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06-30-2007, 01:58 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kguru Quote
Basically I'd like to take wide-angle group photos, plus sharp detailed portraits (showing skin pores for example) without having to change lens so I'm not considering primes. I'm not sure if the 18-55 kit lens is good enough to give me sharp detailed portraits or should I spend the extra $230 (can afford but rather not if I don't have to) for the 16-45. Thanks again everyone.
The 18-55 isn't really "wide angle" on a digital camera. Remember that an 18mm lens on a digital camera has the field of vision of a 27mm lens on a 35mm film camera. The 16-45 isn't really wide-angle, either, although it's getting there. I've used it successfully to take group shots in close quarters.

You can certainly take a good, sharp photo with the kit lens. Search through the user submissions here. There are some inspiring (or depending on your perspective, discouraging!) great photos in there, and some of them were taken with the kit lens. That said, if you can afford it, get the 16-45. It is sharper and clearer. If you had both lenses, you would use the kit lens very infrequently.

The problem with the kit lens in my opinion isn't that it's not sharp - it's that it's not really anything at all. It's not as sharp as a slew of other lenses available in that range (including the various primes). It's that it's not wide enough to be wide, not long enough to be long, and not fast enough to be fast. It is, in short, a basically free default lens, something to use until you know the alternatives. To put it more positively, the kit lens is a fairly versatile and completely usable lens at an unbelievable price.

I don't have the kit lens any more. I replaced it (sort of) with three lenses. The lens I use most in this range is the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8. This provides a bit of telephoto capability good for shooting across the room. And with the constant f/2.8 it's a tolerably fast lens. AND it has a pseudo-macro close shooting capability. I switch to the 16-45 when I want the wider angle (and the difference between 28 and 16 is major!) or when I have lots of light, and I simply want to get that extra little benefit from the optical excellence of the lens. And finally, if the light is really low (as it often is shooting indoor sports) or if I'm shooting a portrait, I use the Pentax FA 50 f/1.4. Any one of these lenses is capable of taking a great photo. That not every shot is a prize winner is my fault, not the fault of the lens I've picked.

I should add that I am pretty sure that the best lens I own, in terms of sheer optical excellence, is the Pentax M 50 f/1.4. But I use the FA 50 more because auto-focus is important to me most of the time. My point is, it's not always just about "the glass." These four lenses are four different tools, with different features. Price differences notwithstanding, this $2000 guitar may be a considerably better-quality musical instrument than that $5,000 piano. But if I want to play a piano piece, well, I use the piano.

Will

07-01-2007, 01:43 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kguru Quote
Thanks Will for the painstaking advice.
Basically I'd like to take wide-angle group photos, plus sharp detailed portraits (showing skin pores for example ) without having to change lens so I'm not considering primes. I'm not sure if the 18-55 kit lens is good enough to give me sharp detailed portraits or should I spend the extra $230 (can afford but rather not if I don't have to) for the 16-45. Thanks again everyone.
Let me chime in for a moment.
All emotional reasoning aside - if you can afford 16-45, go for it. If you get the kit lens then you'll eventually WILL replace it, sooner or later. For group photography probably sooner that later. Pure rational money-saving way would be go for one lens, instead of two.

But, on the other hand, you may want to get the kit lens just for having a backup lens for those emergencies we all hope never happen

Or, if you know (or think you know) already, which lenses you will eventually get, then you might want to consider the overlapping ranges. I, for example, didn't get 16-45 because I wanted to have sigma 17-70 for my walkabout (16-45 being too short for me for that purpose) and I'm planning to get sigma 10-20 at some point. So while 16-45 may be a wonderful lens, I'd have too much overlapping with other lenses for my taste.

On a related note - if you're not exactly set on building your collection from strictly Pentax lenses, you may want to have a look at Sigma or Tamron too.
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