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11-19-2011, 08:01 AM   #1
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Da 10-17mm Pentax vs. Other Brands

I am NOT a techie and get lost in technical discussions about such matters as chromatic aberrations. I would like to purchase a wider angle lens for my K5. I can't locate a more detailed review of this lens other than a brief description from DPREVIEW. However, I did find a review for a similar Tamron lens 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 and from what I gathered, the reviewer fell short of giving it praise. It mentioned a problem with sharpness when used wide open. This lens would be more convenient for me to buy as I can purchase it locally for about $50 less than mail order for the Pentax DA lens.

Perhaps this is a silly question to be asking in a dedicated Pentax forum...

Is the Pentax lens far superior to the Tamron? I really can't afford a fisheye or super wide angle lens at this time and the price of either of these lenses pretty much is my limit at this time.

I'd appreciate some feedback.

11-19-2011, 09:03 AM   #2
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It's hard to compare the DA 10-17 with the Tamron because, even though they are both, in a sense, ultra-wide angle zoom lenses, the Pentax is a fisheye and the Tamron isn't. Don't let the similar focal ranges confuse you. At 10mm, the Pentax is a very different lens from the Tamron. At the wide end of the zoom, the Pentax has a 180 field of view, compared to about 108 for the Tamron. The Pentax is able to achieve it's ultra wide FOV through it's extreme, fisheye-type distortions.

I have no first-hand experience with the Tamron. However, I would suspect it would be at least a little sharper than the DA 10-17 and have less purple fringing issues toward the corners. The DA 10-17, whatever it's imperfections, is capable of producing extraordinary photos, with excellent microcontrast and superb color rendition, and if your camera's AF is good enough to nail focus with it, it will produce sufficient resolution for most purposes.
11-19-2011, 11:13 AM   #3
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As Greg posted, there is a rather large difference between the 10-17 and the other lenses.

So, a brief overview
  • Fisheye and Rectilinear - Fisheye lenses deliberately bend the image in order to pull as much scene in from the edges as possible. Rectilinear (or normal lenses) pull scene in from the edges, but try to keep straight lines straight, however by doing this, they tend to distort the image a bit - especially along the edges and corners of the image.
  • Prime and Zoom - Prime lenses cover only a single focal length, while zoom lenses cover a range of focal lengths. Normally a rule of thumb for zoom lenses is that a range of 4x (low focal length to the high focal length is good). 2x for wide angle lenses (due to the complexity of the optics). Prime lenses, tend to be much sharper, have better image quality and resolution.
The 10-17 by Pentax (and Tokina for other camera makes) is somewhat unique, as its really the only fisheye zoom lens made. All the other fisheye lenses are prime lenses. The 10-17 in that its a fisheye, bends lines in order to pull the scene into the field of view, so it has a very large field of view - from 180 degrees (very fishy) to 100 degrees (very mild fishiness - if that is a word). The other zoom wide angle lenses available on the market are not fisheye - but rectilinear (or normal) lenses.

The Tameron lens is a rectilinear lens - which tries to keep all the straight lines straight and squares square. Its focal length is 10-24mm (the 2x zoom rule of thumb in play). The difference across the rectilinear (or normal) lenses is how they handle distortion - especially at the edge, along with the width of the lens (expressed as field of view and measured in degrees). There is the Sigma 8-16, Sigma 10-20, Pentax 12-24, Tameron 10-24, etc. The lower the focal length (expressed in mm), the wider the lens' field of view (FoV) (also, the lower you go in focal length, each individual mm tends to be wider as expressed in degrees). The Pentax 12-24, although not as wide as some, is noted to handle the distortion a bit better than the others.

So the bottom line is - its all a compromise in terms of all of these factors - as well as co$t.

Today it seems to be wide angle day. Same topic with a lot more information was just posted on another thread...

Last edited by interested_observer; 11-19-2011 at 10:21 PM.
11-19-2011, 01:11 PM   #4
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Lots of good info above. Here's my take: I have both the DA10-17 FE (fisheye, the lens that drove me to Pentax) and the Tamron 10-24 UWA (ultrawideangle, which I use more). Both are great; the 10-17 is extraordinary, but of limited application. It's very fishy at 10mm (180 degree AOV) and slightly fishy at 17mm (100 degs). The 10-24 is very stretchy at 10mm (113 degs) and almost unstretched at 24mm (64 degs).

Neither is edge-to-edge flatfield sharp, so don't use them for macro photos of postage stamps, nor wide shots of large brick walls. I use the 10-17 FE to exploit angles and curves in tight spaces. I use the Tam 10-24 at the wide end in tight spaces with straight lines, and towards the long end for 'scapes (land, sea, air, town, etc). If I need something in-between in lower light (handheld), I use the slightly fishy Zenitar 16/2.8 which is similar to the DA10-17 @17mm but much faster. When maximum sharpness matters, stop-down and use a tripod.

I got the Tamron 10-24 almost a year ago, with a discount coupon that brought it down to US$375 shipped. I *could* have bought any of the leading ultrawides: DA12-24, either Sigma 10-20, the Sigma 8-16. But the DA12-24 or a new Sigma, would have hurt financially, and a used older-version Sigma would still have cost more, and has known issues. I've seen many reports of users returning 2-3-4 Sigma UWAs before finally getting a good copy. Folks love their Sigmas... once they have a good one. I've talked to pros who despise Sigma's flaky QC.

What's best? The DA10-17 and Tamron 10-24 always in my bag, along with 3 or 4 small primes. My other ~220 lenses must await their turns. The 10-17 FE and 10-24 UWA don't overlap; they complement each other. To really explore wideness, get both.

11-19-2011, 03:12 PM   #5
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My DA10-17 is always in my bag too. Love it to bits.

On reviews. hate the damn things. I buy lenses based upon pictures I've seen taken with them. A reviewer, who may have either a bad copy, not adjusted his AF or is simply politically or commerically biased is alomst irrelevant IMO. If I'm going to rely upon people's opinions I like to average a basketful of diverse opinions as you find on forums like this.
11-19-2011, 05:46 PM   #6
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I love my DA 10-17. That said, my next (new lens) purchase was the DA 15. The DA 10-17 is a fisheye. With proper framing you can get the distortion so it isn't too noticable but it's difficult to directly compare a non fisheye. You can get macro close and it is very sharp. It has a permanent place in my bag. As much as I love it, I also needed a wide angle. It's a difficult decision because most of the wide angle choices are all very good lenses. I looked at hundreds of shots from the DA 12-24, the SIgma 10-20, and others. It kind of came down to nit picking. I bought the DA 10-17 first. That was a lens I just HAD to have!
11-19-2011, 06:41 PM   #7
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I bought the 10-17 first then followed it with a Sigma 10-20mm. Decided that the 10-17 had to stay in my bag at all times and I ended up selling the Sigma and bought a 16-50mm. the 16mm end of that lens does fine for landscapes for me.
11-19-2011, 10:29 PM   #8
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Take a look at the Forum's lens data base. Here is the link to the 10-17 - it has 48 reviews of the lens...Here are some additional reviews of the lens..... (note the Tokina 10-17 is the same lens optically)
You can also take the images from the 10-17 and use some utility software to defish them - i.e. remove the fisheye effect. I have done this and its effective most of the time. It depends on the composition of the image - one in particular turned out well, however I can still see some fishy effects left in.Stitching - is a way to extend a normal lens into a wide angle lens. I use stitching a lot even with wide angle lenses. There is free software that will stitch photos for you. One of the easiest is Microsoft's ICE program, and its free. So down load ICE and install it, then go out side and shoot some overlapping shots of anything and then go stitch them together. Then google stitching on the internet and read some instructions on how to do it better.... (now you have an instant wide angle lens - of infinite width).And as a last point - most of us have collected our lenses over a period of years, as our budget permits. I was on the one lens a year plan. Rico has the hamburger limit - if it costs more than a hamburger, it has to wait. So, don't feel down just because you can't buy everything all at once - hardly anyone here can. Doing so is a one way trip to the poor house.....




Last edited by interested_observer; 11-19-2011 at 10:50 PM.
11-20-2011, 03:52 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
And as a last point - most of us have collected our lenses over a period of years, as our budget permits. I was on the one lens a year plan. Rico has the hamburger limit - if it costs more than a hamburger, it has to wait. So, don't feel down just because you can't buy everything all at once - hardly anyone here can. Doing so is a one way trip to the poor house.....
Better the poor house than the homeless encampment. But I digress. My lens rule is actually:

If it costs less than a sandwich or burger, grab it.
If it costs more than a deluxe pizza, think hard about it.
If it costs more than a fine dinner out with your partner(s), ask here!

More about money: I bought my K20D and original kit about 3.5 years ago (after extensive research and analysis) because I had an inheritance. I bought over 100 old lenses with that inheritance - and knee surgery, etc. (Thanks for dying, Mom!) Then the money ran out. I have no disposable income. If I want to buy fun stuff, I must sell something first. Thus I became an eBay trader, with self-supporting LBA.

Designing one's own purchase strategy isn't hard, no harder than working up any budget plan. Set aside some income, or generate some income (rob minimarts, sell grandkids, whatever), and don't go into debt. Blow the money you have, not money you don't have. That way, your loved ones won't murder you.
11-20-2011, 04:48 AM   #10
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I had never really viewed the front page of this site before and as I came here today to see if I had any responses to my query, I noticed a massive review section for equipment. I feel a bit embarrassed, I do. Having said that, technical details go right over my head anyway. I really prefer to hear from people who have already used the product.

Thank you so much for all this information. What really struck me was learning that the Pentax is a fisheye and the Tamron an ultra-wide angle. I really want the later, a good ultra-wide angle lens, mostly for landscape photos. I'm really glad I did not order the DA 10-17 as I nearly did because it isn't what I wanted. I am sometimes skeptical of how an item is marketed, where a product, a lens in this case, might be marketed as a 'fisheye' when in fact it wasn't, but the term was used to attract a certain customer.

Thanks again for this. You saved me from being disappointed. I have been extremely pleased with my K5 and the few other lenses I have.
11-20-2011, 02:03 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by TooLoose Quote
What really struck me was learning that the Pentax is a fisheye and the Tamron an ultra-wide angle. I really want the later, a good ultra-wide angle lens, mostly for landscape photos. I'm really glad I did not order the DA 10-17 as I nearly did because it isn't what I wanted.
As we may have mentioned, UWAs (and FEs) aren't really 'scape lenses, except to use the 'scape as a backdrop|context for nearby subject(s). I'll use my fishy Zenitar 16/2.8 or the DA10-17 @17mm vertically (portrait mode) when I want vertical zap, like with flowers|rocks|creatures up close and their surroundings stretching away behind them. Neither the DA10-17 FE nor the Tamron 10-24 UWA are good for horizontal shots of infinity.

QuoteQuote:
I am sometimes skeptical of how an item is marketed, where a product, a lens in this case, might be marketed as a 'fisheye' when in fact it wasn't, but the term was used to attract a certain customer.
Problem is, there are two distinct classes of 'fisheye', and they can overlap, and they are sometime muddled by adapters of dubious quality. The original fisheyes were FULL-CIRCLE; some may be partial-circle on APS-C cams. Most of what're sold as fisheyes are FRAME-FILLING 'cause many shooters don't like all the black space left by a full-circle FE. Different frame-filling FEs may be designed with varied optical projection formulae; not all fishes are created equal.

I have various glass in that neighborhood. The DA10-17 and Zenitar 16/2.8 are frame-filling; the DA is very fishy @10mm, slightly fishy @17mm. The Zenitar is slightly fishy on APS-C, very fishy on 135/FF. My Vemar 12/8 (made by Sigma, sold under various brands) can be full-circle on 135/FF, partial-circle on APS-C. And I have a Kenko 180 Degree Fisheye adapter that I usually mount on a 28-80 zoom (although 35-105 would be better). At around 40mm or less, it's full-circle. At around 60mm or more, it's frame-filling. It's a fun toy for playing with projections.

Yes, look at sample pictures from candidate lenses, and you'll get some idea of their possibilities, however they are marketed.
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