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11-13-2010, 07:07 PM   #1
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LBA Relapse - (U)WAs

So with my current lens lineup, up till recently I've been pretty happy. The DA40 for when I need to get something done, no matter what - its AF and IQ have been infallible to me; it's like the old reliable lens, without the old part. The FA50/1.7 for when I want the DoF or need the speed, the D-FA100 WR for macros and tele/portraits, and the M200 for when I really need range. And then there's the kit, for the 1/million times when I want to use a wide angle.


Well, I hadn't used much wides till now, but just a few test shots of playing around at 18mm have me hooked. The problem is, after having been spoiled with these great lenses, the kit lens at 18mm is unbearably soft, and so LBA has pounced.

The problem is, $500 is quite a pretty penny for me - but I want that damn DA15 rather badly, and have been saving up for it for a while.

And here comes the DA16-45. Against the 15, it has zoom (which also lets me play around with that zoom-in-mid-shot effect which seems pretty cool; I have an otherwise prime set up), cost, availability (by this I mean in a rare moment of fortune, its cost in a local store is the same as the cost from B&H, usually local in-store costs are ~$100+ more than B&H's).

According to many a review website, its sharpness is great throughout the range, and some experience CAs at the wide end, some don't. Out of 4 review sites, 2 of them show negligible distortion, and 2 of them show (relatively) heavy distortion, at 16mm. Some example shots I'v seen show flare, and some don't.

So, I'm wondering to those people who have one or both of the two, which should I get? And in particular, how heavy/noticeable is the 16-45's distortion at 16mm, as well as its CA at that focal length? Also, how flare prone is it?

About three factors are keeping me from jumping onto the 16-45 right now
-uncertainty about the prominence of its distortion/CA at wide angle
-size of the DA15
-unique flare resistance of the DA15

if the first and last of those 3 are reasonably matched by the 16-45, I think I might forgive its larger (compared to my DA40, HUGE!) size and just go for it instead of waiting for the DA15.

That said, if I do get a 16-45, I'll have to sell my DA40 and get a DA70 to get rid of too much overlap...

11-13-2010, 07:40 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by jaieger Quote
That said, if I do get a 16-45, I'll have to sell my DA40
Don't do this. The 16-45 is a good lens but you will miss the DA 40 dearly, unless you really need the cash.

Unfortunately wide angles on ASP-C are expensive. There's not much in the way of a cheaper than 500 dollar solution - even the old 20mm lenses go for 300 or 400, and they are manual. Granted, the hold up well, but for an extra 100 the modern lenses seem like a logical upgrade.

The 16-45, like any zoom, will have more barrel distortion than the DA 15. It will also have more flares (due to the increased number of elements involved). There is really no getting around that. I'm not sure how the 16-45 stacks up against other zooms, but if you are going to compare it to a prime... forget it. The prime wins. I would suspect that the DA 15 would also be much sharper than the 16-45 at 16mm.

Now the 16-45 is a step up from the kit, runs you less than the DA 15, and covers a lot of other moderate-wide angles as well, so it's not a bad buy. If you want pure IQ, I don't think you can beat the DA 15, DA 14, or DA 12-24 in wide-angle land, but the 16-45 isn't a bad lens by any means and it would cover the DA 21 limited and DA 35 focal lengths as well... but don't sell that 40. You would regret that.
11-13-2010, 08:33 PM   #3
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I wonder too how much better the da 15mm is compared to the 16-45mm at 16mm. (Passed through DxO, the images produced by the 16-45mm are nothing short of spectacular.)
11-13-2010, 08:42 PM   #4
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@Paperbag - Haha! I know what you mean by regretting selling the DA40, I definitely would! I would still sell it if I went that route, but only to fund my repurchase of it - in another incarnation, one that rhymes with reventy/rwoo point ror. As to the IQ stuff, that is true, but MTF charts (I know, I know, measurebating is a sin) puts the 16-45 sharper than the 15 wide open at 16mm. This is just photozone's that I'm talking about though, I don't know about other sites' charts.

@Causey - do you have a 16-45? if so, do you ever find yourself wishing (while viewing at 100%) for increased sharpness/less distortion? And, how does DxO differ from LR3 or ACR in terms of PPing?

11-13-2010, 09:42 PM   #5
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I guess I have it... The 16-45mm has rather soft borders at 16mm wide open. At f5.6 it's much better; at f8 I'm fine with the borders. As I said, the DxO makes its images simply superb--two days ago I posted two series of pics I took in Paris last summer; you can check them out. Even so, in some wide angle landscapes taken at f8 I discovered some border softness--however, I suppose in those cases it's just bad focusing (that is, I focused too closely, and the remote background appears blurrier, and more so towards the margins, which is normal). I haven't used the 16-45mm enough to make the best of it. Another, less plausible, hypothesis is that the border softness in the landscapes I talked about has to do with the lens' coatings and their perhaps weaker resistance to harsher light.

Distortion, if maybe not negligible, isn't bothersome. (And DxO automatically corrects it.)

This being said, all lenses have their quirks and weaknesses. For me, the cost factor, the 16mm, the general quality of the zoom, combined with the fact that the DxO now supports it makes it the best zoom in its range. I doubt that the da 15mm would be sharper than the DxO-ed 16-45mm at 16mm, but I'd like to be contradicted. The 12-24mm, on the other hand... But no money for it.

UPDATE: forgot to mention that my 'softness' talk referred to pics seen full sized. And when talking about the landscapes taken at f8, I should have probably said 'extreme border' rather than 'border'.

Last edited by causey; 11-14-2010 at 06:51 AM.
11-13-2010, 10:02 PM   #6
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I've been very happy with the 16-45, its resolution on my K-7 has that fabled 3-D look. And yet, I just won an auction bid for a Sigma 14mm f/3.5, quite small and light for what it can do. It just arrived today so only a few shots: it vignettes a bit even on APSc, that's a surprise.. more tests needed, but I paid a relative pittance for it. I had the Tamron SP 14 in my Alpha days, way too heavy for me to stick in a bag very often; this one's MF but with that depth of field who cares? So the 14 will tag along some days, but the 16-45 does most of the work. I haven't torture tested it to comment on corners or fringing, but I cannot afford to dislike this lens - so I probably won't do those sorts of tests. At times, ignorance really is bliss..

ps regarding 40mm regrets: I sold my M40/2.8 2 years ago after leaving it in my closet for 10 years. I thought I'd be forever an Alpha shooter
11-13-2010, 10:30 PM   #7
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The 16-45 was my very first lens, bought as the kit lens with a k20d so I have a lot of miles on that guy. I too have UW LBA but keep not making a move. I rented a da15 a couple months ago just to test against my 16-45. I loved every shot the da15 made and for normal viewing the shots did not require any distortion correction. The 16-45 is a helluva bargain for the quality and like the da15 you can get really close to the subject. However the the 16-45 does require some barrel correction at 16mm. its easy to do manually in Elements and does not jump out unless those buildings you shoot are on the edge of the frame. Now that I have a K5 that can automagically correct the distortion for pentax lenses (given the time after each shot) I am trying to find enough IQ difference in the two so I can buy the da15 or move on and rent the da12-24.......or just stick with the 16-45 since I normally shoot landscape panoramics at 20mm anyway. But that last option does not satisfy LBA.
11-14-2010, 12:06 AM   #8
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@Causey - forgive my confusion, but what exactly is the program DxO? I've heard of DxOmark and such, but only heard mentions of DxO optic. What "DxO-ing" a lens do, exactly? Is it a program that just auto-corrects for lens defects or is it a full-on workflow program parallel to lightroom or ACR?

@jimr - really, 3D rendition eh? +1 for the 16-45, though there've been a few shots I've seen wit the 15 that could fall under that too.

@imtheguy - just wondering, how does in-camera correction (I have the k-x but I'm guessing the correction functions aren't that different, if at all, between the bodies that have it?) compare to corrections made after the fact, on a computer? In ACR/lightroom, correcting barrel distortion involves "pinching" in a picture, which leaves blank, picture-less areas at the sides. Does in-camera correction produce this as well?

11-14-2010, 06:36 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by jaieger Quote
@Causey - forgive my confusion, but what exactly is the program DxO? I've heard of DxOmark and such, but only heard mentions of DxO optic. What "DxO-ing" a lens do, exactly? Is it a program that just auto-corrects for lens defects or is it a full-on workflow program parallel to lightroom or ACR?
It's a software that does automatic corrections (vignetting, distortion) and automatically increases sharpness by taking into account the characteristics of specific lenses. It does a particularly good job with supported modules consisting of a camera body + lens. K-x and the 16-45mm have been recently added to the list of supported bodies and lenses. It also supports the 12-24mm; unfortunately, not the Sigma 10-20mm, nor the DA 15mm. Find it here:
DxO Labs - Home
11-14-2010, 06:39 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by imtheguy Quote
The 16-45 was my very first lens, bought as the kit lens with a k20d so I have a lot of miles on that guy. I too have UW LBA but keep not making a move. I rented a da15 a couple months ago just to test against my 16-45. I loved every shot the da15 made and for normal viewing the shots did not require any distortion correction. The 16-45 is a helluva bargain for the quality and like the da15 you can get really close to the subject. However the the 16-45 does require some barrel correction at 16mm. its easy to do manually in Elements and does not jump out unless those buildings you shoot are on the edge of the frame. Now that I have a K5 that can automagically correct the distortion for pentax lenses (given the time after each shot) I am trying to find enough IQ difference in the two so I can buy the da15 or move on and rent the da12-24.......or just stick with the 16-45 since I normally shoot landscape panoramics at 20mm anyway. But that last option does not satisfy LBA.
In case you rent the 12-24mm, let us know whether the raving rumors about it are true With zooms, especially with such a wide zoom, my worry concerns misalignment of elements leading to some degree of decentering. I've come to suspect that even my 16-45mm is a bit decentered, and I was wondering whether to send it to Pentax customer service, since it's on warranty. The DA 15mm seems to be more solid and durable than 12-24, let alone the 16-45. Anyway, for me the moment of an actual decision hasn't come yet, but I know it will...
11-14-2010, 09:37 AM   #11
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The only way I could... and did make my decision is strictly based on results. I care not about popularity, trends, brand names or anything else. For me the Sigma 10-20 is it. Granted the only other UWA I've tried and own is the DA15, but there is plenty of evidence (samples) around here to support the case for each lens.
11-14-2010, 09:44 AM   #12
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Oh, btw... somebody recently posted an identical shot taken with both the DA15 and the 16-45. I wish I could direct you to that post - IMO there wasn't much, if any discernable difference between the two samples.
11-14-2010, 03:44 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by JHD Quote
Oh, btw... somebody recently posted an identical shot taken with both the DA15 and the 16-45. I wish I could direct you to that post - IMO there wasn't much, if any discernable difference between the two samples.
Going from photozone, it really looks like the major differences between the lenses will be CA's (less with the DA 15) and some minor barrel distortion (in fact, it's a difference of 0.5%). I'm not so good at this myself, but I hear it is relatively easy to get rid of the CA.

In the end, the flexibility and cost of the DA 16-45 look to make it a very good deal. The DA 15's real pluses look to be flare resistance and size.

If you are good at getting rid of the CA, the 16-45 looks like quite a nice lens. I saw one recently, used, for only 325 dollars. Much better deal than the DA 15 in Canada.
11-14-2010, 03:51 PM   #14
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A used copy of 16-45mm goes for around US $250 here on PF.

Last edited by causey; 11-14-2010 at 04:02 PM.
11-14-2010, 04:03 PM   #15
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The DA 16-45 f4 probably has one of the best bang/buck ratios of any zoom I've shot - for $250 used or so, you can get a contrasty, sharp zoom with a very useful focal length range. I loved my copy, but the DA 15 is smaller, sharper, handles flare better, and has less distortion.

That being said, note that you're comparing the 16-45 to a prime lens - and it's not really far behind in those attributes, either. It's a nice piece of kit. But I'll always recommend the DA 15ltd over it.

Here's a link to a head-head comparison I did a while back:

---> DA 16-45 vs DA 15ltd


Two threads with thoughts & shots on each:

---> I don't need a DA 15ltd!

---> I no longer call the shots here. (Post mind-control... 15ltd)


.
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