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06-23-2007, 06:19 AM   #1
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DA 12-24 vs DA 14 + DA21

Sigh... Ultra wide is such a hard choice with Pentax....

I have thought about DA 12-24 vs DA 14 for so long now, sometimes deciding on the zoom, sometimes on the prime....

When I get an ultra wide, I will stop using my current low-end normal zoom, so the next step will be the FA35. So if I get the DA 14 I will have a significant gap between 14 and 35 which probably means getting the quite affordable DA 21. This means the pair of them will be more expensive than the DA 12-24.

In terms of sharpness the zoom doesnt seem to lack anything vs the prime. It also appears to be well corrected and it goes wider than the DA 14.

The DA is faster and that is a good advantage, yeah with a wide lens you will usually stop down more, but f2.8 gives you a brighter viewfinder and since I use a split prism screen, those screens are best with bright viewfinders, blacking out and creating exposure problems with slower lenses.

But I guess the zoom will be better at its wide end than at the > 20mm end. I think the 21 beats it at 21mm. Im not as sure about the 14 @ 14mm....

I dont know... I do plan to get the 10-17 fish eye for sure, Ive been sold on that lens for a long time now, so that will cover ultra-ultra-wide, which I guess is a pluss for getting the DA 14 since if you needed those extra 2mm then u can use the fisheye and I also agree with the people that have said that if you want to shoot that wide then it looks better as a fish eye shot than as a stretched one.

Would you rather have a single DA 12-24 or the DA 14 + DA 21 pair?

06-23-2007, 07:16 AM   #2
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oopps, sorry about the double post, my internet froze up and in the end it got posted twice. Doesnt seem like I can delete one of the threads myself... too bad
06-23-2007, 08:02 AM   #3
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The DA 12-24 without any doubt, so much more convenient and the IQ is as good as either of the primes, less distortion than the DA 21 @ 21mm as well, also slightly sharper than the DA 14 at the wider apertures, DA 14 catches up at f8.

None of the lenses is a slouch, it's just that the 12-24 is one of Pentax's best DA lenses, zoom or prime, big plus for me is no lens swapping and would cost less as well.
06-23-2007, 08:30 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by and Quote
I have thought about DA 12-24 vs DA 14 for so long now, sometimes deciding on the zoom, sometimes on the prime....

In terms of sharpness the zoom doesnt seem to lack anything vs the prime. It also appears to be well corrected and it goes wider than the DA 14.

The DA is faster and that is a good advantage, yeah with a wide lens you will usually stop down more, but f2.8 gives you a brighter viewfinder and since I use a split prism screen, those screens are best with bright viewfinders, blacking out and creating exposure problems with slower lenses.

But I guess the zoom will be better at its wide end than at the > 20mm end. I think the 21 beats it at 21mm. Im not as sure about the 14 @ 14mm....

Would you rather have a single DA 12-24 or the DA 14 + DA 21 pair?
I current have the DA 12-24mm and previously owned the DA 14mm and the DA 21mm. I went with the DA 12-24 for the convenience of the zoom and to reduce the number of lenses I need to carry. For my style of photography (landscapes), the zoom is very useful for cropping out distracting clutter from the corners of a scene and adjusting the composition where my movement may be restricted.

The DA 12-24 has excellent sharpness and very low geometric distortion. It matches the DA 14 in terms of sharpness and correction (even at 12mm), and the performance gets even better at the longer focal lengths. I believe it has less barrel distortion than the DA 21 at 21mm. Both the DA 14 and the DA 12-24 should be well stopped down for the sharpest image. Also note that the DA 14 will focus closer than the DA 12-24.

The weaknesses of the DA 12-24 are greater chromatic aberation and slower speed. There is noticably more CA as compared to the DA 14 and much more than than the DA 21. This is visible in certain shots as purple and green fringes at high contrast transitions (e.g., tree branches against a bright sky). For critical prints, you must use a software tool to correct this. (If you shoot RAW, the Pentax Photo Lab does a fine job correcting the CA and it only takes a minute. Adobe Photoshop, Elements or Lightroom can also correct this in RAW or .jpeg files in less than a minute.) The DA 12-24 is also slower: one full stop slower than the DA 14 and about 2/3 of a stop slower than the DA 21. It does have some small effect on the viewfinder image, but it is not an issue for me since I use it about 98% of the time for outdoor scenic shots.

The DA 12-24, DA 14 and DA 21 are all excellent lenses and I had a hard choice deciding to keep the zoom rather than the DA 14 and DA 21. In terms of ultimate image quality, the DA 14 and DA 21 are probably better than the zoom. But for my specific needs, the zoom was the better choice.

06-23-2007, 05:27 PM   #5
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I prefer a pair of primes myself, but its all personal preference
06-23-2007, 11:37 PM   #6
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I found Da 14 works really well at night, view finder much brighter through this lens too.
06-24-2007, 10:52 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Richard Day Quote
The DA 12-24 without any doubt, so much more convenient and the IQ is as good as either of the primes, less distortion than the DA 21 @ 21mm as well, also slightly sharper than the DA 14 at the wider apertures, DA 14 catches up at f8.

None of the lenses is a slouch, it's just that the 12-24 is one of Pentax's best DA lenses, zoom or prime, big plus for me is no lens swapping and would cost less as well.
Yes you are right about the distortion vs the DA 21, which says a lot about how dissapointing the DA 21 is in this regard. The convenience factor and the lower cost, considering the total longer term investment, along with the very good sharpness that can hold its own against the primes are the main arguments speaking for the zoom, of course along with the extra 2mm on the wide end.
06-24-2007, 11:04 PM   #8
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Very interesting to hear from someone who has owned all 3!

I dont mind doing a bit of cropping with the 10mpix k10D, so above 14mm is not that much of a problem. The widest I have now is an 18-50 zoom that I basically use as an 18mm prime and I rarely find myself zooming in with it, but often find myself wanting to zoom out more but of course not being able to.

I think its a bigger issue loosing those 2 extra mm on the wide end, because you cant recreate those by cropping You can foot-zoom but I often find myself pressing myself up against a wall that is stopping me from backing up further.

The zoom certainly is very good in terms of distortion and sharpness.

But I am actually not that sure if it will beat the 21mm, even tho the distortion of the latter is a bit too much. Because in my experience the zoom will not perform as well at the long end of its range. And this was confirmed by klaus' test over at photozone.de where he not only mentioned lower sharpness but also loss of contrast and recommended that the zoom be stopped down an extra stop. That brings it to f5.6 which is very slow.

Of course one alternative is to get a zoom in place of the da21, if you got the new 16-50 f2.8 da zoom then that should beat both lenses at 21mm and will go down to 16, where the da 14 will extend it for that extra wideness and you can enjoy the same f2.8 max aperature.

I think this is the thoughest range to choose lenses for pentax, and as if the difficulty was not eanough, there is the risk of Pentax releasing an > APS-C sensor camera and thus you cant keep your wide lenses if you upgrade.

Speaking for the DA 14 is also the close focusing distance, this is very usefull for dramatic wide angle closeup shots. Also the build quality of the DA14 seems very very good, I wish petnax would use the same kind of wider focusing ring on its other primes, and not place it at the end of the lens barrel like with the FA 35, 50, 100, etc.

QuoteOriginally posted by GaryML Quote
I current have the DA 12-24mm and previously owned the DA 14mm and the DA 21mm. I went with the DA 12-24 for the convenience of the zoom and to reduce the number of lenses I need to carry. For my style of photography (landscapes), the zoom is very useful for cropping out distracting clutter from the corners of a scene and adjusting the composition where my movement may be restricted.

The DA 12-24 has excellent sharpness and very low geometric distortion. It matches the DA 14 in terms of sharpness and correction (even at 12mm), and the performance gets even better at the longer focal lengths. I believe it has less barrel distortion than the DA 21 at 21mm. Both the DA 14 and the DA 12-24 should be well stopped down for the sharpest image. Also note that the DA 14 will focus closer than the DA 12-24.

The weaknesses of the DA 12-24 are greater chromatic aberation and slower speed. There is noticably more CA as compared to the DA 14 and much more than than the DA 21. This is visible in certain shots as purple and green fringes at high contrast transitions (e.g., tree branches against a bright sky). For critical prints, you must use a software tool to correct this. (If you shoot RAW, the Pentax Photo Lab does a fine job correcting the CA and it only takes a minute. Adobe Photoshop, Elements or Lightroom can also correct this in RAW or .jpeg files in less than a minute.) The DA 12-24 is also slower: one full stop slower than the DA 14 and about 2/3 of a stop slower than the DA 21. It does have some small effect on the viewfinder image, but it is not an issue for me since I use it about 98% of the time for outdoor scenic shots.

The DA 12-24, DA 14 and DA 21 are all excellent lenses and I had a hard choice deciding to keep the zoom rather than the DA 14 and DA 21. In terms of ultimate image quality, the DA 14 and DA 21 are probably better than the zoom. But for my specific needs, the zoom was the better choice.


06-24-2007, 11:05 PM   #9
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Yes those are good arguments in favor of the DA14, in sample shots I have seen it seems quite good wide open.

QuoteOriginally posted by roentarre Quote
I found Da 14 works really well at night, view finder much brighter through this lens too.
06-25-2007, 01:51 AM   #10
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Since we are discussing various wides, can someone kindly throw light on the comparative merits of the 12-24 and the 16-45? (Sharpness, overall image quality, colour fidelity, distortion, etc., especially in the common focal range - 16 to 24mm.)
Thank you.
06-25-2007, 02:01 AM   #11
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The 16-45 seems a very good lens, and its cheap too.

Its a wide-normal zoom and the 12-24 is a wide zoom so they are not that comparable since they are ment to complement each other.

To summarize for the overlapping 16-24:
The 16-45 is a lot sharper, but has a lot more distortion, especially at 16mm. Altho the distortion is correctable with ptlens. In terms of sharpness there seems to be no contest as the 16-45 wins hands down.

Find a more detailed answer yourself by comparing klaus' tests of these two lenses:
Pentax DA 12-24mm f/4 AL ED [IF] - Photozone Review / Test Report
Pentax SMC-DA 16-45mm f/4 ED AL - Photozone Review / Quick Test Report

Summary: if you dont need the < 16mm wide angle that the 12-24 offers then you would be stupid not to get the 16-45, it costs less than half of hte 12-24 and is a lot sharper. Its a no-brainer. The question is do you need the wider view or not.

And again, these are not competing lenses, they are complementary lenses in the same series.


QuoteOriginally posted by Khukri Quote
Since we are discussing various wides, can someone kindly throw light on the comparative merits of the 12-24 and the 16-45? (Sharpness, overall image quality, colour fidelity, distortion, etc., especially in the common focal range - 16 to 24mm.)
Thank you.
07-17-2007, 07:39 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by GaryML Quote
I current have the DA 12-24mm and previously owned the DA 14mm and the DA 21mm. ... The DA 12-24 has excellent sharpness and very low geometric distortion. .... the DA 12-24 should be well stopped down for the sharpest image.
I dont' mean to jak and's thread, but I have to ask as I'm having so much trouble with my 12-24....

GaryML, hope you read this (or anyone that has it). If you are say, about 7 feet away from a subject, say a clump of large pettled flowers but anything with that sort of detail will do, in a late afternoon indirect light, ... are you able to see reasonable detail of each flower, or is your lens "unsharp @ any speed/aperture"? I would have figured that scene @ f5.6 would have been sharp.

I am about to return it to where I purchased it from. While I've taken nice shots with focus at or near infinity (see the sunst shots in my 'introducing..." thread), I just can't or hardly ever, can get a decently sharp image with it at any shorter focus. I have another copy on order and on its way here ... I wonder if it's futile or if I really do have a bad copy of the lens. I ordered another copy after finding it to have such terrible CA. Oh well that that is normal from your findins as well. I'm not too sure I have 'bad copy' now. At least the one I'm buying now is $80 less...
07-17-2007, 07:59 PM   #13
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Well it doesnt sound normal or are you saying that if you do that in sunlight it will be sharp but in late afternoon indirect light it will not ? if the lens is the problem then the lack of sharpness should be consistent
07-17-2007, 09:47 PM   #14
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I currently shoot with the 12-24 as my only zoom lens and find it to be a terrific performer, but I'm still planning on picking up the 21 as I'm in need of a wide-angle lens that fits in my pocket.

Size matters.
07-18-2007, 05:20 AM   #15
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I am getting confused.

Does it mean DA 12-24 @ 14mm is better than DA 14 @ 14mm, or otherwise?
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