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04-03-2011, 07:52 AM   #1
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Pentax Prime or Wide Angle Zoom

Hi folks, I'm looking for a little help / advice, I've currently got the following lens lineup:

Tamron 70-300 (Cheap telephoto I don't use this much if at all)
Vivitar 55mm M42 f2.8 macro (Recently purchased, enjoying playing with macro!)
Pentax DA 18-55 WR (cheapy lens to enable me to get out with the K20 when its wet!)
Pentax DA 40mm Ltd f2.8 (used as a walkabout, replaced Sigma 17-70 very nice size!)

Now I'm currently looking to add something wider to my kit, the 18-55 is good for it WR abilities but its certainly not a great lens, the 40mm isn't wide enough sometimes and so I'm contemplating what to do with my lens lineup.

I'd like to go wider and I've been considering either buying the 15mm Ltd and 21mm Ltd to go with the 40mm I have or purchasing an Ultra Wide Angle Sigma 8-16mm and also something like another 17-70 / 17-50 (Sigma, Tamron or Pentax)

I think the two prime setup would be cheaper if I can source them second hand but just wondering what other folk think, especially in regards to the image quality of the 15mm / 21mm v the zoom lenses.

04-03-2011, 09:09 AM   #2
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Good Morning, You pose an interesting question. I do have a couple of questions however. What are your intended uses for the most part? Interiors, architecture, landscapes or ...? The reason why I ask is several fold, however - I guess it boils down to one specific area - distortion. I have seen wonderful images from all of the lenses, in a number of settings. For me, and I do like the wide end of things. For scenes where the eye understands what it is seeing (especially lines and corners), the absolute widest angle lens may not be the best for some images, and for others your results are spectacular - its all in the composure. I'll use architecture as an example, as the eye pretty much knows what it is seeing and what to expect. Anything that is the least bit different stands out - i.e. distortion. This can be good or bad, you the photographer have to decide. With the same lens, say in a landscape situation the eye does not predict what its expecting, more non regular items, thus what ever distortion that is present is not as easily detected. Please do not get me wrong, that ultra wide is only for landscapes - I was just addressing that the viewer's eye can detect distortions much easier with regular objects and this can either work for you or against you.

I have the Pentax 12-24 and at times, I find it too wide, while other times - not wide enough. Its all a compromise. I also have looked at images from the new Sigma 8-16 and they are truly stunning in the way its able to convey the width of a wide scene. When I acquired the 12-24 the 8-16 had not been announced, so my question was 10mm or 12mm at the wide end. It all comes down to applying the right tool for a particular job, and the way that you compose the shot. You probably have looked at the 8-16 club thread...I think that this will be your most difficult call in terms of selecting your lenses. I think I would be very tempted with the 8-16. I also have the 16-45 and it pairs up nicely with my 12-24. Its range is not as large, but I tend not to be too concerned with the upper end.

04-03-2011, 09:36 AM   #3
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The 12-24 has excellent IQ, has a versatile range, and goes wider than a prime. They show up occasionally in the marketplace in the 600 range.
04-03-2011, 09:47 AM   #4
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If you like the DA 40mm, look at the DA 21mm. It is almost as small, and is a good 'walk-around' prime lens, wider than the 40mm.

04-03-2011, 10:26 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies folks, I'm really into architecture & landscapes, I previously had a Sigma 10-20 but found I wasn't using it enough (weather has been rubbish in Scotland!) and I found I wasn't taking my camera out enough when I had the 17-70 on it as it was just hassle lugging it.
With the 40mm on the K20 is amazingly small and light and its made me much happier taking it out with me all the time, I guess thats one of the main reason's I'm considering going to an all prime setup.
The 70-300, 55mm and 18-55 I have serve their own purposes but I think 15mm, 21mm 40mm and then something longer in future would keep me setup really versatile but also fairly lightweight.
That said I did enjoy having an UWA (10-20) before and thats why I do worry that 15mm perhaps isn't wide enough.
I do like the look of the 12-24 and even new in the UK theres little difference price wise between a 15mm and the 12-24mm lens.
Decisions, decisions!
04-03-2011, 11:43 AM   #6
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I think that for architecture (including indoors in cathedrals etc) the flexibility of the DA12-24 makes it more desirable than the DA15Ltd. I'm looking into a wide angle myself and at this stage I'm leaning towards the DA12-24.

There are however rumours (?) about a WR 12-35 and I'm not in a hurry to get something, so I'm going to wait a little longer.
04-03-2011, 12:46 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by sterretje Quote
There are however rumours (?) about a WR 12-35 and I'm not in a hurry to get something, so I'm going to wait a little longer.
If those rumors prove true, it could be my ideal backpacking lens.
04-03-2011, 12:51 PM   #8

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The DA12-24 and the Sigma 8-16 are both excellent lenses - better than the available primes in IQ. I have the Sigma and am continually surprised by its greatness.

04-03-2011, 05:35 PM   #9
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I had a 12-24 and sold it. Excellent but too much lens to carry around routinely while travelling. And I don't like the imbalance of a heavy lens on the front of a smallish camera. DA15 + DA21 much more to my taste.

(I also find very wide angle less useful than many people on the forum - composition can be very problematic unless you really know what you're going to do with the foreground ... which is why I use the 21 a lot more than the 15)
04-04-2011, 05:55 AM   #10
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You state that you've had a 10-20 and you sold it because it didn't see much that case i would skip all the UWA zooms, especially the 8-16 since it's very wide, and it's uses are kind of specific, so i think you may find yourself not using it again.
If the 12-35 materializes sometime soon, that may be a good option, it's wide and has a long end that is very usable and will probably be used much more than the 8-16.
The idea of a sigma/tamron 17-50 f2.8 is also good, they are faster and got better IQ than your kit lens (or the 16-50 if you are not scared about SDM issues).
You could also set for a 14 or 15 and 21 or 28 mm primes setup, there are lots of options out there...Primes usually have better IQ than zooms and have a different aproach to shooting, and they are one of the strong points of pentax (reputation wise...).

As i said before you already owned a UWA zoom and sold it so i would lean towards a kit lens upgrade or a prime setup.
Good luck with the choices.
(you could always try to go to a gathering or a store that lets you test the lenses and see if the 14/15/21 suits you.)
04-06-2011, 08:06 AM   #11
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Thanks for the advice guys, I think I'm going to pickup a DA21mm first and then go from there.
I have considered buying an improved kit type lens something like the 16-50 or 17-70 but ultimately I think I'd rather have the primes to try and keep the size of my kit fairly light and small.
I have owned a few Sigma 10-20's over my Sony and Pentax bodies and it was my favourite lens when out and about but I sold my recent one just as I hadn't used it extensively, I have however used UWA before and loved it.
That said I think that a prime combo, 15mm, 21mm and my 40mm would be excellent.

Are there any non Pentax primes (Sigma really?) worth considering?
04-06-2011, 09:59 AM   #12
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I can only make one comparison re: sigma primes v pentax primes. I have the DAs 15/21 and 12-24, as well as the Sigma 24/1.8. The image quality and speed of the Sigma are very good, but IQ does not match either the 21 or 12-24. The real big issue is that the Sigma is bigger than the 12-24. So, unless speed is your primary concern, I wouldn't consider one of the Sigma primes. And if you're unconcerned with size, then I'd go with the DA 12-24 instead.
04-06-2011, 02:50 PM   #13
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Thanks for the advice, size is a bit of a concern for me so it looks like the DA 21mm will be my next purchase, found it in the UK for a good price.
I will however consider whether I want to buy the 15mm or an UWA lens such as the 12-24 or 8-16 especially as price wise they are very similar!
04-06-2011, 03:16 PM   #14
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I posted these on another thread, but they give an idea of size differences between the lenses in question. The size problem with the DA12-24 is more a problem of the huge hood than the lens itself which is actually not that big for a zoom.

04-06-2011, 04:13 PM   #15
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The 12-24 is a great lens...but I sold it and kept the DA 15. See Twitch's 'family portrait'.

There is a rumored/vaporware 12-35 WR out there. If it becomes reality *I* would be very interested....even if it is a notch behind the 12-24.

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