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02-17-2013, 12:53 AM   #1
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15mm or 70mm limited?

Sorry again. For some reason I only use these forums to ask questions, someday I'll contribute something useful, I swear.

In the last couple days I hit upon some unexpected funds, so obviously the first thought was "I need more lenses!", not anything smart like "I should put this in the bank", or "I should get around to actually fully paying off my student loans". I thought I was done with buying lenses (at least for the Pentax, my EP3 is starting to feel left out); but thanks to a fellow Pentaxian here I picked up a nice 40 limited.

I'm quickly falling in love with it. The build quality is awesome, and even if it is a bit less sharp and contrasty than I like, it renders naturalistic portraits and black and whites better than anything else I own. The black and whites are just buttery and gorgeous, with the bare amount of PP. Also, 40mm is a very nice FL, I found 35mm to be a bit inconvenient, and at times 50 is to long. 40mm seems just right. The whole limited things is very appealing, as well, the build of this lens is absolutely fantastic. It feels like a bona fide bit of engineering, especially sitting next to my almost 100% plastic zooms (the FA100 2.8 macro still wins, that thing will outlast us all; it is a tank).

Looking around these forums I've noticed that most of the pictures that really grab me are shot with either the 15mm or the 70mm limiteds. The 35 looks fantastic too, but it just isn't the right length for me, and I have a DA 35mm 2.4 that I barely ever touch. I'm pretty certain that I'll grab one of these. But I'm not sure which. I know that no one can actually tell me which is right for me (if only life was that easy); but I'd like to know how restrictive these lengths are, since they are both on the extreme of what I shoot with. My widest lens is a MF Sigma 24mm Super Wide II (thanks to another person here), and my longest is a DA L 55-300, which I barely ever use. I did take the 55-300 to a local park today, and it made me feel rather guilty for never taking it out (even if it almost got attacked by geese several times).

So... the question is... what do you use these focal lengths for? Is the 15mm mostly only for landscapes, and the 70mm mostly only for actual portraits of people? How restrictive is either of these lengths? I'm more worried, to be honest, about the 70mm, but that might be mostly because I never really shoot around that length.


Last edited by Omestes; 02-17-2013 at 01:06 AM.
02-17-2013, 01:03 AM   #2
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I've used both the DA 15 and the DA 70 as the walkaround lens of the day.
However, in terms of your question, which of the two to buy first,
I think your reservations about the DA 70 are justified, so I'd recommend the DA 15.
It is more versatile as a single lens.
Not only landscapes, but architecture, portraits of people in their environment, close-ups, . . .

There was a time, back in the late 1960s and early 1970s,
when the 24mm lens on FF was almost the standard lens for photojournalism.
Since the DA 15 is so compact, it can play the same role on APS-C.
02-17-2013, 01:19 AM   #3
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Another question... Speed. While I'm a bit leery of the 70mm focal length, I'm also a bit leery of the f4 minimum aperture of the 15mm. 2.4 is pretty fast, but f4 seems almost glacial. I suppose it boils down to this, I'm almost a rock bottom novice, and both of these seem like a bit of a leap. Both of these are far more challenging sounding than what I'm used to. That isn't a bad thing. The choice is, though. Why can't I win the lottery?
02-17-2013, 01:48 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Omestes Quote
Another question... Speed. While I'm a bit leery of the 70mm focal length, I'm also a bit leery of the f4 minimum aperture of the 15mm.
There is no problem of speed with f/4 on the DA 15, because of its width.

Before shake reduction, the old rule of thumb handheld
was to use a minimum shutter speed of "one over the focal length (in mm)."
So no less than 1/50 sec on a 50mm lens, or 1/15 sec on the DA 15.
However, shake reduction gives you a stop or two over that.
A couple of weeks ago, I did a handheld grab shot at 1/2 sec with the DA 15,
and the result was at least as as useable as a P&S photo.

Look at it this way: f/4 on the DA 15 is like f/2 on a 50mm lens,
since 1/15 sec at f/4 is the same exposure value as 1/60 sec at f/2.

02-17-2013, 01:55 AM   #5
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Don't worry about the speed on the DA15 - the IQ is very good all the way out to near wide-open. I typically shoot mine at f/4.5. In most cases you don't need faster at that focal length - it's the overall great IQ and vibrant colors that make this a desirable lens.

However, you'll find you generally need to get very close to foreground objects to make interesting photos, so be prepared for the learning we all must go through the first time we get a wide-angle lens.

I do think you'd like the DA70 (or better yet an FA77 if you can afford it) and find it useful in many situations. IMO the FA77 is even more versatile than the DA15, although I like both very much.
02-17-2013, 03:41 AM   #6
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Totally different lenses. I'd say, if you are looking for sharpness corner to corner go for DA70.
02-17-2013, 05:01 AM   #7
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Hi,
I have DA 15mm and FA 77mm. I use the latter far more often. I found short tele lens more versatile even for architecture and landscape shots not to mention head and shoulders type of photos. It is useful when you want to depict some distant building or a lonely tree far away, or want to make a photo of some animal in the zoo (for example, see IMGP0568 | Flickr - Photo Sharing! or IMGP0399 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!)
While DA 15mm is certainly a great lens, I rarely feel a desire to mount it. Most probably because I've not yet developed the proper technique and can't "see" in terms of such wide angle.
02-17-2013, 05:29 AM   #8
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Why not just admit you've got LBA and get both of them.

Tom G

02-17-2013, 06:43 AM   #9
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From your post, buying a lens is the wrong financial decision, but since that's what you want do I'll weigh in on the DA 70. It's an ideal portrait lens, so if you like to shoot portraits get the 70. Your Sigma 24 is a nice landscape lens, so you already have that covered. I prefer zooms as walk around lenses for the versatility. Since you don't use your 35 or 55-300 much, I'd get rid of them and pick up something like the 17-70 or 18-135 as a walk around to complement the 24 for landscapes and 70 for portraits.
02-17-2013, 07:48 AM   #10
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DA 70mm: even though its typically used as a portrait lens, its a landscape lens too. In fact, the pentax-ricoh website lists the lens as a a 'medium telephoto for landscape and portaiture'. Landscape shots with medium telephoto are useful to isolate things in the scene. Its a whole lot easier to shoot landscapes this way. Its a different kind of landscape shot. The DA 70 is ideal for this.
Cons: its not a great walkaround lens, its not just the long focal length. Its not designed to focus on things that are real close by.

DA 15mm: dont worry about the f4 speed. A 15mm focal length is not really designed to shoot that wide open for most purposes. For landscapes you want more sharpness anyway. The 15mm is a bit too wide for me. Most people will have a hard time with composition. However, once you get the composition right, you can take some amazing photos. And it takes amazing starbursts. You can inculde the sun in your composition and use a a small aperture and get really clean starbursts. Probably the number one reason that I still keep the DA 15mmm is because its so small, does not take much space and you can always put it on camera if you see a scene that it would fit for.
Cons: it has a built in hood and if you plan to use filters, only some will fit.
02-17-2013, 09:26 AM   #11
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Tom, if only I could. Though I know I'll probably get both, but one is going to have to wait until next year. I'm currently trying to unload some other gear, which will go towards the loser. I really need to get around to being a supporter here and listing them, and figuring out exactly the shipping and paypal-ery involved.

Mprince... It isn't a terrible financial decision. I've been raised to feel guilty about spending any amount of money on frivolous things, and then feel guilty for not getting them. Also, 10 years ago, this money would have gone to largely superfluous computer hardware. I'm also not a huge fan of zooms, they don't seem to have the IQ of primes, nor the consistency. This could just be my selection though, but I do find myself nearly always reaching for the nearest prime in the range I'm looking for, instead of a zoom. Zooms also make me feel lazy, I generally only shoot at the end of their ranges. Again, like moving to a FL outside of my comfort zone, this is probably just me being a novice and not quite finding a stride yet.

I did ponder getting a more limited zoom though (like the Sigma 10-20, or the 12-24), but they worry me. Probably irrationally. I own three zooms, and they are all pretty soft, and have odd weak spots somewhere in their range, with higher distortion and CA than a prime sitting anywhere in their range. Again, my experience is very limited.

I'm leaning towards the 15mm right now. Poking around a bit more on these forums, someone recommended picking based on where you shoot most on the 18-55 kit lens. Poking around my old pictures I found I pretty much always shot at around 18mm, which leads to me think I like wider lenses for general shooting. If its speed isn't an issue, it might be ideal. The close focusing is also a big bonus for my habits. That was the one thing that continually jarred me with the 55-300 the other day, I naturally want to get closer to highlight some detail, only to find that I couldn't.

I might go for a walk this afternoon with a zoom set on 70mm just to see how it feels.
02-17-2013, 09:48 AM   #12
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I just recently bought a 15mm limited after shooting with my 18-55, 50mm, and 55-300.

It's drastically different.
The change from 18mm to 15mm is actually extreme, often forcing me to get very close to my subject (but depends on size and composition). It will give a vast wide-open effect to your landscapes, but be aware that you have to be within range of the landscape. You're not going to be able to shoot a field and mountains far off in the distance with this lens -- the mountains will just be miniscule. This is a lens for when you're IN the mountains -- in the middle of the "action". So your choice really comes down to your style of shooting. If you're not going to get up close to your subject, you'd be better off with a 70mm (or the 40mm you already have). I was trying to shoot something like this just recently: a farm/field and mountains a mile away. The "mountains" weren't very tall to begin with (900ft), but the DA15 basically turned them invisible, blending them in with the horizon. I really wanted a nice 30-40mm range lens in that situation.

Also, since you have the 55-300, try shooting at 70mm for a while. See if you like the narrower field of view.

Last edited by NitroDC; 02-17-2013 at 09:53 AM.
02-17-2013, 10:23 AM   #13
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I've got the 40mm Limited and like you, really enjoy this lens.

I don't have the 15 Limited, although I did think of buying one.

Instead...I bought a Pentax 12-24 as I felt the 15mm was rather limited ( not a really wide angle and F 4 -for a prime) and the 12-24, although a zoom has a reputation as being a stellar lens, being highly rated as the best ultra wide zoom by Popular Photography. My 12-24 I've found after 1000's of photo's....is a wonderful lens. Clarity, colour rendition absolutely top notch. Yes i wish it was an F 2.8....but high ISO counters that to a degree and also with a really wide angle...I want more DOF. I generally use F 8 with this lens at 12 mm and ....out of doors.

I also have a 70mm Limited, like the robust construction, fast F stop and the photographs it takes are great.

I use it for portraits, but also as a general walk around lens and I also use it for taking photo's of vintage vehicles. It's incredibly sharp.
02-17-2013, 10:57 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by lesmore49 Quote
I felt the 15mm was rather limited
I see what you did there.

The In-Depth review here put the Sigma above the Pentax, though I take pretty much all reviews with a grain of salt thanks to sample variation, and that numbers don't always equal pleasing IQ (which is more than resolution, or contrast, or pure speed).

Sadly the best deal I can find on the 12-24 is around $200+ more than I can find on the 15mm, new.

I don't understand the weird lens glut going on. It seems that there is barely anything on sale, and not a deal to be found. Even Keh has basically no Pentax selection right now. Is it just because its getting spring-like outside, so everyone snatched up every lens available to go on nice walks?
02-17-2013, 11:50 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Omestes Quote
I see what you did there.

The In-Depth review here put the Sigma above the Pentax, though I take pretty much all reviews with a grain of salt thanks to sample variation, and that numbers don't always equal pleasing IQ (which is more than resolution, or contrast, or pure speed). The PP reviews are in depth, testing, objective, but I don't know about the mode of testing or criteria used in the In Depth . It maybe very good, I just don't know what it is. I've thought of Sigma lenses over the years, but in the end always bought Pentax.

Sadly the best deal I can find on the 12-24 is around $200+ more than I can find on the 15mm, new. The Pentax 12-24 is very pricey and it's a physically large lens. The 15mm Limited in contrast is small and light, but still well built. True it doesn't have the range of any zoom and 15mm in not uber wide....but I think having a moderate wide angle....a portrait (70mm), general purpose (40MM)....all well designed and of excellent quality makes a nice, light, high performing kit.

I don't understand the weird lens glut going on. It seems that there is barely anything on sale, and not a deal to be found. Even Keh has basically no Pentax selection right now. Is it just because its getting spring-like outside, so everyone snatched up every lens available to go on nice walks?
I'm from Canada and I have to say that camera stores in my region have good supplies of Pentax equipment and if they don't have it....they always seem to be able to get it in from Pentax Canada within a week or two. I know it seems to be different in the USA from what I've read.
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