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07-24-2017, 09:34 AM   #1
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Cheap (?) and Good Wide Angle Lens?

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!

After some extensive research, I bought a Sigma 24mm f/2.8 super wide II to use on my K-50 but I am badly dissatisfied with it. Below you can find my review of this lens, and what has been problematic:

Sigma 24mm F2.8 Super Wide II Lens Reviews - Sigma Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database

I am looking for a lens which is the "wide angle version" of Helios 44, for which my review can be found below too, to see why I adore this lens and am looking for a wide angle Helios:

Helios - 44M 58mm f2 Lens Reviews - Russian and Zenitar Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database

(A note: 44M is the worst model in Helios 44 family, but still I am amazed with it - not only in terms of PP, but overall. I believe that it is a very genuine competitor of modern "great" lenses, including, at least for me, Canon 70-200 f/2.8 or Nikon 24mm f/1.4, as well as old Takumar 50mm 1.7 and such)

The main uses of the lens will be street photography and portraits, as well as some cityscapes and, although rarely, landscapes. I have been going through the reviews of 24, 28, and 35mm lenses, but nothing seems to be good enough. The budget may go up to 100 pounds, but the cheaper the better. I was keen on a Vivitar 28mm f/2.8, yet it does not seem to be sharp too. As the rest (contrast, CA, etc.) are rather fixable in PP, I care the most about the sharpness - especially at infinity. I know that sharpness will fail significantly at infinity, yet Sigma failed me even at 2 meters and I will get rid of it as soon as I will find a replacement.

Any recommendations are highly appreciated!


Last edited by mrohank; 07-24-2017 at 12:05 PM. Reason: adding the camera model and some grammar
07-24-2017, 10:50 AM   #2
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I had the Sigma super wide, and the Vivitar 28 2.8. I still have the Vivitar and frankly find it a very sharp lens, especially when compared to the Sigma.
07-24-2017, 11:15 AM - 1 Like   #3
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Possibly try one of the old Cosina/Vivitar 19-35mm zooms (my Vivitar version seemed quite good when I last tried it on the old MZ-5N - quite some years ago) as you can pick those up for around 90-100 in the UK (which is where I assume you are)?

See the review here

Last edited by jeallen01; 07-24-2017 at 11:43 AM.
07-24-2017, 11:29 AM   #4
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I've got some questions and I think that will help a lot in getting some valid suggestions;

Crop or full frame? If you considered a 24mm prime "wide" then I would guess full frame but you know what they say about assumptions...
Primes only, or would you consider a zoom? SUBQUESTION, if you want a full frame compatible lens, what about a zoom that covers the full image circle over part of the zoom range?
Thoughts on a fisheye?
How cheap? Like, is $150 cheap, or is $50 cheap? What's your pain threshold?

07-24-2017, 12:31 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by jeallen01 Quote
Possibly try one of the old Cosina/Vivitar 19-35mm zooms (my Vivitar version seemed quite good when I last tried it on the old MZ-5N - quite some years ago) as you can pick those up for around 90-100 in the UK (which is where I assume you are)?

See the review here
yeah, I currently am in London. Looked through eBay and found a PK fit Cosina version. I am currently looking for second-hand camera shops around the town, and if I will find one with Pentax/M42 gear, I will directly ask for this one as well as Vivitar 28mm 2.8. Thanks for the advise!

QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
I've got some questions and I think that will help a lot in getting some valid suggestions;

Crop or full frame? If you considered a 24mm prime "wide" then I would guess full frame but you know what they say about assumptions...
Primes only, or would you consider a zoom? SUBQUESTION, if you want a full frame compatible lens, what about a zoom that covers the full image circle over part of the zoom range?
Thoughts on a fisheye?
How cheap? Like, is $150 cheap, or is $50 cheap? What's your pain threshold?
My camera is a K-50. This is also why I went for 24mm rather than 28 - with crop factor, the 4mm difference becomes 6 and it already is a big one.

I, honestly, go for primes as I have problems with zooms lately - except if it is something like Canon 70-200 2.8. Otherwise the kit lens, which I still did not sell just in case, is not doing a very bad job, yet I want/need something more than decent. With Helios, I appreciate the lens in 8 of 10 shots I take while with Sigma and the kit lens it is 1/20. The gear should force us to become creative and better also, I assume.

Before a fisheye, I need a "normal" wide-angle one. 58mm Helios is a rather zoom lens with the crop factor (87mm eq), and I want to go somewhere more usual now - somewhere around 24-35mm (36-53mm eq). I preferred 24 over 28 just because it is almost 35mm equivalent on a film camera, and wanted to train my eye for that - for some time in the unforeseeable future in which I will own a FF camera.

And lastly - the cheaper, the better. Helios has been my milestone, so a good lens can be bought for 35 pounds is the motto. So Vivitar 28mm 2.8 fits into this category - but I am unsure about its sharpness. And I would not want to spend more than 100 pounds - or, if possible, 50 actually as it was the price I paid for the 24mm, and I do not want to add more bucks up if it is not utterly necessary.

And, well, thank you for reading this much, if you have done so
07-24-2017, 12:37 PM   #6
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I agree with you, if the super wide had been a little bit better... I was really wanting the 24 fl. I settled for the 28 because I felt the Sigma just wasn't worth keeping. I've seen some great results with the Cosina version and people that have been very happy with it, so that may be an option also.
07-24-2017, 12:42 PM - 3 Likes   #7
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Cheap->Wide->Good

Pick two.
07-24-2017, 12:43 PM   #8
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This is a serious suggestion; find a good deal on a good used 18-55 WR. I like the WR for two reasons; it's WR, and it means it's a more recent version than one of the earlier versions of this lens. Looking at the evil bay in the UK, it seems like there are some decent appearing options for some but not a lot more than what you're suggesting. Pair that with a good copy of the Helios 44 that you already have and you're kind of onto the start of a good kit.

07-24-2017, 12:53 PM   #9
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Couple of 19-35s on ebay UK here

OTOH, the 18-55 option is also there - as might be an early version of the Sigma 17-70 (I recently got a decent one for around 85 on the UK forum - pentaxuser - and it's looking pretty good so far).
Personally, I've been using a 10-20 Sigma F4.5-5.6 for many years (but the s/h price is generally around 220) and now the 17-70 Sigma as the "intermediate" lens - and I'm pretty happy with them both (on K-5, K-3, & the K-30 ~ K-50)

Last edited by jeallen01; 07-24-2017 at 01:02 PM.
07-24-2017, 01:14 PM   #10
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perhaps a 16mm zenitar. maybe 120
07-24-2017, 03:44 PM   #11
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Sigma 17-70 is pretty decent, yeah. It's probably neck and neck with the 18-55 at worst, maybe slight better, but that's probably case by case. Not sure which way I would go, so, you can't lose!
07-24-2017, 04:39 PM   #12
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I went for some night shots, and Sigma actually kind of "impressed me". Its problem, I guess, is that it is all so fine with landscapes, cityscapes, many street shots, and architecture, but fails heavily when it comes to shooting portraits/humans. I should change the question to, I guess, if there is a wide angle which can shoot humans as well as it can shoot landscapes and buildings.

-

QuoteOriginally posted by twilhelm Quote
I agree with you, if the super wide had been a little bit better... I was really wanting the 24 fl. I settled for the 28 because I felt the Sigma just wasn't worth keeping. I've seen some great results with the Cosina version and people that have been very happy with it, so that may be an option also.
Actually I went out for night shots to give Sigma a last chance, and it did a lot better than I expected. Apparently this lens is made only (or mostly?) for landscapes and it did not fail me in any - neither in close ups nor at infinity. Strange. And I will keep Cosina as another option, thank you for the advice!

QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Cheap->Wide->Good

Pick two.
That is the case for every lens, I guess - except the classic 50-55-58mm lenses. Apparently I go for cheap and good, ruling wide out

QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
This is a serious suggestion; find a good deal on a good used 18-55 WR. I like the WR for two reasons; it's WR, and it means it's a more recent version than one of the earlier versions of this lens. Looking at the evil bay in the UK, it seems like there are some decent appearing options for some but not a lot more than what you're suggesting. Pair that with a good copy of the Helios 44 that you already have and you're kind of onto the start of a good kit.
I have some serious problems with the kit lens. I also have the WR one, and it is quite decent to unusable for me. I cannot say that I am a pro, this is also why I am okay with manual focus lenses. Yet the blacks that the kit lens produces are so bad and whenever I try to fix them, the whole photo is ruined. I tried a circular polarizer and a UV filter, neither helped. Maybe I need some other filter to make it usable. And all the zoom lenses, except very few, lose quality here or there and I prefer having two separate lenses to do two different jobs. Otherwise I thought the same but when I have the kit lens on the camera, I do not feel like shooting any photos while with the Helios, I want to shoot everything - even rocks or clouds as I know that it will produce such results that I will feel like I did some "art". A lens should "force" me to take photos also, no?

QuoteOriginally posted by jeallen01 Quote
Couple of 19-35s on ebay UK here

OTOH, the 18-55 option is also there - as might be an early version of the Sigma 17-70 (I recently got a decent one for around 85 on the UK forum - pentaxuser - and it's looking pretty good so far).
Personally, I've been using a 10-20 Sigma F4.5-5.6 for many years (but the s/h price is generally around 220) and now the 17-70 Sigma as the "intermediate" lens - and I'm pretty happy with them both (on K-5, K-3, & the K-30 ~ K-50)
Neither 17-70 nor 17-50 are doing a decent job, if you ask me. I'd prefer using the kit lens rather than paying a lot more to these, especially given that the kit lens can be found for 50-60 pounds even while these are around 100. If there is no upgrade in the quality, or negligible, why pay more? For 10-20, I'd, I guess, go for Tokina 11-16 if I am to go that down, as with almost no barrel distortions and 2.8 aperture, it is the "best" wide angle. Well, at least for me. And yeah, if it was available for Pentax.

QuoteOriginally posted by robiles Quote
perhaps a 16mm zenitar. maybe 120€
That I looked for too, but it is pretty over my budget. And it is fisheye, I need a normal wide angle first before going for a fisheye.

QuoteOriginally posted by pres589 Quote
Sigma 17-70 is pretty decent, yeah. It's probably neck and neck with the 18-55 at worst, maybe slight better, but that's probably case by case. Not sure which way I would go, so, you can't lose!
That I totally agree with. Although I used Sigma 17-70 on Canon before, if my memory is not wrong (which can be, as it was a decade ago), it has almost nothing to choose over the kit lens - especially given that I have the Helios for the zoom part.
07-24-2017, 04:54 PM   #13
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How "manual" do you like to go? One of my favorite 28 lenses is an old Yashica m42. I picked up the camera, 28, 50 and 135 for $25. It's great for portraits and very acceptable for landscapes, but doesn't play nice with bright sunlight.
Now if I can figure out where I placed my adapter....
07-24-2017, 05:00 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Cheap->Wide->Good

Pick two.
Very truth! I try to find the Cheap - Wide - Good before, it does not exist at less for where I live.
I like to do night Cityscapes. I would save up a bit more or sale another items to fund a second hand DA21 green ring version. It is a very good walk around lens at day and shine at night. Beside that, it is not expensive.
07-24-2017, 05:14 PM   #15
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I think the big advantage of the 17-70 over the 18-55 WR is the 1mm additional width at the wide end, and the f2.8 at the wide end as well. I don't know which performs better at 55mm, probably the Pentax, but that's a guess on my part. I think the long end of the Sigma was pretty soft. Had one and used it on a K100D. Not a bad lens but not as great as I had hoped it would be. I also had no idea what I was doing with a camera when I owned it.
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