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07-08-2010, 11:07 AM   #1
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Help me decide on the DA 35mm or another Limited lens

Ok, I'm sure this has never been asked before No, seriously. I've read quite a few reviews and opinions about the DA 35 and some of the other DA limiteds, and I've looked at pictures taken with each of them, both in these forums and elsewhere.

And yet I cannot make my mind, so I'm hoping you guys can help me out. I've been considering getting the DA 35 as it's reasonably small, has a very convenient focal length for a walkaround lens, and the macro capabilities are always nice to have. Judging from the shots I've seen and the reviews/opinions I've read, it seems that the DA 35 excels in those kind of close-up/macro shots.

However, I am not convinced about the sharpness of this lens when used for landscape/architecture shots. From what I read, I got the impression that, yes, it is very sharp, but not quite as much as, say the DA15 or DA40. Am I wrong in thinking this?

Now, I realise that 15mm is a very different focal length, but at this stage my reasoning is: if I'm going to pay for a DA limited, the IQ had better be much better than the 18-55 (for landscape/architecture shots). So, if the DA 35 is not going to immediately wow me in that department, I'd rather go for the more expensive (and compact) DA 15, or even DA 21.

And here's an example of what my expectations would be. I'm shooting the K-x with the 18-55 kit lens and an M 50mm f/1.7. While I quite like the kit zoom, it's pretty obvious that the IQ and color rendition of the prime lens are far superior. Shown below is a photo taken in RAW with the M 50mm 1.7, with default Lightroom 2 pp settings applied, and two 100% crops. Considering the distance from the subject, I find the sharpness and definition in these crops outstanding, but then I might be wrong given my short DSLR experience.

So my real question is: can the DA 35 provide this kind of sharpness in shots like this one, or should I aim for the DA15, DA 21 or even DA 40 instead?

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07-08-2010, 11:09 AM   #2
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I have a total of about 8 lens.

I use the DA 40 like 75% of the time.

Hope this answers your question
07-08-2010, 11:34 AM   #3
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The DA21 is not really a step up from the DA35 in sharpness by any accounts I've heard.
07-08-2010, 11:38 AM   #4

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QuoteOriginally posted by Fer Quote

So my real question is: can the DA 35 provide this kind of sharpness in shots like this one, or should I aim for the DA15, DA 21 or even DA 40 instead?
I don't think you need to worry about sharpness with the DA 35. All the limited lenses are plenty sharp, and constitute a significant improvement over the 18-55. There's a review somewhere online of the DA 35 that calls the lens an "optical paragon" and found that it was better than a Zeiss lens they compared it to. So there's every reason to believe the DA 35 can hold its own against the other limiteds. And be careful not to read too much into MTF tests. They give, at best, only a general and by no means infallible measurement of the sharpness of a lens.

The fact of the matter is, you can't go wrong with any of the limiteds. Just get the one with the focal range that best fits your needs and you'll probably be very happy with it.

07-08-2010, 11:41 AM   #5
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For architecture/landscape, the FOV at 35 is too narrow. Get the 15 as thst is a big function of a WA to begin with. But understand that WA, especially at open aperture is going to be softer near the edges for any lens.

But sharp is sharp. The DA 35 macro (like most macros) have excellent resolution for what is effectively a wide macro. That is what makes the lens so awesome. The DA 35 with its near "normal" FOV and all-around versatility is also eye-cutting sharp. I own 3 macros and they are the sharp champs.
07-08-2010, 12:02 PM   #6
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For architecture, definitely a wider angle lens is going to serve better than a normal. I really debate the old saw about wides being for landscapes, but I don't define landscape photography so much by wide open vistas as a lot of people.
As far as sharpness goes, perhaps the 15 is sharper than the 21, perhaps the 35 is sharper than both, and perhaps the 40 is the best of the lot.
I don't know. All four are very sharp lenses, I haven't seen enough difference in sharpness between them to make a call (I have all of them).
Since you have the bases between 18 and 55 covered by your kit lens, and you seem to be leaning towards the type of shot that is best served by a wide angle, and not so well served by zoom lenses, I'd consider the 15mm lens. It's outside of what you have now, and is a fine optic.
07-08-2010, 12:26 PM   #7

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The DA 40 is the sharpest in my lens collection (I've never tried the DA 35 macro, however).
07-08-2010, 12:40 PM   #8
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Faced with the same decision I went with the 40. It's as sharp as everyone says. But I picked it because I was trying to decide between the two and B&H had the 35 for $599 and the 40 for $339. I would have to keep saving for the 35 but could oder the 40 with my PayPal balance at the time. No regrets whatsoever!
I now shoot with the 40 the majority of the time (and the 15 much of the rest of the time). If I want to shoot macro I use a Vivitar P/K-A R-P/K with the 40 on the end of it which makes a pretty good 80mm Macro.

07-08-2010, 01:01 PM   #9
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It's the only lens I've used for the last 7 months or so, so I must like it!!

I shoot quite a bit of architecture with it, much of which you can see in the New York Canals section of my Flickr page (link below). That entire section was shot with it, as was the entire Automobile section.

Here's an example, although it's pretty small and somewhat hard to judge from. Trust me when I say that when printed at 11"x17" every brick is beautifully sharp all the way to the edges and corners.

Personally, I think it's an outstanding lens for architecture, and 35MM on the K7 (slightly wider than normal) is "just right" for me.
07-08-2010, 02:08 PM   #10
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I agonized over this for quite a while and went with a slightly used 35 and have not regretted it. I mainly shoot landscapes but do not like too much foreground so the focal length is ideal for me, having said that I have my eye on the 15 for a future purchase. The macro function is also very handy. There are some landscape shots posted in the "DA limited club" thread and also the "DA35 best lens of all time?" thread.
Good luck.
07-08-2010, 02:14 PM   #11
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In the FWIW department (since every lens is different and every one's opinion likewise ), my DA35 was a sharper lens than my DA15 by just a tad - it's a fact of WA lenses

But the DA15 is the best thing since sliced bread for architecture shots, holy moly. My DA15 is on my camera 90% of the time - for me the focal length is perfect for daily shooting. I found the DA35 too narrow, but of course that's up to such individual preference only you can make that determination

You won't go wrong with any of the Ltd. lenses - they will totally blow you away.

(and before you make up your mind, you should look at the massive jsherman mind control 15mm thread - stunning images for 48 pages


07-08-2010, 02:23 PM   #12
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The thing with Limited lenses, is you want to get them all eventually. I started out with the DA40 then added the DA 21 a few months later, and this past week I bought the DA 70. It's an addiction.

Since you have the 18-55mm, and a fast 50mm, maybe you should go for the ultra wide 15mm. It's a focal length that you don't have, and its a lens that has been getting constant praise. Or get the 35mm for macro capabilities, good reviews, and a standard "normal" (in APS-C). The DA 40 is a compact, speedy focuser, but may be too close in focal length to the 50 you already have. I use the DA 21 a lot, and it's good lens, but for what you already have, I would put the DA15 or DA35 before it.
07-08-2010, 03:11 PM   #13
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Original Poster
Thanks guys for the really informative replies and examples, it is much appreciated. This has certainly put my mind at rest about the DA 35 sharpness compared to the other Limiteds.

The choice of focal length is another matter. I have a feeling that both the DA 40 and DA 35 might be a little too long for my tastes, but each could potentially make up for it through the macro capability (DA 35) and the ever so slightly edge in terms of IQ (DA 40).

As some of you suggest, the DA 15 could be the best choice, particularly for architectural shots, but not just that. I have been watching the thread you mention, Ecaterina, and this lens really does look like something special, with the added bonus of being wider than the focal lengths I now have. The DA21 does not sound like the most interesting proposition, as everything it offers seems to be achievable by cropping the DA 15 shots.

Then there's the question of price. At least here in Spain, both the DA35 and DA40 go for 450-500, the DA 21 sets you back just about 600, and the DA 15 is by far the most expensive at over 700. At this stage I'm not sure if I want to spend that much on a single lens, so all things considered, the choice for me seems to be between the DA 35 and the DA 40.

I'll likely keep agonising over this for a little longer (at least until the WC final on Sunday ), but I'll let you guys know how it ends.

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