I've spent much too long anguishing about lens quality, pixel peeping and worrying. I've torture tested lenses, taken them back, taken back the replacements, wondered about selling the whole lot, and then fallen in love all over again.
Recently I've kind of decided that it's the primes that really work, and the zooms just aren't really up to it. The 18-135 has taken a back seat - exacerbated by the excoriating photozone review . . . and the fact that some simple brick wall tests bore out their results.
Today I thought I'd just go out and shoot with the 18-135 and try to get the BEST out of it, rather than fighting with it. Nothing cushy, just trying to make the best of it rather than the worst.
The only torment I arranged was to bring the Leica X1, and to do some comparisons for landscape shots around f5.6 at the equivalent focal length - just to get that out of the way, the 18-135 on the K5, at f5.6 and 24mm is just as good as the X1 at f5.6 (independent 'couldn't care less' witness is my lovely wife - she thought the K5 shots looked slightly sharper). As one might expect, the dynamic range is quite a different issue.
The conclusion I came to is that the 18-135 is really a fine walkabout lens - it's not wonderful at 135mm at the edges (but the centre's fine), the wider end really is quite good stopped down . . . actually, it's excellent. There's quite a large curvature of field, which generally speaking works to your benefit for landscape work (where the immediate foreground is likely to be close to you).
Just to really get a measure of things, I also took some shots with the M9 with the 28 'cron. The difference was pretty obvious (but not the difference between a worthwhile shot and not).
Caspar would probably call all this anguising p1ss1ng into the wind:
and he might be right.
Obviously, the primes are a better bet, but the conclusion I've come to is that this nicely made wide ranging zoom is a great lens - it clearly does have some shortcomings, but if you shoot with those in mind, then you really don't have to make too many compromises.
The other conclusion I've come to is that if you really want to find the bad points in lenses - then you will be able to, they all have them. . . . Even if it's just that they're too expensive
ps - for those wondering about 'rape' - the yellow crop is called oil seed rape in the UK - I guess it might be called canola in some places, but I'm not sure.