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11-07-2012, 05:34 AM   #1
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Which lens for scenery.

I have a 18-55 kit lens and that is it. Is that good enough for mountains, large scenery and documenting where I am. Say signs for National Parks and such.
Is there a big jump in quality when you go with a better lens for this kind of shooting?
I have some big primes, but have never bought a lens for scenery. And I would like to use Pentax because of the excellent Sensor it has.

Any help would be appreciated.
Thnk's

11-07-2012, 06:08 AM   #2
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The 18-55 will do a fine job if you stop it down. What primes do you have?
11-07-2012, 06:13 AM   #3
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Hi, thanks for the help. I have two sigma primes but they are for birding. I want to start documenting and have never even shot with the 18-55 lens. I will try it stopped down some. Where is it the sharpest?
11-07-2012, 06:16 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by garyk Quote
I have a 18-55 kit lens and that is it. Is that good enough for mountains, large scenery and documenting where I am. Say signs for National Parks and such.
Is there a big jump in quality when you go with a better lens for this kind of shooting?
I have some big primes, but have never bought a lens for scenery. And I would like to use Pentax because of the excellent Sensor it has.

Any help would be appreciated.
Thnk's
A good point'n'shoot is good enough to capture signs and things as a record of where you have been, but good scenery requires a sharp lens to capture the fine detail of foliage and good contrast and colour capture. As a former user of the Mark 1 18-55, I thought it was ok until I put something else on the front of the camera and realised that the kit lens unfortunately falls short of satisfying. The Mark II version is meant to be better though.

I could suggest a DA15 or DA21 as top grade compact primes but these do cost $$$'s and I don't know your possible budget. While not quite as wide, maybe grab an old manual lens like a K24 or one of the M28's (I really like the M 28mm F3.5 myself - see a whole month of shooting with it here southlander's Album: Single in September - PentaxForums.com) and give that a try. Less than $100 and you will get the lovely colour saturation and contrast Pentax glass is known for. You don't always need a really wide lens for scenery - it can be tempting to use one to fit all you see in, but can also lead to images without any real focus of interest. If you want a zoom upgrade, I use the Tamron 17-50 F2.8 and that is a good sharp lens and constant F2.8 is very handy in poor light. Secondhand these are probably $280-320 and pop up here on the Forum marketplace reasonably often. So a few options there that won't break the bank if you want to try an alternative out.

If you do use the 18-55, try to grab a lens hood for it off Ebay or somewhere as I have read that shading the front elements improves the 18-55 quite a bit. Shame on Pentax really for not providing one as standard.

At the end of the day, take your 18-55 out for a drive and see what you think of the images and take your cue from that.

11-07-2012, 06:18 AM   #5
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The 18-55 is a decent lens. Use it at f8 or f11 for scenery to get sharpness and a good DoF. But I haven't used my 18-55 much since I bought a couple of primes. Primes (generally) give you a faster aperture (so you can shoot in low light or with a faster shutter speed to freeze motion) and more sharpness with less optical aberration. The kit lens will definitely do the job, and its great because it is so flexible and can go very wide. Just take your time with composition and photo settings
11-07-2012, 06:19 AM   #6
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A lens like the tamron 17-50 F2.8 would be very good. It is very sharp indeed. Cheap too Lenses like the Pentax 35 f2.4 are also cheap but offer a superb performance.
11-07-2012, 06:19 AM   #7
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At F8 the lens is sharp. Do use your hood if you have one.
11-07-2012, 06:19 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by garyk Quote
I have a 18-55 kit lens and that is it. Is that good enough for mountains, large scenery and documenting where I am. Say signs for National Parks and such.
Is there a big jump in quality when you go with a better lens for this kind of shooting?
The DA 18-55 does a good job documenting things like signs for National Parks,
but its rendering can be a little "muddy" at the fine detail level.
Lack of microcontrast, as they say.
There are some tricks you can do in PP,
but they will only get you so far.

A good lens can give you the microcontrast, without PP.
At wider angles, I use a DA 15 Ltd and a Zeiss ZK 25/2.8 on APS-C.
Other users like zooms, such as the DA 12-24.

11-07-2012, 06:36 AM   #9
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Thnk's for the advice. I shoot with a Pentax K-x now. And I have a lens hood for the 18-55 So I will take it out tomorrow and see how it looks at F8 and up..
I looked at your album Southlander, I have been pondering MF. Is it hard to get use to. Or how do you like MF as opposed to AF.
11-07-2012, 07:10 AM   #10
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Beware of the 'and up', going past f/11 will actually begin to soften the image due to diffraction effects! I have tried several alternatives to the 18-55 (WR for my K-5) but most are quite a lot bulkier so the 18-55 is a keeper for me. As to primes, you would be well served to use the 18-55 for a while and see where your 'favorite' focal lengths are; I have a 24mm and 40mm that suit me well, plus a great 28mm that's seeing less time with the 24 crowding it. And when I need to go wide I really like Sigma's 15mm fisheye; a bit fishy yes, but very talented.
11-07-2012, 07:39 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by garyk Quote
Thnk's for the advice. I shoot with a Pentax K-x now. And I have a lens hood for the 18-55 So I will take it out tomorrow and see how it looks at F8 and up..
I looked at your album Southlander, I have been pondering MF. Is it hard to get use to. Or how do you like MF as opposed to AF.
I'm getting to enjoy it. Makes the brain engage as it makes you think about which element of the scene you want to have sharp and what DOF you are after. The focusing screen is some help but not a lot. The Focus Green Light covers a range of movement on the lens focusing barrel, but I have found that if I come up from the minimum focus side of the lens until the Focus Green Light first comes on, then that is where the focus should be (at least on my camera with a little positive focus correction set via Debug that my zooms need). Can always duff a few shots from time to time though. Remember that focus is center point with manual lens. So focus and recompose. This is fine except for really close up shots where recomposing changes the distance and DOF cannot cover it. I haven't bought a third party focusing screen as an upgrade from the K-x is on the cards, so it would just become a sunk cost all too soon. Will do so for the next camera though. Use the Green Button for exposure but find for most of my M's that the camera meters a little dark. Do not use the A setting as I tend not to shoot wide open.

So technique is:

Camera on, confirm focal length for the stabilisation.
Set aperture on lens for desired DOF and sharpness.
Point center focussing spot at desired point of focus for the subject.
Move focus to shorter than required distance.
Back up towards infinity til Focus Light/Beep just comes on.
Recompose.
Hit Green Button to set exposure, then twirl shutter speed dial on rear of camera two notches to the left to counteract typical 2/3rd stop underexposure from Green Button (and pause to adjust aperture or ISO if shutter speed outside desired range)
Take photo.
Check on replay to see if sharp, and check histogram for correct exposure.
Re-shoot if required.

Sounds a lot to remember, but after 900 images shot for Single in September, I think I am now trained and its more or less automatic for me. Mind you, I date from 70's manual SLR's so it's merely back to the future to a considerable extent, but with instant verification of whether the photo is more or less ok (vs hope and pray on film).

Oh, and you need to go into the menu once only to tell the camera it is ok to fire when it has no aperture information coming from the lens.

And you could avoid all the exposure mucking around if you buy A series lens.

Finally, I find AWB is a bit hit and miss with the M's so I shoot RAW and so have total control over WB in later post processing on the 'puter. I find JPEGs a pain for WB correction.

What I really like is that a fixed lens with manual focus and exposure forces the brain to engage. Auto-everything and I find that I am not really considering to any extent what I am doing/attempting to achieve. Fixed focal lengths also just seems to make you consider composition more carefully - with a zoom, I tend to just stand still and twirl the zoom until something 'bout right appears in the viewfinder. I use my feet with a fixed focal length and that seems to encourage me to trying out different (and often better) angles.

I am quite happy to acknowledge the benefits of AF and zooms in certain situations - eg snaps while on family holidays as the "oh no, dad's stopping for a photo moan" comes pretty quick. Or action shooting like sports/air shows. Or the environment is dirty and changing primes is an invitation for dirt to invade the sensor area.

In the end, I encourage you just to buy one cheapie and see if you like going manual or not. The M 50 1.7 or 1.4 are both great sharp lenses, both well <$100 and often here on the Forum. M 28's, partic the 2.8 is common. 3.5 is a little harder to find but they are about and both also around $60-80. I'm using the M 85 2 for Single in November. Nice indeed but a little more work to get right. But you would appreciate that with teles in your bag.

EDIT: My father has very recently passed to me a mint M 28-50 zoom. From a quick test, sharpness is quite good and colours and contrast quite astounding. Need to experiment a bit more. Seems much better than the reviews for it on this forum would suggest.

Last edited by southlander; 11-07-2012 at 07:48 AM.
11-07-2012, 07:44 AM   #12
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If you don't need something super wide, get the 35 f2.4, it is super sharp and corners are very good and center is excellent at f4.
11-07-2012, 07:52 AM   #13
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Oh, I just remembered some time ago someone said that according to "their research and tests" the 16-45 is the best lens for landscapes. I don't have it, though, so i can't say how good it is. Just putting it out there, since it is a little wider and sharper than the kit.
11-07-2012, 08:14 AM   #14
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for landscapes you'll want the edge to edge sharpness of a prime, though. A 15 limited would be good but a 35 is also extrememly sharp (thwe f2.4 and 2.8 are both amazingly sharp)
11-07-2012, 08:27 AM   #15
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Well sounds like I may play around with the 18-55 some tomorrow. It is in the 16-45 range so I can experiment. Also I just read that Graduation filter is good for landscape shots some times.
Thanks for the detailed tutorial on MF Southlander. I may print that out and take it with me. I assume I can try MF with the 18-55 lens. Just putting it in MF mode to try it.
Also I have read else where about using primes for landscape. It says the same thing you mentioned. I'll get on e-bay and look for one of the cheap primes suggested here too.
There is a camera store here close but at this time I do not want to spend a lot of money. I want to experiment and enjoy for a while. Just kinda walk around and do some experimenting.
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