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03-22-2009, 10:08 AM   #1
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Lens selection question from a new user

I have started getting a bit deeper into photography and find that I do not appreciate the signficance of many things. I beleive I can figure out these things with experience, but neither do I have time, nor the option (e.g. to try out different lenses without buying). Hope someone will help me with very newbie like questions.

I am trying to understand, why I would want a wide angle zoom lens. Prime lenses are cheaper, supposedly better. Now let us say I am looking at a 14mm/f2.8 and a 12-24mm/f4.
- at the lower end - is the 2mm difference significant ? If so, can you help me visualize the difference ?
- i know the zoom gives me flexibility, but how much ? Is it not a matter of walking back and forth a meter or two capture the same image with the prime ?

Thanks.

03-22-2009, 10:42 AM   #2
Ira
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You can't always walk a few meters back, and yeah, 2mm at that end can be a significant difference.

If you're shooting digital, or film and then scanning (but NOT actually doing photo processing from negative to paper), you can use the 12 and easily crop what you don't want.

The 12 you mentioned is faster than the zoom, which is important. But the convenience of a zoom is ALSO important.

It's all a balance in deciding what works for you in what situation. A lot of people swear by primes only, but if they're just going to the zoo for the day with the family, they'll take a zoom for convenience. While many people who generally use zooms recognize the superiority of a quality prime when they see one.

One is not always better than the other. It depends on the situation.
03-22-2009, 10:53 AM   #3
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I use (and love) the DA 10-17 f/3.5-4.5 fishy zoom (US$377 incl. tax & shipping) on my K20D. I also use (and love) the faster Zenitar 16/2.8 (US$175) but not as often. The DA is often set at either extreme, or maybe not quite so ultrawide. (The only other fisheye/ultrawide I've used is a slow Vemar 12mm but it's too faulty to count here.)

Yes, differrent focal lengths give quite different views and distortions - I do NOT get a 10mm effect by moving back at 16-17mm. In ultrawide shots, slight changes in angle and distance (placement) are greatly magnified in the captured image.

Yes, 2mm can be significant in the 10-15mm range - when I go from 10 to 12 I'm less likely to include the sun or my size-18 feet in the picture - but 12 to 14 is less noticable. I haven't tried the 14mm or 12-24 lenses so I can't say what their edge effects are. Again, exact placement is VERY significant when shooting ultrawide.

Yes, the zoom is flexible. And it introduces spherical distortion, which can be corrected in PP. I'm very happy with my 10-17 - it's the reason I bought the K20D as my first dSLR.
03-22-2009, 05:34 PM   #4
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There is a difference, each mm is noticeable at ultra-wide angles. If your goal is to just "get it all in", then stepping back will sort of do it. If you care about perspectives though there will be a difference in some scenes...and of course in many cases, you can't just step back.

I would be cautious in comparing the focal lengths between the 10-17 fisheye and the rectillinear DA14 / DA12-24, because they're not the same; the angle of view at 17mm on the FE is similar to 12mm on the DA12-24.

I'll suggest this though--the DA14 is a good lens, but the 12-24 is considerably more versatile. The DA14 offers a stop of speed, and a bit less distortion at 14mm, but shooting wide-open at 14mm isn't exactly the primary use of ultra-wide lenses for most people. Some like the close-focusing capability on the DA14; it's not a macro lens but along with its wider aperture one might be able to shoot a close-up with a blurred (distant) background with fairly dramatic perspective.

Suggest you look at sample photos btwn DA14 and DA12-24 and probably Sigma 10-22 and see what you'd like to be able to do.

03-23-2009, 10:13 AM   #5
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Thanks.

Even though I do not understand everything that you guys had to say, I did learn a bit.

BTW, Andrew, I spent 7 years of my life in White Plains, NY
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