Pentax smc DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL WR
I have owned all Pentax 18-55mm lens. Some may be packaged different e.g. WR, Plastic Mount, but both share the same optical formula. That being said no two lens are exactly alike. At least its not proven so in consumer available (including Pro) lens. Most should be close to the manufactures standards of design. Sometimes there are outliers. Copies which vary greatly from the standard. When giving stars what formula do each of us use? It has to vary greatly. My formula is the following.
- Performance to price ratio compared to all in its category.
- Performance to category (kit lens in this case) closely related to "1" but slightly different.
- features compared to others in its category.
- Build quality compared to others in its category.
- Overall satisfaction with the product (do you feel you paid too much?).
All but one of the above is subjective and relative to my copy. When getting the lens the first thing you notice is its nicely solid and tight for a kit lens. Its all plastic but for the metal lens mount. However the plastic is of high enough quality to give it a solid feeling I don't get with any other kit lens I have picked up or used such as the old Sony 18-70mm kit.
Next, IQ. Taking pics wide open you notice that its pretty good from 30mm to 50mm at any f/stop. Nice contrast, color and sharpness. Below 30mm and the corners can be softish wide open or if you shoot in its field curvature range. Set the lens to f/8-f/11 and its just great. One year from the day you took the pics you will have a hard time telling which lens took which pic. Its IQ is satisfying for the money and competitive.
As for features this lens is without peer. And this is not subjective. The included solid feeling lens hood has a door that slips out of the bottom to allow you to turn CPL filters. The front element does not rotate during focus, its truly useful in this lens for some. Pentax has some great designers who must be Photography/gear enthusiasts first designers second! The lens is weather resistant. It uses visually the same rubber foam type seals very expensive Canon/Nikon sealed lens uses. Users do not report many problems at all which is amazing considering how many must push it hard. I have used it in snow and rain storms without any problem. And this does give you many more opportunities for photos! The lens features Pentax quick release manual focus ring. It does not need a AF/MF button as you can tweak focus just by turning the ring. It features Pentax SP coating. I hope all know what rain x is. This is what it does to the front element. Everything seems to just slide down it like water drops, or clean off very easily. I used Hoya PRO 1 Digital filters (I understand the Hoya HD are better now). I had to remove it because during wet weather the filter did not like being wiped. The Pentax SP coated lens when being wiped came clean during wet weather no streaks.
This lens stays on the front of my K-5. For general shooting, parties, casual people shooting I fully trust this lens to deliver if I do my part. I can forget about weather. The lens does not feel cheap at all. So number 5 is covered! It rates five stars in the categories but one. The first "Performance to price ratio compared to all in its category.". I looked at a lot of reviews. This lens is very competitive. But there are a couple which beat it. However its so much better in other areas overall this lens deserves a five star rating.
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First I did´nt like this lens at all but then I discovered that I had adjusted the focus to my 50-135 and that had an impact on the 18-55. I changed the adjustment to individual and then focus was great on the 18-55. Now I like it a lot. For most shooting I like the event and the place rather than top notch sharpness and 18-55 is a very good at delivering that. Unless you do large prints or need big aperature I se no reason to upgrade. Cheers