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11-21-2010, 10:46 PM   #1
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Is a film SLR a cheap wide angle option?

I've entered the dSLR world after years in the advanced P&S world. But all I've ever done is keep the camera in full auto mode and take a lot of pictures. I have some great pictures because I've been lucky and traveled better places than most. And now I lust after a wide angle but for the first year or so I want to use MF lenses since it will force me out of auto mode. And I think it will make me a better photographer.

My previous camera was a Fuji S5100 with a equivalent 37mm-370mm zoom. And I almost always used the wide end and wanted to wider. My widest lens that I have is 24mm (pentax K) and that is about the same as before. So I'm thinking about using a film camera to make this a true 24mm focal length as a bridge wide angle. The bulk of my shooting will done with a 28mm or 35mm on my digital but I would use this when I really needed it (to keep film costs down).

Is this a reasonable plan?

note - I'll be traveling thru SE Asia this winter and going to Nepal/Tibet in spring 2012. So I will definitely have some great wide angle opportunities.

11-21-2010, 11:20 PM   #2
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The 24mm is a great wide angle lens on a film camera. I am a bit of a wide angle fanatic myself, and I love the following two lenses on my film cameras:

Zenitar 16mm f2.8 Fisheye Lens Reviews - Pentax Third-Party Lens Review Database

The Zenitar is cheap at under $150 for a good example. Though it's a completely manual lens, which I think is what you want anyway, it offers good performance. 180 degree field of view corner to corner is about as wide as you can go. You can also de-fish the fisheye effect in photoshop, and fisheye photos are just plain fun anyway.

Sigma 17-35mm F2.8-4 EX DG Lens Reviews - Pentax Third-Party Lens Review Database

This is the ultimate wide angle film lens for me. It's full frame, at 17mm it's F/2.8, which is much faster than the Pentax 18-35s F4. It's sharp throughout the zoom range and at all apertures. It's huge and very heavy, but when you need wide angles on film this guy delivers. It even does auto-aperture and auto-focus on a digital or AF equipped film camera. What's not to like?

Personally, though, it's not the manual lens that will teach you photography. You need to learn on a fully manual camera like a KX (the early film KX), K1000, MX or similar. Having a camera that does absolutely nothing automatically will force you to think about what you're doing and you will understand photography better as a result. I learned on a K1000 before I ever bought a digital SLR.
11-21-2010, 11:29 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by abacus07 Quote
...I lust after a wide angle but for the first year or so I want to use MF lenses since it will force me out of auto mode. And I think it will make me a better photographer...
Beware of what you ask for: you may just get it! ("In order to drive men mad, the gods give them what they ask for".

Do a bit of reading before committing to (ultra) wide angle: you may be disappointed.

Alright, two things in particular.

One: although the wide angle fits a lot into the picture, the scale of reproduction is smaller. That is, there's a lot in the picture, but individual items -including the subject- are very small (especially the backgound -e.g., mountains become molehills) . You almost need to use a magnifying glass to see them at all (unless making very large enlargements (there goes the budget!).

Two: The front to rear dimension is grossly exaggerated with UWA. Hence your subject becomes grossly elongated or bits of it are enlarged in comparison to the rest of it, unless in a plane parallell to the film plane. Also, unless very careful, you tend to get acres and acres of empty foreground, as that also is "elongated" at the expense of middle and background.

All this is very interesting (and surprising/confusing ) and takes a bit of serious rethinking in terms of composition if you're to get it right.

Other than that, a great way to get the most out of your wide and ultrawide lenses. (And all your film cameras are FF)
11-22-2010, 06:43 AM   #4
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Before I got a DA12-24 this summer, my ultrawide setup was an MX with an M20 attached. It may actually be smaller than an ultrawide zoom for a DSLR. These days, with the price of some of the older lenses, it may not be cheaper.

11-22-2010, 07:00 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by abacus07 Quote

My previous camera was a Fuji S5100 with a equivalent 37mm-370mm zoom. And I almost always used the wide end and wanted to wider. My widest lens that I have is 24mm (pentax K) and that is about the same as before. So I'm thinking about using a film camera to make this a true 24mm focal length as a bridge wide angle. The bulk of my shooting will done with a 28mm or 35mm on my digital but I would use this when I really needed it (to keep film costs down).

Is this a reasonable plan?
Well you could just do the math, cost of film camera + (cost of film + cost of processing and scanning) * expected amount of film you're going to use = X. And then ask yourself if X is greater than the cost of a wide angle for your DSLR?

Regarding the manual lenses forcing you to learn photography, why don't you just set your DSLR to M mode and keep it that way until you are satisfied that you understand what shuttertime and aperture does to a photo?
11-22-2010, 07:08 AM   #6
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Banjo hit on some of the reasons that I'm hesitant to spend a lot on a wide angle setup like a DA 15 or one of the high quality zooms. Which I think is what makes a film camera perfect. it's pretty cheap unless you're developing a lot of film. And it will only complement my digital which will take 90+% of the pictures with 28-50mm lenses (maybe a few at 135mm). And it gives me a 2nd body when traveling just in case something happens to my dSLR.

Also in addition to landscapes I will need some sort of wide angle for places like Angkor Wat. Sometimes you can't back up. Of course now I need to additionally learn how to use a film camera.
11-22-2010, 07:16 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jimfear Quote
Well you could just do the math, cost of film camera + (cost of film + cost of processing and scanning) * expected amount of film you're going to use = X. And then ask yourself if X is greater than the cost of a wide angle for your DSLR?

Regarding the manual lenses forcing you to learn photography, why don't you just set your DSLR to M mode and keep it that way until you are satisfied that you understand what shuttertime and aperture does to a photo?
I'm not really planning on taking a lot of photos with the film camera since it's wide angle specific. And there are other benefits such as having a 2nd body when traveling in remote areas and not having to change lenses as often.

If auto is available there is always a tendency to use it.
11-22-2010, 11:56 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by abacus07 Quote
I'm not really planning on taking a lot of photos with the film camera since it's wide angle specific. And there are other benefits such as having a 2nd body when traveling in remote areas and not having to change lenses as often.

If auto is available there is always a tendency to use it.
Well then, it sounds like you have decided. It's cheaper than buying a new lens, and you get the chance to use a nice film SLR. I fully agree with you that having a second body is a big benefit, I always carry two bodies.

I might go the other way (from only film to film and digital) and have thought about the wide angle problem, I like wide angle but I don't want to pay big bucks to get APS-C compatible wide angle lenses. I might end up carrying three bodies in my bag! (digital + B/W film + slide), just to be able to shoot wide angle the way I'm used to. If Pentax could only release that FF body already...

11-24-2010, 04:03 AM   #9
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Pentax MZ5n + FAj 18-35mm , that's my wide angle
11-24-2010, 05:18 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jimfear Quote
Well then, it sounds like you have decided. It's cheaper than buying a new lens, and you get the chance to use a nice film SLR. I fully agree with you that having a second body is a big benefit, I always carry two bodies.

I might go the other way (from only film to film and digital) and have thought about the wide angle problem, I like wide angle but I don't want to pay big bucks to get APS-C compatible wide angle lenses. I might end up carrying three bodies in my bag! (digital + B/W film + slide), just to be able to shoot wide angle the way I'm used to. If Pentax could only release that FF body already...
Pretty much I have a lens (K 24/2.8) that will give me a nice wide angle view. I have a camera (ME Super came with a lens) in mystery condition (looks good). So I won't be spending a lot to get started up. If the camera is junk then I'll just make do 24mm on a digital. But if it works I'll have a second body that can replace my P&S while traveling, have a 2nd body for fewer lens changes and learn some stuff that I otherwise wouldn't.
11-24-2010, 08:33 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by barbosas Quote
Pentax MZ5n + FAj 18-35mm , that's my wide angle
If you carry that lens, or for a faster option, the Sigma 17-35/2.8 DG EX you can carry a lens that works as a kit for the DSLR and as an ultrawide for a film body.
11-24-2010, 08:43 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
If you carry that lens, or for a faster option, the Sigma 17-35/2.8 DG EX you can carry a lens that works as a kit for the DSLR and as an ultrawide for a film body.
I had both, kept the Sigma. Faster and a little wider than the kit lens, but without as much reach and at the expense of weight. But damn, is it sweet on film.

The 18-35 is an excellent lens, but it's slow, and the dealbreaker for me was the aperture ring. Not an issue on the AF SLRs, but a bit of a drag on the Super Program and a showstopper on my LX and MX.
11-24-2010, 08:48 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jimfear Quote
Well then, it sounds like you have decided. It's cheaper than buying a new lens, and you get the chance to use a nice film SLR. I fully agree with you that having a second body is a big benefit, I always carry two bodies.

I might go the other way (from only film to film and digital) and have thought about the wide angle problem, I like wide angle but I don't want to pay big bucks to get APS-C compatible wide angle lenses. I might end up carrying three bodies in my bag! (digital + B/W film + slide), just to be able to shoot wide angle the way I'm used to. If Pentax could only release that FF body already...
Oh no here come the FF debate again lol
11-24-2010, 08:57 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by unixrevolution Quote
I had both, kept the Sigma. Faster and a little wider than the kit lens, but without as much reach and at the expense of weight. But damn, is it sweet on film.

The 18-35 is an excellent lens, but it's slow, and the dealbreaker for me was the aperture ring. Not an issue on the AF SLRs, but a bit of a drag on the Super Program and a showstopper on my LX and MX.
As I posted on another thread, the Sigma is just a lot of fun. Most of the objects in my house have gotten the 17mm treatment.

12-12-2010, 08:05 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by abacus07 Quote
I've entered the dSLR world after years in the advanced P&S world. But all I've ever done is keep the camera in full auto mode and take a lot of pictures. I have some great pictures because I've been lucky and traveled better places than most. And now I lust after a wide angle but for the first year or so I want to use MF lenses since it will force me out of auto mode. And I think it will make me a better photographer.

My previous camera was a Fuji S5100 with a equivalent 37mm-370mm zoom. And I almost always used the wide end and wanted to wider. My widest lens that I have is 24mm (pentax K) and that is about the same as before. So I'm thinking about using a film camera to make this a true 24mm focal length as a bridge wide angle. The bulk of my shooting will done with a 28mm or 35mm on my digital but I would use this when I really needed it (to keep film costs down).

Is this a reasonable plan?

note - I'll be traveling thru SE Asia this winter and going to Nepal/Tibet in spring 2012. So I will definitely have some great wide angle opportunities.
I agree that 37mm is insufficiently wide. But isn't the amount of equipment for all your traveling going to be an issue?

Paul
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