Budget High-Performance Pentax Lenses

Started Nov 10, 2013 | Discussions
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cgarrard
cgarrard Forum Pro • Posts: 15,162
Budget High-Performance Pentax Lenses
1

Three of my votes for current Pentax Lenses that perform extremely good for the price are the:

  • Pentax 55-300mm DA L f/4-5.8 (the important part is the L designation, missing a metal mount and quick focus feature- if you can live without those, it's 2/3rds the price of the 55-300mm DA). Sharp, good max magnification (for macro), wider than the usual 70-300mm's out there. (About $200-300.00 USD)
  • Pentax 50mm f/1.8 (Currently $180.00 in the US on sale from major retailers in time for xmas) a light, bare bones prime with a fast aperture at sensible price levels now. (About $175-250.00 currently new)
  • Pentax 18-55mm DA AL- weather sealed, non rotating front element, metal mount, smc coating (easy to clean folks), good max magnification for macro work,  much better than competitors kit lenses by far. (About $80-140.00 USD currently)

For those starting a kit, the above 3 lenses cover a huge range of equivalent focal lengths (27-450mm) and photographic situations. Pack all three and not only are they light and compact, they are very light on your wallet. Total range of cost, not going used is $455-690.00 USD. If you bargain hunt, you can get that figure very close to $300.00 total.

Good luck!

Carl

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GossCTP Veteran Member • Posts: 4,719
Re: Budget High-Performance Pentax Lenses
1

I would think the DA 35 should be on that list as well.

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fakuryu
fakuryu Senior Member • Posts: 1,326
+1
1

GossCTP wrote:

I would think the DA 35 should be on that list as well.

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The DA 35 f2.4 attached to any Pentax DSLR body could be enough for everybody... it is an excellent lens too!

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Younes B Contributing Member • Posts: 864
Re: +1

NOt sure if the DA 18 - 55 AL is weather sealed . I think it is the DA 18-55 WR ( which I own ).

I woul dalso recommend the DA 16-45 f4. Outpoerforms the kit lens and this 16mm!!!

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JayBratcher Regular Member • Posts: 281
My picks

I agree with the DA 35 2.4 - I found it to be a better performer than the DA 50 1.8, although I like that lens as well.

I am also a big fan of the 16-45 f/4 - I still ask myself why I got rid of that lens - if you get a used one (less than $300), it's a bargain in my opinion.

Finally, I would like to add the DA 40 XS as a bargain champion.  In fact, I think this may be my favorite general purpose lens - the focal length is great, it's pretty bright, CA seems well controlled, and it's the only Pentax lens I have that will fit in my pocket.

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grcolts Senior Member • Posts: 2,557
Re: Budget High-Performance Pentax Lenses

Although not a lens made by Pentax, the Sigma 50/2.8 macro lens for Pentax is a steal for the price.

I have used this lens for a  number of years now and it is one of my favorites for shooting with my K10.

I did find it more useful when shooting film at a true 50/2.8 than with the DSLR's at 75.

Still a great lens.

GR

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cgarrard
cgarrard OP Forum Pro • Posts: 15,162
Re: +1

Younes B wrote:

NOt sure if the DA 18 - 55 AL is weather sealed . I think it is the DA 18-55 WR ( which I own ).

I woul dalso recommend the DA 16-45 f4. Outpoerforms the kit lens and this 16mm!!!

It's weather sealed:

http://www.amazon.com/18-55mm-3-5-5-6-Weather-Resistant-Pentax/dp/B002BSGUZ8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384093479&sr=8-1&keywords=Pentax+18-55mm+wr

And this 16mm?

The 18-55 out performs the 16-45 on many aspects, its also much more budget, which is the point of the post.

Carl

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Also formerly AlphaMountWorld.com (Now off the web)

cgarrard
cgarrard OP Forum Pro • Posts: 15,162
Re: +1

fakuryu wrote:

GossCTP wrote:

I would think the DA 35 should be on that list as well.

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Through the window in the wall
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The DA 35 f2.4 attached to any Pentax DSLR body could be enough for everybody... it is an excellent lens too!

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There is no such thing a "Pro" level gear, just Pro level work.

It's a good lens, but not as bright or versatile as the 50mm (also the price is higher most of the time).

Carl

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cgarrard
cgarrard OP Forum Pro • Posts: 15,162
Re: My picks

JayBratcher wrote:

I agree with the DA 35 2.4 - I found it to be a better performer than the DA 50 1.8, although I like that lens as well.

I am also a big fan of the 16-45 f/4 - I still ask myself why I got rid of that lens - if you get a used one (less than $300), it's a bargain in my opinion.

Ok but that's almost 3x as much as the kit lens I recommended, the point is bang for the buck with this post :).

Finally, I would like to add the DA 40 XS as a bargain champion. In fact, I think this may be my favorite general purpose lens - the focal length is great, it's pretty bright, CA seems well controlled, and it's the only Pentax lens I have that will fit in my pocket.

Also higher priced than the items I mentioned most of the time.

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fakuryu
fakuryu Senior Member • Posts: 1,326
My picks:

DA 35 f2.4 - very affordable, decently fast and tack sharp in a very useful focal lenght.

SMC-A 50mm f1.7 - regarded as best in the series (f1.4, f1.7, f2) and could be had for what? Less than US$70 for a pristine copy?

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kriztian Contributing Member • Posts: 880
Re: Budget High-Performance Pentax Lenses
2

I don´t agree that 18-55 WR is a good lens. In fact I am very dissapointed. At 18mm wide open it sucks and you have to push it to minimum 5.6. I does not have the color and contrast that one could expect from a  god lens. I regret that I bought it and I almost never use it anymore.  Cheers

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jimrpdx
jimrpdx Veteran Member • Posts: 3,324
Re: My picks

Great budget trio to cover the range Carl, hard to argue there. My budget tele is the 50-200WR; less range and slower at 200mm, but I've always liked its bokeh and compactness. The 55-300 is usually a bit sharper without processing, and I once found that 55-300 DAL for $150!

I too am a big DA16-45 fan, and my good-weather trio is 16-45, 70Ltd, and 105 macro - but for budget users that 18-55wr is mighty talented. Good point though kriztian, as it's a kit lens there are more quality-control issues with the 18-55 series, many are good, and some are poor.

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ccd Regular Member • Posts: 372
Re: +1

cgarrard wrote:

And this 16mm?

The 18-55 out performs the 16-45 on many aspects, its also much more budget, which is the point of the post.

In what aspects are those? I have both lenses, and besides cost, the smaller size, and an extra 10mm there is nothing else I know where the 18-55 outperforms the 16-45. And I definitely value the extra 2mm on the short end......since the idea for use of these two lenses is more defined by the wide angle than the long end.

Beyond that, there is budget and there is value. I would rather save up a little and buy a better lens (I got my 16-45 for less than $200 in almost new condition). For what it provides it is well worth the extra cash and still not so much that it's beyond your reach financially. Remember, you don't need to buy all the lenses you want all at once.

That being said, I will go somewhat hypocritically go against the grain and recommend the much maligned 50-200 over the 55-300. Not only is it considerably cheaper, but it is so much more compact and lighter. Yes, of course there are times when that extra 100mm is so handy, but with the resolution of many cameras these days one can crop and zoom to mitigate some of that difference. The biggest advantage is the portability on a practical level. I find myself using it more than my 300 because I hike......and it packs and hauls much better. I also see the difference optically to be less significant than others do.....at least with my copy. That's why I said "somewhat" hypocritically......I feel the difference optically is much less than the difference between the 16-45 and the 18-55 for example. I know many see this differently, but the fact that I sometimes confuse it with my 18-55 when fully retracted says a lot about this little marvel.

JNR
JNR Senior Member • Posts: 2,589
Re: Budget High-Performance Pentax Lenses
1

cgarrard wrote:

Three of my votes for current Pentax Lenses that perform extremely good for the price are the:

  • Pentax 18-55mm DA AL- weather sealed, non rotating front element, metal mount, smc coating (easy to clean folks), good max magnification for macro work, much better than competitors kit lenses by far. (About $80-140.00 USD currently)

No argument, but just a clarification that the Pentax weather sealed lenses are designated as WR. It can be confusing with five distinct versions of the 18-55!

  • SMC Pentax-DA 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 AL (first version - more elements, poorer at either end, only slightly better than competing kits)
  • SMC Pentax-DA 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 AL II (revised version with greater sharpness, quick shift)
  • SMC Pentax-DA L 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 AL (lightweight newer version with plastic mount, no quick shift)
  • SMC Pentax-DA 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 AL WR (weather-resistant newer version - good build, quick shift)
  • SMC Pentax-DAL 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 AL WR (weather-resistant but with lighter build - plastic mount, no quick shift; introduced with K-50)

I got the best of the bunch in my closeout kit with the K-30 (SMC Pentax-DA 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 AL WR). While it isn't the sharpest overall zoom I have used, it isn't below average in any aspect. It might be the best zoom I have used in working against the light (I especially enjoy shooting against back-lighting). The build is markedly better than the 16-45 - quite nice feel overall.

I think either of the WR lenses are an especially good value, but take care to be sure you aren't buying a resale from the K-50 kit if you want the metal mount and quick shift. All of the newer optical designs (the last four on the list) should be optically the same - and really are optically better but not by a huge margin based on tests I've read.

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JNR
JNR Senior Member • Posts: 2,589
Re: My picks

cgarrard wrote:

JayBratcher wrote:

I agree with the DA 35 2.4 - I found it to be a better performer than the DA 50 1.8, although I like that lens as well.

I am also a big fan of the 16-45 f/4 - I still ask myself why I got rid of that lens - if you get a used one (less than $300), it's a bargain in my opinion.

Ok but that's almost 3x as much as the kit lens I recommended, the point is bang for the buck with this post :).

Finally, I would like to add the DA 40 XS as a bargain champion. In fact, I think this may be my favorite general purpose lens - the focal length is great, it's pretty bright, CA seems well controlled, and it's the only Pentax lens I have that will fit in my pocket.

Also higher priced than the items I mentioned most of the time.

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Just to clarify on something posted earlier in the thread before seeing the 16-45 vs. 18-55 discussion. Other than the oddity of the barrel extension when shooting wide (on-board flash shadow, distortion when shooting upward unless your hand supports the barrel extension), the 16-45 is a better lens optically in every position - at least with my lens. It is very sharp overall, even sharp wide open.

The 16-45 is a very good value, but isn't really a budget lens that fits right in this discussion. Doubt it can be found new now, and I suspect most of the used ones got a lot of use because it is a fine general use lens.

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britcam
britcam Senior Member • Posts: 2,417
Re: My picks

cgarrard wrote:

Finally, I would like to add the DA 40 XS as a bargain champion. In fact, I think this may be my favorite general purpose lens - the focal length is great, it's pretty bright, CA seems well controlled, and it's the only Pentax lens I have that will fit in my pocket.

Also higher priced than the items I mentioned most of the time.

The DA 40 XS can be easily found for very low prices on the used market, for no more than £125 or 150€. Many have never been used, being part of an original K-01 kit and surplus to the requirements of the seller ...

It is very compact, yet optically the same as the far more expensive DA40. I wouldn't hesitate to get as a first lens. It has only one real drawback - a tiny lens cap that is too easy to lose!

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britcam
britcam Senior Member • Posts: 2,417
Re: +1

cgarrard wrote:

fakuryu wrote:

GossCTP wrote:

I would think the DA 35 should be on that list as well.

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Through the window in the wall
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The DA 35 f2.4 attached to any Pentax DSLR body could be enough for everybody... it is an excellent lens too!

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There is no such thing a "Pro" level gear, just Pro level work.

It's a good lens, but not as bright or versatile as the 50mm (also the price is higher most of the time).

Carl

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The 35mm f.2.4 is a tremendous lens - lightweight build, and excellent optics. It is the equivalent of a 52mm standard lens in 35mm terms, so could be considered to be a standard lens on APS-c.

On the other hand a 50mm becomes a short telephoto (75mm equiv) so unless that's your preferred shooting style, the 35 is the better choice .... IMHO ...  OK a 50 is faster but with the Pentax high ISO ability that's not really a problem.

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Walt_A Senior Member • Posts: 1,730
Re: Budget High-Performance Pentax Lenses

kriztian wrote:

I don´t agree that 18-55 WR is a good lens. In fact I am very dissapointed. At 18mm wide open it sucks and you have to push it to minimum 5.6. I does not have the color and contrast that one could expect from a god lens. I regret that I bought it and I almost never use it anymore. Cheers

I tend to agree, I don't like my 18-55 WR either and very seldom use it. I bought a 18-55 DAL to see if it might be better (sample variation etc), and it is better, still not that impressive though. I have a canon ef-s 18-55 IS kit lens and very happily use that, although unfortunately not on a pentax....:-(

yardcoyote Senior Member • Posts: 6,211
Lens cap for XS?

I count myself lucky that I seem to have gotten a good one-- my 18-55 WR is very sound, particularly between about f/8 and f/11.

That said, does the 40mm XS use the same lens cap as the 40mm Limited?  If it does, does the trick of using a Fuji film canister lid as an everyday cap work as well with that lens as it does with the Limited?  If it does, problem solved.  Snap on, snap off!

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britcam
britcam Senior Member • Posts: 2,417
Re: Lens cap for XS?

yardcoyote wrote:

I count myself lucky that I seem to have gotten a good one-- my 18-55 WR is very sound, particularly between about f/8 and f/11.

That said, does the 40mm XS use the same lens cap as the 40mm Limited? If it does, does the trick of using a Fuji film canister lid as an everyday cap work as well with that lens as it does with the Limited? If it does, problem solved. Snap on, snap off!

I'm afraid not ...!

The DA 40 has a 30mm cap, while the DA 40 XS has a 27mm cap

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