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Old Feb 7, 2011, 12:34 PM   #1
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Default Fast wide angle lens choices for pentax. Under $700?

Hey everyone,
Sorry to be so blunt, but this is what I'm looking to buy: I'm looking for a
fast wide angle lens for my K-r.
-F/3.5 or faster.
-30mm or wider.
-Sigma, Tamron, or Pentax
-Under $700.

The sigma lineup of 1.8's (the 20, 24, and 28) have all gotten pretty bad
reviews so those are most likely out of the running. I had a sigma 30mm
1.4 briefly but had sent it back due to bad FF, so my feelings for that have
been soured slightly, but if anyone has another view on the 30mm let me
know.

In my sights right now are:
Pentax SMC DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 ED AL IF SDM ($770)
Pentax SMC P-DA 14mm F2.8 ED IF ($640)
Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM ($650)

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks!
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Old Feb 7, 2011, 1:13 PM   #2
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My first question is whether you are looking more for a normal lens or a wide angle? Also do you want a zoom or would be happy with a prime?

The Sigma 10-20 is very well thought of as a really wide lens. The Pentax DA*16-50 is well regarded if you get a good one, but it's more of a normal zoom, a totally different animal in my opinion.

If you are looking for a really wide lens then I would probably look at the Sigma 10-20, the Pentax DA 14.

If you want something more in the middle, like a bit wider than normal but not the extreme wide angle (with having to deal with the distortion even a pentilinear lens can give you under certain conditions), you might look at the DA 21 Limited ($509 at B&H), which barely qualifies at f3.2, but is very well liked and has the advantage of being tiny compared to the Sigma 10-20.

If you are looking for a fast normal replacement (since you had the 16-50 and mentioned the Sigma 30), what about the new Pentax DAL 35mm f2.4? It's really inexpensive as far as lenses go and I've been really impressed with it's image quality.

Just looking through B&H's listings for wide angle lenses, there's a listing for a modern Vivitar Series One 13mm f1.8. I have no clue if this lens is worth anything at all - common wisdom is that Vivitar's modern Series One lenses don't hold a candle to the old ones, but I have never seen one, much less tested one so I have no idea if it's true or not. But I must say, an f1.8 lens at 13mm is an interesting creature.
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Old Feb 7, 2011, 2:18 PM   #3
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Well, the purpose of the lens is for interior shots. I have my 50mm 1.4 that is the only lens i use for interior, and so i want a wider angle to compliment that. I'm not sure if the 35mm is different enough from the 50. Although at just over $200, that is nice.

I don't really know the different between super-wide, and normal wide in terms of distortion...

I'd like something that is good in low-light, taking photos of people at weddings and other similar events. I was slightly leaning towards the pentax 16-50, although i feel like it would be stepping on my 50mm 1.4's toes a bit too much. And i'd probably just use it at the wider focal lengths.

I really like the sigma's HSM, or the Pentax's SDM.

I dont want anything that looks to "fish-eye-like". A fish eye is possibly something i will buy way off into the future.

I do like primes, so that is just fine with me.
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Old Feb 7, 2011, 2:20 PM   #4
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I am really up in the air right now. I just dont know which to get. When i was typing my reply above ^^^, and i said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ewheeler20 View Post
I was slightly leaning towards the pentax 16-50...
I retyped changed my decision about 5 times before i settled on one that i could identify as slightly leaning towards, lol.
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Old Feb 7, 2011, 3:49 PM   #5
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I don't think that an ultra-wide is the best lens to use for people and events, especially at the wider ends. I have the 12-24, slower than what you are looking for, but I suspect that all ultrawides will give you similar distortions as I occasionally find with it. Here's some examples from my recent trip to Death Valley, some that I had originally NOT planned on posting! These pictures were taken in Scotty's Castle, a fascinating ranch/vacation home built by a wealthy Chicago businessman (not Scotty) who befriended one of Death Valley's more colorful characters. It's an interesting tale actually. The interior is original, dating back to the 1920's. They keep it quite dark inside (I assume to minimize sun fading of fabrics) so these pictures were mostly shot using ISO 10,000 and 16,000 and all have had noise reduction done to them (some very significantly and it shows, not great photography but good enough for vacation snaps).

First, if you have people at the edges of the frame at 12mm, you'll get them stretched out of shape:



On the other hand, 12 mm can be quite useable for other things. In this case, I'm fairly close to these curtains. Which were hand-painted all fine leather and original. No expense was spared for this vacation home, it really is spectacular.



Another shot where I managed to effectively use the 12mm to capture more of the scene. I'm not trying to imply that you can't effectively use 12mm, just that there are things you have to think about when using it and it's not always easy.



Since your purpose is for weddings, you would want to have other lenses besides the ultra-wide. Things get far away quickly with them, this shot was taken from the 2nd floor balcony. The 12 mm makes the floor look much further away than it really is (which can be very useful at times as you can make a distracting background less prominent, but can also cause things to look very strange):



Two more, these two in the dining room of the castle, showing different types of distortion. I can't believe I'm actually posting these two shots as both pictures suffer from front focusing, camera shake and noise reduction. All of my shots that day taken inside and out with the 12-24 had ff issues (it's ff with all 3 cameras I've used it on and I didn't have the K5 dialed in right) and 1/25 sec shutter speed is just too slow no matter that I was using 12 mm).





In my opinion there's a big difference between 35 and 50, a huge one. I bought the 35 macro after finding myself wanting something between 24 and 50 quite often, and I don't regret it at all. It's much more like using a 50 mm on a full frame camera, it matches what you see. The picture I posted of the salt flats and the yellow mountains, posted in the "salt and rhyolite" thread, was taken with the 35. Things often seem too close with the 50, where I don't feel that way with the 35. To show that it doesn't have the distortion of the ultrawide, another one from Rhyolite (looking through the doorway of the bank building):



I would think the DA*16-50 would do the best as being most versatile. Then perhaps the DAL 35. I would not recommend the 35 macro that I have, as the bokeh can be jittery at times. For weddings you wouldn't need the macro so better bokeh would be far more important. The 14 might not have as much distortion as my 12-24 does at 12, but I would suspect the 10-20 Sigma would have similar issues as the 12-24 (the nature of a very wide angle lens). Not sure if the 14 has less, I've never actually used one. The DA 21 actually might be a good compromise, though it's not as fast. Shooting the 35 doesn't take much thought - just point and shoot and you are likely to get a good picture.

Hope these not very good shots help to illustrate some of the characteristics of the ultra-wide angle and what you'll need to consider to use one effectively (or in these cases, not so effectively).
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Old Feb 7, 2011, 4:09 PM   #6
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I use the 10-20 for interiors (real estate) - any distortion is easily fixed using a number of free or cheap products. My 17-50 does a decent job too but as Harriet said, that focal range is more 'normal' and doesn't always meet the need. For interiors / landscapes you don't need a fast lense, if it's too dark inside then you need more light, or longer exposures on a tripod, not a faster lense !
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Old Feb 7, 2011, 5:26 PM   #7
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Wow thank you so much for the useful information.

mtngal, i really appreciate the examples. I totally see the difference of super-wide and normal-wide now. So it it sounds like for my needs right now, i dont want a super-wide lens because it will distort people especially around the edges.

Frogfish, what you said about the 10-20 leaves me to believe i should cross that one off my list too because of the distortion. It's better for architecture and landscapes.

What I am stuck on is the SDM with the 16-50mm vs. the non-SDM on the 14mm.
I dont need the weather resistant stuff, and I wouldn't use the focal lengths between 35-50 most likely. But I really like the SDM... I'd rather just have the 14mm prime because in my opinion it would force me to take better photos. It makes me think harder to take "different" types of shots having to change my own position rather than "cheating" with a zoom. But i REALLY wish it had SDM, lol.
The 16-50 is more expensive and has a lot of features i dont need except for SDM. the 14mm is less expensive but has no SDM which i (think) i really want.

I'm leaning heavier towards the 16-50 unless someone can convince me that the SDM is not that big of a deal?
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Old Feb 7, 2011, 9:13 PM   #8
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If you are going to be doing events I would think the zoom along with the SDM would be really good to have. Yes, primes do help with visualizing pictures and gets you not only to "zoom with your feet" but also to look around and decide what would be the best picture for your focal length, rather than putting the camera to the eye and adjusting the picture with the zoom. But if your goal is to shoot for someone else, then being able to provide them what they want is more important. Ultimately, you could get both lenses because they are good for different things.

I have two lenses that are really high on my list of priorities - probably my next two purchases. They will be the FA 31 Ltd and the DA*16-50, so I can relate to your desire for that lens. This time when I buy it I'll have the time to return it until I get a good copy.

Have you thought about the Tamron 17-50 f2.8? It seems to be well regarded and since you aren't concerned with weather sealing, it would be a cheaper alternative.
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Old Feb 7, 2011, 10:03 PM   #9
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Another vote for the Tamron 17-50 / 2.8. Since buying this it is my go to lense, very sharp and no real noticeable distortion in 99% of shots. A real value for money lense.
Sigma also have a new 17-50/2.8 out too - more expensive than the Tamron (but still cheaper than the DA*16-50) and has HSM (which is better and faster than SDM whilst being just as silent) - the MTF figures for this one are off the scale !
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Old Feb 7, 2011, 10:21 PM   #10
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oh boy, 2 more choices to consider, lol. I'm so bad with decisions.

-Does Tamron have it's own version of HSM or SDM?
-How much am i loosing from 14mm (on the P-DA) to 16mm (on the DA*) to 17mm on the sigma 17-50 or Tamron 17-50?

For some reason i feel im leaning more towards the pentax 14mm now.. But im not sure why. I think I like the slight distortion wide feeling of it.

(I told you i was bad at making decisions.)
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