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11-13-2015, 11:09 AM   #1
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Help me think through lens acquisition

I've been selling some of my lenses and am gearing up for a purchase. I have a few different notions about what I might be looking for, but would love some input from some of you who have owned lenses in this range.

My cameras are K5ii and an 70s MX SLR. I enjoy having lenses that work on both formats, but it's not an absolute. Lenses that I'm keeping include:

DA 18-135 WR
FA 35/2
SMC 50/1.4
Tokina AT-X 90/2.5
Tokina AT-X 100-300/4

Things I value include:
Build quality. I really struggle with flimsy plastic lenses.
I do enjoy small primes, but am not ruling out a fast zoom. Big, bulbous primes however, seem like the worst of both worlds to me.
Image quality, of course
Speed. For indoor shooting without a flash on my dSLR, I notice a big difference between 2.8 and f2. I struggle to get exposure in a lot of circumstances with a 2.8 lens, but the FA35 is almost always fast enough.

I really, really enjoy the 24mm focal length on both dSLR and film formats. It's almost magic for me, usually for photographs like this one:



...even though it was taken at 35mm. Something intimate in the foreground and an opening perspective behind it. Also, Seattle is compact, crowded and dark, so speed and wideness help. It's also useful, of course, for things like cityscape, which I also enjoy.

So, what's on my mind is:
FA* 24/2 - It gets some mixed reviews, love it or hate it. I don't know if that's a model varience issue or preference. I like the specs on it and I enjoy a lot of the posted pictures I see from it.
SIGMA 20/1.8 or 24/1.8 - They don't get a lot of love and they're bigger, but they're also faster, cheaper and more readily available. Any opinions?

Or a fast zoom. Something in the 18-50/2.8 range. The SIGMA 24-60/2.8 comes up now and again. There are also things like the Tamron 28-70/2.8, which doesn't quite get me to 24mm, but it does also give me an autofocus lens longer than 35mm at f2.8, which I would enjoy for different things, like little kid's basketball games and things.

You can see a pattern with me of Pentax and Tokina AT-X lenses. The AT-X autofocus 20-35/2.8 and 28-70/2.8 get my attention when they come up.

The thing with 2.8 zooms (and primes for that matter) is that I feel like they just barely give me the speed I need, so when I read that they get usable at f4 and start looking sharp at 5.6, I think I would feel like it was a failed purchase. Then again, I'm never quite sure what to think of those comments.

So, any opinions, experiences and advice will be appreciated.

I may sell one more lens before I get serious about buying, unless something falls in my lap, but I'd like to narrow my hunt.

Troy

11-13-2015, 11:37 AM   #2
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The Sigma 18-35/1.8? APS-C only, but fast.
11-13-2015, 11:46 AM   #3
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Yeah, that would certainly do it. I was under the impression that that lens didn't land well. Am I wrong about that?

(I'll find some reviews)
11-13-2015, 01:40 PM   #4
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I enjoy the DA21mm ltd. It's a fun little lens, but not so fast indoors. I also have a Sigma 28mm f1.8 macro which is good indoors but it's huge. That's no surprise- you don't get fast pancakes or small fast macros. The 21 is built well, though.

Does the 21 give you a view the 35 doesn't? Yeah, I think so. Does a 28? Not really, but it is useful wide open.

I presume you're interested in wider lenses. There are some unique zooms like the 10-17 and 8-16. Again, one small and one big.

11-13-2015, 02:08 PM   #5
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Thanks, I with they had made the 21, just a bit bigger if they had to, in order to make it a bit faster. Seems like if it can be as small as it is at f3.5, they could make it at least 2.8 around the side of a DA50. My zoom is actually pretty good at f4 around that focal length, so I don't think that helps me all that much.
11-13-2015, 02:10 PM   #6
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I love my Sigma AF 24mm f/2.8 Super-wide II. It was third prime lens purchase, after FA 50 f/1.4 and FA 35 f/2. I've had excellent results indoors without flash, and it's lightweight and compact.

The Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 zoom has gotten rave reviews from professional reviewers, but the PF Forums in-depth review and some user reviews have not been as positive, particularly due to complaints of inaccurate autofocus. Then again, there are many happy users of the zoom, so it could be sample variation or user error.
11-13-2015, 02:16 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by seventysixersfan Quote
I love my Sigma AF 24mm f/2.8 Super-wide II.
I have a manual focus Super-wide II. I like it enough that I just sold my A 28/2.8.
11-13-2015, 02:27 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by seventysixersfan Quote
I love my Sigma AF 24mm f/2.8 Super-wide II. It was third prime lens purchase, after FA 50 f/1.4 and FA 35 f/2. I've had excellent results indoors without flash, and it's lightweight and compact.

...
I've almost bought that lens a couple of times. Good to know you're happy with it and getting indoor use. I'll keep an eye out.

11-13-2015, 02:27 PM   #9
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What about the da20-40ltd, Certainly something to consider if weight is a priority. Obviously not the cheapest.
11-13-2015, 02:45 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by robjmitchell Quote
What about the da20-40ltd, Certainly something to consider if weight is a priority. Obviously not the cheapest.

I started thinking about that too. I certainly like size and build quality. It's fast enough at the wide end, where I need it most and as it approaches normal, it's probably acceptable. It also shares a filter size with my macro lens, which is always nice.

Will read more about it.
11-13-2015, 03:13 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by troika Quote
I started thinking about that too. I certainly like size and build quality. It's fast enough at the wide end, where I need it most and as it approaches normal, it's probably acceptable. It also shares a filter size with my macro lens, which is always nice.

Will read more about it.
Amazon has a used one for 452 dollars.

I understand your conundrum. I've been thinking about this (35mm equivalent) for about a year now. I love that focal length. But I can't really warm up to the DA21. I don't know why, its images just don't seem to do it for me. I like the Tamron 17-50 much better but there's so many reports of focus issues and of the lens basically falling apart after a while. I love 16-45 images but it's slow at f4. I really like the 16-50 images but it's SDM and it's also expensive - and big. The Sigma 17-50 seems to me sharper than the DA21 and I like its pictures better, but it's a huge lens and I'm not sure it's the perfect solution either, while its images are sharp and contrasty there's some "pop" missing. The DA 15 is too wide for a general purpose wide angle lens. The DA 20-40 would be the ideal lens for me but it is expensive. Finally there's the 17-70 contemporary which is a very good lens but due to the longer range I don't think it's as good as even cheap primes like the Sigmas and Tokinas 24 2.8.

So for now I have a Tokina-made 24 2.8 that was badged Rokinon, but I'm not happy with that either. I think it was "repaired" and not put back together well - sharpness under f5.6 is horrid unless shooting at MFD. It's only really actually sharp at f8. I do love its colors, so I might get another (newer?) Tokina 24 2.8 down the road, or maybe the Sigma Superwide II. I also have the Tokina 19-35 which is a better lens than I expected it to be, but it needs to be at f4.5 to be acceptably sharp.

I'm actually at the point where I am considering a NEX camera as my main body with the Sigma 19, 30 and 60mm (all wonderful and every bit as good as Pentax lenses IMHO), and keep a Pentax as a 2nd body with my 35 and 50mm lens, and the manual lenses for playing around with. But I don't know if I'm ready to give up on having an OVF....

So I'm waiting for the FF release to see if there's any cheap 16-50s in the market, or even better - some 20-40 Limited I can afford... I think it's gotten to the point that I can probably afford one next year.

So I'm following this thread with much interest.

Last edited by ChristianRock; 11-13-2015 at 03:18 PM.
11-13-2015, 03:41 PM   #12
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The FA*24 is very nice. Mine is quite sharp wide open (and excellent from f/2.8), and the colours are gorgeous. It is a pretty solid lump though, and the AF is a little jittery.

For mine, the DA21 is irreplaceable. It is probably the only APS-C wide angle I would keep if I get the K-1 down the track. It is very useable at f/3.2, which is, let's face it, only 1/3 of a stop from f/2.8. It's TINY, focusses really close, and has an ideal angle of view for indoor candids as well as landscapes. The SMC version does starbursts just as well as the DA15, and it is almost as flare resistant.

If the Sigma 18-35/1.8 had more reliable AF there wouldn't be a debate.
11-13-2015, 03:45 PM   #13
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I really love my Tokina AT-X lenses. They are all heavier, but also much better built and both their 20-35/2.8 and 28-70/2.8 are obtainable and have generally good reputations. Might be the way to go.

No one is advocating for the FA* 24/2. Also more expensive than most of the other options that we're discussing, but I wonder if it might be the only thing that would really be worth it.

Pentax is really missing the boat here. No 24 or 28 in production. If you look at Canon and Nikon lenses, that's a huge hole. They will have to address that for full frame. The success of the DA15/4 would require them to put out a 24 for full frame. But, I'm not into holding out for speculative lenses.
11-13-2015, 04:18 PM   #14
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I like the FA*24, but it may fit your definition of "bulbous prime".

May be a little longer (and pricier) than you were looking for but the FA 31 and FA43 LTD are small and fast primes and good indoors.

I think the Sigma 18-35 is a good suggestion, though I have no experience with the lens and when I have considered it, I too was put off by some of the less than glowing reviews. Good luck.
11-13-2015, 07:03 PM   #15
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I don't think that the FA* 24/2 would be too big. It's smaller than my DA zoom, which is very manageable.
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