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Old Sep 19, 2008, 10:52 PM   #1
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With Photokina starting next week (I think), I went looking at Steve's Breaking News page to see if Pentax has made any announcements as of yet. I have been ready to buy a new 12-24/f4 wide angle lens, but with Tokina offering a new 11-16/f2.8 lens, I was wondering if Pentax would follow suit. I would probably go with the 11-16 if offered, because of the faster lens, for low light evening and night work. I ran up against the limit while at the National Air and Space Museum with its difficult lighting, and decided a faster wide angle lens might be helpful.

What I came across was, an announcement by Panasonic for their new Lumix G1 a mirrorless hybrid dSLR using a new micro 4:3 lens set. This caught my attention and interest, due to the smaller body and lens size, along with some interesting advanced image tracking capabilities - contrast autofocus, tracking autofocus, etc. (helpful in situation other than wide angle). One of the problems with Pentax is their autofocus, which is slow and prone to hunting, especially in less than optimal lighting situations.

I currently use a 3 year old Pentax K100D. I like the size, but have been anticipating the K300D/K30D announcement, and considering a possible upgrade, however concerned with growth in body size. My main focus is wide angle, landscapes, travel, etc.

The G1 is of interest due to my traveling, smaller kit, etc. I am currently reducing and re-arranging my lens. Since I am rethinking and re-aligning what I carry, I am thinking of just freezing my Pentax system and watch the developments of the G1 and the follow on models. However, one of the main reasons I went with Pentax in the first place was the in-body stabilization, so that it would be applied across all the lenses. I know that most of you consider wide angle and stabilization to be polar opposits, however I find it useful in a number of situations. The G1 uses lens stabilization, which would be fine - if the vendor were to offer stabilized lens options across the full focal range. It appears that below 14mm they are not planning to do so. Also, one of my favorite lens is the 10-17 FE, that is not offered either (and I doubt that a similiar 180-100 degree offering is planned in the future).

So the more I think about it, the more I am talking myself out of it. It was a nice thought while it lasted.

As an example of why I believe that stabilization is useful, here is a recent image. I was out with my customer supporting a new system during an at sea exercise. We were performing a under way replenishment. I was out on the aft starboard elevator about 30 feet over the water, right at sunset, with a 40 knot wind in the face which was buffeting me and the camera. It was really difficut keeping the camera still. Anyway here is an image using the 10-17 Fisheye, 10mm (180 degrees from edge to edge), 1/120 sec, f8 @ iso 200.

Bottom line, I guess you just can't have everything (however this has gotten me thinking about maybe Olympus since they use in-body stabilization)......
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Old Sep 20, 2008, 9:42 AM   #2
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Spectacular shot of an UNREP. Thanks for posting it.
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Old Sep 20, 2008, 10:44 AM   #3
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Thank you very much, TCav!!! One of the reasons for my wanting the 12-24 was based on your image in the Washington DC Metro subway. This happens to be one of my all time best pictures, and a personal favorite (its only 2 months old). At 58 (today), I had my arm twisted, quite a bit, to go out to sea and support our efforts. I found out that I was no longer 20. I went because I knew that I would have photo opportunities like this and it was probably my one, only and last chance - especially with my camera and lenses.

Many shy away from wide angle and especially fish eye lenses. Today, the zooms - especially are very capable and allow you to place "the bend" (at 10mm) where you want it (top, middle, or bottom, thus allowing opportunities like this. Also, with a FE zoom you can potentially eliminate it at 17mm (the other end of the range).

By way of comparison, I have another image from my Canon SD500 of essentially the same view (however several steps back). You essentially are left with about the central 1/3 of the original picture (crop 1/3 off the top, bottom, and both sides). You wind up with a much less dramatic image (my opinion). The SD500 image is at 7.7mm (rectilinear), 1/320 sec, f2.8.

Touching on the Lumix G1, my disappointment is that Panasonic (or any other vendor), with lens based stabilization will probably never produce a 10-17 FE lens. They are planning on their roadmap to offer a 7mm wide angle, which would only equal the photo opportunity illulstrated by the SD500 image. Do I really need IS? The SD500 shows that possibly not, but its still very nice to have. In this case the K100D being a larger camera was much more difficult to hold with the wind, etc. However, I do really like the size of the body and especially the lens sizes which are smaller than the regular 4:3 and substantially smaller than the APS-C lenses. For traveling, I believe that this form factor will be great. Equally great are the P&S automatic image functions Panasonic put in to the body. To a diehard SLR photographer, it may not matter, however to me, it would certainly help getting the picture and in the end - that is all that matters.
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