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06-04-2011, 11:04 AM   #1
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Which wide angle should I go with?

I don't know which wide-angle to go with. I like the idea of having some zoom flexibility, but am open to a prime. I'm looking at the Pentax 12-24 but reading that it has some issues with vignetting. I also noticed it's out of stock right now at B&H. I just read some good things about the sigma 10-20. I'd like wider aps than 3.5 or 4 though (i think), but i'm not sure if that is all that necessary.? If so, then i'd be looking at a prime... Anyone have some wisdom for me?

06-04-2011, 11:10 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by iseeincolor Quote
I don't know which wide-angle to go with. I like the idea of having some zoom flexibility, but am open to a prime. I'm looking at the Pentax 12-24 but reading that it has some issues with vignetting. I also noticed it's out of stock right now at B&H. I just read some good things about the sigma 10-20. I'd like wider aps than 3.5 or 4 though (i think), but i'm not sure if that is all that necessary.? If so, then i'd be looking at a prime... Anyone have some wisdom for me?
One generally doesn't need a fast (as in f2.8) lens for a wide angle. I have the f4 Sigma 10-20 and its fast enough to take pictures indoors. The f2.8 Pentax 14 prime is quite large they say.

i'm happy with my 10-20, but in a do over - i'd probably go with the Pentax 12-24. That 24 end means you can keep the lens on longer as a walk around rather than a specialty lens.
06-04-2011, 11:42 AM   #3
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I have had the 12-24 for a bit over 3 years now. I like it VERY much. I have never had a problem with vignetting - I will not say that its a myth, but in my experience it has never occurred. Having said that, even if it were a hugh problem (or presented any problems), this can be cured very easily in post processing. All the software packages have automatic repairs for this. So its a one click fix.

The 12-24 controls distortion (edge and corner) better than both the Sigma and Tameron - my opinion, as well as others. You are going to have to make the value judgment on this across the other wide angle offerings.

In terms of a wide aperture - you do not need it, especially for landscapes. If you are doing interiors, its usually fast enough, but a tripod is going to be your friend anyway here on this one.

My experience is that this lens feels faster than its f4. I attribute this to its width, as it pulls in a lot of light across its angle of view. I have never really felt the need for a faster lens here. I shoot a lot on a tripod - landscapes, and I have gone from ambient light in the early evening to pitch black valley lights, and this lens has preformed extremely well.

I too like the zoom for the additional versatility. With that said, the 12-24 has been compared to a bag full of primes - and it is that good. It is sharp, has excellent image quality, low distortion (corners and edges), excellent contrast and color. Its a large lens like the 14, and does have a large front element. I do like it a lot - as its one for my favorite lenses.

Also, there have been times where it has been too wide and I am up at the upper end of the focal range. There have been a few times where I have wished for some additional width, however stitching multiple frames has always covered that problem very effectively.


Last edited by interested_observer; 06-04-2011 at 11:49 AM.
06-04-2011, 11:50 AM   #4
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If you don't mind the size, better wait for the DA12-24/4 back in stock.

06-04-2011, 02:27 PM   #5
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I have the sigma 10-20 and if I had a chance to do it over I'd probably try to find a good deal on the sigma 8-16 (wasn't out yet when I bought).
06-04-2011, 07:31 PM   #6
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The choices in the utrawide neighborhood are fisheye or rectilinear, and none are cheap. I assume you're not interested in fisheyes, so the great DA10-17 (the lens that drove me to Pentax) is out. The cheapest UW/FE is the manual-focus Zenitar 16/2.8, slightly fishy on an APS-C sensor. It defishes to an equivalent of 12mm. It is faster than any zoom in the region. I find that *very* useful for shooting in dimmer inside spaces.

I haven't tried any of the UW Sigmas nor a Tokina. I own a Tamron 10-24 and it's pretty damn good. I have read complaints from users that they returned 2-3-4 copies of any of those, before getting a good copy. I got my Tamron new with a rebate so it only cost US$375; any of the others new would have been much more. I could have bought a used Sigma 10-20 (old version) for slightly less, but I didn't want to risk a lens model with known issues. Whatever UW lens you get, be sure you can return it if it's not right.

I haven't tried the Pentax 12-24 either -- beyond my budget! I *don't* see complaints of its build or optical quality. But it's big and costly and not really ultrawide, compared to the competition. I use my Tamron 10-24 throughout its focal range, which is pretty damn handy for many situations. I tend to use it wide indoors (or in cramped spaces) and long outdoors (or in larger spaces). The Tammy and the DA18-250 have become my default walkaround lenses.

If you want to go *really* wide and you have the money, the Sigma 8-16 may be for you. If you want a *known* great longer lens and you have the money, the Pentax 12-24 may be right for you. If you want expanded range for lower cost, consider the Tamron 10-24.
06-04-2011, 08:02 PM   #7
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I am also saving up for a wide angle. I read a lot about people getting "bad copies" and I don't know that I'm qualified(at this point) to know if I got a bad copy or not, which also scares me off buying used (though i bought quite a few recently). The lenses I am looking at are the 14mm Rokinon, the sigmas 10-20 (3.5 or 4-5.6) or 8-16mm or the tamron. The pentax 12-24 is very expensive and I only recently learned that one could de-fish, so a 10-17 could work. How competent and how easy is defishing? Is the Rokinon worth getting? Will I regret the 2+ mm I am missing?
06-04-2011, 08:25 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by kenafein Quote
... I only recently learned that one could de-fish, so a 10-17 could work. How competent and how easy is defishing? Is the Rokinon worth getting? Will I regret the 2+ mm I am missing?
I can't comment on the Rokinon, but in the UW realm, EVERY mm is significant. You get VERY different FOV (field of view) at 8-10-12-14-16-18mm. A rectilinear 14-15mm lens has a FOV close to human vision with both eyes. Shorter means MUCH wider.

I really love the DA10-17 but don't use it as much as I had expected; it is very much a (fun!) specialty tool. I use it to exploit angles, and in rounded spaces. I tend to use the Zenitar 16/2.8 more, mostly because it's noticeably faster.

Defishing is not difficult, you just need a photo editor that does it. I use the ancient PaintShopPro9, or during RAW development in PentaxPhotoLab3. BUT... totally defishing a 10-13mm FE shot gives a lot of side distortion. Defishing the Zen16 to 12mm isn't as bad, but some off-center resolution is lost (parts of the image are stretched) so I save defished images at a smaller size, to maintain sharpness. Depending on how the Zen16 is used, its images can look fishy, or not.

06-04-2011, 08:33 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
so the great DA10-17 (the lens that drove me to Pentax)
I would be interested in seeing what you have done with this lens RioRico!
06-04-2011, 08:40 PM   #10
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To the OP, what would you need a greater aperture than f/3.5 for in ultrawide focal lengths? In K-mount, there aren't f/2.8 UWA rectilinears that would be affordable... yet. There may be one coming out in the future, but most are in the Canon and Nikon mounts.
06-04-2011, 08:59 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by kenafein Quote
I am also saving up for a wide angle. I read a lot about people getting "bad copies" and I don't know that I'm qualified(at this point) to know if I got a bad copy or not, which also scares me off buying used (though i bought quite a few recently). The lenses I am looking at are the 14mm Rokinon, the sigmas 10-20 (3.5 or 4-5.6) or 8-16mm or the tamron. The pentax 12-24 is very expensive and I only recently learned that one could de-fish, so a 10-17 could work. How competent and how easy is defishing? Is the Rokinon worth getting? Will I regret the 2+ mm I am missing?
I can't comment on defishing, but regarding the 2mm, having the older Sigma, I use it a lot at 10mm. Maybe if I had the 8mm I'd use it at 8mm just as much, but there are some limitations to using that lens with filters vs. the other lenses mentioned. I find I make moderately frequent use of split-ND filters with the Sigma. There do seem to be a lot of quality control issues with these lenses, and not just the Sigma, so regardless of new or used, you'll want to make sure you can either test the lens before buying, or have a generous return option.

Paul
06-05-2011, 03:32 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by kenafein Quote
I read a lot about people getting "bad copies" and I don't know that I'm qualified(at this point) to know if I got a bad copy or not, which also scares me off buying used (though i bought quite a few recently).
The test goes something like this:
set camera on a tripod aimed at something like a brick wall that has a lot of texture and consistentcy
take a picture at largest available aperture w/ appropriate shutter speed to give you proper exposure
then work your way through the aperture scale adjusting the shutter speed for exposure.
you end up with the "same" picture multiple times but you will see that as your aperture gets smaller the pictures begin to get sharper usually. The corners / edges are usually the last thing to sharpen and depending on how far you have to go to get to what you think is acceptable sharpness will help you determine if the lens is a keeper. Most lenses have a sweet spot where they are the most sharp and you will get the best images between those apertures you just have to find where that is on your lens. This test is not 100% perfect and there are other variables but it should tell you a lot about your lens.
06-05-2011, 05:15 PM   #13
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But note the corners will not be in focus when the center is, since they are further away. So it's pretty much impossible to judge corner sharpness using a brick wall test. The corners will of course sharpen as you stop down simply because DOF becomes enough to overcome the discrepancy in distance.
06-07-2011, 02:33 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
If you don't mind the size, better wait for the DA12-24/4 back in stock.
do you all know when it will be back in stock?
06-07-2011, 03:56 PM   #15
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My 2c of advice is get the WA lens you really want. If price aside you really do want the DA12-24 then ifnd a way to buy it. As the saying goes "Those on a budget always pay twice."

By the way, de-fished images result in a pretty significant loss of IQ as so much of the image has to be squished (that's the technical term) and other parts stretched out with resulting lose of resolution.
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