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06-26-2010, 10:52 PM   #1
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15mm s.m.c. Purchase...saved by the forum!

I've been looking at an advertised 15mm SMC M42 Wide Angle for sale.
I don't think the seller was trying to hide anything, but he was reluctant to forward me any photos of the lens, or enlarge much about its condition etc.....quite a strange attitude....especially when a $1500 lens is involved! But I was still inclined to buy it, as it's quite rare.
However, I decided to do a bit of homework, & I checked this forum's lens review site, & read a review of this lens by "amick" who advised there were two different versions of this lens, the preferable one being of the Aspheric type, the two lens also being visibly different in terms of the barrel focussing numbers.
I don't think the seller was trying to hide the fact that there were two different versions from me, it's just that I didn't know. However, if I'm going to pay that sort of money, I'd want the best, or "better" version, which this one wasn't.
So, thanks to this forum, & particularly "amick", I've not made a purchase I'd have regretted.
I tried to send a thank you pm, but couldn't do it via the lens review post....so anyway "amick", thanks for your info, it was spot on!
Cheers, Pickles.

06-26-2010, 11:03 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by pickles Quote
I don't think the seller was trying to hide the fact that there were two different versions from me, it's just that I didn't know. However, if I'm going to pay that sort of money, I'd want the best, or "better" version, which this one wasn't.
Maybe you'll want to read the fascinating article written by Marco Cavina about the Zeiss origins of this lens (it's in Italian but Google Translate is your friend):

http://www.luciolepri.it/lc2/marcocavina/articoli_fotografici/15mm_Zeiss_Pentax/00_pag.htm

The other articles on Marco's website are all highly recommended read. But, be warned, they are highly LBA inducing...

Cheers!

Abbazz
06-26-2010, 11:54 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Abbazz Quote
Maybe you'll want to read the fascinating article written by Marco Cavina about the Zeiss origins of this lens (it's in Italian but Google Translate is your friend):

15

The other articles on Marco's website are all highly recommended read. But, be warned, they are highly LBA inducing...

Cheers!

Abbazz
Thank You...That is an amazing article....to be honest, probably a bit beyond my understanding of these things, but very informative all the same.
Obviously the "aspheric" version is the "best" one, the seller in my "story" saying the aspheric version would be twice the price, ie $3K!
I wonder, if photos were taken "side by side" with the two versions, if any difference in optical quality could be noted?
Thanks again.
Pickles.
06-27-2010, 12:44 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by pickles Quote
Thank You...That is an amazing article....to be honest, probably a bit beyond my understanding of these things, but very informative all the same.
Obviously the "aspheric" version is the "best" one, the seller in my "story" saying the aspheric version would be twice the price, ie $3K!
I wonder, if photos were taken "side by side" with the two versions, if any difference in optical quality could be noted?
Thanks again.
You're welcome.

I do think your prices are a bit overinflated. I would say a normal price for the non-aspheric version would be around $700-1000, the aspheric version being between $1000 and 1400.

Cheers!

Abbazz

06-27-2010, 04:20 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Abbazz Quote
You're welcome.

I do think your prices are a bit overinflated. I would say a normal price for the non-aspheric version would be around $700-1000, the aspheric version being between $1000 and 1400.

Cheers!

Abbazz
I cannot disagree with you...because I don't know...I've only dealt with the one seller, who has one......he's VERY well known....he has the non aspheric version for $1495......so that's all I can go by!
If anyone has a M42 Aspheric version for sale, well, they can PM me if they wish.
Once again abbazz, Thank You. Forum assistance cannot get any better than this.
Cheers, Pickles.
06-27-2010, 04:51 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by pickles Quote
I've been looking at an advertised 15mm SMC M42 Wide Angle for sale.
I don't think the seller was trying to hide anything, but he was reluctant to forward me any photos of the lens, or enlarge much about its condition etc.....quite a strange attitude....especially when a $1500 lens is involved! But I was still inclined to buy it, as it's quite rare.
However, I decided to do a bit of homework, & I checked this forum's lens review site, & read a review of this lens by "amick" who advised there were two different versions of this lens, the preferable one being of the Aspheric type, the two lens also being visibly different in terms of the barrel focussing numbers.
I don't think the seller was trying to hide the fact that there were two different versions from me, it's just that I didn't know. However, if I'm going to pay that sort of money, I'd want the best, or "better" version, which this one wasn't.
So, thanks to this forum, & particularly "amick", I've not made a purchase I'd have regretted.
I tried to send a thank you pm, but couldn't do it via the lens review post....so anyway "amick", thanks for your info, it was spot on!
Cheers, Pickles.
Firstly, the 1500USD for the old M42 version is way too expensive. For less than that you will find the more desirable A-version of that lens on ebay frequently (something around 1200USD). The older K versions should be around 900-1100USD, depending on condition.

Then there si the famous aspherical version, the first production run of the 15mm. It is very rare and would be more expensive.

But from a photographical view point, I cannot see a real advantage of the aspherical over the all-spherical later version. The aspherical may have a slight advantage resolutionwise. But as is well-documented, aspherical lenses tend to create a less smooth bokeh, rendering the background blur busier.

I haven been using the old K all-spherical version for years and still value it highly. It is still my preferred choice, if I need highest sharpness and contrast in a wide angle shot with comparetively low distortion. On the current APS-C cameras it certainly is not a super-wide anymore, but still top-quality. The only drawback of the 15mm is, that the SMC coatings of that time are not as good as currently and the lens is quite prone to flareing.

But I find it very worth a lot of money, though I would not pay 1500USD.

Ben
06-27-2010, 05:35 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote
Firstly, the 1500USD for the old M42 version is way too expensive. For less than that you will find the more desirable A-version of that lens on ebay frequently (something around 1200USD). The older K versions should be around 900-1100USD, depending on condition.

Then there si the famous aspherical version, the first production run of the 15mm. It is very rare and would be more expensive.

But from a photographical view point, I cannot see a real advantage of the aspherical over the all-spherical later version. The aspherical may have a slight advantage resolutionwise. But as is well-documented, aspherical lenses tend to create a less smooth bokeh, rendering the background blur busier.

I haven been using the old K all-spherical version for years and still value it highly. It is still my preferred choice, if I need highest sharpness and contrast in a wide angle shot with comparetively low distortion. On the current APS-C cameras it certainly is not a super-wide anymore, but still top-quality. The only drawback of the 15mm is, that the SMC coatings of that time are not as good as currently and the lens is quite prone to flareing.

But I find it very worth a lot of money, though I would not pay 1500USD.

Ben
Thank you for your response.
But please clarify.
Are you saying that the non aspherical version is just as good as the non aspherical version, & that identical versions of side by side images of either lens would be difficult to differentiate?
I thought these lenses were VERY rare.....Is this not true? I haven't seen ANY of the variants for sale.
Thank You, Pickles.
06-27-2010, 08:15 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by pickles Quote
Thank you for your response.
But please clarify.
Are you saying that the non aspherical version is just as good as the non aspherical version, & that identical versions of side by side images of either lens would be difficult to differentiate?
I thought these lenses were VERY rare.....Is this not true? I haven't seen ANY of the variants for sale.
Thank You, Pickles.
The original aspherical version is indeed very rare and accordingly very expensive. The later all-spherical versions aren't that rare and if you do a search on ebay, you'll often find one.

I have read some singular claims, about a perceived slight advantage of the aspherical version, but I have never seen proof in direct comparissons between the different versions. My feeling is, that (not from a collector's viewpoint ofcourse) a later version with better smc coatings is preferrably against the older aspherical version.

Ben

06-27-2010, 08:37 AM   #9
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I got the both the SMC-A and SMC-K versions of this lens for less than $600 each, so you're definitely looking at an overpriced lens.

I'm not sure if the rare version delivers superior photos- but I suppose others may know more on that. All I have to add is that the DA15mm is better-suited for digital bodies than either of the older full-frame 15mm lenses. In a comprehensive test I did earlier, I've found that the DA delivers superior colors and sharpness below F8.

I'm a fan of the older lenses, and they sure are a joy to use, but unless you're looking to add something nice to your collection, I'd favor the DA.

BTW, to send a PM, go to your user cp (click on manage account near the login area) and choose 'compose message' from the menu on the left. You can then type in the desired username and write your message!
06-27-2010, 09:45 AM   #10
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I had the A15/3.5 and sold it to buy the K15/3.5AL. Optically I did not notice a difference, though I never did any side by side comparisons.

I would be nice to see a side by side test of the five versions:

T15/3.5AL
T15/3.5
K15/.35AL
K15/3.5
A15/3.5

Maybe a Pentax 15/3.5 rally!!


Phil.
06-27-2010, 01:00 PM   #11
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Phil, as far as I know, the optics of all these version, except the aspherical one, are exactly the same. So any differences should come down to the advancements in smc coating over the years. This is, where I would epect the A version to be visibly better, than my K version. But shaprmess, contrast and espcially colour rendition leave nothing to be desired (IMHO ofcourse).

Ben
06-27-2010, 04:30 PM   #12
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Thank you all for your explanation of this issue, to a person who is REALLY inexperienced in these areas. I have regained a bit of an "interest" in the SMC M42 lenses, so that version is the one I'd be looking at.
So, just to clarify:
(a) "Aspheric" version is that which includes "AN" (singular-not all!) aspherical element. (other elements are spherical?)
(b) "Spherical" version is that in which all elements are spherical.
(c) In other words, pretty much the same, except that in the aspheric version, one spherical element has been replaced by one aspherical element
(c) not really much difference optically, but collector wise, the rarer aspheric version would be preferable, although it would be considerably dearer.
Have I got it right?!
Cheers, Pickles.
06-27-2010, 10:36 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by pickles Quote
Thank you all for your explanation of this issue, to a person who is REALLY inexperienced in these areas. I have regained a bit of an "interest" in the SMC M42 lenses, so that version is the one I'd be looking at.
So, just to clarify:
(a) "Aspheric" version is that which includes "AN" (singular-not all!) aspherical element. (other elements are spherical?)
(b) "Spherical" version is that in which all elements are spherical.
(c) In other words, pretty much the same, except that in the aspheric version, one spherical element has been replaced by one aspherical element
(c) not really much difference optically, but collector wise, the rarer aspheric version would be preferable, although it would be considerably dearer.
Have I got it right?!
Cheers, Pickles.
Yep and because of the rarity of the AL version in both M42 & K mount, the prices are much higher.

As Ben and I mentioned you would be hard pressed to find any differences that would be noticed in an actual photo. But who knows there could be an instance where the AL version may produce less distortion in a shot than the spherical version.

You will enjoy any version you end up with, the angle of view is REALLY wide on a film camera. The 15/3.5 is quite a unique lens.

Phil.
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