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05-07-2012, 04:09 PM   #1
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Lens for low light landscaping.

I am a low light landscaper looking for advice on a better lens than the Sigma 10-20mm I currently use . The sigma with a range of gnd filters gives me good results but the distortion at 10 to 15 mm is a turn off ( yes I do fix it in PP) so I am thinking of the Da 15mm ltd .
My line up would then be DA15mm , DA35mm ltd and a Da 18-135mm , do you all think this would cover me or are the better alternatives.
I understand the restrictions of the prime and am still , if only just ,capable of the time honoured 2 footed zoom.
I am restricted expenditure wise as I am on a fixed retirement income , please dont treaten my marital stability!!
You can see some of my work here. Cheers Garry
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05-07-2012, 04:19 PM   #2
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I don't think it'll be much of an issue transitioning from the 10-20mm to the 15mm. Panning is always an option if you need a wider view, and the increase in IQ should make up for whatever inconvenience the 2-footed zoom might cause

Unless I'm documenting an event, I almost always shoot with primes. They make you think about composition rather than just snap away.

Adam
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05-07-2012, 05:19 PM   #3
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Let me share a different perspective. It may not aswer your original query but I hope that the experience may help some.

I shoot outdoor mostly and I need sometimes some large aperture, for action shots, for low lights or both. A PF member suggested me the Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4.

Three year later, I shot quite a few low light situations with my K-7 and VL58mm f1.4. The lens is great and give me excellent low light capability, especially with the K-7 renown for poor high-ISO capability compared to K-5 and K-x. The VL58mm focal length is not wide but the lens is really fast giving excellent results for outdoor. I am most happy with the original recommendation and I simply pass on the suggestion.

Hope that the comment may help.
05-07-2012, 05:31 PM   #4
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Look at collections of 'scapes. You'll find that *most* were shot at the equivalent of 18-55mm (APS) or 28-80mm (FF). Also that *most* were shot with the aperture stopped-down to a sweet spot, like between f/5.6-11 (APS-C) or f/8-16 (FF). Most landscapes don't move around a lot (except in seismically active areas) so AF isn't needed. Wide apertures generally aren't needed.

I use my Tamron 10-24 for 'scapes on my K20D, but mostly towards the long end (18mm+), when I don't mind the linear distortion that comes with any lens shorter than 28mm on APS cams. To avoid distortion, I shoot a series with a 28mm in portrait (vertical) aspect and stitch them together for a clean pano. When distortion *really* doesn't matter, and speed does, I'll use my Zenitar 16/2.8, maybe around f/4 for huge DOF.

My favorite 'scape primes are the Zenitar I mentioned (AOV equivalent to 12mm rectilinear); a Paragon-Cimko 24/2.8; a Vivitar-Komine 28/2 CFWA. My new fave zoom is a Cosina-made Vivitar Series 1 19-38/3.5-4.5. The small sharp agile F35-70/3.5-4.5 is great too. The Zenitar goes for around US$200 (although one sold here a couple weeks ago for around US$125) and the others were all much cheaper.

05-07-2012, 06:07 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Unless I'm documenting an event, I almost always shoot with primes. They make you think about composition rather than just snap away.
with landscape photography, you dont always have room to "zoom with your feet"
05-07-2012, 06:55 PM   #6
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Thank you for the replies and suggestions.
I haven't done a lot of pano's as I find the light changes too quickly for me to get a really good transition also with my current set up and pp skills water or sea is not an option.
DOF is important as is the ability to set hyperfocal distance so AF is not essentual
As pointed out all of my photos are taken on a tripod and within that F5.6 to f11 so a "fast " lens is overkill.
Is the 18-135mm going to give me enough compression when a zoom is an option ?

Last edited by grw46; 05-08-2012 at 01:39 AM. Reason: grammar
05-07-2012, 11:24 PM   #7
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low light? I like kit 18-55mm. Save some money for lens buy rather get a sturdy tripod like a Gitzo...etc..a few ND filters maybe thinking about getting a cokin system?
05-08-2012, 12:28 AM   #8
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The only gear you need for low light landscape is a stable tripod.
Any lens can turn into landscape low light.
My favorite setting is small aperture (f8-11), low iso (iso100) and long exposure (30 secs or stacking multiple 30 secs photos)

Kit lens is very good at f8-f11, you may need some filters as well (ND and/or CPL).

05-08-2012, 12:53 AM   #9
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Based on review charts, I don't think the DA15 is less distorted at 15mm than the 10-20 is - and from personal experience I only really have a problem with the 10-20 when going wider than 13mm.

My feeling is that you probably aren't going to get noticeably better shots by swapping out lenses when you're doing ultrawide landscape stuff on APS-C.

Some really good shots on your flickr, btw!
05-08-2012, 12:57 AM   #10
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I think you don't need a fast lens for landscape images. I own the K 50 1.2 and FA* 85 1.4 and only rarely used them for landscapes - especially not wide open. You have to keep in mind that at large apertures the DOF gets insanely thin. Normally a thing you don't want for landscapes. I like night/low light photography a lot and mostly I use wide to 'normal' primes (15 mm, 17 mm, 24 mm or 28 mm) for that at their sweet spot somewhere between f/5.6-11. Even if you use a fast lens there's no way around a tripod in low light situations. So why not stop down a bit to get better IQ and more DOF?
05-08-2012, 09:30 PM   #11
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Hey Garry,
Great set you have at Pentax K5 - a set on Flickr Beautiful work!

FWIW I have the first series Sigma 10-20mm and I wouldn't trade it for the 15mm Ltd. I would like to have both though. Not much help eh.
05-09-2012, 02:13 AM   #12
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Thank you all
Riff as it happens my 10-20 is a first series also and thanks for the compliments riff and timh
Well with the info given in this tread I think staying with my current set up is the go , save some money and keep the peace!!. Cheers all Garry.
05-09-2012, 04:20 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by grw46 Quote
I am a low light landscaper looking for advice on a better lens than the Sigma 10-20mm I currently use . The sigma with a range of gnd filters gives me good results but the distortion at 10 to 15 mm is a turn off ( yes I do fix it in PP) so I am thinking of the Da 15mm ltd .
I wouldn't bother upgrading to the DA 15 only for the 1 stop difference in aperture. You don't shoot landscapes wide open. At F/8 or F/11, difference in sharpness between both lenses should be pretty minimal.

Distortion is, as you know, easily corrected in post processing.

And don't forget a wide angle zoom is much more versatile than a prime lens. To adjust the framing with a prime, you have to crop the picture or to move closer or further away from the subject, which is not always feasible -- and the perspective will change if you do so, meaning you'll end up with a different picture. In short: if you want full control over framing, keep the zoom.

In my opinion, the main point of getting the DA 15 is size. If you need a compact lens, then go for it! By the way, I have the DA 15 and find it truly superb!

Cheers!

Abbazz
05-09-2012, 07:22 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by grw46 Quote
Is the 18-135mm going to give me enough compression when a zoom is an option ?
I would worry more about border to border sharpness with the 18-135 than I would compression. I've run across lots of complaints about border to border resolution with the 18-135 at the wide end and between 50 and 135. If I were replacing a zoom lens in your line-up, I would look at the 18-135 rather than the 10-20. Whatever distortion problems you are experiencing with the 10-20 probably arise from perspective distortion, which is par for the course with ultra wides. In terms of barrel distortion, the 18-135 probably has more distortion than the 10-20. In any case, if you're on a budget, I would not replace the 10-20 with the DA 15. Is the DA 15 better? Yes, it's a great lens. But the 10-20 covers more ground, and apparantly does it quite well. Trying to do landscapes with primes can be expensive, because you have to buy more lenses to cover the various focal lengths required.
05-10-2012, 04:09 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Abbazz Quote
And don't forget a wide angle zoom is much more versatile than a prime lens.
..but they also have longer close focusing distance and and often much more prone to flare...
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