03 August 2012

trying again

About a year and a half ago, I wrote this about the Pentax DA18-135WR lens, which was supposed to be my best answer to the kit-lens replacement conundrum.  I had tried replacing the kit with several different lenses (DA16-45 and Sigmas 17-70 18-200 and 18-50 f/2.8-4.5) but this one had the best feature set of them all.

The DA18-135 was pretty new at the time, and I got mine via a swap.. which meant that I had no receipt on which to rely if the lens had issues.  It did: I could not bear to look at the results beyond about 70mm.  I let it go to another owner instead of making Pentax aware of it, and let my frustration be known; nearly every reply told me that lens was a bad copy that should have been sent off for inspection.  A couple of reviews online were not favorable, with flaws similar to what I found - but most reports are that it beats the 18-55 in its range plus does well at longer FLs as well.  I have felt bad ever since about not getting it repaired, since it was too new to be beyond any sort of warranty.  Too late.

Even with my bad experience, the features remain tantalizing.  If you need WR you are best served by not switching lenses, even from one WR to another.  And the silent focusing of the DC motor pairs well with the K-7 and K-5 with their soft shutter sound.  So once again, the 18-135 sounds like an ideal lens!

So I'm trying again, having won a bid on a copy removed from someone's new K30 kit.  (Guess the seller has the coveted 16-50 and 50-135 DA*, or something else to make this surplus to his/her needs.)  I sure hope this one meets my standards, but if not I will send it in to be inspected regardless of any proof of purchase.  I would love to wander with this lens and either the DA55-300 or the SMC-M 200/4 for longer work, and my two Sigmas (15mm fisheye and 50mm macro) available off the bench.

Update - this is undoubtedly a better copy of the 18-135.  Sharpness is decent, but more important is the lesser degree of color fringing at telephoto focal lengths.  Yes I can make it look bad if I try and if I look hard, but that's nothing compared to the old copy.  This of course shakes up the kit again - off with the 18-55WR and whatever else can bring in spare funds.