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05-30-2012, 11:31 PM   #1
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35mm ltd. vs. kit lens

Hi my first post

I recently sold my nikon gear to fund a K-5 with 18-55mm wr kit + 35mm ltd.
A lot of reviews about the 35mm ltd warned against using it for landscaping and distant objects.
I though it would be interesting to see how it fares against the kit lens which we all know for landscape photography

Some general remarks:
I have no special skills in landscape photography and I properly made many mistakes both technically and in composition.
The camera was in Av mode and the aperture was set to f8. I used a table as support and set the self timer to 2 sec then focused (AF AF.S center) on the horizon and recomposed
by mistake the iso was 200
the two different images are processed in LR with 30u fill light and a little exposure compensation (+0.75EV) the kit lens under exposed with 0.55EV compared to the macro which has also been corrected. No sharpening has been added by me but automatic lens corrections were added.
The sun was left in the frame to better get a feel for flare.

My thoughts:
The two shoots are very similar in sharpness however color and contrast differs a little bit. I think the color and contrast of the macro is a little better
the foreground is more contrasty and maybe a little sharper for the macro (left).
Middle- and distant sharpness goes to the kit by a small margin but again the 35mm ltd color and contrast is better.
The sun "bleeds" a lot more with the kit lens.

The kit is a fine lens especially at 35mm f8. It might even surpass the 35mm macro for landscape style photography. The fine contrast, color rendition and flare control of the macro is apparent and add quality to a landscape photo but I agree the sharpness is a little lacking for distant objects - maybe careful MF could correct for this but this lens i very difficult to MF at infinity(which it had a hard stop at infinity like many old MF lenses do....)

Feel free to show your own comparisons.
PS. the 35mm ltd is the left one in the comparison views

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05-30-2012, 11:54 PM   #2
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Thanks for the shots! IMHO the DA18-55 is highly underrated. And many macro lenses are great up close and not so great with distant subjects. Are some exceptions -- my Vivitar-Komine 90/2.8 (1:1) macro does fine at distances, but my Macro Takumar 50/4 (1:1) and Kilfitt Makro Likar E 40/3.5 (1:2) are best with subjects within 4m.
05-31-2012, 12:31 AM   #3
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Where to start?

Bringing a macro lens to a landscape shoot-out, and discovering that it still performs very very well, is a bit like making the mistake of bringing a formula-1 racecar to the Paris-Dakar rally and still winning. That only shows how forgiving this lens is.

Moreover, you're comparing two lenses: One at it's sweet spot, the other at an aperture where resolution drops. The sweetspot of the 35ltd is at 4, maybe 5.6, at which it's ultrasharp. So sharp even, that I didn't use my FA43ltd any longer and sold it. But from your test we see that even at f8 the 35ltd clearly still outperforms the 18-55.
05-31-2012, 12:45 AM   #4
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I agree the 35 ltd absolutely shines at closeups portraits, full body and group shots in my opinion. It obviously also excels at macro!
a different aspect when shooting against the sun is the sun burst effect, which is quite different between the two lenses(kit f13 35mm ltd f22).

The kit lens was zoomed to 21mm in this case - and I think the wider FOV is better for this particular scene...

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05-31-2012, 01:53 AM   #5
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Maybe you should take a look at the pictures in this thread:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/lens-clubs/32664-theory-da-35mm-ltd-great...er-tag-27.html

Especially at Jsherman's pictures. Clearly, if used correctly, this lens is extremely sharp.
05-31-2012, 02:55 AM   #6
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I dont dispute this is a sharp lens if used correctly. And this example also just shows as you say that even at sub optimum settings it delivers very nice pictures.

When I bought into pentax I didn't know what lens to buy first. I actually started with the 35mm f2.4 but due to focusing problems and low contrast in bright sunlight I swapped it for the 35mm limited. I hope these examples will help people like me who are thinking of buying the 35mm ltd as an all-around lens by showing that even at things for which it is not designed(landscape) it does a very good job indeed.

Thanks for pointing me to the pictures of Jsherman they are great!!
05-31-2012, 03:25 AM   #7
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In my experience the 35mm macro is considerably sharper than the 18-55mm, and it also has that 'something' extra in the image quality that the kit lens doesn't. Horses for courses and all that

Flickr: SMC Pentax DA 35mm F2.8 Macro Limited
Flickr: SMC Pentax DA 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL WR

Last edited by kh1234567890; 05-31-2012 at 06:07 AM.
05-31-2012, 06:54 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
IMHO the DA18-55 is highly underrated.
I agree. It's not bad wide open. Stop it down a little & it's quite good. Nice build quality for a kit lens, too. It hasn't let me down yet.

06-01-2012, 04:11 AM   #9
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I know you were comparing what you had, but the better comparison would be the 35 ltd to the da* 16-50. I think had you gone with the other non-ltn, non-macro 35, you would have found their performance more similar. I think that comparing the ltd to the da* is the better comparison because both of those have upgraded manufacturing. While comparing a prime to a zoom is never going to really be comparing the same thing, it is a close comparison.

I have the 35 ltd and I really like it for its ability to be used as a macro and a normal lens. That functionality and it's size, IMO make it just about perfect for a walk around lens.
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