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05-26-2012, 10:32 AM   #1
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Pentax O-GPS1 GPS Unit....Questions ???

Hi

I suspect that like many others, I have been intrigued by the tantalizing arrival of Pentax's dedicated O-GPS1 GPS Unit, which unfortunately has virtually zero appeal to K10D owners such as myself, mainly due to technical incompatibility issues. Thus far, my only experience to date with GPS devices has been using a Garmin Sat-Nav whilst driving in unfamiliar areas, but what puzzles me slightly is how the design engineers have ingeniously managed to cram such complex miniaturized GPS technology into a 'relatively' inexpensive compact model such as the waterproof Pentax Optio WG-2 GPS D.C. but somehow not done so yet in a Digital SLR ?

Secondly, why does the O-GPS1 GPS Unit need to be quite so cumbersome in comparison with an integrated Optio WG-2 GPS camera ?

Thirdly what happens when a photographer needs to fix a flashgun onto the camera's hot-shoe, at the same time as the GPS unit is mounted ?

Fourthly, would I be correct in assuming that the Pentax Optio WG-2 GPS Digital Camera loses all it's GPS tracking data whilst submerged under water (to a maximum depth of between 30 to 40 feet), or might it still function whilst scuba-diving just beneath the surface for example ?

Lastly, I read somewhere that the Pentax O-GPS1GPS apparently doesn't record the mapping co-ordinates directly into the Exchangeable Image File format (EXIF) data ? Is this factually correct and if so, for what reason ? I called a very respected Pentax retailer today, who stated that as far as he was concerned, it does record this data into the EXIF....who is correct on this ?

I personally tend to shoot a fair amount of architectural photography whilst on extended vacation in the UK and mainland Europe and am assuming that purely due to fundamental laws of nature, either a DSLR with add-on GPS unit or a Compact camera with integral GPS simply can not 'lock onto' the necessary satellite signals and provide the correct co-ordinates, whilst taking pictures indoors ? I am guessing that photographing building exteriors doesn't normally pose too much of a problem for a GPS to 'lock-onto' enough available satellites, unless the unit is fooled or compromised when surrounded by an abundance of high-rise skyscrapers in large cities such as New York etc.
Indeed, this very scenario is precisely what happened to us a few years ago, having flown into Seattle from Chicago. We hired a taxi from the airport to take us to our accommodation and having checked-in and freshened-up, a little while later we took another one to pick-up our hire-car from the central depot. We completed the necessary paperwork and then I hooked-up our Garmin Nuvi Sat-Nav, loaded with the entire US North American mapping data. I punched in our hotel address and so off we went.....but not very far ! Yep, precisely zilch...nada...nothing. I'd used the Garmin previously whilst negotiating our way around the streets of Chicago and I reckon that it thought we were still there.......thanks a bunch, guys ! Eventually I had no option but to flag down yet ANOTHER taxi and trail meekly behind him, whilst he escorted us all the way back towards our hotel.....sheeesh...talk about embarrassing !!! Of course the next day, the bl**dy sat-nav worked absolutely faultlessly, so we simply put the whole experience down to a combination of bad luck plus inexplicable technical gremlins etc.
Anyhow, if any members can answer some or all of these questions, I'd be greatly obliged,

Best regards
Richard

05-26-2012, 11:17 AM   #2
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i'm not the best person to respond however i received my O-GPS a couple of weeks ago and am becoming frustrated with the astrotracer function, which as of yet is not working right. grrrr.

that said, the GPS features have proven quite useful as i find latitude, longitude, elevation, and direction(but i dont know how to interpret it) information embedded in the EXIF, as displayed in my metadata panel of Adobe Bridge, for example. When i choose to plot location on Flickr or 500px, it automatically places the exact location on the map as well, which is handy.

I find calibration to be a little kooky at times because it sometimes takes me 3-4 attempts before it locks on. As i prefer to shoot stars out of the wind, i must assume my choice of location with natural wind barriers could be slowing the units ability to calibrate. That said, even when it completes fine calibration "OK", the traces i get are curved streaks, like fingernail clippings. WTH?!

regarding the flashgun question, i have not encountered the scenario you mention in which you are outside tracking GPS but want to use fill flash, ie on peoples faces, etc. I do use my flash gun for long exposure light painting and for this there is no problem using both, as i manually fire my flash while the shutter is open, so the O-GPS can remain attached to the camera. The device it self is not near durable enough to have been equipped with a second hotshoe at the top for stacking a flash for example.

Last edited by mikeSF; 05-26-2012 at 11:26 AM.
05-26-2012, 11:25 AM   #3
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Morning Richard, I don't know everything about the O-GPS1, I believe that I can answer a number of your questions [embedded]. I've been working on GPS on and off since 1975....

QuoteOriginally posted by Confused Quote
Hi

I suspect that like many others, I have been intrigued by the tantalizing arrival of Pentax's dedicated O-GPS1 GPS Unit, which unfortunately has virtually zero appeal to K10D owners such as myself, mainly due to technical incompatibility issues. Thus far, my only experience to date with GPS devices has been using a Garmin Sat-Nav whilst driving in unfamiliar areas, but what puzzles me slightly is how the design engineers have ingeniously managed to cram such complex miniaturized GPS technology into a 'relatively' inexpensive compact model such as the waterproof Pentax Optio WG-2 GPS D.C. but somehow not done so yet in a Digital SLR ? [I would also like to see this. It may have to do with battery life to some extent - however, that is just a guess]

Secondly, why does the O-GPS1 GPS Unit need to be quite so cumbersome in comparison with an integrated Optio WG-2 GPS camera ? [I have not used the WG-2, but I am going to guess that it has to do with the compass in the O-GPS. If the WG-2 just records lat, long and altitude, then its pretty simple. If it is going to record direction pointing, it needs to determine where it is within the earth's magnetic field, and that is the reason for the somewhat complex calibration across the three axis.]

Thirdly what happens when a photographer needs to fix a flashgun onto the camera's hot-shoe, at the same time as the GPS unit is mounted ? [Its either one or the other, but not both. So something needs to come off to use the external flash. I am going to guess that the wizards at Pentax figured that there would be little need for an external flash outside where the GPS unit would be useful.]

Fourthly, would I be correct in assuming that the Pentax Optio WG-2 GPS Digital Camera loses all it's GPS tracking data whilst submerged under water (to a maximum depth of between 30 to 40 feet), or might it still function whilst scuba-diving just beneath the surface for example ? [The actual GPS signals from the satellites are very weak and can not go through a lot of material - including water. That is why you need a direct line of sight to the satellites. The same thing happens under trees and within deep city canyons with tall buildings. That is why GPS is also coupled with accelerometers and gyros in a lot of applications, so that you can have continuous coverage.]

Lastly, I read somewhere that the Pentax O-GPS1GPS apparently doesn't record the mapping co-ordinates directly into the Exchangeable Image File format (EXIF) data ? Is this factually correct and if so, for what reason ? I called a very respected Pentax retailer today, who stated that as far as he was concerned, it does record this data into the EXIF....who is correct on this ? [I believe that its a formatting problem. It records the data, however a lot of the mapping software uses the same data in a different format. Its a case of ddd.ddd vs DMS (degrees, minutes, seconds)]

I personally tend to shoot a fair amount of architectural photography whilst on extended vacation in the UK and mainland Europe and am assuming that purely due to fundamental laws of nature, either a DSLR with add-on GPS unit or a Compact camera with integral GPS simply can not 'lock onto' the necessary satellite signals and provide the correct co-ordinates, whilst taking pictures indoors ? [Satellite signals can not go through the roofs.] I am guessing that photographing building exteriors doesn't normally pose too much of a problem for a GPS to 'lock-onto' enough available satellites, unless the unit is fooled or compromised when surrounded by an abundance of high-rise skyscrapers in large cities such as New York etc. [In deep city canyons, you can also get a lot of multipathing of signals - this is the reflection of the GPS signals off the walls of the buildings - an indirect path vs a direct path. The positioning is all done on a time basis. If the signal is reflected, (time triangulation) there is additional time taken for this and it will throw off the position, or create a position that does not make any sense.]
Indeed, this very scenario is precisely what happened to us a few years ago, having flown into Seattle from Chicago. We hired a taxi from the airport to take us to our accommodation and having checked-in and freshened-up, a little while later we took another one to pick-up our hire-car from the central depot. We completed the necessary paperwork and then I hooked-up our Garmin Nuvi Sat-Nav, loaded with the entire US North American mapping data. I punched in our hotel address and so off we went.....but not very far ! Yep, precisely zilch...nada...nothing. I'd used the Garmin previously whilst negotiating our way around the streets of Chicago and I reckon that it thought we were still there. [It never achieved signal and position lock in Seattle, hence it still thought it was in Chicago.] .......thanks a bunch, guys ! Eventually I had no option but to flag down yet ANOTHER taxi and trail meekly behind him, whilst he escorted us all the way back towards our hotel.....sheeesh...talk about embarrassing !!! Of course the next day, the bl**dy sat-nav worked absolutely faultlessly, so we simply put the whole experience down to a combination of bad luck plus inexplicable technical gremlins etc. [It can take quite a long time to lock up on a new position. I flew into LA one time, having used the GPS the last time in Detroit. For almost a couple of hours, I drove around LA getting to my destination, with the unit telling me to drive back to Detroit, so that I could then drive to my destination in LA. I just turned the lady's voice off till it figured out that we finally arrived in Westlake Village. ]
Anyhow, if any members can answer some or all of these questions, I'd be greatly obliged,

Best regards
Richard

Last edited by interested_observer; 05-26-2012 at 12:05 PM.
05-26-2012, 11:46 AM   #4
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There are some things common to all/most of GPS units. Such as the inability to lock on if there's a ceiling or cloud cover above etc.

As to your question re:size, there's a pretty simple answer: The O-GPS1 needs an AAA battery, hotshoe contacts/wiring and has a larger transmitter/receiver built in.


Last edited by Giklab; 11-23-2014 at 02:13 AM.
05-26-2012, 11:59 AM   #5
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I will give it a try ant your questions.

QuoteOriginally posted by Confused Quote
Hi

I suspect that like many others, I have been intrigued by the tantalizing arrival of Pentax's dedicated O-GPS1 GPS Unit, which unfortunately has virtually zero appeal to K10D owners such as myself, mainly due to technical incompatibility issues. Thus far, my only experience to date with GPS devices has been using a Garmin Sat-Nav whilst driving in unfamiliar areas, but what puzzles me slightly is how the design engineers have ingeniously managed to cram such complex miniaturized GPS technology into a 'relatively' inexpensive compact model such as the waterproof Pentax Optio WG-2 GPS D.C. but somehow not done so yet in a Digital SLR ?
There is probably no reason why there can't be a GPS built into a DSLR and it probably will happen some time soon. There are some things to consider when comparing the O-GPS1 to a WG-2 or fitting something like this into a DSLR. First there is already a lot in a DSLR and the primary design is not GPS. With a GPS you need an antenna (and some place on the top of the camera to put it) a receiver chip, an interface chip, and battery power. On the WG-2 it uses some of the camera power for the battery. With the O-GPS1 it has to have it's own battery plus it has a flux gate compass. It also needs a shell to contain it and some way to mount it because it is not in the camera.

QuoteOriginally posted by Confused Quote
Secondly, why does the O-GPS1 GPS Unit need to be quite so cumbersome in comparison with an integrated Optio WG-2 GPS camera ?
See above but consider if the O-GPS did not have a battery, flux gate compass (about the same size as the battery) and the shell to contain it and some way to mount it how small is it now?

QuoteOriginally posted by Confused Quote
Thirdly what happens when a photographer needs to fix a flashgun onto the camera's hot-shoe, at the same time as the GPS unit is mounted ?
You can use the O-GPS1 and a flash at the same time (I do it) but you need some kind of mounting and adapters. There are a lot of permutation to this so if have specificity interest in this I can address this later in nauseating detail later. The reason it can be used with a flash is the same reason it can't be used with the K10.

QuoteOriginally posted by Confused Quote
Fourthly, would I be correct in assuming that the Pentax Optio WG-2 GPS Digital Camera loses all it's GPS tracking data whilst submerged under water (to a maximum depth of between 30 to 40 feet), or might it still function whilst scuba-diving just beneath the surface for example ?
Short answer any thing more then a fraction of an inch of water and no GPS.

QuoteOriginally posted by Confused Quote
Lastly, I read somewhere that the Pentax O-GPS1GPS apparently doesn't record the mapping co-ordinates directly into the Exchangeable Image File format (EXIF) data ? Is this factually correct and if so, for what reason ? I called a very respected Pentax retailer today, who stated that as far as he was concerned, it does record this data into the EXIF....who is correct on this ?
Absolutely incorrect. It will put not only the Lat/Lon and altitude into the JPG EXIF it will also put things into the EXIF that no other GPS will like direction and how many Space vehicles it was tracing. Files like PEF, DNG, TIFF don't have EXIF but places in the file formats for this information. If you use any of the above formats the O-GPS will allow the camera to (and that camera will) put all of this plus more in the files. The O-GPS1 is the only (ATT) system that will get the information into the files straight out of the camera.

QuoteOriginally posted by Confused Quote
I personally tend to shoot a fair amount of architectural photography whilst on extended vacation in the UK and mainland Europe and am assuming that purely due to fundamental laws of nature, either a DSLR with add-on GPS unit or a Compact camera with integral GPS simply can not 'lock onto' the necessary satellite signals and provide the correct co-ordinates, whilst taking pictures indoors ? I am guessing that photographing building exteriors doesn't normally pose too much of a problem for a GPS to 'lock-onto' enough available satellites, unless the unit is fooled or compromised when surrounded by an abundance of high-rise skyscrapers in large cities such as New York etc.
Indeed, this very scenario is precisely what happened to us a few years ago, having flown into Seattle from Chicago. We hired a taxi from the airport to take us to our accommodation and having checked-in and freshened-up, a little while later we took another one to pick-up our hire-car from the central depot. We completed the necessary paperwork and then I hooked-up our Garmin Nuvi Sat-Nav, loaded with the entire US North American mapping data. I punched in our hotel address and so off we went.....but not very far ! Yep, precisely zilch...nada...nothing. I'd used the Garmin previously whilst negotiating our way around the streets of Chicago and I reckon that it thought we were still there.......thanks a bunch, guys ! Eventually I had no option but to flag down yet ANOTHER taxi and trail meekly behind him, whilst he escorted us all the way back towards our hotel.....sheeesh...talk about embarrassing !!! Of course the next day, the bl**dy sat-nav worked absolutely faultlessly, so we simply put the whole experience down to a combination of bad luck plus inexplicable technical gremlins etc.
Anyhow, if any members can answer some or all of these questions, I'd be greatly obliged,

Best regards
Richard
This is more a maybe. It depends on if it has a lock (it is easier to keep a lock and track then to get it in the first place), the building roof/wall construction and how close to a window (and any coatings on the window). Some times I can and some times I can't. The more of the sky it can see the more accurate and over all better.

There is more a camera with a O-GPS1 can do then just GPS but you may not be interested in them. On the other had when you can do the other things you maybe more interested in them then you thought.

DAZ

Last edited by DAZ; 05-26-2012 at 06:52 PM.
05-26-2012, 12:35 PM   #6
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In what format is the direction data? For example,I get "T". What does it mean.

Last edited by mikeSF; 05-26-2012 at 07:49 PM.
05-26-2012, 06:48 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikeSF Quote
In what format is three direction data? For example,I get "T". What does it mean.
The format for Lat/Lon is degrees decimal minutes N/S, E/W. Altitude is in decimal Meters. The datum is WGS-84 so the altitude is referents to zero mean sea level. The only “T” I see is regarding the direction referents. The “T” in this case is for true north.


DAZ
05-26-2012, 07:49 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by DAZ Quote
The format for Lat/Lon is degrees decimal minutes N/S, E/W. Altitude is in decimal Meters. The datum is WGS-84 so the altitude is referents to zero mean sea level. The only “T” I see is regarding the direction referents. The “T” in this case is for true north.


DAZ
aha, i was looking at "Image Direction Ref" = T (true north), thanks for that.

so a direction of "22453/100" means what??
thanks

05-26-2012, 07:51 PM   #9
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is that an azimuth of 224.53 degrees? that may be it?
05-26-2012, 07:55 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikeSF Quote
is that an azimuth of 224.53 degrees? that may be it?
Exactly. Depending on what you are using to read the data some are smart enough to do the math and some just give the raw data.


DAZ
05-26-2012, 08:06 PM   #11
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Hi mike

Thank you for replying so rapidly to my original post…… the World Wide Web is truly a thing of wonder ? I’m very sorry to hear about your current frustration with the new Pentax O-GPS1 GPS unit and it’s malfunctioning astrotracer function. I have never experienced photographing the sky at night, but if what I’ve understood so far about this device is accurate, it potentially opens up all sorts of serious possibilities for tracking and photographing the millions of stars and galaxies in outer space…..that is, when it works as advertised !!!
Living in London with it’s massive ‘light polution’ problem makes star-gazing particularly problematic here, but back in 2008 my wife & I spent 4 ½ months on a memorable world trip, stopping-off first at the cities of Chicago and then Seattle, before driving south via the beautiful Mount Rainier National Park to Portland. We followed the tortuous winding coastal route of Oregon through it’s giant redwood forests, eventually arriving at San Francisco.
The weather was astonishingly clear in SF during our stay and we were told at the time by locals that it was pretty unusual to be able to see so far, due to the prevailing mist or fog that often builds up and starts rolling across the bay, obscuring the view for unlucky tourists.
A further drive took us down to visit Hearst Castle, before flying from San Francisco onwards to Australia. There we spent a couple of months exploring significant areas of the ‘real’ outback and it’s myriad selection of charming Victorian towns and small settlements, whilst also taking in major cities such as Sydney, Cairns, Brisbane, Melbourne (family members), Adelaide, Perth and Tasmania. In between this period, we also spent six weeks in New Zealand and extensively covered both the north and south islands, before reluctantly heading back to Australia. From Perth we flew to Hong Kong, arriving back in London just in time for Christmas. Phew…..were we both totally knackered, but I’d been doing all the driving, don’t forget !
Anyhow, whilst travelling through the delightful island of Tasmania (it’s located a few hundred miles south of Melbourne) we found ourselves skirting along the east coast, but in a northerly direction, having left behind the remarkable city of Hobart. Outside the two main Tasmanian cities of Launceston (north) and Hobart (south), there are hardly any significant areas of population to talk of and therefore to all intents and purposes, in most areas at night there is virtually zero light pollution to speak of. By the time we had checked into our idyllic lakeside accommodation and had eaten a meal, it was absolutely pitch black outside and so I decided to have a short stroll to the edge of the lake to breathe in some clean fresh air. At which point I merely happened to look skywards for an instant and was utterly blown away with what I saw. I remained riveted to the spot and can honestly say I have never EVER before seen ANYTHING remotely like what I experienced that night……..it was as though the entire heavens was shimmering and sparkling above me as far as the eye could see. In fact I distinctly remember calling my wife over in great excitement and the pair of us just stood there for many minutes, gawping in total amazement at the billions of twinkling pinpoints of light……but oddly, there was no sign of the moon whatsoever ? Something to do with being in the southern hemisphere perhaps ?

I recall an occasion some years back when the SiRFstar III chip began to gain widespread acclaim in newer Sat-Navs, so I’m both surprised and disappointed to discover that the Pentax unit takes 3 or 4 attempts before it finally locks-on. I once experienced a strange anomaly when driving a hire-car through France for a few days and couldn’t understand why our usually brilliant Garmin Sat-Nav began announcing turnings or junctions virtually at the very last second. It transpires that most French cars now come fitted with heat-deflecting front windscreens as standard and this seriously degrades the signal strength to portable screen-mounted Sat-Navs. The only solution is to fit a wired sensor extension cable that’s mounted to the rear window, which is not made of heat-deflecting glass.
Prior to the meteoric popularity of the internet, I would not have considered a GPS feature in a camera to be a particular advantage. However, with popular photo-sharing sites such as Flickr widely accepted and Cloud servers gaining momentum, it’s clearly a neat feature allowing viewers to visit sights which grab their attention. Enabling others to follow in your footsteps sounds like a nice idea and Latitude, Longitude and Elevation seem pretty obvious requirements for this, but oddly enough, direction hadn’t actually occurred to me when plotting a location. Incidentally, glancing momentarily over that comprehensive ‘arsenal’ of lenses & Pentax DA’s that you’ve accumulated seems a mighty impressive collection……if I owned that much kit, believe me I doubt whether the wife & I would still be on speaking terms….which sometimes wouldn’t be a bad thing, if you catch my drift…….LOL !
Actually I find it quite interesting that you have acquired BOTH the DA 10-17mm and the Sigma 10-20mm……..any particular reason ? I would have thought that to some extent they more-or-less overlap each other’s territory ?, but I can only comment about the Sigma, which still gives me slight goose-bumps every time I frame an image through the SLR viewfinder. Without a shadow of a doubt, it’s an astounding optic and it has earned my respect. Mentally you simply need to visualise ‘when’ and ‘how’ to exploit it’s innate ability and I often use the versatile ‘zoom’ function’ to precisely frame a shot, rather than needing to walk either forwards or backwards some considerable distance. Admittedly a full frame lens it is not, but I can live with that compromise, until Pentax/Ricoh finally pull their ‘proverbial’ finger out and begin manufacturing a full-frame DSLR…..does the term ‘Hell freezing over’ spring to mind !!!!

Now, in reply to interested_observer, I can’t imagine it’s not possible to incorporate a smaller device inside a Pentax DSLR, as they must do so in the case of the Optio WG-2 GPS D.C. ? Battery life need not prove a problem, assuming that an on/off button were provided and a separate battery compartment incorporated in the main camera body ?

As you correctly observed:

Quote:“If it is going to record direction pointing, it needs to determine where it is within the earth's magnetic field, and that is the reason for the somewhat complex calibration across the three axis.”

I believe this is absolutely true and may well have some bearing on the overall size and design of the Pentax O-GPS1 GPS unit.

Quote:“ The actual GPS signals from the satellites are very weak and can not go through a lot of material. That is why you need a direct line of sight to the satellites. The same thing happens under trees and within deep city canyons with tall buildings. That is why GPS is also coupled with accelerometers and gyros in a lot of applications, so that you can have continuous coverage”.

This is more-or-less precisely why my 5-Series BMW has a sensor fitted to each ABS-hub and actually tracks my progress in real time when for example I drive under the Dartford Tunnel, which crosses the River Thames some miles upstream east of central London.

Quote: “It records the data, however a lot of the mapping software uses the same data in a different format. Its a case of ddd.ddd vs DMS (degrees, minutes, seconds)

Here I naturally bow to your greater knowledge and experience, as I have very little useful comment to add to the subject.

Quote: “In deep city canyons, you can also get a lot of multipathing of signals - this is the reflection of the GPS signals off the walls of the buildings - an indirect path vs a direct path. The positioning is all done on a time basis. If the signal is reflected, (time triangulation) there is additional time taken for this and it will throw off the position, or create a position that does not make any sense”.

Well, I was sort of aware of the “spitching” phenomenon which tends to badly affect both analogue and digital radio signals, so no real surprises there !

Lastly:
Quote: “It never achieved signal and position lock in Seattle, hence it still thought it was in Chicago”.

Having had time to reflect properly on this, had I not been so knackered from the tiring flight and all that this entails, I should have considered activating the Garmin whilst outside our low rise hotel rather that attempting to do so surrounded by loads of tall buildings ! Lesson learnt the hard way !

Thank you both for your valuable contributions

Best regards once again
Richard
05-27-2012, 08:45 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Confused Quote
...
Actually I find it quite interesting that you have acquired BOTH the DA 10-17mm and the Sigma 10-20mm……..any particular reason ? I would have thought that to some extent they more-or-less overlap each other’s territory ?, ...

Richard, they don't overlap really. The fisheye at 17mm is slightly wider than the sigma at 10mm due to the curvilinear field of view. I use them both and in different ways. I like that the 10-17 is so much smaller and thus easier to have in the bag than the Sigma, which displaces 2 other primes in my bag. I don't zoom with the Sigma but pretty much use it as a 12mm fixed focal length. above that, i prefer to grab the DA15.
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