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08-01-2013, 04:54 PM   #1
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Most affordable wide-angle lens for a beginner?

Hi folks,

I'm looking for a decent wide angle lens (for my K-01) that won't break the bank--hoping not to spend more than $250. I have the 18-55 kit lens and a DA 35/2.4. I'd love something that has higher IQ than the kit lens and will let me shoot some landscapes. Pentax or 3rd party doesn't bother me. Are the Sigma zooms decent, or should I go prime?

Thanks in advance for the advice!

08-01-2013, 05:04 PM   #2
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How does shooting landscapes at 18mm f8 work for you with the kit lens? What is it lacking?

Have you tried stitching? (I've used the free Microsoft ICE before; it works well for me).
08-01-2013, 05:08 PM   #3
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Sigma 24/2.8 in both manual and autofocus models.
K28/3.5 - manual focus and aperture
Samyang [and similar] 14/2.8 - manual focus
also a new Samyang 16mm for Pentax, I believe.
08-01-2013, 05:12 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Hey there. Congratulations on the K-01!
The problem is that Pentax right now isn't making any primes in the range between the 21mm and 35mm. And the Pentax 14mm, 15mm, and 21mm are all relatively expensive. (as are the 10-17mm and 12-24mm) Although, a lot of members love the 21mm on their K-01. You can try to find an older FA 20mm.
With Pentax, you can get ancient manual lenses between 24mm and 300mm pretty easily, and they are often relatively cheap. But wider than 24mm becomes problematic because some decades ago, ultra wide angle lenses were very hard to design and often not of great quality. And 24mm on APS-C is not all that wide, even though it is still significantly wider than 35mm. There are plenty of old 24mm and 28mm lenses out there, Pentax and other brands. Feel free to search the lens review database.
Sigma makes quite a few wide angle zooms that are decent quality, like the 8-16mm and 10-20mm (two versions, check here for details). Tamron has a 10-24mm lens.
You might also be interested in replacing your 18-55mm with the Pentax 16-45mm lens (overall better quality, wider angle).
Another option are the Samyang lenses. They are fully manual and might not be very easy to focus on the K-01 at first, but you get the hang of it eventually. Samyang right now has the 14mm f2.8 lens, the 16mm f2.0 lens (just been released), 8mm fisheye, and I think they will soon release the 10mm prime. These are usually very good optically and have a sturdy construction. But uncalibrated focus rings are common, and they have no automation, except auto-aperture. I have the 14mm, but its kind of hard to focus the K-01, so I prefer to use it on my K-r (its hard to focus because on the LCD screen "everything" looks in-focus, even though it isnt really)

08-01-2013, 05:13 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Shoot the kit lens more, gain more technique. The kit lens is a surprisingly solid lens and the IQ you get from it exponentially gets better with your skill level. This is coming from a guy who's used every modern wide-normal f/2.8 zoom made for pentax and a good number of wide primes, yet ended up owning and shooting with the kit lens for the bazillionth time. Save yourself the money until you're good enough to know exactly what lens you need to push your images to the next level.
08-01-2013, 05:14 PM   #6
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Actually, at the apertures you would use for landscape images, the kit lens is decent. In PP distortion can be neutralized, micro-contrast and saturation increased, and sharpening applied to give as good an image as you would get from most lenses at that focal length. The lenses I listed would be better, but only the Samyangs are as wide.
08-01-2013, 09:36 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fat Albert Quote
Most affordable wide-angle lens for a beginner?
I have been active on this site since 2007 when I bought my K10D. Your's was the first question I had as a new user and has remained one of the most common questions on this site ever since. The short answer is that there are very few truly low-priced, high quality wide angle options for APS-C. I have found that the 18-55 kit does a fine job most of the time. The entry ticket for vintage primes in the 17-20mm range is going to be at least $80 USD and price new for even the Samyang offerings is going to be $300+ USD. I use the Russian MC Zenitar 16/2.8 Fisheye (currently about $220 USD) a lot as an all-round solution for landscape, architectural, and interior stuff. Be aware of camera orientation and the fishiness is really not much of a problem on APS-C.

Sorry, but that is the way it is. One of these days I will probably cave in and get a DA 15/4 Limited, but until then the Zenitar and the kit lens are always in the bag.


Steve
08-01-2013, 09:38 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by adpo Quote
The kit lens is a surprisingly solid lens and the IQ you get from it exponentially gets better with your skill level.
This is so, so true.

FWIW, here is a link to photos I have taken with the 18-55 kit...

http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=28796087@N02&q=pentax%20da%2018-55


Steve

08-01-2013, 09:58 PM   #9
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As others have suggested, I'm not sure there is such a lens, unless you count 24mm (A24/2.8 is one good example here).

I think the aforementioned DA16-45 may be your best (possibly only) choice here, according to your criteria. I think it will give you significantly better results than the kit lens, and I believe it's much stronger at the wide end. Otherwise, consider saving for a used DA15. The wide Samyangs are also candidates, but their image quality is not going to be quite as good as the DA15 (although they may be good enough, and might be the right price if purchased used).


And lenses like the Sigma 10-20 or Tamron 10-24 are really not that great in IQ - you may as well stick to the kit lens or move up to primes (or something like the Sigma 8-16) - but then the cost can become much greater. The FA20-35/4 is also a very nice lens if it's wide enough for you, and it's reasonably priced - but still more money than you wanted.

Last edited by DSims; 08-01-2013 at 10:09 PM.
08-01-2013, 11:34 PM   #10
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I replaced my kit lens with the discontinued Sigma EX 15-30, rather hard to find but I snapped it up when I stumbled on it.
I will get the WR version of the kit lens eventually, my DAL version was good but not WR.

Seb
08-01-2013, 11:50 PM   #11
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I can recommend Tokina RMC 17mm 3.5.f Can be had cheaply - I imagine probably around $150 and offers an excellent IQ - especially f5.6 and onwards. The sharpness is far better than the kit lens and the only problem I'd say is flare resistance which isn't greatest - but then again shouldn't be a problem for intended use. You can search the forum for some images - the sharpness of this lens is quite remarkable.
Another good point of this lens is fact that focused at infinity will get sharp for you everything from like 3m away - that is great as you don't have to worry about the focusing part - so even streats shoots are easy with it.

Hope it helps !
08-02-2013, 04:55 AM   #12
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Like you, Steve, and many others, after a few years with the kit zooms I wanted an upgrade. I ended up with the DA 16-45, which (just) fits into your budget. It's a good performer, goes wider than the 18-55 (obviously), and is a bit sharper (especially at the wide end), with similar distortion characteristics. CA apparently worse, although I haven't found this a problem. Build quality so-so, on a par with older versions of the 18-55. I find it hard to love but too useful to sell.
08-02-2013, 06:02 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by adpo Quote
Shoot the kit lens more, gain more technique. The kit lens is a surprisingly solid lens and the IQ you get from it exponentially gets better with your skill level.
Yep. It is a better lens than some give it credit for. If you want a cheap step up in IQ, there are quite a few excellent manual focus 28mm f:2.8 lenses out there that can be had for peanuts. I have this Ricoh 28mm lens & it's a corker. And it's dirt cheap, too. Only thing is, 28mm is really not that wide an angle on a crop sensor DSLR.
08-02-2013, 08:25 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by alphanerd Quote
How does shooting landscapes at 18mm f8 work for you with the kit lens? What is it lacking?

Have you tried stitching? (I've used the free Microsoft ICE before; it works well for me).
I have done some stitching with the DA 18-55 WR and it works well. Set everything to manual, don't overexpose the brightest part, set the lens to 21-40mm f8 and overlap. Software will fix the rest.
08-02-2013, 09:00 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by GibbyTheMole Quote
there are quite a few excellent manual focus 28mm f:2.8 lenses out there that can be had for peanuts
...except that FOV on APS-C is hardly wide. I generally consider 24mm and less to be wide-angles on APS-C. For legacy primes at 24mm and below, market pressure has kept the prices artificially high. I don't consider $150+ USD to be affordable for vintage lenses. In addition to high prices, availability is also an issue. The Tokina 17mm (the older manual focus model at $100 or less) is often recommended, but just try and find one. These short focal lengths (17mm was/is ultrawide for 35mm film) were fairly expensive and did not sell in any volume back-in-the-day.


Steve
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