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06-18-2011, 09:37 PM   #1
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Tired of my soft - entry lenses

Hello,

I have been a fair user of the K100D since some years now. I guess I followed the path of many beginners concerning my lens gear : starting with the 2 kits lenses 18-55 and 50-200, then upgrading to the DA 18-250. I have been significatively shooting landscape over these years, playing more generally in the 18-35 range, and enjoying from time to time the tele extension at 250.

Although I consider my 18-250 as a fair allarounder, I realized I rarely succeeded to produce razor sharp images. I would like now to upgrade my gear to higher quality. I considered investing on the guys below, and would like to get your comments, considering that my main target remains landscape, with some family portraits from time to time.

- DA 17-70 f4 as all-around zoom : from all the litterature I read, it seems to be the best Pentax standard zoom. I know it will be manual focus on 100D. But I plan to upgrade lated the camera to get SDM support.
- FA 31 f1.8 Ltd as all-around, low light prime. I am in love with this mythic piece of glass, and want it now !!!
- DA 15 f4 Ltd as landscape, light weight prime.

I think I should be able to face most of the photographic cases with this set. But it's a lot of money, I want to be sure and am eager to getting your feedbacks and recommandations.

I have a doubt on the DA15, DPReview ranked it badly against the 12-24. On the other hand I don't want to go again to a zoom, heavy and with too variable IQ accross the focal range.

Any suggestion on my wishlist ?

06-18-2011, 11:56 PM   #2
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I do not own the FA 31 (yet), but I've never read anything negative about it (besides lens hood). It's definitely not a bad thing to have a fast lens in your collection.

I do however own the DA 15 ltd and from what I can tell, it's as sharp as expected. Many users on this forum, including myself give it a good rating:
Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited Reviews - DA Series Primes - Pentax Lens Reviews & Pentax Lens Database

I read the review on DPReview too, but I don't own the 12-24mm so I can't comment. Maybe they got a bad copy? Or the 12-24mm is just an excellent lens? All I can say is that the DA 15mm is definitely smaller!
06-19-2011, 12:08 AM   #3
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My answer is a bit boring perhaps. Boring fact #1, the FA31 lives up to it's hype, IQ is gorgeous. Boring fact #2, the DA12-24 may be sharp, but the DA15 is too and is much more enjoyable to shoot with due to its size and weight.

If I had to pick 2 lenses of those 3, I'd have no hesitation picking the DA15 & FA31. But then the DA15/FA31/FA77 are my most used and favourite lenses.
06-19-2011, 12:35 AM   #4
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Do you autofocus landscapes? Use a tripod? Isolate subjects with wide apertures or try to get everything in focus?

06-19-2011, 12:44 AM   #5
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Go for the FA31mm f1.8.

My first lens was the DA18-250mm. I love the lens versatibility, and its IQ is decent. But it cannot be compared with the FA31mm f1.8. I have both and the FA31mm is outstanding.

The FA31mm f1.8 is also surprisingly versataile for a prime. The focal length is wide and not to wide, with negligible lens distortion. The IQ is outstanding. (Truly.) The lens is also fast and can be used in low light almost as a fast prime.

As indicated by others, you cannot get wrong with the FA31mm f1.8. Go for it...
06-19-2011, 12:47 AM   #6
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Thanks all for your reply.

To Civiletti : it rarely happens that I try to isolate a subject in landscape, I am generally above F8.

Yes, I let autofocus on (which is probably a non sense and useless risk of wrong focus, right ?), and work without tripod.
06-19-2011, 02:06 AM   #7
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When it comes to lanscapes the gap between 15 and 31 is big.
Since the subject is often at a distance zooming by feet does not work so well.
For me the 1,4x factor is just great. (20-28-40-58-85 for instance).
I don't see the point of combining primes and zoom(s) overlapping eachother for landscapes.
If you go for the DA15 and FA31 you'd better add a 55 or 58 and if needed a telezoom.
Otherwise you will use your zoom not at 17mm because you have the DA15,and not around 31mm either.
06-19-2011, 02:39 AM   #8
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In fact I do not plan to take the 17-70 for hiking. Rather as a general purpose when at home. Maybe I will discover (as I could read many times from guys owning the 31 Ltd) that once you start to taste the Limited series, those primes stayed most of the time on the camera...

06-19-2011, 02:47 AM   #9
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Okay, I see. That was my plan too.
In my case the zooms get not much use anymore.
Even for social events I use primes mostly now...
But I'm getting off-topic to much.
Hope and anticipate you're going to love your primes for hiking !
06-19-2011, 03:14 AM   #10
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Not wanting to start a zoom vs prime debate it's really your own preference on that one, all I'll say is that sharpness isn't really a major consideration between a decent prime and zoom at the small apertures used for landscapes, it's mainly colour/contrast/convenience. I use the DA17-70 for the majority of my shots and find it excellent, the DA12-24 for others which is also excellent - I prefer the flexibility of a zoom and don't find their size an issue, others will say the opposite so the decision is yours!!

Simon
06-19-2011, 03:54 AM   #11
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When used to 18-55 and 50-200 and 18-250 a better zoom like
DA16-45, DA12-24 or DA17-70 may aswell be more than good enough
for landscapes. You also keep your sensor cleaner.
My DA16-45 is more than capable for landscapes, but I just love using primes.
The difference in IQ is at F5,6 or F8 and landscape-distances not realy an issue.
It must be my age I guess.........
06-19-2011, 06:06 AM   #12
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you all say that the 18-250 is an upgrade from 18-55 & 50-200? Is that the case, or is it just to skip the lense change?
I thought the 2 lense kit was better optically than the super zoom (18-250)?
06-19-2011, 06:07 AM   #13
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I think I want to try a prime Limited, I always used zooms and want to see someting else... your points are absolutely right, there maybe plenty of zoom that can cope more than decently with landscape, but remains apart the pleasure to shoot with a nicely engineered Pentax Limited.

I do not feel too much concerned by dust, I am equipped to clean it and am glad with the cleaning results. In the past I did not dare changing objectives because I was scared to catch dust, now I think it is a pity not to explore the capabilities of SLRs... which provide you this capability to switch objectives !

I will probably stick to the 17-70 f4 decision, and add one prime on top, certainly the DA 15 Ltd to start building my own experience with primes. Then I could upgrade later to the FA 31 (which costs an arm !!!), if caught by the primes virus.

Last edited by clic clic; 06-19-2011 at 06:26 AM.
06-19-2011, 11:28 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by clic clic Quote
Thanks all for your reply.

To Civiletti : it rarely happens that I try to isolate a subject in landscape, I am generally above F8.

Yes, I let autofocus on (which is probably a non sense and useless risk of wrong focus, right ?), and work without tripod.
Before you buy new lenses, start using a tripod, use manual focus, and test to determine best apertures for the lenses you already have. If you don't get the basics right, you could have the most expensive lenses in the world and still produce a lot of crap.

John
06-19-2011, 03:41 PM   #15
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Several people on getdpi forum advised against the 15mm f4. Despite this I tried one and it was terrible in the corners, great in centre. I went with the 21mm f3.2 which I use a lot for landscapes. This doesn't match up with what people are saying here though.
I hear good things about the 16-45 f4 which is cheap.
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