In defence of the DA* 16-50


BarryE

Link Posted 03/04/2014 - 15:44
When I bought this lens a year ago I struggled with it. I wanted something else - something uniformly sharp across the frame, or so I thought. I subsequently bought a couple of primes in the range and have been very happy with them (DA 20 & 40). However, this winter I decided to have a concerted effort with the 16-50.

I studied the resolution charts and analysed my previous results and after some time I realised what this lens was about (I think).

This is what I think now, for what it's worth:

# This lens is difficult to use, until you understand it (I'm getting there, I think).
# I started with dull misty days and generally poor light and somehow it pulled something out from the dullness. A quality that I don't think the primes would have found. The colours on fine days are striking.
# It isn't equally sharp across the frame. In fact it is significantly less sharp at the edges at extreme apertures. This I first thought was a huge problem. However, I now see it as an advantage, creatively. It can be very sharp in the centre.
# It is a heavy lens. This is subjective, really, especially as I have been using small primes. I've found that I do need a tripod on most occasions to obtain the sharpness. Is this due to the weight or balance ? But again, I now see this as an advantage. Slows me down too. Fewer snaps.

Overall, I'm glad I tried again to learn this lens. It is the most tricky lens to use in my collection, but I'm growing to appreciate it.

In my opinion, the review test charts for this lens are in some ways misleading as they miss the point. They do point out how the lens performs in a mechanical way, but I should have stood back at the beginning and tried to interpret what the data was trying to say ie it is NOT a lens with flaws, but a challenging lens with much potential.

(I did to dial in a +5 adjustment at the start to get it to focus accurately.)

Just thought I'd put in a good word for it.

RayB

Link Posted 03/04/2014 - 15:53
I was very happy with the one I hired from SRS over a bank holiday in 2011 and placed an order straight afterwards. It has performed brilliantly in some of the harshest conditions and I find it quite versatile.

The weight difference against other lenses is noticeable, but then I found the K5 with a prime and no grip too light. The grip only comes off so that I can remove the in-body battery and the DA*16-50 is my "default" lens, on body and ready to go at short notice

cabstar

Link Posted 03/04/2014 - 16:50
I uhmed and arghed over buying this lens for so long, put off by the reviews. When I used it for the first time the difference between it and the tamron 17-50mm is light years in picture quality. There is something about Pentax glass the way it renders and the brighter colours, those are the things lab results don't show.

As for weight I prefer it over my 2lb nikon 28-70mm which is a beast in comparison...
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Currently on a Pentax hiatus until an FF Pentax is released

cbrog

Link Posted 03/04/2014 - 17:25
OTOH is it unreasonable to expect a 800+ lens to be sharp to the edges?

Roger

johnriley

Link Posted 03/04/2014 - 17:52
Stop it down cbrog and it will be. Wide open if will have other pictorial qualities. It's a matter of the design parameters and users seem to think it's a lens that has some classy capabilities.
Best regards, John

BarryE

Link Posted 03/04/2014 - 18:00
Roger that was my view, initially. Now I am glad it isn't. (I wonder if it was deliberate in the design ?)

Uniform across the frame can be a little boring at times, I now sometimes find.

It's a shame it's a heavy lens, as I now feel compelled to lug it around with the primes. I thought I'd use primes to travel light - pity, but the 16-50 offers a different "perspective" - a more thoughtful, tricky to use lens. The primes are much easier, and get more exercise with them too, walking back and forwards to compose.

cabstar

Link Posted 03/04/2014 - 18:24
cbrog wrote:
OTOH is it unreasonable to expect a 800+ lens to be sharp to the edges?

Roger

99% of zooms are soft on the edges wide open, it's just how zooms are. As john says stopped down a little and the sharpness gets better. Zooms are very technical in design and compromises have to be made particularly wide angles on aps c sensor bodies.
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Currently on a Pentax hiatus until an FF Pentax is released

weinelm

Link Posted 03/04/2014 - 19:05
I already leapt to the defence of the 16-50 here, so I'll try not to repeat myself.

Whether the lens is worth the money is of course a matter of personal opinion. I don't expect it to be perfect, and while it would be nice if it was, I also have prime lenses that perform no better. I find the 16-50 stacks up pretty well.

I actually fell into the trap of thinking it was a bit expensive for what it was and foolishly sold my first copy, it was only afterwards I realised I missed the microcontrast and rendering, so I ended up buying another copy secondhand. As John says, be careful what you sell! I don't have a better zoom in this focal range, but maybe the sigma is better, I've not tried it.

I don't think I've owned any perfect Pentax lenses, although some come closer than others. In fact I didn't think there was such a thing until I got the Ricoh GR and then GXR 50mm. Those are both unbelievably good. Some what ironic considering they are compact cameras from a photocopier manufacturer

P.S. I think it is only right and proper that this thread is illustrated with photos demonstrating the capabilities of the 16-50, who wants to start?
Panasonic GX80, Pentax MX, Mamiya 6. My Flickr
Last Edited by weinelm on 03/04/2014 - 19:13

RayB

Link Posted 03/04/2014 - 19:19
Two from me with totally different subject matter...






Gamka

Link Posted 03/04/2014 - 19:42
My 16-50, which was one of the first, purchased in 2007 is the default lens on my camera. Never an issue or problem with the image quality or sharpness, it performs as I need and as I would expect for a small range zoom.

I certainly would not swap it, or it would take a significantly better option to make me.

cabstar

Link Posted 03/04/2014 - 22:06
Heres one under difficult conditions with the k-5 mk2




Heres another with great lighting
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Currently on a Pentax hiatus until an FF Pentax is released
Last Edited by cabstar on 03/04/2014 - 22:09

cabstar

Link Posted 03/04/2014 - 22:09


PPG Wedding photography Flickr
Concert photography

Currently on a Pentax hiatus until an FF Pentax is released

weinelm

Link Posted 05/04/2014 - 15:35
Thanks RayB and cabstar, great pics.

Here's some bokeh:



A sunset:



And one from the set that made me realise I'd made a mistake selling the lens:


Panasonic GX80, Pentax MX, Mamiya 6. My Flickr

Smeggypants

Link Posted 05/04/2014 - 15:50
johnriley wrote:
Stop it down cbrog and it will be. Wide open if will have other pictorial qualities. It's a matter of the design parameters and users seem to think it's a lens that has some classy capabilities.

Exactly. If you want across the frame sharpness then stop it down. Wide open is more suited to shallow DOF shots which give depth by not having everything sharp. Given the bokeh is usually at the edges then it makes sense to not expect wall to wall sharpness wide open.

The "sharpness over thing else" brigade levelled the same criticisms at the Sigma 30/1.4 through not understanding about shallow DOF shooting.
[i]Bodies: 1x K-5IIs, 2x K-5, Sony TX-5, Nokia 808
Lenses: Pentax DA 10-17mm ED(IF) Fish Eye, Pentax DA 14mm f/2.8, Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8, Pentax-A 28mm f/2.8, Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC, Pentax-A 50mm f/1.2, Pentax-A 50mm f/1.4, Pentax-FA 50mm f/1.4, Pentax-A 50mm f/1.7, Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8, Sigma 135-400mm APO DG, and more ..
Flash: AF-540FGZ, Vivitar 283

ilovesaabs

Link Posted 08/04/2014 - 13:45
Two words.........

Superb lens!
AKA Welshwizard/PWynneJ
Assorted Pentax/Nikon/Mamiya stuff
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