I had a mild attack of lens buying addiction a few weeks back, succumbing to a couple of temptations listed on Ebay. One of these was a Pentax DA 10-17mm F3.5-4.5 fisheye zoom.
I wouldn’t normally spend a lot of time introducing a lens, but I will on this occasion as the DA 10-17 is quite unique. At the 10mm end of its zoom range, the lens is quite ‘fishy’ in character with a 180º field of view across the diagonal of the frame. But at the 17mm end, it is much more rectilinear (‘normal’) in character, and what distortion there is can be substantially reduced using computer software should you wish to do so. This makes the lens quite a bit of fun as the act of zooming in or out also dials up or down the degree of fishy-ness. With fisheye lens, placement of subject matter can also impact upon the apparent fishy-ness of an image, so between zooming and subject placement quite a range of creative outcomes can be generated from a single scene.
Other nice things about the DA 10-17:
- it’s light and compact, about the same size and weight as a 18-55 kit zoom;
- fabulously rich colours without being overly contrasty;
- while ultra-wide lenses tend not to be particularly sharp due to inherent optical compromises required by their design, the DA 10-17 is pretty good in the centre and by F8 not too shabby in the corners;
- it focuses amazingly closely, like to within an inch or so of the rather large and protruding front element. It allows a surprisingly amount of selective focus from an ultra-wide lens.
On the negative side of the ledger, the DA 10-17 can be prone to purple fringing on high contrast edges, but my experience to date is that this readily cleans up in Lightroom or similar software in most cases.
The lens arrived in the post just a day before I was off to Sydney for a weekend away, so my first use of the lens is also something of a documentary of my Saturday in Sydney.
So here we go…
On most of the rare occasions I get up early to photograph sunrises, Murphy’s Law kicks in and the dawn fails to produce the goods – no cloud, too much cloud, whatever. So my general modus operandi is that I only get up early to catch planes. But occasionally I’ve been lucky, and on the Saturday morning, the act of being up early to catch the first flight to Sydney coincided with a really good dawn, just by dumb luck.
And on landing two hours later in Sydney…
I stayed up at the Lane Cove Tourist Park which is part of the Lane Cove National Park. A lovely bushland setting a few miles northwest of the centre of Sydney. Unfortunately I only had a short amount of time to explore the surrounding area, and used the available time for a quick wander down to the Lane Cove River. From what I saw, this area needs to go onto the list for a longer future visit.
The Lane Cove Tourist Park is a moderately short walk away from the North Ryde railway station. On weekends, a train transfer at Chatswood is needed for the trip in and out of the Sydney CBD. This was a bit of a pest as the connection delays were quite long. In fact I think I spent a good part of Saturday afternoon on trains or buses or waiting for them. Weekdays, the trains through North Ryde run directly into the city. But these delays did give me some opportunities to play with the lairy end of the zoom.
We hopped off the train at Milsons Point, the last station before the northern trains head over the Sydney Harbor bridge and into the city centre. No need to pay a small fortune for a bridge walk up the arch itself if all you want to do is get a bit of a view of the harbor. There’s a perfectly good footpath on the level of the car deck where you’re some 160 feet above the water below.
Once over the bridge, we hopped on a bus to Bondi Junction as my son wanted a new sweat top/hoodie and only surf gear branded apparel will do. Complete waste of time as it is mid-summer and only one unloved sweat top was stocked between two surf shops. The coming winter season’s gear is obviously still on a slow boat from China.
But did find another opportunity to go wide angle…
And a final image before we started the long process of returning to Lane Cove. This should start with a riddle: What do you get when you cross an endangered animal with an X-Rite ColorChecker?
And in case my riddle makes no sense at all, here is a link to the X-Rite ColorChecker product description. Are we all on the same page now?
I hope you’ve enjoyed my first day discovery of the DA 10-17’s capabilities. In a later post, I’ll add a few more photos taken back in Adelaide.
Pentax K-3 with now well commented upon Pentax DA10-17 F3.5-4.5 fisheye zoom.
To Learn More
The map below shows the location of the Lane Cove National Park in relation to the centre of Sydney.
And if you are interested in staying at the Lane Cove Tourist Park, it’s website is here. The Tourist Park is a caravan and camping park with a good number of comfortable cabins also available. A few minutes walk out the back gate and you are down by the river. A few minutes walk out of the front gate and you are at the North Ryde station.