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The Best Pentax SLR Lenses of 2018

The Road Less Traveled

It’s true that most photographers looking to buy an SLR go with a Canon or a Nikon camera[1]. But, despite their market share, the big two aren’t the only game in town. The Pentax brand has been around for a long time, and if you learned photography in the 70s or 80s, you probably picked up the classic manual focus K1000 SLR at some point in time.

In the digital world Pentax SLRs set themselves apart from the competition by concentrating on build quality rather than bells and whistles. Even the budget-friendly K-70 has a glass pentaprism viewfinder and extensive weather sealing–features that are only available in bodies priced over £1,000 if you are shopping for a Canon or Nikon SLR. But the company is a little behind the times in some other areas, including video capture, and has been slow to add Wi-Fi to its camera line.[2]

But if you’re more interested in pure photography and not enticed by bells and whistles, a Pentax SLR might make a lot sense. Add in the fact that the company is strong in terms of backward compatibility (those manual focus lenses from the 70s work on modern digital bodies just fine) and builds shake reduction into the body so that every lens is stabilized, and you have an appealing platform. Most Pentax SLRs use the APS-C sensor size, the same as you’ll find in entry-level models from Nikon and Canon.

There is one full-frame model available, the 36MP K-1. You can use APS-C lenses with it–we’ve tested some and found that a few cover the whole sensor and are decent performers–but for best results look for lenses marked as FA or D FA if you shoot with the K-1.[3] Pentax doesn’t have the sheer number of lenses available as you’ll get with one of the more popular systems, but the selection is still pretty extensive, and includes an excellent series of compact prime lenses.

It’s missing some of the more esoteric options, like tilt-shift lenses, autofocusing f/1.2 primes, and really long telephoto glass. Third-party lenses fill some of those gaps, although lens makers like Sigma and Tamron haven’t been making newer lenses for Pentax. There are pluses and minuses with every system.

But if you’re looking for a solid APS-C SLR on a budget, the K-70 is a solid value option, even thought its video capabilities lag behind other systems. But if stills are your priority, you can pair it with any of the lenses in this roundup for image quality that’s just as good–and in some cases better–than what you’ll get from more popular systems. If you’re in the market for a new SLR body you can peruse the Best SLRs[4] we’ve tested.

And all of the cameras and lenses we’ve reviewed can be found in our Digital Cameras Product Guide[5].

References

  1. ^ camera (www.pcmag.com)
  2. ^ K-70 (www.pcmag.com)
  3. ^ K-1 (www.pcmag.com)
  4. ^ Best SLRs (www.pcmag.com)
  5. ^ Digital Cameras Product Guide (www.pcmag.com)

The Best Nikon SLR Lenses of 2018

Great Cameras Deserve Great Lenses

The image quality of recent Nikon SLR cameras[1] is very strong, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re using a quality lens[2]. This advice applies both to affordable models with 24MP resolution right up to the full-frame D850[3] and its monster 46.5MP sensor. Luckily, Nikon owners have access to a wealth of excellent options, ranging from the Nikkor glass made by Nikon itself, to third-party options from the likes of Sigma, Tamron, and Zeiss.

First-time SLR owners are advised to consider an upgrade from the 18-55mm[4] Nikkor that’s bundled with the D3400[5] and D5600[6]. It’s a decent starter lens, but it limits the image quality and versatility that an SLR can provide. For those users we recommend going third-party, either with the Sigma 18-35mm (if you value a wide aperture) or 17-70mm (if zoom range is paramount).

Another popular choice is to supplement a wide zoom with a prime lens–the Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G is a fine choice if that’s the path you want to take. The two Sigma zooms listed here only cover the APS-C image sensor used by DX Nikon models, but they can be used on a full-frame (FX) body, they just won’t use the entirety of the image sensor.

High-End Glass

We’ve also highlighted an excellent macro lens, the AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED–one of the best we’ve tested for any system. A handful of strong telephoto options can bring distant subjects into close view.

And if you want to capture the world in an ultra-wide perspective, Nikon offers the excellent 16-35mm zoom for full-frame models. Pros will want a pair of zooms, the 24-70mm and 70-200mm f/2.8. Thankfully Nikon’s latest entries are both top performers.

If you need longer reach, Sigma’s affordable 150-600mm Contemporary is our favorite affordable wildlife lens, but you can also opt to pack light and go with the sharper, lighter Nikon 300mm f/4–it’ll work with a teleconverter if you need more reach. And portrait specialists should look at the 105mm f/1.4E ED[7]. We didn’t have room in our top ten to include it, but it’s a one-of-a-kind lens that delivers crisp images with a razor thin depth of field.

These are just the tip of the iceberg in Nikon’s vast lens catalog.

If you want to see all of the lenses (and cameras) we’ve reviewed, check out our Digital Cameras Product Guide.

We’ve also rounded up the Best SLRs if you think it’s time to upgrade to a new body.[8][9]

Featured Nikon SLR Lens Reviews:

References

  1. ^ cameras (www.pcmag.com)
  2. ^ lens (www.pcmag.com)
  3. ^ D850 (www.pcmag.com)
  4. ^ 18-55mm (www.pcmag.com)
  5. ^ D3400 (www.pcmag.com)
  6. ^ D5600 (www.pcmag.com)
  7. ^ 105mm f/1.4E ED (www.pcmag.com)
  8. ^ Digital Cameras Product Guide (www.pcmag.com)
  9. ^ Best SLRs (www.pcmag.com)

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