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08-20-2010, 09:02 AM   #1
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Pentax Lens Prices

Hey everyone,

I'm going to admit, I am very discouraged. I bought Pentax about a year and a half ago to teach myself photography, and to that extent, it has been a very good camera! In fact the ONLY problem I have with the k20d is metering with M lenses, but I have learnt to cope with that. In the end, the experience taught me tonnes about exposure and RAW processing.

I am NOT bashing Pentax, every legacy Pentax lens I have used is everything I could hope for, IQ wise. However, I am beginning to really wonder if I should sink any more money into this brand.

Here's why - I'm not rich. Far from it, actually, I'm a stingy student. All my research 1.5 years ago told me that Pentax was THE bang for the buck brand. But all of a sudden, lens prices went way north, and made it really more like a Canon value brand, without the selection.

Sure the bodies themselves are reasonably priced, but the typical lens from Pentax is more expensive than that of Nikon... and with Nikon, you are paying for IS in the lens every time you buy! In body image stabilization drew me to Pentax, because it was supposed to save me money on lenses. Seems that hypothesis was bull!

Now I realize that Nikon lenses can be the price of a new car, and I will never, ever be buying one of those. But for me to get myself and AF fast fifty (not exactly a high demand), I will need to spend about 33% more for a Pentax lens than a Nikon (both 1.4). Why?

Furthermore, when I got into the used lens market.... I realized that the scarcity of Pentax glass actually made it harder to get a good deal on the lenses, not easier. I regularly see Nikon auto-aperture glass go for the same prices as Pentax manual glass. Every single piece of research I've done after I learned my way around photography has told me that Nikon is where the REAL deals lie. Sure, you need to buy a D300 for maximum backwards compatibility, but even if I were to buy a d5000, I would be able to buy lenses in a system that I would eventually be able to upgrade to the DX00 line (or full frame in 5 years, for the matter).

I understand Hoya is revamping the company, but I simply don't see the value in the brand for someone like me anymore. The limited primes? NICE. Very unique. Totally out of the question for someone like me, price wise.

This is not a troll... set me straight! Guide my hand to the real deals. I like MF for the fun, but when something is happening really fast, MF can be a nightmare. I need options in the AF category, and right now, none of them seem like a good deal. I'd rather just wait until my Pentax breaks and decide where to throw my money then...

08-20-2010, 09:38 AM   #2
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See the many existing threads on lens prices. In general, a 20% increase on average (which is about what it was) doesn't seem like that big a deal to me, but a small handful of lenses did indeed go up by more than that. You don't say what lenses you are interested in specifically, but also make sure you are getting *actual* prices in your searches, not just the inflated list prices that show up initially before you add to cart. Also make sure you are checking legit dealers like B&H and Adorama, not the scam artists who try to dupe you into paying list price when others sell for half that. For example, I've seen some try to charge almost $800 for the DA40, when the actual price is well under half that.

You mention the limited primes being totally out of the question, but really, the DA40 is $340, so it's not clear what you are expecting. Primes under $300? It's not like there were ever more than one or two of those.
08-20-2010, 10:34 AM   #3
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Thank you for your reply, I was worried I was just going to get outright flamed.

The 20% increase would not be as bad as my situation - Canadian prices are a little silly, and they seem to be EXTRA silly for Pentax lenses, for a reason which totally escapes me.

(I'm not going to discuss Canon here, because I don't really see their lenses as being bargains at all).

Here, a sample of lenses in USD, then CAD, then the CAD of Nikon's alternative.

DA 55mm 1.4 - 640, 900, 560 (nikon wins BY A LOT, although this is not totally fair)
FA 50mm 1.4 - 360, 450, 390 (now you can see Pentax wins if I was American...)

DA 21mm 3.2 - 510, 650, 660 (Nikon wins - the lens is 2.8 and 1mm wider)

and before someone mentions it - I realize the Pentax prime's are smaller. I don't think it makes a big difference in weight, and it DOES make a big difference in your pocketbook.

furthermore Nikon tends to have multiple tiers for each focal legnth, Pentax (mostly) has either pricey or CRAZY PRICEY). Nikon goes EVEN PRICIER, but has the budget option for people like me. I appreciate that.

It just goes on... Nikon is either the same price or cheaper in Canada... and I can actually find the things and try before I buy. Nevermind that if I was going to go to the states to buy Nikon glass I would get the same sort of discount, but it's just not worth the hassle with the price of gas...

I don't know what to say. The fact that Nikon has backwards compatibility means that the advantage of Pentax has nearly evaporated for me... I mean I don't plan on selling off my gear and leaving in a huff, but I am very scared to invest any money in new glass! The old lenses I have are real gems and were a steal for the price, but I've recently learned that Nikon has it's own bargains for those comfortable with manual focus for pretty much the same price. When you consider that a Nikon body is only 200 more, and that you will easily drop that much extra on Pentax lenses over Nikon... I fail to see the value anymore.

Any suggestions or advice would be much appreciated, because I love my k20d and I really want to figure out how to make this system work for my budget!
08-20-2010, 10:40 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
Thank you for your reply, I was worried I was just going to get outright flamed.

The 20% increase would not be as bad as my situation - Canadian prices are a little silly, and they seem to be EXTRA silly for Pentax lenses, for a reason which totally escapes me.

(I'm not going to discuss Canon here, because I don't really see their lenses as being bargains at all).

Here, a sample of lenses in USD, then CAD, then the CAD of Nikon's alternative.

DA 55mm 1.4 - 640, 900, 560 (nikon wins BY A LOT, although this is not totally fair)
FA 50mm 1.4 - 360, 450, 390 (now you can see Pentax wins if I was American...)

DA 21mm 3.2 - 510, 650, 660 (Nikon wins - the lens is 2.8 and 1mm wider)

It just goes on... Nikon is either the same price or cheaper in Canada... and I can actually find the things and try before I buy. Nevermind that if I was going to go to the states to buy Nikon glass I would get the same sort of discount, but it's just not worth the hassle with the price of gas...

I don't know what to say. The fact that Nikon has backwards compatibility means that the advantage of Pentax has nearly evaporated for me... I mean I don't plan on selling off my gear and leaving in a huff, but I am very scared to invest any money in new glass! The old lenses I have are real gems and were a steal for the price, but I've recently learned that Nikon has it's own bargains for those comfortable with manual focus for pretty much the same price. When you consider that a Nikon body is only 200 more, and that you will easily drop that much extra on Pentax lenses over Nikon... I fail to see the value anymore.

Any suggestions or advice would be much appreciated, because I love my k20d and I really want to figure out how to make this system work for my budget!
Nikon lenses have 5 year warranties!

Pentax used to have a price advantage, but not anymore. Hoya put an end to that as did the high Yen (relative to Western, non-Japanese currencies). Nikon likes to compete with Canon on lens prices and variety, especially zooms.

Most suppliers have driven down prices lately as best they can by reducing component quality. I expect Pentax to do the same and come out with some inexpensive glass with much less build quality than the DA Ltd's, and likely slower apertures. Their f/3.5 line from the A and M's back in the 1980's comes to mind.

08-20-2010, 11:33 AM   #5
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I live in, design and manufacture products in the Far East. I don't deal with optics now (and when I did, low end), but I deal with glass, metal, plastic, labour and exchange rates.

Hoya might have made a (short term?) mistake making all lenses in Vietnam. Exchange rates have risen over 25% against the US$ in the last 2 years.

For bodies (made in the Philippines), exchange rates have only risen 10%. Still...

When 3rd world countries are increasing so much in such a short time, you have to worry.

The days of the US exchanging paper for energy are soon going to be over.
08-20-2010, 11:40 AM   #6
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I hear you, mr. Paperbag. As a fellow student I don't have much money to burn either, but luckily I don't really feel the need for AF. I've got my bases covered with MF lenses and the DA 21, as legacy wide angles are much larger and possibly more expensive. Ok, I'm not much of an action photographer, but I do think practice goes a long way. Are you using an upgraded focusscreen?

Also, before you get too excited about bargain lenses from other brands, are you familiar with their optical quality? I don't have any experience here, so it could be all good, but I can imagine you might trade in a bit of the IQ from your Pentax legacy glass when you pick up that Nikon 35/1.8...

I guess that the one AF bargain to be had in Pentax mount is the kit lens, which I sold... But maybe it would help you in (part of) your AF needs? Anyway, maybe your student time is just not the time to have all gear you may want.. When I grow up at least I know where my disposable income is going into
08-20-2010, 11:44 AM   #7
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Depending on where you are, shopping around in Canada can get you slightly better prices. Most retailers sell right at (or even above) MSRP, but there are a few that discount certain items.

Example: Aden Camera
08-20-2010, 11:51 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Steinback Quote
Depending on where you are, shopping around in Canada can get you slightly better prices. Most retailers sell right at (or even above) MSRP, but there are a few that discount certain items.

Example: Aden Camera
Great link, some of the best prices I've seen.

Of course those prices carry over to all brands, it seems...

Nikon 50mm 1.4 - 320, Pentax 50mm 1.4 - 390...

And the Nikon prime looks to be of higher quality, e.g, 9 aperture blades over 7...

08-20-2010, 11:53 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
Canadian prices are a little silly, and they seem to be EXTRA silly for Pentax lenses, for a reason which totally escapes me.
Doesn't Pentax just have a North American warranty? As an American, a few years back I bought a Pentax lens from Canada (it was cheaper then) that is warrantied in the US... as I recall, Canadians just get a longer warranty than people in the US, but I think it's all covered under the same agreement. If so, couldn't you just buy the lenses from the US and save a few dollars?

You might also consider broadening the range of lenses you are looking for. Three years ago I almost bought the Pentax FA 35mm f/2.0 lens when it was $300 new, but I waited and prices went up. I looked around at other options, and ended up getting a Sigma 28mm f/1.8 EX DG Macro for $360, and I couldn't be happier.

QuoteQuote:
The fact that Nikon has backwards compatibility means that the advantage of Pentax has nearly evaporated for me...
Nikon's backward compatibility depends a lot on the body. Some bodies drop metering with older lenses, and some bodies lack motors so you can only AF with lenses with motors in them. For more information, see this:

Nikon Lens Compatibility

In comparison, I feel that Pentax does an awesome job of backward compatibility, and is one of the reasons I love the brand.
08-20-2010, 12:00 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by nater Quote
In comparison, I feel that Pentax does an awesome job of backward compatibility, and is one of the reasons I love the brand.
In theory I agree with you, except that old lenses meter all over the place. If you have time to crimp, it's not a big deal, but I've missed way too many shots with my manual lenses because the sensor grossly underexposed things. It's not even predictable - as soon as I feel like I've figured it out, the light changes and so does the EV compensation. The logic of the metering with old lenses is just plain unreliable for me, so unless I'm shooting landscapes or still life it's not very helpful.
08-20-2010, 12:13 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
Great link, some of the best prices I've seen.

Of course those prices carry over to all brands, it seems...

Nikon 50mm 1.4 - 320, Pentax 50mm 1.4 - 390...

And the Nikon prime looks to be of higher quality, e.g, 9 aperture blades over 7...
The Nikkor AF 50mm f1.4D, which is $320 CAD, has 7 aperture blades. It is also a DX (APS-C) only lens, not usable on a full-frame camera (unlike the Pentax FA 50mm f1.4). Also the Nikkor AF 50mm f1.4D is screw-drive AF, which could be an issue if you try to use the lens on a lower end Nikon body which lacks an AF drive motor, because then the lens won't AF.

The Nikkor AF 50mm f1.4G has an in-lens motor, so it will AF with the lower end Nikon bodies, and has 9 aperture blades and is a full-frame lens - and costs about $440 typically.

I don't think you know enough to be drawing value conclusions on Nikon vs. Pentax comparison.
08-20-2010, 12:15 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
In theory I agree with you, except that old lenses meter all over the place. If you have time to crimp, it's not a big deal, but I've missed way too many shots with my manual lenses because the sensor grossly underexposed things. It's not even predictable - as soon as I feel like I've figured it out, the light changes and so does the EV compensation. The logic of the metering with old lenses is just plain unreliable for me, so unless I'm shooting landscapes or still life it's not very helpful.
I haven't experienced any severe exposure issues (at least any that have resulted in lost shots) with my K200D. Do you make use of AE-L at all?
08-20-2010, 12:25 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by nater Quote
I don't think you know enough to be drawing value conclusions on Nikon vs. Pentax comparison.
This kind of information is very helpful, and I will be the first to admit that I do not know it all.

Regardless, the Nikon 1.4 G is of compatible quality to the DA* 55mm 1.4, which is about 800-900 dollars in my country. I believe the only thing I will lose with the nikon version for 60% of the price is weather sealing.

Furthermore, the 1.4 D is in fact full frame. Also, the D90 has in body AF, so unless I was thinking of downgrading from the K7 level to the KX level, I would have no problems (which I am not).

The D90 is the same price as a K-7, or ever a little cheaper these days. If i wait for the D90 replacement, I could likely get the D90 for a good deal.
08-20-2010, 12:27 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by nater Quote
I haven't experienced any severe exposure issues (at least any that have resulted in lost shots) with my K200D. Do you make use of AE-L at all?
I use the green button to center-weight or spot meter. AE-L does nothing because I have to stop down to meter with M lenses. As the aperture changes, I must change the EV compensation to get a comparible exposure. In time sensitive situations, MF and stop down metering is enough - I don't want to have to compensate for an aperture-dependent metering error as well!
08-20-2010, 01:16 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
The 20% increase would not be as bad as my situation - Canadian prices are a little silly, and they seem to be EXTRA silly for Pentax lenses, for a reason which totally escapes me.
Well, that partially explains why you are thinking you are seeing a larger increase than really happened. Canadian prices were silly low two years ago - dealers like Carman's in particular were selling lenses for well over $100 less than US dealers. So part of what you are seeing is just end to those unnaturally low prices and a return to normalcy. Well, that combined with the slight price increase I mentioned.

Here, a sample of lenses in USD, then CAD, then the CAD of Nikon's alternative.

QuoteQuote:
DA 55mm 1.4 - 640, 900, 560 (nikon wins BY A LOT, although this is not totally fair)
Assuming the Nikon in question is the 50/1.4 G, you're right - not a fair comparison. You're comparing a professional grade Pentax portrait lens - designed to be a significant step above a standard 50mm lens in IQ and build - against Nikon's standard 50mm lens. This Nikon lens is more the equivalent of Pentax's FA50, except that the latter has no focus motor (nor is one needed with Pentax, unlike the case with most low priced Nikon cameras). Granted, the optics (but not build) of the Nikon are purported to be a step up from a basic 50, but still, it's positioned and priced be the least expensive short portrait lens for cameras with no focus motors.

QuoteQuote:
FA 50mm 1.4 - 360, 450, 390
Assuming you are now comparing Nikon's 50/1.4D, that's still not really a fair comparison, as this is a lens that has been essentially discontinued in favor of the G, and hence is being sold at closeout pricing. And then even so, it's only $60 cheaper. I can name other lenses that are *hundreds* of dollars *more* expensive for Nikon. And others still where it's a wash. It all tends to even out.

In any case, when I said a small handful of lenses saw more than a 20% price hike, this is indeed one of them. It's not really representative.

QuoteQuote:
DA 21mm 3.2 - 510, 650, 660 (Nikon wins - the lens is 2.8 and 1mm wider)
First, the difference between f/3.2 and f/2.8 is close to inconsequential in practice. So is the difference between 20mm and 21mm - and to the extent the difference matters, chances are the 20mm will be "better" exactly half the time, and "worse" exactly half the time. And there is an *enormous* difference between these lenses in build quality as well as in size and, yes, weight (by almost a factor of 2!). Plus, it does not include a hood.

QuoteQuote:
it DOES make a big difference in your pocketbook.
What am I missing here? The Nikon is, by your figures, $10 *more* than the Pentax. That's not a big difference to me, but what difference there is in favor of Pentax.

QuoteQuote:
It just goes on...
Then you'd have to continue to post the specific comparisons in order for anyone to respond. The comparisons above pretty much show the futility of trying to make these sort of comparisons, though - really, Pentax and Nikon simply offer *different* lenses. Pentax might not offer anything like certain Nikon lenses, but the reverse is just as true. And in the long run, the prices pretty much much even out.

QuoteQuote:
The fact that Nikon has backwards compatibility means that the advantage of Pentax has nearly evaporated for me...
Trying using those old film lenses the cheaper 50 and the 20 on an inexpensive Nikon body (all the models without the focus motor) and you might want to reassess the "backwards compatibility".

QuoteQuote:
I've recently learned that Nikon has it's own bargains for those comfortable with manual focus for pretty much the same price.
Oh, I'm sure that's true. I'm not going to try to convince anyone Pentax is significantly cheaper overall - just that the idea that they are *more* expensive is a myth. Certain lenses Nikon happens to make available and/or make cheaper than Pentax, but other lenses it's the other way around.

If Nikon made anything even remotely close to the DA15, DA40, or DA70, and provided stabilization, and could do so for anything close to the cost of Pentax, I'd be fine with it. But I can't come close to that trio on Nikon for *any* price. On the other hand, Pentax doesn't offer anything like the Nikon 50/1.8 or 35/1.8.

QuoteQuote:
When you consider that a Nikon body is only 200 more, and that you will easily drop that much extra on Pentax lenses over Nikon... I fail to see the value anymore.
Just because Pentax doesn't cost a lot less than Nikon, that doesn't somehow mean Pentax isn't good value, unless you're also willing to say the same for Nikon. The idea that one company is going to provide significantly *better* value overall is just not going to happen in the modern consumer electronics world. The laws of the market are such that pretty much everyone is going to charge similar prices for similar products, or they won't stay in business. So they differentiate by providing slightly *different* products. If the lineup of Nikon products happens to meet you needs better, great; Pentax happens to meet mine better, and that's great too. But it would be foolish to expect Pentax to offer the same as Nikon and for significantly less money, too. That would not be viable economically at all.
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