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12-27-2009, 09:10 PM   #1
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Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Choice

I'm working on updating my own personal lens-purchase roadmap and I've come to the ultra wide angle part. So here's my question to the best and brightest of the Pentax Forums: Which is the best overall? The Pentax 12-24mm f/4... the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5... or the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6?

I see a tie score in the review section of this site between the Pentax 12-24mm and the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6. Both finish with a 9.04 rating. No reviews yet for the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5. And the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5, with an 8.50 rating, finishes just a bit behind the Pentax and Sigma. But the Tamron has only two reviews so it's hard to say how useful that rating is at this point.

The Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5, at $649, can be had for $50-$100 less than the Pentax 12-24 f/4... while the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 can be had for around $479. That means I could buy the last lens and the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens for about $150 more than the Pentax 12-24mm lens alone.

So I guess we know where the bang for the buck is. But does anyone have any additional input in terms of image quality, handling and sturdiness that I should consider? And am I making a mistake ruling out the Tamron? Does anyone have an experience with this lens?

Mind you, my use for an ultra wide angle lens will be general in nature: landscapes, architectural, group shots of people, etc.


Last edited by Biro; 12-28-2009 at 05:22 AM.
12-27-2009, 09:57 PM   #2
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Where it matters (professionally), the DA 12-24 produces the goods better than its rivals.
Anywhere else, there is basically little to fault any of the lenses mentioned.

But value for money? It'll always be with Tamron. IQ is their forte.
12-27-2009, 10:56 PM   #3
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I prefer the Pentax look, so I now only own Pentax glass. I have tried others, but always have returned, when funds allowed, to replace them with Pentax. My last "sortie" was the Sigma AF 170-500. I sold it off and kept the M 400/5.6. You may have better luck with third party glass than I have had.
12-28-2009, 03:55 AM   #4
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I just picked up the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 and I'm very impressed. I'm not a millionaire and/or I prefer to have more than one lens at a time, so I couldn't go for the $800-900 Pentax 12-24mm f/4. I considered the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 heavily, but I was able to get a new copy of the Tamron for the same price as a used copy of the Sigma, and Tamron has that amazing 6-year warranty so it was a no-brainer for me. I hear the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 HSM is a really bad performer, and HSM doesn't really matter on a wide-angle.

The Tamron has great image quality. A solid 4.5/5. The worst part is that there is some lateral CA around high-contrast scenes (though no longitudinal CA), and there is some slight undue distortion in the far corners of the image. Other than that, it's wonderful. Great sharpness, color, speed, focal range, aperture range, everything. I'm sure the Sigma is probably slightly better in the edges, but all the other benefits of the Tamron far outweighed a purchase of the Sigma for me, especially with Sigma's gnarly Quality Control.

12-28-2009, 05:05 AM   #5
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The Pentax is definitely a sharper lens than the Sigma 10-20 which is quite soft. The Sigma 12-24 is pretty sharp though but then again it costs the same as the Pentax. But its FF.

Sigma 10-20mm review
Practically A Prime: The Sigma EX 12-24/4.5-5.6
12-28-2009, 05:44 AM   #6
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if the price difference is not to big - buy Pentax. You will love this lens.

Pentax SMC DA 12-24mm f4.0 Photo Gallery by Piotr Sobolewski at pbase.com
12-28-2009, 05:45 AM   #7
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It's not surprising that responses so far point to the Pentax as the top performer. But I am slightly surprised that the Tamron seems to be the choice after Pentax. I think that's because of the few professional reviews I've been reading (DPReview and SLRgear) and the ratings in the lens review section of this site.

But my Pentax 18-250mm zoom is a rebranded Tamron and that seems to do a good job in the real world. And Wally is right... Sigma quality control can be an issue. Up to now, I've also tried to stick to all Pentax glass. But pricing in recent months is making it more and more difficult.

Thanks for the input so far. Any other thoughts are welcome.
12-28-2009, 08:51 AM   #8
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It took me two years to buy the Pentax 12-24 and I almost purchased the Sigma before a trip due to price. The only experience I have is with the Pentax, and it is very positive. At its sharpest, it is at 18mm at f5.6, although I use it quite a bit at 24mm at f8. It performs very well across its entire range. I have had absolutely no problems shooting directly into a sunset or with any distortion around the edges, or CA for that matter. It was noted in a review for the DA15Ltd on DPReview that the Tokina 12-24 (same lens as the Pentax 12-24) was better. First time I have ever read that a zoom beats a prime limited.

Pentax smc DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited Lens Review: 3. Test results: Digital Photography Review
Compared to the Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM (at 14mm), the 15mm F4 comes out on top; it's a hair sharper, and has lower distortion and falloff. Unfortunately it doesn't come out so well against the excellent Tokina AT-X PRO SD 12-24mm F4 (IF) DX, which we'd expect to perform near-identically to Pentax's own smc DA 12-24mm F4 ED AL (IF) - in this case the zoom is sharper, and has lower falloff and equally low distortion, although it does show more chromatic aberration.
I have had the lens for about a year, and have been extremely pleased with it. I do have to say I have seen some fantastic photos done with the Sigma...

So, there you have it, for what it is worth....

12-28-2009, 12:58 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Biro Quote
It's not surprising that responses so far point to the Pentax as the top performer. But I am slightly surprised that the Tamron seems to be the choice after Pentax. I think that's because of the few professional reviews I've been reading (DPReview and SLRgear) and the ratings in the lens review section of this site.
I'm surprised too (based on the photozone.de data for the Nikon-mount Tamron 10-24):

Tamron SP AF 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II LD Aspherical IF - Review / Test Report

FWIW I chose the Pentax 12-24/4.0 over the Sigma 10-20/4.0-5.6 because the barrel distortion on the Pentax is small and easy to correct (good for architecture/real estate), and because 20-24mm focal lengths are more useful to me than 10-12mm focal lengths (particularly for travel/urban scenery).
12-28-2009, 01:37 PM   #10
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I too had to make this decision for my ultra-wide angle. I opted for the Sigma 10-20 4-5.6 and am very happy. I find it evenly sharp in all my applications, with awesome colors and contrast. I own the Tamron 17-50 2.8, hence the focal length advatage from 20-24 mm was a moot point for me.

The only other lens which might tempt me away from the Sigma, would be the unavailable, in Pentax mount, Tokina 11-16mm f 2.8--though I must admit I really do not need it.
12-28-2009, 03:21 PM   #11
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No one ever talks about the sigma 12-24... Is it bad??? As all my lenses are FF and do their occasional roll of film, I was wondering about it...
12-28-2009, 03:29 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by dlacouture Quote
No one ever talks about the sigma 12-24... Is it bad??? As all my lenses are FF and do their occasional roll of film, I was wondering about it...
From what I've heard, the Sigma 12-24 is fantastic as far as IQ goes. But, it is quite expensive, and not as wide on APS-C as other alternatives. I'm sure there are some other detractors that explain its lower popularity that I'm not aware of, though. Quality control first springs to mind.
12-28-2009, 03:30 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by dlacouture Quote
No one ever talks about the sigma 12-24... Is it bad??? As all my lenses are FF and do their occasional roll of film, I was wondering about it...
It's huge, rare, and expensive so no one really owns it... For the price people think the DA 12-24 is better. Might get better responses in the Canonikon forums though
12-28-2009, 04:21 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Andi Lo Quote
... For the price people think the DA 12-24 is better.
I've just been shopping for an ultra-wide. I ended up buying the Sigma 10-20 because I got it at a very good price. I considered the 12-24 Sigma and Pentax. Since this is a Pentax list, most people here will pick the Pentax over the Sigma since there is very little price difference. All of the reviews I read about the Sigma were positive.
12-28-2009, 06:48 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by calicojack Quote
I've just been shopping for an ultra-wide. I ended up buying the Sigma 10-20 because I got it at a very good price. I considered the 12-24 Sigma and Pentax. Since this is a Pentax list, most people here will pick the Pentax over the Sigma since there is very little price difference. All of the reviews I read about the Sigma were positive.
I assume you mean the fixed aperture f/3.5 version of the Sigma 10-24mm? It's true, there's maybe $50 difference between them - at least right now. But the f/4-5.6 version of the Sigma is close to $250 cheaper than the Pentax 12-24.

And that's the maddening thing. I'd also like a fast, normal prime and the FA 50mm f/1.4 is a bit longer than I'd like. What's more, I can't justify $900 for the FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited all by itself. Now, $900 for BOTH the Sigma 10-24mm f/4.-5.6 AND the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is something else.

The truth is, I'd like to stick with all Pentax glass and no one says the Pentax 12-24 is anything but great. If Pentax offered a fast, cheap prime in the 28-35mm range, there'd probably be no issue on my part.
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