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07-19-2014, 10:27 PM   #1
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LBA decision help with Pentax 20-40mm vs ??

So the short summary is that I'm considering buying the new 20-40mm Pentax but I'm not quite convinced it's the right choice. Here's why...

My girlfriend and I do a fair bit of traveling and a range of different photography (animals and landscapes are my favorite). She is using my K-5 and a few lenses, most notably the 15mm Ltd (one of my favorites for landscapes). I use the 31mm Ltd a lot (my go-to lens) with the second being the DA* 60-250mm. The 31 makes great landscapes as well, it just takes a bit more work with the stitching and such (which I don't really mind).

However... my main annoyance at the moment is the need to swap lenses. Sometimes the DA* 60-250mm is what I need when I see a shot and other times it's the 31mm. So I've finally decided to get another K-3. Now, if I'm carrying the DA* 60-250mm on one body I'd use a short lens on the other, which will likely be the 31 most of the time. But... I'd like the ability to go a bit wider but would ideally have weather sealing as I don't like running from the rain, etc.

I have the DA* 16-50mm but, honestly, I hate it. I think it's the worst lens I own. From the reviews I've read, I'm guessing I got a poor copy but the SDM just recently died so I've developed a strong dislike for it except when I'm desperate for WR + wide. Adding to this, like I said earlier, I travel a fair bit so I'm fairly conscious of weight.

So it sounds like the 20-40mm would fit quite well, but is it the right choice? Do you think it will work well for landscapes? (In the low 20mm range is what I'm looking for, otherwise I'll use the 31mm). Should I be considering anything else? 21mm? Sigma?


....Lastly, should I be considering a different body? I've been reading a lot about the A7 and DXO rates the sensor very highly (I don't fully understand why the K-3 sensor is so much lower but I know I get great photos out of it...) I've even been teasing the idea of a 645D or Z, but that's not the right fit for my travels (or budget) at the moment.

07-20-2014, 01:12 AM   #2
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The 18-55wr or the 18-135 could be useful.
07-20-2014, 01:17 AM   #3
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My suggestion would be the DA 12-24 despite the lack of weather resistance. I have had no troubles with mine, it has only light distortion that DxO removes instantly. I have been out in weather with it without troubles. The 12mm capability is something I quite appreciate. I have gone out several times with the 12-24 and the 55-300 alone for a light rig, and done fine.
07-20-2014, 01:22 AM   #4
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Convert the DA*16-50 to screw drive and you'll never look back. It's a great lens; I probably have more commercially published shots with it than any other. It remains my go-to event lens.
I had a 20-40 limited for a while, but it was *rubbish* at the wide end until f/8.0. Very nice at the long end from f/4.0 though.


Last edited by Sandy Hancock; 07-20-2014 at 01:30 AM.
07-20-2014, 01:50 AM   #5
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I cannot recommend 20-40. I Had it for a while and I was glad to i could return it. The only pros are:
good bokeh
silent (but not fast) AF
low high ISO noise
good control of CA

But overall IQ is very bad. My tamron 17-50 outperform it clearly. Even my 18-135 outperform it at several FL. I think, that IQ wise, your 16-50 is better performer.

Maybe i had only bad piece, but from what I read around, there are too many bad pieces in the market. Maybe more than good pieces

So, if you would decide to buy one, make sure that you can test it and you can return it without questions, if you want.
07-20-2014, 03:16 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
I had a 20-40 limited for a while, but it was *rubbish* at the wide end until f/8.0. Very nice at the long end from f/4.0 though.
That is the reason I went for the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8. I was never impressed with the 20-40mm Limited, apart from the aesthetics of the lens itself.
07-20-2014, 03:58 AM   #7
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Have you thought about the 18-135? It really is a joyful lens to use. Nice rendering at all FL. No, it's not very sharp in the corners, but it's not super awful, either. That's it's only optical flaw as far as I can tell. When I travel, I take the 18-135 and one fast lens for low-light/shallow DOF. When I have time to go slow, I take a bunch of primes.

07-20-2014, 04:03 AM   #8
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An alternative angle: Have you considered a Ricoh GR? It's small and light and has, from the looks of it, excellent image quality.

It doesn't have a VF, but if you can live with that it could be a very good supplement.
07-20-2014, 04:25 AM   #9
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Another vote for the12-24 - superb lens. If you're in the rain - cover it with something waterproof.

The 20-40 has not been too well received from what I read, the IQ not being up to that of the equivalent prime.
07-20-2014, 06:30 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jremick Quote
I'm considering buying the new 20-40mm Pentax but I'm not quite convinced it's the right choice.

I travel a fair bit so I'm fairly conscious of weight.

So it sounds like the 20-40mm would fit quite well, but is it the right choice? Do you think it will work well for landscapes? (In the low 20mm range is what I'm looking for, otherwise I'll use the 31mm).

Based on my experience of using a good copy of the DA 20-40 over the last few months,
I would recommend it strongly, especially if you like its distinctive style of rendering,
which is gentler than the aggressive style of say the DA 15.

The quality of the samples that have been produced appears to have been quite variable
(and some negative comments in earlier posts reflecting user disappointment with bad samples),
so if you do order it, make sure that your supplier will allow you to exchange a bad copy.

The other thing I have noticed is that you need to take care focusing it at the wide end,
maybe resorting to CDAF, or taking advantage of the lens's parfocal property
by focusing at the long end and then zooming out.

The Lenstip/Optyczne site did a good job of testing the sharpness of the lens
(and a bad job of writing up the results of their tests).
The upshot of those tests is that the DA 20-40 delivers optimal resolution
at the edge of the APS-C frame at all focal lengths
which is more than 90% of the corresponding optimal resolution of the FA 31.
If that is good enough for you, the DA 20-40 may be able to replace your FA 31
when you're traveling light and don't need to be working wider than f/6.3.
07-21-2014, 04:00 AM   #11
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Thanks for the replies, everyone! I won't be going the route of the 18-55wr or 18-135wr as those wouldn't make much sense with my existing setup.

@ JohnX - Thanks for recommending the 12-24. I was considering this one some time ago and gave it a thought this time around but will reconsider it.

@ savoche - I spent quite a bit of time considering something like the GR. I'm very tempted by the Sony RX1, but I think, in reality, it would be a better short term move to get a second K-3 for a variety of reasons including having a backup body with me. It's a hard decision though! :-)


QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
Convert the DA*16-50 to screw drive and you'll never look back. It's a great lens; I probably have more commercially published shots with it than any other. It remains my go-to event lens.
I had a 20-40 limited for a while, but it was *rubbish* at the wide end until f/8.0. Very nice at the long end from f/4.0 though.
I recently read about doing this! I'll be sending it in for repair anyway, in particular for seeing if I can get its softness fixed, but then I'll probably look into doing this if all goes well. I've read good things about the DA* 16-50 but have never liked mine so I assume I just got a bad copy.
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