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10-15-2008, 07:47 PM   #1
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Best fixed focal length lens for architectural photography on a K10D

I'm kinda overwhelmed by the options available to me between the new digital only lenses and the older film lenses. What would you guys recommend for someone newly switched from the Nikon platform (film) to the digital Pentax platform. I have a kit lens and a telephoto zoom Tamron. I'd like something high end as a basic fixed focal length lens for general shooting of architecture here in Richmond. What would you recommend?

Thanks!

10-15-2008, 07:49 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by nanter Quote
I'm kinda overwhelmed by the options available to me between the new digital only lenses and the older film lenses. What would you guys recommend for someone newly switched from the Nikon platform (film) to the digital Pentax platform. I have a kit lens and a telephoto zoom Tamron. I'd like something high end as a basic fixed focal length lens for general shooting of architecture here in Richmond. What would you recommend?

Thanks!
I would purchase the widest prime lens I could afford. Perhaps the DA14 or new DA15 would do it for you. It's all about angle of view when shooting architecture. The wider the angle of view you have available, the more you can minimize keystone distortion.
10-15-2008, 07:56 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Canada_Rockies Quote
I would purchase the widest prime lens I could afford. Perhaps the DA14 or new DA15 would do it for you. It's all about angle of view when shooting architecture. The wider the angle of view you have available, the more you can minimize keystone distortion.
Thanks a bunch for the recommendation. This is my first foray into architecture photography.

What would you recommend for an all-purpose lens? I used to use a 50mm F1.4 on my Nikon as my standard lens - what would be equivalent in the Pentax line?
10-15-2008, 08:00 PM   #4
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You're in luck, Pentax has a very nice 50mm/1.4 lens of its own. For a similar perspective to film, you may want to look at the FA31 Limited or FA35/2.

10-15-2008, 08:04 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by nanter Quote
Thanks a bunch for the recommendation. This is my first foray into architecture photography.

What would you recommend for an all-purpose lens? I used to use a 50mm F1.4 on my Nikon as my standard lens - what would be equivalent in the Pentax line?
Were you digital with Nikon? Around 30 to 35mm would be the field of view equivalent on a digital camera to the 50mm on film. If that is the field of view you are looking for, I would be sorely tempted to buy the new DA 35 macro, as long as the speed of the lens (aperture) is enough for you. The Pentax 50's are universally noted for their excellent image quality with minor differences. Have a look at the lens database to make your pick.
10-15-2008, 08:09 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Canada_Rockies Quote
Were you digital with Nikon? Around 30 to 35mm would be the field of view equivalent on a digital camera to the 50mm on film. If that is the field of view you are looking for, I would be sorely tempted to buy the new DA 35 macro, as long as the speed of the lens (aperture) is enough for you. The Pentax 50's are universally noted for their excellent image quality with minor differences. Have a look at the lens database to make your pick.
It was a Nikon film. I looked at the 35 macro, but I wasn't sure if the speed would be adequate considering I was used to a 1.4, and that's a 2.8. It's something I'm considering, however. I'll take a look at the FA 31 as well.
10-15-2008, 10:08 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by nanter Quote
Thanks a bunch for the recommendation. This is my first foray into architecture photography.

What would you recommend for an all-purpose lens? I used to use a 50mm F1.4 on my Nikon as my standard lens - what would be equivalent in the Pentax line?
As said by the others, the (FOV) equivalent would be a 35/2.0. F2.0 because the depth of field on APS-C digital is larger, so you need to stop down less for the same DOF as on film.

It is that you mentioned that you had interest in a fix focal and mentioned the 50mm, but if you had just asked for a good architecture lens, I expect you would have gotten the DA12-24 as answer. At 24mm the FOV is equal to 35mm on film and it has almost zero distortion at 24mm, which is important for architecture. Its wide angle capability is ideal for architecture and it is very sharp and renders beautifull colors. The general consensus is also that it is comparable wit the DA14 in IQ.

At 12mm the performance is at its best wide open (F4). Regarding max aperture, I cannot imagine why you would need a faster lens for architecture shots. I would give the DA12-24 serious attention. The FA31 and DA35 are also great lenses as suggested, but I would not pick them as 'the architecture lens'

Last edited by tomtor; 10-15-2008 at 11:02 PM.
10-15-2008, 10:13 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by nanter Quote
It was a Nikon film. I looked at the 35 macro, but I wasn't sure if the speed would be adequate considering I was used to a 1.4, and that's a 2.8. It's something I'm considering, however. I'll take a look at the FA 31 as well.
For architecture, maximum aperture is rarely a concern - you'd tend to do most shooting stopped way down for more DOF. On the other hand, I don't very many people do architectural shooting with a 50mm lens on film - usually it's something much wider angle. So presumably you have a different type of architectural photography in mind.

Anyhow, I still figure the DA35/2.8 makes sense, as does the older FA35/2.0, or the more expensive FA31, or for that matter a cheap (but still very good) used manual focus 28/2.8. or 28/3.5 - lots of those around.

I suspect most people would recommend something far wider, though - the DA21, or 12-24 zoom. Even accounting for the "crop factor", those will be very different from what you are used to, though!

10-16-2008, 12:38 AM   #9
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Here's what you should be looking for:

1) A lens that offers a wide field of view with good corner sharpness when stopped down. (16 mm and shorter, rectilinear in most cases, though a fisheye might be useful).
2) A lens that is well corrected distortion wise. (barrel/pincushion or wavy/moustache distortion) While software can correct simple distortion, it is extremely difficult for software to correct moustache type distortion.
3) As most architectural images are taken with wide angle lenses, it is important to select a lens with good flare control as your subjects may include bright light sources like the sun.
4) A good tripod and head, especially if you're constructing panoramic images.
10-18-2008, 01:45 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by tomtor Quote
As said by the others, the (FOV) equivalent would be a 35/2.0. F2.0 because the depth of field on APS-C digital is larger, so you need to stop down less for the same DOF as on film.

It is that you mentioned that you had interest in a fix focal and mentioned the 50mm, but if you had just asked for a good architecture lens, I expect you would have gotten the DA12-24 as answer. At 24mm the FOV is equal to 35mm on film and it has almost zero distortion at 24mm, which is important for architecture. Its wide angle capability is ideal for architecture and it is very sharp and renders beautifull colors. The general consensus is also that it is comparable wit the DA14 in IQ.

At 12mm the performance is at its best wide open (F4). Regarding max aperture, I cannot imagine why you would need a faster lens for architecture shots. I would give the DA12-24 serious attention. The FA31 and DA35 are also great lenses as suggested, but I would not pick them as 'the architecture lens'
I think I'm confusing my objectives in my posts. I really am looking for two different things: a good lens for architecture shots and another as an all purpose lens for general other uses. I was thinking of the 50mm (35mm digital) for the latter.

As for the larger aperture, I would only be concerned about that with any kind of portrait or macro work. Not for the architectural work.

Sorry to be unclear.

Thanks for the help.
10-18-2008, 01:51 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
For architecture, maximum aperture is rarely a concern - you'd tend to do most shooting stopped way down for more DOF. On the other hand, I don't very many people do architectural shooting with a 50mm lens on film - usually it's something much wider angle. So presumably you have a different type of architectural photography in mind.

Anyhow, I still figure the DA35/2.8 makes sense, as does the older FA35/2.0, or the more expensive FA31, or for that matter a cheap (but still very good) used manual focus 28/2.8. or 28/3.5 - lots of those around.

I suspect most people would recommend something far wider, though - the DA21, or 12-24 zoom. Even accounting for the "crop factor", those will be very different from what you are used to, though!
What do the DA and FA designations indicate?

I suppose I will have to try one of these approaches and see if I get results that I'm looking for. I have to not only try the lens but learn how to do this properly, so it may take some time!

Thanks again for everyone's input.
10-18-2008, 02:26 PM   #12
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Architecture is a demanding area of photography to do well. What you need for exteriors and interiors can be different as well. Equipment plays a big role but great technique is what makes or breaks a good architecture photo.

Shooting buildings from the outside can be done with all kinds of lenses and viewing distances. Working with large structures from short distances will require a wide angle. The best choice for serious work are Shift or Tilt/Shift lenses.

Interiors are hard as well. A good wide lens is a must. Shooting interior architecture is one of those subjects that quickly demonstrate any optical flaws in a wide lens. Making a good wide lens is a hard task for the manufacturer. Its really difficult to have sharp centers, sharp corners, and no chromatic aberration.

Serious architecture shooters debate lens choices all the time. But the better lenses cost a lot of money...
10-18-2008, 02:34 PM   #13
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Years ago Pentax used to make a 28mm Shift lens. Long discontinued but I think there are no other newer Pentax shift lenses to consider. I think they go for around $800 or so. Shift lenses are still a great tool for architecture photography. Sure you can fix some bad visual faults with software but using a shift lens correctly will give you a better photo. But the problem here is the crop factor. Shift lenses really shine on FF bodies...

Probably the best widest shift lens is the discontinued Olympus Zuiko 24/3.5 Shift lens. This lens, now long discontinued, will go for around $2000 and higher if you can find one.

Last edited by Photomaximum; 10-18-2008 at 02:46 PM.
10-18-2008, 02:41 PM   #14
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The only trouble with Pentax and (serious) architecture is the lack of wide shift lenses. But then, that's the same for any APS-C digital system, anyone needing it would probably already be on Canon with a full-frame dslr and the 24mm tiltshift lens sans crop factor (equivalent FOV to a 16mm on APS-C). K mount shift lenses are currently available at 28mm, 35mm, and several longer lengths from various manufacturers, some in the soviet bloc (don't believe the Zuiko lens mentioned above can be adapted for Pentax mount). The difference between ~16mm and 28mm is quite significant, though.

If the Pentax 14mm is being considered, you might want to wait a while, there's an interesting 15mm f4 prime in the works for next spring which is pancake format (whereas the 14mm is not). Unless you need/want the f2.8 for interiors/night work, it might be more useful/portable.
10-18-2008, 02:57 PM   #15
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Good points MrA.

Depends how much and how often you want to do this kind of work. And the results you hope to obtain. Buying shift lenses and FF cameras will put a major dent in the credit card.

Another option is renting the kit as needed if you are doing this kind of work every now and then. For instance I live in Seattle and am fortunate that there are serious photography stores that I can rent just about anything.

Some architecture shooters will invest in a good pano tripod head that will allow for setting the nodal point etc. You then shoot several shots of different areas and using specific software stitch the images together to create one high quality image file.

The other option is going old school and doing it all manually. I am of course referring to shooting with a 4x5 view camera and say a 90mm lens. This means exploring new technique and dealing with large format film. Still the results can be way, way better than 35mm digital. Used prices on a medium grade 4x5 camera and a 90mm (most useful wide lens for architecture) are very affordable these days. Many ways of skinning the cat as the saying goes...

Last edited by Photomaximum; 10-18-2008 at 03:04 PM.
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