In part 1 of this series I dealt with the long end of my lens family, the 600mm mirror lens. With that done let’s look at the wide end.
Classic ‘did not know I wanted this lens until I found out it existed’. On my way out of Southeastern Camera after picking up (or dropping off) some film I asked if they had any interesting K Mount lenses. Dennis pointed me to the Pentax selection. Initially I thought it better that I leave without looking, lest I put myself on the hook for another lens, and then at the door my legs took a left and I was rummaging. Read the numbers 8-16mm on the side in disbelief honestly. Even with it being a crop APS-C DC lens that still worked out to an effective 12-24mm FF field of view, or way wider than my widest at the time. A legacy 35mm film Vivitar 17-28mm lens. If 17mm is good 12mm must be great. Further research revealing great reviews and sample photos sealed the deal. I could only identify one down side.
- Slowish variable aperture range at f/4.5 to f/5.6.
That is about it for downsides. Now for upshots.
- Firstly the relatively narrow aperture range turns out not to be that much of a hindrance.
- With a lens this wide half the fun is capturing as much as possible deep as wide.
- In body IS does a lot to offset a narrow aperture.
- This lens is fun. It makes near anything look interesting.
- Has nothing to do with image quality but it is built like a tank, has a quality feel and is quite an attractive lens.
- Sharp. Sharp. Sharp. Alarmingly, wonderfully sharp.
- Silent AF. While AF is not strictly needed for a lens so wide since infinity focus happens after a few feet it is great to have. And silent HSM focus is yet another bonus added in top.
- It defies filters, but look at the business end of this thing. Purely an aesthetic of the lens itself rather than the images it can produce, but an admittedly superficial plus in my book nonetheless.
- Relatively affordable given how wide it goes. No lens VR may be an issue from some (non Pentax versions), but even still this is great value in my opinion.
- Amazingly nowhere near as distorted as one would think given it’s almost fisheye focal length.
Note: Neither good or bad and true of all wide lenses be careful tilting this lens up or down as it will distort verticals. Great if this is the look you are looking for, but if you are not Lightroom does a decent job at straightening things up with one click.
If you have an APS-C camera and need a little wide angle action this lens is a great option. Enough talk. Here are some sample images and an ongoing gallery.