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12-10-2015, 09:59 AM   #1
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20-40mm Limited or DA 16-85mm for Landscapes


I am trying to build up my landscape kit and am looking to replace the Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 with something else because (1) it is not great for manual focusing (2) it is not WR. The kit will be the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6, the Pentax 50-135 f/2.8 and either the Limited 20-40mm or the new DA 16-85mm. I was wondering how they compare within the 20-40mm range, especially with edge to edge sharpness? While I don't need the extra range of the 16-85mm because I have it mostly covered, I could see it being useful because I wouldn't have to change lenses as much (if it performs well at both ends of the range). However, I am attracted to the size of the 20-40mm. I am also interested in any opinions on which is better for manual focusing, as I tend to shoot landscapes on live view with manual focus. That being said, I still want the lens to have autofocus so that I can apply it for other types of photography. I will be shooting on a K3. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

12-10-2015, 10:09 AM   #2
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I'm not so sure, but another option could be the DA* 16-50 - to go with your 50-135...
12-10-2015, 10:37 AM   #3
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Have you seen Maybe you can judge for yourself on basis of that?

I have neither of the lenses, but have considered buying the 20-40mm. I still need some convincing ... but landscape might be what it does best?

Last edited by H. Sapiens; 12-10-2015 at 10:54 AM.
12-10-2015, 10:47 AM   #4
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Over the years, one of the many things I learned as an event photographer is lens distortion I would avoid especially in zoom lenses. I shoot mainly with the 20-40 Ltd lens on my k-3. I don't have the 16-85 so I can not comment on that lens, however, I do have the DA*16-50 which I don't use often as it is heavier and more distortion on the wide end for my taste. That's just my personal opinion. I now shoot with the 20-40 on k-3 and 58/f1.4 (manual) on k-5IIs for all events.

12-10-2015, 10:53 AM   #5
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For landscapes I have the 12-24, 16-50, 20-40, 60-250 zooms (60-250 to grab the occasional critter, which I found the 50-135 too short). You have a similar selection issue as me. I recently picked up a 20-40 thinking I might replace the 16-50 with a smaller, lighter lens. After shooting with it here are my observations:

1. The 20-40 is a lot easier to pack, particularly for travel, and IQ is excellent
2. Using the 20-40, I found I missed the 16-20 range. The 16-50 covers the full range of what I shoot most so I', leaning towards keeping it and selling the 20-40.
3. The loss of 10mm on the long end with the 20-40 wasn't an issue
4. Both lenses can produce great results if used properly. The 16-50 gets a little worse rep than I think it deserves. Stopped down it's plenty sharp.
5. One other note about the 20-40. I'd owned it about 2 weeks when I lost the cap. It will fall off if you sneeze (OK a little exaggeration, but it's easy to lose). When I bought a replacement I also bought a cap saver so when it falls off again (and it has) it's at least hanging from the lens on a strap.

I'd like to try the 16-85 myself, simply for the extra reach. The max aperture on the 16-50 is nice, but I truthfully I never shoot this lens wide open anyway and if I'm stopping down then I don't really care about the big constant aperture. If I had none of these and was buying today based on what I know about the lenses and how I shoot, I'd probably go for the 16-85.
12-10-2015, 05:01 PM   #6
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I have no trouble with the Tamron 17-560 using manual focus in conjunction wth live view (using the magnified image) either on a K-x (no focus peaking) or a K-3 (with focus peaking).

Why are you finding manual focus difficult?

As for WR, I find a bit of care can go a long way to using non-WR lenses. Did 2 hours photography in the Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island recently in steady rain. Slightly awkward process with a brolly pinned under my spare arm, but I got the job done. Personally I view WR as an insurance policy, not as something I would rely upon regularly.
12-11-2015, 10:36 AM   #7

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I would go with the DA 16-85, just far the greater versality. In terms of edge to edge sharpness, I doubt you'll see any significant difference. The DA 16-85 delivers sharp, contrasty images throughout it's entire range, and while I'll often bring along a Rokinon 10mm and the old M 75-150 to accompany the 16-85 on longer landscape shooting trips, more often the other lenses see little use. The 16-85 is all I need for 95%+ of my landscape shooting.
12-20-2015, 10:39 AM   #8
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Thanks for all of the advice. I got both lenses and did some in field testing. The 16-85mm looks like the winner and seems to be at least as good as if not better than the 20-40mm in my usage tests (which weren't super scienitific but I just used both on and off tripods in my normal shooting conditions). I do prefer the build quality and focus ring of the 20-40mm, but the 16-85mm just makes more sense due to the focal range and my intended use for landscapes in potentially wet or dusty/sandy places.


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