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10-05-2012, 12:53 AM   #1
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Inexpensive and compact wide angle prime?

Hey, been visiting here for quite a long time but only just made an account.

I'm wondering what options I have for a wide angle lens on a budget.

Now, I've searched around and seen threads on the subject before, but one thing I don't see mentioned by the OP too often is compactness. I'm looking for a lens that isn't too long or weighs too much. Right now, I'm quite comfortable with my F 50 1.7, it's size and its weight allow me to shoot and handle the camera comfortably without any fatigue or worry of it smacking into something. I like to carry my camera around to all sorts of place, and it can be tough if I've got a humongous lens on it like the DA 18-135. Usually people suggest zoom lenses for this sort of question (especially the 18-50 kit lens on a budget) but I'd like something smaller, so I figure a prime is what I need.

So that's my top priority, to have it be small and light (or as small and light as the 50 1.7). As far as how wide, I'd love something in the 20's for the focal range. I like the idea of going even wider, below 20, but I know that there aren't very many (if any) budget-friendly options. I think I'd be happy with 24mm, or if not, then 28mm (or anything around those 2). I'm looking to be able to shoot indoors, or especially for touristy shots that can get a good chunk of the background in the shot (compared to the tightness of the 50, anyway).

In terms of budget, I was hoping for under $200, aiming for the best price to performance ratio. I'm alright with manual focus but automatic aperture functionality would be nice to have. I've done some research and see some of Pentax's primes that seem to fit the bill, but they can go for some high prices. What I'm curious about are the 3rd party lenses. I've heard of some that are supposedly good and that go for under $100 (or even under $50), but I'm completely clueless when it comes to third party lenses and what's good and what isn't. The database on the site is useful, but there's so many lenses in the third party section, I don't know where to begin.

Are there any lenses you guys would suggest I look into?

Thanks for the help.

10-05-2012, 01:32 AM   #2
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Hi! I don't own one but in trying to take into account your stated budget a M or A series 28mm might work for you and can be found on ebay, second hand shops places like these for under 150$ depending on the iteration of the lens you find.

And not to suggest something your not interested in but the DA35mm 2.4 is a great lens that is fully automatic with great image quality, reasonably priced and I've found to be very flexible for different photo opportunities
10-05-2012, 01:50 AM   #3
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Considering there aren't many old lenses that are wide and none of 28mm or less that are cheap, it's probably best to keep saving until you can afford something like an FA20 or DA21... or while you're in that price range go a bit further and just get the DA15.
10-05-2012, 01:52 AM   #4
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The Sigma Miniwide ll 24mm is available in both manual and autofocus options and is pretty reasonable. Bit soft at F2.8 but ok when stopped down. Close focuses nicely and is compact. I have both the KA and AF versions,

10-05-2012, 02:11 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by JesterPrime Quote
Hey, been visiting here for quite a long time but only just made an account.

I'm wondering what options I have for a wide angle lens on a budget.

Now, I've searched around and seen threads on the subject before, but one thing I don't see mentioned by the OP too often is compactness. I'm looking for a lens that isn't too long or weighs too much. Right now, I'm quite comfortable with my F 50 1.7, it's size and its weight allow me to shoot and handle the camera comfortably without any fatigue or worry of it smacking into something. I like to carry my camera around to all sorts of place, and it can be tough if I've got a humongous lens on it like the DA 18-135. Usually people suggest zoom lenses for this sort of question (especially the 18-50 kit lens on a budget) but I'd like something smaller, so I figure a prime is what I need.

So that's my top priority, to have it be small and light (or as small and light as the 50 1.7). As far as how wide, I'd love something in the 20's for the focal range. I like the idea of going even wider, below 20, but I know that there aren't very many (if any) budget-friendly options. I think I'd be happy with 24mm, or if not, then 28mm (or anything around those 2). I'm looking to be able to shoot indoors, or especially for touristy shots that can get a good chunk of the background in the shot (compared to the tightness of the 50, anyway).

In terms of budget, I was hoping for under $200, aiming for the best price to performance ratio. I'm alright with manual focus but automatic aperture functionality would be nice to have. I've done some research and see some of Pentax's primes that seem to fit the bill, but they can go for some high prices. What I'm curious about are the 3rd party lenses. I've heard of some that are supposedly good and that go for under $100 (or even under $50), but I'm completely clueless when it comes to third party lenses and what's good and what isn't. The database on the site is useful, but there's so many lenses in the third party section, I don't know where to begin.

Are there any lenses you guys would suggest I look into?

Thanks for the help.
The Tamron Adaptall 24 2.5 is respectable, although I would be cautious about using it wide open. It is quite small for a fast 24mm. Uses a 55mm filter. Had mine for about 20 years, still use it the odd time when I want something that is bright in the viewfinder and compact.

They were made for quite a while. Some are getting pretty old. In my observation, Tamron OEM lubricants were not quite as good as Pentax especially in earlier adaptall lenses. The odds of problems with the diaphragm are therefore higher than with Pentax lenses.

Other than that, as others have pointed out, Pentax has made some nice, small 28s.
10-05-2012, 02:26 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by StephenHampshire Quote
The Sigma Miniwide ll 24mm is available in both manual and autofocus options and is pretty reasonable. Bit soft at F2.8 but ok when stopped down. Close focuses nicely and is compact. I have both the KA and AF versions,
Very good lens. I find it pretty good wide open, actually!
10-05-2012, 03:41 AM   #7
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If you are willing to use m42 mount the Super Takumar 24/3.5 and the 28/3.5 are good and not too expensive. The 24 is more (typically $120 or a bit more) and the 28 can be found easily in the $60-70 range (both +postage). If you can be patient and not feel you must buy the first one you see you could get a good one and quite reasonbly priced. Operation will be entirely manual - but the glasss was made good and the feel of holding them is lovely, a real pleasure to use. (Both have 58mm filter mount - so filters are not too expensive either.)
10-05-2012, 07:41 AM   #8
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Ahhh...the perpetual question. Where can I find a wide angle alternative to the kit lens that will not break the bank? First a few foundational answers:
  • On APS-C (your camera) 28mm is not even close to being wide
  • 24mm is only moderately wide
  • 19mm or shorter is your target
Now a few hard truths:
  • Your 18-55 kit lens is your best value on the wide end
  • You will pay dearly for quality rectilinear alternatives, even if the lens is vintage or off-brand
  • With a few notable exceptions (Pentax-DA 15/4 Limited for example), short lenses are not particularly compact
Depending on your intended subjects, you might want to consider a fisheye in the 16mm range. I use a Zenitar 16/2.8 Fisheye as a landscape lens and am quite satisfied with its performance. A few notes about fisheyes:
  • At 16mm, a fisheye will give you about 120 degrees FOV on APS-C
  • At 16mm, fisheye's are not particularly "fishy" on APS-C. Much depends on camera angle and the orientation of straight lines to the lens axis.
  • Fisheyes, while providing a curved perspective, do not suffer from the volumetric distortion at the margins that plague short rectilinear lenses. No more fat/smeared faces at the margins.
Did I mention that a K-mount Zenitar can be had new for less than $200 USD? Click HERE for a selection of shots, both digital and film, that I have made with this lens.


Steve

P.S. One caution...accurate focus with many short lenses is difficult due to short focus throw and small relative size of objects in the viewfinder. The often quoted notion about wide-angles have infinite DOF is sort of an urban legend when you start looking actual photos. I use a Katz Eye split-image screen with my Zenitar for that reason.


Last edited by stevebrot; 10-05-2012 at 07:58 AM.
10-05-2012, 08:02 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by ihasa Quote
Very good lens. I find it pretty good wide open, actually!
My MF is better w/o than my AF example!
10-05-2012, 08:25 AM   #10
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Others have beaten me to almost all the good recommendations. The Kiron 24mm f2.0 is also excellent but KA versions are rare and maybe over budget. I have this one and the Sigma 24/2.8 in KA, and the Sigma usually gets on the camera because of the KA mount and 52mm filter. I'm always short of 55mm caps and filters. I typically don't need the extra stop.

The 16mm fisheyes can be defished with good results, especially if you have a lot of megapixels to burn.

A used DA 16-45/4 is just over budget, definitely not compact, not quite as sharp as the Sigma or Kiron, but it's better than only a handful of older lenses wider than 23mm, AF, quick shift, etc.
10-05-2012, 08:28 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Did I mention that a K-mount Zenitar can be had new for less than $200 USD?
I also had the Zenitar for a bit, found it a lovely sharp lens (and quite compact) but wasn't sure about the almost-but-not-quite-fishiness. Regretted selling it when I finally got my 35mm film shots taken with it back!
10-05-2012, 09:08 AM   #12
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For a true wide angle, you want 24mm at the very longest. 28mm is getting into short-normal territory.

Sounds like the lens you really want is the Pentax M 20/4 or DA 21/3.2 Limited, both of which are tiny but a bit more than you want to spend.

If you want AF in that price range the only option is the Sigma 24/2.8 Super Wide II. It also came in an MF version with KA-mount so you can avoid stop-down metering.

Here are some other MF options. The ones marked with a * can be had in KA-mount, but some had regular K-mount versions as well.

Tokina 17mm f/3.5
Cosina 20mm f/3.8*
Kiron/Vivitar 24mm f/2*
Tamron 24mm f/2.5*
Pentax K 24mm f/2.8
Cosina/Vivitar 24mm f/2.8*
Pentax K 24mm f/3.5

The Tamron came in Adaptall and Adaptall-2 versions...you can get a KA-mount Adaptall-2 ring.
10-05-2012, 11:08 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by StephenHampshire Quote
The Sigma Miniwide ll 24mm is available in both manual and autofocus options and is pretty reasonable. Bit soft at F2.8 but ok when stopped down. Close focuses nicely and is compact. I have both the KA and AF versions,
+1
I've got the manual version and I think it's great. One caveat, when this lens is mounted it tends to overexpose by one stop, so you need to set your exposure compensation to -1. But it's very sharp. I got mine for less than $100 shipped.
10-05-2012, 11:37 AM   #14
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Well first off, I'd like to thank everyone for all of these awesome suggestions.

One thing I forgot to mention is that I'm on a K-30, so manual focus is a little easier with the focus peaking. I also have the 18-135 WR kit lens, not the 18-55, though the latter isn't too much smaller than the former, so I'd definitely like something smaller (even if I have to save up).

I don't think I can live without the A mode, stop-down metering isn't too terrible, but it does take some time to set-up (not to mention eliminating the ability to use Aperture-priority, when needed), and I'd like to be able to be a bit quicker.

Those of you suggesting that on APS-C, it's not wide until you go below 20mm, you might be right. I suppose I was just trying to sacrifice some room in the image for a cheaper price and more compact size. I would love to hear about actually wide lenses that aren't too expensive, and have been looking into what has been suggested (the Zenitar doesn't have communication with the body eh? Awww maannnnn).

Is there any particular place I should look for these to buy them? I was using ebay, but I can't find the Sigma 24 mini wide there, for instance. Is there a better place to look, or do I just wait for whichever lens I want to pop up (if I'm not willing to buy something else)?

Thanks again.
10-05-2012, 11:44 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnyates Quote
+1
I've got the manual version and I think it's great. One caveat, when this lens is mounted it tends to overexpose by one stop, so you need to set your exposure compensation to -1. But it's very sharp. I got mine for less than $100 shipped.
i am somewhat on the fence with Sigma Mini wide II lenses. I have the 28mm lens in KA mount, and although I did not spend much ($30) it is without a doubt the worst 28 mm lens I own. It suffers very very badly in terms of lateral CA, not just in the out of focus detail but also with respect to in the focal plane as well. In color this leads to purple/green fringing on the side of detail, and in B&W, it leads to serious loss of sharpness off center.
100% image
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/members/1116-lowell-goudge/albums/3233-lo...ture25647.html
close up crop in the corner
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/members/1116-lowell-goudge/albums/3233-lo...ture25645.html

while this is easily fixed with a software package that re-scales the color layers geometrically, it is a bit of a pain.

The kiron (or vivitar variants) are good lenses but are very prone to sticking aperture blades both my 24/2 and 28/2 kiron made lenses had stuck blades, and these are the only 2 lenses I have ever owned with stuck blades.

The most I have spent on a wide angle lens is for an M28/2.8 at about $60. i also have tamron 24/2,5 and 28/2.5 lenses which are solid performers. and both M42 and K mount vivitar 28/2.5 lenses that have seen the most use so far of all my wide angle lenses.

Last edited by Lowell Goudge; 10-05-2012 at 11:49 AM.
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