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02-27-2011, 04:56 PM   #31
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As you can see from my signature, I don't have many lenses, but I used both zooms and primes with my Prakticas.

I had a Prakticar 50mm f1.8 and a Sigma 35-200 zoom (f4/5.6 from memory). I loved the zoom as it was wider and longer then my 50mm, but of course the 50mm went back on whenever I was indoors.

The zoom was big though - huge by modern standards. The quality was fine in isolation, but compared to my dad's Tamron zooms (28-80 and 80-210) it was soft all over. In the end I traded it and some cash for a Prakticar 28mm f2.8 and a Carl Zeiss Pentacon 135mm f2.8.

The primes made me feel like a proper photographer, and in the days of film when you couldn't change ISO at the turn of a dial, the extra few stops over the Sigma were great. The 135mm was a great lens - really solid and optically leaps and bounds ahead of the Sigma. The 28mm got a loose rear element, so you used to get occasional shots with a very odd depth of field.

Anyway - I'm not sure what my point is. Probably that even with that old Sigma zoom, I was happy enough with my pictures - I knew it wasn't as good as my dad's Tamron, but it was good enough for my purposes. I took my photography more seriously when I had the primes, but I don't know if I was a better photographer. The extra DOF control and speed was useful though.

What would have improved my photography no end in those days would have been for it to be effectively free to take a picture - if I had a time machine one of the first things I do after winning the lottery a few times, would be to give my young self my K-7.

So, in sleep-deprived and rambling summary - forget what lens you have, go take pictures. That's the fun bit, and it's also the bit that makes your pictures better.

02-27-2011, 05:04 PM   #32
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I wonder about you guys saying you are more creative with a prime. If you have a zoom, you can still pick the focal length you think suits the shot, mess around all you want, then change focal lengths and do it again. The difference between primes and zooms is, with zooms, you don't have to take the lens off the camera to do that. As for lens quality, the only Pentax prime in it's range that has a chance of out performing the 60-250 in it's range would be the 77 1.8. The 200mm isn't close. At least that's what the numbers on photozone say. I agree different lenses have different characteristics and that there's more than image resolution to a lens. But I'd suggest that primes have no intrinsic advantage in that regard.

I'm getting really tired of people attributing things to primes that may also be true of zooms, like good bokeh, unique color etc. This argument is 30 years out of date. That's how long ago pop photography picked the best 10 lenses of all time and 3 of them were zooms. In the infancy of zooms there were a lot of issues. But as I said, it's been 30 years since the prejudice some seem to have against them has been deserved. As for forcing yourself into creative shots, have a bit of discipline for grief sake. Just because you have the range, doesn't mean you have to use it. This sounds way to much like people saying they can't handle too many choices. They want their lack of choice to create a sense of need to explore. You should have a need to explore no matter what lens you're working with. Having a zoom is no excuse for not making the most of what's in front of you.

That being said, my 90 Tamron macro is my favorite lens right now. And on today's outing, my favourite picture came from a cheap 70-300 Sigma zoom ( no DG, no APO). ( my wife had the 90). It was softer than the 60-250, but I think the Sigma image the looked better. In the end, if you do an honest comparison, you'll see all these things are relative. Sharpness isn't appropriate for every shot.

Today my subject was 3 feet away. For a shot at distance, I wouldn't even take the Sigma out of the bag. I have a number of pictures from before I got the DA 60-250 that would have been pictures I could sell, if that lens could perform at distance.

The trick is to know what every lens in your bag is good for, and to keep your bag as light as possible all the time. Trying to come up with generalities like "zooms aren't as sharp" or "zooms are worse for CA", that's mis-information. You may be able to come up with some examples that make your case, but it's propaganda. In almost every case you can make the same argument going the other way if that's your preference. Stop talking about what lenses can't do, no lens is good at everything and tell us what their strengths are. That is information we can uses. Your prejudices about primes and zooms just confuse the issue.

At it's closest focusing point and at F5.6 for wildlife (in this case birds) the 60-250 is too sharp for my liking. I prefer the image form my 5 year old Sigma 70-300. That's not an argument that over all the Sigma is the better lens. Although if I was feeling really argumentative, I could certainly argue that, and post pictures to support my argument.
02-27-2011, 05:06 PM   #33
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...and on the flip side

QuoteOriginally posted by JHD Quote
But they come at the cost off having only one focal length.
That's not a cost; it's a potential advantage.

QuoteOriginally posted by JHD Quote
The fact is you can't always zoom in (or out) with your feet and if you can, buy then you may have lost the shot.
I never lose a shot. Yes, there are some potential photos I do not take, but life moves on and I move with life. The world has never once taken a shot from me. I simply don't see things that way.

QuoteOriginally posted by JHD Quote
And unless we're talking about pancake primes, the size difference hardly matters.
The FA77 Limited weighs 270g compared to the DA* 50-135mm at 765g. The former is 70mm long with hood extended. The zoom is about 210mm with the hood. So the zoom is almost three times longer and heavier. Both take nice pictures -- though the zoom could never beat the Limited for rendering, it acquits itself well.

But the Limited I have with me every day, on the camera in a small shoulder bag no-one ever notices. You know, so I don't "miss" any shots. The zoom (if I owned it) would stay in my portrait studio (if I had one).

QuoteOriginally posted by JHD Quote
The fact is in the real world of taking pictures and not looking at numbers, I cannot for the life discern with my own eyes any appreciable difference with shots taken by those two lenses.
Well, then you made the right decision. I think you're getting the hang of this.

QuoteOriginally posted by JHD Quote
The DA15 is ridiculously overrated - largely due to the novelty of shooting the sun - which gets old real fast.
Oops, I spoke too soon. Arrogance has reared its ugly head again.

Admit that others have different purposes and priorities than you and that they can appreciate features in the lenses that you can't. Then you start on the road to actually learning something.
02-27-2011, 05:26 PM   #34
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
I wonder about you guys saying you are more creative with a prime. If you have a zoom, you can still pick the focal length you think suits the shot, mess around all you want, then change focal lengths and do it again.
The difference is that there is no messing. If you don't "get it" that's fine; it is not an approach for everyone. But a different aesthetic develops by looking at the world through one focal length. Which is why many of the greatest photographers did exactly that. Eventually you get to the point where you can see shots framed before you put the camera up to your eye. That is an enormous advantage for street shooting (to give one example).

The other significant advantages with a small prime: my arms don't get as tired, I can carry my gear to places I'd never get with a zoom, my lens is less likely to scare people and put them on their guard, in crowded scenes I am less likely to be an obstruction or get my camera knocked. That's five more reasons I am more creative. It's about reducing distractions.

QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
As for lens quality, the only Pentax prime in it's range that has a chance of out performing the 60-250 in it's range would be the 77 1.8.
Good thing I shoot with the better of the two then. But seriously, the DA* 60-250 is a great lens for people who want to carry around a Can(n)on. I have never had the joy of using it, but the pictures speak for themselves.

QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
At least that's what the numbers on photozone say. I agree different lenses have different characteristics and that there's more than image resolution to a lens. But I'd suggest that primes have no intrinsic advantage in that regard.
What? Based on numbers? But the numbers do not show you why the FA77 is the superior lens. The numbers do not capture the rendering.

QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
You should have a need to explore no matter what lens you're working with. Having a zoom is no excuse for not making the most of what's in front of you.
Totally right.

QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Trying to come up with generalities like "zooms aren't as sharp" or "zooms are worse for CA", that's mis-information. You may be able to come up with some examples that make your case, but it's propaganda.
Read all the posts again and you'll see no such irrational generalisations. It's only the zoom supporters getting irate. Not sure why.

QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Although if I was feeling really argumentative, I could certainly argue that, and post pictures to support my argument.
What, this is you not argumentative?

02-27-2011, 05:29 PM   #35
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Oh yeah, I heartily recommend the DA 16-45mm as an excellent standard zoom and a perfect landscape lens, as it's sharp corner to corner. But I never use mine any more, maybe because I have the FA43 Limited.

I also recommend the DA 55-300mm as amazing value for money in the tele range. I use mine about twice a year.

Thirdly, the DA 12-24mm is the best wide angle zoom you can get for Pentax. I take mine with me every time I go on holiday, for street scenes and interiors. It's the only zoom I use (semi-) regularly since it covers a focal range that is simply impractical to cover with primes.

OK, time to go back to work.
02-27-2011, 06:18 PM   #36
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
I wonder about you guys saying you are more creative with a prime. If you have a zoom, you can still pick the focal length you think suits the shot, mess around all you want, then change focal lengths and do it again.
I feel that you can be creative with any type of equipment, zooms or primes. I only feel that with prime lens, it is more FOCUS.
02-27-2011, 06:39 PM - 2 Likes   #37
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Anything you attach to your camera in front of the sensor is a compromise, as no lens can do everything well. I think this debate of zoom vs. prime is largely pointless, and really comes down to what an individual's priorities are. +1 to anyone who's already stated that you can take a good photo with any lens you want. +1 to anyone who says that there are outstanding optical performers in both the zoom and prime worlds. The very best zooms are probably going to perform at a level equal to or greater than all but the very best primes, at least in terms of route, easily quantifiable metrics.

To me the 'debate' really comes down to value and portability. Many will argue for instance, that the DA* 50-135 is a prime killer. It's not a cheap lens, but you'd probably be paying more for a set of primes that match its quality at a variety of focal lengths (50, 77, 100, 135). And if you wanted access to all those focal lengths with your prime kit on any particular outing, you'd probably be carrying more bulk AND weight than just the zoom, AND have to worry about switching lenses on the fly.

On the other hand, if you know what FL you want to shoot, you have the option to go out with a single (or couple) small prime lenses. You can't ever make the zoom smaller and less obtrusive than it is all the time. I think there is some merit in 'seeing the world through a particular focal length', but certainly not enough to deride dependence on/preference for zooms as limiting creativity. There have been plenty of times when I've looked through my 35/2.8 and wished it had the flexibility of a zoom because there was the perfect shot I could visualize with +/- 10mm of focal length.

I shoot with primes because they're small and yes, I don't like being overwhelmed by the range of choices presented with a zoom. I am simple minded behind the viewfinder, and perhaps having too many choices is, indeed, 'distracting' for me. Likewise, for this reason I'm unlikely to carry more than two lenses with me on any outing, and most of the time I get so honed into the FL of the lens that I started with on my camera that I won't swap the lenses at all! But that's just me, and I don't think the argument that primes invariably produce better image quality than zooms really stands up to testing. Certainly if your photographic preferences or needs required you to switch between focal lengths rapidly and fluidly, there'd be no reason not to go with zooms.

So really, what are your priorities?
02-27-2011, 06:59 PM   #38
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I found this discussion quite useful. I was leaning towards a da 15mm for my next lens, but now I am pretty much sold on a DA 16-45mm.

I think we can all be glad that there are so many different high quality lenses for us to chose from, regardless of their style. We win!

02-27-2011, 08:07 PM   #39
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QuoteOriginally posted by Metalwizards Quote
I found this discussion quite useful. I was leaning towards a da 15mm for my next lens, but now I am pretty much sold on a DA 16-45mm.
Good choice. Photography can get very expensive, especially when you start buying lenses, unless you really want to spend thousands of dollars on glass. The vast majority of folks here are not professional photographers, but you'd never know it by the way they talk. So be careful when listening to the pro wannabes or you'll end up spending a poop load very quickly. The best way to approach this hobby is with some restraint and budget of how much money you're willing to put into it. Then think about your goals and what tools / lenses you need.

In every hobby there are value packed high performance alternatives that seem to defy the law of diminishing returns. The DA16-45 is such a product. Donít let anyone have you believe otherwise.
02-27-2011, 08:27 PM   #40
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QuoteOriginally posted by JHD Quote
Good choice. Photography can get very expensive, especially when you start buying lenses, unless you really want to spend thousands of dollars on glass. The vast majority of folks here are not professional photographers, but you'd never know it by the way they talk. So be careful when listening to the pro wannabes or you'll end up spending a poop load very quickly. The best way to approach this hobby is with some restraint and budget of how much money you're willing to put into it. Then think about your goals and what tools / lenses you need.

In every hobby there are value packed high performance alternatives that seem to defy the law of diminishing returns. The DA16-45 is such a product. Donít let anyone have you believe otherwise.
JHD and I rarely agree on anything (at least on SDM related issues), but I agree with him 100% regarding the 16-45. Excellent value and it's right on the sweet spot before the law of diminishing returns kicks in. You can usually find them used for around $250, and you don't have to worry about SDM failures

In the interest of full disclosure, despite having a ton of glass, I am not a pro, nor a pro wannabe... just someone with very little restraint when it comes to trying new lenses
02-27-2011, 08:30 PM   #41
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico:
Each lens makes me look at the world in its own way.
Spoken like an artist and someone who appreciates the subtleties in life.
I try.

[/me looks humble]

But for example: I have a few lenses around 35mm, far fewer than 28's and 50's. Various Vivitar and Porst 35/2.8's by Tokina are rather plain-vanilla, capable of accurately rendering pretty much what's before the eye, as is the Mir-1 37/2.8. The F35-70 at 35/3.5 is similar. The Nikkor-O 35/2 has been a photojournalist's standard for decades; the SuperTak 35/3.5 has been a 'scaper's lens for just as long. Both are inhumanly crisp. The Isco Westron 35/2.8 (13 iris blades) seems to have been sprinkled with pixie dust. The Enna Sandmar and Meyer Primagon 35/4.5's (both with 10 iris blades) are slower but quite different, the Enna being funky and the Meyer being classy.

Average (mean) price of those lenses: US$20 each. And I wouldn't give up any of them, except maybe the Viv's. (Enlarger lenses are not included in this accounting.) How much is that 35/1.4 again? Yeah, if I: 1) needed the speed and 2) had the money, I'd get that fast booger. But I'm OK for now.

[/me imagines perfect pictures -- hallucinating again, eh?]
02-27-2011, 09:21 PM   #42
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QuoteOriginally posted by JHD Quote
So be careful when listening to the pro wannabes or you'll end up spending a poop load very quickly.
The funny thing is, the few pros i know all encourage me to spend as little as possible. I'm not great at listening but it has not done me any favours.

My friend, who is just a stunningly talented guy, takes most of his best shots with a canon 50mm f1.8. and he makes it sing. go figure. (ps not an arguement for primes, more an argument that you can make a cheap lens look very expensive, and vica versa).
02-27-2011, 09:50 PM   #43
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
The IQ of zooms have improved, but so has the IQ of primes...
The IQ of zooms has improved exponentially more so than the IQ of primes in these last 10 years--no contest.


QuoteQuote:
bdery: Primes are also smaller, can be faster and make you shoot differently.
Yes, everyone knows primes are smaller and lighter, but the OP asked about IQ.

QuoteQuote:
normhead I wonder about you guys saying you are more creative with a prime. If you have a zoom, you can still pick the focal length you think suits the shot, mess around all you want, then change focal lengths and do it again. The difference between primes and zooms is, with zooms, you don't have to take the lens off the camera to do that. As for lens quality, the only Pentax prime in it's range that has a chance of out performing the 60-250 in it's range would be the 77 1.8. The 200mm isn't close. At least that's what the numbers on photozone say. I agree different lenses have different characteristics and that there's more than image resolution to a lens. But I'd suggest that primes have no intrinsic advantage in that regard.
Agreed, wholeheartedly. The days of primes are past their prime. Some zooms are outperforming primes these days.

QuoteQuote:
JHD: In every hobby there are value packed high performance alternatives that seem to defy the law of diminishing returns. The DA16-45 is such a product. Don’t let anyone have you believe otherwise.
Yes indeedy!

QuoteQuote:
GeneV: Agree. On the other hand, the IQ of good zooms has increased so much that it seems to me that almost all the lenses are capable of IQ that is as good as I need. Pentax primes are usually smaller and are often faster, though. I still prefer them.
But the OP is focused upon IQ, not size & weight. The only real advantage of a prime is if you absolutely, positively have to have very large apertures for shoots. Portraits, with shallow DOF, come to mind here, otherwise, the incredible ISO performance of recent digital bodies reduce the need for large aperture lenses--Again, unless you have to have shallow DOF. Even then, from what I hear, some software is getting good at mimicking the shallow DOF look.

QuoteQuote:
sjwaldron From photozone.de

DA 15 F4:
Barrel distortion: 1.5%
Vignetting @ F4: 1.3 EV - 0.33
MTF @ F4: 2308 - 1580
MTF @ F5.6: 2352 - 1716
Chromatic Aberrations: 0.69 - 0.8

DA 16-45mm @ 16mm:
Barrel distortion: 2.5%
Vignetting @ F4: 1.17 EV - 0.59
MTF @ F4: 2281 - 1741
MTF @ F5.6: 2321 - 1863
Chromatic Aberrations: 2.3 - 0.52
Yes, there can be distortion gains in a prime as well, but you have taken the 16-45, at its weakest link, 16mm, and presented its performance here. What about 17, 18, 19, 20........up to 45mm--what about a performance comparison here to the 15?

What is amazing, even at this weak link of the 16-45, is the 16-45 is actually a little better on the MTF scores than the 15 limited.

Last edited by Jewelltrail; 02-27-2011 at 10:12 PM.
02-27-2011, 09:53 PM   #44
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QuoteOriginally posted by JHD Quote
CA - nothing that a little bit of PP can't take care of.

The barrel distortion is hardly evident.

Neither of these two points justifies the premium one must pay for the DA15. The fact is in the real world of taking pictures and not looking at numbers, I cannot for the life discern with my own eyes any appreciable difference with shots taken by those two lenses. Glad I fell off that wagon and sold mine. The DA15 is ridiculously overrated - largely due to the novelty of shooting the sun - which gets old real fast. Yawn.
I went the other way and moved from 16-45 to DA 15 and never looked back.
I'm really quite surprised by the comments in favour of the 16-45 over the DA 15. In my experience the DA 15 wins hands down; distortion, sharpness, FoV and the intangeable fun factor.

QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
That's not a cost; it's a potential advantage.

I never lose a shot. Yes, there are some potential photos I do not take, but life moves on and I move with life. The world has never once taken a shot from me. I simply don't see things that way.
IMO, a fixed focal length is often an advantage too. I work harder and take better shots when I use a prime. You learn the FoV and perspective of the particular focal length, and the lens itself becomes less of a barrier or restriction.

Robin, that's a great quote about never losing a shot.

QuoteOriginally posted by Metalwizards Quote
I found this discussion quite useful. I was leaning towards a da 15mm for my next lens, but now I am pretty much sold on a DA 16-45mm.

I think we can all be glad that there are so many different high quality lenses for us to chose from, regardless of their style. We win!
I have to go against the grain of this particular thread and highly recommend the DA15. For my uses it is great, and I sold the 16-45.
However what is most important is that you try and figure out what suits you best. Look through the best pictures of each lens and try to relate them to what you shoot. Also don't forget the usage and feel of the lens itself, for me it's significant anyway.

cheers,
Jason
02-27-2011, 10:31 PM   #45
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QuoteOriginally posted by goddo31 Quote
I have to go against the grain of this particular thread and highly recommend the DA15. For my uses it is great, and I sold the 16-45.
However what is most important is that you try and figure out what suits you best. Look through the best pictures of each lens and try to relate them to what you shoot. Also don't forget the usage and feel of the lens itself, for me it's significant anyway.

cheers,
Jason
I am completely on the ship boat as you. Tried the 16-45 for about a month, it's a great lens no doubt, but I got really curious with the 15mm and like Jason, I haven't looked back since. Again though, these are only two opinions, what's really important is to try the lenses yourself. The 15mm was more practical, more challenging (in a good way), and more inspiring for me. I kept a lot more photos on average with the 15mm than the 16-45mm, not limiting to shooting at 16mm for the wide shot, but its entirety. It is a great lens, but it was just not for me. My two cents.
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