17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Generally good lens for wide zoom range.
, August 8, 2011
This review is from: Pentax 21977 DA 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 ED AL (IF) DC WR Lens for Pentax Digital SLR cameras (Electronics)
This is the third superzoom lens I've owned, and it's the best of the three. Not perfect, but quite decent and I have few complaints. The first I had was the first generation long zoom range lens from Tamron- 28-200mm for canon- similar to this 18-135mm Pentax. I still have it, and it's attached to my Canon EOS 500 film camera in the back cupboard. The second was the Tamron 18-200mm lens, which you can read my review on Amazon for, if you so wish. In hindsight, I rated it slightly higher than I now realise it was deserving of, as my expereince has grown over the last year.
I just went on a 4 day holiday, brought along 4 lenses to try out, and this 18-135mm spent 99% of the time on my K-5. I used a Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 at a few times at night, and the Sigma 30mm f1.4 never got used.
In short, it is everything people say. Focusing is quick and quiet. The zoom range is very useable. Photos are sharp. The ability to close focus at 40cm, regardless of focal length, is very helpful. Other zooms have a minimum focal length of around 1 to 2 metres (3 to 6 feet), so you can really get in close with this lens.
To be frank, this is how all their (Pentax) lenses should be in terms of focusing. Canon has had quick and quiet lenses for years.
The Weather Resistance aspect isn't very important to me, but it helps I dont have to worry if it starts raining and rush to put the camera away while diving for the nearest sheltor. It is also small and light for it's zoom range. Well suited to general walkabout and travelling photography. Not well suited to those who demand more sharpness, bokeh, reach or sensitivity.
I did find I wish I could get more bokeh, and it was faster so my night photos weren't always at iso 12,800.
The only problems I've had, after taking around 1000 photos, are some unexpected focus hunting half a dozen time, usually with more distant objects, especially narrow buildings or objects. I have no idea why.
So far, no sign of zoom creep, although there is no lock. Early days though. The barrel is not as stiff as it was when I first bought it last week.
Other shortcomings I've noticed are evident in all long zoom lenses. at it's widest, photos are not as sharp. Bokeh is not really something you can get very often, but look ok compared to the other long zooms I've had. It's very different to, say, my Pentax DAL 50-300mm, which seems to naturally produce very lovely bokeh with most photos, despite an even longer zoom range.
If they were able to produce this with constant f2.8, I would defintely give it a look, even though it would probably weigh a kilo or more. (it'd probably be beyond my budget though!)
Edit 25th August 2011
Found a few tiny tiny bubbles of water (too spherical for dust imho- only 0.3mm across- ok- i dont know exactly how wide- my point is, is that they are really small) on the plastic inside the lens, though not on glass of lens, so doesnt affect the photo. Sent back to Japan with my K-5 to fix. (K-5's rear LCD had a defect).
In general, these types of lenses- super zooms, produce in focus photos, but usually only moderately sharp, and rarely with bokeh. I found I can produce bokeh, but you have to work at it. This is why I mentioned the 55-300mm lens before, because it produced bokeh naturally, if I can put it that way. For the 55-300mm, all I would have to do is focus on, say, a tree or flower, and the background would be naturally out of focus. With the 18-135, and superzooms starting from 18mm (28-35mm in 35mm format), there is no bokeh and the subject and surrounding is usually all in focus, unless you position yourself the make the subject a reasonable distance from the background. Otherwise, everything is in focus, as if f22 plus is a aperture by default, despite settings.
Update 12th March 2013
Yep, I've had this lens for a while now, and it's still pretty good. Some further thoughts about it.
Sometimes I wish it had a longer zoom but none of the options around have the HSM/ultrasonic focus motor or weather resistance- the new 18-270mm has come out from Pentax, but that costs a small fortune and isn't weather resisitant, I tried the Tamron 18-250mm but the screw drive makes me screwy (pun intended, weak as it may be) and the photos are not quite as punchy as the 18-135, so I stick with the tried and true 18-135mm. I've learnt to get around it a little and shoot at max resolution, then crop. Many people might already do that, but I don't- I rarely print my pics- they usually go onto computer or online, so I shoot at 10mp, not 16mp on my K5, and set at x4 stars JPG image quality, so they are small enough in size to be uploaded.
Physically, the lens is fine. There is no zoom creep, the HSM focus motor is as quick and quiet as the day I bought it, there is no paint or colour chipping, the lens hasnt gotten mouldy, despite my best efforts dunking it in pools, rain, showers or using it for hours at Thailand's Songkran festival (look it up- it's a water soaked festival of both Thai tradition and youthful fun!).
Colours remain bright, images generally sharp, and straight lines at the edge at wide angle 18mm are, sadly, still distorted, though not a problem for me. I'm also still pleasantly surprised at the bokeh. I've taken photos of bees buzzing around flowers, and it looks fantastic. Often I don't even crop. I'd say I'd probably have to use a prime like the 77mm to get better bokeh, for the same image.
Besides the lack of really long zoom, the biggest shortcoming is the weight. It's not that it's bad, for this class of lens, but since the 18-270mm is only slightly heavier, I do wonder if it isn't possible to redesign it with less glass, and shave 100-150grams off. It'd make a difference for me when I put it in my backpack travelling- and that's one of the selling points of the lens, isn't it?- weather resistance- attractive for hikers, adventurers?
Thanks again for reading ^_^
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