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06-03-2013, 12:38 AM   #1
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Nighttime Cityscape: Pentax DA 15 Ltd. VS Tamron 17-50 @ 17mm

Well, looks like Pentaxforums searchbot couldn't find a past thread making this comparison, so I'm making it.

I'm really trying to smooth down my K30 kit. I think I can do just about everything I need to do with my Tamron 17-50, DA* 50-135, and a soon-to-be-decided UWA zoom (either the 8-16 or one of the 10-20's, maybe even the Tamron 10-24). So lately I've been doing a lot of comparisons between my lenses. I wanted to share one of my comparisons here on the forums.

One of the lenses on the chopping block is my DA 15. It's small and light, and it makes taking stunning images an effortless endeavor. Also, it produces godly starbursts/sunstars.

My thinking is that if my Tamron 17-50 @ 17mm can get up to 90% of that the DA 15 can produce, then I will (sadly) sell off the DA 15 to get some $$$ back and sink into an even more versatile UWA zoom. The DA 15 basically has to show that it produces both far superior quality of images and is sufficiently different enough from the Tamron so that they don't really have any overlap in usage.

Really, the only thing I used the DA 15 for was nighttime cityscape pictures, so I wanted to take a typical night cityscape scene to compare them.

Things I was thinking about when making this comparison:

- What is the field of view difference between the two? I know the degrees listed on their spec sheets in the database, but I wanted to see with my eyes what that translated into in real life.

- Image quality: I have seen with my own eyes that the DA 15 can produce exceptionally sharp and crisp pictures. Can the Tamron come close to it?

- Starbursts: DA 15 produces the best starbursts. I know the Tamron has its own starbursts. How do they compare?

Here are the pictures I made tonight. These two were made using the exact same settings:

30 Seconds
f9.5
ISO 800
+1 Exp.

Straight raw, converted to JPG with no processing and then uploaded to the Flickrs.

Tamron 17-50 @ 17mm






Pentax DA 15 Ltd.




Here are my thoughts:

- The field of view is not all that different. It might be more pronounced in something like a tighter architectural setting, but for a typical nightscape scene like this, its perfectly fine.

- Pixel peeping gives a slight edge to the DA 15 in the IQ department, but it's close. Also, the DA 15 has excellent flare control. The only bad spots seem to be on the three lights on the far right of the picture. The Tamron suffered horribly from a big blob of flare near its dead-center. At first I thought it was something on the front of the lens, but after cleaning it with a lenspen it persisted. Processing should even them up.

- Argh, those starbursts. Its what attracted me to the DA 15 in the first place. And, as per usual, tonight they produced some seksy bursts with very little effort. The Tamron features its own starbursts, and while they aren't as seksy as the DA 15's, they do have their own character.

If city nightscapes was my bread and butter, then for sure the DA 15 has a permanent spot at my right hand. However, it's not. The Tamron can produce images that are more than acceptably close to what the DA 15 can produce, even before post processing. Of course, the Tamron has a whole raft of other features: the zoom range, ability to go down to f2.8 (allows it to be more usable for astro landscapes).

So I think that in the pursuit of paring down and making my kit more efficient and elegant, the DA 15 will soon be on its way to a new owner who will get to experience the joys of an exceptional image-making lens in a beautiful jewel-like package.

One last note. I used to recommend the DA 16-45 as a "poor-man's DA 15" (and I owned two of them). No longer. I'm going to start recommending the Tamron 17-50 as my new "poor man's" alternative to the DA 15.

06-03-2013, 01:20 AM   #2
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Hmm, I would say the DA15 image looks noticeably better to my (admittedly untrained) eye. However, that may be because the exposure looks brighter which is strange if they both have the same settings is it not? Maybe pushing the exposure up for the Tamron shot would make it more equal. For example you can actually see the green in the grass rather than a black area and the bridge patterns look clearer.

Should also add that I am viewing it on a calibrated IPS monitor which may help to notice the differences.

I really like the idea of the 15mm due to it's size i.e. something I could always have with me. However, cost dictated I went for the Samyang 14mm instead but because of the size it means I have to make a conscious decision to take with me. May be something to think about when considering the 15mm against the UWAs that you list...

Last edited by thechumpen; 06-03-2013 at 01:46 AM.
06-03-2013, 01:36 AM   #3
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I agree with thechumpen. The colour rendering of the DA 15 rock. But I think it's also the better microcontrasts that add to the overall better look & feel of the DA 15 ltd image.
06-03-2013, 02:00 AM   #4
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Woah, you've got me seeing stars! Looks like selling off some gear to save up for a 15 LTD.

06-03-2013, 02:24 AM   #5
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I've been unable to get any starbursts out of my DA15.

I do prefer the 15 in this comparison, but the 17-50 is certainly no slouch. If it is a matter of weight/space, the zoom will certainly do for the convenience... but the 15 is small/light, so shouldn't hurt to keep in a bag when you think you may want to do some dedicated wide stuff.
06-03-2013, 03:14 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kona Quote
I've been unable to get any starbursts out of my DA15.

I do prefer the 15 in this comparison, but the 17-50 is certainly no slouch. If it is a matter of weight/space, the zoom will certainly do for the convenience... but the 15 is small/light, so shouldn't hurt to keep in a bag when you think you may want to do some dedicated wide stuff.
Are you setting it at a small aperture (f/8 or below)? Of course, you'll need a tripod.
06-03-2013, 03:42 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by drypenn Quote
Are you setting it at a small aperture (f/8 or below)? Of course, you'll need a tripod.
yeah, did some tests at f/11, and I pretty much always shoot on tripod. I have the 15 on my camera at the moment, so I just need to play with it some more I guess.

Back on topic, the 17-50 is also a 2.8, right? So if speed is important, that may weigh in to the choice, too. Flexibility of zoom + speed gives it more points.
06-03-2013, 04:05 AM   #8
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interesting perspective on the DA15 - personally I own the Sigma 8-16mm and the DA15 f/4 and i'm keeping the DA15 because the Sigma lens is a brick:



Among all the 3rd party lens makers that offer lenses for the K mount there is nothing like the DA15mm f/4.


Last edited by Digitalis; 06-03-2013 at 04:36 AM.
06-03-2013, 04:15 AM   #9
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The DA15ltd is a unique lens all things considered. (size, build, optical)

But TS, I think you made a fair weighting of priorities.
A UWA zoom will be more versatile, esp for cityscapes where one may not have the luxury of moving further back for more FOV.

I made a decision between my 10-20 and 15ltd too, but I kept the 15ltd.
The Sigma 10-20 was just not the high quality lens that the 'EX' designation said it was.
Its focus scale was quirky and I could not trust that infinity was really infinity at different FL.
Did not trust the AF as well.
The 8-16 seems to be much better from what I can tell from friends using it.
The DA15ltd is such a small lens that its always easy to just bring it along.


Interesting that the exposure is different from the 2 lenses.
Maybe T-stop is different?
06-03-2013, 04:37 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by pinholecam Quote
Interesting that the exposure is different from the 2 lenses.
Maybe T-stop is different?
The Tamron is a zoom, it contains more glass which cuts the light a bit. It seems reasonable.

Regards,
--Anders.
06-03-2013, 04:40 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by pinholecam Quote
The 8-16 seems to be much better from what I can tell from friends using it.
At 15mm the Sigma 8-16 is noticably sharper in the corners than the DA 15mm f/4 ASPH is, it also has better control of CA - but the sigma lens has a major flaw - a distinct lack of flare control.
06-03-2013, 05:34 AM   #12
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Morning,

I used a "swiping tool" to compare the two images.The main differences I see are:
  1. The flare (halo) around the light on the bridge
  2. The handling of the sky - the 15 is a bit lighter, while the Tamron is darker
  3. The texture and the lighting of the grass in the foreground. The amount of detail provided by the texturing captured by the 15 is wonderful
  4. The handling of the shadows and the lighting of the bridge's structure. The detail and lighting of the 15 is better and all around brighter.
  5. The lighting stars of the 15 are sharper and more defined than the Tamron
  6. The lighting and detail on the railcars (left hand side) is better with the 15.
In terms of the overall image, I like the Tamron a tad better. The blue sky is darker overall, with a deeper iridescent blue. I actually like the handling of the bridge structure by the Tamron better. The shadowing and the coloring are nice. I never did acquire the 15. With the DA 12-24, I was very satisfied.

06-03-2013, 08:21 AM   #13
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Interesting comparison and thanks for sharing. I personally like the color of the Tamron lens. DA 15 is a unique lens in terms of weight and size. It also had very good flare control. However the optical performance is not that impressive IMHO.
06-03-2013, 08:32 AM   #14
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If you're just shooting on a tripod, it's not an issue,
but for me a big justification of the DA 15 as a UWA option is the tiny size.

This brings two major advantages:

1. Easy to hold by hand, and keep steady for exposures up to 1/2 sec. with SR.

2. It doesn't attract unwelcome attention (from subjects and security wannabes) the way a bigger zoom lens does.


If its edge resolution isn't good enough for you,
you probably need a 20mm on FF or 25mm on 645D.
06-03-2013, 10:10 AM   #15
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OP, could we see these with the exposure adjusted to the same levels?
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