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09-23-2014, 10:12 AM   #1
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24mm and/or 28mm and/or 35mm Manual vs zoom lenses

I'd appreciate your advice... on a Pentax K-30 body I'd been using mostly kit or DA zooms with only fair results but was smitten afterwards with a Pentax SMC-M 50mm that really gave me fresh ways of enjoying my world. Thats why I went and bought an old manual 24mm Vivitar PK-A/R mount lens and that really sealed the deal for me. I felt a new degree of creativity unleashed in me, my learning and skill grew more quickly. I am convinced my zoom lenses had lulled me into comfortable complacency. So I owned a great 50mm and then a mediocre 35mm manual lenses (both are FF) but I accidentally broke the 24mm and need a replacement so here's my question(s):

I can get a very decent used old 28mm and/or 35mm manual lens for about the same price as my old vivitar 24mm; should I
  1. try and round out my collection with a 24mm, 28mm and 35mm (replacement)? or
  2. since they are pretty close in FL should I just get an AF HQ zoom to cover the 24-50mm range? or
  3. Since I am liking the shorter FL, splash out and get a real UWA or like a limited 15mm?




Last edited by Pewter; 09-23-2014 at 10:21 AM.
09-23-2014, 10:36 AM - 1 Like   #2
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I would look into getting your 24mm repaired. It might not be as bad as you think. I had a lens look like that, and it was just off the 'track' so to speak, I popped it back and it has worked fine ever since. NOT recommending you try that but a camera shop might be able to repair at less cost than getting another lens.

Assuming you are happy with it of course. If not, then try another lens. But if your widest is currently 24mm, then remember that 24mm is just a wide angle on APS-C. Ultra wide angle will be maybe 16mm and wider. So the UWA lenses like 12-24 or 10-20 might work, or the 15mm limited. But those are all much different than your 24mm. So if you like 24mm do not think that 15mm is better, it is very different.
09-23-2014, 10:42 AM - 1 Like   #3
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Hm, those questions are difficult for us to answer. I use mostly primes, so I would suggest a prime, though I am sure something like the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 would give you significantly better results than the DA kit lens (and Sigma even better). But I agree with the strengths of primes that you listed. They help you grow in a way that zooms, in my opinion, don't. Buying the DA 15mm is probably a good idea, since it is a very beloved lens on these forums. Just keep in mind that there is a big, big difference between 24mm and 15mm! Ultra wide is a whole new beast, difficult to tame!
You seem like the kind of person that would appreciate a good prime more than a zoom, so I would suggest you go with primes. You can try the DA 35mm, so you get full automation for a low price, but still prime optical quality. Or the limiteds. The problem is only that the Pentax lineup is currently a bit lacking between 21mm and 31mm, so for 24mm and 28mm your only options are legacy or third party lenses.

Oh, and when it comes to repairs, just show a repair center your lens, they tell you how much the repair will cost and then you decide if its worth it. Getting lenses repaired is often a good investment, just make sure the service centre seems to know what they are doing.
09-23-2014, 12:15 PM - 1 Like   #4
dms
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Where the sweet spot for wide angle is for me much clearer than the longer focal lengths--which are driven almost solely by subject matter. And I can only tell you what works or doesn't for me.
[Excluding my theatre photo work] I like moderately wide primes and the build of the pre AF lenses and go no wider than 24 mm on Pentax dslr (which is equivalent to 35mm on FF 35mm film ).
And as walk around a 28mm is my favorite. If I want wider I do collages.
I feel there is a major difference between 24mm and 28mm--so if you really liked 24 mm I would stay there.

09-23-2014, 01:13 PM - 1 Like   #5
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unless you spend a lot of money, zooms aren't usually as good as even the old primes are... i'd replace the 24mm, and get a 28mm as well, like dms says.

those old vivitars are fairly cheap here in the states, can you find 'em in singapore?

i just tested a 24mm vivitar(actually tokina, 37xxxxxx serial number) prime on my a7r, and it was surprisingly good at ~f10, much cleaner on the sides than my smc pentax 24/2.8... unfortunately the aperture leaves are gummed up, gotta fix that :-/

here is the link to the vivitar manufacturer database, by serial number:
https://www.cameraquest.com/VivLensManuf.htm

for 28mm lenses, the smc pentax-m 28/3.5 is the best i've tested so far, at ~f10, for landscapes.
09-23-2014, 06:53 PM   #6
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If you like 24mm, just get another 24mm or maybe the DA21.
I guess neither 28mm nor the 15mm will be like your 24mm. (I do have 15/21/28 and the 21 is the one I used the most)

My 2 cents.
09-23-2014, 07:06 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Just get back a 24mm.
The off brands and not expensive at all.
I had a Cosina 24/2.8 'macro' (more like close focus) and it was as sharp as the K24/2.8 I had on aps-c.
Focused closer than the K24/2.8 too.
And it cost S$50-60
The reason I sold it off was that it was less well built, color rendition was cooler (I usually prefer warmer) and flare resistance was not on par to the K24.
Even the K24/2.8 isn't that expensive nowadays on Clubsnap BnS.


The UWA zoom, you can wait it out for a good deal in the BnS.
The Sigma 10-20 can go for S$350-400, not too expensive imo.
So get the 24mm first, but still look out for the 10-20mm.
09-23-2014, 07:18 PM - 2 Likes   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pewter Quote
Since I am liking the shorter FL, splash out and get a real UWA or like a limited 15mm?
<---THIS

I often think the forums should just have an automatic feature that if someone posts which lens should I get... that the forum automatically replies DA15mm Limited.

When you first shoot it, you will be like "what's the fuss about, these photos aren't that great". Then you will learn to take about 10 steps closer to the subject, and it will be like WOW, now I get it.

09-23-2014, 08:00 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I can weigh in on this. I started with a zoom and a nice MF fast 50 and enjoyed the prime so much I started picking them up whenever I got the chance. I have a 24mm obsession and own a nice K24/2.8. I also picked up an FA35/2 because it was on-sale and I was frustrated with some stuff. In between I owned an M28/2.8 that I got on a trade and didn't really want and I briefly owned a K30/2.8 that, is a whole story I don't want to get into. Oh, and I bought the DA40/2.8 ltd used here, used it for about a year and sold it here for break even to by the 35/2.

But, here's what I concluded.

F2 is much better than 2.8 low light. I know it's just one stop, but shooting indoors in low light without a flash to get near that fast 50 experience, it's at a tipping point between bright enough and not bright enough in my experience. So, for me, the FA35/2 is a much more useful lens than the DA40/2.8. Being a little wider and full frame help too. Image quality of both are quite good.

That M28 that I picked up in a trade, didn't really want and sold? Fantastic lens. It surprised me how good it was and it started me down the path of wanting wider and "better". I don't think my K30 was a good copy and I essentially returned it because it wasn't even close to as good as the M28 and by review standards, it should have blown it away. The K24 I have is a really nice copy, but I don't use it as much as I thought I would. For landscape, my DA18-135 zoom is pretty good at 24mm and for candid, low light, neither is really fast enough (for me). I'm not the most experienced photographer here by a long shot, but if you're going for that fast 50 experience, 2.8 didn't get me there.

The 24 is a phenomenal lens. I love it on film the way that I think people love the DA15 on digital and I love the focal length on dSLR as well, but I really wish it was F2 or faster. I don't mind manual focus, but I also find that at this focal length I rarely center the immediate foreground subject, so wide open a candid of a person, focus and recompose it a tough shot. If I center the subject and crop it to Rule of 3rds, I kind of wasted the wideness.

I'm disappointed that the DA21 is yet slower than 2.8, though fractionally. Aside from the Sigmas which are much bigger, more expensive, and by reputation less consistent it's tough to get much faster than 35/2.

For the money, no question that a 28/2.8 MF lens is the good buy. I don't know if it's enough wider than 35 to be worth it, though. 24, 21, 20 and under are, but of what I've owned price/speed/quality it is the hands down winner. You didn't say what you were photographing at this FL, so I'm applying my own values, if low light speed isn't important to you, then you may come up with a different answer. But, if you have 2 prime, 50 and 28 is a nice spread and both are abundant and much less expensive than 24, 30 and even 35 for some reason.

Not parting with my 24/2.8 just yet, by the way. When I have the right subject in the right light, it's remarkable. Film or digital.
09-23-2014, 09:00 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pewter Quote
I'd appreciate your advice... on a Pentax K-30 body I'd been using mostly kit or DA zooms with only fair results but was smitten afterwards with a Pentax SMC-M 50mm that really gave me fresh ways of enjoying my world. Thats why I went and bought an old manual 24mm Vivitar PK-A/R mount lens and that really sealed the deal for me. I felt a new degree of creativity unleashed in me, my learning and skill grew more quickly. I am convinced my zoom lenses had lulled me into comfortable complacency. So I owned a great 50mm and then a mediocre 35mm manual lenses (both are FF) but I accidentally broke the 24mm and need a replacement so here's my question(s):

I can get a very decent used old 28mm and/or 35mm manual lens for about the same price as my old vivitar 24mm; should I
  1. try and round out my collection with a 24mm, 28mm and 35mm (replacement)? or
  2. since they are pretty close in FL should I just get an AF HQ zoom to cover the 24-50mm range? or
  3. Since I am liking the shorter FL, splash out and get a real UWA or like a limited 15mm?
My experience with lens repairs is very patchy - if you are not sure about the guy you entrust your lens to, it may not be worth spending the money.

In your position I would buy an M28/3.5 (really nice lens in my experience, not expensive), and see how you get on. That FL is incredibly versatile on APS-C.
09-23-2014, 09:44 PM   #11
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Thank you thank you thank you all for your comprehensive answers. The last word is not yet in but feel I should do as follows:

1) fix or replace the 24mm since I love it so much 2) pick up the 28mm I might be pleasantly surprised 3) save up for a UWA or limited 15mm meanwhile and 4) the 35mm might not be the greatest but still useful

My 18-135mm WR kit zoom is not the greatest but still very useful esp. In wet/damp weather so its a keeper. I shoot all sorts but favor landscapes, architecture, close-up macros and streets.
09-23-2014, 09:50 PM - 1 Like   #12
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Also, take some time to dial in the focus on your 18-135 through the AF Fine Adjust. Mine was underwhelming until I did. I thought it was just soft, but it was missing focus.
09-24-2014, 03:57 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by troika Quote
Also, take some time to dial in the focus on your 18-135 through the AF Fine Adjust. Mine was underwhelming until I did. I thought it was just soft, but it was missing focus.
Erudite. I thought my 18-135mm WR kit zoom a bit soft too. I noticed a little manual adjustment helps but now you've 'joined the dots' for me. I will certainly do
09-24-2014, 05:09 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pewter Quote
Erudite. I thought my 18-135mm WR kit zoom a bit soft too. I noticed a little manual adjustment helps but now you've 'joined the dots' for me. I will certainly do
The 18-135 has its weaknesses, but it's excellent at 24mm.

If you really want to get accurate focus, use the contrast-detect AF that you have in Live View.

You can correct the phase-detect AF for one focal length and one shooting distance,
but that same adjustment may not be right elsewhere.
09-24-2014, 08:14 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by timo Quote
My experience with lens repairs is very patchy - if you are not sure about the guy you entrust your lens to, it may not be worth spending the money.

In your position I would buy an M28/3.5 (really nice lens in my experience, not expensive), and see how you get on. That FL is incredibly versatile on APS-C.
Pardon me but M28 is short for?

---------- Post added 2014-09-24 at 23:19 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by troika Quote
I can weigh in on this. I started with a zoom and a nice MF fast 50 and enjoyed the prime so much I started picking them up whenever I got the chance. I have a 24mm obsession and own a nice K24/2.8. I also picked up an FA35/2 because it was on-sale and I was frustrated with some stuff. In between I owned an M28/2.8 that I got on a trade and didn't really want and I briefly owned a K30/2.8 that, is a whole story I don't want to get into. Oh, and I bought the DA40/2.8 ltd used here, used it for about a year and sold it here for break even to by the 35/2...
Pardon me but K24, K30 is short for?
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