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02-02-2012, 06:39 PM   #1
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Which 24mm lens?

I keep reading that 24mm is the ideal focal length for a walkaround prime on APS-C. I have the DA 15 Ltd and the DA 35/2.4, so I am kind of missing that 24-ish focal length, other than using the kit lens.

I have read the lens reviews here and they are helpful to a certain extent. But I was just wondering if there is a widely regarded "best" 24mm lens that everyone seems to think is great? Is there a major difference between the A and K Pentax 24's? What about the Sigma 24 Super Wide II?

I was interested in the upcoming Samyang 24, but the high price has sent me looking into used older lenses. I would prefer K-mount as I don't have a M42 adapter yet. Would really appreciate any input and opinions! Thank you!

02-02-2012, 06:46 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by loco Quote
Is there a major difference between the A and K Pentax 24's?
They share the same optical formula. As it happens I have had the K (currently in the shop, maybe never to return) and recently acquired the A. My copy of the K had the usual K-series warm cast, and was also a bit low on contrast. I haven't been able to do much of a test with the A yet, but from the little I have I expect it to have more neutral coloring, but more saturated and contrasty.
02-02-2012, 06:52 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
They share the same optical formula. As it happens I have had the K (currently in the shop, maybe never to return) and recently acquired the A. My copy of the K had the usual K-series warm cast, and was also a bit low on contrast. I haven't been able to do much of a test with the A yet, but from the little I have I expect it to have more neutral coloring, but more saturated and contrasty.
Thank you, baro-nite! This is quite helpful. I don't mind the more neutral color, especially if the A is more colorful and contrasty.
02-02-2012, 07:06 PM   #4
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In my experience, 28mm is a better focal length for a walkaround lens. It is a "perfect normal" (i.e. 28mm is approximately equal to the diagonal of the sensor) lens on APS-C (for whatever that's worth). There is a HUGE array of 28mm lenses to choose from, both from Pentax and third parties, especially Vivitar, and they range in price from dirt cheap to $1,000+.

However, if you want something that fits snuggly in between 15mm and 35mm, 24mm is your guy. Some will say that the FA* 24mm F/2 is the "best" Pentax-made 24mm lens. It's probably the most expensive. One in very good shape will run $500-$600. I have one and I'm not all that impressed. It's large and clunky and I don't fine the IQ to be all that great. I haven't used the K or A 24s.

Another 24mm option, especially if you want something fast, would be a Vivtar 24mm F/2. There are a couple different versions made by Komine and Kiron. I have the latter and it's a nice lens. Reasonably sharp wide open (though not super contrasty) and very sharp stopped down. It has a dreamy quality when used wide open that can be an asset in some situations. On the downside it flares terribly and evidently the aperture blades are prone to getting sticky with oil. The price is right, however. I think a very nice one can be had for less than $150, and it's a beautifully crafted lens.

My $0.02.

- Mike

02-02-2012, 07:44 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by loco Quote
I keep reading that 24mm is the ideal focal length for a walkaround prime on APS-C
Lori, can you go into more detail or define your walk-around? Here is the issue, it is extremely hard, if not impossible, for any one prime to be a walk-around lens, unless:

1. You walk-around and carry your camera in the same exact environment every time you put that walk-around lens on
2. See 1
3. See 2 (again, back to 1)

The "considered normal" focal length is true 50|55mm which on a cropped sensor would be the 35, but normal really isn't a walk-around focal length - also, what is a good walk-around lens|focal for one may not be good for someone else.

Where will you, well, be walking-around with it and shooting?
02-02-2012, 07:57 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by joe.penn Quote
The "considered normal" focal length is true 50|55mm which on a cropped sensor would be the 35, but normal really isn't a walk-around focal length.
Horses for courses; I think normal is a great walk-around FL. I suppose it depends where one does one's walking. 50/55 may be widely considered to be normal on 135/FF, but by the usual technical definition of normal, 43mm or thereabouts is true normal. (Funny how Pentax stands alone, I think, in having produced such a lens.) Hence 28mm is normal on Pentax APS-C, as mmphilip points out. So 24mm becomes a nice moderately wide AOV, roughly equivalent to 35mm on 135/FF.

loco, here's a thought. Set your kit lens to 24mm (or 28mm) and try some walk-around sessions where you stick to that FL. See if you agree that it is ideal. (NB: use the INFO button to confirm the FL.)
02-02-2012, 08:12 PM   #7
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I'm a big fan of the 24mm/1in focal length on APS-C,
perhaps conditioned by many years using a Summicron 35 on a Leica M2.

Disregarding the kit lens, I have three options at that length:

1. A Tamron 17-50/2.8 A16P, which is one of the best-resolving
and most distortion-free 24mm primes on K-mount.

2. A K24/2.8, which pairs up with a K-x to make a compact walk-around setup.

3. A ZK25/2.8, which is a really special lens in many ways.

Sizewise, K24 < ZK25 < A16P.

IQ-wise? Maybe A16P < K24 < ZK25,
at least in terms of color, rendering, and the intangibles.
The Tamron is best from the technical standpoint
(resolution and distortion), but in a soulless, digital way.

If you like the DA15/DA35 prime setup,
are comfortable with manual focus,
and want a cheaper 24mm prime that's comparable size and speed-wise,
a K24 or A24 should fill the bill.
02-02-2012, 09:46 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by loco Quote
I keep reading that 24mm is the ideal focal length for a walkaround prime on APS-C. I have the DA 15 Ltd and the DA 35/2.4, so I am kind of missing that 24-ish focal length, other than using the kit lens.
Do you really miss that 24mm? Or is it because some keep on telling you that. I suggest that you stick your kit lens on the camera, fix it on 24mm and see how you get away with it. Don't cheat

If you like it, your 35mm will probably be obsolete.

02-02-2012, 10:32 PM   #9
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On my K20D, 28mm is exactly 'normal' and is my favorite focal length for countrysides. In town, I prefer 24mm or 21mm. As mentioned, zillions of 28s are available over a tremendous price range. Some of my best were among my cheapest: Vivitar-Komine 28/2 CFWA, Tamron BBAR 28/2.5, Vivitar-Kiron 28/2.5, all dirt cheap, all manual of course.

Inexpensive 21s are pretty rare; I was lucky to get a Lentar-Tokina 21/3.8. But it can't be beat on daylight streets. Set the aperture to f/11, hyperfocus to 2m, and have DOF from 1m to infinity.

I like 24s indoors. My best is the Vivitar-Kiron 24/2 that cost me US$135 and worth every centavo. (My total cost in getting it was more like US$200 but that's another story.) It's what I use to capture squirmin' vermin (grandkids) in their native habitat. My next favorite is the ultra-clean Super-Paragon (Cimko) 24/2.8 for US$10 shipped. I've had a couple Sigma 24/2.8s, they're OK but not spectacular. For a sharp bargain, look for a Lentar-Tokina 25/3.5 -- but check the iris blades, both of mine were stuck wide-open.

Last edited by RioRico; 02-02-2012 at 10:37 PM.
02-03-2012, 06:08 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by mmphilip Quote
In my experience, 28mm is a better focal length for a walkaround lens. It is a "perfect normal" (i.e. 28mm is approximately equal to the diagonal of the sensor) lens on APS-C (for whatever that's worth). There is a HUGE array of 28mm lenses to choose from, both from Pentax and third parties, especially Vivitar, and they range in price from dirt cheap to $1,000+.

However, if you want something that fits snuggly in between 15mm and 35mm, 24mm is your guy. Some will say that the FA* 24mm F/2 is the "best" Pentax-made 24mm lens. It's probably the most expensive. One in very good shape will run $500-$600. I have one and I'm not all that impressed. It's large and clunky and I don't fine the IQ to be all that great. I haven't used the K or A 24s.

Another 24mm option, especially if you want something fast, would be a Vivtar 24mm F/2. There are a couple different versions made by Komine and Kiron. I have the latter and it's a nice lens. Reasonably sharp wide open (though not super contrasty) and very sharp stopped down. It has a dreamy quality when used wide open that can be an asset in some situations. On the downside it flares terribly and evidently the aperture blades are prone to getting sticky with oil. The price is right, however. I think a very nice one can be had for less than $150, and it's a beautifully crafted lens.

My $0.02.

- Mike
Thank you, Mike! Appreciate your recommendations. Certainly these are lenses I hadn't known about and I will look into them! Thank you!


QuoteOriginally posted by joe.penn Quote
Lori, can you go into more detail or define your walk-around? Here is the issue, it is extremely hard, if not impossible, for any one prime to be a walk-around lens, unless:

1. You walk-around and carry your camera in the same exact environment every time you put that walk-around lens on
2. See 1
3. See 2 (again, back to 1)

The "considered normal" focal length is true 50|55mm which on a cropped sensor would be the 35, but normal really isn't a walk-around focal length - also, what is a good walk-around lens|focal for one may not be good for someone else.

Where will you, well, be walking-around with it and shooting?
Hi Joe,
Well, I was reacting to people suggesting 24mm is a good focal length as well as the fact that there is that hole in my prime collection between 15 and 35. I do like to do landscapes from time to time and have noticed that sometimes the 15 is just a bit too wide and the 35 is a bit too long. Just looking for something of good quality and sharpness/contrast to fill in that hole, I guess.


QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote

loco, here's a thought. Set your kit lens to 24mm (or 28mm) and try some walk-around sessions where you stick to that FL. See if you agree that it is ideal. (NB: use the INFO button to confirm the FL.)
Thanks! That's a good idea, which I may try out! Leads me to the next post.....


QuoteOriginally posted by lytrytyr Quote
I'm a big fan of the 24mm/1in focal length on APS-C,
perhaps conditioned by many years using a Summicron 35 on a Leica M2.

Disregarding the kit lens, I have three options at that length:

1. A Tamron 17-50/2.8 A16P, which is one of the best-resolving
and most distortion-free 24mm primes on K-mount.

2. A K24/2.8, which pairs up with a K-x to make a compact walk-around setup.

3. A ZK25/2.8, which is a really special lens in many ways.

Sizewise, K24 < ZK25 < A16P.

IQ-wise? Maybe A16P < K24 < ZK25,
at least in terms of color, rendering, and the intangibles.
The Tamron is best from the technical standpoint
(resolution and distortion), but in a soulless, digital way.

If you like the DA15/DA35 prime setup,
are comfortable with manual focus,
and want a cheaper 24mm prime that's comparable size and speed-wise,
a K24 or A24 should fill the bill.
Thanks very much for your feedback. It's especially interesting to me since I have long been considering the Tammy 17-50 as a kit lens replacement. If it's that good at 24mm so that it's comparable to a prime, then I may have my answer. Sort of kill two birds with one stone.

Does anyone have extensive experience with the 17-50 and landscapes?


QuoteOriginally posted by sterretje Quote
Do you really miss that 24mm? Or is it because some keep on telling you that. I suggest that you stick your kit lens on the camera, fix it on 24mm and see how you get away with it. Don't cheat

If you like it, your 35mm will probably be obsolete.
Thank you for your feedback. Yeah, I do miss it, as I mentioned earlier. And I think I would likely keep the 35 at least for now as I have discovered it's a great lens for product/light tent photography.


QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
On my K20D, 28mm is exactly 'normal' and is my favorite focal length for countrysides. In town, I prefer 24mm or 21mm. As mentioned, zillions of 28s are available over a tremendous price range. Some of my best were among my cheapest: Vivitar-Komine 28/2 CFWA, Tamron BBAR 28/2.5, Vivitar-Kiron 28/2.5, all dirt cheap, all manual of course.

Inexpensive 21s are pretty rare; I was lucky to get a Lentar-Tokina 21/3.8. But it can't be beat on daylight streets. Set the aperture to f/11, hyperfocus to 2m, and have DOF from 1m to infinity.

I like 24s indoors. My best is the Vivitar-Kiron 24/2 that cost me US$135 and worth every centavo. (My total cost in getting it was more like US$200 but that's another story.) It's what I use to capture squirmin' vermin (grandkids) in their native habitat. My next favorite is the ultra-clean Super-Paragon (Cimko) 24/2.8 for US$10 shipped. I've had a couple Sigma 24/2.8s, they're OK but not spectacular. For a sharp bargain, look for a Lentar-Tokina 25/3.5 -- but check the iris blades, both of mine were stuck wide-open.
Thanks, RioRico! Always appreciate your expertise in this area! I may have to look into the 28s. Maybe as suggested earlier, I could use the kit lens to compare the two focal lengths and really see which one is best for what I'm looking for. Looks like there are more options at that length, at better prices. Glad you mentioned the Sigmas weren't that great in your opinion, since I had been looking into those.


Thanks to all for the great feedback! As usual, at Pentax Forums, you ask a question and find yourself often leaning in a totally different direction than you began. You guys always make me think!
02-03-2012, 09:26 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by loco Quote
I may have to look into the 28s. Maybe as suggested earlier, I could use the kit lens to compare the two focal lengths and really see which one is best for what I'm looking for. Looks like there are more options at that length, at better prices. Glad you mentioned the Sigmas weren't that great in your opinion, since I had been looking into those.
Yes, one great trick is to TAPE your kit lens to 21mm one week, 24mm the next, 28mm the next, shoot shoot shoot, and see what (if anything ) works best for you.

Good cheap MF 28s abound. There are some German 29s and 30s too, and of course (for more money) the DA31Ltd. Affordable 24s exist also (including Sigmas -- see below). But you should be able to find a decent 28 for a pittance, like well under US$25.

My Sigma 24s were/are consumer-grade; I found them about equivalent to the DA18-55 at f/5.6 and tighter. Higher-end Sigmas get good ratings. Check the review database and ask here about specific lenses.
02-03-2012, 10:44 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by loco Quote
Hi Joe,
Well, I was reacting to people suggesting 24mm is a good focal length as well as the fact that there is that hole in my prime collection between 15 and 35. I do like to do landscapes from time to time and have noticed that sometimes the 15 is just a bit too wide and the 35 is a bit too long. Just looking for something of good quality and sharpness/contrast to fill in that hole, I guess.
Yes, 24 is a great focal length and for what I shoot it is better than the 28's~35's. My interest in the Samyang 24 is for only one reason, and that is for shooting extreme sports where I either need to show the subject (semi,slightly)-exaggerated or include a good balance of the subject-and-scene within the frame - the 1.4 aperture will allow me to make better subject isolation within the composition. For landscapes where most of the frame is distant, it really doesn't make a big difference if it is a 1.4|1.8|2.0|2.8 etc...

QuoteOriginally posted by loco Quote
Does anyone have extensive experience with the 17-50 and landscapes?
I have had both the Tammy and the Sigma 17~50 2.8's, both are great performers, I preferred the IQ of the Sigma over the Tammy. FYI: I have shot some landscapes with both but not extensively...
02-03-2012, 12:03 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by loco Quote
But I was just wondering if there is a widely regarded "best" 24mm lens that everyone seems to think is great?
yes there is. IMHO it is Pentax FA* 24/2.

FA* 24/2 samples
02-03-2012, 12:13 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
Yes, one great trick is to TAPE your kit lens to 21mm one week, 24mm the next, 28mm the next, shoot shoot shoot, and see what (if anything ) works best for you.

Good cheap MF 28s abound. There are some German 29s and 30s too, and of course (for more money) the DA31Ltd. Affordable 24s exist also (including Sigmas -- see below). But you should be able to find a decent 28 for a pittance, like well under US$25.

My Sigma 24s were/are consumer-grade; I found them about equivalent to the DA18-55 at f/5.6 and tighter. Higher-end Sigmas get good ratings. Check the review database and ask here about specific lenses.
Thanks again for the input, RioRico! Great idea, which I'll have to try out. I will keep my eyes open for those 28s, too. If the lower end Sigmas aren't any better than the kit lens, I'll cross them off the list.


QuoteOriginally posted by joe.penn Quote
Yes, 24 is a great focal length and for what I shoot it is better than the 28's~35's. My interest in the Samyang 24 is for only one reason, and that is for shooting extreme sports where I either need to show the subject (semi,slightly)-exaggerated or include a good balance of the subject-and-scene within the frame - the 1.4 aperture will allow me to make better subject isolation within the composition. For landscapes where most of the frame is distant, it really doesn't make a big difference if it is a 1.4|1.8|2.0|2.8 etc...



I have had both the Tammy and the Sigma 17~50 2.8's, both are great performers, I preferred the IQ of the Sigma over the Tammy. FYI: I have shot some landscapes with both but not extensively...
Thanks for that comparison, Joe! I'm glad the Tammy is a great performer. I don't think I can afford the Sigma, which is the only reason I didn't mention it. The Tammy is in the high end of my price range for this purpose, but since I was thinking about a kit lens replacement anyway, it might be worth an extra look.

QuoteOriginally posted by Piotr Quote
yes there is. IMHO it is Pentax FA* 24/2.

FA* 24/2 samples
Talk about way out of my price range!!! Thanks for the input, Piotr. I bet it's a great lens, but I just can't afford it. Those sample photos are wonderful!
02-03-2012, 08:13 PM   #15
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I really like the Sigma Superwide (II) 24/2.8. I have an AF version. It is good enough (with a hood) that I don't feel the need for a DA21.
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