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10-05-2009, 02:22 PM   #1
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I'm a bit torn on what to buy...

I primarily shoot portraits and I am in a good place on portrait lenses. That said, I'd like a nice super-wide-angle lens for my own personal use. I'd like something to take on vacations to shoot coastlines and mountain ranges...you know, typical family landscape stuff. Would you buy a wide-angle-only lens (I'm looking at the Sigma 10-20mm or the Tamron 10-24mm) or a "do-it-all" lens (18-200ish mm)? My reasoning for the do-it-all lens would be that I wouldn't need to take my whole bag on sightseeing trips while traveling. My reason for the wide-angle-only lens would be that the quality really is better.

So, given that I would only be using it for personal use, should I go with quality or convenience?

10-05-2009, 06:03 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums melissaSJ!
I guess it would all depend on what lenses you already have and your personal preference.
I for one don't mind changing lenses to get the photos I want for that particular lens.
There are also two types of lenses in the wide area..one that fish eyes and one that doesn't.
Some like the fisheye effect (if subject is near the lens) but is not very much noticeable if subject is landscape without any object near the lens.
There is also the rectilinear wide angle lenses wherein there is no fisheye.
These type of lenses are expensive though.
From someone doing portrait and having specific lenses for them, I would think you would understand the value of having dedicated lenses for the shot you want and need.
10-05-2009, 06:29 PM   #3
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Welcome Melissa, hope you enjoy the forum.

If you do sightseeing often and don't like changing lenses, the Pentax 18-250 is a decent performer for the job.
Want more quality in your images? Then you may need to compromise on a 2 lens kit (at least) for the sightseeing.

Depending on your budget, you can get an ultra-wide zoom like the 10-20, 10-24 or 12-24 and combine it with something like a 70-300 (cheaper) or 50-135 (better but significantly shorter). There are other options too, like 200 and 300 primes (expensive) or even a 70-200/2.8 (bulky), but it depends what you're after in a telezoom.

Also depends on what lenses you already have.
Hope this helps.
10-05-2009, 07:17 PM   #4
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I wrote a couple of articles on this:

Your Next Photo Holiday: Which Lenses To Take?
Your Next Photo Holiday: My Lens Choice

Bottom line: I value quality and so need a two or three lens solution. DA12-24 and FA77 would do me fine 95% of the time with no IQ compromises.

Since you already have the portrait lens covered, just get a wide angle and change lenses sometimes. Down the line you could always get a cheap second body if you'd prefer carrying more to changing lenses. This also works well if you have a partner to shoot with you.

10-06-2009, 05:58 AM   #5
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Robin, your articles are great! Thank you for sharing. I'd like to read more on your blog very soon so I will definitely be returning to it.

As for what's in my bag, glass-wise:

I have my kit lens: Tamron 28-80mm

My zoom lens: Pentax 80-320mm (I've had this lens for more than ten years)

My "volleyball" lens (if you've ever been to a high school volleyball tournament, you'll know why I call it this although I do use it for many other things): Pentax 100mm Macro

And a kit of close-up lens filters that I use on the kit lens.

Thanks

ETA: Tell me how "fishy" is the Pentax 10-17 when it is at 16-17? Would it replace a super-wide angle lens or is it really just a fisheye? Thanks again.

Last edited by melissaSJ; 10-06-2009 at 06:05 AM. Reason: Added question
10-06-2009, 07:52 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by melissaSJ Quote
ETA: Tell me how "fishy" is the Pentax 10-17 when it is at 16-17? Would it replace a super-wide angle lens or is it really just a fisheye? Thanks again.
I just looked at two photos I have of the same scene, one with the 10-17mm at 17mm and one from my DA 15mm, and I think people would be hard pressed to tell which came from which.
10-06-2009, 08:15 AM   #7
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Thanks, Wasser!
10-06-2009, 10:19 AM   #8
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You're welcome!

One thing that always helps me decide is looking at pictures taken with the lenses:

Pentax 10-17mm F/3.5-4.5 - the vast majority are at 10mm it seems
Pentax 12-24mm F/4 considered an exceptional lens by many
Sigma 10-20mm F/4-5.6
Pentax 14mm F/2.8 speedy
Pentax SMC DA 15mm / 4,0 Limited tiny tyke
Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di-II LD SP Pool
Pentax 18-250mm F/3.5-6.3 the sledge hammer

Check out reviews at Photozone.de. You can see what the distortion of each lens looks like.

You should also consider the advantages/disadvantages of each setup. These are really only questions you can answer. Do you want the wild and crazy perspective available to a fisheye? Do you want the speed and shallow DOF of a fast wide angle? Do you want the convenience of a big zoom? Of course, convenience is relative since you sacrifice in size. Would you mind carrying and swapping lenses?

10-06-2009, 10:58 AM   #9
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The fisheye in itself adds a certain effect that is at times appealing to impart the ambiance of space or wideness.
When I traveled, I noticed that I used the kit lens most often (DA-18-55mm AL II), then the DA 50-200mm zoom.
Next one I used was the FA J 75-300mm.
The other lenses I carried in my bag was the 28mm, 135mm, and the 28-80mm.
I ever hardly used those but I did still take them along just in case I needed them for some special circumstance.
I also brought along my external flashes but I never got to use them.
What I can say I used the most apart from the camera and the 3 lenses I mentioned are the rechargeable batteries!
10-06-2009, 01:33 PM   #10
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Hi Melissa,

I've sometimes just carried my DA 40ltd and found that if I want to get a wide sweeping panorama to just shoot in portrait orientation in manual mode for my scene and then to pan by hand and stitch in photoshop.

The result is a fairly undistorted wide panorama at super high resolution. In fact, I've got some shots of the peritor moreno glacier using this exact method that I plan on mounting on art canvas, and with no discernable image degradation, since the resolution was so high.

It'll take some practice, but a good technique to experiment and get to know.
10-06-2009, 04:39 PM   #11
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Fisheyes are good for punk bands and that's about all.
10-07-2009, 07:07 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by melissaSJ Quote
I primarily shoot portraits and I am in a good place on portrait lenses. That said, I'd like a nice super-wide-angle lens for my own personal use. I'd like something to take on vacations to shoot coastlines and mountain ranges...you know, typical family landscape stuff. Would you buy a wide-angle-only lens (I'm looking at the Sigma 10-20mm or the Tamron 10-24mm) or a "do-it-all" lens (18-200ish mm)? My reasoning for the do-it-all lens would be that I wouldn't need to take my whole bag on sightseeing trips while traveling. My reason for the wide-angle-only lens would be that the quality really is better.

So, given that I would only be using it for personal use, should I go with quality or convenience?
Hi Melissa,

I guess it depends on your budget and the amount of lenses (weigth) you want to carry around.
The 16-45mm is a very good choice, often 16mm is quite enough for coastlines and moutain ranges.
Not too expensive, not too heavy, excellent optics. See how far it can take you.
If you have more $$'s, get the DA* 16-50mm (with SDM, WR and a little more range and at f2.8) instead.

The 12-24mm is my next personal target, it seems to be an exceptionally good lens. I have the 10-17mm, but the optical barrel distortion is so much more than the 12-24mm, it really gives you that fish-eye effect, not something you want to see on a coastline I guess. I'd stay away from 10mm if I were you.

- Bert
10-07-2009, 09:42 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by bymy141 Quote
The 12-24mm is my next personal target, it seems to be an exceptionally good lens. I have the 10-17mm, but the optical barrel distortion is so much more than the 12-24mm, it really gives you that fish-eye effect, not something you want to see on a coastline I guess.
DA12-24 is rectilinear with no distortion at 24mm and not much at 12mm. The Sigma is also decent but has significantly more at 10mm, and it's wavy. Whether you care or not depends on the type of shooting you do.

DA10-17 is not rectilinear, so it's a whole different animal.

None of these are good for landscapes. Many great landscape shots can be taken at 35mm or 50mm or even portrait length. This emphasises the scale. Wide angle diminishes scale so you need to be close to your subject or it all disappears into insignificance. Try it and see. (If you really need more width you can stitch a panorama.)

DA12-24 is good for interiors where you have no choice, for cramped urban surroundings, etc. Even still, I try to shoot at 24mm unless there is no choice. Many people think you need wide because the world is wide. This is often a mistake.

DA16-45 is a much better general-purpose choice. But it becomes a bit redundant if one has the DA12-24.
10-07-2009, 12:44 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
DA12-24 is rectilinear with no distortion at 24mm and not much at 12mm. The Sigma is also decent but has significantly more at 10mm, and it's wavy. Whether you care or not depends on the type of shooting you do.

DA10-17 is not rectilinear, so it's a whole different animal.

None of these are good for landscapes. Many great landscape shots can be taken at 35mm or 50mm or even portrait length. This emphasises the scale. Wide angle diminishes scale so you need to be close to your subject or it all disappears into insignificance. Try it and see. (If you really need more width you can stitch a panorama.)

DA12-24 is good for interiors where you have no choice, for cramped urban surroundings, etc. Even still, I try to shoot at 24mm unless there is no choice. Many people think you need wide because the world is wide. This is often a mistake.

DA16-45 is a much better general-purpose choice. But it becomes a bit redundant if one has the DA12-24.
I agree that other focal lengths can be used for landscape, but I couldn't disagree more with the statement, "none of these are good for landscapes".

Lenses [And The Landscape] - Outdoor Photographer | OutdoorPhotographer.com
QuoteQuote:
[ Wide-Angles ] Wide-angle lenses always have played a big role in landscape photography. Lenses like the 24mm and 28mm have been a staple for a long time. Although wider lenses were used, they often were prohibitively expensive for anyone other than the professional photographer. Now, lenses as wide as 14mm or more are available at a more accessible price point. These lenses not only provide a wider angle of view, but are a dynamic, creative option.
I don't want my wide angle because the world is "wide". I want it because the scene I want to capture is wide. I want it for the perspective it gives me. I want it because, sometimes, I can't get far enough away.

Taking panoramas may work, but it's not always the same, and it doesn't give the same perspective. It also can never be as easy as simply taking a single photo.
10-07-2009, 10:31 PM   #15
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DA 12-24 f/4 at 12 mm

This is a shot I took with my DA 12-24. It demonstrates the use of super side angle lenses in landscape photography. You must have the three major elements: foreground, middle ground and background. Without all three the image just won't work, except with very few exceptional subjects.

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