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03-12-2012, 05:19 PM   #1
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Any suggestions for a lens around 20mm usable on film/digital?

I'm looking for a compact prime up to 20mm for a wide angle on my digital and a very wide on my film cameras! Do any of you guys see anything I've missed, or any diamond-in-the-rough lenses in the ???? category?

So far I have looked at:

Would probably work:
Pentax 20 2.8 A/FA
Pentax 20 4 M
Voigtländer 20mm 3.5

Nikkor 20 3.5???

???? (quality, size, etc - unknown)
Tamron 17 3.5
Super Takumar 20mm F4.5
Vivitar 17mm 3.5
Vivitar 19mm 3.8
Cosina 20mm 3.8
Auto-Promura 20 2.8
Soligor 20mm 2.8
Carl Zeiss Jena 20 2.8

Too big?
Pentax 20mm F4 K
Pentax 18mm 3.5 K
MIR 20mm 3.5
Zeiss 18 3.5
Sigma 20 1.8
Ricoh 18mm F2.8 (This one looks pretty damn cool, I'll have to keep an eye out for it anyway!)
Spiratone 18mm 3.5

What is your favorite lens around 20mm?

Last edited by RXrenesis8; 03-13-2012 at 05:45 PM.
03-12-2012, 05:46 PM - 1 Like   #2

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I have the M 20/4. I've only used it on digital APS-C, where it performs splendidly. I'll admit that some of my other wide angle primes, such as the DA 15 or the K 28/3.5, are a tad sharper, but for some odd reason the M 20/4 tends to produce my best images.
03-12-2012, 05:58 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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I just went through this exercise last month. I ended up with a KA mount version of the Spiratone 20/2.8, which is identitcal to the Soligor 20/2.8 except for branding. I bought the lens for both indoor use and landscapes, as well as the crazy bokeh that fs999 shows off in his Soligor review.

So far so good but I haven't had a chance to take many pictures. I did a test against my 18-55 kit zoom and found that at f/4 the Spiratone is considerably sharper, and at f/5.6 it's noticeably sharper, at f/8 they were about on par. The Spiratone has a bit more CA, but nothing that's not easily fixed in PP. At f/2.8 the lens is perfectly usable, albeit a bit soft. Seems better at less than infinity focus at f/2.8. The build quality on my Spiratone is top notch, and the infinity focus stop is truly infinity, which I greatly appreciate. It also focuses down to 20cm, which is 5cm closer than most 20mm lenses.

I was going to get the A20/2.8, but the fleabay auction went for $500, which was out of my price range. The spiratone only cost me $150, which I now consider a great deal.

Anyway, that's my take. If you have the cash get the A/FA 20/2.8, otherwise I recommend the Soligor/Spiratone/Auto-Promura.

Edit: I don't recommend the CZJ, the Sigma 20/1.8, or the Spiratone 18/3.5. On the other hand I have heard good things about the Mir 20.
03-12-2012, 06:38 PM - 1 Like   #4
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FA 20-35mm is great. Not that compact but very light. And you get the other focal lengths, too!

03-12-2012, 07:17 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Voigt 20mm f3.5 SLII hands down. Sharp edge-to-edge. Small. Built like a tank.

I've owned the FA20-35/4, which I found to be an excellent lens. Sharp with one of the best IQ/color rendition among Pentax lenses. Unfortunately, it has a plastic body and my lens eventually suffered from haze/clouding which I believe was caused by the dreaded lens separation problem which ails some FA lenses.

I've owned the DA21/3.2 Ltd. The Voigt wins in natural color rendition and sharpness edge-to-edge. Also in build.

As for older Pentax k/A 20mm lenses, well they may be optically very good, but consider that you will be getting lenses that have been around for between 10-20 years now. Even lenses degrade with time. The voigt you can get either brand new or a used one of less than 3 years old. It will last you longer.
03-12-2012, 09:07 PM - 1 Like   #6
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I find the Voigtlander to be soft on film on the edge. I would not call it sharp edge to edge.
03-12-2012, 09:45 PM   #7
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Original Poster
Thanks! I'll take a closer look at the M 20 f4 and the spiratone/soligor 20 f2.8

sorry nick, just looking for a little prime lens, I'm sure the 20-35 is awesome, but I've got that range covered by zooms a couple times over!

QuoteOriginally posted by vinceloc Quote
but consider that you will be getting lenses that have been around for between 10-20 years now.
Well, this is true, but they DO represent about $400 in savings over the voigt. and then there's the whole softness thing. I've heard everything from angel choirs singing its praises to critics bemoaning its performance at any aperture wider than f/11! Could you post a few representative pictures you've got from a film or FF Digital camera taken with it?

While I'm at it, anyone else with awesome photos around 20mm feel free to chime in, I'd love to take a look at them!
03-13-2012, 01:05 AM   #8
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I believe it is sharp at the edges on film at f5.6-f8. A friend of mine tested it with his slr.

03-13-2012, 05:42 AM   #9
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The Pentax-A 1:2.8 20mm isn't huge, but I wouldn't call it compact, because of its 67mm filter thread. Only got mine recently so I don't have much to show with it yet, and haven't decided whether or not it lives up to its lofty reputation.
03-13-2012, 06:14 AM   #10
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I have the Sigma 20 f/1.8 and it is big. It's also a bit softer than I like wide open.
03-13-2012, 06:21 AM   #11
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Recommend the Pentax M 20mm f4. Tiny & sharp. Just added some samples recently:
03-13-2012, 07:42 AM   #12

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One more endorsement for the M20/4.
It will show mustache distortion on film,
but if that's not a problem, go for it!
03-13-2012, 11:13 AM   #13
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Like many of us old film types, I go with the M 20 f4. Of course, that's the one that I have, so maybe I'm biased. Mine gets quite sharp by f5.6, only 1 stop down.

I did get a DA 12-24 f4 to get me back those wide angles that I lost going to DSLRs. The 20 f4 was my widest when I was doing film.

Hard to beat the M 20 f4 if you want compact yet wide.
03-13-2012, 01:22 PM   #14
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I also have Olympus OM 21mm f3.5 which is about the same size and weight. Also a very good lens. The only down side is you have to pay a bit to get the Leitax mount for use with K-mount bodies.
03-13-2012, 02:59 PM   #15
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Why not even Nikkor 20 3.5? It fits Pentax

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