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07-31-2012, 06:55 PM   #1
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DA 15mm or 21mm, so hard to decide


I am one of a number of photographers who has (or had) trouble trying to decide on which wide angle lens to choose, Pentax DA 15mm or DA 21mm. Both lenses have their pros & cons from what Iíve read and because I really can't decide (or afford to buy both) which one will best suit me, it might be best if I allow for Members of the Pentax forum who have had experience with both of these two lenses to help decide for me.

I have a K-5 + DA 40mm f2.8 lens and i have had both for only 4 months. Before that, i had a MFT (Micro Four Thirds) Olympus EPL-2 and a Panasonic 28mm (35mm film terms) f2.5 prime lens & i really loved the FL sharpness, contrast/ colors I got out of it which is why I've taken so many shots using it. Most of the photo's i took with the MFT where portrait landscape, landscape, sunsets, buildings, street shots and group photos. 80% of pics I take involve people/ subjects and are mostly outdoors.

DA 15mm

I really love some of the images that I've seen of the 15mm in this forum, they look pretty sharp, flare resistance and starburst effect is fantastic as well as low distortion

The major issue for me is the FL. It may be too wide for a majority of the pics I take and being quite a wide lens, will it stretch or make people look a little abnormal in the picture?

DA 21mm

FL is just about perfect, mainly because I've had some experience using this FL in the past, and f3.2 is decent

The images that I've seen of the 21mm are also very good but not as dynamic and not quite as sharp as the 15mm and has more distortion. I'm not sure if I've seen starbursts on any of the pics with the 21mm, maybe it's just not as pronounce as the 15mm

Does anyone have the same image used with both lenses to make comparisons?

Some suggestions from what i have read would be to get the 15mm and then i can always crop down to a 21mm if need be and that way i get best of both worlds. If i get the 21mm, i can smart sharpen it on photo shop (i have very little experience in that field), and another suggestion would be to get a wide zoom lens, DA 12-24mm (how does that compare to the limiteds?) or a Sigma 15-30mm.

I am open for all suggestions & opinions. I realise their is no perfect lens out their and i have to compromise and learn to work around things. In a nutshell, it comes down to IQ vs FL, which would be the better choice for me?

07-31-2012, 07:13 PM   #2
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The "obvious" answer you're going to get is BOTH!

I bought the 15 over the 21 some time ago initially thinking that maybe I could just crop to the FOV of the 21.
Wrong. The difference is quite a bit, in fact you would lose just more than HALF of your pixels.

Lately I've been looking for a nice used copy or saving for a new one and maybe K-3?
07-31-2012, 07:53 PM   #3
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Yeah, we need both! :-) I only have the 15 and have only had it for a month or so, but used it almost exclusively on my 2 week vacation this month and there were too many times where my 'other than landscape' shots were too wide with it. And it does tend to stretch people at the edges... I am sure I will get better at using the 15 as I had quite a learning curve with it already on my vacation... My next prime is 35mm which I was finding too narrow for the street shots I was taking. So yeah, I was thinking about the 21...
07-31-2012, 09:02 PM   #4
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My 21 Ltd is most used lens between 10mm and 70mm. I would use it at least 60% of the time and is the "normal" lens on my camera. It's my workhorse. While I love my 15mm it is my third most used wide lens. I use my 35mm Ltd macro more.

Which ever you decide you will fall in love with the lens.

07-31-2012, 09:35 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Only get a DA21 if you need small, that's it's (only?) differentiating factor.

FA31 has supreme IQ (sharpness and bokeh) and speed
DA15 has width & size
FA24 has speed
DA12-24 has width and sharpness (and CA in spades)
DA21 has .... size

Of those 5 lenses I use the DA21 the least, but then I sold my DA40 because it's only trick was size too (although is was sharp).
07-31-2012, 09:38 PM   #6
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Neither the DA21 nor the DA15 will work on full frame, get a FA20 instead (if you can find one).
07-31-2012, 09:40 PM   #7
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Obviously from reading the thread your choice will be just your personal preference. I too own both the 15 and 21 but the 21 is only for panoramics and the 15 i sometimes tuck in the bed with me at night; its that important to me. Just personal preference though.
08-01-2012, 05:31 AM   #8
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I have both and use the 21 more often. I think the 15 has more pixie dust (pictures seem more magical), but the FL just isn't as useful. I'd say the ratio of use between them is 2:1. I mostly shoot people though. If I shot architecture from up close, the 15 would be my choice all day long.

08-01-2012, 09:00 AM   #9
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A couple of comments even though I've owned neither lens. The starbursts are more obvious at 15mm because of the wider angle and smaller stuff in the frame. I think Photoshop is great for fixing distortion but not great at making a lens sharper - you're better off using a sharp lens first. You should be able to use example shots to see what happens to people at the edge of the frame with wide angles, and what FL is too wide.
08-02-2012, 01:18 AM   #10
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Both are great lenses but I never really considered the DA21 when I got the DA15 but my needs are different than yours. I need it to shoot waterfalls (and sometimes architecture) because there are many times that you can't back up. I'm not sure what kind of people shots you want to take though. I don't think either lens is going to take nice portraits where the person fills the frame but both should do okay/great on taking group shots.

Another thing to consider is that you can pick up a manual focus lens in between the DA15 and DA40 relatively cheap. M20f4 = $250ish, various 24's = $100ish and 28's = $50-100

The lenses that I carry
DA15 - every time
K24 or M28 - nearly every time unless I'm going light
DA40 or A50f1.7 - depends on if I need the bigger aperture or not
DFA100WR or M135
08-10-2012, 05:38 PM   #11
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I have both. Be careful asking for lens buying advice as you will likely end up feeling like you need both too! Seriously, I started with the 21, 40 and 70 trio, and then added the 15 later. I like the 15 for landscapes better sometimes, and I like the 21 better a lot of the time for group friend and family gathering type shots. So - that's why I "need" both - good luck with your decision.
08-10-2012, 06:52 PM   #12
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A big thanks to everyone for all your tips & advice. I love prime Lenses and their compactness but the DA 15mm is too wide for more than 50% of shots i will be taking, though i really love the IQ and flare resistance and for the DA 21, IQ is not as sharp as i would like but the FL is very good. The only option for me would be to buy the the DA 12-24mm which should cover my needs. Although, i don't know how well i will handle the bulk of the 12-24mm climbing rocks
08-11-2012, 03:42 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zedman Quote
A big thanks to everyone for all your tips & advice. I love prime Lenses and their compactness but the DA 15mm is too wide for more than 50% of shots i will be taking, though i really love the IQ and flare resistance and for the DA 21, IQ is not as sharp as i would like but the FL is very good. The only option for me would be to buy the the DA 12-24mm which should cover my needs. Although, i don't know how well i will handle the bulk of the 12-24mm climbing rocks
Another option would be the Voigtlander Skopar 20/3.5.

08-11-2012, 04:39 AM   #14
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It just comes down to what you photograph the most... 15mm is really more practical for urban photography apart from street candids. 21mm is a good light weight to pop into a bag or something.
08-11-2012, 04:48 AM   #15
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Hi 123jippo, i agree with you that prime lenses do have better IQ and most primes will out perform a zoom lens without a doubt. But when i compared DA 21mm images to DA 12-24mm images, some feedback on owners of these two lenses, reading reviews & analysis reports, most of that information favour the DA 12-24mm for what i want to acheive in wide to moderately wide pics from my understanding

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