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12-17-2014, 05:00 PM   #16
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First, thanks for being so generous with your time and advice. I really appreciate that. There's sure a lot to think about here.

Part of the reason that I *think* that I want a WR lens is for the desert/dust here (tho I do shoot a lot in strange weather/snow). I very much like the idea of having the whole instrument sealed up against nastiness. So I guess the want not to swap lenses much in the windy desert is a criterion, too.

The flipside of all of this is that historically (got the K-1000 for a high school graduation present), I've been enticed by the versatility of zooms and have neglected primes. Of the 20 or so lenses that I have, I think only five are primes (and three of those are 50mm SMC-As). But getting locked into a single focal length seems tough if the 17-50 is truly a good performer. I *think* if I were to get a prime in this range, I'd go for the 21mm. But the outlay vs. how often I may use it seems prohibitive.

If I had to pull the trigger in this moment, I think my first choice would be the Tamron 17-50 (perhaps paired with the versatility of the 18-135 WR).

Other criterion: my wife has taken up photography this year (she's the gardener) and has been shooting mostly single flower or single plant shots (and really has gotten very good at it) but is not becoming more and more interested in garden landscapes...so she'll be using whatever I buy, too (and when we travel, we'll have both the K-3 and K-x in play for landscapes, wildflowers, wildlife, etc.). So there's that.

(Also, when I traveled through Europe/Central America/Africa with the K-1000 and then the K100D, I think I shot most landscapes at f/7.1-11 or so, so perhaps the speed isn't going to worry me that much out of the box. I don't know if I'm doing it right, but even when I was shooting 100pct manual, my first consideration was the aperture/depth and generally worked backward from there. Even now, I shoot on AV about 90pct of the time.)

12-17-2014, 05:20 PM   #17
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For landscape or architectural photography I would recommend either the DA 14mm or the DA 15mm Limited. Although I have a DA* 16-50mm which I regard as a very good lens, there are times when it ( & especially the DA 18-135mm which I also have) is just not wide enough. The DA 14 is faster but a large lens, while the DA 15 is very compact & has better contrast.
12-17-2014, 06:17 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by nomadkng Quote
I can think of hundreds of occasions where the camera has been in an incredibly awkward position and looking through the viewfinder or even live view was impossible. AF "bailed" me out in these circumstances
And I can think of plenty of occasions where autofocus picked the wrong thing to focus on, or got completely lost and went hunting. AF is a remarkable tool but is not for every situation. And to get the most out of a given camera/lens for landscape work it is worth getting into manual focus and hyperfocal distance.
12-17-2014, 09:18 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by nomadkng Quote
The Tamron 17-50 has beaten the Sigma 17-50 and Pentax 16-50 in several reviews, not just the one here on PF.
I just researched the Tamron vs. Sigma 17-50's and found the opposite. Check PZ results, they tested both lenses on Canon @ 15mp. The Sigma MTF values are equal or higher, everywhere.

All Tests / Reviews

Check the SLR Gear blur indexes of each wide open. The Sigma is clearly the sharper lens, in the center and at the borders.

According to DXOMark, the Sigma is sharper everywhere, CA favours the Tamron.

Pentax smc PENTAX DA 16-45mm F4 ED AL on Pentax K-3 versus Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical [IF] Nikon on Nikon D5200 versus Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM Nikon on Nikon D5200 - Side by side lens comparison - DxOMark

The Tamron may have better flare resistance (not tested by DXO).

It's interesting to note that the 16-45mm is in between the other two for sharpness (check Measurements -> Sharpness -> Field tests)

Lenstip didn't test the current Tamron, but they tested the older non-VC version, which is supposedly sharper. The Sigma results were better.

The Sigma's better construction is detailed in every review. What they don't mention is what I've read on two Pentax boards for several years. The Tamron 17-50 has more complaints of back-focus/front-focus than any other lens available for K-mount.

12-18-2014, 12:07 AM   #20
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QUOTE=audiobomber I just researched the Tamron vs. Sigma 17-50's and found the opposite. Check PZ results, they tested both lenses on Canon @ 15mp. The Sigma MTF values are equal or higher, everywhere.


It's been a while since I researched this, but I believe the non-stabilized version of the Tamron 17-50 [K mount] is optically superior to the stabilized version [Canon]. Some have had focus adjustment issues, but these are usually surmountable. For the price, the lens is quite impressive. It is my most used landscape lens. Examples here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/civiletti/sets/

Last edited by civiletti; 12-18-2014 at 04:31 PM.
12-18-2014, 09:08 AM   #21
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If you're not much into to post processing, then you should be concerned with the contrast, colors, and general "look" of the lens, as well as sharpness. The DA Limiteds, in this sense, make the ultimate landscape lenses, because they are among the most flare-resistant, contrasty lenses available for the K-mount. The only issue is that shooting primes for landscapes can be quite challenging, since you can't always "zoom with your feet."

As far as zoom lenses are concerned, I don't think you go wrong, in terms of sharpness and contrast, with any of the constant aperture standard zooms available, and the fact that one of these lenses might be a bit sharper, according to various numerical online tests, is largely insignificant: you simply won't notice the difference in terms of practical output. However, you may notice differences (especially if you're not doing much PP) in terms of the color rendition between these various lenses. My advice would be go to flickr and search out competent landscape photographers using the lenses you're interested in (and who don't over-PP their stuff) and see which lens produces the type of images that come closest to matching what you hope to achieve in your own photography. In terms of evaluating lenses, it's the image that is most important, not the numerical test score produced by the lens.

In terms of WR, it should be noted that not all WR is created equal. There's general weather resistance, and then there dust-resistance as well. I believe that only the DA* lenses, the DA 20-40, and the new DA 16-85, are both WR and dust-resistant.

Last edited by northcoastgreg; 12-19-2014 at 07:57 AM.
12-18-2014, 04:02 PM   #22
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I think you'd be happy with the Tamron 17-50.... probably the Sigma one too. I know when I purchased my Tamron the real world quality difference I observed by qualitatively and subjectively looking at photos from both lenses posted here and elsewhere showed me that there is essentially a push with random variability making each lens better probably based on specific copy. I generally choose Tamron because it tends to be a better value, and they tend to have a nicer size. As I mentioned earlier, I really like my Tamron. I think that as long as you aren't changing lenses, you'd like it and find it adequate with regard to weather resistance. Dust is really only a huge issue if it is blowing really hard or you are changing lenses. I don't mind shooting in the rain, but I generally avoid shooting in blowing dust. Not because of my camera but just because of me.

The nice thing on having the fast Tamron is that it gets very sharp across the frame by time you get to f5.6. The 18-135 gets sharp at around f8, and it never really gets as sharp as the Tamron does at any point. I'd assume that would be the case for any of the fast zooms (The Sigma or the Pentax 16-50). Fast lenses make good landscape lenses because they are usually very sharp and they get that way faster than their non-fast counterparts.

If you are interested in zooms, you might consider a wider angled zoom like the Tamron 10-24, the Sigma 10-20, or the Pentax 12-24. I think the Sigma stands ahead when it comes to value of those three, but not from experience. I chose the Tamron. Otherwise, I would probably just stick a 15 mm on as a prime would be fine at that point. The Tamron 10-24 has a quality similar to the 18-135, so it is by no means bad. Anyway, something to consider.

My wife and I have traveled in a similar fashion as you're considering only one of us used the basic 18-55 while I used the 17-50... or I would use the 10-24 while she would use the 17-50. If I really wanted the 17-50 for a shot, I could just borrow that camera for a moment while sticking mostly with the 10-24 (mostly at the 24 end of the range).
12-18-2014, 05:58 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by northcoastgreg Quote
As far as zoom lenses are concerned, I don't think you go wrong, in terms of sharpness and contrast, with any of the constant aperture standard zooms available, and the fact that one of these lens might be a bit sharper, according to various numerical online tests, is largely insignificant: you simply won't notice the difference in terms of practical output.
I pretty much agree with that, for landscape use.

QuoteOriginally posted by emalvick Quote
The nice thing on having the fast Tamron is that it gets very sharp across the frame by time you get to f5.6.
That is evident in all the tests, but most people buy an f/2.8 lens to use it a wide open, at least occasionally. That's where the Sigma excels. They're both very sharp stopped down to f5.6, the Sigma is quite a bit sharper wide open and at f4.


Last edited by audiobomber; 12-18-2014 at 08:25 PM.
12-18-2014, 06:05 PM   #24
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I've been impressed with the DA21, if I haven't mentioned that yet. The 18-135 is often on the camera, though, and if you're careful with your settings and not just in snapshot mode it can do quite well.
12-20-2014, 03:35 PM   #25
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I lost my mind...

I bought a 35mm limited macro (double duty, right?) and:
Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 DC Macro
Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM
from another site member.

I'm still going to keep my eye out, though, for a 18-135 WR.

Thanks for all of the advice here. I'm thinking that having the 3 options available, I'll be prepared for just about whatever and might actually settle into some good shots. I'm really stoked to expand my skillset.
12-20-2014, 04:15 PM   #26
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Congrats, you are now well covered indeed for a wide variety of landscapes!

You might try working with just the 35 for a while, and learn to visualize images at that focal length. Ultra-wide is a lot of fun and great for certain near-far shots, but it's easy to get carried away with it. IMO it's a common mistake to try to include too much in landscapes.
12-20-2014, 10:34 PM   #27
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I live in the big Sky prairie landscape and if I take off with my light kit 15/35/70 I am more likely to use each of them equally than not. I also know someone who mainly uses a 70-200 for landscapes.

With the kit you bought you have most AA covered. My wife has the slower 10-20 and it is a fun lenses.
12-22-2014, 02:10 PM - 1 Like   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
That is evident in all the tests, but most people buy an f/2.8 lens to use it a wide open, at least occasionally.
I don't necessarily disagree, but I'd like to add a small twist to this that I believe many people overlook.

It's true, many who buy an f/2.8 want to use it wide open. But as we all know practically every lens ever made is sharper 1-2 stops down from wide open. This is just as true for f/2.8 zooms as it is for variable aperture zooms and primes. So, that f/2.8 zoom will reach peak performance at f/4 or possibly f/5.6. On a variable aperture zoom that is already at f/5.6 at the long end, you are looking at f/8 or f/11, and BAM, you are right up against diffraction. Not to mention a slow shutter speed or a high ISO.

I know my DA* 16-50 is a tad soft at 16mm and f/2.8, but I also know it improves greatly 1/3 stop down at f/3.2 and it reaches very good sharpness by f/4 at that FL.

As for comparing the three f/2.8 standard zooms, and considering I do a lot of landscapes, I chose the DA* even though it cost me 2x the Sigma which was my 2nd choice. The main deciding factors were the contrast and rendering, slightly wider 16mm, weather sealing and quick-shift manual focusing. The only benefits the Sigma brought were price and a little bit more sharpness wide open. In the end I am happy with my choice, although I would still like to add the DA 15 Ltd and DA 12-24 to my bag.
12-23-2014, 09:26 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by cbope Quote
It's true, many who buy an f/2.8 want to use it wide open. But as we all know practically every lens ever made is sharper 1-2 stops down from wide open. This is just as true for f/2.8 zooms as it is for variable aperture zooms and primes. So, that f/2.8 zoom will reach peak performance at f/4 or possibly f/5.6. On a variable aperture zoom that is already at f/5.6 at the long end, you are looking at f/8 or f/11, and BAM, you are right up against diffraction.
While this is largely true, one should also keep in mind one of the main reasons why f2.8 zooms usually perform better at f8 than f3.5-5.6 zooms is that the f2.8 zoom is always going to be a premium lens making use of some of best lens technology currently available, whereas the variable aperture zoom will often be a budget lens that cuts a lot of corners, and therefore provides inferior performance, even when stopped down. However, there's no reason why the slower lens can't be designed to be just as good as the f2.8 zoom at comparable apertures. And two of Pentax's latest variable aperture lenses (the DA 20-40 and the DA 16-85) seem to be designed precisely with that in mind: namely, to demonstrate that a slower, variable aperture lens can perform just as well (or nearly as well) in landscape photography as the premium f2.8 zoom. Moreover, the slower lens often has an advantage in terms of flare control, because it needs less glass.
12-23-2014, 09:35 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by northcoastgreg Quote
While this is largely true, one should also keep in mind one of the main reasons why f2.8 zooms usually perform better at f8 than f3.5-5.6 zooms is that the f2.8 zoom is always going to be a premium lens making use of some of best lens technology currently available, whereas the variable aperture zoom will often be a budget lens that cuts a lot of corners, and therefore provides inferior performance, even when stopped down. However, there's no reason why the slower lens can't be designed to be just as good as the f2.8 zoom at comparable apertures. And two of Pentax's latest variable aperture lenses (the DA 20-40 and the DA 16-85) seem to be designed precisely with that in mind: namely, to demonstrate that a slower, variable aperture lens can perform just as well (or nearly as well) in landscape photography as the premium f2.8 zoom. Moreover, the slower lens often has an advantage in terms of flare control, because it needs less glass.
And Canon markets at least two of their f4 zooms as L glass. Good enough for Art Wolfe.
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