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08-27-2010, 08:17 AM   #1
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Wide Angle Prime - DA or K/M/A?

I'm just getting into DSLR (having bought a K-x a couple of weeks ago) and was wondering, if I wanted a better quality wide angle prime lens than the kit 18-55 DAL, which would be a better choice, something like the DA 21mm F3.2, or one of the old pre-AF primes like say the M 20mm F4? From purely an image quality perspective. Things like AF and auto-aperture are of secondary importance for me (nice to have but not enough reason to drive the choice). Also film body compatibility isn't a big concern either (I have a couple of 28mm lenses that I can still use with my film body if I want to).

From looking at resources like the lens review database and various online markets that the cost for either an AF or a classic pre-AF in this focal length range is close enough that there isn't a clear winner based on price. But yet they are costly enough that I would want to get the best one based on image quality.

08-27-2010, 08:31 AM   #2
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I went through a similar exercise a few months back and ended up getting the DA 15mm Ltd. I'm very happy with it (I still want something in the 20mm FL though). My sense is that you're not going to be disappointed with the DA 21 either in terms of image quality or general utility/usability. I love my manual primes - that's mostly what I shoot - but the quality and convenience of the DAs is pretty awesome.

To my eye the images from my DA primes definitely look different than my vintage glass: more saturated (reds can look kind of off to me), nice contrast, etc. Not better or worse, just different.

And just to confuse things further, when I was looking seriously at the DA 21 the other modern option I was considering was the Voigtlander Color-Skopar 20mm/3.5. I think I'd probably go that route because I like manual focusing and the DA 21 is so small it seems like it may be difficult to use this way.
08-27-2010, 11:19 AM   #3
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Went with DA21

I recently bought the DA 21 and I also own an M28 2.8. The images from the DA 21 are very high quality, especially when shooting architectural. the M28 is a bit more kind to faces when shooting portraits, and renders skin tones more accurately than my DA lenses. I have not tried classic 20mm lenses.

My sense from your question about image quality suggests that the detail and accuracy of the DA 21 with satisfy your needs. I remember reading a French article that compared the DA 21 to the Voigtlander, and concluded that image quality was the same, so you might as well get auto focus.

However, it seems that the main advantage of Pentax is to have the option of using classic lenses for a different look. If you can afford it, buy a classic 20 as well, because you may find that it renders skin tones better like my M28.
08-27-2010, 05:56 PM   #4
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Join Date: Aug 2010
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Interesting - I didn't really consider that the lens could affect color fidelity, but I guess between different coatings, lens configurations and materials... I'm really not that impressed with autofocus as a feature yet, I can get focus better manually (especially now that Katz Eye fixed the view screen and the MF calibration) but having aperture controlled by the camera is handy. Maybe I'll find ways to benefit from MF once I learn its tendencies.

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