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02-05-2010, 12:07 PM   #1
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LBA: Sigma 15-30mm EX DG

The local Henry's Outlet store is a dangerous place to visit at the best of times. Now, they are moving the store from downtown out into the hinterlands. Apparently they make more money selling the land for a condo than selling used cameras and lenses.
Anyway, with their move pending, the Outlet store has been fire-saleing merchandise. Last night the glass case with the autofocus Pentax lenses was marked down 50%.
With a markdown like that, I thought I'd look at all the lenses, including the ones that are so expensive I normally don't pay attention. They had a pair of Sigma 15-30 EX DG lenses that were marked $499 (Canadian.) So suddenly these beauties were $250. They were both immaculate, LN condition. I tried them both out in the store on a K7 body, and walked out with the one I liked best.
Super wide has always been a gap for me especially on digital. The old 18-35 and 18-55 were never really wide enough especially on interiors. I regularly used the 18-35 on film to get a true super wide perspective. So the 15-30 is a real treat. Not only do I finally get a super wide perspective on my K10D, but the 15-30 works on my film bodies too, delivering a true 15mm. Love it! I never thought I'd be able to afford a quality lens that would go that wide.
The fullframe image circle on the 15-30 comes at the cost of size and a huge curved front element. There's no way to filter the front of this beauty. Neither lens had the front cap, so I also will need to get creative to protect the front element. Thank goodness for the built in petal hood. It's a big lens, but not ridiculously heavy. It balances and handles nicely on the K10D, PZ1p and the MZ-S.
Optically, my first impression is that distortion is handled very well. Sharpness is good. Having an extra half stop of speed compared to the FAJ 18-35 is also welcome.
One item I haven't figured out yet is the (supposed) rear filter slot. I would like to be able to use gelatin filters, especially when shooting black and white film. A rear gelatin filter slot for red, yellow or green filter would suit my way of shooting perfectly. (It also is a much cheaper way to find filters.)
Once I have a chance to actually use the lens in the field, I will put a review into the lens database.

02-05-2010, 01:44 PM   #2
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Congrats!

I've shot with one of those on a 40D - it's not a bad lens. Only real complaint I had was that it was big.

02-05-2010, 02:21 PM   #3
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Thanks for attaching a picture -- now I can see what the lens cap should look like!
02-05-2010, 03:26 PM   #4
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That's a wonderful lens. I have been using it a lot before I bought the 10-20 and I still keep it, because it's a tad faster and for FF...

You should definitely try to get the additional lens hood! This has a 82mm filter thread and there you go!

The rear filter holder is a simple slot type, so you cut the filter to size and puch it into the narrow slot. If I remember rightly the lens comes with a simple filter cutter - I hope I find mine again if I ever need it.

As the lens is not too old, you could possibly get replacements from Sigma.

The 15-30 is one of those lenses, which are highly underrated. If I compare it to my prime 15mm (the old K), the K wins in sharpness and clarity, but surprisingly enough the Sigma zoom is much less prone to flareing when shooting into the sun. Use it at f/8 - f/11 and it is really good.

Ben

02-05-2010, 04:22 PM   #5
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Looks awesome, could you get me the other copy and send it to me? I'll pay you + however much more for your service. Thanks.
02-05-2010, 05:49 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jsherman999 Quote
.

Congrats!

I've shot with one of those on a 40D - it's not a bad lens. Only real complaint I had was that it was big.

one of the main reasons why I don't like Sigmas. I also passed on a Sigma 20-40 which I could had easily bought, but found the size to be undesirable, especially I'm so crammed up with lens space and weight. kinda a pain in the neck while you're on the go. if not for it's enormosity, I could had gotten it. although some people like big lenses, probably for looks.
02-05-2010, 06:51 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pentaxor Quote
one of the main reasons why I don't like Sigmas. I also passed on a Sigma 20-40 which I could had easily bought, but found the size to be undesirable, especially I'm so crammed up with lens space and weight. kinda a pain in the neck while you're on the go. if not for it's enormosity, I could had gotten it. although some people like big lenses, probably for looks.
I agree, but some of these are FF lenses, so it makes sense that they're big. I had a Sigma 24-60/2.8 briefly that was really nice, but kinda huge for the range! However, if Pentax had a FF digital out there, I'd forgive the size... or buy one of those 15-30's!

Good catch! I saw those last week--think they were still $499!
02-05-2010, 07:54 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by farfisa Quote
I agree, but some of these are FF lenses, so it makes sense that they're big. I had a Sigma 24-60/2.8 briefly that was really nice, but kinda huge for the range! However, if Pentax had a FF digital out there, I'd forgive the size... or buy one of those 15-30's!

Good catch! I saw those last week--think they were still $499!
I think Sigmas are just built that way, zooms or primes, FF DG or APS-C DC, HSM or non-HSM, they are really just big. the Pentax equivalent of FF lenses are small, like the FA LTD's, DFAs and F/FA lenses for example.

02-05-2010, 10:52 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by jsherman999 Quote
.

Congrats!

I've shot with one of those on a 40D - it's not a bad lens. Only real complaint I had was that it was big.

I have one of these and like it, but it is Big. But so was its sibling that I traded for it the 20-40mm f2.8. I traded when I got the 21mm since I didn't have anything that went wider than 20mm. They are built in the same style etc. and I like both of them. For some reason these were overlooked lenses among Pentaxians. It may have been the price point when they were released.
02-05-2010, 11:09 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
I have one of these and like it, but it is Big. But so was its sibling that I traded for it the 20-40mm f2.8. I traded when I got the 21mm since I didn't have anything that went wider than 20mm. They are built in the same style etc. and I like both of them. For some reason these were overlooked lenses among Pentaxians. It may have been the price point when they were released.
maybe, but most probably the size. if we are going to follow what most people want nowadays, most of them want an easy-to-carry gear. bring a DA15 and FA31 or DA21 and DA40, and those are still much smaller than the 15-30 and 20-40. even the DA16-45 and DA14 is smaller. the DA* zoom crap is quite a bit but still smaller.

although I somehow feel that they are overlooked due to Sigma's past history of lemons. I'm quite glad that they seem to have improved over the years.
02-05-2010, 11:42 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pentaxor Quote
maybe, but most probably the size. if we are going to follow what most people want nowadays, most of them want an easy-to-carry gear. bring a DA15 and FA31 or DA21 and DA40, and those are still much smaller than the 15-30 and 20-40. even the DA16-45 and DA14 is smaller. the DA* zoom crap is quite a bit but still smaller.

although I somehow feel that they are overlooked due to Sigma's past history of lemons. I'm quite glad that they seem to have improved over the years.
Counting the 20-40mm that I traded for this lenses, I have only had 3 Sigma lenses. The other is the latest version of the 105mm macro so I can't really comment on the lemon issues. The upside to both these Sigma zooms is that the are ff compatible and manual focusing them is easy. Even though they are big, the aren't too heavy plus balance well on the K20d and K200d.
02-06-2010, 04:43 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pentaxor Quote
maybe, but most probably the size. if we are going to follow what most people want nowadays, most of them want an easy-to-carry gear. bring a DA15 and FA31 or DA21 and DA40, and those are still much smaller than the 15-30 and 20-40. even the DA16-45 and DA14 is smaller. the DA* zoom crap is quite a bit but still smaller.

although I somehow feel that they are overlooked due to Sigma's past history of lemons. I'm quite glad that they seem to have improved over the years.
Sigma is going for versatility (zooms with large, useful ranges, full-format and not too slow) and Pentax goes for small primes, which are slow. I don't like slow lenses and so my collection of Pentax glass is not really smaller in size than Sigmas. I also like FF lenses, because I have several film bodies. Pentax FF lenses are also not small.

So if you use comparable lenses from both manufacturers, the size difference is not really big if at all:

Sigma 18-50/2.8 -- MUCH smaller than Pentax 16-50/2.8
Sigma 15-30 -- larger than Pentax K 15mm BUT more lightweight
Sigma 70-200/2.8 -- Pentax FA 80-200/2.8 - I bought the Sigma, because I found the Pentax Too big and too heavy - indeed even the Pentax K 200/2.5 is nearly as heavy and as big as the Sigma zoom

Ben
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