Very few lenses from any manufacturer have made such an impact on me as this little beauty from Pentax. It has lived on the Pentax K200D digital SLR body that I’ve had on loan for review almost all of the time. It is the size of a standard lens although it feels fairly weighty due to the considerable glass content. The zoom range is just 1.7:1 but is very worth while. At the wide end in lens design, a 7mm change in focal length is a big one. The specialist Pentax DA Fish-Eye 10-17mm lens has an image circle designed to cover the sensor sensor size of 23.5mm by 15.7mm. With extreme wide angle lenses of retrofocus design it is far more important to understand their coverage in terms of angle of view than focal length and this lens has a range of 110-180 degrees from corner to corner diagonally. Several times, whilst shooting vertical frames with the lens set to 10mm I had to lean forward slightly to keep my feet out of the picture.
I’m fairly used to shooting with a fish eye lens as I have the Canon 15mm f/2.8 in my own camera bag but I have to say this Pentax lens is in a class of its own. The zoom range is both clever and useful and I’ve always liked the fact that a fish eye lens is a low distortion optic. Most people think of these lenses as distorting when in fact it is the regular corrected wide angle lenses that stretch the image into the corners that are big distortion culprits. This lens presents the objects in its field of view at the same distance in good size proportions, right across the frame from left to right. It does however exaggerate the perspective of objects at different distances from the camera. Achieving front to back depth of field in a photograph is also easy to do with a lens of this kind of optical construction.
I was struck by just how sharp this optic is. Pictures taken by specialty lenses like this can come unstuck at the edges with chromatic aberration and vague fuzziness but this is a high quality bit of kit and I found no such problems. Other issues I looked out for are rear focus errors. Although wide angle lenses can create images with an extreme depth of field they exhibit an extremely shallow depth of focus within the camera body. So lens mount accuracy is critical and I’m again pleased to say that this lens was spot on.
Best bits of the Pentax DA 10-17mm Fisheye:
- Small size
- Excellent image quality
- Fun to use
- Good ergonomics, comfortable to hold
- Well made with good attention to detail
Worst bits of the Pentax DA 10-17mm Fisheye:
- No filter holder either in front or behind the lens
- Maximum aperture is limited to f/3.5 - 4.5
The pictures I took with the Pentax DA Fish-Eye 10-17mm lens are easy on the eye and I would be happy to shoot commercial and architectural commissions with this lens. I felt inspired and liberated using this wonderful lens over the past few weeks and I’m not looking forward to life without it. I used it for portraits, interiors and cityscapes. The applications for this lens are endless and being such fun to use the cost per click is going to be good too.
9/10 build quality
9/10 image quality
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