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08-19-2009, 11:07 AM   #1
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Pentax 21mm LTD or 12-24mm zoom?

I am in a bit of a dilemma. I am looking to expand my current Pentax kit and am having a tough time deciding between the 21mm LTD and the 12-24mm zoom. I do a lot of hiking and have been leaning more towards the 21mm but the versatility of the 12-24mm. I shoot mostly landscapes in the f/8-16 range with this lens and am more interested in overall performance than wide-open performance. I shoot indoors occasionally, mostly museums and that sort of thing. I think the lighter weight of the 21mm is a great benefit but not if the performance of the lens isn't worth the price.

So, for the grand prize question: Is there anyone out there with experience with both lenses that would make a recommendation of one over the other? Getting both isn't an option right now but it could be divided into two purchases over time.

Please help!

08-19-2009, 11:55 AM   #2
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I'd go for a 14mm. faster aperture and wide enough to do indoors. and since you do landscapes more often than not, then you won't miss a zoom range lens from 18mm onwards. performance wise, I like this better than the 12-24mm. and besides, this would give you the option to still buy the DA21 in the future. surely that's the logical choice if you are considering buying another wide lens in the future. it wouldn't make any sense of having a DA 21 if you have something covered already by the 12-24.

my logic would be 14mm (wide FOV+faster speed+IQ) > DA21 (LTD IQ+fast speed) > 12-24mm (wide-angle versatility+good speed).

Last edited by Pentaxor; 08-19-2009 at 12:03 PM.
08-19-2009, 12:00 PM   #3
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I wish I could help, as I have both lenses, but I have a very hard time deciding which one to use. I think they are both very sharp, but the DA 21 maybe slightly better colors. In May we took a road trip through Utah and Colorado and the aperture control spring on my 12-24 popped out on day 1. I was forced to use the DA 21 as my wide landscape lens. There were a few times I felt limited when I wanted to go wider, but at the end of the trip I didn't feel like I'd missed out on any shots. Another option would be the DA 15, somewhat in the middle of the 12-24 length, but small like the DA 21.

Todd
08-19-2009, 12:05 PM   #4
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I don't have both lenses, just the 12-24. I love mine, hike with it all the time and don't feel like I want anything else. That said, mine is sharpest wide open to about f11, then it gets a bit soft. If you are planning on using f16 on a regular basis, perhaps the limited would be better. And it's lighter.

08-19-2009, 12:35 PM   #5
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Rich,
Let me suggest a possible different perspective.

What would you like to do for your total kit that you carry?

I read a post the other day by someone who was groaning under the weight of all the Pentax F2.8 zoom lenses he had.

For various reasons, i.e. some playhouse photography, i bought the Pentax 50-135 lens recently and really love it. But its a heavy lens and takes volume in my bag.

So i'm compensating for the weight of my new F2.8 lens and taking the following lenses in my kit:

DA 21
DA 35
DA 50-135

I have the Sigma 10-20, but the above kit make so much more sense from a weight standpoint for me. (I did use the 10-20 for a pic a customer requested, and since sold 2 of that pic, but i only carry if i have a specific need for it)

I don't have the 12-24mm lens, by all accounts its great. it all comes down to the kinds of photos you would want to take and how much weight you want to carry, i think
08-19-2009, 12:50 PM   #6
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you should only buy the DA21 if you really value the small size
otherwise the 2.8 zooms and the DA 12-24 are probably better options
08-19-2009, 04:24 PM   #7
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Pentaxor, thanks for the tip on the 14mm. I hadn't considered it but I'll definitely take a look at it. I would be curious how it would compare with the 15mm LTD. Since i don't shoot a lot indoors, just occasionally, the faster aperture isn't a huge bonus for me.

Todd, sorry to hear about the spring on your zoom! Good thing you had the backup lens and were able to continue shooting landscapes on a trip like that! I am definitely considering the 15mm as an additional lens down the road. Either way I go with the LTDs, the zoom would overall one or both of the focal length. Hmmmmm.

Thanks, mtngal. f/11 would definitely be a benefit for the type of photos I try to take (some large feature in the foreground and mountains in the back). Do you find that the lens balances nicely on the camera?

QuoteOriginally posted by PhilB:
What would you like to do for your total kit that you carry?
This is exactly the dilemma. I'll have two different types of kits, a hiking kit for 6+ mile trips, and then I have the "around town" kit where a zoom isn't as big of a deal. I do more hiking style shooting than in-town stuff so the weight is definitely the larger concern. I visit Yellowstone twice a year for some serious hiking / wildlife shooting and weight is more critical with everything except the long glass. Every ounce I can save is a few more steps on the trail and maybe that "one shot" that's lurking out there. I had plans for the 21mm and 35mm LTDs just like your setup. In fact, I have the 50-135mm as my current walkaround "details" shooter.

Thanks, k100D. I'm not sure the weight of the 2.8s is a benefit on mile 12 but I know what you're saying about overall versatility. My concern is more about whether the optical performance is worth the weight of if it's nearly a wash. Hmmm.

Has anyone noticed any optical issues with the 21mm that is pause for concern? Photozone shows them pretty evenly matched at f/8 and f/11.
08-19-2009, 04:27 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rich_A Quote
Thanks, k100D. I'm not sure the weight of the 2.8s is a benefit on mile 12 but I know what you're saying about overall versatility. My concern is more about whether the optical performance is worth the weight of if it's nearly a wash. Hmmm.
i was also talking about optical quality too. there's nothing really exceptional about the DA21 if you dig into the reviews (edit: or user comments for that matter)


Last edited by k100d; 08-19-2009 at 04:37 PM.
08-19-2009, 07:21 PM   #9
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I would hate to carry around the 12-24. Just too big and heavy.

I also wished the 21 was a bit wider, but it was great to handle and is a fantastic hiking lens.
08-19-2009, 08:09 PM   #10
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I practically don't own much zooms. If you want a wide and light prime, it has got to be the DA15. Usually, the dilemma is between DA15, DA14, DA12-24 and Sigma10-20. Not quite the DA21 but since its part of your dilemma, I am suspecting you are not really too concern with the <15mm regions. I think DA15 is really more suitable for landscapes than the DA21. DA21 is good for general street photography but do not give you that impactful perspective required usually for landscape photography. So, get the DA15 first, especially if weight is a concern and perhaps the DA21 later on. Forget the zooms altogether...
08-19-2009, 10:41 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by scorpioh Quote
...DA15 is really more suitable for landscapes than the DA21. DA21 is good for general street photography but do not give you that impactful perspective required usually for landscape photography. So, get the DA15 first, especially if weight is a concern and perhaps the DA21 later on. ...
As an owner of the 15mm and the 21mm , I second to that.

If you are willing to buy both in time go and buy one of them.
They share the same filter size 49mm and those filters are much cheaper then wide zooms' 77-82mm

If you can afford only one lens maybe the 12-24mm is a better choice.
08-20-2009, 01:34 AM   #12
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Hi

I'm 49 and mountaineering is my passion and for me doing a multiple day trip, climbing up passes to 3100m where weight is everything I take up my kit lens (which I find at F8-10 has really good IQ) and leave my 55-300 behind - the 12-24 would be a no go for me - too heavy & bulky (I don't know how the Sigma 10-20 compares here)- most of my buddies think Im mad lugging my dslr up there with a 25kg pack - they will use a Canon G10, Panasonic TZ series - which have wide angle lenses and really good IQ - but they can't even match my kit lens iq on my K10D.

When I was using 35mm slr high up I had a 28mm & 50mm prime with a 1.4 convertor (used on 50mm) a lightish kit (they were Zeiss Planar lenses)

If absolute IQ & weight is paramount I would definitely have the 15mm ltd for the wide side, 35mm Macro for close ups of flora & fauna and 77 ltd for some longer reach - these lenses could also easily be used for town, portraits or whatever.

Attach the above lenses to the KM and you really have a mobile, light, ultra IQ setup.

Dyl

Last edited by dylansalt; 08-20-2009 at 01:40 AM.
08-20-2009, 07:19 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by k100d:
there's nothing really exceptional about the DA21
That's disappointing. Is your experience with the lens based on actual experience or the online reviews? I tend to reserve judgment on lenses until I have a chance to check them out. Your public profile shows only primes and no 2.8 zoom. I was curious what your experience has been with the 15mm or 21mm?

QuoteOriginally posted by parkpy:
I would hate to carry around the 12-24. Just too big and heavy.

I also wished the 21 was a bit wider, but it was great to handle and is a fantastic hiking lens.
That was my concern for day-to-day hiking. There are hikes when I shoot 100's of photos and some that I shoot a handful. When it's serious photo time, I don't mind the extra weight but that's not always the case...

QuoteOriginally posted by skorpioh:
If you want a wide and light prime, it has got to be the DA15.
QuoteOriginally posted by apemen:
As an owner of the 15mm and the 21mm , I second to that.
QuoteOriginally posted by dylansalt:
I would definitely have the 15mm ltd for the wide side, 35mm Macro for close ups of flora & fauna and 77 ltd for some longer reach
I was reserving judgment on the 15 LTD because of the lack of online reviews and slightly higher price. It's good to hear about positive experiences with this lens. I know dpreview kind of shanked it but for reasons that didn't really affect my interest in it as a landscape lens. I used to have a 24mm prime on my film system and loved it. This is a great suggestion, and one that might push the 21mm to a future purchase decision. Anyone have photos from the 21 and 15 of similar subjects to give a sense of the perspective difference?
08-20-2009, 07:34 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rich_A Quote
That's disappointing. Is your experience with the lens based on actual experience or the online reviews? I tend to reserve judgment on lenses until I have a chance to check them out. Your public profile shows only primes and no 2.8 zoom. I was curious what your experience has been with the 15mm or 21mm?
i used to have the DA21. i sold it and i shoot mostly film now. it does its job, but i'm just saying don't expect it to totally blow you away in terms of quality.

i cannot speak from personal experience, but most of the higher grade zooms in the range of 21mm, Sigma 17-70, 18-50, 10-20; Tamron 17-50; Pentax 12-24, 16-50 probably do just as well at 21mm if not better from the stuff i have read and seen.
08-20-2009, 07:41 AM   #15
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k100d, okay, thanks for the additional information. Sorry for seeming so critical of your comments. I just wanted to get a handle on your personal experience with it. I guess I'm not as concerned about razor sharp images as I am about decent contrast, colors, and the amazingly light and solid build of the LTDs. They seem to be made for the kind of shooting I'm doing out of the backpack. I came from a Canon L system, however, my wide angle was the 16-35mm 2.8L which, while it didn't blow me away, was "sharp enough" for my purposes. What eventually reduced my enthusiasm was that at 640g it was my lightest lens by far which eventually resulted in leaving them home when I didn't know I was going to use them... bad recipe for taking pictures.
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