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11-08-2009, 06:24 PM   #1
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Seeking wide-angle lens - Zoom or Prime?

Before I ask the question, a quick story: On my flight from Germany to US, I met a Nikon photographer who was an artchitect, but was very much into photography - mostly for cityscapes. In our conversation, he revealed that he used to use a zoom for landscape/architecture shots, but when he analyzed his shots he found that 90% of the shots were at 14mm. So he ditched the zoom and bought a prime.

That said, I am looking for some recommendations for a lens for doing just that - landscapes mostly, but also cityscapes. I was leaning towards Sigma 10-20mm (3.5 - 5.6 one), but also tempted by some of the primes. The following are some of the lenses I am considering:

- DA 14mm
- DA 21mmf/3.2
- Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5-5.6
- Pentax 12-24mm

Any other recommendations also welcome. I am looking for one lens if at all possible. Also, could you tell me why you would recommend one over the other? Just trying to note things to consider.

Thank you!


Last edited by pentaman; 11-08-2009 at 08:42 PM.
11-08-2009, 06:53 PM   #2
Ash
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Consider also the DA 15 ltd and Tamron 10-24.
The Tamron has the biggest ultra zoom range and is very good in IQ (not sure about the build quality).
11-08-2009, 06:57 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Consider also the DA 15 ltd and Tamron 10-24.
The Tamron has the biggest ultra zoom range and is very good in IQ (not sure about the build quality).
And don't forget the Sigma 10-20. Not quite the range of the Tamron, but my dad has had this since July. At least for the Canon mount, the build seems solid.
11-08-2009, 08:44 PM   #4
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Thank you, Ari and Ash. I am yet to hear feedback (positive or negative) about Tamron, although it seems to have the wider range than Sigma or Pentax. Any particular reason you would recommend the DA 15 LTD?

11-08-2009, 09:14 PM   #5
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I have the DA14 and DA21. I think for what you have listed here, the 21 is out of the picture. It's a different beast than the others...

If i were to do it again, I'd possibly get the DA 12-24 instead of the 14. I chose the 14mm because it was smaller than the zoom, I tend to prefer primes, and it had a wider max. aperture. I'd consider the 12-24 more now because it has a wider FOV at 12mm, and is a much more flexible lens.

I love my 21mm so much I'd never sell it. Get it and the 12-24.
11-08-2009, 10:25 PM   #6
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ive been looking at an ultra wide angle for a while.

I will get the DA 12-24 when i am allowed to spend the cash!

but the reasoning is as follows

Tamron 10-24 - reviews all say its soft
Sigma 10-20 - fairly cheap build, but it is a cheap lens. 20mm at the long end is quite short
DA 15 - not wide enough
DA 14 - quite big, and not wide enough
DA 12-24 - faster than the other zooms (except sigma 10-20 f3.5 which is still quite expensive), better build than sigma and tamron, decent length on the long end

I nearly caved and bought the Sigma 10-20, but have held on, and keeping on saving for the DA 12-24

i would go for the sigma 10-20 if you dont mind 20mm as the longest length, and are prepared to possibly send it back if you get a bad copy

otherwise just get the DA 12-24
11-08-2009, 10:29 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentaman Quote
Any particular reason you would recommend the DA 15 LTD?
It's one of the sharpest lenses Pentax has produced, is virtually distortion-free and immune to flare, and is amazingly small and light.
11-09-2009, 05:04 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by jezza323 Quote
ive been looking at an ultra wide angle for a while.

I will get the DA 12-24 when i am allowed to spend the cash!

but the reasoning is as follows

Tamron 10-24 - reviews all say its soft
Sigma 10-20 - fairly cheap build, but it is a cheap lens. 20mm at the long end is quite short
DA 15 - not wide enough
DA 14 - quite big, and not wide enough
DA 12-24 - faster than the other zooms (except sigma 10-20 f3.5 which is still quite expensive), better build than sigma and tamron, decent length on the long end

I nearly caved and bought the Sigma 10-20, but have held on, and keeping on saving for the DA 12-24

i would go for the sigma 10-20 if you dont mind 20mm as the longest length, and are prepared to possibly send it back if you get a bad copy

otherwise just get the DA 12-24
Really? There are build issues with the Sigma 10-20? Damn - I was gona buy the lens this week I am always nervous about buying Sigma/Tamron stuff with all the horror stories out there, but my dad's had one for 5 months with no issues. Was hoping I wouldn't feel like I was playing the lottery with this purchase. Is the 2mm difference between that and the 12-24 such a big deal? (Ugh, sorry to either be going off - topic or adding more questions to the original poster's thread).

11-09-2009, 05:32 AM   #9
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in reading the OPs post, it is clear that 14 isn't wide enough, because he is spending 40% of his shots there, which to me suggests it was as wide as he could go but still not wide enough.

Ig the OP want's really wide, then either a 10-20 or 12-24 (or similar) could be the way to go, but I will throw in a curve here ( and no it is not a fisheye)

maybe go for the sigma 12-24

not because it is the widest, but because it is full frame. Now 12mm on a film camera is really wide

as for wuality issues, I would not be too bothered by anyone's negative feedback. you will find it for any lens.
11-09-2009, 06:44 AM   #10
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I can vouch for the Pentax 12-24. Absolutely stunning. Just went to Valencia this weekend to Palau de les Arts. Photos not posted yet but hopefully soon.
11-09-2009, 10:09 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
It's one of the sharpest lenses Pentax has produced, is virtually distortion-free and immune to flare, and is amazingly small and light.
I second Marc's motion. I shoot more with this lens than the 12-24 which is much larger and prone to distortion at the wide end. The 12-24 is still worthy of your consideration though.
11-09-2009, 11:27 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
in reading the OPs post, it is clear that 14 isn't wide enough, because he is spending 40% of his shots there, which to me suggests it was as wide as he could go but still not wide enough.
Are we talking about the same post? I don't see him mentioning anything about what percentage of shots he has taken at any given focal length. Hhe didn't mention numbers for a guy he met on the plane, but it wasn't clear to me what zoom that guy might have had - do we know that 14mm was as wide as he could go?

Still, a very good point - the OP needs to somehow figure out for himself what focal lengths he really needs. If he thinks it will turn out he needs 14mm and wider, then the zooms clearly make sense. Trouble is figuring this out when you don't actually have lenses to try. It's easier to figure out what focal lengths in the 18-55 range you might like best when considering primes in that range, as you can simply examine your existing shots.

In my case, I made my decision after seeing that I used my kit lens enough at 18mm to know I could use something a bit wider. I borrowed a DA14 for long enough to know it was wider than I needed, bigger than I wanted, and I wasn't crazy about the distortions. I borrowed a Zenitar 16 long enough to know it had potential - I liked the semi-fisheye effect at times, and after de-fishing seemed to produce a nice FOV - but it also seemed heavier than I wanted and seemed like enough extra work to make me not likely to actually carry it and use it. I looked at the DA12-24 long enough to see that it was definitely was too bulky for me (although admittedly smaller than I anticipated). I borrowed a DA15 long enough (about three minutes!) to see there was absolutely nothing I disliked about it except having to part with $550, so I returned it to the friend I borrowed it from almost instantly before I got too tempted. And then bought one the moment I had $550 to play with.

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 11-09-2009 at 12:00 PM.
11-09-2009, 11:34 AM   #13
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I recently got the DA 15mm and it truly is a great little lens. Tiny (for a wide angle), beautifully made, and great image quality. At $550 (currently) it is also certainly cheaper than the other Pentax options.
11-10-2009, 10:31 AM   #14
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QuoteQuote:
Pentaman: I am looking for some recommendations for a lens for doing just that - landscapes mostly, but also cityscapes. I was leaning towards Sigma 10-20mm (3.5 - 5.6 one), but also tempted by some of the primes. The following are some of the lenses I am considering:
I love my Sigma 10-20mm 4-5.6, but do not use it mostly as a landscape lens. I find it much more useful in tight places. It works great for cityscaping, for example. The lens is a great performer, and has a great price tag. While I find its wide range less than ideal for landscapes, I still use it there at times--for example:

Last edited by Jewelltrail; 01-31-2010 at 10:53 PM.
11-10-2009, 11:41 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by jezza323 Quote
ive been looking at an ultra wide angle for a while.

I will get the DA 12-24 when i am allowed to spend the cash!

but the reasoning is as follows

Tamron 10-24 - reviews all say its soft
Sigma 10-20 - fairly cheap build, but it is a cheap lens. 20mm at the long end is quite short
DA 15 - not wide enough
DA 14 - quite big, and not wide enough
DA 12-24 - faster than the other zooms (except sigma 10-20 f3.5 which is still quite expensive), better build than sigma and tamron, decent length on the long end

I nearly caved and bought the Sigma 10-20, but have held on, and keeping on saving for the DA 12-24

i would go for the sigma 10-20 if you dont mind 20mm as the longest length, and are prepared to possibly send it back if you get a bad copy

otherwise just get the DA 12-24
Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but i would not describe my Sigma 10-20 F4-5.6 lens as having a "fairly cheap build". Its in the Sigma's EX series which is their best build line. The zoom motion on my Sigma feels very sure and solid, there is absolutely no "play" in it that i can tell. I think one can only criticize it on two features: it doesn't go beyond 20mm and its pictures tend to be a little cooler than Pentax lenses.

When i bought it 20 months ago, i had the same desire to have the Pentax 12-24, but it was $200 more than the Sigma. Glad i didn't wait. The lens is very sharp and fun to use. It doesn't take a bad picture when indoors. Very resistant to flare and i've taken several pictures in the direction of the sun, usually thru trees or flowers. As to quality, the first copy i got was great!!!!
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