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View Full Version : Super wide zooms - are they sharp?



Aftaab
10-26-2006, 09:06 AM
I'm about to join the digital world and bail as a loyal Canon film camera user. I was used to the Canon L-series 20-35mm f2.8 which was my all time favourite lens until digital conversion factor became an issue. I really don't want to buy another Canon lens that will only fit certain intermediate bodies with smaller sensors as an exhorbitant temporary measure leaving me high and dry a few years from now. It seems as though Pentax has the right idea with being backwards compatible ALL the way.

I'm very excited by the Pentax SMCP-DA Fisheye 10-17mm F3.5-4.5 zoom as well as the Pentax DA-Zoom 12-24mm f/4.0 ED/AL offerings. Of course, I'm also intrigued by the much more expensive Olympus ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm (four thirds system). Depending upon the feedback I get here and reviews that I find, and the various camera shops that will allow me to give these a go, I would like to base the purchase of my first digital camera based on one of these lenses as my primary lens.

If anyone could share their experiences with these lenses, I'd be very grateful.

tommccarty
10-26-2006, 09:44 AM
For a primary lens these are not very fast. B&H newsletter, just as a note... I have never bought from them.... has an article on fast glass this week. I for one will get a 1.4 Prime when I buy my next SLR. Waiting for the Pentax K10
like so many others. I don't know, maybe you have not read the forums excellant articles on lens? Really, glass quality is more important than focal length or "size" or even the camera used for the most part.

Aftaab
10-26-2006, 11:37 AM
For a primary lens these are not very fast. B&H newsletter, just as a note... I have never bought from them.... has an article on fast glass this week. I for one will get a 1.4 Prime when I buy my next SLR. Waiting for the Pentax K10
like so many others. I don't know, maybe you have not read the forums excellant articles on lens? Really, glass quality is more important than focal length or "size" or even the camera used for the most part.

Yes, I agree that primes are the quickest lenses, I also neglected to mention that I do a lot of documentary photography which forces me to try to keep the amount of equipment I carry to an absolute minimum. This is why the Canon EF L 20-35mm f2.8 worked so well for me as I could replace my 20mm, 24mm, 28mm and 35mm lenses and carry one along with an 85mm portrait lens and a spare body. I dearly wanted to get a body that didn't require conversion, however, the least expensive option is still around 3K the Canon 5D which is outrageous. Now I'm faced with the option of much slower lenses which is why I'd like to hear more about their performance before I decide which system to go with. As far as bodies are concerned, I'm looking at entry level models like the K100D or the Evolt E-500.

RichNY
10-26-2006, 08:39 PM
You can pick up the 5D for $2200 after the rebate at B&H. The extra $1200 in cost over a 30D will be offset to a very large extent by your ability to continue to use your favorite lens.

You are not going to be able to take 5D quality images on the Pentax.

jeisner
10-26-2006, 10:07 PM
The 12-24/4 is sharper than the 16-45/4 (esp in the corners) and as most know the 16-45 already gets very good ratings.

Aftaab
10-27-2006, 12:31 AM
You can pick up the 5D for $2200 after the rebate at B&H. The extra $1200 in cost over a 30D will be offset to a very large extent by your ability to continue to use your favorite lens.

You are not going to be able to take 5D quality images on the Pentax.

Thanks for the B&H info. (the body works out to $2500 after their rebate) and for making the choice a little more challenging. I'll think out loud if you'll indulge me. I'd need to pick up an external flash unit for the fill flash I often use which is one more piece of equipment to carry around - I could live with it grudgingly. However, that will wipe out the rebate and then some, leaving me back at around the 3k mark.

To make the choice even more interesting - I had a chance to pick up and and play with the K100D in my local camera shop today. The gentleman helping me also put together an Olympus Evolt E-500 with a Zuiko 11-22mm f2.8-3.5 and I have to say that the build quality of both pieces is really impressive. I'm not stepping down too far from my aging L-series lens I like so much. I'll have to leave it at home until I can afford a decent Canon body like the 5D which is, in all fairness and despite its sticker price, a really solid, impressive, and well balanced body.

I've spent a bit of time with a Rebel XT - more in line with my budget. The Evolt 500 with the Zuiko 11-22mm lens far outshines the Canon in build putting together the equivalent EF S lens (which I'm loathe to purchase as I mentioned earlier in the thread). If I add the kit Zuiko 14-45mm lens that comes with the 500 body - an inexpensive temporary measure - then I've covered my bases and I'd have a little cash left over for perhaps a second Evolt body and an extra battery plus a few high capacity cf cards. I'd eliminate (or lessen) the need for lens swapping and alleviate the post processing woes of retouching the dust specs out of my shots digitally. I'd say I feel a lot more comfortable putting a $600 body through its paces than one four times its price in the places I expect to be in the near future.

As this is a Pentax-specific forum I'll briefly spell out the main reservation I had about the K100D which is the 6.0 MP limit. The build felt solid and I really liked the simplicity and functionality of the layout. The lenses weren't that impressive to me and I realize that is a highly subjective choice. The menu system was confusing and I know it will be an irritant, one that I could possibly live with. The dust removal system in the Olympus body and the dust resistant build of their lens is a massive selling point for me as I will be in that type of environment early in the New Year.

To end this longish post I think I'm leaning towards the Evolt if that wasn't already apparent. The four thirds system is very compelling as it holds the promise of decent glass in the future and perhaps even a unique body. Call me old fashioned, but I'd rather spend my money on decent glass than swallow the hefty price of the 5D body.

tommccarty
10-27-2006, 01:18 PM
OK. What I would suggest, and again, just trying to help.. I hope I don't offend. have you ever looked on craigslist ( just google it )
I found a Canon Mark II for $2k in my city. Wedding pro's sell good equipment when replacing. May be an option.. and since local you can drive over if you are lucky..
May not always work though. I have only used equipment now.... but then again I got it new :) Used isn't bad if taken care of. http://www.dcresource.com/forums/images/smilies/wink.gif

Aftaab
10-27-2006, 03:29 PM
OK. What I would suggest, and again, just trying to help.. I hope I don't offend. have you ever looked on craigslist ( just google it )
I found a Canon Mark II for $2k in my city. Wedding pro's sell good equipment when replacing. May be an option.. and since local you can drive over if you are lucky..
May not always work though. I have only used equipment now.... but then again I got it new :) Used isn't bad if taken care of. http://www.dcresource.com/forums/images/smilies/wink.gif

Hi tommccarty, thanks for the tip. Absolutely no offense taken. I've bought used in the past and am not above considering it in my attempt to become involved in digital photography. I know the Mark II to be an excellent body, although it is a large one. I have medium sized hands and am more prone to smaller bodies as they are lighter to carry and easier to deal with. I'm very familiar with Craigslist, EBay and my entertaining Hacidic friends at B&H Photo in Manhattan who've sold me some excellent used equipment in the past. I think the 5D would be my body of choice if I were to stick with Canon.

I'm looking at the Evolt E-400 which apparently will not be sold in North America which is a shame as it is a 10 megapixel body and quite small to boot according to this review: http://www.letsgodigital.org/html/review/olympuse400/.

I'm very happy that there are viable alternatives to Canon in the digital world without breaking the bank. I just think that the choices they've made up to now in terms of not being backwards compatible to FD and FL lenses have been poor ones. Most other manufacturers have made the choice to make their new digital bodies accept older lenses which makes sense to me. I really like the idea of the four thirds system in principle.

FastM
11-12-2006, 05:17 PM
The Pentax 10-17 is an absolute blast, it's simply the most wow-producing lens I've ever used. I bought mine when Pentax had the $100 rebate, I think the rebate is being offered again.

SpecialK
12-07-2006, 08:24 PM
I agree with Fast M - the Pentax 10-17mm is killer. And to the original poster, I had Canon-film stuff for years, including the 15mm f2.8. That's why I was so pleased to see the Pentax 10-17 that zooms out to a "normal-looking" superwide as well as the great fisheye. I ordered it with the body no lens, and am getting $150 total rebate for the pair. (I also got a 18-50 and 70-300, so I'm done :-) You can see a few of my pix with those lenses on Amazon's page for the K100D.

If you like wide, the Evolt may be the wrong way to go as it has a 2x conversion factor - great for telephoto, though.