In the meantime, Pentax introduced the 18-135WR along with its K-5. I could not bring myself to spend $500-plus on this lens, but it got me to thinking. After a full 20 minutes of thought, I rid myself of the 16-45, 18-55 and 55-300 lenses - in essence swapping them for the 18-135.
What did I gain?
the 16-45 but with a lot more range
And what did I lose?
- the 16-18mm range, which I really will miss.. but maybe 5-10% of the time
- a little bit of speed (the 55-300 was f/4 from 55-120)
- all ability to use the screw-driven focus, should the DC motor fail
- perhaps a bit of battery life, assuming DC is more of a drain than the screw-drive motor
- perhaps some sharpness also, relative to the 55-300 (perhaps - we shall see!)
- and some nice-looking lenses that decorated my shelf :^)
The 18-135WR arrived late on the 9th of February. Wow, what a small package! Compared to the 50-200WR, it is similar in length. The 18-135 is much thicker, using 62mm filters instead of 49mm; the new lens is fairly small but dense. It was getting dim outside so I got in a few snaps, which showed the promise this lens brings: a slight whoosh and it snaps into focus. Given the fairly silent shutter of the K-7, the package is impressively easy on the ears.I know nothing of DA* lenses - they are the top dogs in the Pentax lineup, weather resistant, often f/2.8 and with SDM motors. They are large, heavy and expensive: three strikes so out of my lineup (for those who need the light grasp and can afford them, I have no doubt of the lens' talents). Many have been ridiculed for SDM motor failures, especially the 16-50. I expect this is fifty lenses out of several thousand, but those with bad motors are loud on most forums - and several have had it happen more than once, which is more ominous still. I therefore venture into motorized lenses with some trepidation, but hopefully the DC system is SDM with a few issues resolved in advance. I'll keep the receipt handy and register soon though.
Like every DA lens I've owned, this one comes with a hood. Not merely a hood but one with a slide-out partition so you can turn a polarizing filter with the hood attached. You can lose the slide-out part though, so some care is needed. The slide is at the bottom of the hood in landscape mode, so if holding the camera vertically the shade loses a bit of effectiveness if you hand isn't covering the small gap. The lens focuses internally so no realignment is needed due to focus. This is the first lens I know of that has the focus ring close to the camera mount, so at some point I'm bound to be confused; I have not run into that yet as an issue. All DA lenses can be manually focused while AF(s) is engaged - if you can find the ring. (Note that DAL lenses are the exception to these DA-specific details: the bargains of the Pentax line, these have plastic mounts, no hoods and no 'quick-shift' manual focus override.)