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01-17-2010, 06:30 AM   #16
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I would certainly recommend using your kit lens first before purchasing wider angled lenses, at 18mm it is a good starting place for landscape photography. I would also suggest you look at a graduated filter for your particular climate, just a thought.
But get familar with the use of your kit lens first and then make your own informed decision.

01-17-2010, 06:39 AM - 1 Like   #17
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There has been quite a few options offered already - and they are all wonderful suggestions. Landscapes and especially wide angle is my interest. I have a range of lenses that I use for a variety of different landscape purposes.

For landscapes - and especially scenery, you really do not need fast lenses. Faster lenses for landscape also have another drawback. If you use them, say - down at f2 or so, you tend to loose your depth of field, so you are going to be taking the image at f5.6 to f8 or f11 anyway, therefore the fast lens' low light capability is not really used. If you are in low light, a longer exposure and or a tripod is probably a better avenue. Another, aspect to help out in the wide angle aspect for composition, something in the foreground really helps. Otherwise, you tend to have a lot of nothing up close leading up to something in the background. So your red barn in your flicker links serves that purpose.

The other thing, is your sensor size is of fixed - it does not get any larger. So as you increase your field of view, by going to a wider angle lens, each pixel will be covering a larger amount of area in the image. So, to some extent, wide angle lenses loose the pin point definition - i.e., sharpness (the lens can be very sharp, its just that the individual sensor pixels have to represent a larger area of the image). I am just throwing this in as something that you want to keep in the back of your mind.

So, what are your options. To counter the reduced definition problem, rather than go to a wider angle lens, you can stitch images together. As others have noted, there is free and low cost software available for this. You can do it hand-held with wonderful results, and/or use a tripod (especially in lower ambient light situations - i.e., when its dark out). If your going to stitch, use the portrait orientation. This way the height of the picture plays well and when they are stitched together, your resulting image is not just very loooooong and skinny.

Back to your original question - lenses. To me focal lengths means very little. Viewing angles are more helpful. Pentax has some lenses that are very good here.

The 10-17 FE is a fish eye, and is useful and appropriate in a number of situations. It other situations - it just does not work at all. So, it depends on the particular use. Its field of view is 180 to 100 degrees. At the 17mm end, the FE effect tends to disappear to some extent (its still there, just not to the degree that it is at the 10mm end).

The 12-24 is rectilinear (a regular lens) and covers 100 to 60 degrees. Its a wonderful lens that is very sharp and for its width, there is very little distortion. What distortion there actually is, is along the edges and I have never found it to be a problem.

The 16-45 covers 83 to 35 degrees. Is again very sharp, however where the 16-45 overlaps with the 12-24 (16-24mm) the 12-24 can be sharper (or maybe it is just my eyes). This lens has come down in price, and to me it can be a bargain - especially in a well cared for, used lens.

Now with all of this said, the kit lens - 18-55 is a very good lens. Don't sell it short. At 18mm it can vignette (dark corners), however software can fix this. And it stitches very well.

The overall suggestion here is to use the kit lens, and that has wonderful merit. You can do a lot with it, and from its results you will be able to tell if you want - or need something else. Also, based on its use - if you feel you need something more, the kits use will help you determine what lens, rather than just starting to go out and purchase somewhat blindly.

... so hoping not to confuse you too much - but hope this helps, some.
01-17-2010, 12:49 PM   #18
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Deb, the previous post basically summarises the Pentax offerings for wide angle zooms for landscape well.
Other options are the Sigma 10-20, another rectilinear lens that's cheaper than the Pentax 12-24, but is reasonably good quality. Then there's the Tamron 10-24, which rounds up the ultra-wide angle options, and then the 'walk-around zooms' like the Sigma 17-70, Sigma 18-50 f/2.8 and Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 - all of which aren't bad.

But as mentioned, the kit lens should suffice quite well for you for starters as most landscape work is done at around f/8, and the kit lens does well there even at 18mm.
01-18-2010, 12:19 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
The other thing, is your sensor size is of fixed - it does not get any larger. So as you increase your field of view, by going to a wider angle lens, each pixel will be covering a larger amount of area in the image. So, to some extent, wide angle lenses loose the pin point definition - i.e., sharpness (the lens can be very sharp, its just that the individual sensor pixels have to represent a larger area of the image). I am just throwing this in as something that you want to keep in the back of your mind.
That's more of an issue of how close/far away you are from the subject (the magnification), rather than the FOV. I can take a closeup of an object at 10mm, and it will be VERY detailed, whereas I can take a shot of a small bird really far away with a 400mm lens, and it will not be nearly as detailed.

01-18-2010, 02:42 PM   #20
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Much good info above - and I have some suggestions.

First, you have to define what 'landscape' means to you. Do you want wide, panoramic views, or elegant compositions in a smaller format, or what? You could see some books on landscape photography, see what pictures appeal to you, note their scales and compositions, and look for details on how they were shot.

Next, you have to realize that the camera and your eyes see the world in quite different ways, thus it's very difficult for a small image to convey the depth and breadth you experience outdoors. You may need to print large -- see the comments above about stitching vs simple enlarging. And a scene that isn't 'framed' and/or doesn't contain distance clues, will just look flat. Too often, that mighty range of mountains in the distance just shrinks away in the photo.

Then you need to throw out preconceptions about appropriate focal lengths and formats. Some of the most famous 'landscape' photos were shot with a 'normal' lens (equivalent to 35mm on an APS-C camera) in a 1:1 or 4:3 format, not the 3:2 or 2:1 or 3:1 common in panoramas. In my experience, wide and superwide lenses are for getting close to a subject, to include its context, or for use in cramped spaces, rather than trying to grab a wide view of vanishing subjects.

I shoot most landscapes between 24mm and 60mm; your kit lens, stopped down, is right in there, and it will perform better than many of the premium lenses of prior generations. The most important factor, as always, is how you position yourself re: light and subject. Some scenes can't be easily approached, and can only be shot with a longer lens, which will flatten perspective. The most-used lens on my K20D is still the (vastly underrated) DA 18-250, followed by the FA 50/1.4 and DA 10-17. I use all those for landscapes in different ways.

What's important isn't the lens, but the eye and brain behind it. Worry less about what lens or focal length to use, and more about how your subject is lit. Shoot landscapes at dawn or dusk, with lots of clouds, with distance cues, etc. And make sure you actually have a subject in the picture, that you've composed the frame such that eyeballs are drawn to something specific. Else, why bother?
01-18-2010, 02:59 PM   #21
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Pickout Details

When shooting landscapes I use my 12-24mm and 105 macro almost exclusively. I really like having something long and sharp to pick out details what otherwise would be missed.

I most often shoot my 12-24mm at around 15mm (21mm on 135) so I think the 15mm limited may be a good choice.
01-18-2010, 06:44 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by egordon99 Quote
That's more of an issue of how close/far away you are from the subject (the magnification), rather than the FOV. I can take a closeup of an object at 10mm, and it will be VERY detailed, whereas I can take a shot of a small bird really far away with a 400mm lens, and it will not be nearly as detailed.
You are correct in the sense that it is a function of distance. However, apples to apples, and especially in terms of landscapes - say at 500+ yards (infinity), for whatever two lenses of different focal lengths, the wide angle lens will have slightly less definition than a longer focal length, for the same sensor.

I have been shooting stitched landscapes across both wide angle and some shorter focal lengths. The 12-24 and a 31 are both my favorites and weapons of choice. I was very impressed with the 12-24 and very satisfied with the results. Then I tried an experiment with the 31. The increase in definition and detail is large. The 12-24 I am doing a 6 or 7 x1 stitch, while the 31 is taking about a 14x2 stitch. Now, I was going for a very particular look (sunset) and at an extremely difficult time of day (early evening), and I wanted more sky and a bit more real estate around the stitched image to serve as a border. But, I was very surprised. Thinking it through, the difference is in the amount of area represented by an individual pixel.

There are applications where WA is perfectly fine, while some of the same applications stitching works well. There are also other situations, where only a WA lens will work and stitching would be an absolute disaster (especially when things are in constant motion). So you need to understand the environment along with the intended result.

Pentax does not have a basket full of WA lenses, however what they do have works very well and covers the territory pretty well. That supplemented with lenses fromo Sigma and Tamron, and there are sufficient amounts of choices for just about anyone.
01-18-2010, 06:57 PM   #23
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I suggest the 16-45mm for your purpose. I have used it with my K-7, and it works really well for me so far. Acceptable zoom but superb IQ with the price ($250 when I bought it). Strongly recommend for your 1st try

01-21-2010, 04:16 AM   #24
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I would suggest to get familiar with the kit lens... ensure to use it stepped down for best results (F8-F11).... if this means you cannot successfully handhold I think a tripod would improve results more than another lens.
01-23-2010, 03:44 PM   #25
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From another beginner:
How about doing a panorama?
Use a tripod and stitch together several photos.
There is plenty of software available to stitch them together - I'm sure others will have lots of recommendations.
01-24-2010, 04:46 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Deb, the previous post basically summarises the Pentax offerings for wide angle zooms for landscape well.
Other options are the Sigma 10-20, another rectilinear lens that's cheaper than the Pentax 12-24, but is reasonably good quality. Then there's the Tamron 10-24, which rounds up the ultra-wide angle options, and then the 'walk-around zooms' like the Sigma 17-70, Sigma 18-50 f/2.8 and Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 - all of which aren't bad.

But as mentioned, the kit lens should suffice quite well for you for starters as most landscape work is done at around f/8, and the kit lens does well there even at 18mm.
I am soon getting the Sigma 10-20 f/3.5, but I think the older variable aperture, slower version will be just as good at f/8.

I don't totally agree on the kit lens. Although for beginners, it is good to use to help sort out what focal lengths you use, and it's good for a kit lens, I found mine pretty average at 18mm, even at f/8, especially away from the centre. (1st version 18-55mm on K10D). See if you find 18mm wide enough, and go from there.
01-25-2010, 11:11 AM   #27
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Version II of the kit lens -the only one currently sold (both the WR and L versions are version II) is noticeably better in the corners, I find.
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