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01-09-2018, 06:28 PM   #1
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Pentax APS-C Dead-End?

I've been an owner of a Pentax K-5 for several years now. I got the camera at a discount and at that time I thought it was a pretty good deal. However, throughout the years I've been trying to find a decent walk-around zoom lens for it, without much success.

What I found that literally all of the "digital" lenses don't provide enough quality the sensor otherwise would be capable of. Since I tried many film lenses, I know what the sensor can do, but the obvious caveat there is the lack of focal length on the wide end. Regarding "digital" lenses, another issue has surfaced and that is a ridiculously small focus throw. My Pentax 17-70 has ruined quite a few shots because of inaccurate AF and accurate MF is impossible with that short throw.

It seems to me that Pentax, including competitors essentially killed off APS-C quality by manufacturing lenses meant for full-frame sensors. For me those are prohibitively expensive, not to mention they don't represent a good value (ala I'm not getting a 5 times better camera for 5 times the price). Since I'm a hobbyist, I'm not making money on photography either.

At this point I don't think there is a way to salvage my camera, since there won't be any normal zoom lens for it ever, that matches its sensor. I understand that people will say I wanted too much for too little, but I just wanted to share my experience.

01-09-2018, 06:37 PM   #2
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Just for giggle. Which lenses have you owned and tried.

My experience does bit match yours. Focusing has improved since the k-5. You will find quite a few people who suggest the focusing continues to improve.

Focus throw must be short for autofocus.
01-09-2018, 06:40 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Have you tried or ever used the Sigma 17-50mm HSM F2.8? Sharp from wide open, silent and fast focusing. This is a high quality lens. APS-C is by no way a dead end. The Pentax KP is close to matching the K1 up to iso 6400 while being 300 grams lighter to carry.

Last edited by howieb101; 01-09-2018 at 06:40 PM. Reason: Typo
01-09-2018, 06:43 PM - 10 Likes   #4
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01-09-2018, 06:48 PM - 3 Likes   #5
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The Tamron 17-50, Sigma 17-50, Pentax 18-135, Pentax 16-85, Pentax 20-40 are all worthy of consideration and can be purchased right now. And I'm leaving lenses out.

Honestly, my suggestion would be to buy a newer camera, but you sound like your mind is already made up. Good luck.

EDIT: One other thought; Get that Pentax 17-70 onto a K-70 and see what you think.
01-09-2018, 06:52 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChromaNoise Quote
I've been an owner of a Pentax K-5 for several years now. I got the camera at a discount and at that time I thought it was a pretty good deal. However, throughout the years I've been trying to find a decent walk-around zoom lens for it, without much success.

What I found that literally all of the "digital" lenses don't provide enough quality the sensor otherwise would be capable of. Since I tried many film lenses, I know what the sensor can do, but the obvious caveat there is the lack of focal length on the wide end. Regarding "digital" lenses, another issue has surfaced and that is a ridiculously small focus throw. My Pentax 17-70 has ruined quite a few shots because of inaccurate AF and accurate MF is impossible with that short throw.

It seems to me that Pentax, including competitors essentially killed off APS-C quality by manufacturing lenses meant for full-frame sensors. For me those are prohibitively expensive, not to mention they don't represent a good value (ala I'm not getting a 5 times better camera for 5 times the price). Since I'm a hobbyist, I'm not making money on photography either.

At this point I don't think there is a way to salvage my camera, since there won't be any normal zoom lens for it ever, that matches its sensor. I understand that people will say I wanted too much for too little, but I just wanted to share my experience.
Are you shooting at maximum aperture {minimum DOF}?? I use the 18-135mm on a K-30, and I haven't had any shots ruined by inaccurate focus. When 18mm {which, looking at angle of coverage, is as much coverage as I ever had with film}, isn't enough width, I have a Sigma 10-20mm, which is a fine lens.

I'm sorry you aren't satisfied.
01-09-2018, 06:53 PM - 1 Like   #7
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@ChromaNoise Pentax has the most complete APSc lens catalog by far of any brand.

KP or K-70 have much faster and more accurate AF and image processing than K-5 or K-3.

DA Prime Lenses.
DA Zoom Lenses.

Any lens that has a ‘Buy Lens’ link is currently in the Pentax catalog. Those with a Blue link brick have been reviewed In-Depth by PF Staff.

.:

Last edited by monochrome; 01-09-2018 at 07:06 PM.
01-09-2018, 06:59 PM   #8
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I have a pair of K3 bodies and used the Sigma 17-70 as my walkabout zoom It was a much better lens than the Pentax 17-70 in terms of sharpness and general image quality. Prior to the K3s I used it with a K5 and I must say the auto focus was greatly improved when I bought the K3s.
Using the Sigma 17-70 on a K3 and photographing in excellent lighting gave images printed to A3 size that were just a small step below what I now get with the K1 and the DFA 24-70 or the DFA 28-105.


Last edited by dlai; 01-09-2018 at 07:01 PM. Reason: It doubled up my reply
01-09-2018, 07:16 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
Just for giggle. Which lenses have you owned and tried.

My experience does bit match yours. Focusing has improved since the k-5. You will find quite a few people who suggest the focusing continues to improve.

Focus throw must be short for autofocus.
OK, here comes a list, mini-review style:

Pentax-A 35-105mm f/3.5
Some call it "stack of primes", I can't agree more. All zoom lenses should be made like this. I probably got my best results with this lens. A bit heavy, yes, but who cares?
Verdict: Excellent

Pentax-A 135mm f/2.8
I haven't used this many times but when I did, there was that definite "wow factor" there. Sharp and contrasty, very nice colors.
Verdict: Excellent

Pentax-A Macro 50mm f/2.8
Sharp lens. I guess the only drawback is the lack of 1:1 magnification?
Verdict: Very Good

Pentax-A 70-210mm f/4
Soft throughout the entire zoom range, no matter what aperture it's set to. It's been collecting dust ever since I got it. Overall, a complete waste of money.
Verdict: Trash

Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 DG
Not terribly good, not terribly bad either. Used it a couple of times, love the wide end on it.
Verdict: Medium-Good

Pentax DA 17-70mm f/4
The "would be decent" lens if not for said focus inaccuracy. It seems that the SDM is on its way out now too. Would not buy again.
Verdict: Mediocre

Pentax-A 24-50mm f/4
I got some decent results out of this one. It's a bit slow and soft on the wide end. The major drawback here it was designed for film cameras. If this was let's say a 16-30mm or similar, I'd use this one most of the time. Unfortunately it isn't.
Verdict: Good

---------- Post added 01-10-18 at 03:24 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
The Tamron 17-50, Sigma 17-50, Pentax 18-135, Pentax 16-85, Pentax 20-40 are all worthy of consideration and can be purchased right now. And I'm leaving lenses out.

Honestly, my suggestion would be to buy a newer camera, but you sound like your mind is already made up. Good luck.

EDIT: One other thought; Get that Pentax 17-70 onto a K-70 and see what you think.
I've actually been looking at the Sigma 17-50 for a couple of years now. However, sample shots show that it may not represent a good value. It was a bit expensive the last time I checked, dunno. It only got 3.5 stars on Optical Limits (formerly Photozone), the same as the Pentax 17-70. At that point I decided it's probably not much better.

I immediately disregarded the Pentax 18-135mm when I got my camera body because of mediocre results. I think it's common knowledge that long zooms aren't very good?

A friend of mine has the Pentax 16-85. He sent me a couple of samples and while I sort of like the results, I'm not really flattered. The way the lens extends on its full focal length scares me.

The 20-40 looks interesting, but is it wide enough??? It baffles me why it does not start from 16-17mm. Scared to buy just to find out.
01-09-2018, 07:30 PM   #10
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The Pentax 18-135 is an excellent all-purpose walk around zoom. The DA 16-85 is a step up in IQ if you are willing to sacrifice the long end for the short. And there are others (e.g. DA 20-40 Ltd). I think Pentax covers APS-C remarkably well.
01-09-2018, 07:35 PM   #11
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You have a pretty good line up of lenses. I’ve had the DA 17-70 for quite some time, it produces good, if not great images, which is why I’ve dealt with the autofocus issues, until I put it on my K3. I just shot a wedding with it and the autofocus never missed.

I don’t care much for Sigma rendering, but it’s nice to have the options. As far as digital lenses, you don’t have much in your bag to make a judgement by. Try a DA 20-40, DA* 50-135 or 60-260 or DA*200 or 300. Then you will begin to see what the camera is capable of. Grab a DA 15 or 21 for the wide end, they are quite amazing.

Once I used the DA 20-40, it became my walk around lens.

Good luck!
01-09-2018, 07:38 PM   #12
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My experience with the 17-70 is different from yours when using a K-50. The images are lovely with that combination. It often seems results vary depending on the camera body. If you had a K-50 or newer you could get a 55-300 PLM which is amazing for the price.
heck it is amazing at a higher price. If you like heavyweight fast lenses, the Sigma 70-200 2.8 is very nice also. Any of the Limiteds, DA or FA will produce very nice results but the DA 20-40 is the only zoom in that group. It is a winner though!
Go rent some lenses or borrow a few, and see what your K-5 likes best.
01-09-2018, 07:46 PM   #13
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Thanks for everyone that replied. I guess I'll keep an eye out for the HD DA 20-40. Its price is a bit steep now here in Europe, so this might have to wait a while. I don't think renting it is an option in this country, since the brand is not very popular.
01-09-2018, 08:12 PM   #14
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"mediocre results" from the 18-135? What? No.... What?
01-09-2018, 08:54 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Ok. Your exposure is rather limited to call all digital lenses for crop into question. Here are some lenses to try that I have personally owned and found exceptional ON my K-3. Plus a few samples. Hard to add too many from my remote location tonight.

DA* 50-135
DA* 60-250
HD DA 70
SMC DA 40

Generated from my Amazon Kindle Fire using tools.rackonly.com

SMC DA 15
HD DA 20-40

Generated from my Amazon Kindle Fire using tools.rackonly.com


Slightly less wow factor:
DA* 16-50
DA 12-24
DA 18-135 (those who poo poo this lens haven't owned it for the most part)


Generated from my Amazon Kindle Fire using tools.rackonly.com


Generated from my Amazon Kindle Fire using tools.rackonly.com

---------- Post added 01-09-18 at 10:58 PM ----------

Looking over your own list i suggest you try the DA* 50-135 and a DA 35 Macro on a newer body like a KP or K70 or K3ii.

Last edited by UncleVanya; 01-09-2018 at 09:00 PM.
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