Web Analytics RiceHigh's Pentax Blog: DA* 16-50 Vs DA 16-45, A Shootout

Saturday, August 18, 2007

DA* 16-50 Vs DA 16-45, A Shootout

Here is one of first more formal tests I have seen, which I think is good enough to tell us some truths about the lenses, for a head-to-head comparison:-


(Test report in Traditional Chinese, use Babelfish if required)

Well, as we can see from the pairs of sample photos and the full size crops the author posts, he gives us the following conclusions:-

1. Purple fringing of the DA* is just a little bit better than the DA, but both lenses are considered to be worse than acceptable because the fringes are still obvious for both;

2. The DA* 16-50 consistently underexposes more than the DA 16-45 on the K10D, under a wide variety of shooting situations, as stated by the author. In fact, the two posted sample images by him show this clearly too. The author considers the underexposure of the DA*16-50 is highly undesirable. It is further noted that the DA* may have more light loss which is judged by lower EV values metered but yet the pictures came out to be darker, which is again undesirable indeed;

3. The images from the DA 16-45 are warmer, i.e. with more yellow whilst the DA* 16-50 contains no yellow at all. It is further stated that the DA* 16-50 images look more saturated than the DA 16-45 but anyway the author does point out that this maybe related to underexposure as underexposed images normally look more saturated than normally exposed ones. Personally, I must say I still don't like the "new" tone of the DA* lenses, as I have said before. Regarding this kind of colour reproduction which I don't like, I can find the same thing for many of the other sample photos I have seen on the net, including Ned Bunnell's ones, which I bet quite some we *old* Pentaxians will not like it - we love the *old* tones of those older Pentax excellent optics, but it seems that those were the days. In fact, I found that the DA 16-45 is already cooler than I like (a detailed comparison here) but now that the DA*s are even more blueish!(?)

4. Resolution wise, the DA* 16-50 wins and that the only aspect it clearly wins. The difference will become smaller when stopped down to f/8 or beyond, though.

Nonetheless, do note that the above comparisons are not made with the same aperture numbers, the tester compares the relative stopped-down apertures in the same amount of stopping down step(s). As such, there is always one f-stop's difference in the comparisons. One may think this to be fair or unfair, depending on what one thinks about the rationales.

Besides, I have also found another fair and comprehensive overview by another new DA* 16-50 user here. Actually, he also "coincidently" notes about the underexposure problem too with his DA* on the K10D. Besides, he points out that the AF with SDM is indeed not significantly faster than that with traditional body AF.

Another major problem some other new users have reported about is the high amount of distortion at wide angles, which is obviously more than that of the DA 16-45 (2.52% barrel), which IMHO is too much indeed for a wide lens, not even to say for a luxury classed one as the DA Star. In fact, some of the users believe that the distortion is of the same level as the Tokina ATX Pro DX 16-50, of which the amount is measured and can be visualised here (a 3.55% barrel distortion, which is really *too* much!). My experience is that such large and obvious barrel distortion is a true annoyance when shooting landscapes with the horizons or any horizontal lines appeared near the top or bottom picture frame borders, which will make the pictures look somehow ugly and odd.

So, if one asks me if the DA* worth its price, in particular for the DA* 16-50, I would say "No" without second thought. Actually, I won't recommend this lens as long as there is a much alternative cheaper choice of which the DA* 16-50 is not much better than, i.e., the DA 16-45. With nearly four times the price of the DA*16-50 than a DA 16-45, the small difference in performance and features actually makes the DA 16-45 a no-brainer. Do note that the DA 16-45 does even have some other advantages over the DA* 16-50, as for those discussed above and some other things which are obvious, e.g., it is smaller and lighter and uses a common Pentax thread size of 67mm (which the DA*50-135 uses too).


  1. Get a life, Ricehigh. Go out, and take photos. With your *wonderful* CANON camera.

  2. Anonymous19/8/07 00:06

    Only one coment about your crap!

  3. Anonymous19/8/07 04:33

    Thanks for your comprehensive analysis. Very informative and greatly appreciated.

    Benjamin Kanarek

  4. Khof-khof ... don't make waste my tea !

  5. Ben, you're most welcome. :-)

  6. Hi Ricehigh. This is a great summary of all the comparisons. Much more balanced and providing a good reading prior to purchasing.

  7. Anonymous19/8/07 19:49

    Hi Mr. Idiot
    Seems that you have two or three friends that likes your creap!
    College mattes?

  8. Anonymous20/8/07 09:53

    Did I miss something??? Rice you state:.......................
    Besides, I have also found another fair and comprehensive overview by another new DA* 16-50 user here. Actually, he also "coincidently" notes about the underexposure problem too with his DA* on the K10D.........................
    BUT when I go to the thread YOU draw your conclusion from I read:
    The DA*16-50/2.8 seems to deliver images similar to the DA16-45/4. Not in terms of sharpness of so, but in terms of exposure. I guess the 16mm wide angle is mostly responsible for that. I fear the threads about underexposure with this lens will be coming soon... Though those who came to appreciate the DA16-45/4 know this is a very relative thing, some Ev compensation at the wide end may be required in certain situations.
    THERE is more than one way to read into this....Gad more tabloid journalism from you... makes me want to puke...
    (note: accidently posted this on the Hoya comments. Oh well)

  9. Thanks for your kind comments, Roentarre.

  10. > Anonymous said...
    > Did I miss something??? Rice you state:.......................(snipped)

    The Taiwan tester found that his DA* 16-50 is "darker" than his DA 16-45 and he has commented that his DA 16-45 also underexposes on other Pentax DSLRs except on his K10D.

    The DPR forum poster said that both his DA* and DA underexposes in the same way at wide angle.

    So, the underexposure problem is reported by both users and is once confirmed, whilst the exact amount could be different (as they have different units and shooting different things).

    Do note that in the sample test shots posted there are a large portion of trees and green leaves which actually should give a brighter overall exposure owing to the low reflectance of the scene. However, it didn't.

  11. Anonymous20/8/07 23:13

    Time to start moderating comments--your site appears to attract a lot of children. Thanks for posting--I never would have seen this otherwise. Hopefully we'll see some more of these useful comparisons, with your insightful and useful commentary.

  12. Anonymous21/8/07 06:44

    Thanks for posting, it would seem in lew of the differences the improvements are not mind blowing enough to warrant a upgrade from an already great lens unless you have the cash to burn. I think i'll wait till they come out with a DA * prime.

  13. Anonymous21/8/07 08:45

    Andrew, I truely feel sorry for anyone who actually uses his "stuff" at more than a cursory opinion. Fine for a browse and then move on but to take it serious??? Sorry, since the CEO of Pentax failed to respond to his "inquiry" he's just not been the same ;)
    BTW: the new lens appears REALLY sharp at f4 and above, more so than any other Pentax zoom to date in this focal length range. But lets downplay this and bash it on a 1/4-1/2 exposure "difference" which may or may not be important to some..
    HOPEFULLY some real tests are done soon.

  14. Andrew, thanks for your kind comments and I shall continue to put my efforts in writing more new articles which I hope can be useful to at least some people.

    As for the moderation of comments, I am trying to take a "let it be" or "leave it alone" approach, that is, I opt to either ignore those comments or to respond if I could still make a sensible response. I do treasure the freedom of speech on the net and hope to maintain a full transparency to all readers here afterall.

    I know that a few other Pentax Blogs, like Ned Bunnell's one, moderate and delete comments and backlinks frequently and there exists a strong filter of censorship. Well, I simply don't want that people have similar impressions on my Blog..

    Nonetheless, as for Ned Bunnell's case, his blog is nearly official (at least it is more than semi-official, IMHO), what can he do and what should he do? His actions taken are highly understoodable, anyway. I feel for him.

  15. > Anonymous said...
    > Sorry, since the CEO of Pentax failed to respond to his "inquiry" he's just not been the same ;)

    So, let's the conspiracy theories continue. People will judge!

    Some people suggest that I have been employed by Canon after actually I spent quite some bucks to pay Canon to buy my Canon 5D kit. Or they claim that I have personal hidden issues with Pentax and wish to make a revenge to Pentax or even that some fanboys always say that I've mental illness myself and so on.. :-)

    All good imaginations there but what I can only tell (again) is nothing is true!

    In fact, my stories with Pentax gear and my contacts with Pentax the company as well have all been told and published in my homepage and blog, without any reservation. There is NO hidden agenda afterall, just believe it or not!

    In the end, I just want to see the best Pentax products and every product from Pentax should be the best and problem free. Indeed, each time I found new problems of the latest Pentax stuff, no matter by myself or have seen solid evidence other Pentax users reported, I did have some disappointments and feel sorry for them.

  16. Anonymous23/8/07 02:11

    Obviously you know nothing about constructive criticism...
    Anyways, you have been "prodding" Pentax to head in your direction (right or wrong) since the release of the original D. You have been banned from 2 forums (right or wrong) for continually APPEARRING to brand bash. You have absolutely no understanding of Pentax matrix metering (nobody knows the nuts and bolts of it except Pentax apparently)except to imply it is not to your liking or WRONG. You've continued to argue that 126 is where the meter should peak, though you were shown numerous times and by true experts that this is not the case. You were shown that Canon "fakes" the iso standards in order to allow their cameras to "meter brighter" yet appear to adhere to the ANSI standard, yet you refuse to acknowledge ANY of this and continue to state that Pentax produces bad metering and not adhering to standards that btw ARE a bit flexable. Read them yourself again AND with an open mind. Now in your defense I agree that some anomolies exist and will be invariably present in products that weren't co-developed, as in all the old glass and designs ect.AND at wide open aperatures w/ fast glass they show themselves a bit more. Probably due to meter placement, light smear at wide aperatures and the focus screen and path. If you spent more of your "time" trying to figure out what was wrong (Mr. Engineer) that just stating what was wrong, I'd probably give you more credit. Pentax also is slightly handicapped by it's own insistence on backward compatability which undoubtly created a few engineering tradeoffs. Wonder how you would feel if Pentax completely threw out all backward compatability and designed a Canon type system. Hang your "beloved" glass in a cabinet or stick to nursing your old film cameras. digital is NOT film and it's requirements are different. Especially in exposure metering. You seem to assume all the engineers at Pentax are morons and have no idea what they are doing.
    Many users have said they see no problems w/ their equipment and you insist that it is THEY who are wrong. Maybe yes, maybe no.

  17. Since you are talking about my homepage and the exposure accuracy of Pentax DSLRs, which I think is not much related to this blog entry, I opt to discuss the issue in my next blog entry, along with some examples, for shots made with the K10D and the K100D, to see if there are really some potential problems, or not.

  18. Anonymous29/8/07 20:11

    Unfortunately, we must say that 16-50 at F/2.8 is far better then 16-45 at F/2.8 :)

  19. I've had the 16-50 for a week now.
    to me the focusing with the K10 is clearly faster than the whirring camshaft drive. While I haven't tried to objectively time it, I"ve taken an instant liking to it.

  20. Robert, I think the silence of the ultrasonic AF motor contributes much for the faster focusing feeling. However, how would you compare if you watch the movement of the distance scale of the focusing ring and will there still be a speed difference that can be noticed?

    Looking forward to your results.. That would be interesting.

  21. As Ned released my this backlink (and a few others as well, which re-appeared) on his page, I withdraw my previous unfavourable statements about him :-) He seems to be an open-minded and nice guy (especiallly considering about his position and role at Pentax).

  22. > Anonymous said...
    > Obviously you know nothing about constructive criticism...
    > If you spent more of your "time" trying to figure out what was wrong (Mr. Engineer) that just stating what was wrong, I'd probably give you more credit.
    > digital is NOT film and it's requirements are different. Especially in exposure metering. You seem to assume all the engineers at Pentax are morons and have no idea what they are doing.
    > Many users have said they see no problems w/ their equipment and you insist that it is THEY who are wrong. Maybe yes, maybe no.

    I'm actually not much interested on who is right and who is wrong and/or if Pentax's engineers are talents or morons which all these are really not that important. Afterall, only one thing counts, it is the final result. If I get an underexposed picture, it is underexposed (which is regardless of film OR digital, which is unimportant again), if the picture is properly exposed, there will be no problem. Enough said and end of the story.

  23. Tank you Ricehigh for the link to the kines-test of the DA*16-50.
    I own a K10d and a Da 16-45 and I am VERY pleased with my camera and lens, (I have taken pictures for more than twenty years now with pentax film bodies ME-super, P1Z) and a I think the pictures from the 16-50 are mutch better than them from the 16-45 and mutch better expossured. BUT that can be a matter of taste, a have Swedish eyes not kineses. (exchuse for my terribli englisch)