Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ?

Started Nov 6, 2012 | Questions
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Lawnmower Shooter
Lawnmower Shooter Regular Member • Posts: 124
Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ?

Hi all, the title says it all. Looking for the sharpest I can get (average aperture range) for under a grand. AF is a must, and brand doesn't matter. I would like something as long as 100mm for portraiture, if it is longer than that, even better.

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Sinnettc
Sinnettc Veteran Member • Posts: 4,511
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ?
1

I've been pretty happy with the DA* 50-135/2.8

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James O'Neill Veteran Member • Posts: 4,106
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ?

Lawnmower Shooter wrote:

Hi all, the title says it all. Looking for the sharpest I can get (average aperture range) for under a grand. AF is a must, and brand doesn't matter. I would like something as long as 100mm for portraiture, if it is longer than that, even better.

My vote would go with FA77 ltd [which I have], or FA43 [which I don't but I think has numbers its side ]  If you want to photograph gnarled old men the FA77 is brilliant. I don't photograph kids or women with it, it's SO sharp it's unflattering and I have to apply softening in PP. I use my 50mm FA f/1.4 for 80% of my portrait shots.  Sharp, but not to the point as rendering each skin blemmish in near 3D like the 77.

I'm also getting very good results with my old 90mm Tamron (AIUI the current AF model is the same optical formula).

viking79
viking79 Forum Pro • Posts: 14,137
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ?

Lawnmower Shooter wrote:

Hi all, the title says it all. Looking for the sharpest I can get (average aperture range) for under a grand. AF is a must, and brand doesn't matter. I would like something as long as 100mm for portraiture, if it is longer than that, even better.

Can look for a DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 or the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 HSMII is also very good, but you would have to buy the latter used since, unfortunately, Sigma does not make the new 50-150mm f/2.8 OS in Pentax mount.

Eric

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Lawnmower Shooter
Lawnmower Shooter OP Regular Member • Posts: 124
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ?

Thanks for the suggestions guys. I am looking for a good sharp portrait lens for personal use, and have also been asked to shoot a friend's wedding reception so the extra reach would be useful for that. The 50-135 or 50-150 sound nice, I will have to compare prices and see how it looks. I was wondering if anybody can advise, how are these two in comparison to the pentax 55-300, at even focal lengths of course? The 300 wouldn't be as necessary for my purposes, but I would like to get into birding eventually too. If the 2 mentioned are much sharper than the 55-300 then nevermind, I am after absolute sharpness for now.

Thanks for the help and feel free to add more info.

bkpix
bkpix Contributing Member • Posts: 603
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ?

50-135 is dead sharp, no question.

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awaldram
awaldram Forum Pro • Posts: 12,407
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ?
3

James O'Neill wrote:

Lawnmower Shooter wrote:

Hi all, the title says it all. Looking for the sharpest I can get (average aperture range) for under a grand. AF is a must, and brand doesn't matter. I would like something as long as 100mm for portraiture, if it is longer than that, even better.

My vote would go with FA77 ltd [which I have], or FA43 [which I don't but I think has numbers its side ] If you want to photograph gnarled old men the FA77 is brilliant. I don't photograph kids or women with it, it's SO sharp it's unflattering and I have to apply softening in PP. I use my 50mm FA f/1.4 for 80% of my portrait shots. Sharp, but not to the point as rendering each skin blemmish in near 3D like the 77.

I'm also getting very good results with my old 90mm Tamron (AIUI the current AF model is the same optical formula).

You have a funny idea of what a 'zoom' lens is

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awaldram
awaldram Forum Pro • Posts: 12,407
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ?

Lawnmower Shooter wrote:

Thanks for the suggestions guys. I am looking for a good sharp portrait lens for personal use, and have also been asked to shoot a friend's wedding reception so the extra reach would be useful for that. The 50-135 or 50-150 sound nice, I will have to compare prices and see how it looks. I was wondering if anybody can advise, how are these two in comparison to the pentax 55-300, at even focal lengths of course? The 300 wouldn't be as necessary for my purposes, but I would like to get into birding eventually too. If the 2 mentioned are much sharper than the 55-300 then nevermind, I am after absolute sharpness for now.

Thanks for the help and feel free to add more info.

The 55-300 is a consumer lens it behaves like a cheap consumer zoom.

The 50-135 or indeed the sigma 50-150 are pro class glass able to shoot sharper images in 1/8th of the light the 55-300 could.

if you want reach and sharpness in a zoom then the 60-250 is another option but this is an f4 lens so needs twice the light of the above f2.8 lens.

Other manufacturers have very nice zooms as well but if your going aps-c then Pentax has the largest selection of decent glass in standard lengths.

300mm is not long enough for birding anyway the Sigma long zooms are a much better option for outdoor wildlife tak you pick length IQ vs price from 120-400 , 150-500 or the Bigma (50-500) non of which would you take anywhere near a wedding shoot.

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paulkienitz
paulkienitz Veteran Member • Posts: 5,209
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ?

Lawnmower Shooter wrote:

Thanks for the suggestions guys. I am looking for a good sharp portrait lens for personal use, and have also been asked to shoot a friend's wedding reception so the extra reach would be useful for that. The 50-135 or 50-150 sound nice, I will have to compare prices and see how it looks. I was wondering if anybody can advise, how are these two in comparison to the pentax 55-300, at even focal lengths of course? The 300 wouldn't be as necessary for my purposes, but I would like to get into birding eventually too. If the 2 mentioned are much sharper than the 55-300 then nevermind, I am after absolute sharpness for now.

The 55-300 is very nice for an affordable long lens and does a lot better than one might think for birding.  But I would never want to use it for a wedding.

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keepers: K10D, Sig 17-70, DA 55-300, FA 50/1.4 "Billy Bass"
discards: DA 50-200 "zipper", F 100-300, Sigma 135-400 "piglet", M 400/5.6 "the Great Truncheon"

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HozicEmir Contributing Member • Posts: 708
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ?

For that use 50-135 is best what You can get in pentaxland, and can't get much better anywhere.

This is not wedding, is local political party event, but share near same conditions like wedding, bad light, dim atmosphere, colored walls make bouncing painful, but K-5 and 50-135 seams more than capable to ge decent images.

http://sbb.sana.ba/index.php/9-vijesti/6-centralni-skup-sbb-sanski-most-28-09-2012#!prettyPhoto

howieb101 Regular Member • Posts: 492
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ?

While not the sharpest the Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 HSM II can be had for <$1,000 and if stopped down to F4 will be sharp.  It also gives you a bargain 300mm F2.8 equivalent lens.  Its a bargain and will give you easier to obtain bokeh than the Pentax DA*50-135 as it goes to 200mm.  The other benefit is that it is full frame.

I have both.

If you can stand the weight of the Sigma its probably better value because of the extra telephoto.  However, I know from experience that I carry the Pentax more because its substantially lighter.

awaldram
awaldram Forum Pro • Posts: 12,407
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ?

howieb101 wrote:

While not the sharpest the Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 HSM II can be had for <$1,000 and if stopped down to F4 will be sharp. It also gives you a bargain 300mm F2.8 equivalent lens. Its a bargain and will give you easier to obtain bokeh than the Pentax DA*50-135 as it goes to 200mm. The other benefit is that it is full frame.

I have both.

If you can stand the weight of the Sigma its probably better value because of the extra telephoto. However, I know from experience that I carry the Pentax more because its substantially lighter.

I would add some of the Sigma 70-200 had hard bokeh and others were soft at 200

from experience

70-200 EX = hard bokeh

70-200 EX DG = hard Bokeh

70-200 HSM macro = soft @ 200mm

I don't have experience of the newer variants but they supposedly 'fixed' the Macor's softness.

I like the hard Bokeh but may not be ideal in a wedding enviroment.

By hard I mean something like the fa50 F1.7 Vs the fa50 F1.4 and IMO is normally a sign of a well corrected lens but to little thought spent on aperture design.

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HozicEmir Contributing Member • Posts: 708
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ?

I heard that sigmas AF in 70-200 is useless in colored light situations like concerts, I know at least one case when user sold sigma and kept pentax.

awaldram
awaldram Forum Pro • Posts: 12,407
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ?

HozicEmir wrote:

I heard that sigmas AF in 70-200 is useless in colored light situations like concerts, I know at least one case when user sold sigma and kept pentax.

Not noticed that with screw drive Sigma , but older bodies did struggle with consistent focus across the zoom range.

i.e accurate at 200mm BF at 70 or accurate at 70 FF@200 seemed related to the infinity bushes and mount tightness on the lens.

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James O'Neill Veteran Member • Posts: 4,106
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ?

OK. OK.  The perils of posting late at night is the brain edits out words and causes you to reply to something which wasn't actually said.

It's an odd question though. If you were looking at the Sigma 10-20 would you buy a 70-210 which was sharper ?  How much sharper would an 18-135 need to outweight the range advantage of an 18-270 ?

pentx4life Contributing Member • Posts: 558
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ?

I own the Sigma 50-150 2.8 EX II HSM. I compared it a lot to the DA* 50-135 2.8...

my results in testing were, that the Sigma AF is MUCH faster, I never heard of HSM-failure with that lens, as is the case with the SDM... I took it in the desert, and had a plastic bag wrapped around... so even though no weather sealing, workarounds are possible... AND ... even if it gets wet and dies, buy another one and be cheaper off, than the DA*...

both images taken with K5&Sigma lens.

Greetings, Kevin



Lawnmower Shooter wrote:

Hi all, the title says it all. Looking for the sharpest I can get (average aperture range) for under a grand. AF is a must, and brand doesn't matter. I would like something as long as 100mm for portraiture, if it is longer than that, even better.

miles green
miles green Veteran Member • Posts: 5,315
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ?

James O'Neill wrote:

Lawnmower Shooter wrote:

Hi all, the title says it all. Looking for the sharpest I can get (average aperture range) for under a grand. AF is a must, and brand doesn't matter. I would like something as long as 100mm for portraiture, if it is longer than that, even better.

My vote would go with FA77 ltd [which I have], or FA43 [which I don't but I think has numbers its side ] If you want to photograph gnarled old men the FA77 is brilliant.

LOL! I was going to post a self-portrait i took yesterday with the 77.....

But now I'm not!

I don't photograph kids or women with it, it's SO sharp it's unflattering and I have to apply softening in PP. I use my 50mm FA f/1.4 for 80% of my portrait shots. Sharp, but not to the point as rendering each skin blemmish in near 3D like the 77.

I'm also getting very good results with my old 90mm Tamron (AIUI the current AF model is the same optical formula).

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Miles Green
Pentaxian with chronic LBA
Corfu, Greece

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waxwaine
waxwaine Contributing Member • Posts: 981
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ? Sigma 18-200mm

Funny but my sharpest zoom lens is my Sigma 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 DC from f8 to f13. And cheap cheap cheap.



viking79
viking79 Forum Pro • Posts: 14,137
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ? Sigma 18-200mm

waxwaine wrote:

Funny but my sharpest zoom lens is my Sigma 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 DC from f8 to f13. And cheap cheap cheap.

From f/8 to f/13 most lenses are about the same and diffraction limited.

The entire reason to buy something like a Pentax 50-135mm f/2.8 is you want to shoot around f/4 or f/5.6 with the option of shooting at f/2.8.

Eric

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I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object
be what it may - light, shade, and perspective will always make it
beautiful. - John Constable (quote)
See my Blog at: http://www.erphotoreview.com/ (bi-weekly)
Flickr Photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28177041@N03/ (updated daily)

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waxwaine
waxwaine Contributing Member • Posts: 981
Re: Sharpest zoom lens less than $1k ? Sigma 18-200mm

viking79 wrote:

waxwaine wrote:

Funny but my sharpest zoom lens is my Sigma 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 DC from f8 to f13. And cheap cheap cheap.

From f/8 to f/13 most lenses are about the same and diffraction limited.

The entire reason to buy something like a Pentax 50-135mm f/2.8 is you want to shoot around f/4 or f/5.6 with the option of shooting at f/2.8.

Eric

I agree with you on the apperture topic, but hey, with 18-200mm you have flexibility of a P&S with the DSLR performance, and a low price. Of course you lost low light capability and cream bokeh but wins on the compactness area and zoom range.


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