This lens represents a significant upgrade on the 18-55mm DA kit lens. Infact, I would say they are not really in the same league.
I decided to go for this lens as part of a K30 kit mainly due it’s versatility combined with its weather resistant (WR) capability. What use is a WR lens if you have to swap it out for another one to get the shot? This way I can go walkabout in all climates, have good versatility and be confident my equipment is well protected.
In terms on build quality, the lens feels solid and smooth in use. The zoom control is large and easy to use, although this is somewhat to the detriment of manual focus abilities due to the small MF ring (although I doubt this is the kind of lens you buy if manual focus is your thing!). The lens also benefits from an inbuilt DC motor for auto focus, which I found to be excellent, and results in great AF performance – I think Pentax should consider using this motor in more lenses.
Optically, the lens is surprisingly good. Although it can sometimes get a bad rep, I have found it to be excellent – I think sometimes people place too much weight on contrived artificial lens reviews, which although useful need to be considered in relation to a rounded whole. I’ve not found any major issues with my lens, thought the zoom range. Some example shots:
As you can see I tend to shoot at the latter end of the zoom range!
The only disadvantage I’ve found so far is the speed, or lack thereof. Although this isn’t surprising, given the price and use case.
Overall, compare this lens to something in a similar class /budget and it will fair well to excellent. Anyone trying to compare it to say, a Limited lens, or a 24-70 L is somewhat foolish. Personally, I’m more than pleased with mine and would encourage the extra outlay over the 18-55.