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Fixed 24 / 28mm lens for Landscape Photography

Discussion in 'Pentax Chat' started by Yecora99, Jan 23, 2009.

  1. Yecora99

    Yecora99 Well-Known Member

    Hello again!

    I would like to get back into Landscape photography using my new Pentax cameras. In the past I have used a wide-angle zoom such as a 28-70mm lens.

    My question is would a fixed wide angle lens such as a 24mm or 28mm lens produce better images than a wide-angle zoom?

    Best Regards,

  2. f0t0fan

    f0t0fan Well-Known Member

    There are 2 aspects to this question.
    Firstly - a good generalisation is that good prime lens will always produce a better image than zoom of similar quality. In addition it will probably offer wider apertures also though this will not be of major import for most landscape.

    Secondly, assuming you are considering using 24 or 28mm lenses on a K20D or other APS-C sensor camera remember that they will effectively become 36 & 42mm focal length - nearer to standard lens than wide angle.

    Hope this helps your decision making.


    Ron D
  3. nspur

    nspur Well-Known Member

    I think that landscape photographers using 35mm cameras will usually go for a full-frame body so there are no cropping considerations. I generally prefer a focal length of around 40mm for landscape and will usually stop down to about f8 at which point there's not a lot of difference between a prime lens and a good zoom one. In fact a 24-70 zoom is probably an ideal choice.

    But given that there are many more DSLRs with smaller sensors around it's important to realise that the magnification of the lens remains the same but the image is cropped in both planes. In most cases a crop of part of the sky and foreground is not disastrous for landscape work but a vertical crop is harmful so the best way to obtain a shot with good magnification and a more panoramic view is to take two shots and stitch them. For that you need a tripod with a panning head and shoot with manual focus and manual metering. Experimentation with this method gives a good insight into what makes a good panorama. There's plenty of good stitching software available and Canon supply their excellent one with their digital cameras.
  4. Wheelu

    Wheelu Well-Known Member

    If it is of any help to you, I shoot full frame film Pentax and have three versions of the 28mm Pentax lens, the f3.5 K, the f2.8 M and the f3.5 M. Of those the f3.5 K is the pick of the bunch. It's a lens that will provide sharp results even on overcast dull days. The drawbacks include, rarity, larger than the standard 49mm filter size, and size/weight in comparison to the more recent M lenses.

    28mm on a crop frame camera equates to 42mm. I couldn't live with that as a landscape lens.

    I also use a Canon 24-70 f2.8 lens on a FF digital body. It is a good deal more convenient than separate primes and, over the focal length range, is sometimes slightly better, sometimes slightly worse, than the equivalent prime (curiously it is at its worst at 50mm). If you can afford this type of optic, and are prepared to carry what is a great brute of a lens, this is a good solution.

    Finally, I also have a Tamron 24mm adaptall lens, fitting both Pentax and Canon bodies. My copy is not very satisfactory, having good central sharpness, but falling away very rapidly towards the corners. The Canon 24-70 eats it alive. :rolleyes:
  5. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    Hi Y_99,

    If you liked th 28-70 lens for your landscape shooting back in the film days ..
    you might want to consider the following:

    From Pentax: -- the DA 12-24/4, DA 16-45/4 or the DA 16-50/2.8


    From Tamron: -- the Tamron 17-50/2.8


    From Sigma: -- the 18-50/2.8

    and, of course,

    Tokina .... Hoya ... Pentax: :rolleyes: -- the 16-50/2.8

    And, if you wanna be different ........ try a telephoto:




    Whoops .... big file ... so you'll have to click it ... BUT, at least, the mods won't get their Nikkors in a Knot ;wink:




  6. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    For your recently acquired film cameras?

    Traditionally primes always gave better results than zooms but TBH the optical design of modern zooms has improved so much that at most normal print sizes the difference is minimal to non existent - the main proviso being that the best zooms aren't that cheap...
    That said if you are stopping down for maximum depth of field even most modern budget zooms are generally pretty capable.

    Where primes score are at wider apertures, where edge/corner performance is likely to be better than a zoom at the same aperture, and 'drawing' accuracy - zooms can be quite prone to distortion at the extreme end of their ranges and are generally not as good overall as primes. Prime lenses can suffer from 'drawing' defects, especially ultra wide angle models, but it's generally far better controlled. Even where distortion occurs it may not be noticeable unless you are prone to photographing architecture or seascapes (straight horizons...) - generally the landscape itself is far more curvy than anything the lens can add...

    Primes still probably give more image quality across a broader aperture range at a lower price than zooms - especially if you can get a good used one.

    Don't forget that a prime will make you use your feet more and perhaps, as a result, investigate alternative viewpoints into the bargain... ;)

    Another thing to remember about wide-angle lenses, whether prime or not, is that it's very easy to get a lot of uninteresting foreground in the picture. The trick is to learn how to look for foreground interest as well as a good backdrop. I can go as wide as 19mm on film and 10mm on digital (16mm film equivalence) and I'm still learning how to use these kinds of lens effectively. Even 24 and 28mm can suffer the same fate without a bit of forethought but they are easier to control in this respect.
  7. Yecora99

    Yecora99 Well-Known Member


    Thanks for the feedback and advice so far.

    <u>Jack</u>- I love your images the B&W image is my favourite!

    <u>El Sid</u> - I'm looking at using both my new Pentax Film SLR alongside my Digital SLR.

    I've recently taken up walking and seen some lovely views from the hills / moors above Lancashire, Yorkshire & Derbyshire and I would like to put my LowePro backpack to good use by taking both my Z-1 film SLR and my K10D out with me. I have a decent tripod after buying the Manfrotto 055XPROB with a good qulity head, so panning will not be a problem.

    I now understand what is classed as a wide angle lens on the film SLR (e.g. 28mm) will not be as wide on the Digital SLR because of the crop factor. So I'm looking at something wider (Jack has provided a good short list - Thanks JACK!).

    I have however seen the following lens for sale: Tamron 17-35 F2.8/4 Di and wondered if this would be a good lens to buy to use on my Digital SLR for landscape images? I suppose the Di means that it is designed for use on Digital SLR's, and as a result will cause vignetting if used on a film SLR is this correct?

    Best Regards,

  8. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

  9. Yecora99

    Yecora99 Well-Known Member


    Thanks for your quick and detailed responce to my enquiry.

    Were you trying to promote the Pentax 16-50/2.8 lens in your earlier responce, by lisiting it twice? :D

    I will probably go for the Tamron 17-35 f2.8/4 lens since you have advised it is a Full Frame lens. All of my other P/K lenses are Full Frame Lenses so they will work on my film SLR as well as my Digital SLR.

    My plan if you can call it a plan is to build up a full kit of lenses that will fit on any current / future Pentax SLR, this is why I have been reluctant to buy any of the DA lenses.

    My collection is growing fast I now have the following:

    Hoya 28mm f/2.8 - (M) Lens

    Tamron 28-105mm f/4-5.6 - (A)Lens
    Sigma 100-300mm f/4-6.4 - (A)Lens
    Cosina 100-500mm f5.6/8 - (A)Lens

    Tamron Adaptall 500mm Mirror Lens

    Plus a set of basic Vivitar extension tubes.

    Once again I thank you for your advice.

    Best Regards,

  10. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    The Tamron will be OK on film as well as digital. The 'Di' indicates that it has enhanced anti-reflection coating to improve performance when used with digital cameras, the lens itself is designed for 35mm format. Tamron's small format digital lenses are designated 'Di II'.

    Optically Tamron lenses are normally good performers and I would expect the 17-35 to be no different. Obviously on film it's an ultra wide-angle lens at 17mm but on digital it will only be a moderate wide angle at the same setting thanks to the 1.5x crop factor. The choice of lens that will give extra or ultra wide angle performance on both film and APS format digital is limited... indeed the only one I can think of at this time is the Sigma 12-24mm which is a bit of a chunky beast despite being of relatively modest aperture...

    If you look to the second hand market then Sigma used to do a 15-30mm - not quite as wide as the 12-24 but does give a bit wider performance on digital than the 17-35mm. Not sure about the optical performance though as I have seen comments that suggest it's not exceptional. This is also a very big and heavy lens - Sigma seems to have used the same body shell for the old model 24-70 and 28-70 f2.8 lenses and, having the 28-70 version, I can vouch for it's bulk.

    On a personal note of experience I think you'll find you need a lot of self discipline trying to use film and digital side-by-side. I've done it myself and generally I've found the film body tended to stay stuck in the bag...

    Having had a look at the Pentax UK website Pentax seem committed to small format DA lenses rather than 35mm format FA types... While this doesn't preclude the appearance of a 35mm format digital camera it rather suggests that it's unlikely in the near to medium future.
  11. Yecora99

    Yecora99 Well-Known Member

    El Sid,

    Thanks also for your detailed response.

    I do find that I use the K10D a lot more than my film SLR. However I do like the results I get when using Fuji 100 ISO film when undertaking Macro Photography and I think I will also be using Fuji 100 ISO when I begin to undertake Landscape photography once more.

    I also like the fact that you can just shoot a roll of film drop it off at the photo developers go shopping then return an hour or two later and pick up photos.

    Digital certainly has its advantages over film in that you can view the image straight away, and if needs be alter it slightly by increasing / decreasing the lighting and contrast. But it does have its downside...

    The other week I went to a local photo shop put in my 2GB card to find it had over 1000 images on, after waiting for what seemed ages I then had to slowly scroll along until the image(s) I wanted to print appeared on the PC screen!

    Most of the people I know that have a Digital camera, only use one memory card. Once it's full they down load the images to a PC, then burn them onto a CD / DVD then erase the memory card and start over. To date I have never done this, I have always kept the card once full, then I go out and buy another card, am I the only one who does this?

    Best Regards,

  12. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    Probably not... but offhand I can't think of anyone I personally know who does... Buying a new card every time seems to negate one of the principal 'advantages' of digital - namely not having to keep buying fresh image media (or film as it used to be called :D)...

    I am one of those who burns their images to DVD and reuses the card again and I have more than one card... At the last count I have 2x 2GB, 1x 1GB, 4x 256MB and 1x 16MB CF cards plus one 2GB and two 1GB SD cards. Admittedly the 256meg cards don't get much use now and the 16MB is only used for image transfers to a printing machine but all the others see plenty of work - mind I do have 3 DSLRs and a compact to keep fed... :)

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