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09-21-2007, 01:42 AM   #1
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Pentax prime wides: A 15/3.5 or FA* 24/2 ?

I'm hoping to hear from folks who have used one or both of these lenses. I'm the type of guy who would alter his (budding) technique to make room for top quality glass. If you could only have one of either the Pentax-A 15mm f3.5 or FA* 24mm f2 as your wide angle... which would you choose? FWIW, I've considered and ruled out the A20/2.8. My googling uncovered others had found it was not quite on par with the 15/3.5 and since its not nearly as wide, I ruled it out. Furthermore, the 21/3.2 just doesn't inspire me... what can I say.

The 15 was the widest (full frame (hence no DA14mm)) lens Pentax produced. Its significantly wider than the others in this catagory, obviously a bonus and subjectively, I further appreciate its appearance, build and manual focus. Built in filters... any good? They won't protect the glass, but it seems convenient enough.

On paper, the 24 (cropped to a rather unimpressive 36ish on the K10) seems closer to normal than wide, but images I've seem have made me comment out loud how sharp they seemed. Faster. More versatile certainly, but does it really knock the 15 out of the park as a primary wide angle?

Anyways, I've reached the point in my research that only experience could shed more light, if you please...

09-21-2007, 02:33 AM   #2
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Well, by my own experience (had a K15/3.5 but not A15/3.5), on a dSLR camera the 15/3.5 doesn't work as well as it does on a film body. But the A20/2.8 works quite well, better than the A24/2.8 which is also a great performer on digital SLR cameras (I've used both A20 and A24 too).

Some people (not me) even rate the A24/2.8 higher than the FA24/2 on digital. So I guess your finding (A20/2.8 isn't quite on par with the 15/3.5) might be questionable on digital SLR cameras.

If you want super wide prime lens on a digital SLR camera, probably the DA14 is your only bet
09-21-2007, 03:01 AM   #3
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Have the A15 3.5, It is a killer lens on the LX film camera. Nothing great on the digital body. The 16-45 f4 kills it at 16. Friend has 24 f2 and he thinks his 12-24 is as good if not better. He truly loves primes - as do I.
thanks
barondla
09-21-2007, 09:12 AM   #4
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Interesting. I also enjoy primes... can't really explain it but I don't trust zooms, lol. I did consider the Sigma 12-24 though, as it is FF. Both the Pentax 14 and 12-24 are APS-C sized and I'd rather have the peace of mind of 'future-proof' FF compatible lenses. Thats another argument, but its on the table here.

When you guys mention that the 15 doesn't work as well - how do you mean? Is it simply a case of diminished returns in the ultra wide catagory? Or is it IQ?

09-21-2007, 09:24 AM   #5
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Have had the K15/3.5, FA*24/2 and DA16-45/4. The zoom outperforms both primes for scenery. At close range like portrait, FA*24/2 is still very nice. The 15/3.5 is just hopeless on digital. On film, FA*24/2 is nice stop down for scenery, and the 15/3.5 is okay, but never that specticular. One problem with the 15/3.5 is that you will have a hard time manual focus, even with hyperfocal; whats not in focus will never be even stopped way down (but you will not notice unless for blow up). With this zoom, you can focus at 45mm then zoom out, perfect focus everytime.
09-21-2007, 09:50 AM   #6
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Thanks for your advice Alan, your point on zoom focusing at this focal range is very interesting. Typically, I've composed my shot, taken a DOF preview and pixel peeped to gain that sort of insight, but I hadn't considered doing it via the lens. Then again, I own no zooms... Ironically, your images came up in my research and factored into my consideration of the 15! You made good use of it while you had it anyways.

Its seeming your experiences have all gone South with this lens... I have a few more hours to decide, lol. Given this direction, perhaps I need to reconsider the Sigma 12-24. I know I like the super wide look.

Last edited by thePiRaTE!!; 09-21-2007 at 10:47 AM.
09-21-2007, 05:18 PM   #7
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I have never used the 15/3.5 but I own the 20/2.8 and I find it one of my best lenses, on film as well as on digital. Maybe you should reconsider your judgment on this lens. I have also tried and returned the 16-45/4 because of the ugly cheap-digital-P&S look and omnipresent purple fringing.

I have tried quite a few wide lenses (mostly primes -- I don't like zooms so much -- some very old) on my K10d, and these are the ones I liked the most:
- Super-Takumar 20/4.5 (quite good on K10d, but the FA 20/2.8 is much better; a little sensitive to flare; the borders are not so good on full frame)
- Super-Takumar 24/3.5 (nice lens, a little sensitive to flare; the SMC version should be better regarding flare)
- Tamron Adaptall SP 17/3.5 (sharp enough stopped down to 5.6 but some purple fringing and very sensitive to flare)
- Tamron Adaptall SP 24-48/3.5-3.8 (nice compact lens)
- Tamron Adaptall 24/2.5 (a little soft wide open, maybe mine has a centering defect)
- Sigma 20/1.8 (soft and low contrast wide open, becomes quite good around f/4.0)
- Sigma 24/1.8 (much better than the 20/1.8, even wide open; would be perfect if it weren't huge)
- Pentax FA 24-90/3.5-4.5 (very good all purpose zoom, on digital as well as on film)

As I also have a Canon 1Ds, now I try to focus (sorry, pun intended) on M42 and Tamron Adaptall lenses, because I can use them on the Canon as well as on the K10d. I think you are right about full frame coverage: it's only a matter of time before Pentax produces some full frame DSLR (if it stays afloat long enough). If Pentax fails in this regard, you might want to see what the competitors have to offer

Cheers!
09-21-2007, 05:46 PM   #8
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My current (and one former) wide primes:
Tamron 14/2.8 - Sharp (for an ultra-wide) even to f/2.8. High contrast, sometimes at the price of purple fringing and other CA effects. Edges are distorted on DSLR, becoming awful on film.
FA 20/2.8 - Mine had infinity focus problems, and once I fixed it I sold it. It was sharp as hell, noticeably sharper than the Tamron 14 at all apertures. Still suffered from CA and PF.
FA* 24/2 - Razor blade sharp. Very high contrast. Not a bokeh king at f/2.8 and wider, so you need to be careful of the back/foreground in those situations. (It isn't designed for that, so it isn't a flaw IMO.)
A 24/2.8 - Better for CA and PF than the FA*. Still sharp, but not as much as the FA*. And obviously no auto focus.
Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 24/3.5 - Softer and more CA than the others. I use it for IR work stopped down almost always. Still decent for landscapes, it just won't blow you away.

As always, you can check out Photozone - Klaus does an excellent job reviewing lenses in a controlled environment. Take it with a grain of salt (as you should all lens opinions, even mine) as he sometimes praises sharp lenses even if they stink.

09-21-2007, 05:53 PM   #9
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@ Abbazz - Blasphemy! lol, kidding, thanks for your insights.

Hmmm. . . garsh - I really wanted to hear that the A15 was universally loved and admired, I rather set my heart on one. You know what - I'll hope to hear more of everyones insights and give the whole decision a little more time.

@ Alan - when you say the A15 never really appears focused, is it possible that your copy might have had some minor alignment issue or something?

@ Carpents - Klaus hasn't gotten around to the A15 yet, but I'd gained trust in the Sigma 12-24 as a possible fall-back with his general approval of the lens. I personally am a sharp junkie when it comes to lenses. I like to feel like I could see into a picture and see another picture if you know what I mean. Soft in context is one thing, but soft because a lens can't take a sharp image is not for me...

If I was weighing everyone's opinion into a decision, it certainly feels the table is leaning toward the FA*24 against the A15, but with a heavy dose of maybe neither. Hmm.


K.

Last edited by thePiRaTE!!; 09-21-2007 at 06:00 PM.
09-21-2007, 10:16 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by thePiRaTE!! Quote
@ Alan - when you say the A15 never really appears focused, is it possible that your copy might have had some minor alignment issue or something?
K.
What I mean is that with an super wide like this, focusing will be difficult either AF or MF. Things through the viewfinder have become so tiny they are hard to see even with a 2X viewfinder magnifier. And when the subject is not IN FOCUS, those tiny details will be lost even stopped the aperture down well within the hyperfocal range. I didn't use this lens with my DS extensively, but on film, centre sharpness peaked at f5.6-6.5; wide open sharpness was quite poor by any standard. Light-fall-off never goes away completely even at f22, and IMHO, quite serious until f11. My brief test on the DS convinenced me that this is not the lens to be used on digital even if you are willing to stop down and use tripod, sharpness outside the centre area simply suffers too much. There are really many good digital lenses to choose from now, I honest cannot recommend this lens unless it will be used on film as there is no other alternative. BTW, my copy was service by Pentax Japan.
09-21-2007, 10:39 PM   #11
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Thanks for the clarification Alan. Its at times like these that I really appreciate a medium such as this forum for the insightful exchanges. I feel I am the benefactor of reasoned experience, so thanks all. I might remind you though that your avatar was taken via the K15 ;0) hehe

Seriously though, I believe the next path has reared back and has asked of me - is the Sigma 12-24 worth it? Klaus is ok with it... are you?
09-21-2007, 10:45 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by thePiRaTE!! Quote
Thanks for the clarification Alan. Its at times like these that I really appreciate a medium such as this forum for the insightful exchanges. I feel I am the benefactor of reasoned experience, so thanks all. I might remind you though that your avatar was taken via the K15 ;0) hehe

I almost forgot!!
09-21-2007, 11:28 PM   #13
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Strictly out of curiousity, I waged my current 15mm against an unsuspecting pub tonight and got THIS (dun - dun -dun - DUNNNN!)



In all fairness, I enjoy the fish-eye look, but something a little more rectified would be useful more often.

PS, we can all snicker at Jamie who thought that leaning back would get her out of the picture - nothing escapes the fish-eye! muaaahhhahah.
09-22-2007, 12:02 PM   #14
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I own both lenses that you mention-- the fa*24/2 and the SMCA 15.

They are not comparable. the 24 is as you say on digital a lame wideangle--- sort of like a 35mm on film. --- Yuck. I always preferred a 28 on film.

ON the other hand the SMCA 15 has a big bubble snoot on it precluding the use of front
end filters, and the built in filter assortment isn't very useful. The big snoot makes it totally unsable with the pop up flash, but on the good side it really is a wide angle

The 15 is a superwide of choice---lately on EBAY it has become very expensive.

Where I found the 15 as really the lens of choice was taking pictures at a crowed indoor reception with a film camera. --- I'd take a bounce flash off the ceiling and would get enough dispursion to light the frame, and at the same time not blow anyone's eyes out
10-29-2007, 07:05 PM   #15
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I was fortunate enough to have the rare 1st version Pentax SMC 15/3.5 with ONE aspherical element given to me. It came via Egypt and the UK. The giver had no idea what he had. There were only about 100 made.

It's my favorite lens in my collection. I'm using it on an *ist DL camera with fabulous results. I'm amazed at the hand-held interior photos I've taken without a flash. I'm new to the forum and will post pictures if you want.

OMBRE

Last edited by ombre; 10-29-2007 at 07:59 PM.
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