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02-04-2014, 11:29 AM   #1
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SMC 15mm vs 21mm Ltd

Hi guys,

I'm shopping for a wide angle lens with great image quality for urban streets and landscapes and I'm trying to decide between pentax's (now older generation) smc 15 and 21 mm limiteds. I don't mind buying used, as that keeps things more within my budget ($400-500) and I'd like to have my lenses by the end of this month (can't wait forever for a sale). After some searching I've found a used 15mm limited for $518 (amazon) and a used 21mm limited for $360 (ebay). I like the generally slightly more favorable review of the 15mm, its extra field of view, and its potentially stronger resale value (people prefer the SMC 15mm limited over the HD 15mm limited). Do you think those factors are worth the extra $160, or about 30% price difference?

Separately, if I'm missing some marketplaces for cheaper lens prices or strong alternative lens competitors that have the IQ (specifically for me low distortion, high contrast, and sharpness) and form factor (actually I don't care that much about form factor) of the pentax limiteds, please let me know your opinion on those.


Last edited by adell; 02-04-2014 at 01:36 PM.
02-04-2014, 11:48 AM   #2
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The 15mm's are getting increasingly harder to find, but a few have recently sold on the marketplace for $450, which should help close the gap in price between the two lenses you're looking at. Assuming you get a better deal on the 15mm I don't think you can go wrong with it!

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02-04-2014, 12:07 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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I would definitely keep an eye at the marketplace here.

As for 15 vs 21, I find my 15 to be a bit better optically and very nice for landscapes and the really wide shots. The 21 is a more useful focal length for all round use, but at least mine (to my surprise) shows itself as an excellent close focusing lens and not as good with landscapes as I had expected.

For cityscapes I would go for a 15 first, then later for the 21 - because I think you need both
02-04-2014, 12:14 PM   #4
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Okay, thanks guys. I'll keep my eyes (and deal alerts) open for a 15mm.

02-04-2014, 12:18 PM   #5
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I wrestled with the same question. About a year and a half ago I bought the 15 hoping that finally having made a decision would put an end to it. It didn't. Last week i got the 21. Urban streets? I agree with the 15 for cityscapes, but if by "urban streets" you mean the activity on the streets (people, traffic, etc.), the 21 may be better. The two are different enough that I don't think one can entirely substitute for the other.

Last edited by Parallax; 02-04-2014 at 12:27 PM.
02-04-2014, 12:23 PM   #6
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When I was choosing between 15 and 21, I chose 21.

Optically 21 is simply better in every aspect except distortions and CA. Also, it is noticeably cheaper.
But landscapes were not in my shooting list when I decided to between these two.

So, if landscapes are your thing, 15 will probably suit you better.
02-04-2014, 12:40 PM   #7
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Hmm. I guess it's a wait and see then, depending on what prices crop up between now and the end of the month. I'm interested in the buildings, views, people, and activity on the streets, I know I won't get an optimal fit, but I really just want one lens to encompass all of these things. I like landscapes and vast expanses a lot, but they aren't my main focus. I would say people are more interesting to me at this point (people up close and personal).
02-04-2014, 12:47 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by adell Quote
I'm interested in the buildings, views, people, and activity on the streets,
I would go with the 15. You can always crop out unwanted image.
QuoteOriginally posted by adell Quote
I would say people are more interesting to me at this point (people up close and personal
You can do that with the 15, just don't compensate for the wider FOV by getting too up close and personal. That can cause an unnatural rendering, (and possibly have a few other ramifications as well depending upon just how up close and personal you get; and with whom )

02-04-2014, 12:48 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by adell Quote
Hmm. I guess it's a wait and see then, depending on what prices crop up between now and the end of the month. I'm interested in the buildings, views, people, and activity on the streets, I know I won't get an optimal fit, but I really just want one lens to encompass all of these things. I like landscapes and vast expanses a lot, but they aren't my main focus. I would say people are more interesting to me at this point (people up close and personal).
Well, then I'd say have a serious look at the 21 Ltd
It is an excellent lens for street.
02-04-2014, 12:55 PM   #10
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21 will get you up close and personal like taking a head and shoulders picture from an arms length. 15 will bring you uncomfortably close where you are really invading people's space.
02-04-2014, 01:10 PM   #11
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I ended up selling my 15 because I found it much more difficult to shoot than I had anticipated. In retrospect, the 21 would've served me better. See if you can borrow/rent the 2 before you commit to buying one. There's a world of difference between the wide end of your kit lens and the 15.
02-04-2014, 01:11 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Parallax Quote
I would go with the 15. You can always crop out unwanted image. You can do that with the 15, just don't compensate for the wider FOV by getting too up close and personal. That can cause an unnatural rendering, (and possibly have a few other ramifications as well depending upon just how up close and personal you get; and with whom )
:-D


QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote
21 will get you up close and personal like taking a head and shoulders picture from an arms length. 15 will bring you uncomfortably close where you are really invading people's space.
I see.. in that case I'd only use the 15mm to get really close to people who like me enough

QuoteOriginally posted by Apapukas Quote
Well, then I'd say have a serious look at the 21 Ltd
It is an excellent lens for street.
What to do....

I think I might also wait and see if a rokinon 16mm goes on sale, as I have a focusing screen & magnifier installed to make use of the lovely 85mm rokinon I bought.
02-04-2014, 02:50 PM   #13
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These are very different lenses. I've only tried the 21 quickly with a borrowed lens and had a kind of "meh" reaction to it, it didn't fill me with awe like the other limiteds did.

I bought the DA15 in August and have had really great fun with it since. Many of my favorite shots since then have been with this lens (you can find many in my flickr stream and also a couple in PPG, see signature). In the right situation, the DA15 is simply "instant magic". However, it's sometimes a confusing and tricky lens to shoot with because of its curved focus field, so I sometimes get misses. It's a lens with a lot of temperament
02-04-2014, 02:55 PM   #14
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I have both, and use the DA21 more often then the DA15. 15mm is often too wide for people shots, since its an ultrawide. I have found that 21mm is sort of an ideal wide angle for APSC, in that its wide enough to get what you want without the heavy perspective distortion of an ultrawide, and you can use it for people shots. I really like the DA21, even though it is much more boring than the DA15.
Here's a closeup from the DA21 with two of my grand nieces...


Here is a recent shot from the DA15, from the Yosemite
02-04-2014, 04:08 PM   #15
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You'll get bored with the DA15 look quicker than with the DA21 look
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