a long time, "invest in glass".....I just did not listen or fully appreciate the difference that was achievable.

When you think it through, I guess it makes sense: if the sensor is capable of capturing more detail, it is also going to be capable of capturing more flaws as well.

The bar just got raised a bit higher thats all, which is a good thing.........?
Cheers mate.
06-12-2008, 09:22 PM   #7
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Hey Guys:

I find this thread interesting because recently (April) I bought the K20 and had researched it and a proper walk-around lens for two months preceding the purchase. When I say researched it, I mean researched it. I had narrowed down my choices to the 2 Pentax lenses: 16-45mm f4 & the 16-50mm f 2.8. I also was considering the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8. I too had read the camera needs good glass.

It wasn’t long before I ruled out the 16-45, not only because it is a tad short but also because is a good deal slower than the other two lenses. Also, the reviews were not overly impressive on this lens—and I drew from many resources. Now I preferred the Pentax 16-50, particularly since it enables the K20 to be water tight, but also because it is a Pentax. However, at that time, the lens was close to $300 more than the Tamron and the wide advantage of 16mm over 17mm along with water sealing was simply not enough to make me cough up that much more. My decision was further supported when I read review after review praising the image quality and sharpness of the Tamron and these praises came from Canon and Nikon shooters who were comparing the lens to the comparable lenses offered by their camera makers—which also were a lot more than the Tamron. Most of the reviews available, since the 17-50 Tamron only recently became available in the Pentax mount, were by people using it in the Canon and Nikon mount. So, I opted for the Tamron and am happy with the images it produces. But I never did try the Pentax lenses.

Now it sounds like you guys are saying that only the Pentax glass can do the Cmos sensor justice on the K20. Do any of you guys have images, or other support of this claim other than what you say here? I would be glad to learn more on the matter.


Regards,

Ernest


Humanity subdues inhumanity as water subdues fire.”

Mencius 6A:18
06-12-2008, 11:02 PM   #8
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hi Ernest,
No, I'm not saying that its only Pentax glass for the K20D, if you note in my OP I refer to the Sigma EX DG 24mm f1.8 as giving good results, I think that lens performs better on the K20D than on the DS.

For the moment thats my 'walk around' lens

The Tamron 17-50 may well be in that category of 'good glass' as it gets a lot of good comments and support.

I will be checking it (Tammy) out, but I am leaning heavily towards the DA* 16-50 & 50-135. The 60-250 f4 sounds interesting, but it will probably be a big lens and not all that well suited to a 'walk around' role.

Where I am coming from is that I do not see any point in dropping $$$$ on anything other than top quality now.
Cheers
Grant

06-13-2008, 02:15 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by NicholasN Quote
Funny I just came across this thread and not 5 mins ago was reading an experts review of the K20D. He also suggested sticking to the DA* series lenses with the K20D to make full use of it. He did say other lenses would give ok results however the DA* lenses were the fastest and sharpest bar none and to save dissapointment don't go spending on anything less. I must say it does go without saying that DA* lenses are the best you can get anyway so he wasn't really saying much we didn't already know.
There are many lenses that out preform the DA* lenses. The FA LTD series being some of them. Some of the K series also have better IQ. Even the lowly M series has a few with equal IQ. All of the above have much better build quality. Tamron's 28-75 and 17-50 are as good as any DA* zoom and have 6 year warranties. The Zeiss glass leaves the DA* lenses at the starting gate, both in IQ and build quality.

And of course all of these lenses will allow you to take full advantage of the FF sensor when it finally arrives. Mind you I didn't say the DA* won't work on FF. They just won't be able to take full advantage of it.

Ken
06-13-2008, 06:53 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by regken Quote
There are many lenses that out preform the DA* lenses. The FA LTD series being some of them. Some of the K series also have better IQ. Even the lowly M series has a few with equal IQ. All of the above have much better build quality. Tamron's 28-75 and 17-50 are as good as any DA* zoom and have 6 year warranties. The Zeiss glass leaves the DA* lenses at the starting gate, both in IQ and build quality.

And of course all of these lenses will allow you to take full advantage of the FF sensor when it finally arrives. Mind you I didn't say the DA* won't work on FF. They just won't be able to take full advantage of it.

Ken
Ken, that's an interesting notion. So can you be more detailed with your experiences Zeiss versus DA or M versus DA? That would be great! I mean, there are a couple of current Zeiss lenses available for Pentax which might be worth a try and the M are quite cheap, compared to the DAs.

Thanks
Ben
06-13-2008, 07:34 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote
Ken, that's an interesting notion. So can you be more detailed with your experiences Zeiss versus DA or M versus DA? That would be great! I mean, there are a couple of current Zeiss lenses available for Pentax which might be worth a try and the M are quite cheap, compared to the DAs.

Thanks
Ben
Ben,
No direct experience with the Zeiss glass but the samples I've seen on this forum and dpreview make me wish I had the funds to buy them. The build quality is reported to be outstanding.

As for the M, K, and A series Pentax glass, take a look at these tests.
http://www.takinami.com/yoshihiko/photo/lens_test/index.html

From personal experience I'll match the M28 f 3.5, K35mm f3.5, FA 43mm f1.9, any K or M 50mm including the incredibly cheap 50 f1.7 against any DA* lens. There are others that will also equal or surpass the DA*'s but I have no personal experience with them.

For zooms I'd say the A 35-105 and the A 70-210 are equal to DA* in IQ but they are manual and not weather sealed. They will, on the other hand, be able to use a FF sensor to it's fullest advantage when it shows up.

I'm not saying DA*'s aren't good, I'm saying there are alternatives for a lot less money and their own advantages.

We haven't even touched on the advantage some old screw mount lenses have. There isn't anything in the DA* line that can do what my 85mm f 1.9 can do.

Ken

Last edited by regken; 06-13-2008 at 07:41 AM.
06-13-2008, 10:06 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by regken Quote
Ben,
No direct experience with the Zeiss glass but the samples I've seen on this forum and dpreview make me wish I had the funds to buy them. The build quality is reported to be outstanding.

As for the M, K, and A series Pentax glass, take a look at these tests.
http://www.takinami.com/yoshihiko/photo/lens_test/index.html

From personal experience I'll match the M28 f 3.5, K35mm f3.5, FA 43mm f1.9, any K or M 50mm including the incredibly cheap 50 f1.7 against any DA* lens. There are others that will also equal or surpass the DA*'s but I have no personal experience with them.

For zooms I'd say the A 35-105 and the A 70-210 are equal to DA* in IQ but they are manual and not weather sealed. They will, on the other hand, be able to use a FF sensor to it's fullest advantage when it shows up.

I'm not saying DA*'s aren't good, I'm saying there are alternatives for a lot less money and their own advantages.

We haven't even touched on the advantage some old screw mount lenses have. There isn't anything in the DA* line that can do what my 85mm f 1.9 can do.

Ken
Ok I can understand the issue with the new Zeiss lenses. But I guess, that, as your footer shows a good lists of older Pentax lenses, that you also use DAs to compare those? How is the 16-50 in comparisson to one of your fl-wise comparable lenses? I am also very(!) interested in the performance of the DA 300/4 compared to older glass (of which I have a small collection). Do you have any experience with that particular lens, or the DA 200/2.8?

Thanks and regards
Ben
06-13-2008, 11:34 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote
Ok I can understand the issue with the new Zeiss lenses. But I guess, that, as your footer shows a good lists of older Pentax lenses, that you also use DAs to compare those? How is the 16-50 in comparisson to one of your fl-wise comparable lenses? I am also very(!) interested in the performance of the DA 300/4 compared to older glass (of which I have a small collection). Do you have any experience with that particular lens, or the DA 200/2.8?

Thanks and regards
Ben
I tried some of the DA lenses and opted for the older glass. The 16-50 is one I have never tried. There is no way I'd lay out $600 for something that has the QC and build problems that lens has. I have no first hand knowledge of the longer glass. I'm using a Tamron 28-75 on my A700 and IMO it is as good as any DA lens in that range that I've seen. If I wanted something in the 16-50 range, my choice would be the Tamron 17-50. A 6 year warranty and rave reviews.

I have zero brand loyalty. I have a K10D for some types of shooting and an A700 for others. The same goes for lenses. The DA 300 and 200 might be the best thing since sliced bread but for that kind of money I'd want to see MTF charts and more than one rave review from non bias sources. I just read the test results on the DA 200 over at Pentax SMC DA* 200mm f/2.8 ED [IF] SDM - Review / Test Report
That's a lot of money for a lens with so much PF. My guess is there are better answers then that lens.

Ken
06-13-2008, 12:06 PM   #14
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Thanks Ken again for your patience in replying. You see, the point for me is: I know all the reviews and I know the resolution measurements you quoted. They do nothing to enlighten me on the question, whether the DA* lenses are worth their money or not.

Yoshihiko only provides measurements for old lenses, not for the current ones. So his measurements cannot be compared to any other measurements from other sources, as each lab or user has his own approach. This is an inherent problem of MTF/resolution measurements and does not devalue his work.

In all the forums I visit regularily I only found a handful of posts, where people actually use new DA* glass and older lenses and are able to compare them side by side. These few real world experiences are not statistically significant. But it is interesting to note, that each and any real user of these different lenses is much less bold in his statements. Most of them are saying something like "the new DA* lenses are probably the best lens in that line, but I need more time to compare them in-depth". This is an attitude I value highly. (Though ofcourse it does not help me decide whether to buy a F/FA 300/4.5 or the new DA* 300/4, right now.)

Most rants about the new DA* lenses I have read so far are folklore, people re-telling, what they have read or heared. This does not count in my bottom line.

So I am very careful, when I loan from other people's experiences to emphasize what I want to say. I own a lot of old glass, mostly Pentax from K to FA. Most of my newer lenses are from Sigma, as Pentax did not provide those DA* lenses at the time I needed it (like the 18-50/2.8 or the 70-200/2.8 etc.) I can only say, that these Sigmas (all in all 5 of the EX series) serve me well, especially in the image quality department (sometimes less so in built quality) and are worth every Cent I spent on them. But I am unable to say, whether they or the DA* are the better ones, as I have not used the DA* myself yet. I now could quote other people ranting about the Sigma lenses in general and in detail - but it does not reflect my experience. And it is exactly the same with the DA* lenses, with which I have no experience. Personal experience should in my opinion not replaced with quotes or references to other people. I don't even trust lab tests by magazines, as some of them (I could go into much detail here) are simply utter nonsense and their results accordingly useless or they "accentuate" certain lens properties to please the companies that advertise most.

regards
Ben
06-13-2008, 12:33 PM   #15
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Ben,
I hear you loud and clear. Trying to decide between a DA 300 and FA 300 is a choice I don't want to try and make. I jumped in on this thread because I thought there was a little to much bias being shown to the DA line when there are so many other good choices. With your background in MF is the prospect of future FF sensors of any interest? One of the main reasons I stay away from DA lenses is the compatability of old glass with FF. That may be an unrealistic idea but it does color my judgement.

Ken
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