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09-18-2008, 11:32 PM   #1
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Good Inexpensive Lens for Landscapes

Hey guys,

I've been doing a bit of landscape photography lately and I wanted get more into it. I was wondering if anyone could recommend a good lens for landscapes (and seascapes). I'm looking for a lens in the price range of $200-300 so I know it's not going to be anything fancy. I don't need autofocus by the way. I've heard that Pentax has some good prime lens that are cheaper but I'm fairly new to photography so I don't know which fixed mm setting would be best for lanscapes. I would assume wide angle but I'm not really sure, I'm still learning a lot of this stuff.

Thanks for any advice!

09-18-2008, 11:58 PM   #2
axl
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Good inexpensive lens for landscapes? I think you may have one already. DA18-55. Stick with it for a while. Stopped down to f8 - f11 range it's really sharp. If you really want to spend money, check some old takumars. But which one is better than the other and how much would be good prices... you'll have to ask another members...
BR
Peter
09-19-2008, 01:02 AM   #3
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You can't beat the kit lens for price/performance ratio.
09-19-2008, 01:48 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Deni Quote
You can't beat the kit lens for price/performance ratio.
kit lens rocks!

09-19-2008, 03:01 AM   #5
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Should you wish to get a prime, I suggest any of the Pentax 28mm's or 35mm's out there. They both will get you a taste of the resolution possible, and work very well indeed stopped down for that 'infinite focus zone' effect.

If you get a Super/SMC Takumar with the screw mount, you'll have to get the Pentax screw to K adaptor. But once over that hurdle, the world of low priced screw mount lenses opens up for you.

In K mount, if you can find the SMC-A version, you'll retain full exposure automation: IMHO worth it. With plain K mount, you'll have to do manual exposure setting.

With your budget, you can easily afford three to five old lenses!

Alternatives to Pentax 28's are the Vivitar 2.5/2.8 variants.
09-19-2008, 06:10 AM   #6
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Landscape lens

Sigma 24-60mm 2.8. Cametta has them onsale for 229.00. Great price on a great lens. I'm thinking of buying another for back up.
09-19-2008, 10:09 AM   #7
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Just to elaborate on the kit lens suggestion (which I agree with):

I'm sure you've read about overall mediocre performance form kit lenses. The Pentax verison is better than most, but sure, not as good as their more expensive lenses. But what does "not as good" really mean? Well, it means it can't do *some things* as well as other lenses. But it might do others as well as or arguably better.

Since you don't know what focal length you like yet, you absolutely want a zoom first so you can experiment. That's a point for the kit lens. Now, the kit lens is not a "fast" lens - f/4.0 at best at most of the wider focal lengths, f/5.6 at best toward the longer end. And it's not particularly sharp wide open. But landscape photography is *not* typically done at large apertures - it is done at smaller apertures (larger f-stop numbers) to increase depth of field. And if you're gong to stop down to f/8, f/11, or f/16, the kit lens really does start to look very good.

Now, if you get the kit lens, you *may* eventually decide you want another lens or two specifically for landscape. By then, you'll have a better idea of what you want. And the kit lens is cheap enough that it won't have bankrupted you, so you'll still be able to afford whatever you wish to supplement it with.

FWIW, my lens collection now numbers eight: the kit lens (DA 18-55 II), the DA 50-200, the DA40, and old manual focus primes: 28, 50, 100, 135, and 200. Of these, the kit lens is not my most used lens in general (I'm guesisng the DA40 is, followed by the 135, although that spot will probably be taken over by the 100, which is the newest in my collection). But the kit lens remains the lens I use most for landscape. It's just tough to argue with the usefulness of the focal length range and the image quality once stopped down for landscape.

Some, of course, like to shoot landscapes wider than 18mm. I'm not really among them - most of mine are shot in the 24-45 range (so my 28 & 40 make a nice landscape pair, too).
09-19-2008, 10:48 AM   #8
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I'd like to suggest the manual focus 28s and 35s even with the excellent advice above

Reason: 1) you don't have to spend a lot to 2) see the effects of a 'good' prime lens and make your future decisions based on what you find important.

SMC-A 28/2.8:


Super Tak 28/3.5:


SMC Tak 35/3.5:




09-19-2008, 10:52 AM   #9
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If you can find a nice used one.. FA 20mm F/2.8 Great Lens!
09-19-2008, 10:58 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
Should you wish to get a prime, I suggest any of the Pentax 28mm's or 35mm's out there. They both will get you a taste of the resolution possible, and work very well indeed stopped down for that 'infinite focus zone' effect.

If you get a Super/SMC Takumar with the screw mount, you'll have to get the Pentax screw to K adaptor. But once over that hurdle, the world of low priced screw mount lenses opens up for you.

In K mount, if you can find the SMC-A version, you'll retain full exposure automation: IMHO worth it. With plain K mount, you'll have to do manual exposure setting.

With your budget, you can easily afford three to five old lenses!

Alternatives to Pentax 28's are the Vivitar 2.5/2.8 variants.
A 28mm works great for landscapes on 35mm film. The 35mm is also usable for landscapes on 35mm film, but my experience has been that it is often just a little too long. It seems to be better suited for street photography.

On digital APS-C, both the 28 and the 35 are a little too long. I sometimes use my 28mm or 35mm for landscape stuff, but the subject is usually a waterfall or mountain that is some distance away. You generally would need something 24mm or shorter. Your kit lens (as noted numerous times above) is your best option. The maximum aperture is a little on the small side, but for landscape work, a tripod and/or plenty of light is usually the norm.

When you are ready to move to a prime, the cost/value leader is still the Russian-made MC Zenitar 16/2.8. It is also one of the most compact ultra-wides out there. The dream lens is the various models of the Pentax 20/2.8 or the old Zeiss-Jena Flektogon 20/2.8.

For both your kit lens and the Zenitar, distortion may be corrected using the very affordable PTLens tool.

Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 09-19-2008 at 11:23 AM.
09-19-2008, 11:15 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by mhertel Quote
If you can find a nice used one.. FA 20mm F/2.8 Great Lens!
  1. If you can find one
  2. If you can afford it once it is found!

Steve
09-19-2008, 11:35 AM   #12
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While certainly a wide angle is good for a lot of landscapes, I have found my preferred focal length for outdoors shots (eg. wilderness, landscapes) has been been creeping up. Since my 16-45 is in the shop, I took my FA50 as my "landscape" lens on a hike last weekend and was quite impressed with my results, both in terms of quality, but also field of view (this is on a K200D) being surprisingly appropriate.

I'm currently tempted to get a DA40 as a lightweight hiking lens when I want to go lighter. It is also inexpensive. Clearly there are shots you can't get with it (though you can make panoramas I guess) but I think it might be quite good nonetheless. I'd like to know more about its infinity performance, something the reviews don't usually discuss. The FA31 is tempting for this reason, but falls somewhat outside the inexpensive category (and it's a lot heavier).
09-19-2008, 12:15 PM   #13
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Thanks for the help so far guys. I do already have and use the kit lens that came with the K10D, and I agree it's a pretty good lens and it's what I've been using so far. My only other lens is the Tamron Af 90mm 1:1 macro lens which I use for macro shots but can't use at all for landscapes.

The reason I am wondering about wide angle is because for me, landscape shots basically mean shots of mountain ranges (I live in BC, I notice a lot of you who posted in this thread do as well so you know what I mean haha) but then again I've never used a wide angle lens so I don't really know what the benefit will be, I've just been told wide angle is good for that kind of thing.

I could definitely just stick with the kit lens though for a while, the adjustable focal length is nice and since I've been doing "okay" with it (like I said, still learning in general) and like someone mentioned I could always try the panarama feature if I feel like doing something different.
09-19-2008, 12:42 PM   #14
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There's some freeware I forgot the name of that will read through your image files and report out what focal lengths you've used the most. But even without that, shoot what you like how you like with the kit, and keep track of what focal length you tend to favor: that probably will be your most useful prime.
09-19-2008, 01:02 PM   #15
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You need to be creative to get a good wide angle shot. From most places, if I zoom all the way out on my 16-45 (to 16mm) then I get a shot of mountains with a heck of a lot of dirt/rocks in the foreground. You need to put some neat subject in the foreground, or be at the edge of a cliff
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